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OUTREACH January 2009

January Meeting

          Oklahoma Space Alliance will meet at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 24 at the Koszoru house in Norman. Prospective members are also welcome. Their house is at 514 Fenwick Court in Norman.
          The usual route to get to the Koszoru house is blocked by road construction, so I'll have to send you in the back way. Take the Robinson Street west exit off I-35. Rambling Oaks intersects Robinson Street just west of this exit, between Arby's and Waffle House. Go south on Rambling Oaks about a quarter mile until it turns due west. Fenwick Court is the second street on the right after this turn. Tom's house is the last on the left side.


1) Introductions (if necessary)
2) Read and approve agenda
3) Read and approve minutes and reports of activities
4) Read and discuss mail
5) Old Business Annual Report
          a) Yuri’s Night 2009
          b) Space Week Project for Second Life
          c) Start Up Kit for Chapters in Second Life
          d) 40th Anniversary of Moon Landing (July 2009)
          e) Space Solar Power
6) New Business
7) Create New Agenda

Minutes of December Meeting

          The December meeting of Oklahoma Space Alliance was our annual Christmas party at the Koszoru house. Attending were Claire and Clifford McMurray, Tim Scott, Syd Henderson, and our hosts, Tom and Heidi Koszoru.
          Although this was primarily a party, we did have a little bit of business to do. We elected officers: Tom Koszoru as President, Claire McMurray as Vice-President, Syd Henderson as Secretary and Tim Scott as Treasurer.
          We were selling coupon books as a fundraiser and sold about 20 of them.
          The January 17 meeting will find Claire and Clifford out of town, so we’ll work on Second Life. [Plans have been changed because Tom also has a scheduling conflict. The meeting has been moved to January 24, which will permit a fuller agenda.]
          We need to get the chapter’s annual report into headquarters in February. Tom and Tim do most of the report, but Syd does the summary of chapter activities.
          Tom is putting together a handbook for virtual NSS chapters—that is, chapters that meet online in virtual worlds such as Second Life. Such chapters can have members all over the world who meet in particular locations online.

--Minutes submitted by OSA Secretary Syd Henderson

Minutes of November Meeting

          The Oklahoma Space Alliance chapter of National Space Society met at the Koszoru house on the afternoon of November 15. In attendance were Tom and Heidi Koszoru, Claire McMurray, John Northcutt and Syd Henderson.
         Claire and Clifford McMurray suggest that we sell coupon books as a fundraiser. The books have coupons for businesses in both Norman and Oklahoma City, including restaurants and supermarkets. We can sell them for $20.00 and split the profits between Claire asked if we would like to buy some ourselves or take some to sell. Syd cannot sell them at work but can sell them to friends and acquaintances. Anyone who sells five coupon books gets a free one.
         The November meeting is the one at which we nominate officers for the coming year. Nominees are Tom Koszoru for President, Claire McMurray for Vice President, and Syd Henderson as Secretary. Tim Scott was provisionally nominated as Treasurer, but Clifford McMurray is willing to serve if Tim can't.
        The Christmas Party will be at 5:00 p.m. on December 20 at the Koszoru house,
        Claire and Kip will be absent and incommunicado for most of the month of January.
        Claire will be a voting member of the Conference Committee of the National Space Society. This is the committee that works with the local chapter that is running the International Space Development Conference.
        We will probably be celebrating Yuri's Night on April 11 since April 12 is a Sunday. The 99s Museum of Women Pilots doesn't want to do a Casino Night. We still need to know if they want to host a celebration. Can we do it at a church? Other sites suggested are the recreation center next to the Moore Library, Rose State College, and meeting rooms, if any, at the Lloyd Noble Center.
        The 99s want to charge $30.00 for a meeting.

        Tom has a Space Week project for Second Life. Tom wants to work on a start-up kip for NSS chapters on Second Life. This would be based on the kit we use for international chapters. Chapters on Second Life could themselves be international since the members could login from any location hooked up in the real world. Syd can help for two Saturdays per month. Target date is the ISDC.
        We should give an invitation to Carolyn Smith at the 99s Museum to come to Christmas Party. Other people we should invite include Wayne Wyrick, Cheryl Neal, Cathryne Stein and David Miller. Claire can issue a RSVP at the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meeting.

