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May 2007
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Download this month's sky map!

Kym Thalassoudis does a wonderful job creating accurate and easy to use star maps every month! Visit his site at www.skymaps.com for skymaps and links to other useful astronomical sites. Also a great portal for astronomical gifts!

Northern hemisphere sky map
Southern hemisphere sky map

Those in the Southern Hemisphere should also visit James Barclay's site for a great tour of the Southern Hemisphere June sky.

Another great site for Southern Hemisphere viewers is the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar can be found at the RASNZ site
Ian Musgrave has a very handy Southern Hemisphere site called Southern Sky Watch.

Download "What's up 2007: 365 days of Skywatching" by Tammy Plotner, published by Universe Today (Faser Cain) it is a fantastic and it is free!

Planets for June 2007

  • Mercury- Look for Mercury between Venus and the horizon after sunset until around the 18th (depending upon your latitude) when Mercury disappears in the glare of the sun. Mercury is best at the beginning of the month where he sits just to the NE of M35, an unorganized open cluster at the feet of Castor. Also in the immediate area is NGC 2158 which I think is a much nicer object. At greatest elongation on June 2nd Mercury has reached hip high between the twins before swinging back towards the sun via Pollux's knees. .4 mag (1st) to 3.7 mag (21st)
  • Venus- High in the sky after dark Venus continues to highlight the western sky reaching greatest elongation 45 deg east on June 9th. Venus makes several great photo ops this month starting with a nice line up with Castor and Pollux (Gemini) the first couple of days of June before sliding over to graze the Beehive Cluster (M44) between the 12th and 13th. Get the telescopes and cameras ready for the 17th-19th as the young Moon slides past Venus and Saturn. Finally she pairs up with Saturn between the 28th and the first of July for a nice close encounter. -4.1 mag (1st) to - 4.2 mag (21st)
  • Mars- In Pisces until June 26th when it passes into Ares. Look for the red planet near the moon on the 10th where they both sit on the western arm of Pisces. Very low on the horizon for mid-upper Northern Latitudes better viewing the further south you go and outstanding in the Southern Hemisphere. 0.8 mag (1st) to 0.8 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- King of the planets is finally in prime position rising as the sun sets and is visible all night. Opposition on June 5th puts Jupiter 400 million miles from Earth. Jupiter moves eastward across lower Ophiucus and by Aug 1st sits just north of Antares. Low in the sky for mid-high northern latitudes moves higher in the sky as you move south. Some nice days to catch his four Galilean moons close to the planet disk are: 4th, 5th, 12th, 29th, and 30th -2.6 mag (1st) to -2.6 mag (21st)
  • Saturn-Absolutely beautiful in Leo almost at the Cancer border. Saturn's rings are tipped 15 deg from edgewise towards us so take advantage of these beautiful rings by catching Saturn earlier in the month before the Moon rises. Saturn make a nice appearance near Venus between the 17th and 30th and the Moon on the 18th 0.5 mag (1st) to 0.5 mag (21st)
  • Uranus-In Aquarius 5.9 mag (1st) to 5.8 mag (21st)
  • Neptune-Will camp out in Capricorn all year long 7.9 mag (1st) to 7.9 mag (21st)
  • 4 Vesta -Categorized as a minor planet (Vesta family Main Belt) we are adding her to the mix because she will be not far from Jupiter this month and at a magnitude of 5.4 - 6.0 will be a good naked eye object for June. Vesta is the second most massive object in the asteroid belt with a mean diameter of 540 km and was named after the Roman goddess of home and hearth.

    On the 4th of July she spends Independence day just north of the double star Beta Scorpius.

Key Dates for June 2007

Days and Times in UT (help with time)
Observations are for 8pm for the mid-southern latitudes and for 11pm for the mid-northern latitudes.

Great site for sunrise and sunset times and a downloadable toolbar application by Steve Edwards

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website! Astronomical Highlights
 June 

1 - Full Moon 1:04 UT
2 - Mercury at greatest elongation, 23 deg east of the Sun (evening sky)
5 - Jupiter at opposition 23h UT
8 - Last Quarter Moon 11:43 UT
9 - Venus at greatest elongation 45 deg east of Sun (evening sky)

- Jupiter double shadow transit 9:18 UT
10 - Moon near Mars (5 deg S of Moon)22h UT in the morning sky
12 - Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) 363,780 km from Earth
12-13 - Venus skims the Beehive Cluster (M44)
13 - For you sundial lovers the equation of time at 0 ... for more information.
15 - New Moon 3:13 UT
17 - Pluto at opposition
18 - Moon near Venus, possible daytime occultation check IOTAfor occultation information for your area
19 - Moon near Saturn (8h UT) AND Regulus (23h) possible occultation check IOTAfor occultation information for your area
21 - June Solstice 18:06 UT The sun reaches its highest point north of the celestial equator and is at 'stand still' before moving south again. This is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere (middle or beginning of summer) or the shortest day in the Southern Hemisphere (middle or beginning of winter). For a great animation of the 'seasons' check out the Prentice Hall site
22 - First Quarter Moon 13:15 UT
23 - Uranus at standstill begins its retrograde motion (westward)
24 - Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth) 404,540 km
28 - Moon near Antares 8h UT possible occultation check IOTA for occultation information for your area
30 - Full Moon 13:49 UT

- Close encounter of Venus and Saturn

Monthly Messier*

This month we attack the heart of the Virgo cluster of galaxies. If you download show #39 we actually walk you through a nice long list of Virgo Galaxies including those listed below.

