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Post Info TOPIC: February 2008


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RE: February 2008
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Position of Jupiters satellites

jupSatFeb08a
jupSatFeb08b

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Imbolc, one of the cornerstones of the ancient Celtic calendar, marks the start of the farming season.

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The magnificent Pleiades, visible this month in Taurus, is the closest and most famous of all star clusters.
Tennyson wrote of them in 'Locksley Hall'': Many a night I saw the Pleiads Rising through the mellow shade, Glitter like a swarm of fireflies Tangled in a silver braid.

For those taking a first time interest in astronomy, or trying out a new pair of binoculars, they make the finest object that can easily be seen in the heavens. Lying 400 light years away and known also as the Seven Sisters, they in fact consist of more than 3,000 stars.

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Mercury: at magnitude -0.8, starts the month in the constellation of Sagittarius... Mercury is in inferior conjunction with the Sun at 18:00 UT on the 6th. Mercury is stationary on the 18th. Best seen from 5.7h - 6.5h.
(On February 1st, RA=21h35m19s Dec=-1130.7' (J2000) Distance=0.711AU Elongation= 11 Phase k=9% Diameter=9.5")

Venus: is a morning star of magnitude -4.0, The planet is in constellation Sagittarius at the start of the month. On the 1st, Venus is 0.6 degree north of Jupiter. It is best seen from 6.4h -7.9h. Venus is 4.0 degrees north of the Moon on the 4th.
(On February 1st, RA=18h41m44s Dec=-2222.1' (J2000) Distance=1.337AU Elongation= 32 Phase k=84% Diameter=12.5")

spacer.gif Moon Phase Now!

Moon Phase Now!

Earth: was at Perihelion (0.983 AU From Sun) at 13:00 on January 3. The distance is 0.9832801 AU, which is 147,096,600 km.

The Moon is at Perigee on the 14th at 1:00 UT, (distance to earth center: 370,219 km) and at apogee on the 28th, (distance to earth center: 404,443 km). The Moon is 1.6 from Mars on the 16th.

Mars: at magnitude -0.6 starts the month in the constellation Taurus. The planet is best seen from 17.4h - 5.8h. Mars stops its retrograde loop on February 1.
(On February 1st, RA= 5h33m05s Dec=+2639.0' (J2000) Distance=0.784AU Elongation=132 Phase k=94% Diameter=11.9")

Jupiter: is still bright at magnitude -1.9 in the constellation Sagittarius.
Jupiter will be visible in the morning sky for all but the start of the month. The planet is best seen from 6.5h - 7.3h.
(On February 1st, RA=18h42m52s Dec=-2256.9' (J2000) Distance=6.048AU Elongation= 32)

The planet Jupiter is a source of huge radio storms. Click the link to hear the live audio stream.
The radio outbursts are in the frequency range 18 - 32 MHz. Sensitive receivers translate Jupiter's radio waves to audio sounds.
Click! For alternative listening site.
click here! for Great RedSpot Transit times.
Click! Check forum for Satellite predictions.

Saturn: at magnitude 0.4 sits in the constellation Leo. The planet is at opposition at 10:00 UT, on the 24th.. The planet is best seen from 19.0h - 7.3h.
(On February 1st, RA=10h36m45s Dec=+1041.5' (J2000) Distance=8.370AU Elongation=155)

click here! for interactive Saturn moon calculator .

