Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
March, 2005

In this Issue

March Events AAS Members 
Occultation of Antares Messier Marathon
Upcoming Events  Astronomy Day 2005
2005 Georgia Sky View - On Again Good Links 
Member News  

March Events

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, March 4, 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 the better of the two nights of Friday/Saturday, March 11/12, at Cliff Hill’s farm. You may want to consider doing the Messier Marathon (see below). 

AAS Members

Here is our current membership list.  If you don’t see your name and you thought you’d paid your dues for 2005, contact AAS treasurer, John Zachry.  If sending your check has just slipped your mind, see the prorated dues table and John’s address on the AAS Application Web page.

Mr. (Joe) Anson B. Albree
Mr. Alan Cook 
Ms. Elizabeth Copelin
Mr. Charles E. Floyd, Jr. 
Mr. Jefferson E. Graves
Mr. James (Mike) Holley
Dr. Rhonald Jenkins, President 
Mr. Joe Eddie Kirkland
Mr. Everett Leonard
Mr. Charles (Chuck) Lewis 
Dr. James T. McLaughlin 
Mr. Japhet Nylen & Family
Mr. Robert Rock 
Mr. Allen Screws, Vice President
Marvin & Gail Smitherman
Carl G. & Joyce S. Vella
Mr. Robert L. West
Mr. Russell Whigham, Webmaster
Mr. John B. Zachry, ALCor /Tr.
Occultation of Antares
(From Sky & Telescope’s Weekly News Bulletin for February 25)
The Moon will [pass in front of] Antares, a red super giant.  Mark your celestial calendar for March 2, 2005, with a reminder to set your alarm clock for early Thursday morning, March 3rd. For nearly all of the North American continent, the last-quarter Moon will be hanging in plain view in the southeast or south when it covers and uncovers Antares....

An occultation of a star by the Moon is one of the more dynamic things that you can see in the night sky.  Because the star is a point source, and the Moon has no atmosphere, there is no fading of the star’s light as is the case with the occultation of a planet. Rather, an abrupt switch from “on” to “off” then “on” again as the Moon moves along its eastward path around the Earth in front of the star.  For this particular event, the star will disappear behind the sunlit limb and reappear on the dark side in twilight. The two terms astronomers use to describe these events are the homophones/antonyms immersion (disappear) and  emersion (reappear).  Since the time of the event varies according to your location on Earth, some really smart people used this phenomenon to make rather precise measurements of the peaks and valleys on the Moon’s limb even after lunar space missions were common place.

For you early risers, the time (in Montgomery) for the occultation locally will be about 04:46 AM.  It reappears on the dark limb in twilight at 06:13 AM.  The difference for Auburn-Opelika, will only amount to a minute or so.

In case of clouds (or if you just can’t get out of bed at that hour) the event will be rescheduled for August 25, 2023.

Messier Marathon

The Saguero Astronomy Club has an ordered check-off list in pdf format that includes RA/DEC, Constellation, Type, Magnitude, Size and Uranometria chart numbers

The Messier Marathon presents an opportunity to view the entire Messier  List in one night. Each Spring, the period around the Spring Equinox on March 21  allows observers to view all 110 of the Messier objects in one observing session. 

In 2005, the new moon weekends fall on March 12-13 and April 9-10, allowing for a full night of observing. During other weekends in March, the appearance of  the moon during part of the night will hinder observers from viewing the whole  list.

The American Association of Amateur Astronomers has provided Maps and Recording Sheets for your use while working on the Messier Marathon, based on  the Messier Marathon Observer’s Guide by Don Machholz

Download the PDF file:

Upcoming Events

March 4, AAS Meeting 
March 11/12, AAS Star Party/Messier Marathon 
April 1, AAS Meeting (No Foolin') 
April 6-9, 2005, Mid-South Star Gaze
April 8/9, AAS Star Party, Cliff hill's farm
April 16, Astronomy Day, W.A. Gayle Planetarium 
May 6-May 8, 2005, Georgia Sky View, Indian Springs GA 
May 6, AAS Meeting 
May 14th, Combined AAS star party / Forest Preserve Star Gaze 

Astronomy Day 
W. A. Gayle Planetarium, Saturday, April 16, 2005

Correspondence with "Rick Evans" <rlevans(AT)> 

Hello Rick,
At 12:12 PM 2/22/2005, you wrote:

I need to start getting the ball rolling for Astronomy Day this year. We
already talked about the Auburn Astronomical Society supporting the event
again this year, so I thought I would send you a reminder for next month's
I have been working on a presentation to do that evening prior to it getting
dark.  My thought was to do a Power Point show, and call it Astronomy 101.
The idea being to show people that astronomy is not one of those super
technical fields, nor is it just for folks who wear pocket protectors. It is
a great family hobby, with a basic understanding of some of the terms
associated with it. I was thinking it may last about an hour.

