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November 2010
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Vénus has retrograde motion is in the direction opposite to the movement of something else, and is the contrary of direct or prograde motion which is usual for the Solar System planets. It rotates clockwise when it is seen over its North Pole while the other planets (except Uranus) rotate clockwise. All planets orbit the Sun with direct translation motion.


November 1st: Day 305 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1962, all comunications with the soviet probe Mars 1 fail.

In 1963, in Puerto Rico, the Observatory of Arecibo the bigest radiotelescope ever built was oficially opened .
In 1977, Charles Kowal discovers Chiron, the first of a population of small frozen objects of what is known as Oort's cloud and of the Kuiper Belt, in the outer Solar System.
Observations: Before dusk see Venus at East-Southeast.

November 2nd: Day 306 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1885, Harlow Shapley was born, American pioneer in the determination in the distance to the stars, star clusters and to the center of the Milky Way.

Shapley said correctly that globular clusters had a regular distribution around the Milky Way and this allowed him to determine Sun's position.
In 1917, the 100 inch telecope at Mount Wilson was inaugurated.
Observations: The Moon is almost at New Moon and can be seen to the right and above Venus.

November 3rd: Day 307 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1679 the approximation of a Comet originates a wave of panic all around Europe.
In 1957, the first earthly lifeform goes to Space: Laika the soviet female dog is launched on board the soviet probe Sputnik 2 and dies after a week in orbit.

In 1973the probe Mariner 10 was launched. It arrived to Venus on February 5th, 1974, with its closest approach at 5700 km. It sent back images of the top of Venus' clouds.
Observations: Use binoculars to spot Saturn and Spica before sunrise.

November 4th: Day 308 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 2003 the strongest solar eruption ever detected occured.

Observations: Use the night to observe Jupiter. The Big Red Spot will be visible until about 22h (UTC).

November 5th: Day 309 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1906, Fred Whipple was born. He proposed the "dirty snowball" for the comets nuclei.

In 2007, Chang'e 1, the first chinese lunar satellite starts to orbit the Moon.
Observations:cAround 23 hours, Orion shines at East--Southeast, with Aldebaran and the Pleiades rightabove.

November 6th: Day 310 of the gregorian calendar.
Observations: New Moon atLua Novas, pelas 04:54.

November 7th: Day 311 of the gregorian calendar.
In 1996 the probe Mars Global Surveyor was launched.

Observations: In the middle of the night, Capela shines at northeast. To its right at East is the Pleiades open cluster (M45) and bellow it is Aldebaran.

November 8th: Day 312 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1656 Edmond Halleywas born.

Halley was an english scientist that used his theory of cometary orbits to calculate that the cometof 1682 (further called Halley's Comet) was periodic and encouraged Isaac Newton to publish the Principia. In 1780 he discovered that some stars (Sirius, AldebaranBetelgeuse e Arcturus) had what is known as "proper motion", which means that they aren't stationary.
In 1984, mission STS-51A was launched on the inaugural flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Observações: Vega is still the brightest star heigh in the West during the next nights. The bright star above Vega is Deneb the tail of the Swan (Cignus) constellation.

November 9th: Day 313 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1934, Carl Sagan was born.

Observations Arcturus, the brightest star in the Bootes constellation is now very low in the West-Norwest sky immediately after sunset. To its rigth yo can find the Big Dipper.

November 10th: Day 314 of the gregorian calendar.
History:In 1695, John Bevis was born. He is best known for discovering the Crab Nebula in 1731. Bevis has also observed an occultation by Venus of Mercury on May 28, 1737, and observed and found a prediction rule for eclipses of Jupiter's moons.
Observations: Vesta is in conjunction with the Sun, at 0 h (UTC); Mars 4º N of Antares, at 4 h (UTC).

November 11th: Day 315 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1572 Tycho Brahe observes a nova in the night sky.

This was an evidence against Aristotheles geocentric theory that the skies remained perpetually unchanged.

Observations: If you have a telescope larger than 10'' you should to observe the biggest moons of Uranus. It's not easy...

November 12th: Day 316 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1965 the Venera 2 (USSR) probe was launched to exploe Venus.

In 1980, he probe Voyager 1 makes its closest appoach to Saturn.
In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia STS-2 mission is launched.
Observations: Use the night to observe the small stellar cluster M29, close to the center of the SWan (Cignus) constellation. In a dark spot you will need a small telescope or even just binoculares.