These 13 galaxies all within less than 100 square degrees of sky and the brightest of these galaxies, M87, is only 8.6 in total magnitude so this will be a telescope only month. Plan on searching for small faint fuzzies, dark, clear skies are a must.

M84, M86 - A pair of elliptical galaxies in the famous Markarian's Chain in Virgo. Appear as small fuzzy balls with bright, almost stellar cores. Both easily fit into the same low power field of view. M86 is slightly brighter and more oval than round M84.

M87 - M87 - Elliptical galaxy famous for its black hole and jet. Another round fuzzy ball with a bright core. Slightly brighter than both M84 and M86.

M89 and elliptical galaxy paired with spiral galaxy M90 - Both of these galaxies fit into the same low power field of view. M89 is another round fuzzy ball similar to M84, while M90 appears as an oval patch of light larger than M89. M90 has a bright central region.

M91 - Spiral galaxy in Coma Berenices. A faint, slightly irregular oval hazy patch of light.

M88 - A small oval shaped fuzzy patch with a bright stellar core. Similar in size and shape to M90. Can fit into the same field of view as M91. Bump up the power and see if you can tease out the spiral arms.

M58 - Another spiral galaxy that appears as a slightly oval shaped fuzzy patch of light with a bright central region.

M59, M60 - M59 and M60, both are elliptical galaxies and both can easily fit into the same field of view. M59 is a small, hazy oval patch, not all that easy to see. M60 is another fuzzy oval patch of light, larger and brighter than M59.

M99 - A bright round fuzzy patch of light which is a face on spiral galaxy.

M98 - This edge-on spiral galaxy appears as a bright pencil like streak of light.

M100 - A round hazy glow of light, bright in the center but gradually fading towards the edge. Using more power and averted vision see if you can detect the spiral arms of this face on galaxy.

For navigating the Virgo Cluster I highly recommend "Mastering the Virgo Cluster" by Alan M MacRobert; Sky & Telescope (Archives); May 1994; 42;

*Monthly Messier information gleaned from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Moncton Centre Quebec and from the Astronomy Connection website.

Astronomical Highlights for 2007

Earth's major motions for 2007
Perihelion
Jan 3 20h(UT)
First Cross Quarter Day
Feb 2-6
Equinox
Mar 21 00:07(UT)
Second Cross Quarter Day
May 4-7
Solstice
June 21 18:06(UT)
Aphelion
July 4 00h (UT)
Third Cross Quarter Day
Aug 5-8
Equinox
Sept 23 19:51(UT)
Fourth Cross Quarter Day
Nov 5-8
Solstice
Dec 22 06:08(UT)

Planet Positions for 2007

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Venus Sgr Aqr Psc Ari Tau Gem Leo Sex Cnc Leo Leo Vir
Mars Oph Sgr Cap Cap Aqr Psc Ari Tau Tau Gem Gem Gem
Jupiter Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph
Saturn Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo
Uranus Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu
Neptune Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap

Eclipses for 2007

March 19 - partial solar eclipse (see map, times, and animation!): The first solar eclipse of 2007 occurs at the Moon's ascending node in Pisces and is visible from eastern Asia and parts of northern Alaska

September 11 - partial solar eclipse (see map, times, and animation): The last eclipse of 2007 is a partial solar eclipse at the Moon's descending node in southern Leo. Its visibility is confined to parts of South America, Antarctica and the South Atlantic

March 3-4 - total lunar eclipse (see map): The beginning of the umbral phase visible in the Arctic region, Africa, Europe, Asia except for extreme eastern region, most of Indonesia, western Australia, Queen Maud Land of Antarctica, extreme eastern South America, Greenland, the Indian Ocean, the South Atlantic Ocean, and the eastern North Atlantic Ocean; the end visible in Africa, Europe, western Asia, Queen Maud Land of Antarctica and Antarctic Peninsula, South America, eastern North America, Greenland, the Arctic region, the Atlantic Ocean, the western Indian Ocean, and the extreme eastern South Pacific Ocean.

August 28 - total lunar eclipse (see map): The beginning of the umbral phase visible in North America, South America except extreme east, Antarctica except for Enderby Land, New Zealand, eastern Australia, extreme northeastern Asia, the Pacific Ocean, and the western Atlantic Ocean; the end visible in New Zealand, Australia, most of Antarctica except Queen Maud Land, Indonesia, eastern Asia, western North America, the Pacific Ocean, and the southeastern Indian Ocean.

