Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
November, 2003

In this Issue

November Events Calendar  November Lunar Eclipse Plans 
Brantley Star Party Review  Deep South Regional Star Gaze Review
Magazine Subscriptions Update Please Welcome… 
 Power Point Tribute to AAS by Rick Evans  Everything Else

November Events

November 7, AAS Meeting  8:00PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building.
November 8, Lunar eclipse.  Auburn Kroger Supermarket (See below)
November 22, Star Party at Cliff Hill’s farm

Lunar Eclipse
Bill Blankley (STARMAN)
334-826-7003 or email to stellarbill(at)yahoo(dot)com

Moon To Hide Its Face

On Saturday night November 8 the moon will enter the Earth’s shadow and be darkened for several hours.  This is known as a lunar eclipse and the second one this year, the last in mid-May.

While not necessarily of astronomical importance, eclipses of the moon can be beautiful.  The moon’s surface is not completely darkened, but is reddish or copper colored.  This coloring is due to the light rays that reach the moon after being bent by the earth’s atmosphere.

The moon will enter the lighter portion of the earth’s shadow (the penumbra) at 4:19 PM, just  before moonrise at 4:41 PM to the east northeast.  It will begin the actual eclipse at 5:40 PM, when it enters the  darker part of the shadow (the umbra).  Total eclipse will be from 7:00 PM until 7:36 PM.  The moon will leave the darker shadow at 9:00 PM and the lighter shadow at 10:20 PM, ending the eclipse.

Those wishing to observe the eclipse through telescopes, furnished by the Auburn Astronomical Society, are invited to the parking lot of the Auburn Kroger Supermarket (near the Glenn Avenue entrance).
There is no fee for this event.  For further information call 334-826-79003.

Brantley Star Party

On Saturday, October 18, Paul Williamson hosted a star party at his family’s property near Brantley.  There was never any ambiguity about the weather -- it was perfect --  just cool enough for a sweatshirt or light jacket.  Transparency was as good as it gets, showing near sixth magnitude stars.  Joining Paul were his dad, Billy Williamson, friends Susanna Fillingham, Casey Curran, Mark McGregor, along with AASers, Mack Acheson, John Tatarchuk, and Russell Whigham.  We set up the telescopes on the lawn of their lake house with the reflection of the sky in the lake to the southwest.  We toured the late-summer and fall deep sky objects.  Mack and Russell hunted down Messiers and NGC objects, Paul, using his 120mm rich-field refractor, showed us several large open clusters, the Veil, Andromeda galaxy, and North America were incredibly beautiful.  John was observing Abell planetaries and IC emission nebulae with his 18-inch.  We also saw several sporadic meteors.  Paul’s mom had prepared pound cake and peanut butter fudge snacks as well as hot chocolate inside the house. 

Thanks Paul.  It was a wonderful evening.

Deep South Regional Star Gaze 2003

The twenty-first meeting of Deep South Regional Stargazers was held on October 22-26.  Since its inception, the event has been held at Percy Quin State Park, near McComb MS.  Representing AAS this year were:  Eddie Kirkland, Robert Rock, Ray and Ann Kunert, and Russell Whigham

The days leading up to the long weekend had been of the typical cool, dry, late October variety.  Fall foliage was just beginning to turn and the cotton fields were ripe for harvest, making the drive quite pleasant.  But no matter how beautiful the day is, it’s still right at 350 miles or six hours, including a quick stop for lunch, from Montgomery.  Add another 60 miles and another hour if you’re coming from Auburn.  I arrived at the park just after 2:00PM, unloaded my sleeping bag and suitcase in our cabin, then went to observing field to claim our traditional spot on the eastern side of the field.  Moments later Eddie arrived.  Eddie furnished the AAS canopy again this year, that we had up in only a matter of minutes.  The field had been recently mown, but was quite dusty as a result of nearly a month without any significant rainfall.  We had a light supper of what I call “pulp-wooder” food – canned meat & crackers, and what remained of my Thermos of coffee from the drive over.  We waited until nearly dark to set up the scopes because of the dust stirred up by people driving onto the field.  While waiting for the skies to totally darken, someone called our attention to an Iridium flare, and shortly after that, the passing of the Hubble Space Telescope.   Ray joined us as we put the finishing touches on the telescopes.

