Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
November, 2007

In this Issue

November Events Upcoming Events
Magazine Subscriptions Comet Holmes
Conecuh National Forest Regional Star Parties
Cool Links  

November Events

 This month’s meeting will be on Friday, November 2, at 8:00PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building.  This will be another “ball game” weekend, so parking may be a problem.   We’re not sure if the parking lot behind the Aerospace building will be open or not.  Plan “B” might be down Wright Street off West Magnolia. 

Our dark-sky star party this month, will be on Saturday, November 10, at Cliff Hill’s farm, or Conecuh National Forest Dark Sky Observing Site (see below), clouds permitting of course. 

Upcoming Events

November 2, November meeting
November 10, November star party Cliff Hill’s farm / Conecuh National Forest Dark Sky Observing Site
November 6-11, Deep South Regional Stargaze
December 7, December meeting
December 8, December star party Cliff Hill’s farm / Conecuh National Forest Dark Sky Observing Site
December 18, Mars closest to Earth for 2007

Magazine Subscriptions

AAS discount subscriptions/renewals to Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazine are due in  November.  We need 5 subsctiptions to qualify for each magazine.  Sky & Telescope discount rate is $ 32.95 (Regular $ 42.95), and  Astronomy magazine is $34.00 for AAS members (Regular $ 42.95).  Subscriptions for to both will be $66.95.

Make checks payable to Auburn Astronomical Society. Only members of Auburn Astronomical Society are entitled to club subscription rates. If you are unable to attend our October meeting, mail checks to: 

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

Comet 17P/Holmes

Just in case you haven’t heard, we have a surprise visitor in Perseus -- a naked-eye comet!  Right now, it's the second brightest "star" in the constellation and looks like just a fairly bright star to the unaided eye.   With binoculars however, viewers will see a slightly yellowish halo (coma) around the comet's nucleus. Ordinarily the comet is invisible even with most amateur telescopes.  This outburst is caused by heat from the sun melting the frozen outer layers of the comet.  The yellowish color of the coma is reflected light of the sun. Since it is currently near opposition the tail is almost directly behind the comet making it far more compact then the usual comets.  Unlike meteors, there is little movement relative to the stars, making it easy to track.  At around 8:00PM the comet will be in the northeast sky.  Facing north, Perseus is just to the lower right of Cassiopeia.

Article and finder chart:

Photo at: 

<> (Scroll down to the Comet Holmes article)

You can see the relative positions in JPL's neat 3D viewer at:

    Conecuh National Forest Star Party Report

    On October 13, John Tatarchuk, Tom McGowan, Dale Roberts, Raul San Miguel, your editor from AAS, and Taras Wertelecke fro the Mobile club, met at the dark-sky site that John found.  A full description of the site, as well as maps and directions, are linked below.  Here’s our report:

    Hello Raul,
    At 09:24 AM 10/15/2007, you wrote:

      I just wanted to take a moment to thank you and the AAS for inviting me out to Conecuh 
      National Forest this weekend. I learned more in one night than I had in the 5 months since I 
      purchased my telescope.

      Because of you guys, I was able to show my wife the Ring Nebula M57 in Lyra, last night from my back yard. Even though the light pollution around here is horrible.

      I definitely walked away from this star party with more than I came with and I appreciate you all taking the time and effort to help me learn more about this fascinating hobby/obsession. 

      Please pass this along to John, Taras and Tom. 

      About the site, I think John said it best in his article...  "People really need to experience this site, it's truly amazing. "

      I look forward to the next time.

      Thank you,

      Raul San Miguel

    Thanks for your note.  I agree that this is THE best place.  I'm glad you were able to pick up some tips.  I learned as well.  Special thanks to John for noticing the geo-synchronous satellites.  These were the first for me.   I never would have guessed that they'd be so bright.  While trying to learn more about them last night, I saw that Taras had already reported our sighting on the "Cloudy Nights" message board.  I learned that one reason we don't see these more often is because they're usually in Earth's shadow.  Other firsts for me Saturday night were "black clouds" and "Venus light pollution". 

     Looking forward to more dark sky time,


Here are some links on geosats:


The geosats weren’t the only highlights of the evening.  We saw scores of sporadic meteors both visually and telescopically.   No light domes could be seen anywhere around the horizon.  The Horsehead was fun in John’s 18-inch and nebulosity around Merope was obvious. Just before dawn, John pointed out some dark clouds forming in from the Gulf.  Normally we see the reflected terrestrial lights illuminating these clouds, but when there is no light, the clouds just make dark patches in the sky!  You can find maps and directions at the Conecuh National Forest Dark Site Web page.

From: John Tatarchuk 

    Tom Polakis just linked  the best image of the Gegenshein and Zodiacal Band I have ever seen on cloudynights!  Check it out: .  This is exactly how it looks to me in the skies of the CNF... just a lot fainter.  This image was actually taken Oct. 11.
Eddie Kirkland wrote:
    How was the CNF mini star party?  I need a report. 
You missed a good one.  John said he could see a light bubble from Andalusia through the trees, but I couldn't.  There's a slight brightening down on the southern horizon from Eglin AFB, but not a real light bubble.  I'm pretty sure I saw M33 naked eye, but it wasn't easy (for me).  I had made a list of Low Surface Brightness objects to test -- Helix, M33, M74, some IC's and the like.  This was the 2nd time I seen spiral structure in M74, and the OII regions in M33 were easy in the C11.  It was the first time I'd seen the "Running Man".  The Horsehead still eludes me with my C11.

John noticed geo-synchronous satellites in Cetus around midnight.  These were the first for me.   I never would have guessed that they'd be so bright (+3 mag.).  I later learned that one reason we don't see these more often is because they're usually in Earth's shadow.  Other firsts for me Saturday night were "black clouds" (no light reflected from below) just before dawn and "Venus light pollution". 

I found a somewhat less convoluted way to get there than the directions John gave.  Leave I-65 at exit 77.  Head east toward Brewton on ALA 41.  When you cross the RR tracks in Brewton you’re also on US 29N.  Stay on US 29N (toward Andalusia) from Brewton, turn right on the first dirt road past mile marker 25, and go 3.2 miles to the clearing on the left.  If you already have the clearing place marked in Google Earth, just turn right from the clearing and arc up to US 29.  Maps and directions are on the Conecuh National Forest Dark Site Web page.


    Fall Regional Star Parties

    25th Annual Deep South Regional Stargaze Camp Ruth Lee – November 6th through November 11th, 2007.
    So far, Eddie Kirkland will be our sole representative. 

Cool Links
The Von Braun Astronomical Society has a new look with lots of information

"A History of Star Catalogs
Might make good reading for a cloudy night, or a long exposure. Or maybe you've been curious about why Sirius is listed as HR2491, HD48915, SAO 151881, BD-16 1591, HIP 32349, TYC 5949-2777-1, and ADS 5423. The paper explains why each of these star catalogs was undertaken, and what equipment was used.

Ann Arbor to Replace Lights With LEDs

Meade Instruments Woes
<> (Scroll down to the Meade article)
<> or

I ran across this AP article on the Georgia Astronomy Village that I thought was kind of interesting. 

Everett Leonard

Hope you have a good meeting and star party,