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From: TerryMoselaol.com
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 11:43:56 EDT
Subject: Deep Impact, Sunspots, Weird Planet, Shuttle Launch

Hi all,

1. DEEP IMPACT: As you probably know, the Deep Impact impactor probe is due 
to smash into comet 9P / Tempel 1 at about 05.50 UT on 4 July. This is expected 
to create a crater, throw out a considerable mass of ejecta, and possibly 
cause the comet to brighten by up to 4 magnitudes from its current 10th 
magnitude.
   The actual impact occurs in daylight from W Europe, but the comet may 
remain bright for up to several days after the actual impact. So our best chance 
to see the effects, if any are visible, is after dark on the evening of Monday 
4th. The comet will then lie just left of Spica, low down in the W twilight, 
but probably just visible if it brightens significantly.
   I attach a JPEG chart of the comet's position for the next 6 evenings, at 
11.30 p.m. BST. Stars are shown to mag 10.5. The magnitudes of stars between 
6.0 and 7.5 are shown to give you some idea for brightness comparison: They are 
shown to 0.01 magnitude, without a decimal point; thus "713", left of Spica, 
is mag 7.13. Other numbers, without brackets, are the Flamsteed numbers of the 
brighter stars, e.g. "76" above left of Spica is Flamsteed 76 Virginis.
   It will be worth having a look for the comet as soon as it gets dark on 
Monday night, or indeed on subsequent nights, with any telescope or even 
powerful binoculars. You'll need a good clear SW horizon.
   Let me know if you see anything: images of course will be very welcome, 
if you get any: send any good ones to John Hall at 
Jimmyaquariusbtinternet.com or iaa2000btinternet.com for IAA website.

2. SOLAR ACTIVITY: Only a few days ago the sun was completely blank, but now 
it is peppered with fast-growing sunspots.  So far these active regions have 
produced no strong solar flares, but this could change if their dynamic growth 
continues.  Visit spaceweather.com for movies of the growing 'spots and safe 
solar observing tips.

3. WEIRD NEW PLANET: On Thursday a group of astronomers announced finding 
perhaps the most bizarre extrasolar planet yet: an object with a core of heavy 
elements that may amount to 65 - 70 times the mass of Earth.
   The newfound body is unlike any other yet discovered. It contains as much 
or more heavy elements (elements heavier than hydrogen and helium) than all 
the planets and asteroids in our solar system combined. Astronomers have assumed 
that virtually all the exoplanets found to date are gas giants like Jupiter 
and Saturn, with heavy elements such as oxygen, silicon, carbon, and iron 
constituting at most one-fourth of
their masses. But the new planet appears to be one-half to two-thirds heavy 
stuff. "This object is odd, even given the weird zoo of planets found so far," 
says Alan Boss (Carnegie Institution of Washington)....

4. DATE FOR SHUTTLE LAUNCH: NASA managers formally cleared the shuttle 
Discovery for blastoff July 13 on the first post-Columbia shuttle mission. If all 
goes well, the countdown will begin at 6 p.m. July 10 for a launch attempt at 
3:50:47 p.m. on July 13, weather permitting (EST).

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley

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Last Revised: 2005 July 14th
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