The sky was clear and dark.  Seeing was good but not great.  We searched in vain for the elusive Comet Encke.  We checked with several others on the field many of whom were very experienced observers, many with larger telescopes, but no one could see the tenth magnitude comet.  Ray visited with us and others on the field in his quest to learn as much as possible about the choices of telescopes available while he decides which would be best for him.  I logged 31 objects that first night. Eddie bagged a few more as we swapped looks through our telescopes and suggested targets to each other until about 1:30 or 2:00 AM Thursday morning. 

Thursday we woke again to blue skies.  We spent the day inspecting the other telescopes on the field and making a list of objects to observe after dark. There were a couple of telescopes on the observing field equipped with hydrogen alpha bandpass filters that showed several large prominences on the limb.  Yet others had (filtered) white light images that showed those gigantic sunspot displays. At 4:00PM the first of several door prize drawings was held.  Ray won a “glow-in-the-dark” Moon T-shirt – talk about beginners luck!  Following the drawings, we left the observing field for our traditional trip just outside the park to “Mr. Whiskers” catfish restaurant.  And who should we run into there but Robert!  Filled with enough fried food to last us the entire week, we returned to the group camp for another night of observing.  The temperature was pretty close to perfect and only required a sweatshirt later in the evening.  I had commented to several others about how good Wednesday was, only to have that outdone by the best ever Thursday night!  The notoriously faint and bland object, M-74, showed spiral structure in crisp detail the likes of which I have never seen before with my C-11.  NGC-891 was as bright and well defined as I’ve ever seen it – the dust lane of the famous edge-on galaxy was easy.  By 3:00AM we’d had all the fun we could stand and called it a night.

We had two programs Friday: Jack Huerkamp, of the Pontchartrain Astronomy Society, on "Planetary Software - Update and Review on what is available", and  after lunch, Barry Simon, also of PAS, gave a presentation on "The Okie-Tex Star Party in Pictures".  Friday started out nice but was beginning to cloud up by sunset.  As it became more obvious that the sky was not going to get any better, the evening evolved into relaxing and socializing with our friends from Mobile and Pensacola.

The two Saturday programs were:  Dr.  Kent Clark, of the Mobile Astronomical Society, on "Founders of Celestial Mechanics", and later, Bruce Housey, of PAS on "Mars Opposition in Review".  We filled the idle hours shopping at Rex’s Astro-Stuff, the only vendor for the event. 

After supper, Phil Harrington, gave a presentation, "Phil Harrington on Binocular Astronomy".
Anticipating clouds Saturday night, Phil had given a “Binocular Tour” of the night sky as viewing permitted Friday evening.  We turned in relatively early in preparation for the trip home Sunday.

2003 was a very good year for DSRSG.  We could have used one more clear night and would have stayed up even longer Thursday had we known what Friday was to bring, but I thoroughly enjoyed the entire weekend.  Hats off to event chairman, Barry Simon, and his staff of volunteers, who made DSRGS 2003 another terrific success!

Magazine Subscriptions
John Zachry

 I sent Astronomy magazine an e-mail asking them to begin my new subscription with the January 2004 issue. They said OK. I wonder if other members would like to do the same? For November and December I will just buy at newsstand. - John

Welcome to the Auburn Astronomical Society
Donald Duke
Wetumpka, AL

AAS:  Are you a seasoned amateur astronomer or just getting into the hobby? 
DD:  Just  beginning

AAS:  What was your first experience that attracted you to astronomy? 
DD:  Watching the stars in the desert of Saudi Arabia

AAS:  Tell us a little about your family members; spouse? kids? siblings? significant other?
DD:  Wife Shirley children; Angela, William, Angie, Victoria and Heather

AAS:  Can you tell us a little about your formal education?
DD:  High school

AAS:  Where do you work? If you're retired, what was your occupation?; If you're still in school, have you chosen a career?
DD:  Retired U.S. Army currently employed by the Elmore County Sheriffs Department. Wetumpka, AL

AAS:  Besides astronomy, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
DD:  Modeling

AAS:  What was your first or favorite car?
DD:  1957 ford

AAS:  What was your first or most interesting job?
DD:  Soldier, U.S. Army

AAS:  Tell us about your favorite vacation.
DD:  Bavaria 

AAS:  Have you ever lived in some other part of the U.S. or another country? Where?
DD:  Ft. Jackson S.C., Ft Campbell, KY , Germany, Korea, 

I am a beginner and need information on how to get started with equipment etc.  I am retired 49 year old soldier.  Now there is only my wife and I.  Please send me any info to help me get started.

Hello Donald,

Thanks for sharing this with us.  If you have an e-mail address that I can send to,  please let me know.