Eclipse information from: NASA Eclipse Homepage, Eclipses Online (HM Nautical Almanac Office, UK in coordination with the U.S. Naval Observatory)

Meteor Showers for 2007

As luck would have it, all the major meteor showers reach their peaks in 2007 with the Moon out of the sky. Any of these showers can produce dozens of shooting stars each dark hour leading up to dawn.

Mark your calendar to look for...
  • Lyrids on April 23rd
  • Perseids on August 13th
  • Orionids on October 21st
  • Leonids on November 18th
  • Geminids on the night of December 13-14 (Meteor enthusiasts are keenly awaiting the Geminids in 2007 because their progenitor, the defunct comet Phaethon, precedes them in a flyby of Earth on December 10th.)

Comets for June

Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages
Skyhound Comet pages

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know?

Culled from Wikipedia by Mark Tillotson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June )
Thanks Mark!!!

6/1
b- 1928 - Georgi Dobrovolski, cosmonaut (Moon crater)

6/2
1896 - Guglielmo Marconi receives a patent for his newest invention: the radio.
1966 - Surveyor program: Surveyor 1 lands in Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon, 
		 becoming the first US spacecraft to soft land on another world.
2003 - Europe launches its first voyage to another planet, Mars. The European 
		 Space Agency's Mars Express probe launches from the Baikonur space 
		 centre in Kazakhstan.
b- 1930 – Pete Conrad, NASA Astronaut. Flew on Gemini 5, 11, Apollo 12, 
	 and Skylab 2 missions. (d. 7/8/1999)

6/3
1965 - Launch of Gemini 4, the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew.
1965 - For 21 minutes, Edward H. White floats free outside the space 
		 vehicle Gemini IV for the first time.
b- 1659 - David Gregory, Scottish astronomer (d. 1708)

6/4
1769 - A transit of Venus is followed five hours later by a total 
		 solar eclipse, the shortest such interval in the historical past.
b- 470 BC - Socrates, Greek philosopher (d. 399 BC)
b- 460 BC - Hippocrates, Greek historian (d. 370 BC)
b- 1754 - Franz Xaver, Baron Von Zach, Austrian editor and 
	 astronomer (d. 1832) (Moon crater)

6/5
b- 1819 - John Couch Adams, English mathematician and 
	 astronomer (d. 1892) (Moon crater)

6/6
1971 - Soyuz program: Soyuz 11 launches.
2002 - Eastern Mediterranean Event. A near-Earth asteroid estimated 
		 at 10 meters diameter explodes over the Mediterranean Sea between 
		 Greece and Libya. The resulting explosion is estimated to have a 
		 force of 26 kilotons, slightly more powerful than the Nagasaki atomic bomb.
b- 1436 - Regiomontanus, German mathematician (d. 1476) (Moon crater)
b- 1580 - Godefroy Wendelin, Flemish astronomer (d. 1667)
b- 1932 - David Scott, NASA astronaut. Flew on Gemini 8 and Apollo 9 and 15.
 
6/7
d- 1826 - Joseph von Fraunhofer, German physicist and astronomer 
	 (b. 1787) (Moon crater)

6/8
2004 - First Transit of Venus in this millennium.
b- 1625 - Giovanni Domenico Cassini, Italian scientist and astronomer 
	 (d. 1712) (Moon crater)

6/10
2003 - The Spirit Rover is launched, beginning NASA's Mars Exploration 
		 Rover mission.
b- 1710 - James Short, Scottish mathematician (d. 1768) (Moon crater)
b- 1929 – James A. McDivitt, NASA Astronaut. Command Pilot, 
	 Gemini 4 (1965) and Commander, Apollo 9 (1969).

6/11
2004 - Cassini-Huygens makes its closest flyby of Phoebe.
b- 1723 - Johann Georg Palitzsch, German astronomer (d. 1788) 
	 (Moon crater)

6/12
1967 - Venera program: Venera 4 is launched (it will become the first 
		 space probe to enter another planet's atmosphere and successfully return data).
2004 - A 1.3 kg chondrite type meteorite strikes a house in Ellerslie, 
		 New Zealand causing serious damage but no injuries.
b- 1577 - Paul Guldin, Swiss astronomer and mathematician (d. 1643)

6/13
1983 - Pioneer 10 becomes the first manmade object to leave the solar system.
b- 1773 - Thomas Young, English scientist (d. 1829) (Moon crater)
b- 1831 - James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish physicist (d. 1879) (Moon crater)
d- 1993 - Deke Slayton, astronaut (b. 1924)

6/14
1822 - Charles Babbage proposes a difference engine in a paper to the 
		 Royal Astronomical Society entitled "Note on the application of 
		 machinery to the computation of astronomical and mathematical tables."
1962 - The European Space Research Organization is established in Paris – 
		 later becoming the European Space Agency.
1967 - Mariner program: Mariner 5 is launched toward Venus.

