Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
September, 2008

In this Issue

Events Calendar Yarbrough School Star Gaze
Space News Web Links
Regional Star Parties Member News 
Scope for Sale Loaner Scopes

Events Calendar

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, September 12, at 7:45PM 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 6:45PMNote the time change.  We’ve moved the start time up 15 minutes because the doors on campus classroom buildings automatically lock now at 8:00PM.  If you’re running late, knock on the door nearest our meeting room.  

Recently, building construction precluded entrance everywhere except the east side (front/College St. facing) door.   And, don’t forget that access to the parking lot is now from West Magnolia only.

Our dark-sky star party this month will be on Saturday, September 27, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course.  

September 12, Monthly meeting in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Hall.  (Away game)
September 18, Favorable ISS pass
September 27, star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
September 22, Fall Equinox
September 28 - October 05, PSSG'08 
October 2, Lecture by Captain James Lovell at Faulkner University, Montgomery
October 3, Monthly meeting in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering Hall.  (Away game)
October 4, Forest Preserve Star Gaze
October 7, Yarbrough Elementary School star gaze (tentative date)
October 8, Space Shuttle Atlantis to service the Hubble for the final time
October 28 – November 2, Deep South Regional Star Gaze XXVI

Yarbrough Elementary School Star Gaze
John Tatarchuk

Now that I'm back in Auburn, my mother wants me to come in to her 3rd grade class some time during the day and do the sun.  I was curious if the PST was available?  It would be great to show the kids two different parts of Sol, the chromosphere and photosphere, especially if it is quiet and boring in the photosphere.

Additionally, I told my mom that I would be willing to do a star party for her class or even the whole school.  She told the principal and he wants to do it.  Do you have any suggestions?  I could bring at least my two scopes (18" and 25"), but I was curious if you think that this might be something the club could officially host?  Personally, if I had to choose a date, I'd pick first quarter moon, October.  The time change should have just happened, so it will be getting darker earlier, and I think Jupiter should still be around in the evening.  October's a pretty clear time of year too, and there are also lots of bright deep space objects that would be viewable under Auburn city skies, like M15, the Double Cluster, Alberio, etc.  What do you think?


Space News
John Zachry

Heavens-Above predicts favorable passes of the International Space Station on September 18.

September 7 - Pluto-New Horizons spacecraft 2500 days to Pluto
September 29 - Jules Vernes Automated Transfer Vehicle reentry in Earth's atmosphere
September 30 - End of Mars Phoenix Lander Extended Mission
October 2008? - India's Chandrayaan Lunar Orbiter launch delayed
October 2008? - China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft with 3 "Taikonauts" launch
October 6 - 2nd Mercury Messenger spacecraft flyby of Mercury 3:39 a.m. CDT
October 8 - Space Shuttle Atlantis to Hubble Space Telescope for repair launch
October 9 - Cassini spacecraft passes Enceladus at height of 15.5 miles!
October 12 - Expedition 18 Soyuz spacecraft to I.S.S. with Richard Gsarriott tourist

Web Links

John Zachry calls our attention to the 3D images from NASA. John writes:

I am planning to buy a pair red/cyan clip-on 3-D glasses to see 3-D pictures on NASA web sites.  Anybody want me to order them a pair? Cost about $ 9.00. - John

Images at:
Glasses at :

Regional Star Parties

Deep South Regional Stargaze XXVI
Tuesday, October 28th - Sunday, November 2nd, 2008
Camp Ruth Lee, Louisiana 

DSRSG Liability Release and Registration forms are in the files section of the Yahoo Group at: 
Checks should be made payable to "DSRSG" and sent to :
Len Philpot
DSRSG Director
110 Choctaw Drive
Pineville, LA 71360

Peach Star Gaze 2008
The online registration for the PSSG'08, September 28 - October 05,  is now available. Many of the website pages have been updated. Vendors, Speakers and more.

Member News

Frank Ward has a new 12-inch Meade LightBridge truss tube Dobsonian.  It arrived in time for hurricane Fay and has spawned four other hurricanes since.  It must be a good one.

Frank writes:

Though I looked at several online vendors, I chose due to their competitive price, mostly. They seem to have a good reputation in the industry and I had purchased my Nikon binoculars from them last year. They also had a shroud for the scope with free shipping on it. The shroud looks good, just a little lonely.
I knew I wanted a Dob type scope for it's portability and ease of setup. After borrowing our 8 inch a couple of times, I felt the larger scope was about the size I could and would regularly use. Having this as my first larger scope also will hopefully hone my skills somewhat in preparation for perhaps a larger scope later. Besides, storing a 16 inch in the garage (for there is no other room in the house to put one) just won't do now with all my woodworking tools and the inevitable sawdust they produce. Bigger house for a bigger scope, I suppose. Don't let my wife hear this. But I digress.
I suppose extra eyepieces and maybe some filters are in my near future. Deep sky objects are the most desirable views for me at first. You have mentioned that the TeleVue brand of eyepieces are a good choice but I will have to make a detailed list for Santa this year. The local representative of his Elf Union is picky about her lists. You also mentioned getting the 82 degree eyepieces. How does this enhance the view compared to say, a 68 degree one?
 With the scope arriving in early August, Lord willing, I should have time to practice with it before the October star party. I really am looking forward to those clearer autumn skies now.  I also want to thank you and the others for your encouragement and guidance in this choice. This scope should be a good, new beginning for my observing and open a window of opportunity to share the night skies with my family and many others in the future.
Clear Skies, 

