Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
October, 2005

In this Issue

October Events Upcoming Events
AAS 25-year Anniversary Discount Magazine Subscriptions
Dues Increase Beginning 2006 Please Welcome…
Mars 2005 AAS 25-year Anniversary Review
Regional Star Parties Space News
Member News AAS Member Discounts
Cool Links AAS at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium


October Events

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, October 7, at 8:00PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building.  If available parking space is still an issue, Rhon suggests trying the on-street parking on Wright St., the first street (north) off of W. Magnolia.  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.   Alan Cook wrote:

I have been contacted by a reporter from the Opelika-Auburn Daily News, our local newspaper.  After answering  his questions he asked if it would be okay to send a photographer to our next meeting. 

Our dark-sky star party this month will be on Saturday, October 29, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course.  Mars will be at its peak.

Upcoming Events 

October 7, October meeting
October 29, Star Party at Cliff Hill’s farm
October 30, 2005, Mars closest to Earth 
November 4, November meeting
November 7, Mars will be at opposition 
November 26, (Thanksgiving weekend) Star Party at Cliff Hill’s farm
December 2, December Meeting
December 3, Star Party at Cliff Hill’s farm

Discount Magazine Renewal/Subscriptions

Time to sign up for club subscriptions for Sky & Telescope and/or Astronomy magazines. AAS treasurer, John Zachry, would like to get all of them in this month.  John writes:

The cut off date will be Wednesday, November 9, 2005 when I will send them in.  I will mail in club subscriptions for members anytime after that date but as a favor to me if you want a discount subscription I wish you would tell me early even if you have not given me a check. 

Club subscription to Sky & Telescope is $32.95 (members save $10.00 off of $ 42.95 regular price). 
Club subscription to ASTRONOMY magazine is $34.95 (members save $ 8.00 off of $42.95 regular price).

If you cannot be at our next meeting to pay for their subscription(s) please send John an e-mail (and pay later) or letter (with check) telling him 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”.


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

Dues Increase

Message to the Membership

We've just celebrated our 25th year as the Auburn Astronomical Society.  I think everyone who attended the anniversary event will agree that it was something special, as have been the past 25 years.  When the AAS began in September 1980 our dues for full membership were $15 per year.  As we begin the next 25 years, the full membership dues are still $15 per year.  However, old man inflation is breathing down our necks and it's getting harder to keep our treasury balance on the plus side.  The only way to keep going is to increase our membership dues.  Thus, beginning with the 2006 dues year, membership dues will be:

full membership:        $20 per year
student membership: $10 per year

Remember, membership hath its privileges ... membership in the Astronomical League, discounts on Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines, access to the club's two loaner telescopes, and association with some of the nicest folks around (all of you).


Rhonald Jenkins, President AAS

Please Welcome…

Charlie King
My name is Charlie King and I got your e-mail address form the AAS website.  I'm a resident of Montgomery and I am interested in attending the upcoming star party scheduled for Sat. Oct. 1st. and maybe a meeting of the AAS, just to see what it's all about. I'm very much an amateur but have had some past experience in astronomy.  Are non-members allowed to attend AAS star parties ? I currently own a 200mm Newtonian on a driven equatorial mount, and a small Meade go-to scope.

Thanks for seeking us out.  You are certainly welcome to come to the star party and the meeting on October 7.   We'd like to have a part in rekindling your interest in astronomy.  I'll add you to our e-mail list so you can keep up with what's going on in our group.

Syd Spain

I somehow missed your earlier correspondence about AAS.  I've just added you to the AAS mail list.  You'll be receiving the e-newsletter as well as other special announcements about our activities. 

We're glad to have you with us.

Thanks for your kindness in doing this.  I sent my membership check to John today.
Syd Spain, Ph.D., AICP

Aaron Wilson

I’m fairly new to the area, and would like to join the club.  Barring any circumstances, I’ll be at the next monthly meeting in Oct, and will mail in my membership dues per the website this next week.

As for using the Russell amphitheatre or Cliff Hill Farm site… area these sites limited for use specifically during the planned star parties, or can members use these sites at other times of the week/month?  I live in east Montgomery, and was thinking about heading out to Cliff Hill Farm this evening to check out the site, and maybe snap a couple CCD images of M45 and M42 as they come up in the morning sky.  I know this is kinda short notice for tonight, and appreciate your feedback whenever you get a chance to respond.

I look forward to participating in the club!

Aaron Wilson

Mars 2005

The link above gives a nice timeline of events for the 2005 opposition of Mars.  Here is a brief comparison of this years and the once-in-a-lifetime event we had a couple of years ago.

