Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
August, 2006

In this Issue

August Events Upcoming Events
People News Cool Links
Loaner Scopes 12.5-inch  Scope Progress Report

August Events

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, August 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 dark-sky star party this month will be on Saturday, August 19, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course. 

Upcoming Events

  • August 4, August meeting
  • August 13, Perseid meteor shower (2 days before 3rd quarter Moon)
  • August 19, star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
  • September 8, September meeting. Rhon talks about “The Latest Findings in Cosmology”
  • September 23,  star party at Cliff Hill’s farm;  Autumnal equinox
  • October 6, October meeting
  • October 18-22, Deep South Regional Star Gaze
  • October 21, October star party at Cliff Hill’s farm

People News

Shane Bledsoe writes:

 I just bought a new scope (used. new to me) I had to tell someone who can understand my excitement It is a Meade LX 200 8" and does not have UHTC but is a lot better than what I had. So I will be bugging you about astro photography because I want to take pictures. Think I got a good deal came with a hand held GPS all the attachments for a camera, power inverter, filters,5 eyepieces, 2X Barlow. Picked it up today. So it will rain for a month.
Well actually Shane, we appreciate the rain.  It’s the haze and evening clouds that we’re having a problem with.  ;-)  A few of you old-timers may remember Dr. Park McGhee, who was the original owner of Shane’s new scope.  Shane has also recruited his friend, Trey Lee to AAS.

From: Shelli Allen

Help Needed with new scope with Star Align!!

Well, I took my telescope outside for it's "maiden voyage" Saturday night.  I set it up outside before it got dark, and lined the star-pointer up with the scope per the least I THINK I did!  When it got dark enough, I lined up the 3 brightest objects in the of them being the Moon.....and when I brought up the names of the objects I had lined to....none of the names said "Moon"!!!  One was Deneb, and I can't remember the other two!!   Then, when I tried to get the scope to GOTO the slewed to the opposite area of the sky from where the moon actually was!!!!   I probably did something wrong in the process of lining the star-pointer with the 'scope..... or in the Star Align process??! 

I am not disillusioned with astronomy, because I know that it is probably "operator error"!!  I just don't know what to do to get it right!  I thought that I did everything according to the directions, so I would probably keep making the same mistakes  Maybe I am looking through the star pointer wrong?  Or I didn't line it up correctly?  Or maybe I don't have my location (although it does offer Montgomery, Al in the City menu....and I did select that!) or time right??  I'm just not sure where I went wrong!!

I will be pet sitting in Deer Creek starting Saturday and will be there for about a hopefully I can get it set up right!!  If not, I guess I'll just be doing a lot of "Moon gazing"!  LOL
Any help or advice you are willing to offer would be appreciated!

Thank you,
Shelli....the VERY novice astronomer!!

From: Elizabeth Copelin

In May I graduated from Auburn, and I am now working at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX.  I have joined up with the Fort Worth Astronomical Society.  So far, I'm really liking it here in Texas although it is really, really hot!  So, I won't be back to least not for a while.  I will miss it there & wish everyone the best!  I would like to remain on the email list if that is ok...please change my address to echokilocharlie[at]hotmail[dot]com. 

Susan Mallett

Many of our Montgomery area folks know Susan Mallett, principal of the Head Elementary School, where we have given star gazes in the past.  We read in the Montgomery Advertiser, that Susan was retiring as principal at Head, to  accept a position with the Civil Air Patrol.  I wrote:

If I'd known you were going to leave, I would have worked harder to make your request for a star gaze happen last spring.  Please let us know if you ever would like to do the same at your new position.

Best wishes on your new endeavor,


Susan replied:

I suppose you read the newspaper today!  So, as you can see, it was a surprise to us all.  This position at the CAP was just created this summer, so everything happened in a couple of week's time!!!!  Yes, I do hope we will stay in touch.  If you EVER need me to help out with anything, I do not think I will be in such a stressful and tiring job so I could help out!!!!  Anyway, you have been such a dear person and I truly cherish our "fun times under the stars."  I hope to see you soon!!!!!!!  My new e-mail address by next week will be smallett[at]cap[dot]gov.  Take care, and thanks for the e-mail of best wishes and all of your time through the years!!! 

From: Aaron Wilson

Hi Russell,

Glad to hear AAS members were able to enjoy the STS/ISS viewing…. The pass has raised quite an interest among the subdivision kids and families (nearly 50 households out of 70 were out watching it Thursday night:  you could hear exclamations of “WOW!” and “COOL!” across the neighborhood! 

Muggy skies here in Raleigh have prevented much of any decent viewing… basically I’ve only been able to watch the “dance of the two spots on Jupiter”.

Take care!
Aaron Wilson 

From:  Rod Havens

I hope all is well for you?  My blueberry crop is pitiful this year due to lack of rain in May, June, and July so far. That's one of the risks of farming.   Anyway, I wanted you to know that Direcway changed their name to Hughes, so my e-mail address has changed to bbhavens[at]hughes[dot]net.  Thank you for sending me the wonderful newsletters.

From: Lisa Spencer

I hope to see y'all again in September.  Hope you are having a good summer. 

I wrote to check on a few of our folks whom we haven’t seen in awhile to see if they were just busy.  Here are some replies:

From: Glynn Alexander

You know how life can get in the way of doing things you like?