Later, Frank followed with:

The view from here has not been great. High humidity or just plain old clouds seem to dog me right now. I know, welcome to summer in the south. Well, I got the scope out once last week and set the finder's scope. My son insisted on seeing the moon and Jupiter first before he had to go in for the evening so we did. So much for deep space being absolute first light. However, once he was inside, I was able to move the scope to a darker area of the yard where the moon light had not yet reached and wait for darkness. I was able to find the Ring Nebula at almost the zenith before the skies became blurry with humidity and the almost full moon made a grand entrance on the scene. The nebula was a blur due to some humidity, city lights and my limited options in available eyepieces. 
I have the 26mm QX Wide Angled 2 inch eyepiece which came with the scope and a couple of good quality ones (Meade) from the scope I have borrowed from Mike. He has a 25mm and a 9mm in his scope case. I have only a small 8 mm from my Celestron 3 inch scope which did not give good results even with Jupiter mostly because I couldn't focus it. The focuser on my 12 inch Lightbridge would not go down to where a good image could be seen with it. This is one of many reasons I am looking forward to your dropping by some night soon, clouds and humidity permitting, of course. Another would be your suggestions of which sizes of eyepieces to purchase immediately. I may wait on some filters unless otherwise advised.
I took the scope out last night for less than an hour to search the skies and become more familiar with the optical tool. It was a good session as I had to set it up in the dark and was able to identify 4 of Jupiter's moons and saw two of it's prominent cloud bands. I used the 26mm to locate my targets (with the finder scope) and the borrowed 9mm to zoom in. I was able to find M25 ( I believe) in Sagittarius. A nice Open Cluster to view. I then tried to find a couple of Diffuse Nebulae near M25 but had no success there. Too much atmospheric interference with the humidity and light pollution spoiled the view. By that time, the just past full moon rose over my neighbor's house and the clouds started rolling in. I will continue to practice from home when I can. If I read it correctly, tomorrow night looks okay for Montgomery on the ClearSky Chart website. I am looking forward to your insightful advice whenever the skies clear a bit and you have the time. If it is possible, I would greatly appreciate it if you could bring an eyepiece or two that we might could use. 
Clear skies to you and the gang.
And later,
Well, tonight was a wash. Between the wife staying at work (where she still is at this hour) children's choir for my son, his homework, supper and persistent, numerous clouds, I didn't have a chance to get the scope out. As you noted, Clear Sky isn't always reliable.
I am using Sky & Telescope’s August chart for now. They included a CD  called AutoStar Suite, the Astronomer Edition which has some charts on it as well. Some of these are crowded but the software has allowed me to declutter it, removing the outlines of the constellations or extraneous stars if I wish. I am still playing with it in my "spare time." As you may know, my primary focus is being a dad/parent, especially when my wife works late.
I do not have a collimating tool. I was able to align the red dot finder's scope with the eyepiece but that's about all for now.  It's a big scope for me at this time. I am sure I will get use to it soon enough and want a larger one before long. 
Looking forward to seeing you and the guys real soon. Clearer skies.

Since this last message, Frank has ordered and received his laser collimator, and has expressed a request for help tweaking his optics.  We look forward to having a look through Frank’s scope.

For Sale

I am thinking of selling my 8-inch LX90 scope. I have a large variety of add ons for the scope. Wide field adaptor, lenses, heater, dew cover, internet adaptor cable to update the data base and a few other things. Rick Allen 334-728-1714 or

We also have a few other scopes for sale on the AAS “Exchange” page.  Check ‘em out.  If your scope is listed there, but has been sold, please let me know.

Loaner Scopes

John Tatarchuk will have the PST this month.  All other loaner scopes are available to AAS members.  Let Rhon know if you’d like to check one out.

Last month, we asked for help with a parallelogram mount for the 20x80 binoculars.  We had no takers on the request to build one.  Eddie Kirkland has volunteered to place an Astromart ad for us.  Thanks, Eddie!

In June, Mrs. Diane Swanton donated two telescopes, 20x80 binoculars, tripods, and other astronomy accessories to AAS.  Below is AAS president, Rhon Jenkins’, letter of acknowledgment and appreciation.

August 8, 2008

Mrs. Diane Swanton
8300 Wexford Trace
Montgomery, AL 36117

Dear Mrs. Swanton,

On behalf of the Auburn Astronomical Society, I want to thank you for the donation of several telescopes and other astronomy-related items to our club in memory of your husband, Lyle G. Swanton.  One of the primary purposes of our group is to bring the wonder of astronomy to young and old alike.  Towards this end, we visit schools, give presentations at events such as Astronomy Day at the Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery, and host “star party” telescope viewing sessions for the public several times a year.  I can assure you that your donation will play a very large role in these presentations.  It is exactly the kind of equipment that we like to show children and young people (and older folks too).  It is quality equipment that is easy to use, which is a perfect combination.  By the way, our next public session is October 4 here in Auburn, at a gathering sponsored by the Forest Ecology Preserve as part of their continuing education program.  If history is a guide, we believe that about 300 persons will be present that night, about half of which will be school children.

 In closing, please let me extend my personal condolences to you for your loss, and assure you that your husband’s memory will live on through your generous donation.


Rhon Jenkins
President, Auburn Astronomical Society
Professor Emeritus, Auburn University


Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,