Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
January, 2006

In this Issue

January Events Upcoming Events
2006 Membership Dues Treasurer's Report
Member News Rhon’s “Last Stand” Observatory, Part 1

January Events

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, January 6, 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. 

Our dark-sky star party this month will be on Saturday, January 28, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course. 

Upcoming Events

January 4, Earth at perihelion
January 6, January meeting
January 28,  Star Party at Cliff Hill’s farm
February 3, February meeting
February 25, Star Party at Cliff Hill’s farm

2006 Membership Dues

AAS membership dues for 2005 expired at the end of December.  Annual dues for 2006 are  $20.00 for regular membership, and $10.00 for full-time students.  Advantages of membership in the Auburn Astronomical Society include: 

• Access to others who share your interest in astronomy.
• Access to a wide variety of telescopes.
• Access to experienced amateurs who are eager to share their skills and expertise.
• Discount subscription rates for Astronomy and Sky & Telescope  magazines.
• Access to a safe dark-sky location for observing.
• Access to the society's extensive video tape and DVD library.
• Access to the society's 8-inch "loaner" telescope  and Hydrogen-alpha solar scope.
• Because the Auburn Astronomical Society is affiliated with the Astronomical League , members are entitled to enjoy all of the benefits afforded to League members, including quarterly issues of The Reflector.
• Newsletters with news of upcoming events. E-mail reminders of scheduled events and special notices of late-breaking astro-news.

Make your check payable to Auburn Astronomical Society.  If you can’t attend the January meeting, send your check to:

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

Make sure John has your current mailing address so that you’ll continue to receive The Reflector.  If you have questions about your membership status, e-mail John at:

Treasure’s Report

As of January 4, 2006, our checking account balance is $239.05.

Member News

From: Gail Smitherman 
Just a shout out from Selma.!!  Hope you have a great Christmas.  I'm getting  a few telescope  items:  new lens (13mm) correct image diagonal and collimator for my  10" reflector.
Hope Santa brings you something!!!!! 

From:  Scott Thompson
Subject: Your Canon 10D Wins Photo Contest with Pictures
I entered some pictures in the Alabama Outdoors contest and won. All the pictures were taken with your camera!  
I won 4 times with 2 first place and 2 third place out of 900 submitted pictures. 
Thank you for entering the 2006 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest. We receive d more than 900 photos from 112 entrants. I'm pleased to let you know that one or more of you photos placed in the contest. 
The photos will be published in the February 2006 issue of Outdoor Alabama and will also be online at in the Photo Gallery after the magazine has been printed. One of the first place photos will be featured on the cover, but this will not be revealed until February. 
Please look over the listing for your photo(s) and make sure we have correct information as to the subject of your photo, where it was taken, your name and city and your type of camera. If any of this information is incorrect or missing, please let me know as soon as possible. 
Again, thank you for taking the time to enter the contest. Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions.

First Place
Pitcher Plants, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge 
Scott Thompson, Alexander City
Canon 10D 

Third Place
Stream, Near DeSoto State Park and Little River Canyon
Scott Thompson, Alexander City
Canon 10D
Nature-Based Recreation

First Place
Fishing in Early Morning, Lake Martin
Scott Thompson, Alexander City
Canon 10D
Third Place
Fall Fishing, Lake Martin
Scott Thompson, Alexander City
Canon 10D

[Editors Note:  Over the holidays, I spent a couple of hours looking at Scott’s amazing photography and art.  His winning images will not be online until next month.  While you’re waiting, have a look at Scott’s Website: .  After you drool, slack-jawed, at his astro-images, go over to his “Miscellaneous Photography” link, and see the beauty of planet Earth captured by Scott.  As you may have read in Scott’s message to me, his winning images, as well as most on his Web pages were taken with the Canon 10D that I bought from him last spring.  It turns out that you actually have to go out and take these pictures yourself and are not included with the camera. ;-)    Scott has set the bar awfully high for the rest of us.  Also, attached with your e-mail, see Scott’s Under the Stars columns for December and January, published in Lake Martin Living magazine.  RDW]

Rhon’s “Last Stand” Observatory: Part 1

 Back in May 2005, after I hurt my back at a star party here in Auburn, I decided it was time to part with the 18” StarMaster Dob.  I hated to do it, but the telescope found a good home with fellow AAS member William Baugh.  I was then left with the burning question of what to replace it with.  I decided on a new telescope being introduced by Celestron … an 11” CPC Schmidt-Cassegrain.  The CPC is the scope Celestron is introducing to replace the NexStar series, which is being phased out after Celestron lost a patent infringement lawsuit to Meade over the automatic alignment algorithm.  The casual reader might think that I’d simply traded one way to hurt myself with an even better way.  As time wore on it became clear to me that my back problem wasn’t going to go away quickly, so I needed a permanent place for the scope.  Even though the local skies here have deteriorated over the years, I still have a pretty good location, as our home is on a small lake with a very good view of the Eastern and Southern skies.
 About four years ago, I built a fairly substantial observing platform out in the lake, connected to a storage shed by a wooden walkway.  I stored the Dob in the shed and wheeled it out to the platform when I wanted to observe.  The platform is somewhat unique, in that it has a small central portion that is structurally independent of the rest of the platform; in this way the telescope is not affected, even with someone walking around.  I decided that this would make a good location  for an observatory.  I contacted Technical Innovations in Gaithersburg, MD, and ordered a 10 ft “Home-Dome”, a modular fiberglass dome-type observatory.
 The unit was delivered in early December.  The crate it came in weighed in at 1200 lbs, and can best be described as “the crate that ate the garage”.  By this time, my extensive therapy program had gotten me back up to a lift capability of 10 lbs, and my wife (and primary construction engineer) Joyce had just had shoulder surgery.  You can probably imagine the wonderful time we had (and are still having) with construction.  We are, however, making progress, and should have the walls completely up in a couple more days.  It’s a real challenge making the walls simultaneously circular, centered, and level.  I’m taking pictures as we go, and plan to show them at the February meeting, so be forewarned!!  The dome will be completely automated, and will follow the telescope as it slews.
 Speaking of the telescope, the 11” CPC has turned out to be vaporware.  The original shipping date slipped from August to October to November to January to … well, you get the point.  So  … four days before Christmas I canceled the order and ordered a 12” Meade LX200-GPS instead.  It arrived two days later.  It’s a beautiful scope, with a much more mature supporting accessories line, so everything turned out for the best.  Now if I could just lift the &^%^# thing out of the box!
 More to come in Part 2 in next month’s newsletter.

 Hope to see everyone at the meeting,