Mars 2005 2003
Opposition 11/7/2005 8/28/2003
Closest 10/31/2005 8/27/2003
Magnitude  -2.3 -2.9
Diameter 20.19 arc" 25.11 arc"
Declination +15 deg. -6d 42'
Dist in Miles 43,000,000 34,646,418

Mars appears to make a loopty-loop in the sky as it goes through opposition.  Ptolemy employed epicycles to explain this phenomenon.  Then along came Copernicus, rearranged the solar system,  and gave us a simpler reason for this bizarre behavior on the part of Mars.  An animation of Mars’ retrograde makes this obvious:

Which side is visible?  Scroll down to near the end of this link to launch the Java Script:

CLICK HERE to download Mars Previewer II (3.0MB).

Is there any interest in doing a public event for this?  We can talk about it at the meeting.

AAS 25 Year Anniversary Review
Images at  25 Year Anniversary

Our 25-year anniversary banquet was held on Saturday, September 10, 2005, and served as our September meeting.  Rick Evans, director of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, in Montgomery, graciously allowed us to use the facilities for the banquet and the presentation that followed.  This date fell within two calendar days of the actual first AAS meeting, 25 years ago.  Our special guests, Keith Hudson, founder of the Auburn Astronomical Society, his wife Carolyn, and daughter, Mandy, were there from Florence AL. 

Society members began arriving just after 5:00 to meet and mingle .  We all enjoyed seeing each other and getting to know the families of our members. 

Rick and staffer, Jennifer Dobbs, outdid themselves decorating the planetarium for us.  The tables and chairs were already arranged for the banquet -- each table with its own window view. Stars and planets adorned the tablecloths, and the scrolling banner sign made note of our special day. 

Following welcoming remarks from AAS president, Rhon Jenkins, we began eating at 6:00PM.  Demitri Polizos and his staff from the Capitol Grill in Montgomery, catered the event and served as we processed down the buffet line  that included:  grilled chicken,  roast beef, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, and a broccoli / cauliflower mix; rolls; bread pudding for dessert; and tea .  Rick had made coffee available as well.  The following members attended the banquet: Joe and Kathy Albree; Glynn and Mary Alexander;  William and Janet Baugh, and daughter, Olivia; Alan and Susie Cook; Jeff Graves; Mike Holley; Keith and Carolyn Hudson, and daughter, Mandy; Rhon and Joyce Jenkins;  David King Eddie and  Liz Kirkland; Ray and Ann Kunert; Chuck and  Bette Lewis; Jim and  Kayla McLaughlin, and son, Sam; Patrick and Susan Moylan; Allen and Christi Screws; Gail and Marvin Smitherman; Russell and Cathy Whigham; and John Zachry. 
With appetites satisfied, we adjourned to the auditorium. Larry Owsley and Audrey Carr from Auburn, joined us for the program at 7:00PM. 

With house lights dimmed and stars projected overhead, Rhon presented Keith with a AAS shirt as a token of our appreciation for his vision and  leadership in the early days of the society.  In his acceptance remarks, Keith thanked us for carrying on the tradition that he had envisioned. 

At this point, Rick asked Rhon to remain up front as he presented to Rhon, in the society's behalf, a proclamation from Governor Bob Riley, designating September 10, 2005, "Auburn Astronomical Society Day".  It was at Rick's urging that the proclamation was issued.  Thanks to Rick for doing this.  What nice  surprise and a thoughtful gesture. 

Next, yet another surprise from Rick.  On the dome was projected a 15-20 minute Power Point presentation set to appropriately astronomical music, with images of the society's past, including many of our members and friends, in sync with the music, . 

Following a heart felt round of applause for Rick's tribute, Rhon introduced our speaker, Dr. David T. King Jr., who gave a an excellent presentation on the Wetumpka meteor crater.

David began with an overview of the conditions at the site at the time of the impact.  The shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico covered the area 80-83 million years ago.  He described the composition and angle of entry of the carbonaceous condrite asteroid, comparing the size of the asteroid to that of Jordan-Hare stadium, in Auburn, and the awesome devastation to the entire region that ensued.  He then went on to describe the rebound and crater wall formations.  Conclusive proof was collected in 1999 when shocked quartz was found in the core samples of an exploratory well. 

David's presentation was interesting and informative employing attention grabbing graphics and presented in primarily lay terms for the benefit of most of us there.  His talk made liberal use of analogies and every-day comparisons to help us cope with the otherwise incomprehensible  statistics.  At the conclusion of his presentation, David entertained questions from our group. 

Special thanks to David for working us into his busy schedule.  He left early Sunday morning to attend a geological conference in Tennessee. 

Special thanks as well, to Rick Evans who had a long day -- traveling to Talladega for another commitment and returning in time to host our event. 

And, to our officers:  president, Rhon Jenkins at the helm; vice president, Allen Screws; and treasurer, John Zachry, who have kept us going for most of the past 25 years, our grateful thanks for jobs too often taken for granted. 

And finally, and most importantly, our eternal thanks to Keith Hudson without whom, none of this would have ever happened.

