Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
October, 2003

In this Issue

October Events Magazine Subscription/Renewal Time
Eastwood School Star Gaze Head School Star Gaze
DSRSG 2003 PSSG 2003
From the In-Box  Invitation to a New Dark Site

October Events

This monthís meeting will be on Friday October 3, in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building at 8:00PM.  Rhon reports that the anticipated problem with the doors being locked has not materialized.  Weíll have the Power Point presentation that Rick Evans did for the AAS at the Mars Gaze, for those who were unable to attend.  Itís been a while since we were all together at our regular meeting place.  There will be lots to catch up on.  This will be a game weekend, so parking may come at a premium.

Any Montgomery area riders are encouraged to meet at your editorís house, ready to carpool to Auburn at 7:00PM.

This monthís star party, for those not attending either of the regional star parties (see below), will be on Saturday, October 25, at Cliff Hillís farm.

Magazine Subscription/Renewal Time
John B. Zachry, AAS Treasurer

It's time to renew our club subscriptions to Astronomy magazine and Sky & Telescope. Astronomy magazine is $29.00 for 1 year and $ 55.00 for 2 years. Sky & Telescope is $ 32.95 for 1 year. For those who wish to renew, it would be nice to have a check at the next meeting or by mail before October 10 or at least notify me by e-mail that you want to be on list and pay later. Time limit is not mandatory, however, if late I will just have to make an extra trip to the bank and to the post office.

John B. Zachry
501 Summerfield Road
West Point, GA 31833

Note:  The discounted magazine subscriptions are a privilege of membership.  If you want to take advantage of this, be sure you have paid your dues.  If youíre not sure, send John an e-mail. - RDW

Eastwood Presbyterian School Star Gaze

Ann Bode, eighth grade science teacher at Eastwood Presbyterian School in Montgomery, asked us to bring our telescopes to the home of one of her students, some thirteen miles south of Tuskegee, for her class on, Friday, September 19. Our hosts, Ira and Jennifer Hostetter had prepared a delicious lasagna supper for us.  Representing AAS were: event coordinator, Robert Rock, Ray Kunert, and Russell Whigham.  Following supper, we were led to a clearing behind the house.  A low-level glow from Tuskegee was the only artificial light there.  The sky was as black as Iíve ever seen around here.  The kids and parents lined up behind the three telescopes as we toured the treasures of the transparent summer sky.  They had recently completed a study of the constellations and each student had researched a deep-sky object located in their constellation.  This was the lab.  Many had requests for ďtheirĒ object.  For astronomical dessert, we observed surface features and the shrinking southern polar cap.  All seemed to enjoy the evening.  We sure did.

Head Elementary School Star Gaze

Hereís our correspondence with Susan Mallett, Principal of Head Elementary School, in Montgomery:

Hello Susan,
It's good to hear from you again.

At 09:01 AM 9/19/2003 -0500, you wrote:

... I would ask if your group would be interested in doing a Star Gazing Party
for our school on Wednesday, December 17, at about 6:00 (or, whatever time
you feel would be best).  We are planning an airshow at Maxwell on that day
for our students in honor of the Centennial of Flight celebration.  This
would be an excellent ending to a most memorable day for all of us.  Let me
know what you think.

I checked the early evening sky for December 17.  Unfortunately, the Moon will not rise until after midnight and the only planet visible will be Mars which is currently racing away from us and will be on 25% of its current size and frankly, not much to look at.  Will you have anything to celebrate in February, March, or April?

In the past we have scheduled these events around the first quarter Moon when the most detail can be seen.  Here are the first quarter Moon dates for those months and the planets that are visible.  A day or so on either side of these dates will not matter very much.

February  27, (Friday):  Venus, Mars, Moon, and Saturn
March 28 (Sunday):   Venus, Mars, Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter
April 27 (Tuesday):  Venus, Mars, Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter

The star gaze we did last night in rural Macon County had no Moon, but there was not a single artificial light to be seen.  The Milky Way was brilliant and we showed the kids a variety of star clusters, galaxies and nebulae.  The lights from the city preclude anything like this in Montgomery.

Let me know if you can work any of the alternate dates above into your schedule.

Looking forward to our next event,


Thanks for the reply, Russell.  Too bad about the December date...but the
April 27th date is a great one, as that is during our Aerospace Week.
Could we "shoot" for that?  Then we could have a "rain date of Wednesday,
the 28th.  Just let me know! 

Thanks, again!  Susan

DSRSG 2003

The Deep South Regional Star Gaze will be on October 22-26, in McComb MS.  The main speaker at the DSRSG this year is author, Philip Harrington.  So far, we have Robert Rock, Ray Kunert, Russell Whigham representing AAS.

PSSG 2003

The Peach State Star Gaze will be on October 22-26 at WhiteWater Express High Adventure Camp near Ducktown, Tennessee.  Speakers include:

Dr. Brian G. Marsden of the International Astronomical Union will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Marsden was the director of the IAU's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams from 1968 to 2000 

Chris Butler is an internationally published illustrator best known for his science art, Mr. Butler is a staff artist at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and continues to focus on science education. 

Dr. Richard Schmude is associate professor at Gordon College's Department of Science and Physics (Barnesville, Georgia) and an expert on the planet Mars.

Editorís two-cents worth: 
Unfortunately, this falls on the same weekend as Deep South.  For the past several years, PSSG has attracted a slate of nationally known speakers with excellent selection and prices from the vendors.  This is the tenth PSSG and the first Iíll miss.  If anyone from AAS attends PSSG 2003, please take lots of pictures and bring us a report.  Itís a shame that the only two regional star parties near us have to conflict.  It sure was nice when PSSG was held in the spring. -RDW

From the In Box

From John B. Zachry

2004 will be a great year for astronomy! Space Shuttle resume flight, 5 new spacecraft to Mars, 3 spacecraft to the Moon, 1 spacecraft to Mercury, 1 spacecraft to a comet, Cassini arrives at Saturn. Will work on a detailed list with home web sites.

Check this out. Great web site. Shows a computer generated 15 month path in motion of the Smart-1 spacecraft launched on September 27 to the Moon.

For best results zoom out on Smart-1 video to show orbit of Moon before you start video animation and of course set time to 1 day sequence. 

From Mack Acheson, via Katherine Collins
Subject: SLOOH-Live Viewing of Outer Space

I thought you and your organization might be interested in SLOOH!  SLOOH is the first to bring incredible, live viewing of outer space to the public.  SLOOH has positioned high powered telescopes on the Canary Islands, one of the world's best locations for astronomical viewing, and is allowing people to control them from their own computer!  This online service brings the rhythms and wonder of space exploration right to you regardless of the time of day or weather conditions in your home town. SLOOH's mighty telescopes are the centerpiece of 'LIVE' interactive missions to the 20 known wonders of the universe. SLOOH is now accepting a limited number of memberships for the first mission set to launch on December 25th.

Basic Membership: $49 per year for unlimited group missions, including voting missions, plus 15 minutes of solo mission time.

Deluxe Membership: $99 per year for unlimited group missions, including voting missions, plus 90 minutes of solo mission time. 

Additional solo time can be purchased in 15-minute intervals for $19.95.  Discounted usage licenses are available to educators and affiliated institutions. 

SLOOH would be interested in setting up cross-promotional events with your organization, such as contests for complimentary memberships in exchange for promoting SLOOH at your Star Parties and or on your website! 

For more information please feel free to contact me or visit SLOOH online at  I'd be happy to send you an electronic press kit if you're interested

Kind Regards,

Katherine Collins
Connors Communications
Phone: 212-798-1413

Invitation to a New Dark Site

From Paul Williamson

Hello Paul,

At 10:12 PM 9/12/2003 -0400, you wrote:

I am planing a stargazing trip to my hometown of Brantley on the 27th of this 
month. Brantley is about an hour drive south of Montgomery off of highway 331.
It will include a few friends of mine, my dad, and myself (we each will have 
our scopes set up).  I would like to invite you and anyone else in the 
society to join us for the evening.  It is a great site to gaze.  It is on an 80 
acre lot that has very little sky glow (the worst of which is to the north). 
it is by a pond with a cabin, so we have electricity and a restroom if needed, 
and no street lights to interfere.  really a good site!

This is an open invitation to all who wish to attend.  We would love to have 
ya'll come.

Please pass this along and let me know if you need more information.

Paul Williamson

 The place sounds like a great location for a star party, and I'd love to try it out sometimes.  The idea of a restroom really appeals to the ladies.

As you may have read in the newsletter, that is the same day as our monthly star party.  With roughly half of our members from the Auburn area, and the other half over here, we try to compromise on a site as equidistant for all, as possible.  The last thing I want to do is to have a feeling of "us" and "them" in the club.  

How about this.  I'll make a pitch for your place in the next Astrofiles and at the October 4 meeting -- or better yet, you could ride over with us and make it yourself  -- that is if the site will still be available at a later date.  Would that be OK?   While we're waiting on that, can you think of a place in Brantley where folks could meet before heading out to the field?

I don't know if you've had this experience before, but folks seem to stick with the tried and true when it comes to trying anything new.  We've had a few other offers -- none that sound as good as your place, but there has been little enthusiasm for change.

Watch you e-mail Saturday if it's looks like it will be a good night.

Thanks so much for the offer,


Hope to see everyone at the meeting,


Russell Whigham
Montgomery AL
Auburn Astronomical Society Webmaster and Astrofiles editor