In this Issue
|December Meetings||Opelika Middle School Star Party|
|Treasurer’s Report and Magazine Subscriptions||Member & Friend News|
|Space Art, by Scott Thompson||Aurora in the Deep South, by Mark Brown|
|For Sale & Wanted to Buy||Chiefland Star Party –2001 & Leonids, Part I|
|Chiefland Star Party –2001 & Leonids, Part II||More Leonid Reports|
This month’s regular meeting will be on Friday, December 7, at 8:00PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building. Scott Thompson has offered to lead us in a astro-art painting/audience participation/demo for this month’s program. (See Scott’s article on how he does it, below).
Our December star party will be on the weekend of December 14/15 at Cliff Hill’s farm.
We’ve been asked to give a star party for the students of Opelika Middle School on Thursday, December 13. We’ll begin at 6:00PM and end at 7:00PM. Here’s how to get there:
SHORT VERSION (FOR THOSE FAMILIAR WITH OPELIKA): go along 2nd avenue to 5th street. Turn north on fifth, pass the “monkey park”, look up the hill and to the left, and there’s the school.
LONG VERSION: Take I-85 to exit 62 (old US 280 exit). Turn left (coming from the south) or right (coming from the north) towards Opelika. Before you reach the 3rd traffic light, you’ll see a sign for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail on the right. Turn right here .... this is 6th street. Go north on 6th street to 2nd avenue. Turn right one block to 5th street and turn left.. You’ll have a couple of stop signs ... you’ll eventually see Northside School on the right, followed by a small park (the monkey park) on the right. 5th street miraculously turns to Denson street here, but don’t worry .... you’re almost there. Go another block and you’ll see a group of buildings on the left. The first is a rec center ... the second is the school
Report / Magazine Subscriptions
The club subscriptions to SKY & Telescope and Astronomy magazines have been sent. Club members and new members can now renew their subscriptions at any time during year but November meeting would be appreciated. Astronomy magazine: 1 year $ 29.00, 2 year $ 55.00; SKY & Telescope: 1 year $ 29.95. Make checks payable to Auburn Astronomical Society not to me personally. As noted, Astronomy magazine offers new 2 year rate of $ 55.00. Those wishing to extend their subscriptions one year more please send me a check or give me a check at next meeting for $ 26.00. Club subscribers to SKY & Telescope may order Sky Publishing books and products and receive 10% discount. Current bank balance after paying club subscriptions - $ 961.65
Returning after a brief absence is Robert West
of Prattville, firstname.lastname@example.org
. Also back after an extended absences are Brown Mike
of Opelika, email@example.com
and Jim Locke of Montgomery, firstname.lastname@example.org
. Jim writes:
Area of special interest: Just kind'a watching the sky
1. Are you a seasoned amateur astronomer or just
getting into the hobby?
2. What was your first experience that attracted
you to astronomy?
3. Tell us a little about your family members;
spouse? kids? siblings? significant other?
4. Can you tell us a little about your formal
5. Do you have any pets? What kind?; How Many?
6. Where do you work? If you're retired, what
was your occupation?; If you're still in school, have you chosen a career?
7. Besides astronomy, what other hobbies do you
8. What was your first or favorite car?
9. What was your first or most interesting job?
10. Tell us about your favorite vacation.
11. Have you ever lived in some other part of
the U.S. or another country? Where?; When?
These latest bring our e-mail list total to 124.
When we went to the Atlanta Peach State Star Gaze this last August Jerry Armstrong, "co-discoverer of the supernova in M51," gave us a look at how he paints Astro-Art. It was quite enlightening and looked surprisingly easy.
I have done a few of Bob Ross type paintings among other types. He was the guy that painted "Happy Paintings" on the Education Channel. Big fuzzy hair. Anyway I thought I would attempt such a painting since I had some experience. Not much mind you!
It took me a couple of hours and I was finished. It really is quite easy and you can do this as well. The steps are as follows.
Materials: Purchased at Michael's in Montgomery.
Coated Canvas Paper-- Start small 8x11
Two Brushes: One stiff the other medium/soft with a tip.
Determine what type of galaxy you would like to paint. I decided on a strong Sb type.
Step One: Apply the Gesso and let dry 20 minutes.
Optional: Buy some Varnish and protect your masterpiece. It also makes it look shiny! Apply only after the painting has been dry at least a month or two!