Regional Star Parties

DSRSG 2005
October 28-29 

Event organizer, Barry Simon, has had better years.  He evacuated his home in New Orleans as hurricane Katrina approached.  He was staying at his sister’s beach house in Galveston until hurricane Rita came knocking.  He just retruned home last week to access damage, but he’s determined to make DSRSG 2005 happen.  In a major break in tradition, the location of this year’s DSRSG had been moved from it’s erstwhile permanent home at Percy Quin State Park, near McComb MS, to a darker location, Camp Ruth Lee in Louisiana -- about another hour farther away from us.   It’s just as well, since Percy Quin was commandeered to be used as housing by storm restoration crews. 

Due to the extreme circumstances, the DSRSG 2005 has been shortened from 4 nights to 2 nights.  That means that general registrants cannot arrive until Friday morning, 10/28.  You can download the registration form from the Yahoo! Groups Deep South Regional Star Gaze files section.  

Peach State Star Gaze 2005
November 2-6

See the link on the PSSG Registration Information Page

Chiefland Star Party
10/30 – 11/05$Registration.html 

Space News
John Zachry

Oct.   4  Expedition 12 crew docks with ISS
Oct.   5 NASA-TV  Science Update 12:00 p.m. CDT
Oct.   8 GOES-N launch
Oct. 11 Second China Man-in-Space launch (Two man crew?)
Oct. 11 Expedition 11 crew from ISS returns to Earth
Oct. 19 NASA-TV  Hubble Space Telescope Moon Observations 12:00 p.m. CDT 
Oct. 26 New launch date for NASA Cloudsat/Calipso Time?
Oct. 26 ESA Venus Express launch

NASA held a news conference on Monday, Sept. 19 at 11:00 a.m. on NASA TV about future plans to return to the Moon.  Bad time to advocate new $ 100 billion program.  NASA says they want to return to the Moon by 2018.  We’ll have a copy of  news conference to view at the meeting. 

China plans to launch their next men in space October 11, 2005.   This certainly will help NASA's Lunar Landing Program.  ESA will launch Venus Express October 26, 2005 - expect to arrive March 28, 2006 and be operational April 2, 2006.

Haven't heard anything about expected global dust storms on Mars - usually occur one to two months after perihelion. 

If you can get the Science Channel you will be able to see a new updated version of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" series That began on Tuesday, September  27 at 8:00 p.m. CDT . 

Member News
From Scott Thompson:

Thought you would like to see one of my better shots with the 20D. I have been working on getting my tracking down on the repaired scope lately and it has paid off. You can tell the IR is well blocked with the pre-filter but I really like the blue response I got although not totally natural. Enjoy... 

The shot was ISO400 20 minutes with a 20 minute noise reduction. Some things work well and others do not. For example. I tried a veil nebula and a cocoon nebula at 30 minutes and barely got it. The noise was ok but the nebula was very faint. I guess the 20Da would be much better at this or a modified Canon 350XT ... I may get a used one and modify it. Provided it was really cheap! 

Some other shots are out on the Walker Ferry Observatory site under “Images” and “Messier Objects”. 


Scott is referring to his image of M-27, the “Dumbbell” nebula.  I’m pretty sure that this is THE best image ever made by anyone in AAS.  Other members, Ray Kunert and Chuck Lewis are venturing into astro-imaging.  New friend, Aaron Wilson also has expierence in this area.  Perhaps we can get them to give us a program on imaging.

AAS Member Discounts

AAS members are entitled to Oceanside Photo and Telescope discounts that run from 2% -10%, depending on the item.  Refer to the Auburn Astronomical Society and  discount number 70003 when ordering. 

Cool Links

Here is a link to a astronomy web site the features monthly constellations and telescopic objects:  Click on “Play Movie” for a tour. 

I found this on Sky Clock.  It shows a huge dark sky region west of Greenville.  From this link, click on the  “Image Overlay” link (small font just above the map). Be sure you have “Boundries” and “Roads” selected in Goggle Earth.

I don’t ordinarily put commercial links here, but  here are two that may be of interest:

Starry Night Lights is a night sky friendly lighting retailer.  You might want to get one of these for your neighbor.  We might want to get one for Cliff Hill’s neighbor. 

Imagetech-Ontario’s primary business is to enlarge and print astronomical images and photographs.

Taking it to the Next Level 
at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium

I had a call from Rick Evans, director of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery.  Rick is ready to take our cooperative ventures to the next level.  He suggested that in addition to our annual Astronomy Day and special events such as the Mars Gaze, that we have monthly “How To”  programs at the planetarium aimed at budding amateur astronomers.  Rick proposed that we begin with a November program entitled, “Choosing a Telescope” just in time for Santa’s helpers to get their orders in for the holidays.   This would be followed by “Using Your Telescope” in January, and a program in following months on:  binoculars, eyepieces, star charts, solar system observing, deep sky observing, and practical observing techniques.

This is something we can discuss at the meeting.  It will require a commitment from members willing to volunteer their time to this.  We have enough experienced people to make this work without making it a burden on a handful. 

Hope to see everyone at the meeting,