Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
March, 2001

In this Issue

March Meetings Astronomy Day 2001
Wetumpka Meteor Crater Virus Warning
St. Bede School Star Party Kisatchie Star Party in Louisiana 
 Member News Christmas Comet

March  Meetings

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, March 2, at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building.  Montgomery car-poolers should meet at my house (518 Seminole Dr.) and be ready to head for Auburn at 7:00 PM. 

This month’s star party will be on Saturday, March 24.  Location to be announced.

Astronomy Day 2001 -- Saturday, April 28
From:  (Rick Evans, Director, W. A. Gayle Planetarium) 

Something we haven't done in the past at this event is have a "Sale Table".  I would not be against having a table where people could try to sell their equipment. 

The show we are putting together for this year is called "Saving the Night Sky".  It is written and narrated by David Levy.  I think it is a perfect fit for this event.

Still working on getting a guest lecturer from Marshall Space Flight Center to come down and speak on the International Space Station.  I will keep you posted on this.

We should a plethora of handouts (some to used as door prizes) this year. We are in contact with JPL, Astronomy Magazine, Sky and Tel as well as some others.

Please let me know of any inputs you have for your organization so we can include them in the agenda.

Thanks in Advance

  Rick  aka EZ

Could we have a virtual “show-of hands”?  If you think you’ll be able to give us a hand for this year’s Astronomy Day at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, please let me know.  I’d also like to know which instrument(s) you’ll be bringing. 

Wetumpka Meteor Crater Page

Dr. David T. King, Jr: writes:

I recently added material to my web page on Wetumpka.  I have not finished putting up the figures yet, but the URL is

A link to this new site has been added to the AAS Wetumpka Meteor Crater Page. David also forwarded an article on the reversal of the Sun’s magnetic poles (an indicator of Sunspot maximum) that included this tidbit:

"The Sun's dipolar field is about as strong as a refrigerator magnet, or 50 gauss (a unit of magnetic intensity). Earth's magnetic field is 100 times weaker.”
See the complete story at:

Virus Warning
From: "Greg Glasscock"

I received an e-mail from Dr. Rutland this morning that apparently was a reply to the “Cloud Out” message on Saturday.  It had a virus which my Norton AntiVirus caught.  I hope this helps somebody.

Thanks for the heads up on this Greg.  Hope it’s not too late.

School Star Party at St. Bede
From: "Jim McLaughlin" 

I'd like to organize a school star party at St. Bede for Monday night, March 5.  The moon will be waxing gibbons but far enough away from Venus, Jupiter and Saturn to allow reasonable views.

Looks like we should be able to set up between 5:30-6:30 and start showing the kids the sights from 6:30-7:15 or so   I think that's how it ran last year and the science teachers will probably recruit grades 2 and 6 to be there since they are studying space stuff, as was the case last year.


St. Bede School is located near the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Perry Hill Road in Montgomery.  Access the observing site is from the Perry Hill Road entrance.  Please let me or Jim know if you’ll try to help out.  For an idea of what it was like last year, go to the AAS Web Page, select “Field Trips”, then “Educational Outreach”, and scroll to the bottom of the page.

 Kisatchie Star Party in Louisiana 

The Baton Rouge Astronomical Society invites you come to Louisiana and thaw out at the first, and hopefully annual, Kisatchie Star Party. Scheduled for March 22-25, 2001, our gathering will be held under the very dark skies of Kisatchie National Forest. 

 Visit their Web site at  for more information and to register. This site is very dark and comparable to a TSP average night of observing. 

Member News

From: "Richard Allen" 

Hi Russell,

I have found and purchased a two year old Celestron Ultima 9.25.  I should have it by the time we have the star party the end of the month.  The scope only comes with the basics.  A 6x30 finder, a Telrad, 1 1/4 visual back and diagonal.  I would like recommendations on necessary/useful accessories.  I know that I will need some type of  dew shield and  dew remover.  I was looking at the Kendrick system.  Also, I am going to try and convert a footlocker of some type to a scope case.  Would like to hear any comments on things I need. 

Thanks, Rick

Naked-Eye Comet Possible for Christmas 2001
By Robert Roy Britt
26 February 2001

A comet detected three months ago is ambling toward the inner solar system and could be visible to the naked eye late this year, possibly providing the best comet show since Hale-Bopp in 1997. Tickets to the show should be popular, as the comet threatens to make its apparition a one-time engagement.

The comet was first thought to be an asteroid when it was spotted Nov. 16, 2000 by researchers at the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research project (LINEAR). It was later identified as a comet and given the official designation of 2000 WM1. Scientists are referring to it as Comet LINEAR, but it is different from the comet 1999 S4, also called Comet LINEAR, which broke apart late in the summer of 2000.

"Although no comet can be relied upon completely, there is a very good chance that [this comet] will be a naked-eye Christmas comet for 2001," says astronomer Mark Kidger.

Full story here:

Hope to see everyone at the meeting,