6/15
763 BC - Assyrians record a solar eclipse that will be used to fix the 
		chronology of Mesopotamian history.
b- 1765 - Johann Gottlieb Friedrich von Bohnenberger, 
	 German mathematician (d. 1831) (Moon crater)

6/16
1911 - A 772 gram stony meteorite struck earth near Kilbourn, 
		 Columbia County, Wisconsin damaging a barn.
1963 - Soviet Space Program: Vostok 6 Mission, Cosmonaut Valentina 
		 Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.
b- 1888 - Peter Stoner, American mathematician, astronomer and 
	 Christian apologist (d. 1980)

6/17
b- 1714 - César-François Cassini de Thury, French astronomer (d. 1784)

6/18
1178 - Five Canterbury monks see what was possibly the Giordano 
		 Bruno crater being formed. It is believed that the current 
		 oscillations of the moon's distance (on the order of meters) 
		 are a result of this collision.
1983 - Space Shuttle program: STS-7, Astronaut Sally Ride becomes 
		 the first American woman in space.
d- 1650 - Christoph Scheiner, German astronomer (b. 1573) (Moon crater)
d- 1922 - Jacobus Kapteyn, Dutch astronomer (b. 1851)

6/19
b- 1846 - Antonio Abetti, Italian astronomer (d. 1928) (Moon crater)
b- 1922 - Aage Niels Bohr, Danish physicist, Nobel laureate (Moon crater)
b- 1933 - Viktor Patsayev, Soviet cosmonaut

6/20
1990 - Asteroid Eureka discovered.
1941 - Ulf Merbold, German physicist and astronaut

6/21
2004 - SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately funded spaceplane 
		 to achieve spaceflight.
2006 - Pluto's newly discovered moons are officially christened 
		 Nix & Hydra on this date.
b- 1646 (O.S.) - Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, German philosopher 
	 and scientist (d. 1716) (Moon crater)
b- 1823 - Jean Chacornac, French astronomer (d. 1873) (Moon crater)
b- 1863 - Max Wolf, German astronomer (d. 1932) (Moon crater)
b- 1958 - Gennady Padalka, cosmonaut
d- 1951 - Charles Dillon Perrine, American astronomer (b. 1867) 
	 (Moon crater)

6/22
1633 - The Holy Office in Rome forces Galileo Galilei to recant 
		 his scientific view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the 
		 center of the Universe.
b- 1930 - Yuri Artyukhin, cosmonaut (d. 1998)
d- 1429 - Ghiyath al-Kashi, Persian astronomer and mathematician (b. 1380)

6/23
b- 1612 - André Tacquet, Belgian mathematician (d. 1660) (Moon crater)
b- Donn Eisele, NASA Astronaut. Flew on Apollo 7. (d. 12/2/1987)

6/24
1983 - Space Shuttle program: STS-7 Mission Sally Ride, first 
		 female American astronaut, returns to earth.
b- 1485 - Johannes Bugenhagen, German reformer (d. 1558)
b- 1915 - Fred Hoyle, British astronomer (d. 2001)
d- 1946 - Ellison Onizuka, American astronaut (d. 1986)
d- 1637 - Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, French astronomer (
	 b. 1580) (Moon crater)

6/25
1997 - An unmanned Progress spacecraft collided with the Russian 
		 Space station, Mir.
d- 1671 - Giovanni Battista Riccioli, Italian astronomer (b. 1598) 
	 (Moon crater)

6/26
1973 - On Plesetsk Cosmodrome 9 people are killed in an explosion 
		 of a Cosmos 3-M rocket.
b- 1904 - Frank Scott Hogg, Canadian astronomer (d. 1951) (Moon crater)
b- 1925 - Pavel Belyayev, cosmonaut (d. 1970) (Moon crater)

6/28
d- 1889 - Maria Mitchell, American astronomer (b. 1818) (Moon crater)

6/29
512 - A solar eclipse is recorded by a monastic chronicler in Ireland.
1995 - Space Shuttle program: STS-71 Mission (Atlantis docks with 
		 the Russian space station Mir for the first time.)
b- 1868 - George Ellery Hale, American astronomer (d. 1938) (Moon crater)
b- 1962 - George Zamka, astronaut

6/30
1905 - Albert Einstein publishes the article "On the Electrodynamics 
		 of Moving Bodies", where he introduces special relativity.
1908 - The Tunguska impact event occurs in Siberia.
1971 - The crew of the Soviet Soyuz 11 spacecraft is killed when 
		 their air supply escapes through a faulty valve.
d- 1971 - Crew of Soyuz 11
	 o Viktor Patsayev (b. 1933)
	 o Georgi Dobrovolski (b. 1928)
	 o Vladislav Volkov (b. 1935)

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Music Scottish Guitar Quartet -"Romance within you"
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Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_Jun_07.mp3
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 3:51 PM

Carpe Noctem - Seize the Night!



Image courtesy of Randy Brewer

Virgo Galaxies!

Here is a short list of some good Virgo Cluster reference. Each is different and I have used them all! There are literally 100s of articles written about navigating through the Virgo Cluster. My advice is find a good map and then find a route that suits you. I'm presenting only one way to attack the area but it is a way that works for me fairly consistently.

Good luck!

Alan M. MacRobert's "Mastering the Virgo Cluster" Sky and Telescope, May 1994 pg 42
-This is the one I carry in my notebook because I love the route and the map.

Steve Gottlieb's "The Virgo Mainline"
-This one I carry for sharing a different approach for those who get lost at the beginning of the MacRobert's route.

Atlas
Jan Wisniewski's Virgo Galaxy Cluster - Finder Chart

Tonight we are using the WikiSky.org Atlas for our Virgo Tour



Start by arc-ing from the handle of the big dipper to Arcturus and then "Speed on" or "Spike" to Spica. Once at Spica work you way up the body of the Maiden to Porrma, her throat, and then up her outstretched arm to Vindemiatrix.

Another way is to start from the head of Leo the Lion wander west to Denebola and then across to Vindemiatrx.

46 Galaxies?!?!? Okay, here we go....

North is up

Object Magnitude Type Notes
Section 1

The 'on ramp'.....
Epsilon Virginis - Vindemiatrix 2.8
Yellow giant 100 light yrs away
Bunsen Burner 9 and 10th
This asterism point away from Epsilon and in the direction we want to go
Struve 1689 7 and 9.5 29" apart.
NGC 4762 and NGC 4754 10.3 and 10.5 Sp 4754 is off by itself and 4762 is between a 9th and 10th mag star. Use averted vision or tap the scope to get 4762 to pop out
NGC 4694 11.4 Sp Very hard to find 11.4 mag elongated NW-SE
NGC 4660 11.8 E Tiny round cotton ball
M60 8.8 E One of the biggest and brightest ellipticals in tonight's tour. At higher powers you can make out a slight halo as well as the companion galaxy 4647
NGC 4647 11.3 Sp Close companion to M60, 3' to the NW a challenge to pick up unless you use averted vision. It is a spiral but looks much more like a smaller version of its elliptical companion
M59 9.6 E Has a profile more like a spiral but this evening is all about being faint so- 0.4deg W not as bright as M60. Giant elliptical slightly elongated SE-NW
NGC 4638 11.2 Sp Fainter and smaller depending upon your field of view (FOV) you can squeeze it in along with M60 and M59 making an isosceles triangle with the three.
NGC 4606 11.8 Sp A toughie. Look for a fuzzy star with two stars on the south. If you have a larger scope you may have passed over 13.0mag 4607 an edge on spiral galaxy out of reach of our smaller scopes.




North is up

Object Magnitude Type Notes
Section 2

The first 'fork in the road'....
M58 13.0 Sp Spiral galaxy a little fainter and smaller than M59 a dark sky and larger scope (bigger than 8") will start to pick out its smoke like wisps of spiral arm. Take a good look at where you are because we will need to return back to M58 after a detour down the M90 (and friends)side alley.
NGC 4550 and NGC 4551 11.7 and 12.0 Sp and E (Misprint in the MacRobert's narrative where they are referred to as 4450 and 4451) Heading NW from M58 these two sit very close together and are both very faint and tricky to find.
M89 9.8 E A nice break from hunting around for the last two. It will seem to pop into view...strange how perspective does that to you. A round fuzzy blob with a brighter core.
M90 9.5 Sp Just after M89 is a little "W" that runs to the NNW to M90 a giant spiral galaxy with a low surface brightness but it is very large. There is an unrelated 12 mag star sitting between the Earth and the center of this galaxy. Elongated N-S look for a darkened lane on the eastern edge.
NGC 4564 11.1
Backtrack to M58 and then 0.5 deg SW to a tall box asterism just off the NE corner is 4564.
NGC 4567 and 4568 11.3 and 10.8 Sp Another pair of spirals that seem to be joined at the ends. They are nicknamed the "Siamese Twins" (Who am I to argue but they reminded me much more of amoeba from high school biology class)
NGC 4528 12.1 Sp Very tiny and quite faint another candidate for power, aperture and dark conditions
NGC 4503 11.1 Sp Off by itself and very diffuse on 10" or smaller scopes this might take DARK skies, tapping, averted vision...all of your faint fuzzy objects tricks.
North is up

Section 3

Back way in....
NGC 4452 12.0 Sp This galaxy is a tiny little fuzzy. It is in between two rows of stars and there is a third row of stars below it housing...
NGC 4429 10.0 Sp An easier find, still a fuzzy blob but easier than 4452
NGC 4440 11.7 Sp Slid back up to 4452 and then to the NW corner of the three rows (or Arcs) of stars. It sits just SW of the Northern most star in the arc
M87 8.6 E Now we begin to appreciate the "Ms" in front of numbers. After so many faint NGC an "M" gives us hope for something bigger and brighter. Not to disappoint M87 is .75 deg East of 4440 and a nice big bright giant elliptical. The bright nucleus is one of the brightest radio sources in the sky.
NGC 4478 11.4 E Is M87's companion much fainter and again needing your faint object tricks
NGC 4476 12.2 Sp Here we go getting super faint again, another target for larger scopes or darker skies (or sometime more experience) but give it your best because your rewards is...
North is up

