Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
October, 2002

In this Issue

October Meeting Eastwood School Star Gaze
Public Star Party Guidelines October Star Party Report
Peach State Star Gaze Review Deep South Regional Star Gaze 2002
Discount Magazine Subscriptions  Welcome Our Newest Member 
Send Your Name to Mars Sky Weather Watch
Moon Movie AAS Shirts
For Sale  

October Meeting

Because of the conflict with the Peach State Star Gaze, our  October meeting will be Friday, October, 11 at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building.  Anyone from the Montgomery area is welcomed to carpool over to Auburn for the meeting.  Just meet at my house at 518 Seminole Dr. in time to load up and head out by 7:00 PM.

Eastwood School Star Party

Robert Rock will be acting as coordinator for a star gaze for the 8th grade students of Eastwood Presbyterian School on Thursday,  October 10.  This will be at the home of Ms. Ann Bode (see directions below). Sunset will be at 6:18 PM, so we’ll need to be there by 6:00 PM if we’re to have any chance of seeing the slender crescent of Venus.  The Moon will be four days old and should show lots of detail in the craters and mountains.  Here are the directions to Ann’s house: 

Go to Emerald Mountain Amoco go east on Rifle Range and turn left at the very
next road, Peace Church Road, make sure to bear right and go to the fountain
and turns into Emerald Mountain Parkway and go close to half mile and be at stop
sign. Go through the sign intersection and make next right, A stone sign says “The
Oaks”, make quick left then quick right and you will be on Post Oak Place. Ann
is at house number 71.

If it’s cloudy, we’ll reschedule for another time.  Let Robert know (334-567-9419) if you plan to help and if you’d like a call if the event has to be postponed.

Public Star Party Guidelines
By: Rod Mollise  

1. Do NOT leave the scope unattended for even a moment. Period. Not so much because of the danger of theft, but because that shiny, high-tech looking thing is an awful temptation for inquisitive fingers big and small. If you have to leave for a moment, station a buddy at the scope to watch things. I generally stake down the tripod legs with tent stakes and line, too, just in case.

2. Be sure you have a dewshield on the scope. If you don't, fingers WILL touch your corrector before the evening is over. 

3. After you finish your goto alignment, remove the finder and store it. Otherwise, lots of little and big folks will yearn to look through it (it looks like a telescope), and will grab it in the process, probably ruining your alignment.

4. Limit yourself to one or two low/medium focal length eyepieces with good eye relief. When and eyepiece is not in your scope, it goes in your pocket. This will ensure nothing walks away.

5.  Put rubber eyeguards on the eyepieces. And have some alcohol wipes at hand for wiping the mascara and other gunk off 'em.

6.  Provide a stepstool of some kind for the little folks, and help 'em up. These are your most important customers--cater to 'em.

7. Your LX200 GPS draws about 1.5 amps while slewing, and much less while tracking. However, a good decent-capacity battery or battery pack is a good investment. I use a 17ah jump start battery pack with a 12vdc output. This will run my Nexstar 11 GPS all night.

8. Make sure you're really familiar with alignment procedures if this is a fairly new scope. Also be sure you know how to do a non-gps alignment in case satellite visibility is a problem in this location.

9. Objects. _Have a list made up before you go_. Focus on the bright and splashy. The Ring is a fairly good object, but the public, and especially the little folk, will have trouble seeing it. Bright, small open clusters are good. So is the Moon if it's in the sky (that's what the public and the youngsters REALLY want to see rather than deep sky objects). I'd pick a night where there's some Moon. You can do deep sky stuff after it sinks into the west. Another thing that the little people want to see BADLY, believe it or not, is just a bright star. Show em Deneb, followed by the lustrous double, Albireo. M13 is probably bright enough to impress 'em. The Double-double is another winner.

10. Be firm, but understanding, with young and old. As your next customer steps up to the eyepiece repeat: "Just LOOK; don't TOUCH."

11. Know what you're talking about. Wanna be embarrassed? Stand there with egg on your face when Little Miss asks you how far away M13 is if you don't know the answer! Have vital statistics for all the objects on your list at hand. Sure, you can get this off the autostar, but that means fumbling with buttons. Much better to be familiar with the statistics.
Let me also mention that holding public star parties is one of the most if not _the_ most important and rewarding things an amateur can do. With the start of the new academic year, I urge everybody to encourage their local club to hold public star parties. 

