Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
November, 2008

In this Issue

Events Calendar Magazine Renewals
MOTDF Stargaze Conecuh National Forest
Horseshoe Bend Star Gaze Space News
Web Links  Member News

Events Calendar

This month’s meeting will be on Friday, November 7, at 7:45PM in room 215 of Davis Hall, the Aerospace Engineering Building.  The doors to the classroom buildings automatically now lock at 8:00PM, so if you’re running late, rap on the door nearest our meeting room.  Remember that access to the parking lot is now from West Magnolia only.

This month, Dr. Rhonald Jenkins will be giving a talk entitled PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE from a book by the same name by Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics,  City University of New York.  Rhon writes:

Kaku divides the level of impossibility into three classes: 

Class I impossibility: consistent with the known laws of physics and might be realized fairly soon.
Class II impossibility: lies at the edge of known physics and, if possible, might not be invented for centuries.
Class III impossibility: defies known laws of physics and would require a fundamental revision of our scientific knowledge in order to function.

We'll look at four of the Class I impossibilities:  force shields, invisibility, phasers and ray guns, and teleportation.

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 6:45PM. 

Our new moon star party this month will be on Saturday, November 29, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course.   This is the Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend. . 

Magazine Renewals

AAS discount subscriptions/renewals to Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazine are due in October and November.  We need 5 subscriptions 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 November meeting, mail checks to: 

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

On Saturday, October 4, AAS  members and friends met at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest, on Moore’s Mill Road in Auburn, to share the celestial wonders of the fall sky with members of Auburn’s Forest Ecology Preserve.  What had seemed to be a partly cloudy night, remained clear until the time we left at about 10:00.  Participating were:

• Rhon and Joyce Jenkins
• Russell Whigham, C-11 SCT, 
• Frank Ward, 12-inch Lightbridge Dobsonian. 
• Alan Cook Meade, 10-inch SCT 
• Jason Hill, CPC1100 SCT 
• John Tatarchuk, 25-inch Dobsonian 
• Jennifer Reuss, Orion Starblast 4.5 EQ 
• William and Olivia Baugh, 18-inch StarMaster 
• Greg and Olivia Glasscock 5-inch f/5 refractor
• Eddie Kirkland 16-inch Dobsonian
• Stephen Landers
• John Zachry, AAS 8-inch Dobsonian
• Rand Becker and family
Images of the event are on the AAS Web site under: “Field Trips/Outreach/Forest Preserve October 2008.  Jennifer Lolley, Administrator of the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve, wrote: 
A big Thank You to all the Auburn Astronomical Society members who came out with their telescopes and knowledge for our Starry Nights astronomy program. I realize that it takes a lot of effort to set up these scopes and I really appreciate your effort.  Thanks also to all the helpers in setting up and signing in. I couldn't have done it without you. The evening was a big success. We had 156 people sign-in and about 15 or 20 who showed up late, plus all of you and our volunteers, so close to 200 people! Pretty amazing considering that there was a big game on TV. I bet all that watched the game, wished that they had come to our program instead. I have had so many people ask when our next one will be. I even had one person say that their mother is going to fly in from New Jersey for the next one because nobody does this around there. I hope you will put the Forest Ecology Preserve on the calendar for Spring. This way everybody will see the different constellations. I am going to look at some possible different sites, or see if Sam's and Tiger Town will dim their lights.  Again, I want to thank you all. Giving quality programs to the community is very important for the future of the Preserve and my job and you really helped me make this one special. Any suggestions for future programs would be welcome. If anybody took some good pictures, would you please them to me.
Enjoy your stars!   Jennifer

Jennifer Lolley   '86
 Forest Ecology Preserve
Auburn University

Thanks also to AAS president, Rhon Jenkins, for coordinating the event with Jennifer

Conecuh National Forest

On Saturday, October 25, five hearty (and hardy) observers, traveled to the very dark skies of the Conecuh National Forest.  Attending were:

  • John Tatarchuk, 25-inch, Auburn 
  • Frank Ward, 12-inch Lightbridge, Montgomery 
  • Mike Holley, CPC1100, SCT, Montgomery
  • Russell Whigham, C-11 SCT, Montgomery 
  • Taras Wertelecke, 10-inch Dob, Mobile
The Montgomery contingent, Mike, Frank, and Russell, met up with John and Taras at the Church’s Chicken in Brewton.   After dinner, we caravanned to the CNF site, arriving at 6:00 and began setting up the telescopes by sunset.  The few clouds that we saw on the drive down, quickly dissipated into the deep blue sky after sunset.  The site lived up to its billing of the darkest in Alabama.  We enjoyed sharing views and taking suggestions on good deep-sky objects.  The snout on the horsehead was easy in John’s 25-inch.  The central star in the Ring varied with the seeing.  The high-power view of wisps and tendrils in the Orion Nebula, was like looking into a cotton candy machine.

