Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
March, 2000

In This Issue

March Meetings  Public Star Parities Astronomy Day 2000  PSSG 2000
Member News Chiefland Star Party For Sale  

March Meetings

The March meeting of the Auburn Astronomical Society will be on Friday, 8:00 PM, March 3, in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building on the campus of Auburn University. 

The March star party will be the following Saturday, March 4 at the Tuskegee National Forest Site.

Public Star Parties

Birthday Star Party W. A. Gayle Planetarium

Rick Evans writes:
We are having a Birthday Party on Thursday night (March 2nd). It is an educational party with a planetarium program and Rick Fanning is going to set up his telescope for the kids (8-10 of them) to view the sky. If anyone would like to come out and set theirs up to let the kids view, that would be great, and I would appreciate it. If anyone are interested, let me know and I will give you the exact times. Its nothing real overly formal, but the mother is a patron of the astronomy arts, and wanted it to be different, and educational.

Star Party for St. Bede's Elementary School

Jim McLaughlin has requested that we give him a hand with a star party at his childrens' school. The event will be on Monday March 13, beginning at 6:00 PM on the athletic field behind Saint Bede's. It is located near the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Perry Hill Road. Enter from the Perry Hill Road side and look for telescopes. If you think that you can help, drop Jim an e-mail at

Astronomy Day 2000

For what has now become a tradition, Rick Evans, director of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery, is coordinating the joint efforts of the planetarium and AAS to celebrate Astronomy Day 2000. I've made a commitment of about 15 telescopes for the event. Please let me know if you think you can help.

Rick wrote:

I think we agreed upon April 1st for this year's Astronomy Day Event. These are my thoughts for the event:

Sunset is at 18:06 CST on April 1st, 2000

5:00 PM
I had thought we would advertise a "Telescope Clinic" whereby people could come with their scopes and ask questions and or advise. They could also peruse the variety of scopes set-up by your members and ask questions if they are considering buying a scope.

6:00 PM
Adjourn to the auditorium for:
a) PowerPoint Presentation on the Auburn Astronomical Society....roughly 10-15 minute overview of your organization.
b) A Planetarium Program....approximately 15-20 minutes...

6:45 PM
Adjourn to the outside telescopes for night viewing..

Close up shop and go home!

This is a generic overview of a simple program to offer the public. I also was going to extend an invitation to the Mayor to provide opening comments in the auditorium before the Power Point presentation from AAS.

I will put together a PowerPoint presentation for you (or whom ever wishes to brief) on the AAS.

I contacted the Mayor's office and extended an invitation for him to come out and "kick-off" the auditorium presentation, so we will see if he decides
to come. Would be nice, for publicity sake if nothing else.

I will meet with the Montgomery Advertiser on Monday (Feb 28) and set up the advertising for the event. When we have the final layout done, I will try
to get you a copy for a heads up and to share with the members of AAS.

I posted it on our web site, I used some of the photos from your web site to spice it up. If you wish to visit it and provide feedback...its at and go to Upcoming Events.

I think we can make it a wonderful program once again this year. As always, I am open to suggestions.

Thanks in advance for all your support.


Peach State Star Gaze 2000

Antonin Rukl, author of the very popular and much-cited "Atlas of the Moon" (distributed in the U.S. by both Kalmbach Publishing and Sky Publishing), will be the featured guest speaker at the Y2K Peach State Star Gaze, April 6-9, at Indian Springs State Park's Camp McIntosh near Jackson, Georgia.

Mr. Rukl, now 67, recently retired from his position as director of the Prague Planetarium in the Czech Republic, will speak at various times over two days about lunar observing and his atlas. He will be accompanied by his wife, Sonja.

Besides Mr. Rukl, the event will host various individuals from the Assn. of Lunar & Planetary Observers (ALPO) including Julius Benton, observing coordinator of the ALPO Lunar Selected Areas Monitoring Program, Brian Cudnik, observing coordinator of the newly-formed ALPO Lunar Meteor Impact Program, and Walter Haas, founder and director emeritus of the ALPO organization itself.

Besides the formal presentations, there will be a panel discussion with audience input on the importance, practicality and desirability of continued Earth-based lunar observing. Other activities include workshops, demonstrations and observing events.

The event will be held during a young Crescent Moon, so as to give participants a chance to hopefully use newly-learned lunar observing techniques (weather-permitting).

On-site lodging is provided, either camping on the observing field or in heated dormitories just off the observing field. The indoor lodging features hot-water showers, flush toilets and basin sinks for washup. The indoor bathroom facilities are also available to the campers.

Indian Springs State Park is located about midway between Atlanta and Macon, Georgia.

The Peach State Star Gaze was begun in 1994 when only 50 or so participants attended. Last spring, almost 270 persons attended. The event has drawn some of the top names in astronomy including Michael Covington, Phil Harrington, Johnny Horne, Mike Kitt, Dr. Janet Mattei, Donald C. Parker, and many, many others.