        Claire went to the Norman Public Library to look at their display case for the July celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. This is divided into three sections. We can devote the left section to 1957-72 (Apollo pre-space station), the right to 1973-2010 (space station era, including Skylab) and the third section to the future. This would run the month of July.
        Syd will contact the University of Oklahoma Library to see if they can do a display of space books for July. He should check with the History of Science collection about early space books such as those of Willy Ley and Arthur C. Clarke.
        We have received fifty space calendars of which eleven have gone to the 99s Museum. We may be able to sell some at the Omniplex. Syd bought three for gifts.
        No new news on the Rocket Racing League. Take it off the agenda.
        We went through the coupon fundraiser. [See above.] We should send an e-mail to the Fanarchy mailing list.
        We'll talk about space solar power at a future meeting.

--Minutes submitted by OSA Secretary Syd Henderson

International Year of Astronomy

          2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, the 400th anniversary of telescopic astronomy. In December, 1609, Galileo first pointed his telescope at the heavens and began a revolution in astronomy. 1609 was also the year that Johannes Kepler’s Astronomia nova was published, containing Kepler’s first two laws of planetary motion, establishing that the planets move in elliptical orbits with the Sun at one focus, and that planets sweep out equal areas in equal times. (Kepler’s third law, “The squares of the periodic times are to each other as the cubes of the mean distances,” was published in Harmonicea Mundi in 1619.)
          The first known telescopes date from 1608, and are credited to Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey, although others also claimed the invention. Lippershey applied for a patent but was denied because the invention was already well-known. Jacob Metius also applied for a patent a few weeks later. The first telescope only had a magnifying power of three.
          Galileo was not the first to turn his telescope to the heavens. On July 26, 1609 an English astronomer and mathematician, Thomas Harriot, turned a telescope to the Moon and drew the first map of the Moon. He did this several times over the next several years, improving the map each time. However, since he didn’t publish these maps, his observations didn’t have the impact of Galileo. We also don’t know if Harriot realized that he was looking at mountains and other physical features.
          Galileo built his own telescope in August, 1609, initially with a magnifying power of three, but later improved to thirty. The instrument had obvious military and navigational uses. In December, he turned it on the Moon, and realized he was looking at mountains and plains; in other words, the Moon had many features of a type previously known on Earth. On January 7, 1610, he turned his telescope on Jupiter and discovered what are now known as Io, Europa and Callisto, and realized by January 10 that they were orbiting Jupiter. On January 13, he discovered Ganymede. He named the four satellites the Medicean stars, after Cosimo de’ Medici and his brothers, but fortunately they were renamed, and are now known as the Galilean satellites.
          The discovery of a celestial body with smaller objects orbiting around it was a blow to those who thought the Earth was the center of the Solar System and did much to promote the theories of Copernicus and Kepler. An intermediate system, promoted by Tycho Brahe among others, proposed that the Sun orbited the Earth and the other planets orbited the Sun, but that theory also didn’t allow for satellites of other planets. (Despite this, the Tychonic system was used by Jesuit astronomers for most of the 17th century since the heliocentric theory was against dogma, and the Tychonic system worked pretty well. There’s even a Tychonic system with elliptical orbits.)
          Later in 1610, Galileo observed the phases of Venus, which was incompatible with the Ptolemaic theory. In that theory, the orbit of Venus lay between the Earth and the Sun’s orbit, since the Sun and Venus are never on opposite sides of the Earth (an observation explained through epicycles), it would be impossible for us ever to see a full Venus. Galileo saw precisely that, which meant that Venus must spend part of its time on the other side of the Sun than the Earth, and, since it also shows a crescent sometimes, and even its entire night side, it must sometimes be between the Earth and the Sun. Ptolemaic astronomy didn’t allow for Venus to cross the Sun’s orbit like that (although astronomers determined to keep the geocentric system simply increased the size of the epicycle and let it cross the Sun’s orbit). Tycho’s system did, and Copernicus’s and Kepler’s systems had Venus orbiting the Sun closer than the Earth does.
          Tychonic astronomy mostly died out when the aberration of light was discovered by James Bradley in 1725. This aberration is due to the Earth’s motion around the sun and makes the stellar background appear to move back and forth. (This is not to be confused with parallax, which makes nearby objects appear to move with respect to more distant ones. Aberration is not dependent on distance.) Tycho’s system did last long enough for what is perhaps the most prominent crater on the Moon to be named after him.

