Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest
October, 2008

Forest Ecology Preserve Star Gaze
October, 2008

On Saturday, October 4, we met at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest, on Moore’s Mill Road, in Auburn, for our third stargaze for the members of Auburn University's Forest Ecology PreserveAAS members began setting up their telescopes as soon as  administrator, Jennifer Lolley, arranged to have the gate opened at 5:30.Sunset was at 6:20 PM, with Jennifer's program under the pavilion beginning at 7:00.  By 7:30, all of the telescopes were in place with each of our eleven scopes showcasing a different celestial object as an estimated 200+ visitors poured onto the field.  Objects observed included:

Jupiter and the four Galilean moons; Venus, visible through the trees; the Moon: the Andromeada galaxy (M-31); Globular Clusters, M-2, M-13, M-15, M-22, M-92; Open Clusters, The Lagoon (M-8) , The Wild Duck (M-11), Perseus Double Cluster; Planetary Nebulae, The Ring (M-57)Dumbbell (M-27); Binaries, Alberio, Almach (gamma AND), and Double Double, (epsilon LYR).

Representing AAS were:

  • Rhon and Joyce Jenkins
  • Russell Whigham, C-11 SCT, 
  • Frank Ward, 12-inch Lightbridge Dobsonian. 
  • Alan Cook Meade, 10-inch SCT 
  • Jason Hill, CPC1100 SCT 
  • John Tatarchuk, 25-inch Dobsonian 
  • Jennifer Reuss, Orion Starblast 4.5 EQ 
  • William and Olivia Baugh, 18-inch StarMaster 
  • Greg and Olivia Glasscock 5-inch refractor
  • Eddie Kirkland 16-inch Dobsonian
  • Stephen Landers, 60mm refractor
  • John Zachry, AAS 8-inch Dobsonian
  • Rand Becker and family
Eddie Kirkland, 16-inch Dobsonian William Baugh, 18-inch StarMaster 
John Tatarchuk, 25-inch Dobsonian Frank Ward, 12-inch Lightbridge Dobsonian.
Jason Hill, CPC1100 SCT 
Russell Whigham's C-11 SCT
Alan Cook, Meade 10-inch SCT 
Greg and Olivia Glasscock, 5-inch refractor

At about 10:00, as the visitors began to head back home, we migrated over to John's 25-inch to see what the long lines over there were all about.  Climbing to the top of the ladder, we were treated to a magnificent view of NGC7009, the Saturn Nebula -- a beautiful archetypially electric blue planetary nebula with its ansae resembling Saturn's rings seen edge-on.  The outer halo of the neblua's oval-shaped central portion was easily visible.  Wow!

Thanks to Jennifer Lolley and AAS event coordinator, Rhon Jenkins, for his work to make this happen.  Jennifer wrote:
A big Thank You to all the Auburn Astronomical Society members who came out with their telescopes and knowledge for our Starry Nights astronomy program. I realize that it takes a lot of effort to set up these scopes and I really appreciate your effort.  Thanks also to all the helpers in setting up and signing in. I couldn't have done it without you.The evening was a big success. We had 156 people sign-in and about 15 or 20 who showed up late, plus all of you and our volunteers, so close to 200 people! Pretty amazing considering that there was a big game on TV. I bet all that watched the game, wished that they had come to our program instead. I have had so many people ask when our next one will be. I even had one person say that their mother is going to fly in from New Jersey for the next one because nobody does this around there. I hope you will put the Forest Ecology Preserve on the calendar for Spring. This way everybody will see the different constellations. I am going to look at some possible different sites, or see if Sam's and Tiger Town will dim their lights.  Again, I want to thank you all. Giving quality programs to the community is very important for the future of the Preserve and my job and you really helped me make this one special. Any suggestions for future programs would be welcome. If anybody took some good pictures, would you please them to me.

Enjoy your stars! 


Jennifer Lolley   '86
 Forest Ecology Preserve
Auburn University