Auburn Astronomical Society


1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

In the Beginning...

September 1980:  The above announcement, placed by Keith Hudson, appeared in the "Goin's On" column of the Opelika-Auburn Daily News on Sunday, September 7, 1980.  At the first meeting Keith gave the small group an overview of his goals and ambitions for the society.  At the second meeting, Keith showed some commercially made slides of solar system and deep-sky objects.  It was also at this meeting that officers were elected:  Keith Hudson (president), Russell Whigham (vice president), Richard Battles (treasurer), Joyce Jones (secretary) -- every member an officer.  We also voted to name the club "The Auburn Astronomical Society", with annual dues set at $15.00 per year. 

After we had exhausted Keith's slides, our monthly meetings consisted of  trips to the public night programs at the Patterson Planetarium in Columbus GA on Woodruff Farm Rd.  Dr. Dorothy Beetle was the director and Dr. Carole Rutland, her assistant.  This was a valuable resource with excellent speakers and programs at a wonderful facility. 

Occasionally, Keith would find a graduate student at Auburn, who would speak to our small group at meetings help in the public meeting room of the Alabama Power Company on N. Gay St. in Auburn.  One memorable case was when Linda Abramowitz of Boston University spoke on "Galaxies:  Their Birth, Characteristics, and Evolution".  It was during our first year that John Longworth, graduate student at A.U. and Dr. David Hagan, a local physician joined the society.  John had access to the University's 14-inch Celestron and the 4-inch refractors used for labs in the elective astronomy course.  Dr. Hagan had built a 10-inch Dobsonian from instructions in Astronomy magazine, which he later donated to the society. 

Photo by Keith Hudson

Our first star parties were held about five miles south of Auburn at mile marker 179 on US 29 S, then onto a gravel road, Lee County Rd. 395, that led to a cow pasture, owned by Cecil Ward.  To be so close to town, it was surprisingly dark.  I recall seeing M-33 and M-39 naked-eye on transparent nights. 

 Photo by Keith Hudson

From left to Right; Russell Whigham and his 80mm f/15 refractor; Keith Hudson's Celestron C-8; and John Longworth using one of Auburn University's 4-inch refractors. 


One of our earliest efforts toward outreach began in the spring of 1981 with our Astronomy Day event. We set up a display in the center court area of the Village Mall on Friday evening and again on Saturday and snared passers by with a few posters with pictures of astronomical objects and our telescopes set up to attract attention. It was here that we met Jim Chesnutt, who told us about this guy he used to work with named Rhon Jenkins. Through our connections with John Longworth, we started meeting in room 126 of Parker Hall, on the A.U. campus.    In September, 1981 AAS became a member of The Planetary Society.  This was also the first year we offered discount subscription rates for the astronomy periodicals. 


As we entered 1982, AAS had twelve members.  That March, we learned that "our" hill where we had been having our star parties, was soon to have the property owner's home built on it.  Keith found a better dark sky site on a hill 15 miles south of Opelika, in the Beauregard Community at Clem Torbert's Farm on Society Hill Rd.   Our May meeting was a combination program and star party at our new dark-sky site.  Dr. Satoshi Hinata of the A.U. department of physics, spoke to us on "Pulsars" as skies darkened.  We then turned the telescopes to the night sky.  We had an extremely good view of Mars with both polar caps and Syrtis Major especially prominent.  Later this month, our second annual  Astronomy Day event expanded from just the exhibit at the mall to a public star gaze at the upper picnic area of Chewacla State Park where we set up the telescopes for the visitors.  Also in May, the society affiliated with the Astronomical League and Keith debuted the AAS logo.  The following month, Keith, Rhon, and Russell attended the Southeast Region of the Astronomical League (SERAL) Convention in Atlanta GA on June 20, 1982.  It was here that we met Dr. Conrad Kussner, astronomy professor at UAB, who told us of the Birmingham Astronomical Society's roll-off-roof observatory, and how he had most of the material donated.  We could almost hear the gears turning in Keith's head. 

Keith holding Harold Povenmire's 50 pound iron meteorite at the SERAL Convention in Atlanta 

Rhon and Russell posing in front of two Alvan Clark refractors at the SERAL Convention in Atlanta

In response to an announcement in Astronomy magazine, we were contacted by several local amateurs:  Pat Grider, David Dorsey, Chris Hall, and Harold Cole. 

In September, Eric Eichman, Darwin Rigway, joined the society.  Keith and Russell were re-elected for another two years in the capacity as president and vice-president, with Rhonald Jenkins being elected to the office of secretary; A.U. graduate student, Dana Stocks, as AAS treasurer; and John Longworth, program chairman. 

Also in September 1982, Rhon Jenkins told us of a possible new -- and what could be permanent observing site near Society Hill.  Rhon had even secured permission from the property owner, Mrs. Jimmelene Moore, to build an observatory on the site.   Phase I of the observatory was to be the pouring of a 14 by 40 foot concrete slab with positions for seven telescope piers with electrical connections at each pier.  Phase II was for construction of the walls and roll-off roof, and the final phase to be the placement of a observatory class telescope. By the end of October, Phase I was complete, thanks to Keith's persistence,  the generosity of Sharpe Sand and Gravel for the donation of the concrete, and a few work parties. 

In December, the society explored the possibility of teaching the astronomy course through Auburn University's Continuing Education program, to help offset some of the observatory construction expense. 


As our third year as a society began, Keith began a laborious application for tax exempt status for the society with the IRS.  He also drafted and sent a letter of  agreement with Mrs. Moore with the terms and conditions for the use of her property and our observatory.  Larry Owsley and John Zachry joined the society. 

Attorney, Charles Floyd, of Phenix City, offered to donate his 12.5-inch f/7 Cave-Astrola telescope to AAS. 

During this period,  programs during this period are mostly films from NASA.  The society purchased a  Sky Atlas 2000.0, a detailed star chart, for joint use by the members.   At the April star party, we had our first view of Omega Centauri.  In May we observed Astronomy Day with an exhibit at the Village Mall and a star gaze at Chewacla Park. 

Astronomy Day 1983 at The Village Mall in Auburn with Rhon Jenkins 
at the table, Mike Brown behind him, and Harold Cole inspecting the refractor.

Mike Brown, Allen Screws, Russell Whigham, David Wier, Jim Chesnutt, Rhon
 Jenkins, and Keith Hudson at the upper picnic area of Chewacla Park in Auburn



Early in May, we had a surprise visitor by the name(s) of Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock.  It had only been discovered the night before and was passing very close to Earth.  We called the Birmingham Astronomical Society's observatory to get a position which happened to be very near Polaris.  It was easy naked-eye and motion very perceptible in the telescope. 