          Since this is the International Year of Astronomy, various magazines are celebrating it, including Nature, and, logically, Sky & Telescope. The official kickoff of the year was in Paris on January 15, but the opening ceremony in the US was January 6 in Long Beach, California. The web site for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 is http://www.astronomy2009.org/. (They seem to include 2009 as part of the name, but other sites don’t, and, since it sounds awkward to me, I haven’t either. In particular, the USA site, http://astronomy2009.us/, includes the year in the site name, but not in the text.)

Space Probes: The Kepler Mission

          Since this is the 400th anniversary of the publication of Johannes Kepler’s Astronomia nova, in which he settled the question of the shape of planetary orbits it’s fitting that on March 6, NASA will launch a mission named after Johannes Kepler and dedicated to the discovery of planets orbiting other stars. This is a fortunate coincidence, since the Kepler Mission has been delayed several times by budget cuts, but it now seems to be on track.
          The Kepler Mission is one of those dedicated to examining very, very closely a limited area of sky, in this case, regions of the constellations Lyra and Cygnus. It will examine an estimated 100,000 stars for a period of three and a half years, looking for those tell-tale dips in a star’s brightness which indicates that a planet (or other object) is crossing the star’s disk. The whole area it will examine is about a hundred square degrees, which is about the size of your fist held at arm’s length.
          Among the stars in this area of sky is Vega (alpha Lyrae), the fifth brightest star in the night sky and one that is only 25 light-years away. Vega is known to have a disk of debris surrounding it, and is suspected to have at least one planet. However, we are also apparently looking at one of the poles of Vega, which kind of precludes any planet crossing its disk. Since Vega is also rotating very rapidly, it bulges outward at the equator and the poles are relatively closer to its center. This means Vega’s poles are hotter than you would otherwise expect, and that, combined with us looking at its widest cross-section, makes Vega look brighter than it otherwise would.
          Sheliak (beta Lyrae) is a famous eclipsing binary after which a whole class of binaries is named. It is a “contact binary”—that is, the two components are so close that their shapes are distorted. There is a third component that is farther out.
          Project scientists expect to find hundreds of “hot Jupiters” with periods of a few days but what they are really after are planets are cool enough to have liquid water on their surface. For a sun-like star, this means a star with an orbital period of a year and not so massive as to retain a huge atmosphere. They expect to find anywhere between 50 and 640 candidate stars whose disks are transited about once a year. If they consider planets with orbital periods of nine months to two years, there could be thousands of candidates. If a sun-like star has a planet at about the Earth’s distance, the probability that the planet will transit the stars disk is about one in 210. (The probability that a “hot Jupiter” in a four-day orbit does so is more like 10 %.) If the star has more than one planet, they would tend to orbit in about the same plane, which means that if a star has more than one planet, and one transits the star’s disk from our point of view, there’s a fair chance another one of the planets will also do so.
          From the dip in a star’s light curve due to a transiting body, we know the size of the body, and from the orbital period, we know the distance from the star. If the planet is massive enough that we can detect the motion of its star, then we also know the mass of the planet, which gives a clue to its composition. Kepler will also give us a very good idea of what percentage of sun-like stars has planets in the habitable range. (About 200 times as many as it actually detects.) To actually image the planets would require something like the proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder mission, which has still not been funded, or the European Space Agency’s proposed Darwin mission. (Larger planets around Fomalhaut and HR 8799 were imaged a few months ago.)