Well, life has slapped me in the face, like a wet mop, over the last three months.  My time has been at such a premium that I haven't attended the astronomy meetings (as you are aware), The Dixie Mustang Club meetings, The Montgomery Magic Club meetings, nor a lecture, by an awarding winning close-up card and coin magician, that I helped set-up and promote. Gee, I've only been able to go fishing once in the past four months.  Yikes !!!  This has got to stop... at my age, I'm supposed to be enjoying life with minimum 
responsibilities, right?

Anyway,  I hope I can make the August meeting.

Thanks for the e-mail,


From: Joe Albree 

You are really good to check up on us backsliders.  Let me tell you my story.  Friday nights are the usual "family nights" for my wife's family --- not every Friday night, but many, and so far, every Friday that the AAS has met for the past year or more.  I read your Astrofiles regularly every month and the other occasional notes, and one of these days, I look forward to showing up at a meeting or at Cliff Hill's Farm, or somewhere else where you least expect to see me.  I really regret missing Astronomy Day at the planetarium, but again, I just happened to have a family conflict that Saturday --- let's hope for next year.
Please say hi to everyone for me.

Joe Albree 
Department of Mathematics 
Auburn University at Montgomery 

From: Chuck Lewis

Thanks for asking. It's no wonder you may have thought something had happened to me. Sorry I've been absent for so long. One reason is that my telescope keeps getting heavier every day! I hope to make a star party soon, but I think  I'll come sans scope and see what the other people are watching. Will also try to make the next meeting. I still have your photography books which I'll return soon.  Chuck 

We’re glad these are just  scheduling problems.  We're looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Cool Links

Larry Owsley sent wonderful images of the relative sizes of the planets and some extremes in star sizes.

Greg Nowell of the called our attention to this comprehensive online  deep-sky database site:

Also from the sct-user group on the subject of optics cleaning:

From: P T Chambers, on the sct-user group.  Here is a SCT "cooler" you can build.

Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.  It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go. 18.8 MB.  Windows, Mac, and Linux.

No doubt you have received several e-mail forwards, announcing the extremely close apparition of Mars in August.  Most of the message is correct except for the somewhat misleading comparison to Mars appearing as large as the full Moon and that no year is mentioned.  This happened in August 2003!  I guess because of the time of year.  In fact, we've been getting these every year since it really happened.  The August 2003 event was good, but not even close to being as good as the images in the pictures suggest.  Mars was 25 arc-seconds that evening.  As a reference, Jupiter is typically about 40 arc-seconds.  Here we were at the planetarium that night:

Here is Sky&Tel's disclaimer of the belatedly bogus e-mail: 

and another disclaimer at:

Here's another hoax that's been going around: 

Loaner Scopes


Loaner scope steward, Rhon Jenkins, reports that the PST solar scope8-inch "loaner" telescopeDon Cluck will be returning the 8-inch Dob for to use for the month of July.  Let Rhon know if you (members only) would like have your name added to the list to borrow either of these telescopes. 

12.5-inch Telescope Progress Report

On Saturday, July 8, Ray Kunert, John Burns and Russell Whigham, drove to the home of Jim and Betty Chesnutt in Auburn to pick up the society’s 12.5-inch f/7 Cave Astrola telescope.   Jim has kept the non-optical parts of the telescope under his house since we had to give up our Moore’s Meadow Observatory in 1986. 

Jim Chesnutt with his homemade Dob, "Big Blue"

We arrived at Jim’s house at about 10:00 AM.  I hadn’t seen Jim in almost twenty years, but our bond was reestablished immediately.   After an all too short reunion, and recalling some good times, Jim brought out the 12.5-inch mirror that’s been safely stored under his bed all these years.  Jim stored the 50mm finder, and the 60mm guidescope so well, that he couldn’t find them on our visit.  We’ll pick those up later when Jim finds them.  

Jim then led us out through his backyard to the opening to the crawl space.  Twenty years of life artifacts had accumulated since the big scope was stored.  Ray went in first, pushing aside some things – pushing others out from under the house.  After about twenty feet of crawling and duck-walking, Ray hit pay dirt.  

We gently moved the slumbering giant out first, followed by some very heavy mount and pier parts, along with a 6-inch reflector that someone had donated all those years ago, that I had completely forgotten about.  The tube assembly just fit diagonally in the back of Ray’s minivan.  The pier, mount, and the pedestal for the 6-inch went into the trailer Ray was towing.  When we were all loaded up, Jim took us back to his telescope room to see his homemade folded 4-inch f/15 refractor, the 8-inch Meade LX3 SCT and his Astroscan.  We also saw Jim’s photograph of Comet Halley, in the spring of 1985 and a photo of the May 30, 1984 annular eclipse that we enjoyed so much the cool spring day in front of the Lake Hill Restaurant, in Alex City.  Jim explained that his wedding photography business had most of his weekends booked, keeping him away from our meetings and star parties.

We thanked Jim for keeping the scope for all these years as we moved the scope to its next home, where it will get a through cleaning and evaluation for possible reuse as a loaner.

Ray reports:

I have been working on the big scope first. I have an inventory list up though early. The big scope is in much better shape than the little one. I started with the mount and have it apart now. I have removed the rust from the axis shafts. The bearings appear to be in great shape. I have lapped the bearing surfaces as well as I can by hand. I need a suggestion on lubrication for the bearings. I will need to clean them first as the grease has become very thick and sticky. I think that the major problem will be the A/C motors. I would like to replace them with a D/C system of some type.

The mirror appears to be in great shape. I am not sure that we need to do anything at all to it.

The small scope will need the mirror cleaned at least. Haven't gotten into it much yet.
I will have a short report at the club meeting. 


Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,