November 13th: Day 317 of the gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1833, the Great Lionid meteor shower occured. During the four hours before dawn the debris of comet Tempel-Tuttle iluminated the night sky causing panic to those that observed them.
In 1971, american probe Mariner 9 becomes the first ship to orbit Mars.

In 1999, a giroscope failure almost causes the loss of Hubble Space Telescope a situation that was only solved by space shuttle mission STS-103 on December 20th 1999.
Observations: First Quarter at 17h (UTC).

November 14th: Day 318 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1969, Apollo 12 was launched at 11:22 EST from Kennedy Space Center .

In 1999, first confirmation of a main sequence extrasolar planet.
In 2003, astronomers Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo and David L. Rabinowitz discover 9033 Sedna a trans-neptunian object.
Observations: Neptune 5º S from the Moon, at 6 h. (UTC).

November 15th: Day 319 of the gregorian calendar.
In 1738, birth of William Herschel.

He was the first astronomer to make astronomical observations outside the Solar System . He discovered Uranus (1781), the movement of the Sun in the Milky Way (1785), the binary companion of Castor (1804, with agreement to Kepler's Laws ), and also discovered a infrared radiation.
In 1966, the Gemini 12 probe returns to Earth falling safely on the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1988, Soviet Union launches its first and last space shuttle, the Buran.
In 1990, Space Shuttle Atlantis is launched on mission STS-38.
Observations: Use the night to observe the Andromeda Galaxy heigh up close to the zenite just using a pair of binoculars.

November 16th: Day 320 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1965, the soviet probe Venera 3 was launched with task to study Vénus' atmosphere. Comunications failed immediately before it entered the planet's atmosphere
In 1974, the new surface of the giant radiotelescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, is used to send a message towards the globular cluster M13.

Observations: Júpiter 7ºS of the Moon at 16h (UTC); Venus stationary at 16h (UTC).

November 17th: Day 321 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1970, Luna 17 becomes the first wheeled vehicle to land on the Moon.

Fomalhaut, the "Autumn Star", is at its maximum height at south in the beggining of November. Fomalhaut is a slightly smaller and colder version of Vega and, as Vega, astronomers have found a disk of debris surrounding it.

November 18th: Day 322 of the gregorian calendar.
In 1989, NASA launches COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer).

The instruments on board estudied all the celestial sphere every six months. Its operations ended on December 23rd, 1993, after it proved that microwave cosmic background radiation was exactly the expected by the Big Bang model. In 1999, using video cameras, David Palmer, Brian Cudnick e Pedro Sada registrate an impact of a Leonide on the Moon.

November 19th: Day 323 of the gregorian calendar.
In 1969, Apollo 12 becomes the second human landing on the Moon.
In 1999, China launches the first Shenzhou mission into orbit at 22:30 GMT.

China becomes the third nation capable of sending a vehicle capable of transporting human beings to Space after Russia and the United States.
Observations: Júpiter is stationary at 6h (UTC).

November 20th: Day 324 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1889 Edwin Hubble was born.

He used cepheids in M31, to prove the expansion of the Universe using Carl Wirtz work and Slipher's shifts.

November 21st: Day 325 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1998, students from Northfield Mount Hermon School discover Kuiper 72.
In 1999, maximum approach to Earth of the asteroid 1998 YW3 (0.382 UA).
Observations: Full Moon at 17h (UTC); Mercury is 1.7ºS of Mars at 1h (UTC).

November 22nd: Day 326 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1999, maximum approach to Earth of the asteroid 1989 VA (0.1993 UA).

November 23rd: Day 327 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1885, the first picture of a meteor shower was made.
In 1977, Meteosat 1 becomes the first satellite to be put on orbit by the European Space Agency (ESA).


November 24th: Day 328 of the gregorian calendar.
Observations: Lunar occultation of Urania at 12h (UT) not seen from Europe.

November 25th: Day 329 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1999, telescopic observation of a volcano eruption in Io, one of Jupiter's moons.

Observations: Lunar occultation of Ceres at 19h (UT) not seen from Europe.

November 26th: Day 330 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1965, the first french satellite Astérix 1 was launched.


November 27th: Day 331 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1971, soviet probe Mars-2 becomes the first man made object to reach Mars.

November 28th: Day 332 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1964, NASA launches the probe Mariner 4.

Observations: Last Quarter at 21h (UTC).

November 29th: Day 333 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1803, Christian Doppler was born.
in 1961, a chimpanze called Enoswas launched to Space on board the mission Mercury-Atlas 5.

