Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
August, 2007

In this Issue

August Events Upcoming Events
Regional Star Parties Space News
AAS Shirts 12.5-inch Loaner Progress
Cool Links Muggle Puzzle

August Events

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, August 3, at 8:00PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building.  The parking lot behind the AE building has reopened.  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 11, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course. 

Upcoming Events

August 3, August meeting
August 11, August star party/Perseid meteor shower at Cliff Hill’s farm
August 28, Total Lunar Eclipse
September 7, September meeting
September 8, September star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
October 5, October meeting
October 13, October star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
October 7-14, Peach State Star Gaze
November 6-11, Deep South Regional Stargaze

Fall Regional Star Parties

The Atlanta Astronomy Club presents the 14th Peach State Star Gaze, a week long event from October 7 through October 14.   The PSSG will be held for the first time at the Deerlick Astronomy Village
Registration form and other downloads.

25th Annual Deep South Regional Stargaze Camp Ruth Lee – November 6th through November 11th, 2007

Space News
John Zachry

If the sky is clear, those of us living in the Montgomery - Auburn - West Point area will have an excellent opportunity to see the 509,098 pound International Space Station with its crew of three pass almost directly over our area on Wednesday, August 1 between 9:08 p.m. - 9:12 p.m. CDT (10:08 p.m. - 10:12 p.m. EDT)  and again on Friday, August 3 between 8:19 p.m. - 8:24 p.m. CDT (9:19 and 9:25 p.m. EDT [sic]). Both times the I.S.S. can be seen in the night sky traveling from the Southwest to Northeast approximately 207 miles above the Earth at a speed in excess of 17,000 mph.  The I.S.S. will have the appearance of a very bright fast moving star easily seen without binoculars or a telescope. 

John B. Zachry, 
Auburn Astronomical Society 

“The International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility currently being assembled in space. The station is in a low Earth orbit and can be seen from earth with the naked eye: its altitude varies from 319.6 km to 346.9 km above the surface of the Earth (approximately 199 miles to 215 miles). It travels at an average speed of 27,744 km (17,240 miles) per hour, completing 15.7 orbits per day.”

July 27, 2007
International Space Station “RealTime Data”
“Weight (LBS)     : 509098.1”

Other Space News:
Mars Phoenix Lander launch date Friday, August 3 at 4:35 a.m. CDT (5:35 a.m. EDT).

Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS - 118) launch date Tuesday, August 7 at 6:02 p.m. CDT (7:02 p.m. EDT).
Carries S5 Truss segment.

--- John Zachry

AAS Shirts

Shane Bledsoe, Don & Kim Cluck, Mike Holley, Ray Kunert, Trey Lee, Erika Lefever, Jeff Logue, John Tatarchuk, and Frank Ward’s requests for new AAS shirts  have been sent to Scott Thompson.  Scott is checking to see if the same (or similar) style is still available, and what the cost will be.  We’ll let you know as information becomes available.

12.5-inch Loaner Scope Progress Report

We’ve made significant progress since the report in last month’s Astrofiles.  At this writing, Tom McGowan has completed his work on the OTA and rocker box.   Ray Kunert has volunteered to pick up the finished scope from Tom when we can find a mutually convenient time --  perhaps this weekend if not before.

The Telrad that we ordered from OPT has come in and is ready to be mounted. 

We had two offers of eyepiece donations from members -- exact size and focal length to be determined later.  We also need a small accessory case for the eyepieces and the Telrad.

We have a check ($200.00) to cover the cost of materials used in Tom's construction of the rocker box and OTA cage.  Tom has donated his considerable time and know-how.  Thanks, Tom!

I'll need to have the scope to see what size the lettering for the "peel-n-stick" lettering of “Auburn Astronomical Society” and "" from the printer. 

I also just bought two shower caps to use as dust covers until we can come up with a more aesthetically pleasing alternative.  They used to be all over the astro mags, but are hard to find now.  Below is what I was able to Google.  Let me know if you can find a better deal, or if we should avoid any of these vendors:

Telescope Dust Caps

#1  (This looks like a shower cap to me.) 
Soft water resistant nylon cap with sewn-in elastic band that makes a tight seal to keep out dirt and moisture. A must for all telescopes .   The caps listed below are for the dobs outer diameter and are not the mirror size. If you are not sure please measure your o.d. and contact us by email before ordering.
12.5"Scope Cap $13.00 add $4 for Shipping 
16"Scope Cap $16.00 add $6 for Shipping

#2  (This looks like what I had in mind, but the dimensions are not given.) 