[This article is inspired by the article, “The Race to Find Alien Earths” by Camille M. Carlisle, on pp. 28 – 33 of the January 2009 Sky & Telescope, and some of the specifics on the Kepler Mission comes from that. I’ve also used articles on the stars (including their Wikipedia), the Kepler Mission website and whatever else I could find.
          Ms. Carlisle’s article is a lot more general than just covering the Kepler mission, and is highly recommended.—Syd]

Viewing Opportunities for Satellites (January 23 – February 21)

          You can get sighting information at www.heavens-above.com/. Heavens Above allows you to get Station data for 10 day periods, and gives you a constellation map showing the trajectory of the satellite. If you go to the bottom of the map page, it will give you a really detailed map with the location at 10 or 15-second intervals, depending on detail. In fact, the detailed charts will even show you the tracks against maps of the constellations, which should help you if you are familiar with the night sky.
          Sky Online (the Sky & Telescope web site) carries station observation times for the next few nights at skyandtelescope.com/observing/almanac. Note that with the addition of the solar panels, the magnitude of the Space Station can be as bright as magnitude -2.7, making it brighter than all the stars other than the Sun, although magnitude -1 to -2 is more likely. The Hubble Space Telescope can get up to magnitude 1.5, which is brighter than the stars in the Big Dipper, although, since it is lower in the sky, it is a bit more difficult to see. 
          Missions to the Space Station or Hubble Space Telescope may change its orbit. The next shuttle launch to the Space Station is February 12, so may affect some of these times. The repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope has been postponed until May 2009 at the earliest. This will be the final repair mission unless NASA decides that it will require a crew to de-orbit the Space Telescope.

HST   January 23, 2009
Time           Position           Elevation
7:31 p.m.          225°                  21°
7:32                  206                    28
7:33                  179                    32
7:33:52             155                    29
Vanishes into Earth’s shadow

HST   January 24, 2009
Time           Position           Elevation
7:29 p.m.         228°                  21°
7:30                 210                    28
7:31                 183                    32
7:32                 154                    28
Vanishes into Earth’s shadow

Station   February 4, 2009
Time           Position           Elevation
6:54 p.m.         304°                  18°
6:55                 295                    35
6:56                 230                    66
6:57                 154                    38
6:58                 144                    19

Station   February 6, 2009
Time           Position           Elevation
6:15 p.m.         297°                  17°
6:16                 283                    32
6:17                 229                    51
6:18                 170                    34
6:19                 153                    18

Station   February 16, 2009
Time           Position           Elevation
6:53 a.m.         246°                  17°
6:54                 260                    34
6:55                 322                    55
6:56                   21                    33
6:57                   35                    17

Station   February 18, 2009
Time           Position           Elevation
Appears from Earth’s shadow about 2° to the right of Saturn
6:13:15 a.m.    262°                  25°
6:14                 271                    30
6:15                 322                    44*
6:16                   13                    30
6:17                   29                    17
* Passes through center of the bowl of the Big Dipper

          Pass times are from Heavens Above
          Key: Position is measured in degrees clockwise from north. That is, 0° is due north, 90° is due east, 180° is due south, and 270° is due west.  Your fist held at arm's length is about ten degrees wide. "Elevation" is elevation above the horizon in degrees. Thus, to find the Space Station at 6:17 p.m. on February, measure just under five fist widths west of south, then just over five fist-widths above the horizon.
          All times are rounded off to the nearest minute except for times when the satellite enters or leaves the shadow of the Earth. The highest elevation shown for each viewing opportunity is the actual maximum elevation for that appearance. The time that shows up as 6:14 a.m. in the February 18 viewing opportunity for the Space Station is really 6:13:35 and is only 20 seconds after the Station leaves Earth’s shadow, not 45 seconds.
          In addition to the J-Pass program which I use to provide this satellite viewing data, J-Pass provides a service called J-Pass Generator, which will e‑mail you sighting information for the next three days for up to ten satellites. For more information, go to science.nasa.gov/Realtime/JPass/PassGenerator/.

