Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
December, 2002

In this Issue

December Events Annual Dues Reminder
DSRSG Review Eastwood School Star Gaze
News from Old Friends
  Wetumpka Meteor Crater Findings Published

December Events

Eastwood Presbyterian School Star Gaze on Thursday, December 5.  See details and directions below.

Our monthly AAS meeting will be on Friday, December 6, at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building, on the campus of Auburn University

The members and friends dark-sky star party will be on the following Saturday, December 7 , at Cliff Hillís farm.

Rain/cloud date for the Eastwood Presbyterian School Star gaze on Thursday, December 12.  See details and directions below. 

Annual Dues Reminder

AAS treasurer, John Zachry, reports that he received the requisite number of magazine subscriptions to qualify for the club discount, for both Sky & Telescope and Astronomy and that they have been sent to the publishers.  Remember that AAS memberships expire at the end of December.  Dues are still only $15.00 per year, $7.50 for full-time students.  Make checks payable to Auburn Astronomical Society.  If you havenít already sent John your check for 2003, either bring it to the meeting Friday, or mail it to him at:

John Zachry
Treasurer, Auburn Astronomical Society
501 Summerfield Road
West Point GA 31833
If youíre not sure if youíve paid, or if you have other questions about the 2003 dues, drop John a note at:

DSRSG 2002 Review

This is about as late in the season as DSRSG can be.  Although the fall season seem to be lagging behind by about a month, and despite the fact that weíd experienced the wettest October in recent memory, blushing hardwoods and ripe cotton bowls could be seen against the clear blue sky on the trip down to McComb MS.  When we arrived at the group camp area of Percy Quin State Park early Wednesday afternoon, the lower observing field was still wet from the previous weekís rain in places.   Representing AAS this year were:  John Tatarchuk, Eddie Kirkland, Russell Whigham, Robert Rock, and Bill Prados

The first night was clear and cool, though quite humid, but with the optics heaters cranked up all the way, we savored the fall nightís show pieces until about 1:00 AM when fatigue from the long drive began to take itís toll.  Each succeeding night offered fewer and fewer hours of clear sky concluding with a total overcast Saturday night. 

This was Johnís first regional star party, but he led the way for us veteran observers with his precocious observing skills as he marched his way through the Abell catalog of very faint planetary nebulae Ė many of which were near the limit of visibility in his 18-inch Obsession.  Johnís enthusiasm was contagious as the thrill of each conquest seemed better than itís predecessor on his list.  We all made the rounds looking through the scores of other fine telescopes on the field and sharing views with our observing neighbors.

Barry Simon, perennial event coordinator for the past 20 years, and his staff of hard working volunteers, had plenty of workshops and demonstrations to keep us occupied during the daylight hours.  These culminated with the presentation by David Levy, of Shoemaker-Levy-9 fame (only one of his several other comet discoveries) on Friday afternoon.   David, a spellbinding story teller, complemented his memories of their unique discovery back in 1994, with a multimedia presentation of NASA press conference footage and an homage to Gene Shoemaker, set to music.

Not only is David an excellent speaker, but a dedicated observer -- scanning the sky for yet-to-be discovered comets until the morning twilight put and end to his nightís search.  During the day, he mingled with his fellow amateur astronomers taking time to autograph as many books and telescopes as were presented to him. He never seemed to tire of meeting new people and really getting to know as many as he could.

We came away empty-handed for door-prizes yet another year, but Iím already looking forward to next year.

DSRSG 2002
John Tatarchuk, Eddie Kirkland, David Levy, and Robert Rock

Eastwood School Star Gaze

Robert Rock will be acting as coordinator for a star gaze for the 8th grade students of Eastwood Presbyterian School on Thursday, December 5.  This will be at the home of Ms. Ann Bode.  Here are the directions to Annís house: 

Go to Emerald Mountain Amoco go east on Rifle Range and turn left at the very next road, Peace Church Road, make sure to bear right and go to the fountain and turns into Emerald Mountain Parkway and go close to half mile and be at stop sign. Go through the sign intersection and make next right onto Mountain Oak Drive. A stone sign says ďThe OaksĒ, make quick left onto Twin Oaks Lane, then quick right on Post Oak Place. Ann is at house number 71.

If itís cloudy, weíll reschedule for Thursday December 12.  Let Robert know (334-567-9419) if you plan to help and if youíd like a call if the event has to be postponed.

News from Old Friends

Tom McGowan

Did ya get to check out Leonids? I found it comparable to last years only with the moon wiping out the fainter ones.I've finally got my shop set-up and have begun working on scopes again.Say hi to everyone in the club. Talk with you soon. 
 Itís sure good to hear from you, Tom.  We didnít have an encore from the Leonids (see below), but Iíve heard a smattering of reports from those in the area that it was quite good for a while.   Several people at DSRSG and PSSG asked about you and wanted to know if you were still making those beautiful telescopes. 
You mentioned a while back, that you had met a small, but eager group of amateurs in Kingman.  Keep us posted about the business and your local activities.

Mark Brown

I was just curious if the group was able to get together for some Leonid viewing the other night and what kind of show did you have?

I traveled from St. Louis to my home in Kansas to get to clear skies. The moon of course made the entire event really disappointing. I didn't see any extremely bright ones like last year and very few earth grazers. My brother and I did manage to count 249 between 4 and 5am (10-11UT).....361 meteors for the entire night. A far cry from last years performance. We mainly concentrated on the Northern, Eastern, and Southern sky and tried not to look to the west. 

I snapped a few photos, but I wasn't as lucky as last year. Drop me a short line if you get the chance.

Best Regards,

Mark Brown
River Bend Astronomy Club

Hello Mark,

I stayed up until shortly after midnight peering through occasional openings in the rapidly moving clouds but saw no meteors in about 20 minutes.  I went back out to check a couple of other times, including about 30 minutes before twilight -- completely clouded over.  Total Leonids observed in 2002 = 0.  It makes the 2001 storm very special for me.

Thanks for your report.

Stay in touch,

Wetumpka Meteor Crater Findings Published
From: "David T. King, Jr." <> 

I am pleased to tell you that our definitive paper establishing Wetumpka as an impact crater and presenting the unequivocal shocked quartz and iridium evidence has been published (this month) in Earth and Planetary Science Letters (an highly regarded Elsevier journal published in the Netherlands).  The paper is titled "Shallow marine impact origin of the Wetumpka structure (Alabama, USA).  The reference is King et al. (2002) EPSL v. 202, p. 541-549.  Those with access to Science Direct or other similar journal access systems can down load a PDF version for

Best wishes ... DAVID
David T. King, Jr., Professor, Dept. of Geology
Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5305 USA
VOICE  334 844-4882, -4282 FAX  334 844-4486

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,