OKLAHOMA SPACE ALLIANCE
A Chapter of the National Space Society

Oklahoma Space Alliance Home 

OUTREACH November/December 2006

       Note: The November meeting was moved up a week and I didn’t have a chance to do an Outreach before the meeting. Since I had the luxury of the rest of the month to do a newsletter, I decided to wait a couple of weeks so I could put the election ballots in the newsletter. This is technically the November Outreach. Claire has the option of doing an Update as well if she wishes. Outreach will resume its regular publishing schedule in January.

December Meeting

       The Oklahoma Space Alliance will have its annual Christmas Party at 6:00 p.m.on December 16 at the McMurrays' residence, 2715 Aspen Circle in Norman. Prospective members are also welcome.
       This will be the meeting at which we elect officers.  Ballots will be mailed in Outreach in November. You can vote at the meeting if you wish; if you cannot, votes will be accepted through e-mail or by snail mail.  We will also be selecting officers of the Mars Society of Central Oklahoma.  We will also probably discuss ISDC business since we can’t help ourselves.
       For more information, call Tom at 366‑1797, Syd at 321‑4027, or Claire at 329‑4326.
       To get to the meeting either: (1) Take the Lindsey Street east exit from I-35, turn left at Berry, and proceed to Imhoff Road. Turn right at Imhoff, right at Poplar Lane, left at Aspen Lane, and right at Aspen Circle. The turns at Poplar, Aspen Lane and Aspen Circle are the first you can take, or (2) Take the Highway 9 east off I-35, turn left at Imhoff Road, left at Poplar, left at Aspen Lane, and right at Aspen Circle.

North Texas Christmas Party

       The NSS of North Texas Christmas Party and ISDC Planning meeting is December 10. The planning meeting is at 1:30 p.m., to be followed with a telecom with NSS Executive Director George Whitesides at 2:30 p.m. Please e‑mail (ins2space@ix.netcom.com) or call (972-937-3587) ASAP to let Carol know whether you will be attending and how many will be attending so that she know how much food she will need. If you need directions, e-mail or call Carol, or e-mail sydh@ou.edu. If you need a ride, call Tom at 366‑1797 or e‑mail tom.a.koszoru@usps.gov.  
Everyone is asked to bring a side dish, snack, or dessert that will compliment brisket and/or turkey. AND whatever soft drinks your family likes to drink (iced tea and water will be provided).  Also, if you want to participate in the space toy drive, bring an unwrapped space toy.

Minutes of November Meeting

       Oklahoma Space Alliance met at Claire and Clifford McMurray’s on November 11. The meeting had been moved up since Tom Koszoru couldn’t make it on November 18 and most of OSA’s members were already planning to be at Clifford’s birthday party on the 11th. Our sole business at this meeting was nominating officers. Tom Koszoru is running for President again and Syd Henderson is running for Secretary. Tim Scott showed at the party later and confirmed that he is willing to serve as treasurer for another year.
       We didn’t nominate a vice-president at this meeting. John Northcutt has since confirmed that he will serve, but warned that he may have to relocate in a few months due to his job situation.

Minutes of October Meeting:

       Oklahoma Space Alliance met at the Koszoru House in Norman on October 21. Attending were Tom and Heidi Koszoru, Claire McMurray and Russ Davoren, who was attending for the first time.
       We discussed an upcoming social event, which is Cliff McMurray's upcoming birthday celebration and open house.
       Claire needs to contact Chuck Lauer about Yuri's Night, which is April 12. Since that is a weekday, we would probably have a public event on the weekend.
       NASA now has a traveling trailer to explain the International Space Station. Claire wonders if we could get it for Yuri's Night. Maybe we can get OSIDA to do something for Yuri's Night.
       Armadillo Aerospace has done a hot test for the Lunar Lander contest at the Oklahoma Spaceport.
       Should we try for March or April on the radio quiz.
       Claire went to Fencon in Dallas, Texas last month. North Texas didn't have a party, but did have a speaker on a couple of panels and some fliers. Claire wants to contact them concerning having more of a presence at similar events. Tom will call Carol Johnson.
       Claire needs to contact Jim Plaxco about the NSS Space Calendar.
       Ideas for a web site: Have contact info for each officer. How do we get a dedicated e-mail address exclusively for Oklahoma Space Alliance? We can list Claire's phone number for contact information. (Note that my e-mail address is at the bottom of each web page as the OSA web master). Syd is taking classes in Web design at Oklahoma University. He can do this for free as a staff member.
       We need to be going after people at Oklahoma University. NASA has several projects that are open to students, and Syd has been sending information about them to David Miller. Russ suggested John Fagan as well.
       Russ is with the Challenger Center group in Oklahoma City. They will be doing Eggstravaganza again next year. Brian Sandeen is now in Houston. Can we put him in touch with Marianne Dyson, who is with the Clear Lake chapter down there?
       The Oklahoma Space Alliance Christmas Party is December 16. The November 18 meeting will be at Cliff and Claire McMurray's house.
       This meeting was held on Homecoming Weekend at Oklahoma University. Claire had to leave early to park cars on her lawn before the game. Russ, Tom and I talked for about an hour after she left on various topics about Oklahoma Space Alliance and other things and caught up on what was going with the Challenger Center group.