Section 4

"The Grand Tour" or "Markarian's Chain"
M84-M86 9.1 and 8.9 E We start with the 'face' of the Chain M84 and M86, both elliptical galaxies, make up the eyes of the face. M86 is distinctly brighter with its own little cluster on the NE corner.
NGC 4388 and 4387 11.0 and 12.1 Sp and E Making an equilateral triangle to the South and forming the mouth is NGC 4388 and edge on E-W spiral galaxy and directly in the middle of the triangle finishing off the nose is NGC 4387 another elliptical galaxy.
NGC 4402 11.8
If the face had an eyebrow then it would be 4402. North 8.5ish' from M86 the E-W edge on spiral galaxy appears to have a slight dust lane and a North leaning bulge. Almost like a ladies broad brim hat.
NGC 4413 12.2 Sp In the opposite direction 9'WSW of 4388, NGC 4413 is an almost face on spiral galaxy
NGC 4425 11.8 Sp From 4388 make and equilateral triangle to the west with M86 and your corner will be roughly in the area of 4425 another edge on spiral galaxy brighter than 4413



Now we can start moving up the Chain in pairs...
NGC 4435 and 4438 10.8 and 10.2 Sp Draw a line WNW from M84 and M86 to the first pair in the chain, both spiral galaxies. Nick-named "The Eyes" 4438 is slightly longer with wispy arms reaching NW-SE and both galaxies mirror each other in orientation NW-SE
NGC 4461 and 4458 11.2 and 12.1 Sp and E The next pair, fainter the elliptical 4458 is all but indistinguishable (for me)from the small 10.95 mag star to its NW. 4461 is slightly brighter spiral galaxy elongated N-S
NGC 4473 10.2 E This slightly brighter elliptical lost her buddy (bad Scout) and lays E-W alone in the middle of the Chain. You may not have noticed but you are now in Coma Berenices.
NGC 4477 and 4479 10.4 and 12.4 Sp About 12' NNW are another pair of spiral galaxies. 4477 is the brighter and Eastern most of the pair
NGC 4459 and 4474 10.4 and 11.5 Sp A wider pair of spirals 4459 is very close to a 8.2 yellow star and look like an elliptical galaxy. 4474 is much fainter but has that familiar central bulge of an edge on galaxy.
M88 9.6 Sp The last two links in the Chain are biggies and brighties! M88 is a partial face on spiral with a multitude of arms making a nice even frisbe disk.
M91 10.2 Sp A particularly appropriate reward at the end. This face on barred spiral is beautiful with two large arms sweeping out on opposite sides.

Sun

Current view of the Sun!

Comets

Comets for the Month.

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Music

"Wake the Dragon" by Dragon Ritual Drummers
"Over Again" by Rebecca Loebe
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin"
-- Shakespeare

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Direct download: AAGGshow39.mp3
Category:Deep Sky Objects -- posted at: 7:19 PM



Download this month's sky map!

Kym Thalassoudis does a wonderful job creating accurate and easy to use star maps every month! Visit his site at www.skymaps.com for skymaps and links to other useful astronomical sites. Also a great portal for astronomical gifts!

Northern hemisphere sky map
Southern hemisphere sky map

Those in the Southern Hemisphere should also visit James Barclay's site for a great tour of the Southern Hemisphere December sky.

Another great site for Southern Hemisphere viewers is the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Southern Hemisphere Calendar can be found at the RASNZ site
Ian Musgrave has a very handy Southern Hemisphere site called Southern Sky Watch.

Download "What's up 2007: 365 days of Skywatching" by Tammy Plotner, published by Universe Today (Faser Cain) it is a fantastic and it is free!

Planets for May 2007

  • Mercury- After reaching superior conjunction on the 3rd Mercury moves into the evening sky for the best view those in the NHemisphere will get all year. From May 18-June 12th look for Mercury between Venus and the horizon after sunset. -2.0 mag (1st) to -0.6 mag (21st)
  • Venus- High in the sky after dark Venus continues to highlight the western sky. At the beginning of the month Venus will pass between the horns of Taurus the Bull as she continues to move Eastward towards M35 and Gemini. -4.0 mag (1st) to - 4.1 mag (21st)
  • Mars- At the beginning of the month, Mars rises about 2.5 hours before the Sun in the constellation Aquarius 4.5 degrees East of Uranus. The Red Planet moves into Pisces on the 9th , Cetus on the 24th before returning to Pisces on the 29th...Mars isn't moving backwards it is only that it is clipping a corner of Cetus that sticks up into Pisces. 1.0 mag (1st) to 0.9 mag (21st)
  • Jupiter- Continues to rise earlier everyday and will spend the month in Ophiucus moving ever so slowly towards Antares. -2.5 mag (1st) to -2.6 mag (21st)
  • Saturn-Absolutely beautiful in Leo almost at the Cancer border. Saturn's rings are tipped 15 deg from edgewise towards us so take advantage of these beautiful rings. The ringed planet is 90degrees east of the Sun so all month its globe will casts its shadows eastward onto the rings. 0.4 mag (1st) to 0.5 mag (21st)
  • Uranus-In Aquarius about 4.5 degrees west of Mars at the beginning of the month stretching to 23 degrees west by the end of the month. 5.9 mag (1st) to 5.9 mag (21st)
  • Neptune-Will camp out in Capricorn all year long and is 2.5 degree NW of Delta Capricorni. 7.9 mag (1st) to 7.9 mag (21st)
  • 4 Vesta -Categorized as a minor planet (Vesta family Main Belt) we are adding her to the mix this month because she will be not far from Jupiter this month and at a magnitude of 5.4 - 6.0 will be a good naked eye object for May and June. Vesta is the second most massive object in the asteroid belt with a mean diameter of 540 km and was named after the Roman goddess of home and hearth. So even though she was never a mother herself step outside on Mother's Day and take a look for this bright asteroid.

