Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
January, 2003

In this Issue

January Events Annual Dues Reminder
Wiregrass Amateur Astronomers Member News
December Star Party
 Please Welcome… 

January Events

Our monthly AAS meeting will be on Friday, January 3, at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building, on the campus of Auburn University.  Be sure to bring any new astronomy toys that Santa may have put in your stocking.

The dark-sky star party will be on the following Saturday, January 4.  at Cliff Hill’s farm.  Saturn will be passing in front of the Crab Nebula (M-1) that night and we have a new comet in the western sky Comet Kudo-Fujikawa. (C/2002 X5).  For details, see the Sky & Telescope page at:

Annual Dues Reminder

AAS memberships expire at the end of December.  Dues are still only $15.00 per year, $7.50 for full-time students.  Make checks payable to Auburn Astronomical Society.  If you haven’t already sent  your check for 2003, either bring it to the meeting Friday, or mail it to the AAS treasurer, John Zachry at:

John Zachry
Treasurer, Auburn Astronomical Society
501 Summerfield Road
West Point GA 31833
If you’re not sure if you’ve paid, or if you have other questions about the 2003 dues, drop John a note at:

Wiregrass Amateur Astronomers 
From: Scott Guidry 

I got your email address from Eddie Kirkland, a member of the Auburn club.  I just moved to Dothan from the New Orleans area about 2 months ago and I'm currently seeking out other astronomy lovers in my area.  He told me you might know of some members up in Auburn that are from the Dothan area or surrounding 50 miles.  If you do, please let me know and their email addresses so that I can get in touch with them.  I'm looking for "observing buddies".  Today I just received permission to use a dark sky site I found near Clayton, Al.  It's about an hour drive north of Dothan, but it's well worth it.  It's on a hilltop around 450 feet with the horizon visible in just about all directions. Stars are visible all the way to the horizon with no light hue except for a very tiny bit toward the northeast (and I mean a very tiny bit).

If you can help, let me know!


I’ve thought that a club for folks in southeast Alabama has been long overdue.  I sent Scott a list of names that we’ve gathered over the past few years to add to the folks he’s found. 

The site that Scott mentioned is about equidistant from Auburn and Dothan.  Scott and his group will have their first star party there on January 4.  Understandably, Scott wants to tread cautiously with the darksite property owner until he is comfortable with what amateur astronomers do out in his field at night.  Once that’s established, we look forward to having a joint star party with WAA --  perhaps for the Messier Marathon in March.  If you’d like to keep up with their goin’s on, you can join their discussion group at:

Member News

From  John Williams

We came to Australia for the Eclipse.  It was fabulous. Here are a couple of pictures from yesterday. We are in Adelaide now for a couple of days and hopefully will get some more time with the Southern sky.

Hello John,

I trust you're back from Oz, and that you had a marvelous trip.  Are you hooked on shadow-chasing now?  Any chance we could coax you into giving a program on your trip and the eclipse any time soon?

I've seen (from the center line) one total and two annulars, the first being 99% and the second 97%.  These rate, along with the 2001 Leonids, as high points in my astronomical life.

Thanks for your images.  We've missed seeing you around lately and hope to see more of you soon.


From: Tom McGowan

  I'm very happy here. I've finally got to the point of being somewhat settled down. I have very nice skies from my backyard and, with a 20 minute drive, can be observing at an awesome site at an elevation of 7000 feet. I've joined the local club-it's a smaller club with the majority of members being rather new to astronomy. 
I'm currently working on six scopes: a 20", two 16", a 17.5" and two 12.5". I have everything assembled, will do a final sanding today, then start the finish and mount the hardware. I've been a bit behind due to the move. I don't plan on a web-site just yet, but feel free to pass on my e-mail address. I also make scopes without the optics as I've made a 16" for guy who had a Meade 16" Dob and got sick of the solid tube and poor performance. The 17.5" I'm currently working on is for a man in Texas who present scope is a solid tube Coulter 17.5". We'll just take the primary and pop it in the new scope. I've been talking with John Taterchuk - he is quite the enthusiastic observer, hunting down some rather challenging objects. I'm quite impressed by some of the stuff he's observed. I was like that a few years back and hopefully will be in the near future. He needs to write-up his observing sessions and submit it to the club newsletter. 


Ahem, John?…

December Star Party Report
Mack Acheson

 We arrived at 5:00 PM. I brought with me a neighbors family  of three girls and the father.  ( Chris, Katie, Kayla, Kieley  Linger)  I set up my equipment and  waited for it to get dark!  Of course the first thing that I tried to find is the Andromeda galaxy!  It took me about  twenty minutes to find it. Wow I can never get tired of looking at her!  I showed her off to my guest and saw Saturn coming up and I knew the would get a kick out of that. Saturn was a little fuzzy, I'm guessing  my collimation that  I did needed more attention!  Next we went looking for M-36 and M-38 by Capella, but were not able to find it, always looks easy on the map. Next we went to M-33 and took a gander at M-45 the Pleiades! Which is eye candy. After that, when it was apparent that no one else was coming, we packed up and went home. 

OH  you all can be proud of yourselves and give yourselves a pat on the back for hooking three young boys on astronomy!  They will be the proud owners of  a telescope for Christmas. I'm sure that they will become an exciting part of the  Auburn Astronomical Society.

As always, Thank you All for your help!

Mackall Acheson III

Please Welcome…

Andy Camerio  of Montgomery, found us through our friends at the W.A. Gayle Planetarium (Thanks, Rick).  Andy was looking for some help with his new  Orion AstroView 120mm Equatorial refractor.  At Andy’s invitation, I eagerly made a house-call. We played with his new telescope in his front yard.  Despite some bothersome cirrus clouds and typical metropolitan light pollution, we enjoyed views of Saturn and the Moon while I gave him the fifty-cent tour of the night sky -- dropping terms like “polar alignment” and “right ascension”.  Andy is obviously a quick learner.  He sent me a “Top Ten List” the next day:

 My wife and I got up at 4:00 a.m. this morning to see Venus. Almost like it had a large moon or shadow in front of it? Sure enough, the brightest thing in the eastern sky. Also got to see Jupiter (my favorite) and its moons were almost overhead, plus Saturn again on the West. I was not able to find Mars? Need more practice I suppose? It really was amazing. 

Thank you so much for the help last night in understanding my telescope better. I learned so much just from the one visit. i.e.
1. Polar alignment of the tripod is important especially for tracking on a single axis and makes it easy to follow the arch of the object across the sky.
2. Alignment to the North and 32 degrees will put you close for casual observation.
3. "Two-eyed" use of the finder scope until the objects converge.
4. Planets follow the east-west course on the ecliptic.
5. How to save my money from useless stuff.
6. The tripod vibration pads are a good idea.
7. A Barlow lens maybe useful.
8. Orion's Belt contains a nebula ... if I can ever find it.
9. A tarp under the telescope is helpful against brush and insects.
10. Good mylar is cheaper that expensive "glass elements" for sunwatching.

Looking forward to attending a sky party and learning more.

Andy Camerio

Andy has a friend who has rural property out in the Pike Road area and has invited us to check it out.  Thanks, Andy.


Well, our Eastwood School Star Gaze for December was clouded out again.  We’ll try again when they can come up with another date. 

Back in November, I was invited to give a presentation to a group of Girl Scout leaders at Kamp Kiwanis.  It was cloudy that night as well, but I gave them an abbreviated version of the old “Stars and Constellations” program that we used to give when AAS was doing the continuing education astronomy course.  They seemed to enjoy it and seemed eager to pass their new knowledge of the night sky on to their Girl Scouts.

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,