Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
May, 2008

In this Issue

Events Calendar Maxwell AFB Star Gaze
Astronomy Day Light Pollution Legislation
Welcome Web Links

Events Calendar

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, May 2, 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 regular dark-sky star party will be on the following Saturday, May 3, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course.  

May 2,  meeting in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building
May 3, dark-sky star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
May 10, Astronomy Day at W.A. Gayle Planetarium
May 21, Excellent ISS Passage
May 23, Excellent ISS Passage
May 31, dark-sky star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
June 6, meeting in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building


Maxwell AFB Star Gaze

Mellisa Mullin, reading teacher for Maxwell AFB Elementary School, was our host for an event that coincided with their School Book Fair called “Reading Under the Stars”, on April 18.  Mellisa wrote to ask if we would be interested in setting up some of our telescopes.  The students brought books, sleeping bags, flashlights, tents, etc. and set up in the dark to read under the stars.  They also had fire pits for roasting marshmallows and smores.   

We had planned to view the Moon and Saturn with the telescopes, but an overcast sky allowed only a few brief glimpses of the Moon.  Frank and Russell tried to wait it out, but a light rain put an early end to the star gaze.  Thanks to Mellisa for inviting us.  We'll try again another day when the skies are better.  Images are on our Web page.  From the main AAS menu, select "Field Trips"/"Educational Outreach"/"Maxwell AFB", or go directly there at:  <>

Astronomy Day 2008

We will celebrate Astronomy Day 2008 with the public on Saturday, May 10, at the W.A. Gayle Planetarium  in Oak Park in Montgomery.  Planetarium director, Rick Evans, is working with us again to bring astronomy to the people for the eleventh consecutive year.  

We’ll follow an agenda similar to past years.  We will begin at mid-afternoon with solar viewing for early arrivals.  Later we’ll hold the telescope clinic, followed by programs in the auditorium, and wind up with telescopic viewing at about 8:00 pm.  Aside from the volunteers who bring their personal scopes, we will need someone to assist the visitors with the AAS 8-inch Dobsonian, We’ll also need volunteers to help at the AAS information table, and with satellite observing.  

This is traditionally our best attended event of the year.  We extend a special invitation to those of you who live too far away to attend most of our events, to come and spend the afternoon and evening with us.  So far, only two people have volunteered.  Please let me know if you think you can help, and what telescope(s) you’ll be bringing.  If you feel reluctant to bring your small telescope, remember that most of the visitors will be more likely to consider one like yours for one of their own.  Planetarium director, Rick Evans, needs a list of names for the name tags and a head count for refreshments.

Ray Kunert has volunteered to man the AAS PST solar scope during the afternoon and AAS’s 12.5-inch Dobsonian after dark, when it will make its debut in its reconfigured design. 

The day’s agenda will be like those of recent years:

3:00PM:  AAS members and friends begin setting up telescopes.  Early bird visitors will be able to view the five-day-old Moon, and the Sun in the light of hydrogen-alpha with the AAS PST solar scope, and members filtered white-light images.

5:00PM: Telescope Clinic will be open for guests to bring their sick, disassembled, or otherwise malfunctioning telescopes for repair or instruction.  

6:00 PM: Presentations in the auditorium and door-prize drawings. 

7:00 PM: Rick will present  a "Tour of the Night Sky" in the planetarium, giving an overview of what the guests will see when they see when they step outside.  

07:33PM:  Sunset

8:00 PM:  The guests come out to view binary stars, the planet Saturn, its rings and moons, and the mountains and craters of the five-day-old Moon.   

For those who have never attended one of our Astronomy Day events, you can get a feel for what goes on by going to the Field Trips link from the AAS menu, then to W.A. Gayle Planetarium Events.  

If you are considering the purchase of a telescope, this is a good place to look and ask questions.  
 If you have a telescope or accessories for sale, this will be the best place in town for your yard sale.

If you have some old telescope catalogs or magazines, the visitors are happy to have them.

Be sure to bring a step stool or step ladder if you anticipate the little ones having trouble getting to your eyepiece.

It's OK to ease your vehicle up the sidewalk to unload your gear.  It would be nice to then move your vehicle out on the park road until the event is over.

If you need AC power, Rick has a heavy duty extension cord feed, but you should bring your own cords to plug into that.  It’s a good idea to have a tarp to put over the extension cords to prevent visitors from tripping in the dark.

You'll probably want to bring a lawn chair, and don't forget your green laser -- always a hit with the guests.

Remember to wear your AAS Shirt if you have one.  Its time for another group photo.

Many visitors will ask "What power is your telescope?".  If you can't do it in your head, it's a good idea to print out a list of your eyepieces and their magnifications.  

Light Pollution Legislation
Jim McLaughlin

I've furnished my brother [Representative Jeff McLaughlin – 27th District (Marshall Co.)]
with a copy of the city/county ordinances for Flagstaff, Arizona from the IDSA website and he is turning it over to the Legislative Reference Service which is the office that actually writes up bills in legalese for legislators. Something will go "in the hopper", as they say, i.e. an anti-light pollution bill will be floated before this session ends but can be virtually guaranteed to come to naught this time and likely for several sessions before getting a serious hearing, if ever. But it will be a start and input as to the specifics of regulations would be welcome as well as alerting other astronomy clubs around the state to get them working on their representatives to co-sponsor a dark-skies bill. My brother and I have had a running joke about him tying his political future to the fate of a dark-skies bill ever since he was elected in 2000 but he is sincere and serious about trying to get something started on this. We'll see what happens.
Thanks!  Let us know when the bill gets a number, so we can alert the other amateurs in the state to push for this.


Renee Moore and her 9-year old son have a Celestron 5” and want to learn more about astronomy.    

Judy Sukol is currently a member of the Huachuca Astronomy Club, in Sierra Vista, Arizona. She’ll be moving to the Montgomery area in May and is looking for a new astronomical home.  Judy has a 8-inch Celestron SCT .   We look forward to seeing you both at our meetings and star parties.

Web Links

The U.N. Plan for UFO Disclosure and the International Year of Astronomy.”  This might actually help create interest in astronomy next year: 

Google Earth (4.3.7191.6508 beta) upgrade (includes optional Day/Night overlay):

and, Google Sky now has interactive audio files from SkyScout (under Layers/Education Center/Celestron).

Astronomy videos on You Tube:
The April 2008 Issue of AstroPhoto Insight Magazine (Volume 4, Issue 2) is now available.

Hoping to see everyone soon,