 Sky Viewing

          Venus reached maximum eastern elongation on January 14, 47° from the Sun in the western sky at sunset (measured along the ecliptic). At this point, Venus was about half full and magnitude -4.5. Venus will remain more than 40° from the Sun throughout February, and actually get brighter although becoming less full, because it is getting closer and its apparent diameter is getting larger. For most of February, Venus will be magnitude -4.8, with maximum brightness on February 19. That’s bright enough that you may be able to see your shadow by Venuslight on a really dark night.
          Mercury was at inferior conjunction on January 20, hence is still not visible. By February 4 it will be 8° above the horizon a half-hour before sunrise, and will stay about that height through mid-February. It will be around magnitude 0 through February, which is not especially bright for Mercury. Greatest elongation is February 13, but this is only really good in the Southern Hemisphere. Mercury will be part of an unusual conjunction in late February. See below for details.
          Mars was in conjunction with the Sun on December 5 and is still not visible. Mars will still be hard to see in late February, being only 5° above the horizon a half-hour after sunset and magnitude 1.2. Mars will not really start to become It will be part of the same conjunction as Mercury.
          And Jupiter is in superior conjunction with the Sun on January 24, so it is also not visible. However, Jupiter separates from the Sun more rapidly than Mars does, and is brighter, so it will begin to become visible in mid-February at magnitude -1.9.
          The unusual conjunction I was mentioning takes place on February 22. Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and the crescent Moon will be in an almost straight line spaced out at intervals of four degrees, two degrees and four degrees. This will be difficult to see because Mars in particular will be washed out by the morning twilight. On February 24, Jupiter and Mercury will be separated by a little more than half a degree. Mercury and Mars will be in conjunction around the first of March with a separation of less than a degree, but this will be very difficult to see.
          Saturn is actually visible! In fact, since it is at opposition on March 8, it’s becoming more visible each night. Saturn’s rings are almost edge-on at the moment, so it’s only about magnitude 1.0. It’s near the border of the constellations Virgo and Leo. Leo’s the constellation with the “sickle” asterism containing the first-magnitude star Regulus; Saturn appears a little brighter than Regulus. Saturn will be getting brighter through February, reaching magnitude +0.5 near the end of the month. This is because the rings will open up a few degrees as Saturn approaches opposition.
          Since the rings are edge-on, so are the orbits of Saturn’s inner moons, including Titan. At 5:00 a.m. on February 24, Titan’s shadow will cross Saturn’s disk. Titan itself should also be transiting Saturn’s disk sometime this year.
          Uranus is magnitude 5.9 and in the constellation Aquarius. From January 21 through 23, it will be in conjunction with Venus, being separated by 1.5° on January 22. There is a map on page 62 of the January Sky & Telescope if you wish to locate it. Uranus will be getting less visible in February as it nears its March 12 conjunction with the Sun.
          Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun on February 12 and is impossible to see. And Pluto was in conjunction on December 22 and is even more impossible to see than usual.

          The dwarf planet Ceres is not only at opposition on February 25, but it will be the closest it will be to Earth for the next 2000 years. Even so, it will be only theoretically visible to the naked eye at magnitude 6.9. Ceres is in the constellation Leo. There is a finder chart on page 47 of the February issue of Astronomy and Sky & Telescope promises one for the March issue.

          There’s an annular solar eclipse on January 26 that only hits land in eastern Sumatra and central Borneo in Indonesia. The path of the eclipse begins in the South Atlantic, and crosses the Indian Ocean starting from a point a third of the way from South Africa to Antarctica, straight to Sumatra. The eclipse is partial in southern Africa, southern India, Indochina, most of western Indonesia, all of Australia, and much of eastern Antarctica.
          The reason this is an annular eclipse is because the Earth was at perihelion on January 4 and the Moon is at apogee on January 22. Thus the Sun looks bigger than usual and the Moon looks smaller, and the edge of the sun can be seen around the Moon’s shadow. The situation will be the exact opposite in July when the eclipse in Asia hits on the same day as lunar perigee and shortly after aphelion. The result will be an eclipse with 6.6 minutes of totality, which is close to the maximum.

          Whenever there is a total or annular solar eclipse, there are lunar eclipses of some sort two weeks before and after. This time, we get a penumbral lunar eclipse around 8:49 a.m. on February 9. The northern part of the Moon will appear visibly darker, but no part of the Moon will be in the darkest part of Earth’s shadow.
          There are also penumbral lunar eclipses on July 7 and August 6, but they won’t be noticeable. There’s also one on New Year’s Eve for people in the Eastern Hemisphere. The next total eclipse of the Moon will not be until December 20 – 21, 2010, and will be visible from all of North and South America.

[Information for this section comes from the February 2009 Astronomy, January and February 2009 Sky & Telescope, www.skyandtelescope.com, and Wikipedia.]