Notes on November OSIDA Meeting

        The Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority (OSIDA) met at 1:30 p.m. on November 8 at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building in Oklahoma City. Syd Henderson attended on behalf of Oklahoma Space Alliance. Board members attending were the Chair, General Ken McGill, Phil Kliewer, Jack Bonny, Lou Sims, and Joe King. There were only about 6 people in the audience that were not connected with OSIDA.
       There will be an Assignment and Assumption signing on December 5, marking the official transfer of the title of the Clinton-Sherman Industrial Airpark to the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority. This marks the end of years of work. The name of the Airpark will be officially changed to the Oklahoma Spaceport. However, there are many signs which point to the Clinton-Sherman Industrial Airpark, and these will not be changed in the near future. The actual signing will be on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 5 in the City Council Chamber of Clinton City Hall. There will be a meeting of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority at 5:30 p.m. The signing and meeting will be open to the public. Because of this special meeting, there will be no meeting on December 13.
       OSIDA Executive Director Bill Khourie reported on the X-Prize Cup. Essentially, it was a repeat of what they had last year, with the same attractions and booths. There were about 8000 people at the event. One new thing was the Lunar Lander Challenge, which is for a craft with at least 25 kg of payload to take off vertically, hover for 90 seconds, travel a hundred meters horizontally and land precisely on a small concrete pad, then refuel and make the return journey. The only entry this year was from Armadillo Aerospace. Their craft, Pixel, did manage the first actual flight, but one leg missed the landing pad and the Pixel tilted at 45 degrees. On the second attempt, they lost a leg from the spacecraft, and the third attempt crashed on takeoff.
       OSIDA set out its meeting schedule for 2007. Meetings will generally continue to be at 1:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation building in Oklahoma City, which is convenient for the Oklahoma government offices since it neighbors the State Capitol. There may be one meeting at the National Weather Center in Norman. Mr. Bonny wants to have a meeting at the State Capitol in March, or possibly April.
        [Editor's Notes: There is usually one meeting in the winter which gets moved or cancelled because of a legislative conference in Washington. I believe this is in February.
       It's unclear to me whether the 2006 elections will affect OSIDA at all. Governor Henry was re-elected, and the Republican Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin, was replaced by a Democrat, Jari Askins. (Ms. Fallin was elected Congresswoman from the 5th District.) The State Senate, which was 26 - 22 Democratic, is now split evenly, but, since the Lieutenant Governor is the tiebreaker, the Democrats retain control, possibly with a power-sharing arrangement. This is the first time a chamber of the legislature has been tied, so there are no precedents for Oklahoma. The House is still controlled by the Republicans, but, since the Minority Leader was Jari Askins, and she defeated the Speaker, Todd Hiett, in the race for Lieutenant Governor, both parties will be changing leaders. Still, the election pretty much left the status quo--in the state of Oklahoma, that is--so I don't expect much to change.]