The attached painting was signed for my niece who is the only one in our family that has taken an interest in Astronomy. Russell wants a demo, so maybe at the next meeting I can do just that.
Aurora in the
I received a call from my father-in-law around 8:30pm on Monday, November 5th. He lives in Iowa. He said the sky was blood red there and was wondering what was going on and if he was seeing an aurora. I quickly logged on to some solar sites and sure enough we were experiencing a major aurora event! All the maps I looked at showed that we should be seeing it from here in Alabama. I quickly ran outside and looked north-northeast. Sure enough, there it was! It was brilliant red extending nearly 40-45 degrees off the horizon. Pillars of yellow periodically extended up from the horizon and shades of blue-green could be seen along the horizon. Curtains of red would shift from northeast to northwest. It would appear to fade and then another wave would appear in the northeast. It was incredible! The rising waning gibbous moon didn't seem to affect it too much. But had there not been a moon, I can't imagine what we would have seen then. I stayed out watching until about 12:30am. That's when the aurora had faded and was pretty much over with. At one point, the red portion of the aurora was near the zenith and a trail of red blazed through Cassiopeia.
Here are some photos that I took during the course of the event. I used a Minolta 35mm SLR camera, lens 35-50mm @ f3/5, Kodak Portra 800 with exposures ranging from 20 to 40 seconds. I took the photos from my yard in Prattville. Photographed between 9pm and 11pm.
Wanted to Buy
Russell, I’m a former member, who is thinking
of rejoining soon. The reason I'm writing is that I’m interested in buying
a telescope. I was wondering if a member is interested in selling a 6-
to maybe a 10 inch Dobsonian reflector? 300.00 to 800.00 dollar range.
A good home built telescope. My phone number is 334-705-8634. email@example.com
I recently had a very exciting and enjoyable trip to the Chiefland Astronomy Village near Chiefland, Florida for the 2001 Chiefland Star Party. I was there for three nights on November 15, 16, and 17. I set up next to a couple from Jacksonville, FL who were Auburn alumni and fans.
On the field were probably 150 – 200 scopes of all sizes and configurations. The largest was Tom Clark’s 36” Yard Scope Dob; others included a 30” (the same guy who was at Deep South), two 24 inchers, and a number of 20” and 18” Dobs. And of course, a whole bunch of SCT’s, including one C-14. Rick Singmaster of Starmaster Telescopes was there delivering one big Dob with GOTO (what service!). I got to view three objects with the Yard Scope before it clouded up on Thursday – I should not have looked, now I’m spoiled for life. Oh yeah, Tom is building a bigger scope, a 40-incher and an observatory to mount it in.
Thursday night started off great: perfectly clear skies for a whole hour and a half, and then the clouds rolled in. I happened to awaken at 4 am to clear skies again and viewed until daylight. Friday night had some good viewing; clear, but with a lot of moisture in the air. Saturday night was much the same as Friday but with periodic clouds rolling by. All in all the skies were very dark, much better than what we have around here; the Milky Way was very pronounced. I got to view many objects that I had not seen before. As is usual for me, I spent ½ of my time with my scopes and ½ walking around taking peeks from others’ scopes.
I enjoyed meeting and talking with a number of new people and some I had met before. Jim Nadeau was there with a couple of his Nightsky truss Dobs. Sherrie and three others (sorry, I forgot their names) were there from the Mobile club. I also met and spent a lot of time there with one of our old members, Tom Danei and his wife, Brit. He was there with his 16” Midnight Scopes truss Dob built by Tom McGowan (its still in great shape, Tom). They have been living in Brunswick, GA for about a year now, so that is why we haven’t seen them in a while. They send their warmest regards. Tom Clark and the others in the Village were very gracious by letting 300+ people camp and view in their front yards. A number of door prizes were given away including two telescopes, and once again I won NOTHING.
Oh yeah, I have to mention one other little event of Saturday night-Sunday morning – the meteor shower. It has to be one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen. I even called my wife in Auburn at 4:00 am to get her outside for the fireworks. Truly awe-inspiring. It helped make up for Auburn’s dismal loss to the hated Tide.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable long weekend, one that I will long remember, and one that I plan to repeat the next time the Chiefland Astronomy Village opens their doors.
