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OUTREACH January 2011

January 2011 Meeting (NOTE DATE and LOCATION)

         Oklahoma Space Alliance will meet at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 15 at Panera Bread, 4401 W. Memorial Road in northern Oklahoma City.
         There are several routes to get there. From the south a simple one is to take I -35, continue on I-235 (aka 77) to Memorial, turn west. Alternatively, turn west on 240 or I-44, north on 74 (aka Portland Ave. and the Lake Hefner Parkway) and west when you reach Memorial. From the North, Highways 74, 77 and I-35 all intersect Memorial, with the first being closest to Panera Bread. Panera Bread is about halfway between the Lake Hefner Parkway (74) and N. MacArthur Blvd, and is a mile and a half west of Quail Springs Mall.

  1. Introductions (if necessary)
  2. Read and approve agenda
  3. Read and approve minutes and reports of activities
  4. Old Business
    1. Research funding
    2. A New OSA Logo
    3. Treasurer’s Report
    4. 50th Anniversary of Manned Space Flight (Yuri's Night 2011)
    5. Space Solar Power
    6. Distribution of Ad Astras.
    7. Marketing for Burns Flat
    8. Book reviews
    9. Annual Report
  5. Read and discuss mail
  6. New Business
  7. Create New Agenda

         We have received letters thank-you letters from Ms. Keeton’s class at Washington Elementary School in Clinton, Oklahoma, and Syd will bring them to the meeting.

Minutes of December Meeting

         Oklahoma Space Alliance met at the Koszorus’ house on December 18 for its annual Christmas dinner. Attending were Tom and Heidi Koszoru and their daughter Jennie, Claire and Clifford McMurray, John Northcutt, Tim Scott, Leigh Perry and Jim Trombly.
         This was the meeting to elect officers, and we reelected Tom Koszoru as President, John Northcutt as Vice President, Syd Henderson as Secretary and Tim Scott as Treasurer.
         Leigh brought prospective designs for a new logo for Oklahoma Space Alliance. We discussed designs for the rocket to appear on the logo. Jim pointed out straight representation of the Falcon 9 craft or Dragon capsule would be problematic since they are private spacecraft and SpaceX would have rights to their images. On the other hand, images of NASA spacecraft are safe to use, so we are going to use some variant of one of the Ares designs.
         We’ve been trying to vary our meeting places, and we decided to have our January meeting in north Oklahoma City (not Edmond as I’ve erroneously written before).
--Report from OSA Secretary Syd Henderson

Viewing Opportunities for Satellites (January 15 – February 21, 2011)

         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. With the addition of the solar panels, the Space Station can be as bright as magnitude -3.5, making it brighter than all the stars other than the Sun and all the planets other than Venus, 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 may change its orbit. Be sure to check Heavens Above or www.jsc.nasa.gov/sightings before going out to watch.  The next shuttle mission to the Space Station will be no earlier than February 24, but an exact date hasn’t been set yet.
         The last mission to the Hubble Telescope has already occurred so its information should be reliable.
         I’ve extended the deadline this time beyond the February meeting so we could actually have an evening viewing opportunity.

HST  January 14, 2011
Time           Position    Elevation
6:43 a.m.        227°           21°
6:44               208             28
6:45               181             32
6:46               153             28
6:47               134             21

Station  January 22, 2011
Time           Position    Elevation
7:21 a.m.        242°           18°
7:22               254             35
7:23               321             60
7:24                 26             34
7:25                 37             18

Station  January 24, 2011
Time           Position    Elevation
6:37 a.m.        247°           17°
6:38               261             33
6:39               323             53
6:40                 20             33
6:41                 34             17

HST  February 8, 2011
Time           Position    Elevation
Appears from Earth‘s shadow
5:53 a.m.        216°           23°
5:54               193             30
5:55               164             30
5:56               140             25
5:57               125             18

HST  February 9, 2011
Time           Position    Elevation
Appears from Earth’s shadow
5:51 a.m.        214°           26°
5:52               189             31
5:53               160             30
5:54               138             23
5:55               125             16

HST  February 10, 2011
Time           Position    Elevation
Appears from Earth’s shadow
5:49 a.m.        213°           27°
5:50               187             31
5:51               159             29
5:52               139             22

Station  February 11, 2011
Time           Position    Elevation
6:22 a.m.        316°           18°
6:23               320             37
6:24                 38             79
6:25               123             37
6:26               127             18

Station  February 21, 2011
Time           Position    Elevation
7:01 p.m.        216°           20°*
7:02               263             31
7:03               317             50
7:04                 17             33
7:05                 32             17
* Passes 1° above Jupiter
            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 Hubble Space Telescope at 5:53 a.m. on February 9, measure two fist-widths east of due south, then three 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.
         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

