Observatory and Planetarium  

The 2001 Leonid meteor shower will be on Sunday morning, Nov. 18, between midnight and 5:00 am with the peak expected at about 4:00 am.  Some predictions suggest between 400-8000 per hour in North America.  The moon will not be out this year.  To view the meteors, here is the best strategy:  Make sure the sky is clear.  Dress warmly and travel (if necessary) to a dark-sky site.  Take along a blanket to lay on.  Look in the direction of the constellation Leo which will be in the east and rise to the south-southeast during the 5 hour period.  Here are some Leonid photo tips for 35 mm  cameras.  Here is a NASA Web page called "Leonids Around the Clock" describing how SpaceWeather.com plans to provide hourly updates from around the world beginning Nov. 17.  Local viewing.

Christmas show in
the planetarium

The annual holiday planetarium program "Season of Light" will be presented Dec. 6-20, 2001.  On Monday through Friday the show starts at 7:00 pm.  On Saturday and Sunday it starts at 2:00 p.m. The program lasts about 45 minutes and is recommended for ages 8 and above.  Admission is free but reservations are required. Call (309) 794-7327.  

Aurora Borealis - A set of photographs were taken by Donna and David Renneke at 10:30 pm on Nov. 5, 2001, northwest of Davenport, Iowa.  The one on the left is a 16 second exposure using a 2 megapixel digital camera.  Larger image (59 K).  Original photo (291 K).   Plot of the estimated planetary K-index.   Details about the interplanetary magnetic field.  For the latest information on solar activity go to SpaceWeather.com.  Here is their spectacular aurora gallery.

Photo by Fabrizio Montanucci on Oct. 26, 2001

Comet LINEAR WM1 has reached magnitude 7 ( a binocular comet) and is currently visible all night (near Algol) in the northern hemisphere.  It will reach perihelion on January 22, 2002 when it will be visible primarily in the southern hemisphere.  JPL has further information.

Photo taken by Dave Renneke


This photo was taken in the Augustana Observatory on July 6, 2001 at 3:52 am.  Here is the photo gallery maintained by Spaceweather.com.  On May 18, 2001, Gordon Garradd took a composite AP-7 CCD picture.

David Levy and Mel Peterson - Mar. 29, 2001

Lets Talk Stars - weekly 55 minute radio show hosted by David Levy available in Tucson and here on the Internet.  He is the codiscoverer of 21 comets including Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which broke into 20 pieces and crashed into Jupiter in 1994.

There is a movie as well.  Click here.

This is a picture of Comet McNaught-Hartley taken at the observatory at Augustana on January 18, 2001.  On Jan. 20 it was observed for about an hour and a movie was made.   Details.  

Comets that are visible currently are reported by Charles Morris.  

Spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker made a successful "soft" landing (at 1.9 m/s) on asteroid 433 Eros on February 12, shooting some amazing pictures all the way down.  As it touched down it began sending a beacon.  The signal was locked onto by NASA's Deep Space Network antennas, which monitored the spacecraft until Feb. 28.
Check out some of the Christmas solar eclipse pictures.
Click for a larger image Horsehead Nebula.  This photo was taken on the morning of October 5, 2000, at Kitt Peak Observatory as part of the Advanced Observing Program.  The telescope was a Meade 16 inch LX200 (f/6.3) with an SBIG ST-8E CCD camera.  Adam Block, lead observer, Betty Peterson and Mel Peterson were the photographers.  This picture was processed using LRGB color production with exposures of 48 minutes for the luminance (greyscale), 10 minutes for the red component, 10 minutes for the green component, and 20 minutes for the blue component.  The full size image is 1522 x 1006 pixels.  Kitt Peak is the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc.  See Astronomy, October, 2000, page 80, for an article on this program by Adam Block.

Comet C/1999 S4 discovered by project LINEAR

Click for full 4' x 4' imageThis photo was taken by Vivian Hoette and David Renneke at the Yerkes Observatory at 3:50 am CDT on June 24, 2000 using an Apogee AP7p CCD camera mounted on a 24" telescope.  The angular field of view of the full image is 4 x 4 arcminutes.  The exposure time was 1 minute.  Here are the six photos that were taken.

On July 14, 2000, a sequence of pictures were taken by David Renneke at the Augustana Observatory.  Here is the animated GIF.  Here is an animated GIF taken by Vivian Hoette at Yerkes Observatory on July 7, 2000.  On July 23, 2000, a sequence of pictures were taken by David Renneke and Mel Peterson at the Augustana Observatory.  Here is the animated GIF.

Other photos may be found at JPL and at the Crni Vrh Observatory (in Slovenia).  When the comet reached perihelion, it broke into several small pieces.  It was subsequently observed by the Hubble telescope.

Artist's sketch of Stardust Stardust. This unique NASA spacecraft was successfully launched on Feb. 7, 1999. It flew 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.
Click for a larger image 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 July, 2000, the service module, Zvezda (star) was added.  The Station's first permanent crew arrived in November.  New solar array panels were deployed in December.  In February, 2001, the U.S. Destiny Laboratory module was installed.  If you wish to see the space station from your own backyard, here are the general and Rock Island viewing schedules.  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: November 17, 2001