Viewing Opportunities for Satellites (December 7 – January 13)

       NASA has dropped the International Space Station from the list of satellites covered by J-Pass, although they are still covered on the Orbital Tracking page via spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/. This only seems to give you data for a couple of weeks. J-Pass still covers unmanned satellites at science.nasa.gov/Realtime/JPass/.
       You can get sighting information at http://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 is now -1.0, making it brighter than all the stars other than the Sun and Sirius, and the planet Saturn as well. The Hubble Space Telescope is roughly 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. At this writing, the shuttle Discovery is about to be launched to the Station, so be sure to check whether the times for December 16 and 17 and January 3 are still valid.
       Pass times are from Heavens Above

Station 12/16/2006
Time           Position       Elevation
6:13 p.m.      198°             14°
6:14              180              25
6:15              137              35
6:16                90              26*
*Passes through Hyades
Vanishes into Earth shadow

Station 12/17/06
Time           Position       Elevation
6:32 p.m.      246°             17°
6:33              260              33
6:34              321              54
6:35                19              34
Enters Earth’s Shadow

HST 12/20/06
Time           Position       Elevation
5:55 p.m.      221°             19°
5:56              203              26
5:57              177              30
5:58              150              27
5:59              131              21

HST 12/21/06
Time           Position       Elevation
5:53 p.m.      225°             20°
5:54              207              27
5:55              181              32
5:56              152              28
5:57              133              21

HST 12/22/06
Time           Position       Elevation
5:52 p.m.      228°             21°
5:53              209              28
5:54              181              32
5:55              154              28
5:56              135              21

HST 12/23/06
Time           Position       Elevation
5:51 p.m.      229°             21°
5:52              209              28
5:53              182              30
5:54              157              26
5:55              139              19

HST 12/24/06
Time           Position       Elevation
5:49 p.m.      233°             18°
5:50              216              24
5:51              192              28
5:52              167              25
5:53              148              20

Station 1/3/2007
Time           Position       Elevation
6:50 p.m.      306°             16°*
6:51              298              33
6:52              229              69
6:53              150              35
*Passes very close to Vega
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow
       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 International Space Station at 6:53 p.m. on January 3, measure three fist-widths east of south, then three and a half fists above the horizon.
       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/.