Stargazer Scott Report:
The meteor shower was absolutely phenomenal from the dark skies of Chiefland, FL!!! We thought it was going to be a wash-out with the clouds covering us from about 11PM till 3PM then it cleared. I had cat napped most of that night getting up regularly to check the skies. Of course there was a guy next to us named Paul who let us know when it started and ended because with each meteor we heard a HOOP HORAHH!!! THERE …. THERE…. THERE>>>>>HOLY COW!!!! So, I was sure not to miss the start.
I would say that for about 40 to 45 minutes we saw one or more a second! We estimated 700 – 800 an hour. The skies at Chiefland are inky black in the south and west. To the north and east are of course Chiefland with very little light pollution. I had more light pollution from the next door camper and his beaming red lights! We had a ball however!!! It was some of the most fun I had in months. There was one meteor that left a trail for about 4 to 5 minutes and the wind shifted it. We looked at it through the binoculars which gave us a most excellent view of wispy streaks.
The rest of the trip:
We arrived to find flat open fields with about 350 to 450 people. It was a great turn out. I can’t say too much for the bath shower situation. Although new, the bath house had open field showers. In other words, it was a square of tin that came up to your neck! No top! The airplanes that flew over got an x-rated view! And no hot water, mainly because of too many people!!! Burrrrr! The first night was clear and cold but offered excellent views of the Milkyway!
Besides the meteor shower the next best views we had was through a TMB 4” refractor with a 90mm Coronado Solar Prominence Filter with binocular eyepieces. That was the best I have ever witnessed the solar flares !!!! WOW!!!
We listened to two speakers. One who was from the University of Florida. He talked about their new fully robotic observatory program for the University. The other was Jack Newton who showed us his excellent pictures taken from the past few years at his observatory there in Chiefland and in Canada.
What a trip… the views were great, the meteor shower was once in a life time and everyone was super nice.
Dustin Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
I began walking outside and looking
up at around 12:30am, and then returning inside to watch some TV. I walked
out every 15-20 minutes, all the way up until 4:00am. At 12:30, I saw one
about every 45 seconds. By 2:00am it had jumped to one every 5-10 seconds,
and by 4:00am I was seeing one after another, with sometimes as many as
5-6 in the sky at the same time. I'm not sure how you'd rate that on the
"meteors per hour" scale...I guess 3600/hour, if one is seen every second?
Alan Akin email@example.com
It was the best observing experience I've ever
had. My parents and I got to see a fire ball. I was looking away at first
then a bright object caught my eye. It got brighter and brighter. Then
it started breaking up into pieces before it finally disappeared.
A few people in Pine Mountain GA, about 7 miles away, said they figure
it was heading toward us. That's why it didn't leave a trail. I clocked
the number of meteors we saw a number of times in two minutes. A count
of 30 was the best I got by myself. To bad my parents weren't still out
to help me count that time.
David Newton firstname.lastname@example.org
I did manage to leave warm covers and go into the front yard (for maybe 1.5 hours) at about 3:15 a.m. (Raye joined me for about one hour.) I probably saw 40 to 50, the most ever.
By far the most spectacular object, which I assume was not part of the Leonids, traveled relatively slow and low (about a third of the way up from the southerly horizon) from west to east, and left a very long trail. This was about 3:45 to 4:00 a.m. It seemed so close; I almost expected a sonic boom. Beautiful!
Tom McGowan Midnightelescope@aol.com
I'd like to share our observations done on Nov.17/18.
Julie and I went to a spot in Crenshaw County, nice horizon and rather
dark skies. We arrived there a little past 1:00 am. We took a 16-inch scope
to play around with but our main goal was to check out the Leonids meteor
Ricky Wood email@example.com sends the following image. Aside from the Leonid, I see the California Neblua, the Pleiades, C/2000 WM1 (LINEAR)?, M33, and M-31. Do you see others?
David T. King, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucille and I saw quite an awesome display of Leonids from our vantage point in the desert near St. George, Utah. At its peak (325 AM MST), we estimated the rate to be 1500 to 2000/hour. It was difficult to make accurate counts as the meteors were coming down on all sides (360 degrees) around us. Now we know why the old drawings of meteor showers past show them dropping like rain, as that is truly the way it looked. As we were leaving our site to go back to St. George (555 AM MST), a huge green fireball passed over the highway in front of our car. It illuminated the whole sky for several seconds and was blindingly bright. The whole evening was the most amazing experience we have ever had looking at meteors.
[David also sends this URL for listening to the Leonids] http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast26nov_1.htm?list81710
Jim McLaughlin email@example.com