Uranus is in the constellation Aquarius, near Lambda Aquarii, magnitude 3.7. Uranus at magnitude 5.9, has a bluish-green hue and appears 3.7 arcseconds wide. Uranus Ring Plane Crossing on the 20th. Uranus is hidden by the glare of the setting Sun at the start of the mont; Later on, this very dim object can be seen in binoculars or better still, small telescope, as a very blue-green starlike object. The planet is best seen from 18.1h - 18.2h.
(On February 1st, RA=23h11m41s Dec= -559.3' (J2000) Distance=20.901AU Elongation= 34)

Neptune: in the constellation Capricornus less than 3 degrees northeast of the 4.3 mag star Iota Capricornii. The planet is not observable during this month. On the 11th Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun at 2:00 UT. A telescope will usually show a tiny bluish dot, only 2.5 arcseconds wide (mag 7.9).
(On November 1st,
RA=21h26m36s Dec=-1521.4' (J2000) Distance=29.851AU Elongation=100)

Pluto is in the constellation Sagittarius (mag 13.9) is not visible in the southern sky this month. Normally, a finder chart is necessary to help in identifying the 0.1" diameter dwarf planet. The dwarf planet is best seen from 18.9h - 5.8h.
(On February 1st, RA=18h00m23s Dec=-1709.5' (J2000) Distance=32.130AU Elongation= 42)

Asteroid 6 Hebe moves through Cancer this month. At the end of the month it will be five degrees to the east of the M44 open cluster.

The Sun enters the zodiac sign Pisces on the 19th February.



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Catalogue Number Name International
Designator
Country
Decay
Date
RCS
31927 ISS DEB (VSSA) 1998-067AZ ISS 2008-02-07 0.47
32286 ISS DEB 1998-067BC ISS 2008-02-09 0
32377 DELTA 2 R/B 2007-059B US 2008-02-10 0
32270 SL-6 R/B (1) 2007-049C CIS 2008-02-11 17.65
25816 SL-12 DEB 1989-101N CIS 2008-02-20 0.11
32285 ISS DEB 1998-067BB ISS 2008-02-22 0.01


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Highlights

Annular solar eclipse (Antarctica), partial in SE Australia on the 7th.

Total lunar eclipse, 3:00 UT to 3:52 UT on the 21st.

Saturn at opposition on the 24th.

The Andromeda galaxy.
M31 is our nearest large neighbour galaxy, forming the Local Group of galaxies together with its companions (M32 and M110, two bright dwarf elliptical galaxies), our Milky Way and its companions, M33. It is visible to the naked eye even under moderate conditions.

The Winter Circle
Besides the standard set of constellations, we have numbers of other named groups of stars that stretch across constellation boundaries, commonly called asterisms. One of the largest is the Winter Circle, or Winter Hexagon, which rises high in the southern skies on brittle winter evenings. The circle is built up of the stars Rigel, the foot of Orion, Aldebaran, the red eye of the Bull, Sirius, Procyon, Castor and Pollux. Rigel is a super giant, the seventh brightest star in the sky and the brightest in all of Orion. It has luminosity of about of 57,000 times the Sun, making it one of the most luminous known stars in the galaxy. Aldebaran ("the Follower") is the 13th brightest star in the sky; the star has from earliest days been called "The Eye of the Bull" (Taurus), which makes its distinctive reddish colour more significant. Castor and Pollux are the two brightest stars in Gemini. Pollux, the brighter shines its yellow-orange light at magnitude 1.2, while Castor, brilliant white, is just slightly dimmer shining at 1.6 and is a complex multiple star with 6 known members. Castor is considered the dominant star, indicating that the stars may have changed over the centuries.

Gemini may be the oldest of all constellations.
Stone carvings, dating to perhaps 3,500 years old found at Babylon, show a crescent moon with two bright stars. The carvings are thought to relate to an even earlier age when the rising of the sun in Gemini marked the beginning of spring.

Three Leaps of the Gazelle.
Finally this month, take a look at a lovely little arrangement, the charmingly named "Three Leaps of the Gazelle". These are three pairs of moderately bright stars high up in the northern skies, which are much easier to find then to describe. Look for the first pair North-North-East about 1/3rd of the way from the horizon to vertical. The other two pairs are almost directly above the first by about 2 "fists" each, at about 9 PM in the evening; located at Right Ascension of 11hours 19 minutes, and Declination of 33 degrees.

