Observatory and Planetarium

Photo of Comet Lynn
David Renneke and Mel Peterson
Milan, Illinois - August 4, 1999

This picture was taken at 10:50 pm CDT at a rural location using an 8" Meade telescope and an ST-6 CCD camera.  The comet is shown in the upper right hand corner of this photo.  The brightest star near the bottom of the photo is GSC 1442:422 with a magnitude of 12.45.  The size of the full photo is 18 x 28 arcminutes.

Click to see larger picture - 256 x 256
Photo by Gordon Garradd taken on July 15, 1999.  The photo size is 17 arcminutes.

Comet Lynn (C/1999 N2)

This comet was discovered on July 14, 1999 by amateur astronomer Daniel W. Lynn, Kinglake West, Victoria, Australia using handheld 10x50 binoculars. The comet is about 7.0 magnitude with a coma diameter of 4 arcminutes. 

It has a parabolic orbit with perihelion on July 23 at a distance of 0.76 AU.  The comet is expected to fade as it moves northward. By August, Northern Hemisphere observers will be favored. It will remain an evening object with its solar elongation decreasing to 37 degrees in early September, when the comet is expected to be 11th magnitude and thus, making observation difficult.  Current info at S & T.

Comet Lee - May 25, 1999 - Rock Island, Illinois

Photo of Comet Lee
David Renneke, Mel Peterson and Betty Peterson
Rock Island, Illinois -
May 25, 1999

This picture was taken at 10:30 pm CDT at an altitude of 14 degrees using an SBIG ST-6 CCD camera on the Celestron C14 telescope in Augustana College's campus observatory. This was a 10 second exposure. The star in the upper right hand corner is GSC 4867:1096 (RA 8h 41m 27s, Dec 2 deg 58m 11s South, mag. 10.5). The size of the full photo is 11 x 7 arcminutes. We also viewed the comet easily through the telescope eyepiece with an angular field of 25 arcminutes. Our latitude is 41.5 degrees North. The moon was 10 days old, shining brightly. Six pictures were taken in 25 minutes, clearly showing the movement.

Comet Lee as it appeared on April 16, 1999. The coma is about 3 arcminutes across.
Courtesy Gordon Garradd.

Comet Lee

On April 16, 1999, at a star party near Mudgee, N.S.W., Australia, Steven Lee — a night assistant at the Anglo-Australian Observatory — discovered a 9th-magnitude comet while sweeping south of Crux with a 16-inch Newtonian reflector. Comet Lee (also designated C/1999 H1) is in a retrograde orbit that will bring it rapidly into northern skies. Although Lee could not see any tail, his comet should brighten to 7th magnitude as it approaches perihelion on July 11 at about the same distance as Venus from the Sun. The comet is currently low in the western evening sky for midnorthern latitudes, moving northwestward from Hydra into Cancer. JPL | headlines | orbital elements | finder chart | Lee's fasinating story | predictions | movie

Launch into ORBIT! ORBIT! A new astronomy visualization program has been installed on Helios in which you take flight into orbit around the third planet from the sun in an exciting journey. In your spacecraft you will be in a realistic VRML environment. All of the sights you will see are based on actual astronomical data and satellite imagery. You can also travel in time to see what the universe looked like years ago or far into the future. We thank MegaNova for contributing this copy of the program to Augustana for public use.
Artist's sketch of Stardust Stardust. This unique NASA spacecraft was successfully launched on Feb. 7, 1999. It will fly by Earth on Jan. 15, 2001. On Jan. 2, 2004 it will arrive at Comet Wild 2 (vilt 2), photograph it, and capture some of the dust in its tail. On Jan. 15, 2006 it will return to Earth with comet dust and interstellar dust. CNN story.
M57 - Ring Nebula M57 - Ring Nebula. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the sharpest view yet of the most famous of all planetary nebulae: the Ring Nebula. In this October 1998 image, the telescope has looked down a barrel of gas cast off by a dying star thousands of years ago. This photo reveals elongated dark clumps of material embedded in the gas at the edge of the nebula; the dying central star floating in a blue haze of hot gas. The nebula is about a light-year in diameter and is located some 2,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Lyra. APOD story.
Mars Climate Orbiter was launched successfully on Dec. 11, 1998.  Unfortunately, because of human error involving confusion over English units vs. metric units, the spacecraft was lost Sep. 23, 1999, when it flew too close to Mars.  Mars Polar Lander was launched successfully on Jan. 3, 1999.  It will land on Mars on Dec. 3, 1999 - CNN story: "Probe heads for Mars with a shovel and a microphone."
International Space Station International Space Station - The first module, Zarya, was successfully launched on Nov. 20, 1998. In December, 1998, the space shuttle Endeavour installed the Unity module.  In this photo, a portion of the work performed on the May 30, 1999, space walk by astronauts Tamara Jernigan and Daniel  Barry is evident at various points on the ISS, including the installation of the Russian-built crane (called Strela).  

If you wish to see the space station from your own backyard, here is the viewing schedule. Live orbital tracking is also available.

 Lee Carkner, Director
 John Deere Planetarium
 Augustana College
 Rock Island, IL 61201
 Planetarium and Observatory:  (309) 794-7327
 Office in Science 208:  (309) 794-3405


This site is maintained by David R. Renneke. Last update: October 28, 1999