Key Dates for May 2007

Days and Times in UT (help with time)
Observations are for 8pm for the mid-southern latitudes and for 10pm for the mid-northern latitudes.

Great site for sunrise and sunset times and a downloadable toolbar application by Steve Edwards

Occultation information can be found at the IOTA website! Astronomical Highlights
 May 

2 - Full Moon 10:09 UT

- Ladies, go take the women in astronomy survey at Sky and Telescope Magazine!
3 - Mercury at Superior conjunction (moving into the evening sky)
4 - Moon near Antares: 19:00 UT possible occultation from SE Africa, Tasmania and New Zealand
5 - Moon near Jupiter 11:00 UT
6 - Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks 12:00 UT (April 19-May 28) Southern Hemisphere skywatcher will have a better view!
10 - Last Quarter Moon 4:27 UT
12 - Moon near Uranus (6 UT) and Mars (23 UT) in the morning sky. Possible occultation visible from E. Newfoundland and Greenland.
15 - Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) 359,392 km
16 - New Moon 19:27 UT
17 - Moon near Mercury, both very close to the setting sun!
20 - Crescent Moon near Venus at sunset. Good photo op!
22 - Moon near Saturn
23 - First Quarter Moon 21:03 UT
27 - Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth) 405,460 km
30 - Mercury 1.1 degrees N of M35 (23 deg E)

Monthly Messier*

More galaxies this month warming up with those around Ursa Major and Canes Venatici and then heading to the fringes of the Virgo galaxy region! Most of these can be detected in binoculars or small telescopes and I recommend doing so just for the practice of navigation, averted vision and patience! Then you can pull out the telescope and enjoy the delicate spiral arms and tease-out identifying features.

M51 - The famous Whirlpool galaxy in Canes Venatici is a bright face on spiral with a smaller elliptical companion, NGC 5195. Look for a pair of fuzzy patches of light. The slightly larger and brighter one is M51. Make sure to spend some time here; as there is almost always some spiral structure to be seen, on good nights the detail possible is unbelievable. This is a difficult but very possible object in binoculars appearing as a hazy patch of light.

M63 - Another spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici smaller and fainter than M51, but seen more edge on so the galaxy appears as an elongated patch of light with a bright star at one end. Further inspection will show a faint halo around this patch. A difficult object in binoculars.

M94 - Just past M63 is another galaxy in Canes Vanitici. Look for a bright fuzzy star to find the core of M94, surrounded by a faint haze. A tough binocular object.

M101 - Some times we luck out and get two objects together in the scope (like M81 M82) and some times three (like the Leo trio) but instead of being a two-fer M101 is a ....twelve-fer! Not only can you count M101 as possibly M102 (although I don't) you also have 10 other galaxies wrapped around the outside of this spiral galaxy in Ursa Major.

You will have to work for M101 as it is one of the most difficult Messier objects to find in a telescope. This is a large faint patch of light almost as big as the full moon. Use low power and look for a brighter part of the sky, more of a change in contrast than an object at first glance, which is the galaxy. Dark skies really help in the search of this one and are a to find M101 in binoculars.

M102 - Not an official Messier object in most references, we will look for the galaxy NGC 5866 which is a popular favorite for the 102nd slot in Messier's catalogue. Look for a small, faint patch light that looks like a short fuzzy cigar.

M64 - In a telescope this galaxy in Coma Berenices is a fairly bright, slightly oval shaped patch of light. Look for the dark lane, which gives this galaxy the common name Black Eye. The galaxy appears as a faint fuzzy patch in binoculars.

M85 - This elliptical galaxy lies in Coma Berenices just north of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. This appears as a bright, but small, patch of light with a bright stellar core.

M49 - This is an elliptical galaxy in Virgo just south of the main cluster of galaxies. M49 is round patch of light with bright center gradually fading to a round halo. M49 looks like a faint fuzzy star in binoculars. Use Art Russell's star hop sheets to help you find M49, M61 and other Virgo galaxies!

