Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
July, 2008

In this Issue

Events Calendar Space News
Web Links Loaner Scopes
Member News  Help Wanted 

Events Calendar

This monthís meeting will be on Friday, July 11 at 8:00PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building.  Riders from the Montgomery area are welcome to meet at the home of Russell Whigham, 518 Seminole Dr.,  and carpool over to Auburn.  Plan to be ready to leave for Auburn at 7:00PM.

Our regular dark-sky star party will be on Saturday, June 26, at Cliff Hillís farm, clouds permitting of course. 

Space News
John Zachry

Mars passed its aphelion on May 12, 2008 - the farthest point from the Sun in its orbit.

Winter begins in the southern hemisphere on Mars on June 24, 2008. Because of low atmospheric density on Mars, winter solstice in the southern hemisphere is coldest day of the year. Weather conditions for Spirit and Opportunity are expected to improve after that time.

Southern Hemisphere:

Mars Winter - June 24, 2008
Mars Spring - December 12, 2008
Mars Summer - June 1, 2009
Mars Fall - November 20, 2009
Mars Winter - May 11, 2010

July 2008 - Cassini spacecraft looking down on Saturn from highest inclination 75 degrees.
July 1, 2008 - Ulysses spacecraft end of mission.
July 28, 2008 - WhiteKinightTwo (one word) mothership that will carry SpaceShipTwo (one word), designed by Burt Rutan, will be unveiled.

Web Links

An excellent video presentation of the drift alignment can be viewed here.  (I t may require a Flash plugin.)

This issue is not addressed in our star party guidelines, but itís worth mentioning here: <>

Telescope optics:  <>

Loaner Scopes

Old Business:  Through normal use, our 8-inch Dobsonian and the PST were suffering a couple of minor battle wounds.  New parts were ordered and have been received.  Both scopes will be in top notch shape for the next users.

New Business:  I had a call (that Rick Evans had referred to me) from a widow who wanted to donate her late husband's astronomical assets.  I explained that the AAS had a loaner scope program and that her husband's equipment would complement our current collection nicely.  It was obvious that it was difficult for her to let go of this part of their life together.  I hope we can have some labels made acknowledging the donation in her husband's memory.

The following items have been donated by Mrs. Diane Swanton, in memory of her husband, Lyle G. Swanton, who died in February.  The Swantons were active in the Columbus GA astronomy club.  Mrs. Swanton wanted to be sure that the equipment would be used.

Items include: 

ē Bogen 3126 medium duty tripod 

ē SLIK 800G-FL light tripod 

ē Velbon UP-4DX Unipod 

Celestron 20x80 Giant Binoculars

Multi-Coated, BAK-4 prisms, 
3.5 degree field, 
No. 970037, 
(1 eyepiece cap missing). 

[ I gave these a try on the good night we had last week.  Itís lots of fun, but itís too much magnification and way too heavy to be hand held.  The Bogen is heavy enough for it, but it canít be used at or near zenith.  We may want to consider buying, or having a volunteer make, a nice parallelogram mount for this.  RDW ] 

Edmund Scientific, Astroscan

4.25-inch fixed  mirror, f/4 
28mm (16x), 1.25-inch RKE, 
15mm (30x) 1.25-inch RKE eyepieces, 
Eyepiece extension tube, 
Table top base, 
Shoulder strap, 
Peephole finder, 
Nylon tote bag, and all original documentation. 

[This scope is in excellent condition.  While not much use on the planets, the Moon and deep-sky object hopping will be fun, and you canít beat the set-up time.  RDW]

Meade ETX-90

Table top tripod legs, 
1.25-inch Series 4000 eyepieces: 
   40mm, (31x)
   26mm (2), (48x)
   12.4mm, (100x)
T-adapters (2), 
8x21 finder, 2x barlow, a 
45degree erect viewing diagonal,
Assorted allen wrenches, 
Star and Planet Locator (cardboard planisphere)
Downloaded User Manual

[This is the one you want for the planets.  RDW]

ē Night Navigator -- an electronic planisphere for use in the field. 

ē A book:  Children of the Sun, a large format book on the planets. 

ē VHS tape w/ astronomy related programs 

The last three will go to the AAS Library.  I'll bring all of this to the July meeting. 

Member News

From: John Tatarchuk
Subject: 25" Scope from TX

I got back from Texas on June 14.  I spent almost two weeks out near Fort Davis.  Because of the once-in-fifty-years wildfire that sprung up, I had to evacuate my observing location for two days, both of which were beautifully clear.  Later in the second week, clouds started moving in.  Despite all this, I still got 5 nights (three partial and two full) and 26 hours of observing in with the 25".  The scope has many adjustments and tweaks still to be done, but assuming I can get past the astigmatism problem, which is likely being caused from an improperly designed mirror sling I'll have to replace with my own design, the scope is going to be a great performer.  I'm attaching a picture of it.  Hopefully I'll be able to bring it out to Cliff's farm to show you guys in August or September.


Help Wanted

From: "Elaine B. Osborne" <ebosborne(at)hughes(dot)net>

You are among the many I am sending out this e-mail to in search a helper for my Gemini Go To.  I am sure someone in your club has the Gemini Go To system.  I finally broke down and put one on my TelVue 101.  I have never liked these motorized noise makers Ha....... but now I am working on some very dim object and I just needed to verify I had the correct object in my 14.5  ( I truly still enjoy the hunt)  but this system is driving me CRAZY!!!!   I need someone that is retired and has the time to walk me through some of these steps.  The manual evidently was written for the most brilliant and I don't seem to fall under that category. (;>.  If you know of someone that has this system and would be willing to walk me through some of its steps, and wouldn't mind giving of their time to help me out.  It is already programmed with the necessary information,   it  not doing what I expected,  I am sure it is the operator.   If you know someone and they would be willing to give of their time,  I would appreciate your giving me their phone number or e-mail. 

Thanking you in advance for any help you can give me and I certainly understand how busy folks are so if this is not possible for sure I understand. 


Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,