Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
April, 2004

In this Issue

April Events Astronomy Day 2004
Jim Voss’s Program For Sale & Wanted
Member News Save Hubble  

April Events

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, April 2, at 8:00PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building.  Riders from the Montgomery area are welcome to meet at the home of Russell Whigham, 518 Seminole Dr., and carpool over to Auburn.  Plan to be ready to leave for Auburn at 7:00PM.

Our star party this month will be on Friday/Saturday, April 16/17 at Cliff Hill’s farm.

Saturday, April 24 is the date for our annual Astronomy Day event at the Gayle Planetarium

Astronomy Day 2004

Last month we asked for volunteers to bring their telescopes to share with the visitors for our Astronomy Day celebration at The W.A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery on Saturday, April 24.  So far, we’ve received commitments from Ray Kunert, Rhon Jenkins, Alan Cook, Russell Whigham, and Eddie Kirkland.  

We’ve yet to hear from our Alex City and Selma delegations, but know they’ll be there if at all possible.  We still need several more  telescope volunteers.  Remember that many of the visitors who attend, especially those with a potential purchase in mind, will be more likely to have an interest in more modest sized instruments.  If your telescope falls into this group, you can be of invaluable help to them.  And for those visitors who have telescopes, but have had trouble getting it to perform, we’ll be assisting them in the “Telescope Clinic”,  throughout the afternoon and evening.

We’d also like to have a couple of people at the AAS information table to hand out information sheets and answer questions about the society.  If you don’t have a telescope, but do have a camera, we could use your help capturing images of. the event.  Last year, Gail Smitherman donated books as door prizes.  If you have something to donate, by all means bring it to add to Rick’s impressive list of commercially donated prizes.

Please let us know if you think you’ll be able to help any capacity.  We’ll need to have a list of names so Rick can make name tags for us.   Remember to wear your AAS shirt for the group photo.  If this will be your first year with us, you can get an idea of what we do by having a look at:

From Rick Evans:

The W.A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery Alabama will be hosting its 7th Annual Astronomy Day celebration.  Our event will begin with a number of activities and programs in the auditorium.  David T. King, Jr., Professor, Dept. of Geology Auburn University, Auburn, Al, will be presenting a fascinating program on the Wetumpka Meteor crater, followed by a planetarium program and a tour of the night sky. The evening will culminate with telescopic viewing of the night sky.  
Members of the Auburn Astronomical Society (AAS), a local amateur astronomy club, have once again graciously agreed to bring their telescopes out to the planetarium to allow the public to view the night sky; and what a night it will be. A starry phenomenon is about to occur in the spring skies on, of all days, National Astronomy Day 2004! Four visible planets and Earth’s moon will dance across a palette painted by dusk, when Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and the waxing crescent Moon will gather in the west in the evening sky.

So far this year, we have witnessed two space probes landing on the planet Mars, and another probe enroute and destined to arrive at Saturn in early summer.  A new planetoid object, Sedna,  orbiting the Sun was discovered in March. Things are looking up in astronomy, and so can you…by attending Astronomy Day 2004 at the W.A. Gayle Planetarium.  For a complete list of events, you can visit our web page at or call the Planetarium at 334-241-4799. 
Tentative Agenda

6:00  PM:  Doors Open
6:30 PM:  Wetumpka Meteor Crater Presentation by Dr. David T. King Jr. 
7:15 PM Planetarium Show Tour of the Night Sky 
7:45 PM  Tribute to Columbia
8:15 PM Telescopic viewing of Night Sky

Jim Voss’s Program


Thirty-three AAS members and friends turned out for our best attended meeting in recent memory.  We were treated to astronaut, Jim. Voss’s,  “home movies” and live commentary of life aboard the International Space Station.  Thanks to Dr. Voss for our vicarious voyage, and to AAS president, Rhon Jenkins, for making this happen.

Mirror Wanted

I am interested in a Meade or equivalent 12.5" f/4.8 mirror. I don't want to refigure or recoat, so I need one with very good optics and coatings. If someone has a Dob, I would consider buying the whole scope regardless of condition as long as the mirror is good (the primary mirror is more important to me than the rest of the scope). It is possible that I could use a 13.1" f/4.5 mirror if it is a newer model or refigured/recoated. If it is what I need, I could drive to meet somewhere convenient to pick it up.
Bill Prados
2809 Paden Way
Birmingham, AL 35226

Telescope for Sale

Celestron Star Hopper 8-inch Dobsonian, f/6, with Telrad and 25mm Plossl eyepiece.  Price New: $500.00 -- Asking: $325.00

Contact:  Connie Lane, Montgomery AL, CL4AUB(at)aol(dot)com

Help Wanted

I’m doing some troubleshooting on this LX50 and the problem seems to end at the hand control.  I only have the direction and speed control.  Would you know anyone in the Opelika-Auburn area that would loan me one just overnight before I mail order one just to try.  Thanks for your help  David McConnell 334-741-0076,  dmcconnell334(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Member News

Chiefland Astronomy Village

I have joined the yahoo discussion group for Chiefland Astronomy Village. There is a 5 acre lot that one of the members is selling for $49K. I am letting several people know, kicking around the idea of a group of people around here buying it together. I would not go down there more than 2-3 times a year, so I would not want to buy the whole thing. If you think it is an interesting idea, you might want to let the AAS members know. I have heard from 2 other people who might be interested.
Bill Prados
2809 Paden Way
Birmingham, AL 35226

New Scope & Imaging

I’ve been working at improving my imaging ability at AVI's and BMP images of Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Moon with my LX200 12" Classic since purchasing a Phillips ToUCam Pro 740 back in July. Its so easy to use my SBIG 237a ccd camera stays in the box. Learning all about processing images with a number free processing programs and Photoshop 7.0.Planetary imaging has become my main interest. Will post some images in the member profile section of AAS soon.

Just received my new scope--Celestron 1400 CGE with XLT coating-- and anxious to apply it to some planetary and lunar imaging soon as weather clears.
Good Seeing,
Charles E. Floyd

A House Call For A Hubble House Call
Sky & Telescope's Weekly News Bulletin - March 5, 2004

The battle over the fate of the Hubble Space Telescope flared up again this week. On Wednesday seven US congressmen led by Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) introduced a resolution into the House of Representatives calling for the appointment of an independent panel of experts to reconsider NASA's decision to stop servicing the orbiting observatory. The statement also asks NASA to continue plans and preparations for the next Hubble servicing mission while the panel's study is ongoing....

Many readers of SKY & TELESCOPE have asked us how amateur astronomers can help save Hubble, and the answer is the same as it is for professionals:  Write to your representative in the House. The following will get you started....

Hope to see everyone at the meeting,