Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
June, 2008

In this Issue

Events Calendar Astronomy Day
Space News Welcome
Web Links Scope For Sale
Loaner Scopes Member News 

Events Calendar

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, June 6, 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 Saturday, June 28, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course. 

June 6,  meeting in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Building
June 9, Favorable ISS Passage
June 11, Favorable ISS Passage
June 20,  Summer Solstice
June 28, dark-sky star party at Cliff Hill’s farm

Astronomy Day 2008

 Astronomy Day fell later than usual this year.   It was Mother’s Day weekend.  It was also warmer.  But the biggest obstacle to another successful Astronomy Day was to be the clouds.

Because of the uncertainty of the weather, and the price of gasoline, out of town volunteers were excused from their commitments.  Astronomy Day has always been a “rain or shine” event.  So, dismal skies not withstanding, we celebrated Astronomy Day 2008 on Saturday, May 10, at the W.A. Gayle Planetarium  in Oak Park in Montgomery for the eleventh consecutive year.  Planetarium director, Rick Evans, worked with us again to bring astronomy to the people. 

Rick had appeared as a guest on the interview segment of the 12:00 news on WSFA , channel 12, on April, 21, to promote Astronomy Day.  He followed up on his excellent presentation, by having a promo aired on Alabama Public Radio's WTSU-89.9 (Troy and Montgomery) as well as sister stations,WRWA-88.7, and WTJB-91.7, following "Star Date", Mon - Fri 2:57PM; Sat 11:55AM (underwritten by the planetarium).   Ray Kunert and I had set up the 12.5-inch Dobsonian in the planetarium lobby in hopes of stimulating some interest with the planetarium visitors, prior to our event. We also had excellent promotion for the event by Rich Thomas, at WSFA, channel 12.  We were assured of having a good turn out, regardless of the sky conditions.

Ray was ready at 3:00PM for solar viewing, indulging those who insisted on looking at cloud bottoms in the light of H-alpha through the telescope.  By 4:00, we began to get a few breaks in the clouds – enough to have glimpses of the totally bland solar surface, completely devoid of sunspots or prominences, and very soft image of the cloud filtered five-day old Moon.

We brought the AAS’s 12.5-inch Dobsonian out of the planetarium lobby for its debut in its reconfigured design to allow time for the primary mirror to reach thermal equilibrium. 

At 6:00, Rick welcomed the visitors into the auditorium for the presentations and door-prize drawings.   In a very thoughtful gesture by Rick, all of the  mothers were given carnations. 

It was at this time that Rick  had pizzas and cold drinks delivered for the AAS volunteers. 

At 7:00, Rick gave  a "Tour of the Night Sky" in the planetarium, giving the guests a preview of what they would see when they see when they stepped outside. 

At sunset, right on cue, the clouds began to dissipate, the shadows grew crisper, the sky bluer, and by the time the  estimated crowd of over 100 visitors exited the auditorium at 8:00 they were treated to a cloud-free sky, for telescopic viewing of binary stars, the planet Saturn, its rings and moons, and the mountains and craters of the five-day-old Moon. 

Thanks to the following who volunteered their time and telescopes:

Ray Kunert; AAS PST solar scope  and AASs 12.5-inch Dobsonian; Wetumpka 
Raul San Miguel & family;  Orion XT8; Fort Rucker 
Russell Whigham; C-11 SCT; Montgomery 
Kent Priest; 12 inch Orion Dob.; Millbrook
Jim McLaughlin; 8-inch Meade LX200,SCT; Montgomery. 
Sam McLaughlin and friend Michael Moussalli,  AAS 8-inch Dobsonian; Montgomery

And special thanks to Rick Evans, who, year after year, seems to out-do himself to make our annual  joint venture a big success.  Thank you, Rick!

Images at  Or, from the Main Menu, select: “Field Trips”/”W.A. Gayle Planetarium”/”Astronomy Day, 2008”.