In 1965, The Canadian Space Agency launched satellite Alouette 2.
In 1967, the first australian satellite Wresat 1 was launched.
Juno is 0.5ºN of the Moon at 23 h (Occultation).

November 30th: Day 334 of the gregorian calendar.
History: In 1954, Ann Elizabeth Hodges was struck by a 5kg meteorite in Alabama.
Observations: Moon at perigee at 19 h (UTC).


After a few months EAAE Monthly is back with news about what has been happening on EAAE.

This month the highlight news go to the 14th EAAE-IAU Summer School and to the Eratosthenes Project that was a joint venture of organizations from three continents and has involved groups all around the world.

On the "First Astronomical Observations" section this month we talk about Jupiter.

This month's challenge for "Advanced Astronomical Observations" is the Double Cluster in the Perseus constellation.

On the "Astronomy Software Tools" section we present the Solar Calculator website from NOAA.

We also have an crossword puxzzle and word puzzle in Students Corner and for this month we have selected a beautiful astronomical picture of Comet Hartley as it passed in front of the field of the Double Cluster .

We wish you all clear skies during the next month.

The EAAE Webteam






The 14th EAAE-IAU astronomical school for teachers was held in Varna during September 1st-5th. More than 40 bulgarian teachers participated in the school.

A group picture during the Summer School.

The greatest interest was displayed towards the lecture “Training to teach astronomy”: a cooperative opportunity for EAAE and IAU , and towards Prof. Rosa Ros’s workshop New experiments on gravitational lenses.

Teachers were split into two groups: first group - teaching astronomy to 5-7th graders, second group – teaching astronomy to 10-12th graders.

During the school, teachers attended the following general lectures:  
1.“ Training to teach Astronomy: a cooperative opportunity for EAAE and IAU – by Prof. Rosa Ros.
2. SMARTNET – results and perspectives – by Prof.  Diana Kyurkchieva
3. „NAOP-Varna’s capabilities for teaching astronomy”– by Svezhina Dimitrova.

Lecture by Rosa Maria Ros.

Each group did practical exercises and received instruction, according to to the age of their students and topics from the curriculum. During the exercises, teachers from the first group modeled spatial maps of the constellations and the Solar System. They eagerly used Internet astronomical educational resources and methodological ideas for their application to solve different astronomical problems as part of the practical exercise. There were shown a large number of interesting computer presentations on gravity, phases of the Moon, space flight, sizes and distances in the Universe, light and shadows, life in the Universe, and optical phenomena in the atmosphere. Teachers learned how to make virtual astronomical observations in the classroom. They developed ideas for lessons based on Computer planetarium. Teachers enjoyed the lesson about actual and virtual observations of stars, stellar systems, stellar clusters and the Milky Way, which was held in the Planetarium.

Teachers working in a workshop.


The good weather allowed observations of solar prominences with an H-alpha filter, and during the night – a lesson in orientation using the night sky. The electronic astronomy lessons of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science were also presented. As is customary for EAAE schools, surveys was distributed at the end of the school.

Solar observation during the Summer School..

Teachers gave positive evaluations for the organization and conduction of the school, the quality of lectures, the practical exercises, and observations. They expressed the desire to have such schools every year, and to include more practical exercises.

Night sky observation during the Summer School..

The Summer School was extremely useful, and motivated teachers for their work in the beginning school year.

Veselka Radeva
Vice President of the EAAE
Bulgarian National Representative

On June, 21st, EAAE promoted Eratosthenes Experiment Worldwide

On June 21st, Schools from all around the world have made a precision measurement of Earth's circumference using the Eratosthenes Experiment (see June's issue). Nonetheless the strategies to achieve its pedagogical goals started in the previous months.

The webpage created by the EAAE for this global experiment ( gave support to this activity and worked as a meeting point for the participants.

The students from participant schools used it to share information about the methods that were employed, the problems they had while performing the measurements and the results of their calculations.

The EAAE webpage also supplied complementary material about the dynamics of the system Earth-Sun that the teachers used as a background to prepare the experiment.

The goal of this activity was to create an international network that reproduced the Eratosthenes experiment all over the world and supplied the scientific knowledge needed to perform the measurements.

Each participant school made the calculations to infer the Earth's circumference and shared the results through the webpage and two live international videoconferences.

A team of students from Astronomical Observatory at Youth Centre, Haskovo, Bulgaria participating on the project.

Schools from 20 countries belonging to the 5 different continents participated in this activity and the inter-group communication achieved motivated the students, who could better understand the scientific method beyond the experiment.

