Auburn Astronomical Society
In this Issue
Our monthly AAS meeting will be on Friday, May
3, at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building, on the
campus of Auburn University.
The members and friends dark-sky star party will
be on Friday/Saturday, May 10/11, at Cliff Hill’s farm. The
Friday date being the primary date Saturday as a fall back in case of clouds
Thomas L. Head
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. The excitement and enthusiasm of the students (and
parents) is more than enough compensation for our time spent.
Susan Mallett wrote:
Star Gazing Evening
Thu, 25 Apr 2002 13:20:55 –0500
excuse my tardiness in relaying my thanks to you, and your partners,
sharing your time and experience with the students at Head School.
week was a blur, as this week has been as well, so I am just now
time to sit down and let you all know how much the Star Gazing
meant to all of us at Head. Again, the evening was a success!!!
had a beautiful sky, about 200 people, extra amateur telescopes via the
and a great learning experience for everyone!!! I regret not
my digital camera to share pictures with you in this message. But,
you will send me your home or business address, as well as the same for
fellow astronomers, I will send you all thank you pictures, drawn by
and photos of each of you. Again, thank you so very much, and
accept my apologies for my late thank you note!
Note: my staff
having a Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast tomorrow morning (Friday,
26) at 8:30, and you all are invited!!!!!
On Saturday, April 20, the W.A.
Gayle Planetarium and the Auburn Astronomical Society teamed up for
the fifth consecutive year to celebrate National Astronomy Day in central
Alabama. The weather was good and observing with the telescopes was
enjoyed by a crowd estimated at over 400 by planetarium director, Rick
Evans. Two shows were needed in the planetarium to accommodate
the largest crowd we've had since our annual joint venture began back in
1998. Thanks, as always, to Rick for the publicity generated to attract
such a turn-out.
Special thanks also, to the following AAS members,
who volunteered their time, hardware, and expertise, to share the beauty
of the night sky with the Astronomy Day visitors:
· William Baugh; 120mm
· Eddie Kirkland, 16" f/4.5 Midnight
· John Clifton; Meade 203SC/LXD500
· Alan Akin; Orion Short tube 80mm
· Rhon and Joyce Jenkins; 18-inch
· Alan Cook and Susie Jensen; 10-inch
Meade SCT, LX50, 20X80 binoculars
· Russell Whigham; Celestron C-11,
· Gail and Marvin Smitherman;
Orion StarMax 127 Mak-Cassegrain
· Jim and Diane Locke 8-inch Celestar
AAS member, Mark Brown was serving
double duty helping Rick with the day's activities and AAS friend, David
Wayne Key was there, representing the Alex City delegation. This
is the first year that Ricky Wood and Scott Thompson were
not able to attend. I'm sure they missed being there as much as we
missed having them. John Williams, another Astronomy Day regular,
had to cancel as well. We're hoping they can be back with us next
AAS members began arriving at about 4:00 to set
up their telescopes on the lawn in front of the planetarium.
By 5:00 the visitors had already begun to assemble around the telescopes.
Smitherman had her scope equipped with a solar filter and wowed the
early arrivals with an impressive display of sunspots.
The evening officially began at 6:00 PM in the
auditorium. Following an introduction by Rick Evans, AAS president,
Rhon Jenkins, used a Power Point presentation to introduce the visitors
to the Auburn Astronomical Society. It was at this time that Rick
called Rhon, Mark Brown, and your editor to the front of
the auditorium and presented each of us with a Planisphere Watch, as a
token of his appreciation to us for our contributions to the day's event.
A big "Thank You" back to Rick and the rest of the planetarium staff --
not only for the watches -- but for all of the time and energy that goes
into each year's highly successful joint venture.
At 6:30, we began the Tour of Telescopes.
Each telescope owner who wished to participate, talked for a few minutes
about their telescope -- the advantages of the optical and mount designs,
what accessories they chose and why, etc, followed by taking questions
from the group. With the large diversity of telescopes represented by our
members, the visitors left with a much better understanding of the astronomical
hardware. Next, to reinforce this introduction to telescopes, we
went back inside for "More Than Meets the Eye", a planetarium program which
illustrates what you can expect to see using a variety of different telescopes
This was followed by "Tour of the Night Sky".
The Spitz Space Transit Planetarium projector in the auditorium was set
to display the stars as seen from Montgomery, Alabama on April 20th. A
brief tour of the night sky was conducted to point out the constellations.
At 7:45 door prizes tickets were drawn. Among the prizes were:
Orion Telescopes and Binoculars
(1) Deluxe Medium Aluminum Accessory Case
(1) Star Target Planisphere
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(30) Deep Space 1 "Incredible Ions" posters
Firefly Books LTD
(2) Astronomy Books: Nightwatch (3rd
Ed) by Terence Dickinson and Splendors of the
Universe by Terence Dickinson and Jack Newton
Auburn Astronomical Society
(1) One Year Free Membership
Kalmbach Publishing Co.
(1) Complimentary One-Year Subscription
to Astronomy magazine.
"How to Start Right in Astronomy" pamphlets.
(Sky Publishing )
"Space Place" collectible card games, variety
of decals, (Jet Propulsion Laboratory )
The recipient of the complimentary Auburn Astronomical
Society membership was Althea Katrina Jones, of Montgomery.
On her drawing entry form, she wrote:
glad I came. I haven't been to the planetarium since I was a kid. I left
work early to attend."
Congratulations and welcome to the group, Althea!
Following the door prize drawings, Astronomy
Day visitors returned outside to a darkened sky to begin viewing through
the telescopes provided by the Auburn Astronomical Society. We viewed
the first quarter Moon and a cluster of the naked-eye the planets
Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Venus.
As is the case each year, we were able to assist
bewildered telescope owners with their personal telescope assembly and
set-up woes. We also met Wayne Baker, of Clanton, who is seeking
help with a light pollution problem, and Dale Harrison, of Auburn,
with whom we recently established a correspondence. We also met Eddie
Eckerman, Science teacher at Georgia Washington Junior High School,
We may have had more but our e-mail sign-up sheets
that were left on a table next to the free hand-outs, were mistakenly taken
as well. File this under lessons learned. :)
You can see all of the pretty pictures on the
Astronomy Day 2002 page. From the AAS
main menu, scroll down and “click” on: "Field Trips / W.A. Gayle
Planetarium Events / Astronomy Day 2002".
New Members and
In addition to Althea, Wayne, Dale,
and Eddie, we’ve made the following new contacts:
Charles E. Floyd, Jr. of Phenix City.
A few of you old-timers may recognize the name – Charles donated a 12.5-inch
f/7 Cave Astrola telescope to AAS in our early years, that made out Moore’s
Meadow Observatory a reality. Welcome back to the fold, Charles.
Mary Lou Hodel, of Auburn, visited with
us at our April meeting, and joined on the spot.
Everett Leonard of Phenix City, has renewed
his membership for 2002.
At 09:14 PM 4/21/2002 -0500, you wrote:
From: "Jim Lowe" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Star Parties
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2002 21:14:46 -0500
I am very interested in attending a few star parties
in the coming months. I've become very interested in Astronomy for
the last year or so and am looking for more opportunities to evaluate the
hobby and which tools I should consider purchasing. Currently I just
use small 8x50 binos at my house outside of Wetumpka (Emerald Mtn).
I believe it's reasonably dark here but I look forward to learning more
from others at a better viewing site.
I appreciate your web site and any additional
information you can provide to help me learn more about this subject.
Thanks for taking the time to look us up and express
your interest in amateur astronomy. I'll add your name to the e-mail
list so you'll be able to keep up with what we're up to.
Our next meeting in Auburn will be on Friday,
May 3 and the next star party on the weekend of May 10/11.
I hope you'll be able to join us for these and
all other future events.
Were you at our Astronomy Day event at the planetarium
last Saturday? Your name seems familiar -- have we talked before?
Hope to see you soon,
Then, in some correspondence with the webmaster
of the Montgomery Genealogical Society, Julia Armstrong wrote:
I checked out your AAS Website. I've always been interested in astronomy...one
of these days I want to purchase a really good telescope - years ago I
And I replied:
purchase a CAT but I bet these days there's something a lot better. Of
course, I live in
and there's a lot of light pollution.
Then, Julia answered:
You just missed a great chance to see a variety
of our members telescopes at last Saturday's Astronomy Day at the W. A.
If you'd like me to add your name to the AAS e-mail
list, you could keep up with when we have our "star parties" etc.
Just say the word and I'll return the favor.
I'm on the planetarium email & snailmail list, so I knew about Astronomy
Day and planned to go. As it worked out, I wasn't able to attend
and I was really disappointed. The people I talked to who made it said
it was a lot of fun. So anyway, please add me to your email list - I would
This ‘n That
Sad to See You Go
Mark Brown will be leaving us soon and
relocating in Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
Mark has already located an astronomy club up there -- our loss and their
gain. Good luck, Mark, and we hope you’ll stay in touch.
As hard as I try to dissuade them from leaving,
and despite my repeated attempts of sabotaging his relocation, Tom and
Julie McGowan’s move to clear black skies of northern Arizona seems
imminent. There’ll be a huge hole left when Tom leaves… well actually,
a 20-inch hole, a couple of 16-inch holes, a 12-inch hole and an 8-inch
hole. ;-) Seriously, Tom has been a huge asset to AAS
in the few years he’s been with us. But, who knows – now that all
of the Realtors in Elmore County are now aware that Tom’s house was built
over and Indian burial ground, and the Postmaster at his prospective job
knows that Tom was caught matriculating when he was in Boston, will keep
him here. ;-) Good Luck Tom!
