Astrofiles
Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
January, 2005

In this Issue

January Events Membership Dues
Member News Free Software 
Comet 2004 Q2 Machholz  Green Laser Pointer Controversy
Meade Debuts Their Latest  

  

January Events

This monthís meeting will be on Friday, January 7, 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.  I canít make it this month, but youíre welcome to use my driveway as a meeting place.  Plan to be ready to leave for Auburn at 7:00PM.

Our star party this month will be the following night, Saturday, January 8, at Cliff Hillís farm.  

Membership Dues Reminder

AAS Memberships expired at the end of the calendar year.  If you havenít already renewed, youíll need to send $15.00 for Regular Membership or $7.50 for Full-Time Students, to: 

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

Make checks payable to Auburn Astronomical Society.  You can save the postage and bring your dues to the meeting.  For questions about your dues or membership status, contact John at  jbzachry@mindspring.com .  

Members of the Auburn Astronomical Society who have already paid for 2005 are: 

1.) Mr. (Joe) Anson B. Albree
2.) Mr. Jefferson E. Graves
3.) Mr. Mike Holley
4.) Mr. Joe Eddie Kirkland
5.) Mr. Everett Leonard
6.) Mr. Charles Lewis
7.) Mr. Japhet Nylen & Family
8.) Mr. Robert Rock
9.) Mr. Robert L. West
10.) Mr. Russell Whigham, Webmaster
11.) Mr. John B. Zachry, ALCor /Tr.

Member News

 
Just a note from Marvin and Gail Smitherman in Selma to let you know we have moved into our new house at the Ocmulgee Golf Course. There are still a lot of boxes in the garage!!! Where did we keep it all.   It is reaaaly dark out here but the trees are closer  to the house than at my old house.  The front faces east and the back west.  It was opposite at my old house, but maybe this way I can roll out the big scope from the garage.  Anyway have a great and safe holiday.   

Gail Smitherman

Free Software

There is a new version of the Virtual Moon Atlas. This free software just gets better.  http://astrosurf.com/avl/UK_index.html

While you're checking out the free astronomy software out there, don't miss this free space flight simulator:  http://www.shatters.net/celestia
 

Comet 2004 Q2 Machholz  

Hereís a link to Comet 2004 Q2 Machholz  that includes a finder chart, isophotes, movie, image and supporting data:  http://home.att.net/~dpersyk/new.htm

Green Laser Pointer Controversy

Perhaps youíve already seen this on the news.  A New Jersey man was arrested and had his green laser pointer confiscated by the FBI for pointing the beam at an aircraft.   The less than 5mw lasers used by amateur astronomers for pointing out constellations and celestial objects, are unlikely to do any serious damage to pilots, but could certainly startle them.  Keep this in mind if youíre tempted to see how far your beam will go while under the night skies.    I suspect thereís a stronger element of hysteria than science surrounding this event, but itís something to think about.  Check out the related stories at:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/01/04/laserbeam.aircraft.ap/index.html 
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/03/nyregion/03laser.html - FBI Asks NJ man about Laser
http://www.gazette.com/display.php?id=1305236 - FBI Shines Light on Lasers use, dangers

Meade Debuts Their Latest

Just when you thought you had all of the toys the hobby had to offer, Meade announced this week their latest product.  The RCX400 is a Ritchey-Chrétien telescope and is aimed at the well-heeled amateur astrophotographer.

From The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight:

A variation on the Cassegrain telescope in which the primary mirror is a hyperboloid - slightly more strongly figured than the Cassegrainian paraboloid. It is named after its co-inventors, the American astronomer George Ritchey (1864-1945) and the French optician Henri Chrétien (1879-1956). Because Ritchey-Chrétiens are corrected for coma as well as for spherical aberration, they can give relatively sharp images across a wider field of view than do Cassegrains. Good optical performance combined with a short tube length have made this the design of choice for many of the world's largest reflectors, including the Very Large Telescope and the twin 10-m telescopes at the Keck Observatory.

More at:  
http://www.meade.com/rcx400/
http://www.optcorp.com/meade/optrcxexclusive.aspx
 

Hoping to be back with you next month,

Russell