Sounds great, but you do know that some amateurs wear really geeky looking LED ties, don't you. ;-)

I would also like to do a telescope clinic again this year. I have so many
people ask me questions about buying a scope, or some tell me how they have
one at home but found it to be to technical to understand, so they never use it.
Since we've been doing this, it's been the most rewarding aspect of the event for me.  Count on us to do the clinic again.
Somehow, I would also like to incorporate this year the Solar Scopes.  I
know your group has the PST, and I have the SolarMax 40. I think it would be
a wonderful opportunity to put those two to use. The only problem is, late
in the afternoon, the Sun is in the trees and you don't have as a good view.
We would have to find a work around with that, so I am open to suggestions.
Official sunset for April 16th is 19:16 CDT.

Don't you have a control on your console that can stop Earth's rotation? ;-)  If that doesn't work outside the planetarium, the only thing I can think of would be to begin solar viewing at 3:00PM or so.

This is a tentative agenda, pending feedback from you on the things I talked
about above:

5:00 Solar Viewing (Outside)

6:00  Telescope Clinic (Outside at a variety of telescopes)

7:00 Astronomy 101 Presentation, combined with a tour of the night sky.  (Auditorium)

8:00 Telescopic viewing (Outside)

As I said, this is a rough agenda, not locked in by no means.  I would appreciate any input you might wish to add.

This looks good to me, but we'll let you know if anyone comes up with anything else.  Do you have on outline of topics for the Astronomy 101?

I will need to get a list of volunteers that will be bringing out their scopes, so as the names filter in, please pass them along.

I'll start nagging the usual suspects in the March newsletter, and continue to hound them until we get the typical 12-15 scopes.  I'll forward the names as the come in.
As usual, thanks Russell.....

Rick Evans, Director
W.A. Gayle Planetarium

Thank YOU for being the driving force and creative half of our team.


So, let us hear from you if you think you can help.  The first quarter Moon, Jupiter and Saturn will in the sky for the visitors to view.  For those of you who don’t own a telescope, we’ll need a member or two to handle our PST solar scope, a couple of folks to be at the AAS information table, and some telescope medics.  Our celestial targets will be high in the sky so, we’ll be able to use both the area in front the planetarium, and the opening adjacent to the sidewalk leading to the planetarium – plenty of room for all.

2005 Georgia Sky View – On Again

Although The 2005 Georgia Sky View hosted by Flint River Astronomy Club  had emailed and said the party was off we have since found out from Indian Springs [State Park] that they cancelled the renovations and are available May 6-May 8, 2005.  We know this is short notice but if we can get enough people that are willing to attend we are ready to put on a star party.  If you are willing and able to attend on these dates please respond to this email and let me know.  The rates will be $30.00 per person plus the $2.00 parking fee and kids under 10 are $10.00. 

Also, I hate to rush everyone but I need to know kind of soon so we can get the reservation.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Dawn Knight

Good Links

2005 Calendar Sale from Sky & Telescope 

Everything you always wanted to know about deep-sky filters and which objects are most improved with each.
Orion Telescopes is having a sale on their “Ultra Block” (comparable to Lumicon’s UHC filter) at half the price:

Need a planisphere?  Try these free PDF downloads at: 

Member News

From: Everett Leonard 

…  I bought an Orion XT10 Intelliscope Dobsonian before Christmas, and have only been able to try it out once, and my time was limited then.   Guess I needed to stay home to study, anyway.  This year, I started working on a Master's degree in Space Studies through the University of North Dakota's distance learning program course is "Survey of Space Studies", and we have our first test this weekend, which I plan to take tomorrow.

Way to go, Everett!  We hope you’ll practice your new knowledge on us.

From: John Zachry 
Subject: MARSIS deployment - Green light for deployment of ESA's Mars Express radar: 

 February 8, 2005. The European Space Agency has given the green light for the MARSIS radar on board its Mars Express spacecraft to be deployed during the first week of May. Assuming that this operation is successful, the radar will finally start the search for subsurface water reservoirs and studies of the Martian ionosphere.

The ESA board recommended planning the deployment for the week beginning 2 May. However, should the remaining preparations proceed faster than planned, it might be feasible to start deployment during the week beginning 25 April. An early deployment is scientifically desirable, as the evolution of the Mars Express orbit will allow radar measurements of the most interesting scientific regions on Mars to start in May 2005.

If, as expected, the deployment is successful, MARSIS will probe the secrets of Mars’s subsurface at least until 30 November 2005, the nominal end date of Mars Express operations, and beyond if the mission is further extended.

Hope to see everyone at the meeting and star party,