Like Eratosthenes, students could make their own measurement without leaving their schools. They only needed to know the distance of the school to the Tropic of Cancer, easily obtained from a map, and the incidence angle of the sunlight, found from the shadow cast by a pole. After that, they applied the Eratosthenes proportion and obtained an accurate value for the Earth's circumference.

Moreover, this data could also be inferred from two different and simultaneous observations, neither of them in the Tropic of Cancer but both in the same meridian. Using the distance between the two places and the difference between both incidence angles, the same methodology can be used.

A team of students from IES Lucas Martín Espino, Canárias, Spain, participating on the project.


On June 21st all the participants selected a pole to be used as a vertical gnomon, measured it and placed it in a location far from any object that could shadow it out of the sunlight.

At local noon, all participants measured the projected shadow and calculated a value for the Earth's circumference. The values obtained by the students covered a long range of data.

The mean value obtained for Earth's perimeter using all schools' measurements was 39621.7 km. This is a 0.96% deviation from the assumed value of 40008.00 km.

While some schools presented a 10% difference from the accepted value, which means that the approximations on the measurements done by the students were too big, others presented values with a deviation that was smaller than 0.2% to the standard literature value.

On the reports that were sent by the participant schools the teachers assured that the students got motivated by the perspective of proving the curvature of the Earth without moving from their schools and, thus, they participated with great enthusiasm and increased their interest in astronomy, by better understanding the reasoning behind scientific discoveries.

Lets hope that recreating this experiment from the past has contributed to make some of them will to become the scientists of tomorrow.

Last Month's highlights from EAAE News Blog
Observing the king of planets: Jupiter

This month you can observe Jupiter as the most brilliant object in the night sky.

Jupiter is since ancient times and was in former civilizations associated with mythology and religious beliefs of many cultures. The roman god Jupiter was the most powerful of all gods in roman mythology.. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter is the third-brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus has an apparent magnitude ha can e as hih as −2.94 (note that the brightest the object more negative becomes the magnitude).

Jupiter and Europa. Notice the shadow of Europa on Jupiter's surface.
Credits: Cassini Imaging Team, Cassini Project, NASA
(click on the image to see a bigger version)


Jupiter is the fifth planet counting from the Sun and the largest within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass slightly less than one-thousandth of the Sun but is two and a half times the combined mass of all the other planets in our Solar System . Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

At the end of September, Jupiter had it's brightest and best opposition of its entire 11.8-year orbit. This was because the planet is going to reach perihelion (its closest point to the Sun, at 4.95 Astronomical Units or 740 million kilometers) in March 2011. This happened on the same day as Uranus, the opposition times of the two planets being just five hours apart.

A screenshot of Jupiter's conjunction with Uranus using Stellarium.

This is an unique oportunity to see Uranus if you use a manual telescope because is will be very close to Jupiter and you can guide there easily. Uranus is a blueish point on the telescope and it isn't easy to spot manually so don't despair if you can spot it at your first attempt.

During all the winter it will be possible to observe Jupiter, and this is good for school work because you can observe the galilean moons through a small telescope.

Jupiter and the galilean moons. Credit: Mike Salway.
(click on the image to see a bigger version)


A nice school project would be to follow the motion of the galilean moon's along a month and take picture's of them and try to obtain their orbital equations. If you try it send us your reports and we will try to publish them on our webpage.

Clear skies.

The Double Cluster

For this month we have selected an easy object for students that have some skill in observing northern hemisphere's sky and constellations. For this challenge you won't even need a telescope if you have a good vision. This pair of open or galactic star clusters is an easy binocular target, a lovely starfield in the northern constellation Perseus. Also visible to the unaided eye from dark sky areas, it was cataloged in 130 BC by Greek astronomer Hipparchus. Although their discovery surely predates written history, the Greek astronomer Hipparchus notably cataloged the double cluster.

A screenshot of the Double Cluster using Stellarium.
Credit & Copyright: Roth Ritter (Dark Atmospheres)
(click on the image to see a bigger version)

The Double Cluster is the common name for two open clusters which are close together in the constellation Perseus. These clusters dubbed NGC 869 and NGC 884 are at distances of 6800 light-years and 7600 light-years away from Earth, respectively, and therefore are close to one another in space as well. In addition to being physically close together, the clusters' ages based on their individual stars are similar - evidence that both clusters were likely a product of the same star-forming region.