 [Information from skyandtelescope.com and the January and February issues of both Astronomy and Sky & Telescope.]
         Mercury is just past its greatest western elongation and is visible about an hour before sunrise. It will continue to be visible through most of the rest of January, but will be too close to the Sun to be seen through most of February, reaching superior conjunction on February 25.
         Venus is currently a morning star rising two hours before dawn, and is magnitude -4.6. It will dim slightly in February as it moves away from the Earth. Currently it is above the head of Scorpius, but in February, it will be moving through the heart of Sagittarius.
         On February 9, Venus will be only 0.4° south of the asteroid Vesta. Since Vesta will be magnitude 7.8, you will need binoculars or a telescope to find it.
         Mars is nearing its February 4 conjunction with the Sun and will be lost in the glare of the Sun through February.
         Jupiter is the starlike object high in the south at sunset and is still magnitude -2.3, making it the brightest object in the evening sky. Currently, Jupiter’s setting after ten p.m., but by the end of February, it will be setting around 8:00 p.m.
         Saturn is currently rising just before midnight in the constellation Virgo. At magnitude 0.7, it is slightly brighter than Spica, the first magnitude star in Virgo. Saturn is higher in the sky than Spica. Saturn will be about 8° from Spica at the end of January, which is a little less than the width of your fist held at arm’s length. By the end of February, Saturn will be magnitude 0.5, which is noticeably brighter than Spica.
         Uranus and Jupiter had the third of three conjunctions on January 2, and they are still less than 2° apart. The two planets are gradually moving apart, and will be separated by 4° of arc at the beginning of the month, and 8° at the end of the month. Uranus is magnitude 5.9, which is around the threshold of naked-eye visibility. To find Uranus, see the finder chart at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights/85530917.html.
         Neptune is approaching a February 17 conjunction with the Sun and is lost in the glare of the Sun.

Space News

         Colonel Douglas Wheelock was commander of Expedition 25 on the International Space Station from  September 22 until November 26. He also tweeted a series of stunning photographs from the Space Station, which can be seen online at http://triggerpit.com/2010/11/22/incredible-pics-nasa-astronaut-wheelock/ or at http://twitpic.com/photos/Astro_Wheels. (Astro_Wheels is his twitpic identity.)

         US Representative Gabrielle Giffords is one of the victims of a mass shooting in Arizona and as of this writing is in critical condition. Her husband, Mark Kelly, will be the commander of the final mission of space shuttle Endeavour, which is the final planned mission of the Space Shuttle program. Her brother-in-law, Scott Kelly, is Mark Kelly’s twin brother and the current commander of the International Space Station. They’re the only siblings ever to fly in space.

         The final mission of Discovery has been moved again. The earliest possible date now is February 24. Mission managers hope that by January 14 they will be able to set a launch date. This mission has been postponed several times since November 5 due to cracks in the external fuel tank.
         Since Endeavour was to be launched on February 26, this pushes its launch date until later in the year. The exact date will be decided when the date of Discovery’s launch is set. These are the final scheduled missions of the American Space Shuttle program. Atlantis flew its last mission in May of 2010.

         The Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope has detected beams of antimatter produced inside thunderstorms. Specifically, Fermi’s Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor has detected gamma rays with an energy of 511,000 electron volts, which is the signature of an electron and positron annihilating each other. (Positrons are the antimatter particle to electrons.)
         The positrons are being produced by terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) in thunderclouds. Electrical fields near the top of thunderclouds can accelerate electrons to near the speed of light. When these collide with air molecules, they produce gamma-rays. If the gamma rays are energetic enough, they can produce electron-positron pairs which escape from the Earth’s atmosphere along field lines of Earth’s magnetic field.   Some of the positrons collided with electrons in Fermi itself, producing the tell-tale signature.
         It is estimated that 500 TGFs occur daily, and it is suspected that all of them produce positrons.

         Astronomers using the Kepler space telescope have announced the discovery of the first exoplanet that is unambiguously terrestrial and that is orbiting around a sunlike star. Kepler 10b is 1.4 times the diameter of the Earth, with a mass 4.6 times of the Earth. That translates to a density 1.67 times that of the Earth, or more than nine times the density of water. By comparison, lead has eleven times the density of water. Surface gravity on Kepler 10b is 2.5 times that on Earth.
         This is another close-in planet, orbiting its star at a distance of 1.8 million miles with an orbital period of less than a day. Since its star, Kepler 10, is about as bright as the Sun, Kepler 10b is extremely hot, and its starward surface is probably molten lava.
         I’m a little puzzled by the announcement. Corot-7b has a diameter 1.7 times that of Earth, a mass 4.9 that of Earth and about the same density. Apparently there is some doubt to the mass of Corot-7b, and to its composition. With a mass that large, if it had the same composition of Earth, gravitational compression would make it much denser. It is quite possible Corot-7b may be mostly water.

