Meetings and Events
5, monthly AAS meeting at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering
building, on the campus of Auburn University.
Mid-South Star Gaze,
French Camp MS
April 12/13, April members and friends dark-sky star party, at Cliff
Hill’s farm. The Friday date being the primary date Saturday
as a fall back in case of clouds on Friday.
16, Head School Star Gaze, Montgomery (See below)
April 17, cloud date for Head School
20, Astronomy Day 2002, W.
A. Gayle Planetarium, Montgomery (See below)
School Star Gaze
Mallett, Head Elementary School, 3950 Atlanta Highway, Montgomery,
has invited us back again this year, to give a star gaze at the school
on Tuesday, April 16, with Wednesday April 17 as a back-up in case of clouds
on Tuesday. The Moon will be a nice crescent both days. Sunset
will be at 7:10 on Tuesday. We should try to be there by 7:00 and
ready to begin viewing by 7:30 CDST. Again, it would be nice to have
at least four telescopes to accommodate the typically large turn-out here.
Please let me (Russell) know
if you think you’ll be able to help.
far, getting a speaker from the Marshall Space Flight Center has not panned
out. Been strung along for 6 weeks, with maybe's, might's, could's,
etc.. but still no commitments.
time to shift to “plan B”. Rhon Jenkins is going to do the AAS briefing.
I would like to see if anyone would like to do a Telescope presentation,
explaining the differences between reflecting and refracting and
maybe show folks what to look for when thinking about buying a telescope
for their children...the do's and don'ts.
We will run
the program More than Meets the Eye which illustrates what people will
see if they use binoculars or a variety of telescopes (i.e. 8", 10" etc).
We'll then do a tour of the night sky, and send folks out side. We
have been toying around with the idea of having a Constellation shootout
competition as well.
Year's Door Prizes (So Far...)
Telescopes and Binoculars http://www.telescope.com/cgi-bin/OrionTel.storefront
Deluxe Medium Aluminum Accessory Case
Star Target Planisphere
Laboratory - The Space Place http://spaceplace.nasa.gov
Deep Space 1 "Incredible Ions" posters
(3rd Ed) by Terence Dickinson
of the Universe by Terence Dickinson and Jack Newton
One Year Free Membership
One-Year Subscription to Astronomy magazine.
to Start Right in Astronomy" pamphlets. (Sky Publishing http://www.skypub.com
) "Space Place" collectible card games, variety of decals, (Jet Propulsion
Auburn Astronomical Society Briefing. Dr. Rhon Jenkins (auditorium)
will present a briefing on the Auburn Astronomical Society, astronomy club.
Tour of Telescopes Each owner will brief about their telescope.
The advantages of the scope's optical and mechanical design, what
accessories they chose and why, and what type objects are best suited for
"More Than Meets the Eye" Planetarium program which illustrates
what you can expect to see using a variety of different telescopes and
"Tour of the Night Sky" The Spitz STP projector in the
auditorium will be set to display the stars as seen from Montgomery
Alabama on April 20th. A brief tour of the night sky will be conducted
to point out the constellations.
8:00 PM Door
Prizes Tickets will be drawn to select winners of the Door Prizes.
(Must be present to win)
8:15 PM Telescopic
Viewing Guests are invited to view the night sky through the
telescopes provided by the Auburn Astronomical Society.
Note: I gave Rick the go-ahead on a telescope demonstrations.
We’ll have a couple of weeks to work out the details, but a format that
worked well at last year’s Deep South Regional Star Gaze, was to have each
telescope owner who wished to participate, talk for a few minutes about
their telescope -- the advantages of the scope design, what accessories
they chose and why, etc, followed by taking questions from the group.
Rather than haul the telescopes inside, I think it would be better to have
the visitors move from one telescope to the next outside. Each telescope
presentation should only take about 5 minutes, and with an average Astronomy
Day showing of about a dozen telescopes, we should probably allow a minimum
of one hour before the activities inside the planetarium begin. With
the large diversity of telescopes represented by our members, the visitors
should have a good understanding of the hardware.
me (Russell) know if you think
you’ll be able to help.]
Elementary Star Gaze
Thanks to all
of the folks from the AAS that helped us at Ogletree Elementary in Auburn!
