Auburn Astronomical Society
In this Issue
Our monthly AAS meeting will be on Friday, March
7, at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building, on the
campus of Auburn University.
The next dark-sky star party will be on Saturday,
March 29, at Cliff Hillís farm. For those of you who are up to it,
we can try for the Messier Marathon. Check out the page below for
your lists, etc. http://www.seds.org/messier/xtra/marathon/marathon.html
Elementary School Star Gaze
Greg Glasscock firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ogletree Star Gaze for tomorrow (Wednesday
the 5th) looks to be in great doubt due to the cloud cover predicted.
Therefore I convinced the school to set another date if we can't find a
hole in the clouds Wednesday. We will make a final decision on whether
to go for it or not about 1:00PM. I will send e-mail or call those
of you who have expressed interest in helping if we are canceling.
The 2nd attempt, if needed, will be Tuesday March
11th at 6:00PM. If anyone would like to help on that date let me
or 821-5253 and I will be back in touch. I think we will have one
parent from the school with a 4"reflector already on board. A couple
more telescopes would be great.
Robert Rock had planned to have the Trinity School
star gaze this week, but it looks like the clouds will preclude this yet
again. Watch your In-Box for this to be rescheduled for next week
if the weather improves.
Trail of Legends Association, Inc. and The City
of Wetumpka are hosting a weekend of Wetumpka Meteor Crater activities:
Thursday March 6, 2003
Lecture: Special guest lecturer 7:00 pm
at Wetumpka High School, Dr. David King, Auburn University, Dept of Geology
Friday March 7, 2003
Dedication: A dedication of the Historical
marker in front of the County Health Dept. at 1:00 pm.
Saturday March 8, 2003
Crater Walkabout 9:00 am - 11:00 am - 1:00
SORRY NO REFUNDS. TOLA members -$10 Non-Members
Sunday March 9, 2003
Bicycle Ride Around the Crater
For information contact Hazel Jones (334) 567-1313
Details of the events at: http://www.trailoflegends.org/
Scopes for Sale
Eddie Kirkland email@example.com
I have the following scopes for sale:
Intes MK66 Maksutov-Cassegrain -- 6" OTA, 10X50
finder and bracket w/illuminator, Telrad base, soft carry case, 2" SCT-type
visual back with adaptor for refractor-type diagonals; star test is extremely
Skywatcher 102 f/5 -- This is a Synta-made 4"
refractor similar to the one Celestron markets; 2" focuser w/upgraded 2"
aluminum focuser knobs from Focusknobs; 6X30 ERECT image finder w/dovetail
bracket; rings; foam-lined plastic Plano tool box for travel/storage; like
new condition; well collimated; $175.00
I'm selling to finance another scope; if interested
please call me at 334-749-4322.
Eddie Kirkland firstname.lastname@example.org
May 10, 2003
Rick Evans email@example.com
6th Annual Astronomy Day Event Tentative
5:00 PM - Public Viewing of telescopes provided
by Auburn Astronomical Society.
6:00 PM - Opening Remarks from Montgomery Mayor
6:10 PM - Guest Speaker Mitzi
Adams Solar Scientist, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
6:40 PM - Intermission
6:50 PM - Remarks from Auburn Astronomical Society
President (Dr. Rhon Jenkins)
7:00 PM - "Tour of the Night Sky"
The Spitz STP projector in the auditorium
will be set to display the stars as seen from Montgomery Alabama on May
10, 2003. A brief tour of the night sky will be conducted to point out
the constellations visible . (Planetarium Director)
7:30 PM - Columbia Tribute
7:45 PM - Door Prize selection
8:00 PM - Telescopic celestial viewing
I am open to any changes at this point and have
not finalized anything yet.
The Mayor has agreed to come out and do the opening
Dr. King was unable to come down this year, as
he had previous commitments.
Marshall Flight Center has agreed to send Mitzi
Adams (a solar Scientist) down to speak.