John, with his uncanny ability to spot an “out-of-place” 4th magnitude star, picked out some geostationary satellites, visible from our latitude only in October around midnight local time.  Through the driven telescope the stars appear to remain fixed as the geostationary appear to track across the field.  Ironically, with the drive unplugged, the perception is the same – that the stars are fixed and the satellites seem to be moving.  In one of the half degree fields, we saw two geostationaries.  John also shared a view of the most distant galaxies I’ve ever seen:  1.1 billion light-years away.  The telescopic views were punctuated by numerous meteors.

The air chilled to the mid-forties, taking its toll on batteries doing battle with the dew and with unprotected optics. With frequent snacks and rest breaks, we took advantage of the dark sky until it began to lighten in the east, signaling the astronomer’s nap time prior to the long trip back home.  At sunrise, we started drying off the dew-soaked telescopes and shaking out the sand covered tarps.  If you haven’t observed under really dark skies, you owe it to yourself to make the effort to do this sometime.

Horseshoe Bend Stargaze

On November 1,the Auburn Astronomical Society met at  Horseshoe Bend National Military Park at the invitation of park ranger and host for the event, Randall Becker, who made special arrangements for the park to be open after dark for the stargaze.    Rand began the indoor portion of the program including some Creek, Cherokee, and Mississippian star lore at 7:00.  At the conclusion of the indoor presentation, the guests came out to enjoy their views through the telescopes.   Among the celestial objects we shared with the visitors: 

• Jupiter and the four Galilean moons; 
• Venus, visible early in the evening in the west; 
• The Moon; 
• The Andromeda galaxy (M-31); 
• Globular Clusters:  M-2, M-13, M-15, M-22, M-92; 
• Open Clusters:  The Lagoon (M-8) , The Wild Duck (M-11), Perseus Double Cluster; 
• Planetary Nebulae:  The Ring (M-57),  Dumbbell (M-27); 
• Binary Stars:  Alberio, Almach (gamma AND), and Double Double, (epsilon LYR). 
We had at least one example each of the three most common telescope optical configurations:  A refractor (uses lenses), a Newtonian (uses Mirrors) and a Schmidt-Cassegrain (uses both lens and mirrors).  Images of the event are at:

Thanks to the following AAS members volunteered their time and telescopes: 

  • John Tatarchuk, 25-inch Dob, Auburn 
  • Scott Thompson, 7-inch refractor, Alex City
  • Russell Whigham, C-11 SCT, Montgomery 
  • Everett Leonard,  10-inch Dob, Opelika 
  • Brent Holman, Photographer, Alex City
  • John Howard, Photographer, Childersburg
And, thanks again to Rand and park ranger Heather Tassin for their help in hosting the event.

Space News

Nov. 14th, The next Shuttle mission will be STS-126 to the International Space Station. 
Nov. 18, ISS Favorable Pass 
Nov. 20, ISS Favorable Pass

Web Links

To celebrate the 400th year anniversary of Galileo using his modest telescope to discover the nature of the universe, 2009 has been declared the International Year of Astronomy.

IYA2009, will have sidewalk astronomers, amateur astronomers, planetariums & science centers, observatories etc. participating.

Earlier this year, Meade moved its Irvine based manufacturing to a brand new factory just over the border in Mexico. The new factory has over twice the space for production than our Irvine operation with over 70,000 square feet devoted to building products like the LX200-ACF, the LX90-ACF, Coronado and more. This factory is wholly owned and operated by Meade.  The tour begins at:

Doug Bailey

This international event encourages everyone to go outside, look skywards after dark, count the stars they see in certain constellations, and report what they see online.

Dave Halupowski, EAAA

Follow the construction progress on the University of Montevallo’s James Wylie Shepherd Observatory from the "Images" tab at:

Member News

Rand Becker’s AAS bio is now on the Who R We page. 

And, several years after pursuing other hobbies, Phillip Hosey of LaGrange, is back in the fold.  Welcome back Phillip.

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,


There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers. -Richard Feynman, physicist, Nobel laureate (1918-1988)