Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
In this Issue
February Meeting: This month’s meeting will be on Friday, February 6, in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building, at 8:00 PM.
Star Party: Friday/Saturday February 20/21, at Cliff Hill’s farm.
Feb 03 - STARDUST, Deep Space Maneuver #4 (DSM-4)
Thanks to John Zachry for the dates from
Space Calendar http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/calendar/
John Clifton wrote to suggest that we return to the Friday/Saturday night options (depending on which has the better chance of clear skies) for our star parties. We’re getting back to that format this month.
Are we alone in the universe? If other rational beings exist, what are they like and where are they? Can we communicate with each other? Dr. Jill Tarter, Director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research at the private, non-profit SETI Institute at Mountain View, California, is after answers to these questions. Not relying simply on belief or on the day when little green creatures land on Earth for the answers, she and her colleagues travel twice annually to the mountains of Puerto Rico where they use the world's largest radio telescope to listen for radio signals coming from other solar systems. She reminds us though, that if signals from other extraterrestrial civilizations are received, they will contain information sent eons before our time due to the immense distances between us and even the closest stars. Therefore, she notes that we might study these communications as we do the works of Shakespeare or the ancient Greeks. In addition to being a gifted and dedicated scientist, Jill Tarter is passionately committed to educating the next generation of scientists. She has won numerous awards for her science and nature books for young readers and is currently supported by NSF to produce a 9th grade integrated science curriculum called Voyages Through Time.
The lecture is free and open to the public. Littleton-Franklin
Lecture will be in the auditorium of the Auburn University Hotel and Conference
Center, February 24, 2004, at 4 PM.
On Saturday night, January 3, 2004, members and friends of the Auburn Astronomical Society, in cooperation the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, held a public Saturn Gaze. Saturn was at a favorable opposition -- closer to the Earth than it had been for the past thirty years, and as close as it would be for the next 30 years. This event was conceived and was brought to fruition by Mack Acheson with the encouragement and support of Rick Evans, director of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium. The event was free to the public as a Public Service of Troy State University Montgomery. The agenda for the evening was:
6:00 PM Doors Open
The night was unseasonably warm and partly to mostly cloudy, but all of the 300+ visitors had a chance to see the ringed planet through any of the many telescopes made available to them by our volunteers and several guests who brought their own telescopes. Several guests who were having assembly and operational problems with their personal telescopes, brought them to the "Telescope Clinic" that opened the evening's activities. William Baugh was the "scope doctor" on the lawn outside the planetarium while Russell Whigham attended to the optical patients that had been brought inside by their owners. Among the people who received some much need instruction was State Senator, Larry Dixon, who subsequently sent William a personal "thank you" note that he shared with us at the January meeting of the AAS.
Mack had rented several commercial sized urns and provided coffee and hot chocolate to the visitors once they had entered the lobby of the planetarium. Mack had also written the media outlets in Montgomery to publicize the event. Rick contacted Rich Thomas, meteorologist at WSFA, channel 12, who gave some valuable publicity before the event. Rick had also sent news of the event to his Planetarium e-mail list. Because of these efforts, we had a reporter and photographer from the Montgomery Advertiser, and a reporter and videographer from WAKA, Channel 8, the local CBS affiliate. The interviews and video aired on the 10:00 PM news that evening. Mack did an outstanding job of his on camera interview. Sunday’s Advertiser ran the story with photos. Thanks, Mack!
The following people volunteered to have their telescopes set up outside the planetarium for the public: Mack Acheson, William Baugh, Taylor Jernigan, Jim McLaughlin, Gail Smitherman, and Russell Whigham.
Thanks to Mack for conceiving of and coordinating
this event and to Rick Evans for making the planetarium available for the
event. Mack showed his appreciation for the help of the volunteers
in this letter:
To the members and friends of AAS,
See photos on the AAS Web page. Follow the navigational links: Field Trips / W.A. Gayle Planetarium Events / Saturn Gaze 2004
Here’s the official list of AAS members that goes to the Astronomical League. If you don’t see your name below, and wish to enjoy the benefits and privileges of membership, you’ll need to send $15.00 for Regular Membership or $7.50 for Full-Time Students to:
Mr. John Zachry, Secretary/Treasurer
Make checks payable to: Auburn Astronomical
Society. You can save the postage and bring your dues to the meeting.
For questions about your dues or membership status, contact John at
I would like to let everyone know that the Flint
River Astronomy Club in Griffin, GA is going to be trying their hand at
a star party. The party will be held May 21-23, 2004 at Camp McIntosh,
Indian Springs State Park, Jackson, GA. Information about the party
can be obtained from http://www.flintriverastronomy.org/GSV2004.htm
Registration is limited to 75 people.
orrery (OR-uh-ree) noun
The father of model solar system simulators was Archimedes, who invented the planetarium. http://crystalinks.com/archimedes.html
If you want to learn how to control the Mars rover, you can download a simulation program just like the guys at NASA are going to use to drive Spirit and Opportunity around on the Red Planet. Updates with real pictures are going to made available as they are obtained from Mars to update the program. And best of all, it's all free (well, except for the taxes we already have paid!). Check it out. http://mars.telascience.org/home
(In a reply to a question on parfocal eyepieces) 2" to 1.25" adapters aren't very expensive. If you typically switch between 2" and 1.25" EPs when observing, you'll find it very convenient to give each 1.25" EP you commonly use, its own 2" adapter. Then, you can also make the EPs parfocal by simply locating each one in the correct position in its own adapter and just leave it at that position.
Hope to see everyone at the meeting,