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Dr. Derek Sears To Speak At AOAS December 19th Meeting

Lunar & Planetary
Dr. Derek Sears will present a lecture on the possibility that liquid water may exist under Mars-like conditions at the Friday, December 19th dinner/meeting of the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society at 7:30 PM, in the Rose Room at Creekmore Park. The title, "Water on Mars: Tales of a Martian Mud Machine" will reveal the results of his recent groundbreaking research project which proved that liquid water CAN exist under Mars-like conditions (See story, "Done Deal...Liquid Water CAN Exist on Mars!")

Dr. Derek W.G. Sears is a professor in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) and is the director of the Arkansas Oklahoma Center for Space and Planetary Sciences. Recently, he led a team of graduate students into new territory by first building a special chamber where the conditions on the surface of Mars could be duplicated, and then determining whether liquid water might be able to exist there. Their conclusion? YES, liquid water CAN exist on Mars!

Since the days of Percival Lowell and H.G. Wells in the late nineteenth century, Mars enthusiasts have thought that the Red Planet might harbor liquid water. Lowell believed he could see "canals" on the surface of Mars, which he mistook for a vast planet-wide irrigation system that brought liquid water from the frozen polar regions down and across the arid desert regions of equatorial Mars. When mankind's first spacecraft visited in the mid-60's, what we found was a cold, dead landscape not too different from the way the surface of the moon appeared. Water, it was thought, couldn't possibly exist under such dry and barren conditions.
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AOAS Founding Member Dale Hall Receives First "David Gibbs Achievement Award"

General News
From left: Joe Roam, Dale Hall, Bob Moody
On Friday evening,October 17, 2003 Dale Hall became the first AOAS member to receive the Society's very first award. Dale is a founding member of AOAS and has served as Public Relations officer since the club formed on January 15, 1985.

The "David Gibbs Achievement Award" also honors one of our own past members, who passed away suddenly in 1999. David Gibbs was another outstanding member of the Society. David had an uncanny way of seeing things from other points of view, which always kept us "on track" in our executive committee meetings, and when we made decisions concerning the club and our activities. He was our "rock," which kept us anchored to reality. This award will be our eternal recognition of his support and dedication to AOAS.
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Current Comets

Lunar & PlanetaryA couple of comets are fast approaching. Comet 2P ENCKE is at magnitude 14(+-) and approaching fast. Comet C/2002 T7 is now at magnitude 10+ and brightning steadly for its visit to our skys next May. I have images of these two comets from 10/18 (morning skys). To view these images, click the comet name at the top of the page on my web site.

Good luck, Mike Holloway
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ScopeDriver and DarkAdapted

Computers & SoftwareThe following is not an endorsement, but is for your information only.

If you use a computer to control your telescope (limited to specific scopes at the present time) or use a laptop computer in conjunction with your telescope out in the field, you may wish to check out the following web sites:

ScopeDriver (shareware) allows you to connect your computer to one of the following telescopes:
  • Meade Autostar with RS-232 serial port;
  • Meade LX200 (including LX200 GPS);
  • Losmandy Gemini Level 1 or Level 3;
  • Any telescope compatible with Autostar, LX200 or Gemini command set.
  • Celestron software yet to be developed.
See web site at: http://www.adpartnership.net/ScopeDriver/index.html

DarkAdapted (free) is a gamma control application program. It modifies your screen gamma settings so that you may, for example, preserve your dark adaptation while using your computer. High-resolution sliders allow you to adjust red, green, and blue video components individually and in real time.
See web site at: http://www.adpartners.net/DarkAdapted/index.html
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World's Largest Digital Camera

Astro ImagingCondensed from Popular Mechanics, Nov. 2003, pp.34,37. by Paul Eisenstein

QUEST, a new installation at the Palomar Observatory's Oschin Telescope near San Diego, is the world's largest astronomical digital camera, designed and built by astrophysicists from Yale and Indiana Universities. It uses an array of 112 CCDs, able to deliver data immediately, allowing researchers around the world to share QUEST's vision in real time. Unitl now, the largest astronomical camera had only 30 CCDs.

Designed for wide-field viewing, QUEST's massive CCD display will permit researchers to cover an unprecedented 500 square degrees a night. QUEST is expected to generate an unprecedented amount of astronomical data in digital form, more than 1 terabyte a month. A terabyte is 1 million megabytes of data.. That is equivalent of 2 million books, and by 2008 QUEST could generate more than twice as much information as is stored in the Library of Congress.

The data will be transmitted over a special 45-megabits-per-second HPWREN, to image-processing labs and university observation centers all over the country. Even amateur astronomers will be able to share in the digital action. Plans call for QUEST's data to be made available on the Internet through the National Virtual Observatory. Updates will be posted on various Web sites, including www.physics.yale.edu/quest/palomar.html
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Asteroid 2003 QQ47

Lunar & PlanetaryAsteroid 2003 QQ47 is being closely monitored by British astronomers after they discovered it may pass uncomfortably close to Earth on March 21, 2014. Judging from the size of the asteroid, scientists predict it could have the same impact as 20 million Hiroshima-size atomic bombs. The good news is that astronomers are unsure of their calculations.
(Ref.: Popular Mechanics, Vol. 180, No. 11, Nov. 2003, 'Tech Watch' p.24)
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Meteorite injures two in Indian village

General News
BHUBANESWAR, India -- reports have been released indicating that a meteorite struck several homes and injured two people in eastern India Saturday.

Shortly after sunset on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2003, a possible bolide struck in the coastal state of Orissa, said the Press Trust of India. PTI reported that a bright fireball lit up the night sky and caused panic among local residents, according to local witnesses.

There were several reports of ear-splitting noise and broken windows as the fireball passed overhead. One part of the meteorite came down in a Mayubhanj district village, injuring two people and causing fires in several homes. It's possible that other parts of the fireball came down in at least one other village, setting fire to another thatched hut.

Local space experts were quoted by PTI as saying that the object was most likely a meteorite. Officials in the area have been asked to collect any remaining samples of the object for scientific analysis.

Originally contributed by AOAS Member Dale Hall.
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Galileo End of Mission Status

Lunar & Planetary
JPL Press Release: September 21, 2003

The Galileo spacecraft's 14-year odyssey came to an end on Sunday, Sept. 21, when the spacecraft passed into Jupiter's shadow then disintegrated in the planet's dense atmosphere at 11:57 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. The Deep Space Network tracking station in Goldstone, Calif., received the last signal at 12:43:14 PDT. The delay is due to the time it takes for the signal to travel to Earth.

Hundreds of former Galileo project members and their families were present at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for a celebration to bid the spacecraft goodbye.

"We learned mind-boggling things. This mission was worth its weight in gold," said Dr. Claudia Alexander, Galileo project manager.

Having traveled approximately 4.6 billion kilometers (about 2.8 billion miles), the hardy spacecraft endured more than four times the cumulative dose of harmful jovian radiation it was designed to withstand. During a previous flyby of the moon Amalthea in November 2002, flashes of light were seen by the star scanner that indicated the presence of rocky debris circling Jupiter in the vicinity of the small moon. Another measurement of this area was taken today during Galileo's final pass. Further analysis may help confirm or constrain the existence of a ring at Amalthea's orbit.
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Done deal: Liquid water CAN exist on Mars!

Lunar & Planetary

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- A team of researchers from the University of Arkansas has measured water evaporation rates under Mars-like conditions, and their findings favor the presence of surface water on the planet. Water on the planet's surface makes the existence of pastor present life on Mars a little more likely, according to the group.

Derek Sears, director of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, and his colleagues graduate student Shauntae Moore and technician Mikhail Kareev reported their initial findings at the fall 2003 meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the AAS.
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Hubble Images Mars Near Closest Approach

Astro Imaging
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took this snapshot of Mars 11 hoursbefore the planet made its closest approach to Earth. The two planetsare 34,648,840 miles (55,760,220 km) apart. This image was made from aseries of exposures taken between 6:20 p.m. and 7:12 p.m. EDT Aug. 26with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.

Check out the full size image in the Photo Gallery here.

Contributed originally by AOAS Member Dale Hall.

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