Meade Dust Cap f/12.5" Starfinder 
Shutan Code: 595-2866 
Price: $37.00 
Shipping Weight: 1.00 pounds 

#3  (The description looks like the one above, but no image is shown.) 

Meade Vinyl Dust Cover for 12.5" Equatorial and Dobsonian Starfinders
Mfr# 07486 B&H# MEDCSFD12.5 B&H Photo&Video: $32.00 
In Stock: $32.00 
Cool Links

Apparent Disk of Solar System Objects

Fun with the Moon and M31

While looking out the window at the moon I was curious how it's size compared to M31.  I took a stab using TheSky to gauge distance and thus to scale some full moon images I took earlier.  I estimated the edges of M31 by using a more stretched version of this image.  It really is amazing to me how big this galaxy really is.

Closeout pricing on Meade CCD Camera
From: "Astronomics" <>
> Date: 2007/07/18 Wed PM 06:15:59 EDT

Meade is closing out their DSI and DSI Pro Monochome cameras at fantastic prices. The Meade DSI is priced at $99, a saving of $200. The DSI Pro is priced at $129 a saving of $270. We have a large shipment in route, so don’t worry if the product shows as backorder, and the sale lasts until Meade is out of inventory. We have no idea how long until that actually occurs, so you better act fast if you want one. Thank you for your time and happy imaging. 

Clear Skies,
Mike / Astronomics

New information on the status of Meade
From: "Syd Spain" <>

Muggle Puzzle

See if you can solve this poser from a cousin, Ed Sproles, who lives in NJ and shares our interest in astronomy:

Ed:  … yesterday I was listening to NPR and there was discussion of Harry Potter books with the 'accuracy editor' of the publisher.  Someone called up and commented that there was an error when Harry's astronomy class was said to be observing Venus at midnight.  So, here is a puzzle for your astronomy club, would it be possible for Harry to observe Venus at midnight?  It stumped the editor being interviewed, I think that she is an English major. My first impression was the caller was right, however we don't know the latitude of the observer do we?
I think you're right -- unless Hogwarts is near (or north of) the Arctic Circle.  Venus' orbital inclination is 3.4 degrees and has a maximum angular separation from the Sun of about 47 degrees. 

The northern most islands of Scotland are just below 60 degrees latitude, but I don’t think trains go there.  Edinburgh is at latitude 55.57N. 
The Arctic Circle (latitude 66 degrees, 32 minutes North), so perhaps it could be.  Were the young wizards observing Daylight Savings Time? 

Ed:  Here is sunrise and sunset for July 1 of this year in Glasgow, Scotland.  looks like with the benefit of daylite saving time, one could possibly see Venus at midnight in the summer.

By the way, I remember hearing that at some time and place there was double daylite saving time, where the clock was advanced 2 hours.  That would also help the argument.  Sunrise: 4:33am, Sunset: 10:05pm 

Here's another bit of information from my son-in-law, Eric Cheek:

Where is Hogwarts?   A number of facts from the books point to Scotland, a bit north of Edinburgh, and possibly closer to Aberdeen. The primary routes to Scotland from London depart from King's Cross. You cannot go more than five hours from London on a steam train in a consistent direction, and stay on dry land, without going into Scotland. At Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday Party, JKR described some of the rotten food as haggis, which is a traditional Scottish dish. A member looked up latitude, longitude and sunset times on Sept 1st and on June 6th, 1993, the days of major events in PoA, and this information suggests Scotland for the likely locale as well. 

Ed:  Thanks for the figures on Venus.  It would seem, in the simplest analysis, Venus could set almost 3 hrs after sunset, if it were at maximum angular separation from the sun.  (3 hrs would be 45 degrees)  That assumes that Venus follows the ecliptic, which you point out isn't quite right.

When I lived in Ohio, it didn't get good and dark for July 4 fireworks until 10 pm.  Columbus is near the western edge of the time zone, another factor that could help explain the observation.  It would seem that they could see Venus at midnight some ways below the Arctic circle, probably at 60 degree latitude..

However, do wizards go to summer school?  I read the first book and I had the impression that they followed a pretty conventional school year.  That would seem to blow the idea that it could all work out for the author???


So, what do you think?

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,