Will the AAS want to donate a year's membership
again this year?
Any input is welcomed.
W.A. Gayle Planetarium
1010 Forest Ave
Montgomery AL 36106
Weíll send you a list of names and telescopes
when we get a little closer to Astronomy Day and folks are in a better
position to make commitments -- probably beginning next month. Yes,
AAS will gladly donate a year's membership again this year.
The agenda looks great. We will help with
individual telescope owners' problems, as we have in the past, with the
Telescope Clinic during the "Public viewing of telescopes" at 5:00 - 6:00.
Thanks for your work,
New to the Mail
Please join me in welcoming Jonathan Patterson
firstname.lastname@example.org and his
son of Columbus GA. who wrote looking for a dark sky site for observing.
We look forward to having Jonathan with the growing contingent of Phenix
City and Columbus amateurs.
Mackall W Acheson III email@example.com
Hey, check these out! I need to get some
Dustin Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
Against strict astro-code, I was able to use my
ST80 the first night I had it....skies were clear. Things got a little
hazy around 11pm but I had at least an hour window without clouds.
Moon - looked incredibly sharp...I was in awe.
Pushed up the mag as far as I could go, coupling the 10mm plossl to the
2x barlow, and things still looked awesome. Had to use a moon filter, I
had forgotten just how bright the nearly full moon is.
Saturn & Jupiter - Again, very sharp. Probably
not sharp relative to expensive ED and APO refractors, but to someone who
has only seen the planets through an 8" dob and C8, the view was awesome.
I could see 3 bands on Jupiter and the Cassini division in Saturn's rings
easily. I remember just barely getting there with the dob.
Pleaides - WOW. Marvelous. Words can't describe
it, but I'll try. Dark blue felt, dotted with seven 2kt diamonds surrounded
by faint mist and needle points of light, all framed perfectly in the 26mm
After thoughts - When I look back on things, the
dob I had was crap. It was a nice telescope in the mechanical sense, but
I never could properly collimate the two mirrors, and never used it due
to size and star hopping frustration. So, in the grand scheme of things,
it was crap. On the other hand, I'm loving this "tiny" refractor on a "cheap"
mount and "wobbly" tripod. Maybe not the
biggest or best that I could have purchased,
but I can already tell that this scope will be put to USE....so it was
worth every penny, no regrets.
I still plan on buying the LXD55 8" newt and trying
some astrophotography. But I just bought a Caribbean cruise for my parents
as a "thank you" gift for everything they've sacrificed to get me to Auburn....so
it'll be a while before I make it to that point.
See ya at the next meeting/star party
DELTA CHI FRATERNITY
The Shape of
Dr. Michael Strauss email@example.com
The Big Bang was hot, and as such
gave off lots of light. At a certain point about 300,000 years after
the Big Bang, the universe had cooled enough (down to about 3000
K) that ordinary atoms (i.e., nuclei with electrons going around)
could form; at this point, the light given off by the hot gases could
travel freely. When we look out into the distant universe with our
telescopes, we are looking back in time (because of the finite speed
of light). In 1965, Bob Dicke, Jim Peebles, David Wilkinson, and
David Roll of Princeton University realized that they could build
a telescope that could detect this remnant light of the Big Bang,
and they started to build such a device on the roof of Guyot Hall.
By pure coincidence, Arno Penzias and Bob Wilson of AT&T Labs
in Holmdel, New Jersey, had built a similar telescope (for their
work in the then-fledging area of satellite communications), and
had already detected this radiation. Those of you who have taken
AST 203 in the past will know, and those currently taking it will
soon find out, that the properties of this radiation are in beautiful
agreement with our expectations if the universe indeed started with
a Big Bang, and thus it is very strong evidence that the Big Bang
model is indeed correct.
Astronomers have been studying this Cosmic Microwave
Background (so-called because it is light with wavelengths of about
1 centimeter, i.e., similar to what your microwave oven produces)
ever since, and have measured its properties with ever greater precision.