Power Point Tribute to AAS

Following the Power Point presentation of Rick Evans’ “Tribute to the Auburn Astronomical Society” at our October meeting, several people expressed interest in having a copy their own. 

Option 1 is to download the zipped file from the server.
My 56K dial-up connection took about 46 minutes to download the 6,821Kb file.  The T1 line at work did it in 36 seconds.

After Un-Zipping, you should save both of the files listed below in the same directory: 

Alabama - On This Side Of The Moon.mp3
Alabama On this side of the Moon 1.ppt
Option 2, will be that you reply here to let me know by Thursday night, that you’d like for me to burn you a CD and bring it to the meeting Friday.  I only ask that you bring a blank CD to exchange.  Let me know.

Everything Else

Welcome Back

Mark Moe is back in the area.  Here is our exchange:

Hello Mark,

At 09:07 PM 10/27/2003 -0500, you wrote:

    Well, we have move back down from the great white north and are living in Lagrange.  While we were up there in Wisconsin, I bought a 102mm f/5 refractor and a 127mm Mak.  I haven't had any time to observe since we got back down here but, I intend to get down to November's meeting.

Welcome back!  It's good to hear from you.

 Have you heard from Tom McGowan lately? 

Tom moved out to Arizona a couple of years ago in an effort to have better skies.  We haven't heard from him in a while, but he remains on our mail list.

Is Philip Hosey still active?

No, Phillip was a blue-giant supernova; burned extremely hot for a couple of years then disappeared entirely from the hobby.  He probably still lives in LaGrange, though if you'd like to try and rekindle the flame. 

Thanks for getting back in touch.  I'm looking forward to seeing you at our November 7, meeting.


Great Web Site 

 Great web site "Upcoming Planetary Events and Missions". 
Where I get most of my information about upcoming events.

John Zachry 

Light Grasp Table

[SCT-User Mail List] djhanson100(at)yahoo(dot)com 

I thought I'd show you the table I compiled just to show some other comparisons.  This table shows the light grasp in terms of effective SCT surface area, neglecting any transmission effects, etc.  I took the effective surface area = clear aperture area - central obstruction area, gathering the exact diameter info from the Meade website and older Celestron product manuals.  Of course, some numbers may vary slightly, dependent on the exact model.  In general, the numbers compare roughly to what is reported in marketing brochures and they make for a nice comparison when looking at different SCT sizes, etc:

SCT      ~Effective Surface  Area Ratio (LX200 8"=reference) 

LX200 8"  1.00
C-8 1.03
C-9.25  1.35
LX200 10" 1.57
C-11 1.92
LX200 12"  2.34
C-14  3.09
LX200 14" 3.12
LX200 16" 4.21

        D.J. Hanson


From the “A Word A Day mail list

septentrion (sep-TEN-tree-on) noun

The north.

[From Latin septentrionalis, from septentrio, singular of septentriones, originally septem triones, the seven stars of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear, from septem (seven) and triones (a team of three plow oxen). 
These are the principal stars of the Great Bear, which is located in the region of the north celestial pole. These stars are more commonly perceived as the Big Dipper.]

Clear Sky Clock:  It’s Moved --Never Mind, It’s Back
Greg Glasscock had sent the notice of Clear Sky Clock’s problems with their Web host, but the problem now seems resolved.  It’s back at:  or   A list of cities in Alabama is at: 

Say Cheese

Bill Blankley took this his hand-held
  digital Kodak by eyepiece projection.
Mack Acheson’s
digital magic with the Sun
Saturn. -- Mack Acheson Jupiter -- Mack Acheson
David King Jr. and Lucille Petruny  had their photo of the aurora seen from Auburn on the evening of October 29, published on the SpaceWeather.Com page.  You can see it in the archives for October 31 at

David writes:  

The picture was taken from the nearside west parking area a few meters from the NW wall of Jordan Hare Stadium.  4:49 pmCST on Oct. 29. Looking NW.  Was taken with no special settings using my Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera.  The featured picture and two others are now archived on,
which is but one of 8 large pages of aurora pictures.  Lucille originally saw this while driving back to the university.  She said it was much more brilliant minutes earlier, but 4:49 pm as soon as I could grab the camera and she could drive to a clear view of the horizon.  The attached file gives the camera-recorded info for each picture.  Hope
this helps.  


New Toy

Following his return from DSRSG, Ray Kunert  has ordered a Meade 10-inch LX200 GPS SCT.  We look forward to playing with his new toy at the next star party.

Hope to see everyone Friday at the meeting,