The Peach State Star Gaze is sponsored by the Atlanta Astronomy Club, founded in 1947, and which today numbers well over 400 members.

For more information about the Peach State Star Gaze, either send e-mail to or go to:

Member News

Ricky Wood writes:

Trying my first homepage...let me if you see any problems , PLEASEScott had problems... he was using IE... I have used both Netscape and IE and have seen no problems.  The URL is: 

And I replied:

Congratulations! It looks great. Clever name as well. I'm running Netscape Navigator 4.61 and everything looks perfect. I have you linked from the AAS "Links/Individual..", "Who R We", and "Astrophotography" pages.


Phillip Hosey

Well, I did it.  I finally sold all my astrophotography gear.  Went out and got a Tectron 15" truss Dob.    It has a Galaxy mirror and is very nice, but it's a heavy beast at about 100 Lbs.

Chiefland Star Party
Submitted by Tom McGowan

Hello everybody,

Hereís a little report of my recent adventure to Chiefland, Fla.  I arrived in Chiefland on Tuesday, Feb 1, about 5:00pm. I didnít see a telescope set-up anywhere nor anybody hanging around. But that was not surprising with rain and solid cloud cover the past four days. Though the weather forecast was for slow clearing, I felt I would get some observing in.

I had my choice of where to set-up. Not too tough of a decision, close to the showers and bathroom. Chiefland is about 110 miles south of Tallahassee off Rt. 19. The community is a short dead-end street, of which, the 10 or 12 residents are all amateur astronomers. The observing field is a grassy, flat, wide-open field with great horizons in all directions. I am impressed with how nice the sky can be. It boasts some incredibly steady seeing most of the time. Using high magnification is a given here! As I was setting up, the co-hosts of Chiefland, Tom and Jeannie Clark pulled up. They are the driving force behind Chiefland as well as a major contributor to the U. S. amateur community as well. Owners of TECTRON TELESCOPES and AMATEUR ASTRONOMY MAGAZINE as well as fun-loving amateurs, they are wonderful people and great to be with. Not to mention Tom observes with a most-awesome 36-inch Dob dubbed the YARD SCOPE. I highly recommend AMATEUR ASTROMY MAGAZINE. Iíve subscribed from day one. It is written by amateurs, for amateurs and about amateurs. Honestly, I read it from cover to cover within two days of receiving it. I certainly canít say that for the other two ( boring ) magazines I get. For info and orders call (352)490-9101 or e-mail at Also ask for their web site.

They invited me to the house which I did after setting up. We caught up on conversation, looked at each others pictures of a recent observing trip to Australia we took. By the way, this was one of many travel excursions Tom and Jeannie have organized in the name of astronomy-kind of tells you how they take their hobby...

The clouds owned the sky that night and I caught up on my sleep. Deep blue skies with big, white, puffy clouds floated by the next day. When I wasnít a total lazy bum, I helped Tom wheel out his Ďbabyí. After preparing it for its up-coming assault on the sky, I stepped back and just stared in awe at this monster poised before me. I was in astronomy candyland ! I felt the adrenaline course through me with the reality of what tonight held in store. Yahhh buddy ! Later, I carried my puny little 16-inch Dob down to the shadow of the YARD SCOPE. Pictures soon ensued. It was like a mother T-REX standing with her young. Finally night came and the fun began! Looking through a 36-inch is something you have to experience to fully understand. I would serve no justice trying to describe the magic this baby can do ! I had never seen pink and green in the Orion nebula before. M81 and M82 appeared as photographs-the detail is stunning! M51 was another favorite view! Everything I observed was incredible! It was as if I had entered deeper realm in the world of observing. Quite an experience!

My choice of the best object was looking at M104 using the Binoviews at high power! 

The detail of the dust lane was phenomenal ! Tom showed my some of his favorites-lesser known objects that kicked $&# !

We were able to observe half of both Wednesday and Thursday night. Friday night was totally clear and about thirty people were on hand. To me the best things about star parties is the people I meet. We are all there due to a common thread. And it is the only way to check out the various equipment. Anyone is welcome to observe at Chiefland. They generally meet every new moon weekend. Electricity is provided to those who are camping on the field. For others, there are good hotels to stay at in town. All this for a mere $5.00 donation per night. 

I do hope you check out the magazine and take advantage of such a nearby astronomy observing experience.

For Sale

David Rich is offering the following items for sale:

2-inch 32mm University Optics Wide-Scan eyepiece. 84° Apparent field--------- $200.00
1.25/2-inch, Meade 14mm Ultra-Wide-------------------------------------- ---- $220.00
1.25/2-inch, Meade 8.8mm Ultra-Wide ----------------------------------------- $180.00

Contact David at 334-283-2480 (Tallassee AL)

 Hope to see everyone at the meeting,