They are relatively young clusters. NGC 869 has about 5.6 million years and NGC 884 has about 3.2 million years. To have a comparison, you can consider the Pleiades in the constellation of Taurus, that are also a young cluster and that have have an age that has been estimated to be ranging from 75 million years to 150 million years.

They are also blueshifted, which means that they are moving towards Earth, NGC 869 approaching Earth at a speed of 22 km/s and NGC 884 approaching at a similar speed of 21 km/s. Their hottest main sequence stars are of spectral type B0.

To find the Double Cluster turn to North and look for Cassiopeia. Follow the line that joints Navi (or Gama Cassiopeia) to Ruchbah for about one and a half times the distance between these two stars and you will find the Double Cluster (see image bellow).

Double Cluster in Perseus
Credit & Copyright: Roth Ritter (Dark Atmospheres)
(click on the image to see a bigger version)


If you have a teslescope have fun making some pictures of the clusters.

Wikipedia-Double Cluster
EarthSky-Double Cluster in Perseus
Jim Kaler's-Stars-The Double Cluster


Solar Calculator


The Solar Calculator is the part of a website created by NOAA, and this calculator allows you to calculate solar positions all along the year. You can just write your latitude

It helps make calculations about the Sun's position in the sky and also to predict sunset and sunrise. As you know the Sun's position in the sky changes along the year even at the same day time. In fact its path at the same hour along the year draws an image that looks like an eight and that is called analemma, as we discussed on a previous number.

A screenshot of the solar calculator website.

Though it is not a very complex tools you should think about using it especially if you are planning observations if you want to begin early after sunset or just before sunrise.

Have a try and use it.

Sunrise/sunset website




This section in PDFPDF Version

Here is the crossword puzzle for this month.


1 __ matter
5 Be upright
10 Scratch
14 Stack of paper
15 Radiuses
16 Depend
17 Tropical edible root
18 Adult insect
19 Pig food
20 Fastness
22 Correct
24 Ogle
25 Banned
27 Skims over a book
29 Ancient Indian
32 Understood
35 Space Telescope that proved the existence of cosmic microwave background radiation.
38 Movie 2001's talking
39 Cactus drug
40 Stretch to make do
41 Grains
43 Legume
44 The author of the HD Catalog of Stars
46 Winder malady
47 Jewels
48 Avid
49 Biggest satellite of Saturn
51 Impersonation
54 Aromas
57 Kimono sash
59 Large department store
62 City in Nebraska
64 Gasp for air
66 What a snake skin is
68 Movie star
69 __ Major (Big Dipper)
70 Number before four
71 Cosine's partner
72 Project for the search of extraterrestrial life
73 Boils
74 Garden tools

Branch of learning
2 Sprung
3 Water level variation due
to gravitational pull of the
4 One-celled animals
5 __ Lanka
6 Break in
7 First man
8 African country
9 Saturn's satellite.
10 Internal Revenue Service
11 Observation instrument
12 Disgust with excess
13 Hoopla
21 Dozen (abbr.)
23 Courts
26 The one left
28 Period of Earth's rotation
30 Serving of corn
31 Split
33 Detail
34 What Celestial Seasonings
35 Surrender
36 Vegetable
37 Oppose (2 wds.)
39 A former planet.
41 Once it was considered
the biggest asteroid.
42 Boxer Muhammad
45 High-school club
47 Dwarfish
50 Flurry
52 Relaxes
53 Boat
55 Sound receiver
56 Beamed
57 Musical composition
58 Plain
60 Not well cooked
61 Killed
63 Beers
65 Thai
67 Okay

To confirm the solution click here.


Figure out what words the clues represent. Then find the words in the grid. Words can go horizontally, vertically and diagonally in all eight directions. Two letter words might have more than one option but the valid option doesn't overlap any other selected word.





Telescope (twice)

To confirm the solution click here.

  Comet Hartley Passes a Double Star Cluster. Credit & Copyright: Ivan Eder  
  (click on the image to see a bigger version)  

The image we selected this month is related to the Advanced Astronomical Observations we have proposed above. This astonishing image presents Comet Hartley 2 and it passed the Double Cluster. Most star clusters are singularly impressive. Open clusters NGC 869 and NGC 884 are doubly impressive. Captured earlier last month, the bright comet 103P/Hartley, informally called Comet Hartley 2, passed well in front but only a few degrees away from the famous double cluster. Comet Hartley 2, visible on the right, is now fading but still discernable to northern observers with binoculars. No binoculars are needed, of course, if you go right up to the comet's nucleus, as is the plan for NASA's EPOXI spacecraft on November 4.

European Association for Astronomy Education