Calendar of Events

       December 7: Space shuttle Discovery is launched at 8:36 a.m. CST on a mission to the International Space Station.
       December 10: Mercury, Jupiter and Mars have a three-way conjunction in the morning sky. See “Sky viewing.”
       December 14 (Morning): Geminid meteor shower peaks at an anticipated rate of 75 meteors/hour.
       December 16: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance Christmas Party, 6:00 p.m., at Claire and Clifford McMurray’s.
       December 21: Winter Solstice, 6:22 p.m. CST.
       January – February 2007: Rocketplane Limited expects to begin passenger flights.
       January-March 2007:  Approximate time takeoffs to space begin from Oklahoma Space Port.  [Very tentative.]
       January 10, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Industrial Development Authority (OSIDA) meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 201 NE 21st St., Oklahoma City, OK 73105. For more information, visit http://www.state.ok.us/~okspaceport/.
       January 20, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced. Details will be posted on chapters.nss.org/ok/osanss.html a week or two before the meeting.
       February 2007 (maybe): Hayabusa begins its return to Earth.
       February 1, 2007: The asteroid Pallas is at opposition.
       February 10, 2007: Saturn is at opposition.
       February 14, 2007: [tentative] OSIDA meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 201 NE 21st St., Oklahoma City, OK 73105. For more information, visit http://www.state.ok.us/~okspaceport/.
       February 17, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced. Details will be posted on chapters.nss.org/ok/osanss.html a week or two before the meeting.
       February 25 – March 2, 2007: New Horizons passes Jupiter on its way to Pluto.
       February 26, 2007: Rosetta asteroid probe flies by Mars.
       March 3, 2007: Total lunar eclipse. Totality begins at 4:44 p.m. CST and ends at 5:58 p.m. Oklahoma will see the only the partial phase at the end of the eclipse, but the on the east coast of the United States, the eclipse will still be total at moonrise.
       March 11, 2007: Daylight Saving Time begins. (It’s moved up this year.)
       March 14, 2007: [tentative] OSIDA meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 201 NE 21st St., Oklahoma City, OK 73105. For more information, visit http://www.state.ok.us/~okspaceport/.
       March 17, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced. Details will be posted on chapters.nss.org/ok/osanss.html a week or two before the meeting.
       March 20. 2007: Vernal equinox at 7:07 p.m. CDT.
       March 21, 2007: Mercury is at greatest elongation, 28° west of the Sun (hence can be seen before dawn).
       April 9, 2007: The asteroid Juno is at opposition at magnitude 9.7.
       April 11, 2007: [tentative] OSIDA meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 201 NE 21st St., Oklahoma City, OK 73105. For more information, visit http://www.state.ok.us/~okspaceport/.
       April 17 – 19, 2007: Launch of Chinese Chang’e 1 lunar probe.
       April 21, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced. Details will be posted on chapters.nss.org/ok/osanss.html a week or two before the meeting.
       April 22, 2007: Lyrid Meteor Shower peaks,
       May 19, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced. Details will be posted on chapters.nss.org/ok/osanss.html a week or two before the meeting.
       May 24 – 28, 2007: the 26th International Space Development Conference in Dallas, Texas, hosted by the National Space Society of North Texas. For more information, visit http://isdc.nss.org/2007. Contact e‑mail addresses are Ken Murphy at Ken@isdc.nss.org and Carol Johnson at
CarolJ@isdc.nss.org.
       May 30, 2007: The asteroid Vesta is at opposition, 102 million miles from Earth, and is magnitude 5.4, which means it’s visible to the naked eye. It’s also brighter than the Uranus, which never gets above magnitude 5.7.
       June 2, 2007: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 23° east of the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
       June 5, 2007: Jupiter is at opposition.
       June 6, 2007: Messenger's second flyby of Venus.
       June 9, 2007: Venus is at maximum eastern elongation, 45.4° east of the Sun.
       June 16, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
       June 19, 2007: Pluto is at opposition at magnitude 13.8.
       June 21, 2007: Summer solstice at 1:06 p.m. CDT.
       July 20, 2007: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 20° west of the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
       July 20. 2007: 38th anniversary of first moonwalk.
       July 21, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
       August 13 2007: Neptune is at opposition at magnitude 7.8.
       August 13, 2007: Perseid meteor shower peaks. This is expected to be the best meteor shower of the year, and it takes place during the New Moon.
       August 18, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
       August 28, 2007: Total lunar eclipse, Totality begins at 4:52 a.m. and ends at 6:23 a.m. In Oklahoma, this eclipse will begin with the Moon partially eclipsed and we will see the entire total phase, although the end will be just after sunrise.
       September 2007: India will launch its lunar probe Chandrayaan 1. This craft will orbit the moon at an altitude of 60 miles for two years.
       September 2, 2007: Asteroid Pallas is at opposition at magnitude 8.8.
       September 9 2007: Uranus is at opposition. It will be magnitude 5.7, which is barely visible to sharp eyes in a dark sky.
       September 15, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
       September 23: Autumnal equinox is at 4:51 p.m. CDT.
       September 29, 2007: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 26° east of the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
       October 20, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
       October 28, 2007: Venus is at maximum western elongation, 46.5° west of the Sun.
       November 2, 2007: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 19° west of the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
       November 9, 2007: the dwarf planet Ceres is at opposition at magnitude 7.2..
       November 17, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
       November 17, 2007: Peak of Leonid meteor shower.
       December-January 2007: Naked-eye Comet 8P/Tuttle peaks, probably at around 4th magnitude.
       December 14, 2007: Peak of Geminid meteor shower.
       December 16, 2007: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance Christmas Party, time and location to be announced.
       December 22: Winter solstice is 12:08 p.m.
       December 24, 2007: Mars is at opposition with magnitude -1.6.
       January 15, 2008: Messenger's first flyby of Mercury.
       January 20, 2007: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 19° east of the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
       February 20, 2008: Total lunar eclipse visible from North America.
       February 24, 2008: Saturn is at opposition.
       May 23 – 26, 2008: 27th International Space Development Conference. Location to be announced.
       July 9, 2008: Jupiter is at opposition.
       September 5, 2008 The ESA's Rosetta asteroid & comet probe passes by asteroid 2867 Steins.
       October 6, 2008: Messenger's second flyby of Mercury.
       October 2008: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is launched.
       Sometime in 2009: Russia sends sample return flight to Phobos.
       January 14, 2009: Venus is at maximum eastern elongation, 47.1° east of the Sun.
       March 8, 2009: Saturn is at opposition.
       August 14, 2009: Jupiter is at opposition.
       September 30, 2009: Messenger's third flyby of Mercury.
       January 29, 2010: Mars is at opposition with magnitude -1.3.
       June 2010: Hayabusa returns to Earth with a sample of asteroid Itokawa.  This will be the first asteroid sample returned to Earth.
       June 2010: Japan launches the Venus Climate Orbiter to Venus.
       July 10, 2010: The Rosetta comet probe passes asteroid 21 Lutetia.
       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.
       Sometime in 2011: ESA launches the ExoMars Mars Rover.
       March 18, 2011: Messenger goes into orbit around Mercury.
       Sometime in 2012: Launch of the Space Interferometry Mission.
       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.
       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.
       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.
       August 2014 - December 2015: The Rosetta space probe orbits comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Early in this mission, it will release the Philae lander. The Rosetta probe web site is The Rosetta probe web site is www.esa.int/export/SPECIALS/Rosetta
       July 14. 2015: Projected date for the arrival of the New Horizons probe at the Pluto-Charon system.
       July 2016-2020:  The New Horizon 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.

