Astrofiles
Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
July, 2003

In this Issue

July Events Public Mars Gaze Member Observing Reports

July Events

Our monthly meeting will be on Friday, July 11, at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building, on the campus of Auburn University.  Montgomery area car poolers should meet at my house (518 Seminole Drive).  Weíll head for Auburn at 7:00 PM.

Rhon writes that we have a potential problem coming up in the next 6-8 weeks.  They're installing card readers at the doors to the AE building, and people can't get in after 7 pm without a bar-coded ID.  Rhon is trying to see how we can get around this.  Nobody has said a word about them -- they're just appearing, and will require a special ID which nobody has yet. I guess weíll find out if the new policy is in place, Friday.  If youíre running late, just wait at the second floor door next to the passageway connecting the two buildings (where the model airplanes are displayed).  Weíll send someone down to check periodically.

The July star party will be on Saturday, July 26 at Cliff Hillís farm.

Public Mars Gaze

As Iím sure most of you are aware, Mars will be a very big item in August.  In an effort to capitalize on this we made the following proposal to Rick Evans revans@tsum.edu at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, in Montgomery.  Hereís our correspondence on this:
 

Hello Rick,

At the June AAS meeting, we discussed having a meeting at the planetarium that you so kindly proffered. We originally settled on a date this fall with the milder temperatures and with most people having completed their vacations etc.   It later occurred to me that a Mars Gaze at the end of August might be better.   Rhon concurred, so please consider this:

I suspect there will be ample media hype and public interest in this closest Mars apparition in 50,000 years with a whopping diameter of 25 arc seconds at -2.86 magnitude. I'm guessing that this will be something like the Halley craze back in the mid-eighties, though for only a week or two. I anticipate many requests to have a public Mars parties. What do you think about having something like this at the Planetarium? 

If this isn't what you had in mind when you made the offer (perhaps you were thinking of a quiet evening without a public invasion), of course we could have the Mars Gaze somewhere else, so don't feel obligated to have us come on that weekend. 

The actual date of Mars' closest approach will be on Thursday, August 28.  Will you be available for this on the following Saturday, August 30?

The only problem that I see is that Mars rises shortly after sunset and would not be well placed in the sky for observing until 09:00 or 10:00PM.  At least it might be a little cooler setting up the telescopes after dark. ;-)

Let us know what you think about this,

Russell

Rick Replied:
Russell,

I think it would be a wonderful idea to have a Mars party out here on August 30th.

If I understood you correctly, this would be an event open to the public. Am I correct in assuming we would do something similar to Astronomy Day, in that telescopes would be available to the public to view Mars?

If this is indeed what you wish to do, you can count on my 100% support.  Just let me know as soon as humanly possible so I can start working, publicizing, and networking  the event.

Rick Evans
Director
W.A. Gayle Planetarium
1010 Forest Ave
Montgomery Al  36106


 
Hello Rick,

You wrote:

I think it would be a wonderful idea to have a Mars party out here on August 30th.  If I understood you correctly, this would be an event open to the public. 
That's my thinking.
Am I correct in assuming we would do something similar to Astronomy Day, in that telescopes would be available to the public to view Mars?


Yes, if that's OK with you.

 If this is indeed what you wish to do, you can count on my 100% support.  Just let me know as soon as humanly possible so I can start working, publicizing, and networking  the event.


Thanks as always for your help.  We'll be in touch,

Russell


Rick again:

Russell,

Sounds wonderful!  I have already contacted the Planetary Society and requested them to list the event, as well as send any flyers or bulletins to help publicize the event.

We'll get it started on this end and get the word out.  I'll send a preliminary notice out on our email mailing list soon.  Since school should be back in by then, I'll try to get the word out to some of the schools as well. 

As is the case with Astronomy day, I would see this as a great opportunity to bring astronomy to the public, and we will host this event free to the public.

In addition I have put it on our web page for upcoming events, if you want to preview it. It's not much yet, but it is a start.

http://www.tsum.edu/planet/upcoming%20events%20Mars%20party.htm

Thank you for the wonderful gesture of allowing us to host this event.

Rick Evans


Iíve begun putting together a Mars Fact Sheet for this event.  Here are the links Iíve found so far. 

http://www.nineplanets.org/mars.html
http://pweb.jps.net/~tgangale/mars/facts/factsi.htm
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/marsfact.html
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/background/vitals.html

If you donít already have it, the Mars Previewer II software program will help you identify Martian features at any date and time you select. You can download a copy of Mars Previewer II from Sky & Telescope at this address:  http://skyandtelescope.com/resources/software/article_328_1.asp

If you find others, let me know so we can add them to our hand-out package.

Member Observing Reports

John Tatarchuk  tatarchuk@mindspring.com

It was actually clear on the night of June 22-23, so I made my way out to Cliff Hill's after calling first.  This was my first time observing in four or five months due to clouds, school, and cows, so I was fairly excited.  It was also to be my first time observing the summer  Milky Way from Cliff Hillís; last summer I observed from a site north of Auburn.  I was not disappointed.  A high school friend, Mark Murphy, also decided to join me that night, and he stayed from 10:30-12:30.  Together we viewed the whole army of great summer Messiers, the Veil nebula, (which he thought looked like a dog?!), several other emission nebulae, and a few NGC objects.  Before he arrived and after he left, I also saw 7 new Abell planetaries I had never seen before.  It was a great night, and was topped off at 3:00 with a spectacular view of Mars, with the dark regions and markings and the ice cap easily visible.  Imagine what it will be like in August!

John Tatarchuk

Mackall W. Acheson III  WOLF359@KNOLOGY.NET
I went to the [June] star party Saturday and when I arrived I meet Jeff Crawford. He really knew his way around the heavens and helped me out immensely. It was good to have some one out there. The sky was clear and the turbulence dissipated by 9:30 pm.  I saw all my old favorites with the help of Dr. Crawford.

His telescope finally succumbed to the dew and he packed his up and we shared my telescope.  Jeff  really like my telescope and was impressed by the way it handled and tracked! : ) I wished more people would have showed up. I need all the help I can get.

MACKALL W. ACHESON   III

Hello Mack,
You wrote:

In the picture you can see an object (lower left) that  I have no idea what it is.  I was taking a picture of the globular cluster M-13 at the time. Zoom in on it  and see if you can tell me what you think it is.


I don't know, but my guess would be that it's an internal reflection from the globular.  My little digital camera has a bad case of this.  I'm returning my edited version of your image -- I couldn't see the globular in the image you sent.  I'm assuming the Unidentified Field Object wasn't there when you looked into the eyepiece, right?

Disregard the above and remember me if this makes you famous. ;-)

Russell
 
 

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,

Russell