Rod Mollise
Author of: Choosing and Using a Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope

October Star Party
Submitted by: Mackall W. Acheson III  

I went to Cliff Hill’s farm Saturday night! There was one other person there -- John Clifton.   We could see thunderstorms off towards Georgia. The sky overhead was clear! John really helped me out finding objects in the sky. He would show me where they were in the sky and I would go find them. I’m getting better at finding objects in the sky now. Oh I found the Dumb Bell Nebula all by myself.  I also found Andromeda with the help of John. (The Pleiades, Ring Nebula, Globular clusters, open clusters). 

 The lens that I bought is a big jump in what I had last time that I went up there. My camera is giving me a fit, but I am hopeful that I will be able to work it into taking pictures of objects.
On a personal note: Do not go see the movie Signs starring Mel Gibson before going out to a scary dark place!
 Mackall W Acheson III

Peach State Star Gaze 2002
Russell Whigham

This was the first year at the new facility located just over the Georgia state line in Tennessee, about a mile from the North Carolina border, for Peach State Star Gazers.  Representing AAS this year were:  Eddie Kirkland, William Baugh, Robert Rock, Scott Thompson, Ricky Wood, Brent Holman and Russell Whigham.  Members Jim McLaughlin and John Tatarchuk had planned to attend but were sidelined by the threat of Hurricane Lili.

The facility has well built, clean, and attractive buildings (if somewhat scaled down for people shorter and trimmer than some of us) for lodging, dining, and meeting rooms.   The observing field offered enough space for everyone – the main short coming at the previous site at Indian Springs.  Of the three nights, Thursday was pretty much limited to  socializing with old friends and toasting to each others health.  Friday was better but we had to move about the sky to avoid scattered clouds. Saturday was the only night that allowed us to take full advantage of the clear night sky.  Although there were light domes in a couple areas, the sky for the most part, was transparent and contrasty.  

One building near the observing field had coffee, hot chocolate, and snacks for the chilled late night observers.  During the daylight hours the same building was home for the several vendors who plied their wares to eager amateurs with money to spend.  Thomas Bopp was there.  I saw several people with their autographed posters of his famous comet.

If the weather was somewhat less than ideal, the high caliber speakers Friday and Saturday more than made up for it.  David Levy, had his audience spellbound as he spoke of his mentor, Gene Shoemaker.  David’s advice to any would be comet hunter – If you’re doing it just to have your name on a comet, your chances are pretty slim and you’re bound to be disappointed.  If, however, you enjoy the trip along the way, stopping to see all that the night sky has to show, your trip will be most enjoyable whether or not you reach your original destination.

Wil Tirion talked of his transformation from  a young Dutch amateur astronomer seeking better sky charts to the world’s preeminent celestial cartographer – from pencil and ink to the latest computer graphics.

Sky & Telescope editor, Kelly Beatty, gave a talk on the odds for a catastrophic asteroid or comet impact with Earth.  The short answer – don’t lose any sleep over it.  You’re much more likely to be done in by automobile accident than an asteroid.

Atlanta Astronomy Club member, Rich Jakiel, gave us several challenging deep sky objects to try for.  He calls them his “mean and nasty” objects that push an observer’s skill to the limits

Hats off to Ken Poshedly and the entire PSSG staff for a wonderful weekend of amateur astronomy.

Deep South Regional Star Gaze,  Oct. 30th – Nov. 3rd, 2002

If for some reason you couldn’t attend PSSG 2002, you’ll have another shot at a regional star party later this month at the Deep South Regional Star Gaze.  Here is a tentative schedule of events:

Thursday, 10/31

including paint selection and painting techniques, aluminum repair, 
tripod repair and restoration, reassembly and improvement.  A list of 
suppliers will also be available for every program attendee.  
Presented by Barry Simon (Pontchartrain)

STARGAZE -  a look back via slides taken over the past 20 years, 
don't worry, they will go fast and it will be nostalgic to see what 
you looked like when you either had dark hair or hair at all! 
Presented by Barry Simon (Pontchartrain)

Friday, 11/1

11 AM - TO BE ANNOUNCED - this spot is still open, who wants it?

1 PM - Astrophotography in the 21st Century - a look at where we are 
and where we are going in amateur astrophotography.  Presented by 
Frank Castagna (emulsion/film photography), Rod Mollise (digital, 
primarily afocal photography) and ? (need an experienced volunteer 
here to cover CCD imaging).

