Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
November, 2004

In this Issue

November Events Mary Olive Thomas Track Star Gaze
Magazine Renewal Time Coronado H-a Solar Telescope(s)
Regional Star Parties  

November Events

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, November 5, 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.  Bring your lunar eclipse photos and impressions to share.  Perhaps we’ll have some news and images from Cassini’s encounter with Titan.

Our star party this month will be the following weekend, Friday/Saturday, November 12/13, at  Cliff Hill’s farm.  We’ve had good success at scheduling our star parties on either/or Friday / Saturday evenings.  Keep an eye on the weather and pick the best night.  All things being equal, Saturday seems to be the day of choice for most. 

Then on Friday, November 19, …

Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest Star Gaze

At our August meeting, Rhon read and invitation from Margaret Holler, with  the Forest Ecology Preserve in Auburn, for us to host a star gaze for her group, at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest area run by Auburn University.

Rhon writes:

The Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest is on Moores Mill Road .  I can honestly say that it's probably the nicest site (from the standpoint of amenities) that we've ever used for an event like this... including the planetarium in Montgomery.  The site is about 1/3 mile off the road (Moores Mill) on a very accessible dirt/grass road.  It contains a nice open area (about 3 to 4 acres) for viewing, with good visibility to the east and south, acceptable viewing to the west, and Auburn city lights to the north :-).  There is a covered pavilion area (I'd guess about 40 ft by 60 ft) and restrooms for the guys and gals.  The field was mowed, but will need to be mowed again (and marked) for the event.  AU will mow, Joyce and I will mark.  The pavilion has power and lights, and the lights are on switches.  There are a couple of floods on the pavilion exterior;  I think we can switch them off too... Margaret is going to check on that with AU.  I think that we can throw a circuit breaker as a last resort.  I couldn't get on the property at night, but I'm pretty sure there are no other extraneous lights. 
The road, and a residence near the road, are definitely well shielded by 
trees.  Oh, and there's a nice parking area for visitors too.

I suggested Friday November 19 as the best date, since new moon is on the 12th and full on the 26th. 


Rhon asks those who plan to come on the 19th to send him an e-mail and include what equipment you plan to bring, so he can get a nose (and telescope) count.   Details and directions will be coming in the days before the event. 

Magazine Renewal Time
John B. Zachry, AAS Treasurer

I must have the names of those who want club discount subscriptions to SKY & Telescope for $ 32.95 (Regular price $42.95) and/or ASTRONOMY magazine for $29.00 (Regular price also $ 42.95) before November 15, 2004. 

If you cannot be at our next meeting to pay for their subscription(s) please send me an e-mail (and pay later) or letter (with check) telling me you want to be included. We need at least 5 subscriptions to each to qualify for discounts. Checks must be made out to “Auburn Astronomical Society” - not to me.



Auburn Astronomical Society
c/o John B. Zachry 
501 Summerfield Road
West Point, GA 31833

Coronado H-a Solar Telescope(s)

If you were at the September meeting, you watched or helped assemble AAS’s newest toy, the Coronado PST telescope.  Mack Acheson was the first to have his name on the list of members to use the scope.  Mack took the PST to the W.A. Gayle Planetarium on the following Sunday show, and shared the views with the families who attended.  One of the people who were most impressed with the views, was Rick Evans, director of the planetarium.  Rick inquired about the components that we ordered.  I sent him the details but encouraged him to upgrade to the Coronado Maxscope 40 --  and, he did!  So, for Astronomy Day 2005, we’ll have two hydrogen-alpha scopes for our guests.  Thanks to Mack for sowing these seeds.  Mack has used his digital camera to make several fine images of the Sun, showing prominences, granulation, plages, filaments, flares, fibrils, faculae, spicules, and sunspots.   Mack is now experimenting with stacking his images to further enhance them. 

Here are a couple of good Web sites that describe and illustrate these features:

DSRSG 2004 Review
DSRSG Yahoo Group

DSRSG 2004 was held on October 13 - 17, 2004, at Percy Quin State Park, McComb, Mississippi.  Representing AAS this year were Ray Kunert, Eddie Kirkland, Robert Rock, Bill Prados, and Russell Whigham.  The drive down to McComb Wednesday began with cloudy skies and cleared somewhere the other side of Selma.  By nightfall however, the clouds returned, leaving frustrated observers trying in vain to locate objects in the “sucker holes”, only to have them clouded over by the time the best eyepiece had been selected.  By 11:00 PM we admitted that the clouds were winning and enjoyed the remainder of the night under the canopy, swapping stories, and relaxing from the six to seven hour long drive.  This was the only night of the four when clouds were a problem.  Thursday we endured misting rain associated with a cold front making its way through the deep south.  By 4:00PM, crisp shadows begin to emerge and by dark, crystalline skies and bracing temperatures make for excellent observing.  Long-time observing buddy, Rod Mollise, with the Mobile Astronomical Society, had compiled a list of about 50 planetary nebulae targets – many of which were quite challenging, designed to keep us from falling into the rut of seeking out only the easy-to-find top twenty-five best and easiest showpieces.  This also encouraged many to exchange looks through nearby telescopes for comparisons. 

The mild fall days were spent taking in the talks, checking out the hardware on the field, and strolling through the wares for sale at Rex McDaniel’s Astro-Stuff.  The Group Camp at Percy Quin State Park, has two observing fields.  They are just a few hundred yards away from the cabins, dining hall, and meeting room.  Prices are quite reasonable, and Barry Simon, and his band of assistants seem to have thought of everything to make the experience as pleasant as possible. 

If you’ve never attended DSRSG or a similar event, you should try to include it in next year’s calendar.  The dates for 2005 are October 26-30.

Chiefland Star Party – 2004

This year’s Fall Star Party at the Chiefland Astronomy Village in Chiefland, FL will be held November 7-14.  Anyone interested attending may visit the website at .  Eddie and Ray will be down there.  I’m sure they’d welcome some company.

Mid-South Star Gaze 

WHERE: Rainwater Observatory — The Observatory is one mile southeast of the Natchez Trace Parkway at French Camp. French Camp is about half-way between Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi, at Natchez Trace mile marker 181. (Travel Information)
WHEN: April 6-9, 2005
WHAT: Amateur Astronomical Conference and Star Party
The conference is designed for amateur astronomers and anyone interested in learning and enjoying Astronomy. We will be having a teacher workshop, lectures, and informal deep-sky observing.
COST: $20.00 for the conference. Housing and meals are extra.
SPONSORS: Cosponsors are the Rainwater Astronomical Association, the Jackson Astronomical Association, SLO of Memphis, and the Memphis Astronomical Society.
FACILITIES: The Observatory has a dozen telescopes on the hilltop site which includes a 32-inch, a picnic area, covered pavilion, a planetarium and lecture hall, an outdoor amphitheater, and astronomy exhibits. The Astronomy Materials Center has over 80 meteorite specimens. Restrooms are 100 yards from the observing area in the Planetarium. View through our scopes or bring your own. The more the merrier!

Georgia Sky View 2005

Dawn Knight, of the Flint River Astronomy Club writes:

We are in the planning stage of next year's event. We ran in to a problem with the site [Camp McIntosh, Indian Springs State Park] because they are remodeling and would not be available until August. We are looking at some temporary sites to hold this year’s GSV. If we are able to locate a site we are planning a three day event from May 5 through May 8, 2005. We have two sites that we are currently looking and we will know something hopefully by mid November. I will email you as soon as we get something lined up.

I'm sorry I don't have anything more definite


Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,