On Tuesday March 19th, which was our third attempt in a month, we got our
star party off the ground at 6:00. Rhon and Joyce Jenkins
and Rick Allen joined me. The turn out was very good.
The estimates I received from Ms. Herring, the principal, and a couple
others put the attendance near 100.
We made the
decision to go for it at 2:00 even though it did not look too promising.
I trusted the hour by hour forecast from The Weather Channel web site and
it paid off. There were a few clouds but they were not a real problem.
More of a problem were a couple of security lights that, as Rhon said,
"could be seen from space." We were able to enjoy Jupiter, Saturn,
the Moon, and the Orion Nebula. We had 4 telescopes going and stayed
busy for about an hour. I saw 2 telescopes brought by students as
well. Since two of my children are students at Ogletree, I knew most
of the people in attendance and I can say they had a very good time and
I am sure we will be invited to have a repeat performance.
I want to thank
Russell Whigham for helping with the recruitment, and Rhon, Joyce, and
Rick for showing up and doing such a great job with the crowd! Also,
since we had attempted two other nights I had several other people that
had volunteered to come earlier but could not attend Tuesday. Alan
Cook, Eddie Kirkland, John Clifton, and Alan Akin
were in that group. This was my first school star party and I must
say I enjoyed the questions and enthusiasm shown by not only the students
but the parents too. I look forward to going to other schools in
the area when they call.
Fellowship of School Home Educators Star Gaze
On March 21,
2002, at the invitation of Ms. Amy Stackhouse, AAS members Tom McGowan,
Williams and Russell Whigham along with about 75 students and
teacher-parents of the Prattville Fellowship of Home Educators, met in
rural Autauga county for a near perfect evening of observing the early
spring sky. For many, it was their first look through a telescope.
the home schoolers brought their personal telescopes to supplement the
AAS arsenal. A couple of these had questions such as "Which eyepiece should
I use?" and "Where does this screw go?", that we were able to help.
We were able to assist with the assembly and set-up of their telescopes.
dropped to the mid-fifties by the end of the evening. This,
combined with a moderate breeze that accompanied at cold front that had
swept the sky clear of clouds at midday, brought us a dark and transparent
course of the evening we observed: Venus, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter,
Mars, star clusters, binary stars, Comet Ikeya-Zhang (naked-eye), and satellite
passes. See their star gaze Web
page at http://www.mindspring.com/~rwhigham/
Trips", "Outreach", "Prattville Fellowship of Home Educators".
Here is a letter
from Mrs. Stackhouse:
you a million times! I, and everyone present, was thrilled beyond words
at our experience last night. The kids saw images that they see in books
and they could not believe their little eyes were seeing such sights. I
could not believe that in my 40 years I have never had such a view. Thank
you and to Tom and John. You fellows are so knowledgeable and yet so able
to bring it down to the common folk to understand and appreciate. What
a true gift!
are great and I know that I'd like a copy of each for our scrapbook and
I am sure some others will too. I can't get the word out until the first
of the month in our newsletter, but I will let you know. I think
the Montgomery Parents can pull from the e-mail attachment for a tidbit.
Is there something you'd like to mention in that brief feature? Marty
is the publisher of that magazine and a friend of mine and often helps
me get home school out there in a positive light.
Again I thank
you for your expertise, time and effort. We were all blessed with a super
time! We will make mention of you when we are in Washington at Spaceday
2002 at the Air and Space Museum. The kids saw some of the planets that
they planned missions to enter in the contest and that was a thrill for
If I can ever
help you, please let me know. Please forward this note to John and Tom.
We are sending our drawings to "Sketch the Sky" on WSFA morning show...we
will scan a copy for you.
Midnight Telescopes truss-tube dob; 6" f/12 Intes Mak-Cass; 4" f/5 Skywatcher
special interest:planets and deep sky objects
Are you a seasoned amateur astronomer or just getting into the hobby?
been actively observing for a little over three years now (2002)
What was your first experience that attracted you to astronomy?
had 60mm refractor as an early teen and enjoyed looking at the moon, Saturn,
Tell us a little about your family members; spouse? kids? siblings? significant
married to a great lady and best friend, Liz, who lets me buy all this
astro stuff without complaining; we've been married 25 years, she's a teacher;
two children, Amanda, 22, also a teacher, Nathan, 18, a senior at Auburn
Can you tell us a little about your formal education?
