Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
In this Issue
This month’s meeting will be on Friday, April 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.
Saturday, April 15, Astronomy Day at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium. Commitments so far include:
Our dark-sky star party this month will be on Saturday, April 29, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course.
April 7, April meeting
Rick Evans called the other night. He had hosted a private birthday party for one of Montgomery's philanthropic and civic-minded citizens at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium. The guest of honor was Richard Blondheim. Rick said that Mr. Blondheim expressed interest in having a multi-million dollar facility for Montgomery -- perhaps located on the grounds of the Shakespeare Festival, that would be home to a state-of-the-art planetarium and/or observatory. Rick has asked that we do a star gaze for the Blondheim's and their friends at their home, the first week in May. I have committed us (Montgomery area members) for that. It could be a really nice thing for Montgomery. Please let Russell know if you'll be able to help with this.
Astronomy Day 2006 will be held in conjunction with the Vision for Space Exploration Experience exhibit at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium on Saturday night, April 15th. We will have the telescopes out in the yard during the day for people to talk to your folks, and then we would still have an evening event in the planetarium followed by a night event outside.
3:00 PM - Solar viewing
5:00 PM - Telescope Clinic
6:00 PM - Guest Speaker To be announced
6:45 PM -- Remarks from Auburn Astronomical Society President (Dr. Rhon Jenkins)
7:00 PM - "Tour of the Night Sky"
8:00 PM - Telescopic celestial viewing
Dr. Ben Wouters
AAS: Are you a seasoned amateur astronomer or just getting into the hobby?
BW: I was the newsletter editor for the
Barnard-Seyfert club in Nashville for several years, but have been "out"
of astronomy for
AAS: What was your first experience that attracted you to astronomy?
BW: I was raised in Huntsville. Most of my friends' parents worked for NASA.
AAS. Tell us a little about your family members; spouse? kids? siblings? significant other?
BW: Married to Lisa, an E.R. nurse. Three daughters (too many boyfriends).
AAS: Can you tell us a little about your formal education?
BW: M.D. from Vanderbilt, Ph.D. from Vanderbilt, on nerve regeneration.
AAS: Do you have any pets? What kind? How Many?
BW: Two dogs -- a toy poodle (my wife's) and a Shiba Inu (mine -- a Japanese dog).
AAS: Where do you work? If you're retired, what was your occupation? If you're still in school, have you chosen a career?
BW: I'm a neurologist in Montgomery.
AAS: Besides astronomy, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
BW: Computers (Apple), R.C. airplanes, and history.
AAS: What was your first or favorite car?
BW: Honda Prelude
AAS: What was your first or most interesting job?
AAS: Tell us about your favorite vacation.
BW: I spent a month in Germany in high school. Good beer.
AAS: Have you ever lived in some other part of the U.S. or another country? Where? When?
BW: No, just the south.
From Scott Thompson:
Latest M42... Stacked 9 images to obtain a nice
nebula region and a viewable trapezium.
From Aaron Wilson:
Observing report for Conecuh National Forest, AL
Patrick Moylan and Aaron Wilson visited the Conecuh National Forest on Friday, 24 Mar 06. We have to agree with John Tatarchuk and Tom McGowan... this is one DARK site, especially for the Southeast.
We left from Maxwell AFB around 4pm and arrived around 6pm just as the sun was setting. We drove to a couple campgrounds and lake areas but found only tall pine tress. With twilight upon us, we selected an idle cotton field near a white water tower across from the entrance to the Conecuh NF Open Pond RV and Campground. We hurriedly set-up in the waning dusk, finishing in time to enjoy the incredible view of zodiacal light stretching up nearly 60 degrees from the western horizon. It was around 35 degree Fahrenheit with no wind and clear, steady, transparent skies. A light dome to the south rose only 5 degrees above the horizon (from Clearview/Ft Walton Beach); otherwise the Milky Way was visible horizon to horizon and a seeing magnitude of 6.5 or better. We ran 25-30 Messier and NGC objects including M1 Crab Nebula, M41 cluster in Canis Major, and of course M42/43. M3 and M13 resolved nicely in both the 5" and 8" SCTs, as did M104's distinctive dust lane. Surprisingly, we only observed 4-5 very faint meteors for the entire evening. We finally set-up our tents and sleeping bags around 1am to catch some sleep before driving back. Aaron checked the sky around 4:15am and could easily discern several Messier objects in the Milky Way through Sagittarius and Scorpio to include M7, M8, and M22 clusters; this despite the nearby moon at 30 percent illumination. We packed up the tents and policed the site for any trash and/or accessories, finally departing by 7am. Definitely a great observing area and much darker than Cliff Hill's Farm; make sure you have a plan for parking, camping, and all-night observing if you make the 2-3hr drive to this gem in Southern Alabama.