Updated “Who R We” Pages
Everyone who has submitted their thumb nail bios
to the “Who R We” pages and was at Astronomy Day, has an updated photo
now. My, my! What a handsome group!
From: "Scott Thompson" email@example.com
I have some good news to brag about. For my 40th
birthday my wife is taking me on the Sky and Telescope's, Cactus, Craters
and Canyons Vacation. I am soooo looking forward to vacation! If you have
not seen the advertisement in S&T we will get to go to some neat places.
Kitt Peak, Lowell Observatory, Barringer Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater
National Monument, Bio Dome where we stay one night, University of Arizona
Optics Lab, Starizona Astronomy Store, and the outdoor stuff like Sedona
"Red Rock Country", Grand Canyon, and a ecological national desert park.
The dude Stewart Goldman, editor of S&T, will be our guide.
I will take a bunch of pictures and of course
have a report for the meeting.
From: "John B. Zachry" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you or anybody interested: http://www.superstringtheory.com/
Interesting. - John
Several planets are assembling toward a rare alignment
later this month, when five of them will crowd into a patch of sky small
enough that all will be visible in a single glance. The setup will provide
a planet-watching opportunity that won't be repeated for a century.
Look to the west just after sunset. Full
Atlanta Astronomy Expo 2002
From: Art Russell <email@example.com>
Subject: Atlanta Astronomy Expo 2002 3-5
During the first weekend of May, the Atlanta Astronomy
Club in conjunction
with Agnes Scott college are having an astronomy
begin on Friday and go through Sunday - and you
won't want to miss any of
the action! The governor is again proclaiming
"Astronomy Day in Georgia"
and the proclamation is being presented by the
governor's office during this
The activities start at 9:00 a.m. on Friday 3
May at the Bradley Observatory
on the Agnes Scott campus and conclude at 4:00
p.m. During this time the
professional astronomers of Georgia will present
their current research.
Limited seating is available for this, so please
contact Tom Crowley if you
are interested in attending. The cost for
this meeting is $10.00 per
On Friday evening, we begin at 6:00 p.m. at Evans
Hall for a social and
dinner begins at 7:00. The featured speaker
is a person who probably needs
no introduction - Carolyn Shoemaker!
Carolyn is very excited about
speaking to both the professional astronomers
and the Atlanta Astronomy club
members. The cost for the dinner is $20.00.
On Saturday continuing at Evans Hall, the general
admission doors open at
8:00 a.m. We are pleased to announce the
speakers and all the activities
this year and hope to see everyone come out for
this event. Carolyn
Shoemaker will be making another presentation
for the expo! Last year Chris
Butler wowed the audience and this year he is
presenting "Our Little Corner
of the Galaxy." Our own Michael Covington
has his "twins" coming out and
will be speaking on these as well as signing
his books. They are entitled
"How to Use a Computerized Telescope" and "Celestial
Objects for Modern
Telescopes." There will be other
speakers to be confirmed, planetarium
shows and telescopes set up for solar viewing
Refreshments will be provided for a nominal price
during the event. The
price for the day is $10.00 per person attending.
On Sunday at the Bradley observatory beginning
at 11:00 a.m. there will be a
"hands on" telescope program that is free to
all. So, whether you are a
neophyte or advanced, bring your scopes and come
out for this event.
Folks, last year those of us who attended had
a great time. The
presentations were great; there were awesome
deals provided by vendors on
astronomy related items, the planetarium shows
were a hit, and many people
in the community had a chance to experience what
we in our club are very
excited about. This year we expect a large
turnout - many of the
professional astronomers will be staying in order
to attend and especially
with all the talk about comets now, this will
be an even larger draw with
Ms. Shoemaker being our keynote. Let's
show the public what our club can
do, so please come out for as many of these events
as you can!
For more details, please contact either Tom Crowley
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Carol Abernathy (770)
David Levy at the 20th Annual Deep South Regional
As this year will mark the 20th anniversary of
the Deep South
Regional Stargaze, we will have an internationally
speaker this year. Our speaker is none
other than David H. Levy, co-
discoverer of comet Shoemaker-Levy as well as
a host of other comets,
prolific author and biographer as well as Science
Editor of "Parade"
magazine. David's cv goes on and on, but
we will stop here.
The working title of David Levy's talk is "This
side of the Moon,
This side of New Orleans, Reminisces of a star
gazer". The talk is
scheduled for Friday afternoon, November 1st
at 3 PM.
Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,