Ryukyu Astronomy Club Newsletter
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Volume 3, Issue 3 May/June 2004

Next Club Meetings - June 12th and July 10th
Conference Room B at the Camp Lester Naval Hospital

April and May Meetings
The April 10th viewing session at Alivila was a rather exclusive outing - 3 people attended.  But, despite fleeting clouds, we observed a good number of objects.  Saturn and Jupiter started off the night.  Jupiter was particularly spectacular being placed high in the sky.  Open clusters Messier 35, 37, 46 and 50 were like diamonds scattered across a velvet cloth.  The asterism known as the Double Triangle or Star Gate is always a treat.  Globular clusters Messier 3 and 53 were spectacular.  And then we "went deep" to observe the galaxies Messier 81, 82 and 104 - this last over 50 million light-years distant.  The double stars Struve 982, 24 Com and Polaris offered a change from the more challenging objects.

The May 8th meeting was held at the Naval Hospital and was well attended by more than 20 people.  We viewed the Discovery Channel special "If We Had No Moon" - a program highlighting the predominant theory on how our Moon came to be and the positive effects it has on the stability and climate of our planet.  This was followed by a question and answer session.  The weather did not permit stargazing.

Things to See in the Night Sky
The first few weeks of May, Venus is at its very brightest.  You can't miss it off to the right after sunset.  The bright point almost directly overhead after sunset is Jupiter.

The solar system highlight for May is Comet C/2001 Q4, also known as Comet NEAT.  Visit http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/comets/article_1229_1.asp for a sky chart showing where to see it.  Comet NEAT is not extremely bright, nor does it have a spectacular tail, but it is still a nice sight in binoculars or a small telescope.  It is fading in brightness from this point forward, so don't wait too long to get a look.

Comets come along every few months, but June 8th will bring something not seen on Earth for 122 years.  On that day, Venus will transit (pass across the face of) the Sun.  For safe methods of viewing the Sun, see the June 2002 issue of our newsletter found here.

Other objects well placed for viewing:

For more objects of interest and the locations of those listed above, download the latest chart from www.skymaps.com or visit www.SkyandTelescope.com and customize the online star chart for Okinawa's general location of 128 degrees East longitude and 26 degrees North latitude.

Clear Skies!


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Ryukyu Astronomy Club

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