Calendar of Events

          January 24, 2009; Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun.
          January 24, 2009: Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          January 24, 2009: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club member night at the Cheddar Ranch Observatory. For more information, call, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
          January 26, 2009: Annular solar eclipse visible in Indian Ocean and Indonesia.
          January 28, 2009: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club member night, 6:00 p.m., Cheddar Ranch Observatory. For more information, call, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
          February 12, 2009: Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun.
          February 12, 2009: Launch of Discovery to the Space Station.
          February 13, 2009: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 26° west of the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
          February 13, 2009: Meeting of the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club at Science Museum Oklahoma (formerly the Omniplex). There will be a novice session in the planetarium at 6:45 p.m., followed by a club meeting at 7:30 p.m.
          February 19 – 22, 2009: Spacefest 2009 in San Diego, California. For information, visit novaspace.com/spacefest/.
          February 21, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          February 25, 2009: The dwarf planet Ceres is at opposition in Leo, shining at magnitude 6.9 and visible through binoculars.
          March 2009: Dawn asteroid probe flies by Mars.
          March 1, 2009: Mercury is 0.6° south of Mars.
          March 6, 2009: Launch of the Kepler Mission, which will look for Earth-sized and smaller planets around other stars. For more information, visit kepler.nasa.gov/.
          March 8, 2009: Saturn is at opposition.
          March 12, 2009: Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun.
          March 21, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          March 27. 2009: Venus is in inferior conjunction with the Sun.
          March 30, 2009: Mercury is in superior conjunction with the Sun.
          April 18, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          April 22, 2009: Peak of Lyrid meteor shower.
          April 24, 2009: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is launched. It will assume a polar orbit. The mission will last at least a year. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Reconnaissance_Orbiter or lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/.
          April 26, 2009: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 20° east of the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
          May 2009: Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on the fifth and final servicing mission to Hubble Space Telescope. [Updated November 9.]
          May 15, 2009: Launch of Endeavour with third section of the Japanese Kibo Module to the Space Station. [This may be moved to avoid conflict with the Hubble mission.]
          May 16, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          June 5, 2009: Venus is at greatest western elongation, 46° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
          June 13, 2009: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 23° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
          June 20, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          June 23, 2009: Pluto is at opposition.
          July 18, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          July 22, 2009 (July 21 in America): Total solar eclipse visible in central and eastern India, Bhutan and China. This eclipse will be visible to more people than any other in history (provided the sky is clear, of course).
          August 10, 2009: Saturn’s rings are edge-on with respect to the Sun.
          August 12, 2009: Peak of Perseid meteor shower.
          August 14, 2009: Jupiter is at opposition.
          August 15, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          August 17, 2009: Neptune is at opposition.
          August 24, 2009: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 27° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
          September 4, 2009: Saturn’s rings appear edge-on.
          September 16, 2009: Uranus is at opposition.
          September 17, 2009: Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun.
          September 19, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          September 30, 2009: MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury.
          October 2009: Russia launches Phobos-Grunt, a sample return mission to Martian moon Phobos. A Chinese Mars Orbiter will be part of the mission. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phobos-Grunt.
          October 5, 2009: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 18° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
          October 8, 2009: Mercury is 0.3° south of Saturn.
          October 13, 2009: Venus is 0.6° south of Saturn.
          October 17, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          October 21, 2009: Peak of Orionid meteor shower.
          November 17, 2009: Peak of Leonid meteor shower.
          November 21, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          December 14, 2009: Peak of Geminid meteor shower.