Calendar of Events
         January 14: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meets 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.
         January 15: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:30 p.m., Panera Bread at 4401 W. Memorial Rd in Oklahoma City.
         February 4: Mars is in conjunction with the Sun.
         February 9: Venus is 0.4° from the asteroid Vesta.
         February 9: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting, 1:30 p.m., Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         February 11: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meets 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 12: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         February 17: Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun.
         February 24: Earliest potential launch date for Discovery to the International Space Station. This is the last mission for Discovery.
         [Note: the final mission of Endeavour to the Space Station will not have a launch date until the launch date of Discovery is set. Endeavour’s light  is the scheduled conclusion of the space shuttle program.]
         February 25: Mercury is in superior conjunction with the Sun.
         March 9: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting, 1:30 p.m., Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         March 11: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meets 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.
         March 12: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         March 16: Mercury passes 2° north of Jupiter.
         March 18: MESSENGER goes into orbit around Mercury.
         March 21: Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun.
         March 22: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 19° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset). This is the best chance in 2011 for Northern Hemisphere viewers to see Mercury (but see May!).
         April 3: Saturn is at opposition.
         April 6: Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun.
         April 8: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meets 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.
         April 9: Mercury is in inferior conjunction with the Sun.
         April 9: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         April 12: Yuri’s Night. 50th anniversary of manned space flight.
         April 13: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting, 1:30 p.m., Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         May 1: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting, 1:30 p.m., Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         May 4 – 18: Mercury is within 2° of Venus.
         May 7: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 27° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         May 11: Jupiter and Venus are 0.6° apart. Mercury is only a couple of degrees away, and Mars is 5° east of Jupiter.
         May 13: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meets 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.
         May 14: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         May 19: Mercury passes 2° south of Mars.
         June 1: Partial solar eclipse viewable in northern Canada, Alaska and northern and eastern Russia.
         June 8: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting, 1:30 p.m., Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         June 10: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meets 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.
         June 11: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         June 12: Mercury is in superior conjunction with the Sun.
         June 15: Total eclipse of the Moon, visible in South America and most of Eastern Hemisphere.
         June 28: Pluto is at opposition.
         July 2011 - May 2012: Dawn probe orbits Vesta. See dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/  or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Mission for details.
         July 1: Partial solar eclipse, viewable in a small area off  Queen Maud Land in Antarctica.
         July 7: Neptune completes its first orbit since discovery.
         July 8: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         July 20: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 27° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
         July 20: 42nd anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing.
         August 5: The asteroid Vesta is at opposition, and, at magnitude 5.6, is visible to the naked eye.
         August 5: Launch of the Juno mission to Jupiter. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juno_(spacecraft) or http://juno.wisc.edu/ for details.
         August 13: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         August 16: Venus is in superior conjunction with the Sun, and Mercury is in inferior conjunction.
         August 22: Neptune is at opposition.
         September 3: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 18° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         September 8: Launch of GRAIL, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, to orbit the Moon. This is actually a dual probe mission. For more information, visit http://moon.mit.edu/index.html.
         September 10: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         September 25: Uranus is at opposition.
         October 8: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         October 13: Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun.
         October 28: Jupiter is at opposition.
         November 12: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         November 14: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 23.7° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
         November 17: Peak of Leonid meteor shower.
         November 25: The Mars Science Laboratory (aka Curiosity) is launched. See marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details
         November 25: Partial solar eclipse viewable from all of Antarctica, and the Antarctic Ocean from Africa to Australia.
         December 10: 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.
         December 22: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 22° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         Late 2011 or early 2012: Launch of the Phobos-Grunt sample return mission to the Martian moon Phobos. For more information, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phobos-Grunt. The orbiter will remain to study Mars while the soil sample will arrive on Earth in late 2012 or early in 2013.
         Sometime in 2012: Russia launches the “Luna-Glob” mission which will deploy 13 mini-probes upon the lunar surface. For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna-Glob.
         February 3, 2012: Launch of NuSTAR space probe from Kwajalein via a Pegasus rocket. NuSTAR will search for black holes, supernova remnants and active galaxies. For more details, visit www.nustar.caltech.edu/ or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Spectroscopic_Telescope_Array.
         March 3, 2012: Mars is at opposition at magnitude -1.2. This is the worst opposition for the next twenty years.
         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 (Curiosity) rover lands on Mars. See marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details.
         April 17, 2013: Mars is in conjunction with the Sun.
         December 30, 2013: Earliest launch date for India’s Chandrayaan II. This mission will include a lunar rover. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrayaan-2.
         Sometime in 2014: The European Space Agency/JAXA BepiColombo Mercury Orbiter is launched. Home page is sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=30.
         April 14-15, 2014. Total eclipse of the Moon visible from North America.
         August 2014 - December 2015: The Rosetta space probe orbits comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In November, 2014, it will release the Philae lander. Web page is www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Rosetta or visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_%28spacecraft%29
         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/.
         September 2015: Earliest date for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. [Moved from July 2014.]
         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.
         Summer of 2020 (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-Related Articles