Patrick is also looking into the somewhat closer
Roland Cooper State Park (west of Montgomery) for a future exploratory
AAS Star Party Report for Cliff Hill’s Farm
Ray Kunert and Aaron Wilson braved
the cold evening for a nice evening of observing at Cliff Hill’s farm.
Loaner scope steward, Rhon Jenkins, reports that the PST solar scope will be available following Astronomy Day.
Astronomical League dues are due in June for July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2007 fiscal year. Dues are $5.00 per A.A.S. member plus club fee of $ 10.00. Currently we have 31 members so that would be $155.00 plus $10.00 = $165.00. Last year's A.L. dues were $170.00. Currently in bank $ 584.05. With $ 165.00 earmarked for AL, we currently have $419.05 in assets.
Dawn Knight, who hosts the FRAC-GSV Yahoo! Group, encourages all who are planning to attend to send in their registration as soon as possible. GSV is held at Camp McIntosh on the grounds of Indian Springs State Park near Jackson GA on April 20 – 23. See Georgia Sky View for details and your application.
Meade Online Tutorial Videos
Where is M13?
Google Mars: http://www.google.com/mars/
AstroPhoto Insight http://www.skyinsight.com/r/?a=apv2i1yg
The March 2006 issue of AstroPhoto Insight is now available. In this issue you'll find articles on:
April 06, 2006 - Pluto/New Horizons spacecraft
(launched Jan. 19, 2006) crosses orbit of Mars
March 31, 2006 - NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Begins Adjusting Orbit
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter yesterday began a crucial six-month campaign to gradually shrink its orbit into the best geometry for the mission's science work. ... The orbiter has been flying about 426 kilometers (265 miles) above Mars' surface at the nearest point of each loop since March 10, then swinging more than 43,000 kilometers (27,000 miles) away before heading in again. ... On Thursday, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter fired its intermediate thrusters for 58 seconds at the far point of the orbit. That maneuver lowered its altitude to 333 kilometers (207 miles) when the spacecraft next passed the near point of its orbit, at 6:46 a.m. Pacific time today (9:46 a.m. Eastern Time). "We're not low enough to touch Mars' atmosphere yet, but we'll get to that point next week," said Dr. Daniel Kubitschek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., deputy leader for the aerobraking phase of the mission. The phase includes about 550 dips into the atmosphere, each carefully planned for the desired amount of braking. At first, the dips will be more than 30 hours apart. By August, there will be four per day.
Converted Central Europe Summer Time to EDT and
CDT and modified chart below:
Venus Express Orbital Insertion Timeline - April 11, 2006
Expedition 12 Crew from International Space Station deorbit burn April 8, 2006 at 5:55 p.m. CDT. Landing 6:46 p.m. CDT.
From Atlanta Jornal-Constitution - Sunday, April
The NASA Science Missions Cut
The Auburn Astronomical Society was invited to host a star gaze for eighty-five fifth graders from St. James Elementary School, in Montgomery, during their annual Science Camp at Camp ASCCA on Lake Martin. Josh Rhodes, Camp ASCCA's Director of Environmental Education, had written to express his desire to incorporate astronomy into their program, and asked that we lend our expertise on Thursday evening, April 30, 2006.
Perhaps because of the distance or this was a mid-week event, only Russell, who had the week off, was able to represent AAS. Fortunately, Russell was able to press his wife, Cathy, and daughter, Suzanne, who was visiting from out of town for the week, into service.
When we arrived, Josh took us on a tour of the camp and offered several sites for setting up the telescopes. He then invited us to join them in the dining hall for supper.
Josh divided the group of students and parents into two groups -- half viewing a video in the Oscar Dunn Environmental Center, while the others reported to the ball field for the astronomy program. As soon as it was dark, the first group were able to track a satellite across the sky and see a very young (one-day-old) Moon. We then described the different optical and mechanical configurations for the telescopes on display.
The students then learned how to identify the Big Dipper, locate the North Star, and recognize the bright spring constellations, and find Saturn. The students then queued up for the eyepiece experience. First they viewed Saturn and its brighter moons, and later the Orion Nebula. Although this was her first time with the telescope, Suzanne located both of the above with the 8-inch, so the students could compare views. As a fourth grade teacher, this was a busman's holiday for her, but she really helped in assisting the campers. Cathy also instructed the first time observers as to eye placement and prompted them to seek out detail in the eyepiece. Special thanks to both of the conscripts.
Orion was "in the trees" by the time the second group arrived, so we substituted the open star cluster, M-35.
Students, teachers, parents, and camp staff all
seemed to enjoy the evening and expressed their appreciation.
Hope to see everyone at the meeting,