          December 18, 2009: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 20° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
          December 19, 2009: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
          December 21, 2009: the eclipsing binary Epsilon Aurigae begins its total eclipse. This will last until March 12, 2011. This is the longest known eclipse of any eclipsing binary.
          January 2010: Annular solar eclipse visible in central Africa.
          January 11, 2010: Venus is in superior conjunction with the Sun.
          January 27, 2009: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 25° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
          January 29, 2010: Mars is at opposition with magnitude -1.3.
          February 11, 2010: Launch of Atlantis to the Space Station. This is last scheduled mission for Atlantis.
          April 8, 2010: Launch of Discovery to the Space Station. This is the last scheduled launch for Discovery.
          May 31, 2010: Launch of Endeavour to the Space Station. This is the last scheduled mission for any space shuttle.
          May 2010: Japan launches the Venus Climate Orbiter (aka Planet‑C) to Venus. Web page is www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/planet_c/index_e.html.
          June 2010: Hayabusa returns to Earth with a sample of asteroid Itokawa.  This will be the first asteroid sample returned to Earth. Web site is www.isas.jaxa.jp/e/enterp/missions/hayabusa/index.shtml.
          July 10, 2010: The Rosetta comet probe passes asteroid 21 Lutetia.
          July 11, 2010: Total solar eclipse in southern Chile and Argentina.
          September 21, 2010: Jupiter is at opposition. This is the closest Jupiter will come to Earth in the next 20 years, about 370 million miles.
          December 2010: Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter arrives at Venus.
          December 21, 2010: Total eclipse of the Moon, visible just after midnight in North and South America.
          March 18, 2011: MESSENGER goes into orbit around Mercury.
          June, 2011: Total eclipse of the Moon, visible in South America and most of Eastern Hemisphere.
          October 2011: Dawn probe orbits Vesta. See dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/  or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Mission for details.
          October -December 2011: The Mars Science Laboratory is launched. See marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details. [Moved from October 2009]
          October 2011 – April 2012: Dawn probe orbits Vesta.
          December 10, 2011: Total eclipse of the Moon. This one is at its best in Russia, eastern Asia, Australia, Alaska and the Yukon, but the early part of the eclipse will be visible in the rest of North America.
          Sometime in 2012: Russia launches the “Luna-Glob” mission which will deploy 13 mini-probes upon the lunar surface.
          March 3, 2012: Mars is at opposition at magnitude -1.2. This is the worst opposition for the next twenty years.
          April 2012: Dawn probe leaves orbit around Vesta for Ceres.
          June 6, 2012: Venus transits the Sun's disk.  The early part of this will be visible from the United States, but the full transit will only be visible from the western Pacific Ocean, eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and eastern Indonesia including New Guinea.
          Fall 2012: The Mars Science Laboratory rover lands on Mars. See marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details.
          June 2013: Earliest date for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
          August 2013 (approximate): The European Space Agency/JAXA BepiColombo Mercury Orbiter is launched. Home page is sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=30.
          August 2014 - December 2015: The Rosetta space probe orbits comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In November, 2014, it will release the Philae lander. See September 5, 2008 for website information.
          Sometime in 2015 or 2016: Launch of SIM PlanetQuest (aka the Space Interferometry Mission). This mission was originally supposed to have been launched in 2005 and has been delayed at least five times. It was recently moved from 2012. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Interferometry_Mission.
          February 2015: Dawn space probe arrives at Ceres. Operations are scheduled to continue through July. Dawn may continue on to other asteroids if it is still operational.
          July 14, 2015: The New Horizons probe passes through the Pluto-Charon system. The New Horizons web site is pluto.jhuapl.edu/.
          Sometime in 2016: ESA launches the ExoMars Mars Rover. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exomars.
          July 2016-2020:  The New Horizons probe visits the Kuiper Belt.
          August 21, 2017: The next total solar eclipse visible in the United States, on a pretty straight path from Portland, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.  St. Louis is the biggest city in-between.
          August 2019 (approximate) BepiColombo arrives at Mercury orbit.
          April 8, 2024: A total solar eclipse crosses the US from the middle of the Mexico-Texas border, crosses Arkansas, southern Missouri, Louisville, Cleveland, Buffalo and northern New England.
          August 12, 2045: The next total solar eclipse visible in Oklahoma.  This one is also visible in Salt Lake City, Denver, Little Rock (again), Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