         The January/February 2011 issue of Discover contains its annual list of the top 100 science stories from the year before. Some of these, naturally, relate to space:
         #7 is the European Space Agency’s map of the Universe at age 300,000. This was produced by the Planck space telescope. Although a lot of this is obscured by gas and dust clouds in the Milky Way, there are also tell-tale clumps of matter which eventually became clusters of galaxies. The Milky Way will eventually be edited out to show more of the early Universe.
         #11 is an interview with planet hunter Geoff Marcy, who discovered seventy of the first hundred known exoplanets, including the first exoplanet to transit its star’s disk, and the first multiple-planet system around a sunlike star (other than the Sun itself). He’s currently one of the investigators for the Kepler Space Telescope, which means he’s potentially going to be the co-discoverer of several hundred more planets. There are an additional 400 stars whose data has been held back for more investigation.
         #23 is “Comets Are Interstellar Visitors.” This doesn’t mean that long-period comets come directly in from interstellar space, but that there are something like a hundred times as many comets in the Oort cloud as star formation models can account for. The explanation is that when the Sun formed in a stellar cluster, it pulled in comets from older star systems amounting to ninety percent of the material in the Oort cloud. [I think this simply shifts the problem to where those older star systems got so many comets for the Sun to steal.]
         #24 is the Ikaros probe, the Japanese solar sail that is going to Venus.
         #28 is the shrinking Moon. The moon shrank as it cooled, but only by a few hundred feet.
         #36 is last January’s discovery of an asteroid that had just suffered a collision and was leaving a trail of dust.
         #40 is how the canyons around Mars’ northern cap were created by wind. The biggest of these, Chasma Boreale, is deeper and wider than the Grand Canyon.
         #46 is the observation by an Australian astronomer, John Webb, that the fine structure constant appears to increase by one part per million for each billion light-years. An earlier study in another direction measured a decrease, so the effect might be asymmetric. Since the fine structure constant links together the charge of the electron, Coulomb’s constant (the constant in the inverse square law of electrical force), Planck’s constant, and the speed of light, physicists would be pretty alarmed if it was found to vary.
         #55 is a simulation that explains the recent prolonged solar minimum by plasma rivers extending to the poles of the sun rather than sinking at high altitudes like they normally do. The last sunspot cycle lasted 12.6 years rather than the usual 11.
         #59 is the apparent discovery of recently active volcanism on Venus. It’s been known since the early 90s that Venus’s surface has relatively few impact craters but lots of dormant volcanoes. (The lower atmosphere of Venus is too still to erode all the craters.) One theory has been that the planet resurfaces itself every half billion years in a gigantic cataclysm. However data from the Venus Express indicates that some of the volcanoes erupted within the last 2.5 million years, supporting a second theory of more gradual resurfacing.
         #69 is a simulation of Titan’s atmosphere that indicates that amino acids and the chemical bases of DNA and RNA can form on Titan even without the presence of liquid water. The constituents used were nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide. (Carbon dioxide would be frozen on Titan.)
         #73 is an interview with Robert Bigelow on the private sector in space, and the building of a fleet of space taxis. (Strangely, there is no article on SpaceX’s actual successes, which I think are more important.)
         #76 is the discovery of the “dark flow” of galaxies toward a spot in Centaurus, which indicates that they may be gravitationally attracted by something that lies beyond the edge of the observable Universe.
         #79 is two merged Cassini photographs, one of which shows a crescent Titan, and the other the ice volcanoes of Enceladus.
         #83 is the discovery of the R136a1, the most massive known star. It has a mass of 265 Suns and shines with the light of 10 million Suns, making it the brightest known star. This drastically challenges models of star formation, since those indicate that stars should top out at 150 solar masses. This star is in the star cluster R136 in the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and is the largest of four stars in R136 that exceed the theoretical mass limit.

