Astronomy Day 2013

Another Astronomy Day is in the books.  We had absolutely perfect weather for this year’s event at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery, on Saturday, April 20th.  We began arriving at the planetarium around 3:00pm and started setting up the telescopes and the AAS information table.  Planetarium director, Rick Evans and planetarium assistants, Trish Jester and Dana Hartsfield had already greased the skids for us by getting out the publicity and having everything ready.  Early visitors were treated to safe views of the Sun through the H-a and white-light filtered telescopes and the Moon.  Rick, Trish and Dana were giving planetarium shows throughout the afternoon.  At 6:00pm, our own  Dr. Rodger Morrison gave a presentation on "Taking Good Pictures of Cool Stuff with Amateur Equipment" in the planetarium auditorium, followed by a preview of our evenings quarry, "Tour of the Night Sky". 
You can see the fruits of Rodger's labor at his photography Web page.  Since most of us were outside attending the telescopes, we’ve already had requests from our members for Rodger to give an encore presentation at one of our meetings.

Beginning around 8:00pm the guests came out for telescopic viewing of the Moon, Jupiter, binary stars, and later, Saturn.

Attendance seemed slightly down from previous years, no doubt due to the heavy competition of virtually every other organization in the River Region as well as two A-Day games out of town and the final rolling of Toomer’s Corner on Auburn’s doomed live oaks.  For those who were able to attend, all seemed to enjoy the day. Thanks to everyone who helped with their telescopes, especially those who drove all the way from Auburn, Opelika, and Columbus:

Rodger Morrison: 10-inch Newtonian, AAS CGEM100 SCT & solar scope
Russell Whigham:  Celestron C-11 SCT 
Allen Screws, AAS 12.5-inch Dobsonian 
Frank Ward, 12-inch Lightbridge, AAS CGEM 1100, & AAS PST solar scope 
John Wingard, 3.5-inch Questar 
Jim McLaughlin, 8-inch Meade SCT 
John Tatarchuk , 25-inch Dobsonian 
Alan Cook, 3.5-inch Questar or 10-inch Meade 
Ray Kunert, 10-Meade LX200 

Also joining us for the day were AAS members: Camryn Smith, Melanie Folds, Rick & Michael Pastorett, and Eric Bair from the AAS Facebook Group.

New on our e-mail list are: planetarium assistants, Trish Jester and Dana Hartsfield as well as Astronomy Day visitors, Alex & Cathy Alkire, Carrie Callaway, Denise Rasnek, and Ray Zaworski.

Thanks also to Robert Fuller and Eddie Kirkland who wrote that they would have to sit out this one due to illness.  Here’s hoping for speedy recoveries for both.  We also received “regrets” from Gail Smitherman in Selma who already had plans to be out of town.

As always, special thanks to Rick, Debra, & Rachael Evans, planetarium assistants, Trish Jester, and Dana Hartsfield for hosting our group and providing drinks and sandwiches for us. Thanks to you all!

Photos  by John Wingard and your editor