Space News
John Zachry

If the sky is clear, we will have an excellent opportunity to see the International Space Station with its crew of ten pass over Montgomery-Auburn-West Point on Monday, June 9 and again on Wednesday, June 11.  On Monday, June 9 the I.S.S. can be seen traveling from Northwest to Southeast between 8:52 p.m. - 8:57 p.m. CDT (9:52 p.m. to 9:57 p.m. EDT). On Wednesday the I.S.S. can be seen traveling again from Northwest to Southeast this time between 8:01 p.m. - 8:07 p.m. CDT (9:01 p.m. to 9:07 p.m. EDT). The I.S.S. will be approximately 210 miles above the Earth traveling at a speed of approximately 17,240 mph. The I.S.S. will be much brighter than usual due to the addition of the large Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” which is 36.7 feet long and 14.4 feet in diameter having a weigh of approximately 32,600 pounds. The I.S.S. will have the appearance of a very bright fast moving star easily seen without binoculars or a telescope

June 7 - Launch date for the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST.
The launch window extends from 11:45 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. EDT. 
June 8 - New Horizons/Pluto spacecraft passes orbit of Saturn.
June 20 - Mercury Messenger spacecraft reaches 1000 days until Mercury orbit insertion.


Our two newest members, Jason Hill and Perry Myer , have submitted their bios for our “Who R We?” page.  Welcome aboard, guys!

Web Links

Follow the latest news from the Mars Phoenix Mission

New hardware from the Northeast Astronomy Forum & Telescope Show Videos

Rod Mollise’s Used SCT Buyer’s Guide

From David McConnell:   I think if you were to add the sky clock you would have everything you need to predict what a weekend was gonna be like anywhere in the world. It's called Crawler 3 D Earth screen saver but you can keep looking and adding and Doppler, moisture, you can speed up or slow down the just have to check it out. 

Tonight’s Sky (and archives) Press [Play Movie]

Useful Astronomy Links

The International Astronomical Union’s Communicating Astronomy with the Public

Joe Champion wrote:

I drove past this site yesterday in Elmore Co. I thought it was real interesting.  It is near Titus off 231.

This is the web site:

Thanks! I did not know about this.  Several, years ago, during the early days of the WWW, the go-to guy of the Two-Line Elements (TLE’s) for satellite tracking was Dr. T. S. Kelso, who, I learned, lived in Montgomery.  I e-mailed him to speak to our group, but never received a reply.  I now wonder if he had something to do with this?

Thanks for passing this along.

Scope For Sale

Shane Bledsoe  has his 8-inch Meade LX200 up for sale. See images on the AAS “Exchange” page.
8-inch Meade LX200 EMC.  It is in great shape I will throw in all the eyepieces that I have.  Asking $1000.00. bledsoeauto(at)

Loaner Scopes

Here's an update on the status of our loaner scopes:
The 8-inch Dob is missing an altitude bearing hold-down spring and thumbscrew.  I’ve written to see if Orion will sell us these parts.  The Telrad has one of the four mounting tabs broken off, but doesn't seem to affect its use.  I used our new Orion laser collimator to tune it up before passing it on to Jim McLaughlin.  Sweet!

Ray Kunert discovered that the PST has a stripped tripod leg-adjustment clamp screw.  He's going to see if epoxy will make it like new.  Otherwise we'll see if Orion can help us. 

The 12.5-inch preformed wonderfully at Astronomy Day.  I didn't get a chance to weigh the two major components --we kinda had our hands full.  Ray had a plaque made acknowledging the folks who contributed to its restoration.  John, Ray needs a check for $36.28 for the plaque.  I'll bring the receipt to the meeting.

Ray Kunert has had a plaque made for Auburn Astronomical Society’s 12.5-inch f/7 telescope:

Special Thanks To

Ray Kunert 
for promoting the concept and refurbishing the tube

Charles Floyd
for donating the telescope in its original configuration

Tom McGowan 
for designing and building the reconfigured mount

William Baugh
for recoating the secondary Mirror

Rhon Jenkins 
for the eyepieces


Member News

Bom dia, from Fortaleza, Brazil.  The sky here is usually partly covered with thin clouds but I am able to see Omega Centauri well with my 10x binoculars.  I hope that the later part of the trip will have darker sky sights but then there will be more of a moon.  Send my best to those reading the Astrofiles.


Alan Cook

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,