         “The Perfect Solar Superstorm,” by Daniel N. Baker and James L. Green, Sky & Telescope, February 2011, pp 28 – 34.
         In late August and early September, 1859, Earth experienced a series of the largest solar superstorms in history. Auroras were seen almost to the equator and telegraph service was disrupted throughout the United States. In several areas, operators disconnected their telegraphs from their batteries and ran them on the currents induced by the auroras, while in others, telegraphs were inoperable for up to eight hours.
         Although the cause has been described as a gigantic solar flare, it has actually been traced to a huge coronal mass ejection, or CME. A solar flare is the eruption of material from the photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun. A flare produces X-rays, radio waves, and emits large numbers of energetic particles. A coronal mass ejection, as the name implies, is an ejection of huge amounts of plasma from the Sun’s corona, the atmosphere of the Sun. The corona the aurora-like shroud that is visible during a total eclipse of the Sun. Otherwise, it is invisible. Flares and CMEs occur most often around solar maximum, but not necessarily together.
         On September 1, 1859, British astronomer Richard Carrington saw two patches of intense white light from a large group of sunspots. At the same time a CME occurred above the sunspots. The next day the second major geomagnetic storm in four days hit the Earth. Since 17.6 hours elapsed between the CME and the geomagnetic storm, the plasma must have traveled at a velocity of about five million miles per hour, which is 0.75 percent of the speed of light.
         The reason there is so much emphasis on telegraph lines is because that was the major use of electricity at the time. A solar superstorm on the order of those in 1859 would be a major international disaster in 2011. For example, a smaller superstorm in March of 1989 knocked out the power grid in Quebec and caused blackouts for twelve hours in Quebec and shorter periods in the northeastern United States. A larger one in as in May 1921 would produce blackouts for over a third of the United States and damage up to 150 extra high-voltage transformers. These are in short supply, and it could be months to years before power would be back to normal. And these two storms were small compared with those in 1859, which are by far the largest in the last four hundred years at least.
         The loss of electricity for prolonged periods of time is the biggest threat from a superstorm. A storm would also raise havoc with satellite communications, including GPS navigation, and radio communications. And as you can imagine, it wouldn’t be all that healthy for astronauts aboard the International Space Station, especially when it is passing over high latitudes.
         Fortunately, we would have some warning if a CME is coming—if 1859 is any sign, about seventeen hours. This would give enough time to get the some of the extra high-voltage transformers off-line and divert power to other parts of the grid. Actually, shutting down the grid entirely would save it, but nobody has the authority to do that, and the temporary nationwide blackout would itself be a disaster, especially if the storm warning turned out to be a false alarm.

            On the bright side, people over almost all of the Earth would get to see spectacular auroras and have the dark skies so they could appreciate them.

         Oklahoma Space Alliance Officers, 2011 (Area Code 405)

Tom Koszoru, President                                                           366-1797 (H)
John Northcutt, Vice-President                                                 390-3476 (H)
Syd Henderson, Secretary & Outreach Editor                          321-4027 (H)
Tim Scott, Treasurer                                                                  740-7549 (H)
Claire McMurray, Correspondence Secretary/Update Editor     329-4326 (H) 863-6173 (C)

OSA E-mail Addresses and Web Site:

claire.mcmurray at sbcglobal.net (Claire McMurray)
T_Koszoru at cox.net (Heidi and Tom Koszoru)
john.d.northcutt1 at tds.net (John Northcutt)
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
            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.
            Science Museum Oklahoma (former Omniplex) website is www.sciencemuseumok.org. Main number is 602-6664.
            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. Executive Director is Gary Barnhard [email protected]. The Chapters Coordinator is Bennett Rutledge 720-529-8024. The address is: National Space Society, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005 Web page is space.nss.org
            The Planetary Society phone 626-793-5100. The address is 65 North Catalina, Avenue, Pasadena, California, 91106-2301 and the website is www.planetary.org. E-mail is [email protected].
            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

                                     TOTAL amount enclosed

          National Space Society has a special $30 introductory rate for new members ($35 for new international members).  Regular membership rates are $55, international $65.  Student memberships are $25.  Part of the cost is for the magazine, Ad Astra.  Mail to: National Space Society, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC  20005, 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.

Contact person for Oklahoma Space Alliance is Claire McMurray
PO Box 1003
Norman, OK 73070
Webmaster is Syd Henderson.
Copyright ©2011 Oklahoma Space Alliance.