Corpus Christi Astronomical Society

Come and view the "Heaven's" with us...

Come and view the "Heaven's" with us...


    • What’s in the Sky this Month


      What’s In The Sky This Month


      Get outside for summer stargazing fun in June! With weather warming up, June is a great time to enjoy relaxing evenings under starry skies with your telescope or astronomy binoculars.

      Here are a few of Orion’s top picks for June stargazing:

      • The Moon & Mars Red planet Mars will appear to creep within about two degrees (about 4 lunar diameters) of the Moon on the night of June 7th. This conjunction will be visible from moonrise to moonset, so get outside and enjoy the view!
      • Ringed Saturn Throughout all of June, the ringed planet will be an attractive target for stargazers. Use an eyepiece that will yield at least 40x in your telescope to catch views of Saturn’s beautiful rings and brighter orbiting moons. Larger telescopes and clear, dark skies will help you see a thin gap between Saturn’s rings, which is called the Cassini Division.
      • Swirling Spirals - Around 10pm in mid-June, two glorious, face-on spiral galaxies M51 and M101 will both be in a great position for viewing and imaging. While you can see these great galaxies with a humble 60mm refractor, bigger telescopes will reveal finer details. Use a 10″ or larger reflector under dark skies to see the delicate spiral arms of M51.
      • Gems of the Summer Triangle - By 10pm in mid-northern latitudes, the Summer Triangle, comprising beacon stars Vega (in Lyra), Deneb (in Cygnus), and Altair (in Aquila), will be fully visible above the horizon. Several celestial gems lie within its confines, including the Ring Nebula (M57), the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), open star cluster M29, and the visually challenging Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888). To catch a glimpse of the elusive Crescent, you’ll almost certainly need an Orion Oxygen-III Filter in a larger telescope.
      • Pretty Pair - On June 24th during daylight hours, the thin crescent Moon passes within 1 degree of our neighboring planet Venus. One degree is about the width of your pinky held at arm’s length. Knowing this proximity makes it easier to spot Venus in the daytime sky. Can you see it?
      • Summer is Globular Season! - Globular star clusters are densely packed balls of stars that are concentrated towards the center of the Milky Way. June skies offer some of the finest globular cluster viewing opportunities. You can catch globular clusters in 50mm or larger binoculars, but a 6″ or larger telescope at moderate to high power offers the best chances to resolve individual stars. In the constellation Hercules, look for M92 and the “Great Cluster” M13. In Scorpio, look for M4 and M80. The constellation Ophiuchus is home to six globulars – M10, M12, M14, M107, M9, and M19. Can you spot them all?
      • The Virgo Cluster - A treasure trove of galaxies can be explored if you point your 6″ or larger telescope towards the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. Aim your telescope at galaxy M87 in the constellation Virgo and start scanning the surrounding night sky. How many galaxies can you see?
      • Summer Sky Challenge - Discovered in 1825 by the German astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve, NGC 6572 is bright enough to be seen in a 60mm refractor telescope; but it is very, very small! At only 8 arc seconds in size, it takes a lot of magnification to distinguish this from a star. The easiest way to find it is to look in the target area for a green star. NGC 6572 is one of the most intensely colored objects in the night sky. Some say this is green, some say it is blue; what do you think?

      All objects described above can easily be seen with the suggested equipment from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars. All objects have been verified by actual observations by Orion Telescopes & Binoculars Staff at Fremont Peak State Park, and/or Deep Sky Ranch, 60 miles and 90 miles respectively from San Jose International Airport, San Jose, CA.

    • San Diego Public Library Moon Night

      By BJ Alaniz submitted

      Saturday, November 16 brought cloudy skies to the area in San Diego but inside the Duval County-San Diego Public Library it was a Full Snow Moon Venture Night for patrons.

      The night journey began with member Karen Martin from the Corpus Christi Astronomical Society sharing handouts that included Lunar Landmarks, NASA Apollo Landing Sites, monthly lunar shapes and names of moon phases. All were new tools for patrons to navigate the evening’s expedition as well as taking home magazines on Astronomy.

      Astronomy member, Joey Martin assisted in the power point presentation and physics professor Galina Reid guided the excursion further with comparisons of other planets with multiple moon and those of Earths’ one moon. Lunar maps of craters and mares (Marias) seas were viewed and characteristics to distinguish one from another gained clarity as did some history on how some were created.

      The many facts of first landing of man on the moon, July 20, 1969 of Apollo 11 are well known but Ron Randolf recounted on some landing alarms that astronauts faced to safely land on the moon. One concern was on the automated landing site which when reaching the designated area, astronauts felt risky and manually maneuvered the module landing to a safer area. Randolf shared several facts on the landing, events and time astronauts spent on the surface of the moon.

      Charolette and Bob Moncrief had a wonderful surprise for younger members attending the Saturday Lunar Event. A photo taken of the moon by Bob Moncrief was enlarged and cut into sections; by using landmarks of lunar craters and mares (seas), young astronomers worked together by shifting several photos of the moon to finally have a large image of moon next to a full smaller and true image taken of the moon.