1976 in Forest Management from Auburn University
Do you have any pets? What kind?; How Many?
the beagle; Mollie, the cat
Where do you work? If you're retired, what was your occupation?; If you're
still in school, have you chosen a career?
Lands Manager for the Alabama Forestry Commission
Besides astronomy, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
kayaking and canoeing; landscape gardening; reading; traveling; hiking
What was your first or favorite car?
first car was a 1970 Datsun 510
What was your first or most interesting job?
first job was unloading 50- and 100-pound bags of fertilizer from railcars
for my Dad; most fun job was working for the Forest Service on the Coconino
National Forest in Arizona one summer during college.
Tell us about your favorite vacation.
1990 my family took a 4-week trip through Arizona, California, Oregon,
and other western states.
Have you ever lived in some other part of the U.S. or another country?
grew up in a very small town in Henry County, AL; lived a couple of years
in Autauga Co.; and have been living in the Auburn area since 1980.
took some courses at Huntingdon College during the mid-eighties and, while
there, borrowed a reflector telescope from the school to track Halley's
Comet in '86.
contacted one of the science professors at Huntingdon and asked about that
'scope. He recalled seeing it stored away somewhere and, ever curious,
I offered (invited myself) to drop by and help him find it. Today
during lunch I went by, met the professor face-to-face, and found not only
the old reflector but also what appears to be an old refractor of, maybe,
3" or 4" size.
I'd like to
see what I could do to help get those scopes back in usable condition.
He mentioned that their science building in scheduled for an overhaul and
there had been discussion of putting a small observatory on the roof.
in looking at these telescopes?
taking the initiative on this. Dr. Ward Knacamus was our contact
at Huntingdon and was on our e-mail list at one time. After receiving
bounces to his address, I learned that he had retired. We never heard
any more from him. Thanks for re-establishing communication there.
If you think your guy would like to be added to our mail list, just send
me his address.
I'm sure you're
quite capable of making assessments on the old scopes but I'll be glad
to help if you like -- just let me know when. I'll be off from work
next week if you'd like to do it then.
As to the new
facility, I'll bet they can find one of the Huntingdon alumnus that would
love to have his or her name on the observatory. They could get a
new 11-16 inch telescope for the same price as the dome.
for your efforts on this,
Jeff Schutz firstname.lastname@example.org
have a 6 in. f8 primary mirror for a simple reflector. It may need
recoating but is otherwise fine (1/8 wave) . I will give it away
to a good home--someone who will use it to build a scope, not someone looking
to resell it for their own profit.
Astronomical Society would very much appreciate your donation. We
have one 8-inch "loaner" telescope now. The mirror could be the beginning
of a good club telescope building project as well as a welcome addition
to the society's assets.
Where do you
live? Could we pick it up if you live in/near Auburn or Montgomery.
Or, we'd love to have you visit us at one of our upcoming meetings to make
Mark A. Brown
are a couple of photos of Comet Ikeya-Zhang that I took on the evening
of March 21, 2002.
was photographed using my Orion 80mm Short Tube while piggy-backed to my
It was a two-
minute exposure and I used Fuji Superia 800 film. The focal length was
400mm at f/5.
was taken through my C8 at prime-focus using an f/5 telecompressor.
was 3 minutes using the same film.
Even with the
moonlit skies from a first quarter moon, the comet was still impressive
sporting a 10-degree tail. I photographed the comet west of Prattville,
Alabama at about 7pm.
Mark A. Brown
Pollution in the News
CNN has a short
article about light pollution and a poll you can take. See:
title is "NPR : Morning Edition for Monday, March 25, 2002 : Dark Skies"
and can be found at http://search1.npr.org/opt/collections/torched/me/data_me/seg_140490.htm
satellite's eye view--awesome
This is really
The image is
a panoramic view of the world from the new space station.
You can scroll
East-West and North-South. Canada's population is almost
along the U.S. border. Moving east to Europe, there is a
concentration along the coast of the Med. Check out the
of Israel compared to the rest of the Arab countries.
Note the Nile
River, The Outback of Australia and the TransSiberian Rail
east, most striking is the difference between North and
It is an absolutely
awesome picture of the Earth taken from the Boeing
Hoping to see
everyone at the meeting,