2:30 PM - David Levy Program, Title to be announced

Saturday, 11/2

10 AM - Schmidt-Cassegrain Collimation - bring your scope, this is a 
hand's on workshop.  Presented by Rod Mollise (Mobile)

1 PM - The Kisatchie Star Party (tentative, awaiting confirmation).  
Presented by Don Weinell (Baton Rouge).

Note - as we have always had, we will have backup programs and movies 
in the event of poor weather at night.


Barry Simon

Magazine Subscriptions

For AAS members who wish to subscribe to or renew their favorite magazine(s), the rates again this year are:

   Sky & Telescope --- $29.95
  Astronomy ----------- $29.00

  To get this special rate, you must be 2002 dues paying member of Auburn Astronomical Society. We need 5 subscriptions for each magazine before we can get reduced rate.

  Membership dues to A.A.S. $15.00 is due in January but some members pay at time subscriptions ordered. 

  Make checks payable to Auburn Astronomical Society.

  If you want to mail your orders and/or 2002 dues, send them to:

       John Zachry
       Treasurer, Auburn Astronomical Society
       501 Summerfield Road
       West Point GA 31833

  If you have any questions, e-mail John at:

Let’s go ahead and take care of this month so John won’t have to place our order two or three times.  Thanks as always to John for taking time to do this.

Welcome to Our Newest Member 

Please join me in welcoming our newest member, Dr. Dwight R. Norris  of Auburn.  Here is Dwight’s online interview:

Area(s) of special interest: Deep sky; SETI

AAS:   Are you a seasoned amateur astronomer or just getting into the hobby?  
DN:  Have been interested in astronomy for a number of years.  

AAS:   What was your first experience that attracted you to astronomy?  
DN:  Carl Sagan's Cosmos in the early 1980s.

AAS:   Tell us a little about your family members; spouse? kids? siblings? significant other?
DN:  Wife is Sylvia.  Have two daughters, four grandsons.

AAS:   Can you tell us a little about your formal education?
DN:  Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Georgia.

AAS:   Where do you work? If you're retired, what was your occupation?; If you're still in school, have you chosen a career?
DN:  Professor, College of Business, Auburn University

AAS:   Besides astronomy, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
DN:  Golf, boating, building

AAS:    Tell us about your favorite vacation.
DN:  Relevant here were visits to the Very Large Array in New Mexico and Kitt Peak in Tucson.

AAS:   Have you ever lived in some other part of the U.S. or another country? Where?; When?
DN:  Georgian, born and raised.

I'am a business professor.  Little training in physics and the sciences.  I have a fascination in science, especially astronomy.  Some competency in mathematics, having taught statistics.  Avid reader in the field with a modest library of leading books.

Thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you, Dwight.  We look forward to many evenings under the stars together.

Send Your Name to Mars
From: "John Zachry" 

Here is the web site for those who wish to send their name to Mars. All ages accepted. I am going to send in full name plus Zip Code plus USA. Names probably collected by computer so it probably won't know I sent more than just name. Sent my name on the Mars Polar lander but it crashed. Sent my signature on the Cassini spacecraft but lost confirmation letter.

Sky Watch
From: "Richard Allen" 

Hope that all of you are well.  Life with three kids keeps me quite busy.  Anslee has been taking riding lessons at the university for the last year and has done well at the local horse shows.  I am sure the next thing is to start traveling to bigger shows.
Anyway, the reason I was writing was to see if you knew about this web site.  It is a projection of viewing conditions at different times.
Hope this can be of some use,


Incredible Moon Movie!
From: "John Zachry" 

I wish you would tell everybody about this incredible Moon movie you can get at Try it. Takes a little time to download each phase of the Moon but once you have them all it automatically creates full lunar cycle movie. – 


AAS Shirts 


  Ricky Wood 
      A Division of 
           FAX 256-500-4724 

Thanks for your time an effort on this, Ricky

For  Sale 10" Meade Dob
From: "Craig Oglesby"  

I thought I would drop a line and see if you might know anyone that may be interested in a MEAD 10' DOB AND 40mm Sirius plossl 26 mm , 12,5 mm all never used asking $550.00 for all.   I live in Florence Alabama  my name is Craig. You may give my e-mail  or call 256-764-1879  

Hope to see everyone at the meeting,

Russell Whigham
Montgomery AL
Auburn Astronomical Society, Webmaster and Astrofiles editor  
AAS Web site: