Friday, March 20, 2009

Common Sense Observer by Todd

[Common Sense Observer] Back Online

Hi, sorry for my absence as of late. I have discovered a new
low-cost pair of binoculars that is very good. More on that in
a bit.

The astronomy equipment review site,

Is back online after several weeks of being down.

Please help yourself!


Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Name the Mars Rover

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena , Calif.

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington

NEWS RELEASE: 2009-055 March 19, 2009

Online Poll for NASA's Mars Rover Naming Contest Opens March 23

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA will post online nine names that are finalists for the agency's Mars Science Laboratory mission and invite the public to vote for its favorite. The non-binding poll to help NASA select a name opens online Monday, March 23, and will accept votes through March 29.

More than 9,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grades submitted essays proposing names for the rover in a nationwide contest that ended Jan. 25. Entries came from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the families of American service personnel overseas. NASA will select the winning name, based on a student's essay and the public poll, and announce the name in April.

"The names that students proposed range from heroes to animals and bugs," said Michelle Viotti, manager of the Mars Public Engagement program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena , Calif. "No matter what name is finally chosen, this is a mission for everyone, and we can't wait to start calling this rover by name."

The student who submitted the winning name will be invited to JPL to sign the rover. Additionally, all 30 student semifinalists in the naming contest will have an opportunity to place an individually-tailored message on a microchip that will be carried on the car-sized robotic explorer.

For worldwide participation beyond the contest, the public also has a chance to participate in "Send Your Name to Mars." The agency will collect names to be recorded on the microchip. Names will be collected via the contest Web link beginning Monday, March 23.

The naming contest is part of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and Disney. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures is the prize provider for the contest. This collaboration made it possible for WALL-E, the animated robotic hero from the 2008 movie of the same name, to appear in the online content inviting students to participate.

Scheduled to launch in 2011 and land on Mars in 2012, the rover will use a set of advanced science instruments to check whether the environment in a selected landing region ever has been favorable for supporting microbial life and preserving evidence of such life. The rover also will search for minerals that formed in the presence of water and look for chemical building blocks of life.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington .

To view the nine finalist names and cast your vote, visit: .

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This event sent to me by Dennis.


The final agenda of the Conference on Archaeoastronomy of the American Southwest has been set and can be view at the conference website.
Oral and poster presentations will cover a number of significant locations including the Chaco Canyon World Heritage Site, the prehistoric astronomy of the Hohokam, Mogollan and Sinagua cultures, Chimney Rock Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park and more. Presenters will include Anna Sofaer, J. McKim Malville, E.C. Krupp, Von Del Chamberlain among other notable researchers.

The purpose of the CAASW is to advance the study and practice of archaeoastronomy of the American Southwest in all its aspects. The CAASW is committed to recognizing significant contributions to knowledge and the importance of research, professional standards and excellence in the study of archaeoastronomy, effective dissemination and presentation of archaeoastronomical knowledge, and innovation and originality of approach.
Additional information about the Conference on Archaeoastronomy of the American Southwest can be obtained at, or by email to

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Asteroid buzzes Earth for 2nd time in March!!!

Space Weather News for March 17, 2009

ASTEROID BUZZES EARTH: Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 FH is flying past Earth tonight only 85,000 km (0.00057 AU) away. That's a little more than twice the height of a geosynchronous communications satellite. Experienced amateur astronomers in North America can photograph the 20-meter-wide space rock racing through the constellation Gemini after sunset on March 17th. It should be about as bright as a 14th magnitude star. Please visit for an ephemeris and updates.

This is the second time in March that an asteroid has flown so close to Earth. On March 2nd, 2009 DD45 passed by only 72,000 km away. Measuring some tens of meters in diameter, 2009 DD45 and 2009 FH are approximately Tunguska-class objects, meaning they pose no global threat but could cause local damage if they actually hit Earth. In years past, asteroids of this size often passed unnoticed, but recent improvements in asteroid surveys have resulted in growing numbers of space rocks caught in the act of near-Earth flybys.

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

ISS Viewing tonight

Dear Astro friends and family...
As most of you know...the Space Shuttle Vehicle will retire shortly and the days are number of how many more go up in space.. 3 or more??
Tues - Tonight at 7:31pm just above Venus in low west..(must have clear low horizon at this time), The space shuttle(1.3mag) will come across and follow a track most of sky to the north..(staying low about 15degs) cutting across under Cassiopeia and Cepheus constellations.. 14minutes later the ISS-(7:45pm--0.7mag)..International Space station will follow the same track across the sky.

On Thursday night 3/19...still not sure...they will be only a minute or so apart in the sky.. before connecting.. At one time the website show this ..but it has changed.--..I will keep u posted if we can see both of them at same time in sky--on thursday night.
For ISS(0.8mag)(on thursday)..7:04pm..10degs above horizon(note u will be fighting twilight)--Maybe this is why it came off the site...the Shuttle is much dimmer(being smaller) and not a visual in twilight viewing..

Also ..note...if you have a wide field binos..even after it states the object goes into earth shadow...I have done a number of times --following the satellite in darkness with the aid of binos...

NOTE...Since I have many members & friends outside sedona..these numbers and times(above) are for sedona and up to 40mile radius..--For example..if u are in Cottonwood..20miles away the time difference is only 4seconds..not worth mentioning.
But in Vegas or phx.. there is a noticable change..

sincerely dennis

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society