      The Duval County-San Diego Public Library and patrons attending events have been fortunate to have had three Astronomy Programs in 2013 with gratitude and appreciation from the county library to each of the Corpus Christi Astronomical Society members from Corpus Christi, Texas. Each exciting program for all attending brought evenings to spark on more enthusiasm on Astronomy and to look up and keep gazing at the night skies.

    • Heavy Black Hole Jets in 4U1630-47


      What are black hole jets made of? Many black holes in stellar systems are surely surrounded by disks of gas and  plasma gravitationally pulled from a close binary star companion.  Some of this material, after approaching the  black hole,  ends up being expelled from the star system in  powerful jets emanating from the poles of the  spinning black hole. Recent evidence indicates that these jets are composed not only  electrons and  protons,  but also the nuclei of heavy elements such as  iron and  nickel.  The discovery was made in system 4U1630-47 using  CSIRO’s  Compact Array of radio telescopes in eastern  Australia, and the  European Space Agency‘s Earth-orbiting  XMM-Newton satellite.  The 4U1630-47 star system is  depicted above in an artist’s illustration,  with a large blue star on the right and jets emanating from a black hole in the center of the  accretion disc on the left. Although the  4U1630-47 star system is thought to contain only a small  black hole — a few times the mass of our Sun — the implications of the results may be larger: that  black holes of larger sizes might  also be emitting jets of massive nuclei into the cosmos.


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    • Spot the Space Station

      Spot the Space Station…

      May be a good opportunity to spot the space station crossing our skies tonight. Here are the details.

      Time: Sun Aug 04 9:33 PM, Visible: 6 min, Max Height: 47 degrees, Appears: WSW, Disappears: NNE

      Good Luck, let us know if you get to see it.

    • Mustang Island Star Party

      Although we are known as the Lone Star State, there is plenty to see in the night skies of Texas.  Join us, Saturday, Feb. 16th as the Corpus Christi Astronomical Society hosts a Star Party at Mustang Island State Park (17407 St Hwy 361, Port Aransas, TX 78382). Bring your own telescope or look through one of ours as we explore “where no man has gone before”.  Event is free with park entrance. Start time is 7pm.





    • February events

      We have a club business meeting at 7pm on the 8th of February to be held at the Science and Technology Bldg on the 4th floor.


      On the 16th of February, we will be at the Mustang Island State Park for a star party, start time is 700pm. On Jupiter that night we should get to see it’s Moon IO’s shadow make its way across the planet, and the GRS (Great Red Spot) should be visible if the seeing conditions permit.


    • Schedule of Events 2013

      Hi, gang!


      Here is our schedule for the first 6 months. If you have questions or concerns, bring them with you to our meeting in January!!


      Jan. 11 – club meeting – TAMUCC – 7pm


      Jan 19 – Mustang Island State Park – 7pm


      Jan 26 – Duval County Public Library – San Diego, TX – 7pm


      Feb 16 – Mustang Island State Park – 7p


      Mar 16 – Duval County Public Library – San Diego, TX – 7:30pm


      Mar 23 – Mustang Island State Park – 8pm


      Apr 6 – Club night – Chapman Ranch(?)


      Apr 13 – Mustang Island State Park – 8pm


      Apr 26 – club meeting – TAMUCC – 7pm


      May 5-12 – TSP


      May 25 – Harte Library – 8pm


      Note: Starting in February – if the Mustang Island event is weathered out, we will automatically re-schedule for the next weekend.


      Have a Merry Christmas!!

    • Mars Mystery: Has Curiosity Rover Made Big Discovery?

      NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery “for the history books,” but we’ll have to wait a few weeks to learn what the new Red Planet find may be, media reports suggest.

      The discovery was made by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, NPR reported today (Nov. 20). SAM is the rover’s onboard chemistry lab, and it’s capable of identifying organic compounds — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.

      SAM apparently spotted something interesting in a soil sample Curiosity’s huge robotic arm delivered to the instrument recently.

      “This data is gonna be one for the history books,” Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger, of Caltech in Pasadena, told NPR. “It’s looking really good.”

      The rover team won’t be ready to announce just what SAM found for several weeks, NPR reported, as scientists want to check and double-check the results. Indeed, Grotzinger confirmed to that the news will come out at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which takes place Dec. 3-7 in San Francisco.

      The $2.5 billion Curiosity rover landed inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater on Aug. 5, kicking off a two-year mission to determine if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.

      The car-size robot carries 10 different instruments to aid in its quest, but SAM is the rover’s heart, taking up more than half of its science payload by weight.

      In addition to analyzing soil samples, SAM also takes the measure of Red Planet air. Many scientists are keen to see if Curiosity detects any methane, which is produced by many lifeforms here on Earth. A SAM analysis of Curiosity’s first few sniffs found no definitive trace of the gas in the Martian atmosphere, but the rover will keep looking.

      Curiosity began driving again Friday (Nov. 16) after spending six weeks testing its soil-scooping gear at a site called “Rocknest.” The rover will soon try out its rock-boring drill for the first time on the Red Planet, scientists have said.

      Follow senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall or @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook and Google+.