Objects of the Heart for Valentine's Day.
On February 14, many areas of the world will celebrate love with Valentine's Day. For those of you lucky enough to have a loved one of your own, consider the following objects provided in the Heavens: The first and most obvious is the planet of Venus, named after the Greek Goddess of love. Now, go over to the constellation of Cassiopeia, and you will find The Heart Nebula. Officially called by the decidedly less romantic "IC1805", the Heart Nebula glows a reddish hue (naturally!) at magnitude 6. Surrounding the delicate splash of diamonds, is the star cluster Mel-15. Next is the Rosette Nebula ,NGC2237. Located in Monoceros, this delicate planetary nebula is perhaps one of the prettiest in the sky. Zoom in with a field of view of 4 degrees, you will see beauty gracefully bloom on your screen unlike anything you're seen before. If the roses have done their job, you may at last want to consider the Ring Nebula, M57. Rising in the early morning hours during the winter, M57 is one of the easiest to locate deep-sky objects and one of the most aptly named, nestled gently in the side of Lyra, the Lyre. Low power telescope views show a very small blue/green disk, not much bigger than a star. Medium to high power will magnify the size of the nebula while leaving the surrounding stars the same size, confirming you have found it. Can be seen in binoculars as a faint star like point of light.

Notable Messier objects
M56Also in the constellation of Lyra we find our first globular cluster of the night. In a telescope look for a small round ball of light, slightly brighter in the centre. This is a difficult binocular object appearing as a small fuzzy patch.
M27Also known as the Dumbbell nebula, the largest planetary nebula in the Messier Catalogue, M27 lies in the constellation Vulpecula. Fairly easy to see in binoculars as a small hazy patch. In small to medium scopes it appears as a rectangular patch of light. In large scopes it may even appear round in shape with a bright rectangular, or dumbbell shaped core.

The Orion Nebula
Orion is a favourite target of telescope owners. In the centre of Orion's sword, just below the `belt`, lies the great Orion Nebula. Even small 60mm telescopes will show the brightest regions of the nebula and the "Trapezium"; a grouping of the brightest blue stars near the centre. The nebula glows because of the intense energy being radiated by them. The red light shows the location of the hydrogen gas, the blue light is light being reflected from the Trapezium. The blue colour has the same origin as the blue light of our daytime skyhe, the dust particles in this nebula, reflect blue light more readily than red.
* The Pleiades
New to the sky in late evening youll see the wonderful gem of an open cluster rising in the East. As Tennyson said "The Pleiads , rising thro' the mellow shade, Glitter like a swarm of fireflies Tangled in a silver braid...".
Nearly every culture mentions the Pleiades in some respect. Chinese writings appear to mention it from 2357 BC. American Indian folklore of the Kiowa talks of the "Seven Maidens" who where protected from giant bears by their placement in the skies. To the Japanese, they are called Subaru.

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February has no major meteor showers but there are a couple of minor showers for Southern hemisphere observers, the Alpha and Beta Centaurids. Although the Alpha Centaurids is considered a minor shower, in some years the number of meteors rises enough to reach the level of a major shower. While Alpha & Beta Centaurids can occasionally be seen during most of the month, their peaks occur on the same night, in the early morning hours of February 8.

You can listen to them by tuning to the 67 MHz meteor radar in Roswell, NM.

Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity ZHR
Date R.A. Dec. km/s
Beta Centaurids 1- 25 February 9 February 13.9h -58.1 58.9 13.2
Alpha Centaurids 9 February 14.5h -59.8 58.2 7.0
Pi Virginids Feb.- 9 March 12 February
Beta Leonids Feb.- 25 March 13 February
Delta Velids Jan 22-Feb 21 14 February 08:44 -52 35 1
Omicron Centaurids Jan 31-Feb 19 14 February 11:48 -56 51 2
Delta Leonids Feb 15-Mar 10 22 February 11:12 +16 23 2
Sigma Leonids 25 February 176 +9 2
Yes, click this! for UK (A.Smith)

Radio Meteor Observation Station Track



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