One of its most impressive characteristics is its tremendous smoothness.
The deviations from perfect smoothness are only one part in 100,000,
measured for the first time in 1992, by a NASA satellite called the
Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). It was realized around that time
that cosmological theory makes very specific predictions for the
character of this roughness. In particular, if one could make precise
measurements of the roughness on large and small scales, one could
learn all sorts of basic things about the universe: its overall geometry,
the amount of dark matter, the age of the universe, the expansion
rate, and so on. Thus about the time the COBE results were announced,
a team of astronomers led by Dave Wilkinson of Princeton started
planning a much more sensitive satellite to measure these fluctuations
with tremendous precision. The satellite was called the Microwave
Anisotropy Probe, and was launched in the summer of 2001.
Today, 1 1/2 years later, the first results were
announced. There was a press conference at 2 PM at NASA headquarters,
and featuring (among others) David Spergel of the MAP team, a member
of the Princeton faculty; at 4:30 PM, more details were presented
in McDonell A02 by Lyman Page, also on the MAP team, and also a member
of the Princeton faculty. There was great excitement in the room:
NASA rules had forbad the members of the MAP team to tell us all
what they were finding, so we had no idea what to expect. In particular,
there was the real possibility that their results would be in complete
disagreement with modern cosmological understanding, meaning that we
would really have to start over again with our theories.
Sadly, David Wilkinson, whose name has been associated
with studies of the Cosmic Microwave Background since it was first
discovered, and the originator of the MAP concept, died of cancer
last September. In his honor, the MAP satellite was officially renamed
today the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, or WMAP.
OK, what did they find? They found that
our basic picture of an expanding universe that started in a hot
Big Bang seems to be right. The Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years
ago (with an error of only 0.2 billion years). The geometry of the
universe is flat, which is to say that ordinary Euclidean geometry
(3 angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees, and all that) holds
true even for triangles as large as the observable universe itself.
The present-day universe contains ordinary atoms (these make up only
about 4% the density of the universe), dark matter (totaling about
23%, it doesn't shine, but does exert a gravitational pull; we would
love to know what it is made of), and something even more mysterious
called 'dark energy' (totaling about 73% of the density). This latter
is even more puzzling; it may be related to what Einstein called
his 'Cosmological Constant'; its net effect on the universe causes
it to expand ever faster with time.
These results are absolutely astonishing, in two
different ways. The first is that these numbers are completely consistent
with (albeit much more precise than) a model of the overall geometry
and contents of the universe that has been developed over the past
ten years or so. This model has been based on many observations:
the rate of expansion of the universe, the abundance of elements
like helium and deuterium, the large-scale distribution of galaxies,
the ages of stars, and many other cosmological clues. The amazing
fact is that all these disparate pieces of evidence are pointing
to the same model; they are giving the same answer. This gives us
real confidence that these results are actually believable.
However, this is a very strange universe that
we live in. Ordinary matter (atoms, the stuff you and I and the Earth
and stars are made of) make up only 4% of the density of the universe.
We find ourselves invoking two other constituents, of which we have
essentially no real understanding:
-Dark matter, which may well be composed
of a type of elementary particle that we haven't yet discovered;
-Dark energy, which we have even less of
an understanding of.
As is so common in science, great discoveries
bring up deeper questions, and leave us in awe of the wonders of
a universe still filled with mystery.
Tomorrow's newspapers will be full of this, and
next year's textbooks will describe this in detail. Having heard
all these results myself just a few hours ago have certainly not
digested them all yet, and I may supplement this e-mail with a later
one once I understand more details. If you would like to learn more,
check out the WMAP web site:
[Editorís Note: The article above was
sent to me by a cousin, Ed Sproles Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org
who lives in New Jersey and is taking a course in astronomy, as a 'community
auditor' -- a program that Princeton University has to help community relations.
I though it was an excellent summary of the Big Bang. I hope you do as
Hope to see everyone at the meeting, Friday,