By the end of May, Keith had secured all of the concrete blocks needed for the observatory from Bickerstaff Brick of Columbus GA at their cost -- $350.00. 

Our first group effort to contribute data to the International Occultation Timing Association on May 28, when the asteroid Pallas occulted 1 Vulpeculae.  The predicted center-line path was somewhat south of our observatory location but we ventured into our first attempt at occultation timing just in case there was an error in the prediction.  The prediction was right on target and we were all too far north, so we submitted negative reports to IOTA.  This turned out to be good practice for future timings. 

In June, we received preliminary approval of tax exempt status from IRS. 

Our first Continuing Education Astronomy Course that had enough people enrolled to justify offering the classes began with the summer quarter. Several AAS members shared responsibilities for the eight-week course.   Keith presented the first two lectures on the inner and outer planets.  Russell followed with a discussion of constellation recognition, and star names and meanings, and the classical mythology associated with the stars. Jim Chesnutt instructed the class on the nature of light, optics, and telescopes.  Rhon Jenkins' presentations were on stellar evolution and cosmology.  One of the sessions was a trip to our dark-sky site for viewing by the students.  The society earned $200 from Auburn University's Continuing Education Department to go toward the observatory construction.  This was the first of several such astronomy courses over about three years, that made the observatory construction possible. 

In July, Rhon and Joyce and Russell and his family planned their vacations to include the Astronomical League Convention in Jacksonville FL.  It was here that we first rubbed shoulders with prominent amateur astronomers, authors, and astronauts. 

On the night of September 10/11, the society pooled their efforts to make timings of the occultation of 14 Piscium by the asteroid 51 Nemausa for IOTA.  We had observers on a line from a few miles north of Auburn to the observatory site near Society Hill.  The actual path was somewhat to the south of the prediction making Russell, at the southern most location, the only member of the team to observe the brief (6.9 second) disappearance of the star.  This turned out to be one of the shorter "chords" submitted to IOTA, defining the northern limit of the asteroid's profile.  An oblique reference to our contribution was made in the December 1983 Sky & Telescope magazine on page 576.   Here is the letter that was submitted to IOTA:

Construction at Moore's Meadow continued.  Keith arranged for Beck's Turf Nursery to donate 250 square yards of centipede sod for landscaping the observatory.  Many hands made light work of putting down the sod at an October work party. 

New officers were installed in October.  Russell succeeds Keith as president, Rhon is elected vice president, Keith, secretary, and Dana Stocks, treasurer.  Jim Chesnutt was appointed observatory director and Jane Thomas, social chairperson. 

Also in October, we took delivery of the 12.5-inch telescope, donated by Charles Floyd.  We met at Charles' home in Phenix City and handled the legal paper work that he had drawn up, and returned to Auburn with the centerpiece of our future observatory.  Rhon offered to keep the scope at his home until the permanent site was ready. 

Rhon and Russell look on as Charles Floyd signs the transfer of ownership papers at Charles' home. The 12.5-inch f/7 Cave-Astrola telescope came with finder and guider scopes and many eyepieces.


We began the 1984 with  a banquet at the Western Sizzlin restaurant in Opelika.  Mr. Tom Britton, assistant director of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery, gave a multi-media presentation entitled  "Twenty - Five Years in Space". 

We gave the continuing education course again for the winter quarter.  Having completed the laying of blocks to erect the walls, the stipend for the course enabled us to purchase materials needed for the roll-off roof at the observatory, and enter the final phase of construction. 

In the spring, we again hosted the Astronomy Day activities at the mall followed by a star party at Chewacla State Park. 

May 30  Annular Eclipse

The big event in astronomy 1984 was the May 30  Annular Eclipse.  The centerline tracked from southwest to northeast up the southeastern United States, and was nicknamed the "I-85 Eclipse".  After months of preparation, and miles of driving to secure the best possible location,  we selected the grassy area in front of the Lake Hill Restaurant, in Alex City, where US 280 crosses the Tallapoossa River.  Keith, Rhon, and Russell requested, and received permission from the owner to set up the telescopes there.   One of the last spring cold fronts passed through the area the day before, ensuring cool clear blue skies for the event.  Rhon and Russell left from Auburn in  pre-dawn hours on the day of the eclipse, to ensure proper polar alignment.  As dawn broke, more and more amateur astronomers arrived from all over the country and one group from Quebec, Canada.  As the moments of annularity approached at about 11:20, the the crowd noise diminished to a hush while cars on the highway turned on their headlights and birds began to roost.  Following the maximum annularity the crowd spontaneously erupted into cheers and applause.  In the newspaper article that followed the next day, several AAS members and there telescopes can be seen. 


Moore's Meadow Observatory

In two years from conception to completion, the society's observatory dedication was our high point for 1984.  In October of 1982, Keith requested and received, a donation of the ready-mixed concrete from Sharpe Sand and Gravel and conduit, wiring, electrical breaker box, outlets, and light fixtures, from Interstate Electrical Supply.  Keith's foresight in getting tax exempt status was a major factor in the notations he secured.  A couple of early fall weekend work parties involved laying out the foundation (using Keith's C-8 as a transit), digging the footings, placing studs for the pier mounts, conduit for the power outlets, and building the concrete forms.  This was followed by the actual pouring the foundation. 

By the following spring, with help from money earned by teaching the astronomy course, Keith was able to get the concrete blocks at cost from Bickerstaff Brick of Columbus GA. 

Throughout the summer of 1983, the walls were added to the foundation by Keith,  Rhon, and Joyce, with Russell serving as mortar mixer. 

We had electrical power on the property, but no running water.  Keith managed to borrow a "water tank" truck from the City of Opelika, and used it to fill some 55 gallon drums with water for the mortar mix.

Keith, checking to be sure the concrete block courses are level and plumb.  The walled area was 14 by 40 feet, six feet high.  The building was located on a small ridge the ran north and south.  The door height was only about five feet high.  This may be the only photograph of the opening with no hair, scalp tissue, and blood on it. 
A wooden structure the same dimensions as the building, is used as a support for the rolling roof to rest on when the observatory is fully open for observing.  Chief carpenter, architect, and designer, Rhon Jenkins, used a scaled-up version of the Birmingham Astronomical Society's "Spain Park Observatory" as a model.
The roll-off roof was made in two over-lapping sections.  The weight of a one-piece roof would have been too great for one person to push off.  Later when a system of mechanical winches was installed, the two sections were reunited with a flexible connector.  This photo shows the northern most half near completion, with the southern half runners mounted on casters, ready to receive the decking and steel roof panels.
A stucco mix with embedded glass fibers was applied to add strength to the walls as well as giving it the desired white color to reflect most of the heat of the day.  Rhon's little red yard cart was used to mix all of the mortar for the construction of the observatory. 

From L-R:  Keith Hudson, John Denale, Pat Grider, and David Weir.

Both halves have the roof panels on here and the stucco veneer finished. 

About all that was left to do was to complete the fascia and soffits on the roof sections, painting and landscaping with donated shrubbery. 

Exhausted astronomers, Keith Hudson and Russell Whigham look back on the fruits of their labor (as well as the tireless work Rhon and Joyce Jenkins and several volunteers) at the end of a hot summer day in 1984.  The interior walls were painted black to maximize dark adaptation and reduce reflected light.

With hundreds of volunteered man-hours of labor from conception to dedication, the Moore's Meadow Observatory had evolved from a dream to a reality.  AAS members and their families began the evening with a picnic supper on the observatory grounds.  This was followed by the dedication address by president, Russell Whigham, and the ribbon cutting ceremony.  As twilight deepened, the roof was rolled back, and the members and guests viewed through the 12.5-inch telescope. 


AAS founder, Keith Hudson and his C-8.  Jeff Crawford and Jim Chesnutt are in the background. 
Mike Fulmer with his 10-inch Meade SCT in the observatory with the roof partially opened.
Rhon Jenkins with his 10-inch Meade SCT
Jim Chesnutt with his homemade 12.5-inch Dob
Jeff Crawford
Daniel Morgan


Russell presiding over the dedication of the Moore's Meadow Observatory Sunday, September 23, 1984

In order to stimulate more member interest and participation. Special Interest Groups were formed. The society affiliated with The International Occultation Timing Association, The American Association of Variable Star Observers, The American Lunar and Planetary Observers.  Our group leaders were Rhon Jenkins, IOTA; Bob McGwier, AAVSO; and Allen Screws, ALPO. 

New members in 1984 were Gary Mullen, Allen Screws, David Weir, and Delos McKown, Earl Kennamer, Mike Brown, Ed Kosiba, Rai Ball, Conrad Ross, David Dorsey, Jeff Crawford, Paul Van Lith, John Keldrauk, Matt Dunaway, Chuck Miller, Bob McGwier, Allen Woodall, and Dan Morgan, 


The incumbent officers were all  re-elected for their second terms. 

Wetumpka Meteor Crater Tour

Keith arranged for Geological Survey of Alabama Geologist, Tony Neathery to come to Montgomery in what may have been the coldest day of the year, for a lecture and a guided tour of the Wetumpka Astrobleme.   On February 2, 1985 we caravaned from Auburn to the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, where Mr. Neathery presented the lecture portion of the presentation.  From there, we adjourned to a Montgomery restaurant for a dutch treat meal, then drove up to Jasmine Hill for the field trip, where we saw evidence of the meteoric origin of the horseshoe-shaped arc of uplifted earth just outside Wetumpka. 


Photos by Allen Screws

 Keith Hudson, Linda Prince, Rhon Jenkins, Tony Neathery, Joyce Jenkins, Russell Whigham, and Daniel Morgan in the crater. 

Also in February, with mechanical winches and cable donated by Davis-Dyar of Opelika, and the engineering skills of Rhon Jenkins, modification to the observatory's roll-off roof, enabled a single user to move the the entire structure back for observing (see the photo below). 

In April, we had the now annual Astronomy Day exhibit at the mall and star party at Chewacla State Park to an increasingly interested public anticipating the return of Halley's Comet. 

Halley's Comet

Columbus Enquirer September 9, 1985 

A.U. Report October 7, 1985 

The Auburn Bulletin and The Lee County Eagle 
Page A-1, Friday, October 4, 1985

The continuing education course was again the major source of revenue for the society.  David Hagan donated his 10-inch Dobsonian telescope to the society, where it found a home at the observatory. 

New members in 1985 were: 
Luc Teirlinck, Tom Brawner, Robert Gardner, Bruce Olsen, Park McGhee, Paul Watts, James Petry, Charles Floyd, 

On the down side, AAS founder, Keith Hudson, accepted a position as a Alabama Wildlife Biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation in Florence, AL and relocated there.  Eternal gratitude to Keith for his vision and drive, innumerable contributions, and for getting us off to a great start. Thanks, Keith! 


Officers for 1986 were:  Rhon Jenkins, president; Russell Whigham, vice president; and Allen Screws, secretary-treasurer.  Our January star party had up to seventy-five members and friends at the observatory to see Halley's Comet as it grew larger and brighter by the month as it neared perihelion.  Later that month, we mourned the loss of the space shuttle Challenger and its crew. 

Our annual banquet was held at Mr. J's Family Steak House in March.  Our speaker was Dr. Carole Rutland, director of the Patterson Planetarium in Columbus GA, who gave a presentation on Halley's Comet. 

Recent new member, Bob McGwier, stepped in as an instructor to fill the void left by Keith in the continuing education class, that continued to be the society's major revenue generator. 

In April, we took astronomy to the people with our Astronomy Day exhibit at the mall again, but the star gaze at Chewacla was clouded out.   The light drizzle did not deter dozens of enthusiastic people from driving out to see the comet, however. 

Work days were a regular feature of our monthly events, as we were careful to keep the observatory looking good and in good working order. 

In what was to be the most controversial episode of the society's existence, two of the society's members took opposing positions on the minefield topic of science vs. religion.  In January, Earl Kennamer gave a program entitled "Astronomy of the Ancients and the Effects of Religion on Science", in which  Earl made his case, rather forcefully, that religion had been an impediment to science.  Rev. Howard Dunaway took issue with Earl's views and asked for equal time with his presentation, "The Effects of Scientists on Science" in which he attempted expound the creationists' take on the subject .  The discussion that followed Howard's presentation resulted in spirited, and contentious debate, with neither side being won to the other's point of view.  Whoa, Nellie!

In June, Russell's work required his relocation to Montgomery.  "You can take the boy out of the community, but you can't take the amateur out of astronomy."  Larry Owsley assumed the responsibility as newsletter editor. 

By mid-year, the society had 44 members, largely due to the interest in Halley's comet. 

There was an especially good apparition Mars in June and July. 

In the late fall of 1986, there was an attempted break-in at the observatory.  Damage to the door and soffits were repaired, but the observatory was boarded up for the duration of hunting season. 


Officers for 1987 were:  Rhon Jenkins, president; Allen Screws, vice president; and John Zachry, secretary-treasurer.

Continuing Education continued in winter quarter. 

In March, we had the annual banquet at Mr. J's Family Steak House, with Dr. Satoshi Hinata, of the Auburn University Department of Physics, giving a presentation on Magnetic Fields in the Universe". 

In April, observatory was reopened.  Repairs necessitated by the damage the previous fall had been made and the lock re-keyed. 

Russell attended the Deep south Regional Star Gaze in McComb MS in October, and gave a program on the event at the November meeting. 

Like clockwork, the beginning of hunting season brings another break-in at the observatory.  This time, the society's 60mm refractor, and an 8-inch SCT that belonged to one of our student members, was stolen. 


The year began with the first of the Callaway Gardens Astronomy Day events put on by Dr. Carole Rutland, director of the Patterson Planetarium, in Columbus, in conjunction with the Education Department of Callaway Gardens.  Noted authors and astro-photographers Jack Newton, and Michael Covington along with Phillip Klass of Aviation Week and Space Technology were among the speakers. 

A logging truck on the observatory property collapsed an old septic tank.  The observatory is closed once again to prevent a really "nasty" accident.  By April the damage of the septic tank had been repaired and the clean up of limbs and debris left behind by the loggers, had been completed by work party volunteers. 

In May, we hosted the Astronomy Day exhibit at the mall, and star party at Chewacla State Park. 

A heavy-duty steel gate placed in front of the door of the observatory, was installed by Rex Roach and Rhon Jenkins, in June.  The goal was to make break-in's just too much of an effort from our uninvited guests. 

This too shall pass...

In August, we received word from the property owner, that we would have to leave the property and tear down the observatory.  Here is Rhon's letter to the society members: 


Special Newsletter

 One of the principal assets of the AAS is the Moores Meadow Observatory facility located south of Auburn. This facility, with its dark skies and 12.5" Newtonian reflector, has been a source of both pride and pleasure to many of us. 

 I regret to inform you that the owner of the property, who has so graciously allowed us the use of this land for several  years, has indicated that we will not be able to use it after December of this year. Further, we have been asked to remove the building (excluding the concrete slab) by the first of the year. 

 This is, of course, a major blow to us as a club; it's going to be up to each and everyone of us to ensure that it's not a fatal one. The September meeting was sparsely attended, but several options were discussed. One point was agreed upon unanimously: we must find another dark sky site! 

 The October meeting will be Friday, October 7 at 7:00pm, in room 126 of Parker Hall on the Auburn University campus.  The purpose of this meeting will be to chart our future course as a club. Do we want to build another observatory?  If so, what kind?  If not, what do we do ",with the 12.5" scope? Are you willing to help? If so, how?  Please plan to attend and let us know your thoughts.  If you can't attend, please let someone else know what your feelings are. 

 It's going to be up to each and every one of us to see that the Auburn Astronomical Society comes back better than ever. See you in October. 

Rhonald Jenkins, 
President, AAS 



So... the search began for another dark-sky site.  We agreed to accept Mike Fulmer's offer of razing the observatory in exchange for the building materials that he could salvage.  For those who had labored so hard on the observatory, the prospects of starting from scratch all over again, was not very appealing.  Jim Chesnutt stored the telescope at his house, and other accessories were loaned to various members.  What remained was the 14 by 40 foot slab, and the fondest of memories with our best friends. 


With the wind pretty much out of our sails, the January newsletter had only one item -- the date and time for the monthly meeting.  Officers stayed the same for 1989, but now with Jim Chesnutt (since he doesn't have an observatory to direct anymore) at the keyboard as newsletter editor.  The newsletter evolved from typewriter fonts to dot-matrix printer editions as the popularity of personal computers emerged. 

Earthlings survived an asteroid near miss in March when 1989 FC  passed within 0.005 astronomical units of Earth.  That's still twice as far as the Moon but still a close call as these things go. 

We managed to have some good programs at our monthly meetings, but there were no star parties until May, when Rhon -- Rhon seemed to come through with this sort of thing on a regular basis, found a site located only a couple of miles from the old Moore's Meadow location.  It was at the Beatty Christmas Tree Farm, owned and operated by Troy and Sally Beatty.  Frank and Grant Moon had entered into the fold by June. 


Ever in search of the perfect observing location, we took Mike Fulmer up on his offer to let us hold our star parties atop Chandler Mountain, located just east of Goodwater. 

In March, Mike secured the donation of a 14-inch reflector mounted on a "Big Foot" equatorial mount, from Dr. Leslie Weaver of Calhoun GA. 

Comet Austin was our solar system interloper in April. 

During the summer of 1990, we learned that the long awaited Hubble Space Telescope, needed glasses. 

We celebrated our tenth year as the Auburn Astronomical Society Mr. J's restaurant in October.  AAS founder and past president, Keith Hudson, returned to give the keynote address recounting the society's history and concluding with a presentation of Keith's personal observatory. 

AAS members, Robert Rock, and Mike Fulmer walked away with all of the prizes in astrophotography at the Deep South Regional Star Gaze, in October. 


The only surviving newsletter from 1991 was the August issue.  The program that month was Russell's video and narrative of his trip to Hawaii, and total solar eclipse the month before.  Plans were made made for a group Perseid watch at the Beatty farm, in Macon County.  Apparently the location at Chandler Mountain was a bit too far for some to drive.  It seems that some business in Goodwater had put up a quartz halogen light that spoiled the view as well. 

Many of us were getting our astronomy news from electronic bulletin boards, Compu-Serve, and Fido-Net.  This was in the pre-"Windows" days of DOS.  Remember "Sky Globe" for DOS and "Sky Travel"  for Commodore?  Amazing little programs using less than 360 Kbytes. 


Membership in the society is down significantly, with only 18 members.  The newsletter goes quarterly to save on copying and postage expenses. 

Beginning in May the society began meeting in room 302 of the new Aerospace Building on the Auburn University campus. 

Another change of venue, this time for the observing site, when David Ingram received permission from the land owner to use a hay field in Elmore County, later to be called Holley's Field. 

In September, we invested in a video tape player for our programs. 


Monthly programs and star parties keep the society going.  The only big event this year came at the end of the year.  The repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope was successfully completed and soon began returning never before seen detail in every object imaged. 


For a week in July, comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 gives Jupiter several black eyes -- a truly memorable experience for those who had the fortune to observe this unique event. 

Summer meetings were suspended while Rhon was at Marshall Space Flight Center. 

Frank Moon moved to Maryland, and subsequently served as chairman of the Tri-State Astronomers in the Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia area. 


The AAS discovers the World Wide Web after the Netscape Web browser facilitates use of the Internet for the common man.  Astrofiles is introduced as the e-newsletter.  Only the Winter-Summer edition of the newsletter was sent via "snail mail".  Many of our monthly meetings consisted of exploring astronomy sites on the the Web. 

On the night of July 22-23 1995 Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered.  It was the most distant comet ever discovered by amateurs.  Perihelion was two years away.  Word spread quickly throughout the amateur community, and as summer haze gave way to crisp fall nights, we were all dazzled by the new discovery. 


Comet Hyakutake, with its 30 degree tail,  highlighted the spring sky towards the end of March.  The AAS Web page made its modest debut in June. 

Carole Rutland, director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, gave  a presentation on their new state-of-the-art facility in September. 

Another meeting room location came in October when we moved down one floor to room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building. 


The year began with a couple of memorable field trips.  In January, the co-discoverers of comet Hale-Bopp, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, were in Atlanta.  Robert Rock and a couple of friends from the Mobile Astronomical Society were there to meet and hear from the famous pair. 

In February, we traveled en masse to Columbus GA to have a private tour of the new Coca-Cola Space Science Center, including a show in the digital planetarium, a simulated shuttle launch, and a trip up to the 16-inch Meade SCT in their observatory.  Scott Thompson and Ricky Wood joined the society. 

From mid-March to mid-April, comet Hale-Bopp, the biggest and brightest comet of a lifetime, was at its finest.

In May, it looked like we might team up with the City of Auburn and the A.U. Department of Physics in a joint venture to have an observatory at Kiesel Park, just outside Auburn.  But alas, after months of planning and proposals, the project withered on the vine, perhaps to be resurrected some day. 

All eyes were on Pathfiner in July, as the small robotic craft motored around on the surface of Mars.  On a sad note, astronomers and geologists around the world mourned the untimely death of Gene Shoemaker. 

The highlight of the year was a two-part program on the Wetumpka Meteor Crater.  Dr. David T. King Jr.,  gave a presentation of his findings at the site at our November meeting, followed by a tour of the crater the next day. 


Scott Thompson and Ricky Wood build personal observatories -- Walker Ferry Observatory,and "The Wood Shed". 

Alan Cook, whose architecture class was assigned the design competition for the Kiesel Park Observatory project, the joined AAS and was soon the owner of a 10-inch Meade SCT, and a regular at meeting and star parties. 

In March, Dr. David T. King Jr., and his collegues, gave a presentation on more conclusive evidence the the astrobleme in Wetumpka was in fact an ancient meteor crater.  Core sample drilling began in the summer, eventually finding schocked quartz-  the final piece of evidence to remove any doubt that this was an impact crater. 

Our Astronomy Day redux began on May 2, at the invitation of Rick Evans, the new director of the Gayle Planetarium, in what was "the beginning of a beautiful friendship". 

In August, we were off on another field trip, this time to hear the world renouned astrophotographera David Malin, lecture at the CCSSC in Columbus GA.  His work was with photographic emulsion.  Remember that? 

In December Rick Evans invited us to the planetarium for a Christmas party and laser show at the Planetarium. 

Tom McGowan, observer extraordinaire, and telescope maker, joined AAS. 


Jim McLaughlin arranged to have Dr. Sarma Mukkamala, retired Director of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Hyderabad (India), speak at our January meeting on the subject of  "Binary Systems". 

Eddie Kirkland, Nancy Coburn, and Phillip Hosey joined AAS. 

With the threat of losing Holley's Field loomong over us we accepted an offer from Darlene Snipes, to use her prpoerty in Macon County as a possible site for our star parties.  Coincidentally, it's virtually next door to The Beatty Farm and the Moore's Meadow location.  Scott Thompson also arranged to have the Russell Amphitheater opened for us for a trial run there. 

In Februry, Rhon accepted delivery of his new 18-inch StarMaster telescope, ensuring his induction into "the big scope club". 

Tom McGowan had an extreme field trip for a week-long star party in the "outback" of Austrailia.  Tom recounted his experiences at our April meeting. 

Scott Thompson hosted an open house for his recently completed, Walker Ferry Observatory, near Alex City,  in May.  Later in the month we held our Astronomy Day event again at the planetarium. 

The AAS Web page was converted to "frames" in July, simplifying navigation. 

We were invited to host a star gaze at the Emerald Mountain Christian School, near Wetumpka in September.  This was followed by another school star gaze at the Head Elementary School in Montgomery in December, coordinated by Tom McGowan. 

Everyone on Earth braced for "Y2K". 


Whew!  The world didn't come to a screaching halt when the clocks rolled over to January 1, 2000. ;-) 

At our January meeting, Jack McDaniel shared with us his findings while investigating the possibility of using an area in the Tuskegee National Forest as a possible observing site.  The location seemed to have potential, and we had a few star parties at the site, but alas, the combination of proximity to the city of Tuskegee's lights, the prospects of a never ending battle with kudzu, limited horizons, and the financial complications of paying the National Forest Service for a lease, were more than we bargained for. 

In March Jim McLaughlin coordinated a star gaze at St. Bede School, furthering our educational outreach endeavours. 

Ever in search of the best night sky, we found a new place in Macon County, the private airport of Cliff Hill

We celebrated the society's twentieth year with a banquet and presentation by Dr. David T. King Jr., at the Good Ole Boys" restaurant in Auburn. 

We concluded the year with a star gaze at St. Mark's Methodist Church, in Montgomery in November, and two school star gazes at public schools in December.  The first at Thomas Head Elementary in Montgomery, followed a few days later by another at Opelika Middle School. 

Following our December meeting, Robert Rock gave us an under the stars (and plenty of artificial lighting) demo of his latest acquisition – a 60mm Meade ETX 60AT Go-To refractor.

On Christmas Day we wrapped up the year with the partial (42% obstruction) solar eclipse.


Our first event for 2001 was our annual Astronomy Day , that fell on Saturday, April 28, followed the next month by our first Forest Ecology Preserve stargaze. 

On Saturday May 26, at the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve just north of Auburn, AAS members, Rhon Jenkins, Allen Screws, David Newton, and Russell Whigham hosted a star party for about 40 facility visitors.  As we waited for dark, we gave descriptive overviews of the different telescopes represented.  Despite some low, fast moving clouds, visitors queued up at the telescopes for views of the four-day-old Moon, binary stars, a couple of galaxies, and M-13.  For many, it was the first look through “a real telescope”.  All seemed to enjoy the evening and we may even have picked up a couple of new members.  Thanks to Margaret Holler for coordinating the event.

Teresa Johnson, teacher at Eastwood Christian School, in Montgomery, contacted Robert Rock and asked us to host a star party at their school on Monday, October 22 on the school grounds at 1701 E. Trinity Blvd. next to Eastwood Presbyterian Church.

October 2001 brought the implementation of our AAS Loaner Scope program.  AAS purchased an 8-inch f/6 Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian Reflector for use by AAS members.  AAS president, Rhon Jenkins, agreed to act as the scope custodian.  Tentative plans were for a one month loan before returning it for someone else to use.  Public AAS events would take precedence over personal use.  The scope came with two Plossl eyepieces:  25mm (48X) and 9mm (133X). 

Then in November,  we instituted the video tape/DVD library that would be made available to AAS members to be checked out for one month. 

Leonid Storm, 2001

On the night of Nov. 17/18, 2001  The American Meteor Society reported a double peak of about 2,500 ZHR from about 4:30AM to 5:15AM CST.  What is a typical peripheral vision -- 120° or so?  I'm sure we all missed about ½ of them.  Had I believed all of the hype, I'd have been better prepared.  I really hate that I didn't replace the 200 speed film in my camera with some 800 to 1000 and try to catch some on film.  I usually look straight up for meteors, but this time I offset the radiant slightly so that I could still see it well peripherally, but gazed toward the area near Canis Major.  My favorite impression was a 2-3 second interval when I saw 4 streaks within 5 degrees of the radiant.  Now THAT'S a meteor shower.  A close second, was a train near the radiant that persisted for 15 - 20 seconds and distorted into somewhat of a corkscrew before fading out completely.  I'm curious as to what caused the distortion.  It looked wind-blown, but I thought the ionization occurred in the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere -- far above any jet streams.   The bronze metal goes to the near head-on meteors that manifested themselves as less than ½ ° streaks.  Something to tell the grandkids about.


Public star parties are becoming an ever increasingly important function of AAS.  On January 21, Tom McGowan hosted a stargaze at Maxwell AFB

And, the following week on January 26, Rick Evans and his staff at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium in cooperation with the Montgomery County Schools, and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, hosted Family Science Night. 

On Tuesday March 19th, Greg Glasscock organized a stargaze at Ogletree Elementary in Auburn, where two of his daughters were students. 

On Monday, February 18, club members Russell Whigham, Jim Locke, Mark Brown, Jim McLaughlin, Julie McGowan and Tom McGowan met at Maxwell Air Force Base to treat the residents to a celestial show, organized by Tom. Views of Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon and the Orion nebula were enjoyed by all. We had good skies. For many people, this was their first time looking through "real" telescopes. Everyone was delighted to be able to view such beautiful sights as Tom had much feedback thru-out the week. They expressed many thanks to the club members for taking the time to share with them. He receive many letters from the kids. Here is a particular letter Tom wished to include:

"We Really enjoyed "gazing at the stars" last night. It was an experience that Cody and I will never forget. Thank you so much for your time, effort and thoughtfulness--- and for caring so much about our kids in the community! 

                        Jem, Sherie and Cody  " 

This is one of the main reasons we should continue to participate in public stargazes. Many people don't have the equipment and knowledge to see for themselves but do have the wonder and interest of the heavens. And it is us, the club members, who can make the skies accessible to them. Who knows how we may influence these people-especially the children, to open up a new window of discovery for them. I like to think that their exposure to the skies from a star party will always be in their memories and may be the catalyst for some to further their interest in astronomy. And all it costs us is the time of one evening. 

Astronomy Day 2002   fell on April 20th.   We had another great turn-out.

Thomas L. Head Elementary School:   In keeping with the schools “Reach for the Stars” theme, on Tuesday, April 16, AAS members Jim McLaughlin, Tom McGowan, Jim & Diane Locke, and Russell Whigham convened at the Thomas L. Head Elementary School in Montgomery, for our annual star gaze for the students.  The first quarter Moon and all of the naked-eye planets line up single file for us to see.  Principal, Susan Mallett, had soft drinks and pizza for us.  Because the St. Bede star gaze, originally scheduled back in March had to be cancelled, principal Mallett graciously agreed to have the St. Bede students join the Head students for the evening.

We were well represented at the Deep South Regional Star Gaze in 2002.  Hwere, John Tatarchuk, Eddie Kirkland, and Robert Rock enjoy some one-on-one time with David Levy.

By the end of the year, we learned that Dr. King's Wetumpka Meteor Crater Findings had been published:

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 themselves. 

David T. King, Jr.


Ogletree Elementary School Star Gaze
Greg Glasscock, organizer 

 The Ogletree Star Gaze was brought to fruition on March 11th.  The weather was ideal.  This year only brought out 25-30 people as opposed to around 100 last year.  My theory is that word leaked that Rhon would not be in attendance.  Those that were on hand to share their hardware and enthusiasm were Mackall Acheson, Alan Cook, and Jim and Diane Locke.  Everyone was very complimentary of how the kids were treated by the scope owners.  The Locke's and Mackall earned extra credit for coming from Montgomery.  Alan also deserves credit for lugging a 10" SCT with lower back pain.  Andy Camerio had planned on coming from Montgomery for the first attempt that was rained out.  Thanks for trying Andy!  Mackall also brought his digital camera and supplied some shots to share. 

Jim and Diane Locke

Mars Gaze August 30

We were witness to the best apparition of Mars in tens thousands of years and The Auburn Astronomical Society  shared this event with the visitors at the W.A. Gayle Planetarium, in Montgomery  on Saturday, August 30. 


On Saturday night, January 3, 2004, we a had a special event at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, to observe Saturn.  Saturn was closer to the Earth than it has been for the past 30 Years, and as close as it would be for the next 30 Years.

New AAS Domain Name:  The Auburn Astronomical Society had recently registered the domain name, “”. 

NASA astronaut, Jim Voss presented a program for us on the evening of Thursday March 11.  The program concerned the space station and its role in a possible future mission to Mars.  Jim presented a short movie taken aboard the station, some slides, and his expert commentary on what life is really like aboard the station.  One the best programs we've had in a long time!

Astronomy Day 2004,  Saturday, April 24,

Transit of Venus -- June 8, 2004 

Joe Albree, Department of Mathematics, AUM, had selected a site; a large conference room located on the tenth floor, atop of AUM’s Library Tower.   Ray Kunert visited the room and reported, as Joe told us at the May meeting, that although the windows in the room are recessed, viewing to the northeast will be good.  The windows have permanent blinds (adjustable tilt, but not “raisable”) within the double panes, but they posed no problem with the Sun’s image when focused at infinity.  This minor problem was more than offset by being able to enjoy the event in the comfort of air conditioning!

On the day of the event, I arrived at AUM at 4:30AM.  Several people were already set up in the room on the tenth floor of the AUM Library Tower.  Venus would be nearing the end of her transit at sunrise in Montgomery on June 8, 2004 at 05:33.  The Sun rose at 62 degrees azimuth into a bank of clouds on our otherwise unobstructed northeastern horizon, and spoiled the first several minutes of the event. Venus then teased us like and exotic dancer, with sneak peeks between the veil of clouds until about 15 minutes before she exited, stage right.  The atmosphere in the room where we were gathered was one of  quiet ecstasy during the transit.  Everyone had a good view at one time or another as we took turns at the telescopes.  At the end, we gave her a round of applause and a curtain call , but there was no encore -- not for another 8 years anyway.  It was a truly memorable experience. 

Ray Kunert observed chromatic aberration (red tinge on one side of the image – blue on the other side) above and below Venus with his 10-inch Meade SCT.  We mused over why this might be as the phenomenon had never been seen in this instrument before.   Subsequently, we read numerous reports of this on astronomy mail lists.  The consensus seemed to be that it was atmospheric chromatic aberration and that it was more pronounced when seen using larger apertures.

John Clifton:  Here's the best shot I got of Venus this morning. I was having problems aligning the scope on the sun. I should have just had the computer go to Venus, D'oh!  The SAC-7 camera seems to do a pretty good job out of the box. I'll have to get it out under dark sky later this month and see what it really can do! 

Others observed the event from various locations in our area:

Gail Smitherman, Selma:   I got to see a smidge of the end of the Venus transit through the tree limbs [in Selma]. Enough to say I saw it!!!! 

Jim McLaughlin, Gulf Shores:  I was in  6/8 and a bank of clouds on the eastern horizon blocked the sun til about 6AM, at which point I estimate Venus was within 2 diameters of egress. Saw first contact with the limb at egress with a slight "teardrop" effect and last contact but views were interupted by scattered clouds, but it was worthwhile seeing planetary orbital motion in real time.

Scott Thompson, Alex City:  Attached is my Venus Transit picture from Alex City. It turned out quite good with the clouds partially covering the sun and the color was just awesome. The picture info: AP7, Prime Focus f/9 with the Canon 10D, no solar filter. Once the sun cleared the clouds and the horizon I applied the filter. 

Joe Albree:   Thanks to all of you in the Auburn Astronomical Society for making last Tuesday really special.  I know that the students and faculty who we did have there benefited from having all of you there also.  With the death of President Reagan last week, I believe the coverage that the Transit would have gotten was probably scaled back in most newspapers and TV stations.  But, how many events from that day 122 years ago (even those that made the front pages of all the newspapers) are still remembered?  Without meaning any disrespect to Mr. Reagan or expressing any political partianship, in the long view of history, I think we arguably had an event that was at least as newsworthy.

Attending were:   Paul Williamson, Susanna Fillingham, Casey Curran, Mark McGregor, Robert West and grandson Tom Mooneyham, Rhon & Joyce Jenkins, Rod Havens, Robert Rock, John Clifton, Russell Whigham, Ray Kunert, Mike Holley, Taylor Jernigan, Ricky Woods - Math Club President, Randy Russell – AUM Astronomy Professor, Jack Gina Franz & family  and organizer, Joe Albree, math professor.

In September we ordered the Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha Solar telescope with tripod and equatorial mount were ordered from Orion Telescopes in July.  The PST, mount and tripod were on backorder.  The PST arrived in October.


The "Green Laser Pointer" controversy was in the news.  A New Jersey amateur astronomer was arrested and had his green laser pointer confiscated by the FBI for pointing the beam at an aircraft. 

Astronomy Day 2005 was on Saturday, April 16 at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium.  Dr. David T. King Jr. gave a presentation will be on the Wetumpka Meteor Crater. 

In May, we returned to the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest Star Gaze

AAS 25-year Anniversary

We celebrated out 25-year anniversary on Saturday, September 10, 2005, at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium.  The event was catered by Demitri Polizos and his staff from the Capitol Grill in Montgomery.  Our special guests were Keith Hudson, founder of the Auburn Astronomical Society, his wife Carolyn, and daughter, Mandy, were there from Florence AL.  Dr. David T. King Jr. gave a an excellent presentation on the Wetumpka Meteor Crater

In October we increased our membership dues from $15.00 per year to $20 per year -- the first and only dues increase since the society was founded.


Rhon ordered a 10 foot “Home-Dome” a modular fiberglass dome-type observatory from Technical Innovations in Gaithersburg, MD. The dome was completely automated, and follows the telescope as it slews.  The dome houses Rhon's 12-inch Meade LX200-GPS which rests on a LeSueur pier (made in Birmingham) and has an 80mm rich field refractor finder, and infrared sensors (for automatic dome/telescope rotation synchronization) mounted on it, as well as a Losmandy 2D counterweight system. 

Rhon's "Last Stand" observatory

 Blondheim Stargaze

Rick Evans had hosted a private birthday party for one of Montgomery's philanthropic and civic-minded citizens at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium.  The guest of honor was Richard Blondheim.  Rick said that Mr. Blondheim expressed interest in having a multi-million dollar facility for Montgomery -- perhaps located on the grounds of the Shakespeare Festival, that would be home to a state-of-the-art planetarium and/or observatory.  Rick has asked that we do a star gaze for the Blondheim's and their friends at their home, the first week in May.    We enjoyed views of the first quarter Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter, and pointed out constellations to the gathered guests.  Helping with the event were:  Ben Wouters, Russell Whigham, Patrick Moylan, Aaron Wilson, Jim McLaughlin, Wayne Martin and Jean Hafer. 

 Camp ASCCA Stargaze

On Thursday evening, April 30, the Auburn Astronomical Society was invited to host a star gaze for eighty-five fifth graders from St. James Elementary School, in Montgomery, during their annual Science Camp at Camp ASCCA on Lake Martin.  Students, teachers, parents, and camp staff all seemed to enjoy the evening and expressed their appreciation. 

12.5 inch f/7 Cave Astrola in its original configuration
Back in March, Ray Kunert expressed an interest in bringing the AAS 12.5-inch back to life if possible,  perhaps mounted as a Dobsonian, that could be added to our loaner scope inventory.  We contacted Jim Chesnutt to see if he still had the telescope that had lain dormant for 20 years.  We also asked our resident telescope maker, Tom McGowan, if he would consider mating the tube assembly to a Dobsonian mount.  Both said yes, so in July, Ray Kunert and your editor  picked up AAS’s 12-inch f/7 Cave Astrola telescope on July 8.  Ray spent the month of the summer restoring the tube assembly.

Ray, waking the sleeping giant


Then in October,  Ray Kunert reported that the tube assembly has cleaned up nicely with its fresh paint and new hardware.  The mirror looked to be in good condition, as well.  William Baugh re-aluminized the secondary. 

Tom completed the rocker box in August of 2007.  Rhon donated two 2-inch eyepieces, and Ray donated the plaque.  The refigured 12.5-inch made its debut at Astronomy Day.

On  November 8, 2006 Scott Thompson captured the Transit of Mercury 


In January 2007, Scott Thompson captured this image of Comet McNaught 

Ray Kunert’s Observatory

Ray began this project as a roll-off roof design. It was nearly complete when he found a 3 meter, motorized, Observa-Dome practically “for the taking”.  This required the demolition of most of the original design to accommodate the dome.  then, after months for work, the observatory is ready for operation with Ray’s 10-inch Meade GPS. 

In October, John Tatarchuk gave us a detailed description of the observing conditions at Conecuh National Forest Dark Sky Site.

In November, we had a surprise visitor in Perseus -- Comet 17P/Holme, a naked-eye comet!  It was the second brightest "star" in the constellation and looked like just a fairly bright star to the unaided eye.   With binoculars however, viewers saw a slightly yellowish halo (coma) around the comet's nucleus.  Since it was near opposition the tail is almost directly behind the comet making it far more compact then the usual comets. 

And in December, we set up the AuburnastroYahoo! Group


On Saturday, January 12, we were back for the Forest Ecology Preserve Star Gaze at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest, with an estimated 200 visitors who braved the January cold to enjoy the experience. 

Randall Becker, park ranger at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, hosted a stargaze / astronomy program  at the park on Saturday, February 9.  It began at 7:00 with a short PowerPoint presentation covering light pollution awareness, basic orientation to the night sky and some Creek / Cherokee star myths.  We then moved out to the parking lot and have a constellation tour with more stories. 

Photo by Scott Thompson
Russell, Frank, Brent, Scott, Christi and Allen

On Friday, April 18th,  Mellisa Mullin, Reading Teacher for Maxwell AFB Elementary School.  invited us to host a stargaze to coincide with their School Book Fair called “Reading Under the Stars”. 

A would-be star gazer patiently waits.

Frank Ward tries to explain why the telescopes can't see through the clouds.

In May, we had  Astronomy Day 2008 at the Planetarium.  Later in May, Jim McLaughlin tackles Light Pollution Legislation.  He wrote:

 I've furnished my brother [Representative Jeff McLaughlin – 27th District (Marshall Co.)] with a copy of the city/county ordinances for Flagstaff, Arizona from the IDSA website and he is turning it over to the Legislative Reference Service which is the office that actually writes up bills in legalese for legislators. Something will go "in the hopper", as they say, i.e. an anti-light pollution bill will be floated before this session ends but can be virtually guaranteed to come to naught this time and likely for several sessions before getting a serious hearing, if ever. But it will be a start and input as to the specifics of regulations would be welcome as well as alerting other astronomy clubs around the state to get them working on their representatives to co-sponsor a dark-skies bill. My brother and I have had a running joke about him tying his political future to the fate of a dark-skies bill ever since he was elected in 2000 but he is sincere and serious about trying to get something started on this. We'll see what happens.


Jim followed through by contacting all of the othe astronomical socities in Alabama to solicit support for the bill.  Unfortunately, the bill has yet to be voted out of committee.

I had a call in June 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.  The following items have been donated to our loaner scope collection 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.

  • Bogen 3126 medium duty tripod 
  • SLIK 800G-FL light tripod 
  • Velbon UP-4DX Unipod 
  • Celestron 20x80 Giant Binoculars with Multi-Coated, BAK-4 prisms, 
  • Edmund Scientific, Astroscan with a 4.25-inch fixed  mirror, f/4, 28mm (16x), 1.25-inch RKE, 15mm (30x) 1.25-inch RKE eyepieces, 
  • Meade ETX-90 with Table top tripod legs, 1.25-inch Series 4000 eyepieces:    40mm, (31x) &  26mm (2), (48x) 

On Saturday, October 4, 2008, we're back at MOTDF, and on November 1, another Horseshoe Bend Stargaze hosted by Rand Becker.


Our first public event of 2009 was on Saturday, April 25 where we gathered at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest for our spring, Forest Ecology Preserve stargaze

This was followed by our annual Astronomy Day 2009 at the planetarium in Oak Park in Montgomery, on Saturday, May 2, and the CPODD Stargaze at Children’s Harbor in June.

Photo by Brent Holman

October 2,  We had a special presentation by Tom McGowan on the most recent inovations to his truss-tube Dobsonian Midnightelescopes.  Tom had three of the 12.5-inch f/5 ready for delivery.  He brought one of these to demonstrate the filter slide and adjustable altitude bearings.  Tom gave a wonderful presentation/demonstration of his beautifully crafted and well designed 12.5-inch telescope.


This really doesn't qualify as "history" yet, but you can check the Astrofiles archives for our more recent activities. 



Toboggan Cap Mix-Up
Cow's Breath in the Virgo Cluster
The Flatulent Faux Pas
Water Truck Valve
Rhon's Dob gets christened
Russell Falls for the Geminids
Poor Little rich boy, Tells Chesnutt that his Dob tube is falling.