Space News

          Data from the 2006 balloon-based ARCADE mission has presented a mystery—a low-frequency cosmic radio wave background distinct from the well-known cosmic microwave background. The microwave background dates from 380,000 years after the Big Bang and marks the point at which atoms formed and the Universe became transparent. This new radiation would have to mark some other cosmic event, but nobody knows what it might be. The radio background is about six times the total expected, and has been nicknamed the “space roar.”
          Incidentally, although the cosmic microwave background is the best known, there are also cosmic background radiations in infrared, X-ray and gamma ray wavelengths. There is a cosmic neutrino background dating back to two seconds after the Big Bang, when the temperature of the Universe became too low to spontaneously produce W and Z bosons and allowed neutrinos to go their merry way.

          Large deposits of Martian ice have been detected in the northern and southern mid-latitudes. These tend to be buried under about thirty feet of debris which preserve them from evaporation. These seem to be the remnants of glaciers from millions of years ago when the mid-latitudes were colder (because of a different Martian axial tilt) and could be a water source for future astronauts.

Space-Related Articles

          Several magazines did special issues for the International Year of Astronomy. In particular, Nature magazine’s was the January 1 issue, and, among other things had a ten page history of the science discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as articles on upcoming telescopes such as the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which is a smaller version of the proposed Overwhelmingly Large Telescope (OWL), and the Square Kilometer Array, which would be a 14 billion dollar array of radio telescopes due in 2020 at the earliest.

          Oklahoma Space Alliance Officers, 2009 (Area Code 405)

Tom Koszoru, President                                       366-1797 (H)
Claire McMurray, Vice-President/Update Editor   329-4326 (H) 863-6173 (C)
Syd Henderson, Secretary & Outreach Editor       321-4027 (H)
Tim Scott, Treasurer                                             740-7549 (H)

OSA E-mail Addresses and Web Site:

claire.mcmurray at sbcglobal.net (Claire McMurray)
T_Koszoru at cox.net (Heidi and Tom Koszoru)
sydh at ou.edu (Syd Henderson)
ctscott at mac.com (Tim Scott)
lensman13 at aol.com  (Steve Galpin)
dmcraig at earthlink.net (Nancy and David Craig).
          E-mail for OSA should be sent to [email protected].  Members who wish  their e-mail addresses printed in Outreach, and people wishing space-related materials e-mailed to them should contact Syd.  Oklahoma Space Alliance website is osa.nss.org/index.html. Webmaster is Syd Henderson.

Other Information

          Air and Space Museum: Science Museum Oklahoma (formerly the Omniplex), Oklahoma City, 602‑6664 or 1-800-532-7652.
          Oklahoma Space Industrial Development Authority (OSIDA), 401 Sooner Drive/PO Box 689, Burns Flat, OK 73624, 580-562-3500.  Web site www.state.ok.us/~okspaceport.
          Tulsa Air and Space Museum, 7130 E. Apache, Tulsa, OK  74115.
Web Site is www.tulsaairandspacemuseum.com.  Phone (918)834-9900.
          The Mars Society address is Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills CO 80454. Their web address is www.marsociety.org.
          The National Space Society's Headquarters phone is 202-429-1600.  The Chapters Coordinator is Bennett Rutledge 720-529-8024.  The address is:  National Space Society, 1620 I (Eye) Street NW Ste. 615, Washington, DC 20006.    Web page is space.nss.org.  
          NASA Spacelink BBS  205-895-0028.  Or try www.nasa.gov.  .
          Congressional Switchboard 202/224-3121.
           Write to any U. S. Senator or Representative at [name]/ Washington DC, 20510 (Senate) or 20515 [House].

 A Chapter of the National Space Society


Please enroll me as a member of Oklahoma Space Alliance.  Enclosed is:
___________________ $10.00 for Membership.  (This allows full voting privileges, but covers only your own newsletter expense.)
___________________ $15.00 for family membership

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          National Space Society has a special $20 introductory rate for new members ($35 for new international members).  Regular membership rates are $45, international $60.  Student memberships are $20.  Part of the cost is for the magazine, Ad Astra.  Mail to: National Space Society, 1620 I (Eye) Street NW, Washington DC 20006, or join at space.nss.org/membership. (Brochures are at the bottom with the special rate.) Be sure to ask them to credit your membership to Oklahoma Space Alliance.
          To join the Mars Society, visit.  One-year memberships are $50.00; student and senior memberships are $25, and Family memberships are $100.00.    Their address is Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills CO 80454.

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OSA Memberships are for 1 year, and include a subscription to our monthly newsletters, Outreach and Update.  Send check & form to Oklahoma Space Alliance, 102 W. Linn, #1, Norman, OK 73071.

To contact Oklahoma Space Alliance, e-mail Syd Henderson.
102 W. Linn St. #1
Norman OK 73069
Copyright ©2007 Oklahoma Space Alliance.