Sky Viewing

       Mercury, Jupiter and Mars will have a three way conjunction on the morning of December 10, when Mercury and Jupiter will be only 17’ of arc away from each other and will be only one degree to the left of Mars. This will be the closest three-way conjunction of any three planets that will be visible to the naked eye during the first half of the 21st century. This will be visible in the eastern sky about 45 minutes before sunrise. Mercury is the topmost of the three planets and is just below the 2.5 magnitude star beta Scorpii. The respective magnitudes of the planets are -.7 for Mercury, -1.7 for Jupiter and 1.5 for Mars.
       Mercury will in fact be highly visible through the early part of December, about ten degrees above the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise and shining at magnitude -.7 or -.8. This follows its greatest elongation on November 25. Early in the month it will be above Jupiter, which will pass it during the day on December 10. On the morning of December 11 Mercury will be a degree below Jupiter while Mars will be a degree to the right of Jupiter. Mercury will be hard to see toward the end of December as it approaches conjunction with the Sun on January 7.
       Mars was in conjunction with the Sun on October 23, and will be only visible in the eastern twilight about an hour before sunrise through December and January. Mars is still on the far side of the Sun and is only magnitude 1.5 regardless of the twilight.
       Jupiter was in conjunction with the Sun in November and will visible in the eastern morning sky shortly before sunrise in December. Since it shines at magnitude -1.7 even on the far side of the Sun, it is much brighter that Mercury and Mars and can even be used to find them around the conjunction on December 10. Since it is near the winter solstice, the ecliptic forms a shallow angle with the horizon, and even in late January will be fairly low in the eastern sky at sunrise.
       Venus was at superior conjunction on October 27, and is still lost in the Sun’s afterglow after sunset. By the end of December, it will be at 6° a half-hour after sunset, and since it will be around magnitude -3.8, it should be visible. It will separate slowly from the Sun through January, and by the end of January will be about 20° above the horizon a half-hour after sunset.
       Saturn is still the most easily visible of the planets despite being at magnitude 0.4, which is dimmer than several stars. It rises around 10:00 p.m. and is visible for most of the night in the constellation Leo. To find it, first find Regulus by following the line joining the two inner stars of the Big Dipper’s bowl in the direction away from the North Star. Saturn is the brighter object about five degrees (half a fist-width) from Regulus. Saturn will begin its retrograde motion later this week but will remain in Leo all winter.       Uranus is magnitude 5.8 in the constellation Aquarius, which means that it is just barely visible to the naked eye in a clear, dark sky. It lies less than a degree below the 4th magnitude star lambda Aquarii, where it will remain for a while. Uranus will become even less visible in January as it approaches conjunction with the Sun on March 5.
       Neptune is magnitude 7.9 in the constellation Capricorn. However, Neptune is approaching conjunction with the Sun on February 8, and is rapidly disappearing into twilight.
       Pluto is magnitude 14, in the constellation Serpens, and is approaching conjunction with the Sun on December 18, so is even more impossible to see than usual.

Space News

       NASA has given us a more definite timetable to creating a lunar base. On December 4, NASA announced that they will start sending missions to one of the Moon’s poles around 2020, establishing a permanent base there by 2024. The more likely location is the South Pole, which is better for solar power. Water ice has also been detected there, although the amount is apparently less than hoped for. Initial expeditions would stay there for a week, but once the base is completed, astronauts will stay there for six month shifts.
       This timetable seems a lot slower than first projected, with the Orion crew exploration vehicle not even being tested until 2014. The whole project will take twice as long to get back to the moon as it took to get us there the first time. Tests of the new lunar lander, however, would begin in 2009. (There is already a lunar lander contest going on as part of the X-Prize Cup.)
       See http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html for details.

       Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a planet around Epsilon Eridani. The planet is 10.5 light-years away, making it the nearest known exoplanet, and it has a mass 1.5 times that of Jupiter. The planet lies within a disk of dust that was discovered in the 1990s. Epsilon Eridani is the nearest known star (other than the Sun) known to have a planet, and one of the youngest: Epsilon Eridani is less than a billion years old. It is the third closest extrasolar star visible to the naked eye (after Alpha Centauri—which is actually two starts, and Sirius), and is spectral class K2V, which is slightly cooler than the Sun. The Hubble Space Telescope will try to take a picture of the planet next year.

       Infrared measurements of the exoplanet Upsilon Andromedae  b have revealed that the two sides of the planet differ in temperature by 2400° F. The planet orbits only 6 million from Upsilon Andromedae A, and is clearly tidally locked with one side always facing the star (like the Moon is to the Earth). The temperature of the dark side is unknown, but believed to be between 0 and 450° F.

       The Andromeda Galaxy has two rings of star formation that are offset from the center of the galaxy and apparently at an angle. Simulations reported in a letter in the October 19 issue of Science reveal that these rings are due to a collision with another galaxy 210 million years ago. The suspected culprit is the dwarf elliptical satellite galaxy M32.

       Did Venus use to have a moon? According to a study announced at the conference of the American Astronomical Society’s Planetary Sciences conference, Venus has been impacted at least twice by bodies large enough to create a moon. The second hit at such an angle that it reversed Venus’s direction of rotation, which is why Venus rotates in the opposite direction as expected. Because of this, any moons created by the two impacts would have spiraled in and eventually collided with Venus. [If Venus rotated in the normal direction, they would have spiraled out like the Moon did with respect to the Earth.]

       Anders Jorgensen, Steven Patamia and Blaise Gassend have identified a problem with using space elevators for human transport: the passengers would have to spend several days in the Van Allen radiation belts, which is potentially lethal. The obvious solution is some sort of shielding, which would weigh down the transport capsule or the cable itself. The study will be published in Acta Astronautica. (New Scientist, 11 November 2006, page 29.)

       A Hubble Space Telescope survey reported in October has detected 180 eclipsing bodies in the direction of the galactic center in Sagittarius, of which at least 16 were exoplanets. A similar survey in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae detected no exoplanets at all, indicating that planets may be rare in globular clusters.

Space-Related Articles

       “Can We Send a Spacecraft to the Sun?” by David J. McComas, Astronomy, December 2006, pp 43 – 47.  NASA’s Solar Probe, which may be launched as early as 2014, would pass into the Sun’s corona, where it would encounter temperatures up to 3,600,000° F. This would require a heat shield nine feet in diameter and seventeen feet tall, and a secondary shield to protect the instruments from the primary shield, which will reach a temperature of 3000° F. The craft will actually pass the sun twice, coming in over the South Pole and going out over the north. The spacecraft can survive because the corona is very sparse.

       “Reverse Panspermia: Seeding Life in the Solar System,” by Selby Cull, Sky & Telescope, January 2007, pp. 35 – 40. The impact that killed the dinosaurs also blasted more than a billion rocks into interplanetary space. All those rocks would have started out containing bacteria. So what is the likelihood that some of these bacteria might survive to colonize Mars, Titan or Europa? Bacteria survived three years on the moon on Surveyor 3, so more likely than it may seem.

Oklahoma Space Alliance Officers, 2006 (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, Update Editor               329-4326 (H)  863-6173 (C)

OSA E-mail Addresses and Web Site:

claire.mcmurray@sbcglobal.net (Claire McMurray, new address)
T_Koszoru@cox.net (Heidi and Tom Koszoru)
sydh@ou.edu (Syd Henderson)
ctscott@macconnect.com (Tim Scott)
john.d.northcutt@tds.net (John Northcutt)
lensman13@aol.com  (Steve Galpin)
dmcraig@earthlink.net (Nancy and David Craig).
       E-mail for OSA should be sent to sydh@ou.edu.  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 chapters.nss.org/ok/osanss.html. Webmaster is Syd Henderson.

Other Information

       Air and Space Museum: 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 www.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].

 OKLAHOMA SPACE ALLIANCE
 A Chapter of the National Space Society

 MEMBERSHIP ORDER FORM
                                                                     
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 $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 www.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.

Do you want to be on the Political Action Network?
            Yes           No.  [See brochure for information.]

Name                                                            

Address                                                                                 

City                               State        ZIP           
  
Phone (optional or if on phone tree)                 

E-mail address (optional)                                 

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.