M61 - This is a face on spiral galaxy just south of M49 in Virgo, but much fainter. Look for a faint, round fuzzy patch of light.

M104 - This is the well-known Sombrero galaxy in Virgo. It is bright edge on spiral galaxy, which looks like a bright, elongated streak. It is very possible to see in binoculars.

For navigating the Virgo Cluster I highly recommend "Mastering the Virgo Cluster" by Alan M MacRobert; Sky & Telescope (Archives); May 1994; 42;

*Monthly Messier information gleaned from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Moncton Centre Quebec and from the Astronomy Connection website.

Historical and Current Events

...Did you know?


May

1 - Beltane (alt May 4-10) -cross quarter day, beginning of traditional summer
4 -Space Day
5 - Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Mercury Freedom 7 1961
5 - Happy Birthday Ric!
6 - Willem de Sitter's 135th Birthday (1872)
15 - Williamina Paton Fleming's 150th Birthday (1857)
17 - Norman Lockyer's 172nd Birthday (important for all birthdays and for those who like to sound like Donald Duck!)
21 - John F. Kennedy makes his famous speech to the U.S. Congress
24 - 45th Anniversary (1962), Aurora 7 Launch (Scott Carpenter)
28 - First primates to reach space and return successfully. Abel and Baker (rhesus and squirrel monkeys respectively), both returned alive.
29 - John F. Kennedy's 90th Birthday (1917)
31 - Martin Schwarzschild's 95th Birthday (1912)

Astronomical Highlights for 2007

Earth's major motions for 2007
Perihelion
Jan 3 20h(UT)
First Cross Quarter Day
Feb 2-6
Equinox
Mar 21 00:07(UT)
Second Cross Quarter Day
May 4-7
Solstice
June 21 18:06(UT)
Aphelion
July 4 00h (UT)
Third Cross Quarter Day
Aug 5-8
Equinox
Sept 23 19:51(UT)
Fourth Cross Quarter Day
Nov 5-8
Solstice
Dec 22 06:08(UT)

Planet Positions for 2007

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Venus Sgr Aqr Psc Ari Tau Gem Leo Sex Cnc Leo Leo Vir
Mars Oph Sgr Cap Cap Aqr Psc Ari Tau Tau Gem Gem Gem
Jupiter Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph Oph
Saturn Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo Leo
Uranus Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu Aqu
Neptune Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap Cap

Eclipses for 2007

March 19 - partial solar eclipse (see map, times, and animation!): The first solar eclipse of 2007 occurs at the Moon's ascending node in Pisces and is visible from eastern Asia and parts of northern Alaska

September 11 - partial solar eclipse (see map, times, and animation): The last eclipse of 2007 is a partial solar eclipse at the Moon's descending node in southern Leo. Its visibility is confined to parts of South America, Antarctica and the South Atlantic

March 3-4 - total lunar eclipse (see map): The beginning of the umbral phase visible in the Arctic region, Africa, Europe, Asia except for extreme eastern region, most of Indonesia, western Australia, Queen Maud Land of Antarctica, extreme eastern South America, Greenland, the Indian Ocean, the South Atlantic Ocean, and the eastern North Atlantic Ocean; the end visible in Africa, Europe, western Asia, Queen Maud Land of Antarctica and Antarctic Peninsula, South America, eastern North America, Greenland, the Arctic region, the Atlantic Ocean, the western Indian Ocean, and the extreme eastern South Pacific Ocean.

August 28 - total lunar eclipse (see map): The beginning of the umbral phase visible in North America, South America except extreme east, Antarctica except for Enderby Land, New Zealand, eastern Australia, extreme northeastern Asia, the Pacific Ocean, and the western Atlantic Ocean; the end visible in New Zealand, Australia, most of Antarctica except Queen Maud Land, Indonesia, eastern Asia, western North America, the Pacific Ocean, and the southeastern Indian Ocean.

Eclipse information from: NASA Eclipse Homepage, Eclipses Online (HM Nautical Almanac Office, UK in coordination with the U.S. Naval Observatory)

Meteor Showers for 2007

As luck would have it, all the major meteor showers reach their peaks in 2007 with the Moon out of the sky. Any of these showers can produce dozens of shooting stars each dark hour leading up to dawn.

Mark your calendar to look for...
  • Lyrids on April 23rd
  • Perseids on August 13th
  • Orionids on October 21st
  • Leonids on November 18th
  • Geminids on the night of December 13-14 (Meteor enthusiasts are keenly awaiting the Geminids in 2007 because their progenitor, the defunct comet Phaethon, precedes them in a flyby of Earth on December 10th.)

Comets for May

Gary Kronk's comet and meteor pages
Skyhound Comet pages

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Music Scottish Guitar Quartet -"Romance within you"
Boom Boom Beckett - "In a sentimental mood"
Aff the Cuff - "I'll tell me Ma" -(not what we want to hear on Mother's Day!)

Direct download: AAGG_sky_tour_May_07.mp3
Category:Sky Tours -- posted at: 11:36 AM