Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
January, 2009

In this Issue

Events Calendar 2009 Membership Dues
Loaner Scopes IYA2009
Big Moon Member News
Web Links For Sale
Star Gaze Space News

Events Calendar

 Because of the conflict with the New Year holiday weekend, we’ll hold our January meeting on the second Friday of the new year, January 9, 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 W. Magnolia only.  Bring your new astro-toys that Santa left for you for the  “Show & Tell” segment of our meeting.

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, January 24, at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course. 

We’ll have a favorable ISS Pass Jan 16

2009 Membership Dues
John B. Zachry

AAS memberships ($20.00/$10.00 for full-time students) are due in January. Make checks payable to “Auburn Astronomical Society”.  If you’re unable to attend our January meeting, mail your dues to:
Auburn Astronomical Society
c/o John B. Zachry
501 Summerfield Road
West Point, GA 31833

Your dues allow us to purchase DVDs for programs, continue our affiliation with the Astronomical League, and to buy, upgrade, and maintain our loaner scope program and tape/DVD library.

We’ve never made a big deal about membership and encourage “AAS friends” to attend and participate in meetings, star parties, and public events.  But, there are a few benefits restricted to members:

• Discounts on purchases from Oceanside Photo & Telescope
• Discounts on subscriptions for Astronomy and Sky & Telescope  magazines
• Access to the society's extensive video tape, book, and DVD library
• Access to the society's Loaner Scopes
• Because the Auburn Astronomical Society is affiliated with the Astronomical League  members are entitled to enjoy all of the benefits afforded to League members, including observing programs and quarterly issues of The Reflector.

If this will be your first time to join,  please print out the Membership Application form, and include it with your check.  We need your address to ensure that you’ll receive your Reflector.

Special thanks to those members who do not attend on a regular basis but still want to help us out by paying AAS. membership dues. 

Loaner Scopes

ETX-90 Repair
William Baugh has volunteered to take a look at our ETX-90 loaner. When we received this telescope, the baffle around the aluminized secondary had fallen off of the meniscus lens, and now lies loose inside the OTA. William has agreed to see if he can get it back in working order.

20X80 Binocular Parallelogram Mount
Eddie Kirkland has found an Orion Paragon Binocular Mount on AstroMart for $115.00.   A new one from Orion Telescopes and Binoculars goes for 190.95 plus shipping.  Eddie negotiated a price of $100.00.  Thanks for handling this for us, Eddie!

AAS members are encouraged to check-out these and our other Loaner Scopes.  Check with scope steward, Rhon Jenkins, to schedule a loan.


It was in the year 1609 that Galileo first turned his telescope to the objects in the night sky, revolutionizing astronomy.  This year, the four hundredth anniversary of his first discoveries, professional and amateur astronomers around the world will celebrate the event during the International Year of Astronomy.

As part of the 400 year celebration there will be a $10 dollar Galileo style scope for kids that requires assembly and will be a teaching tool with experiments included as the child does the assembly.  These are under 10 dollars each when you buy in quantities of 10 or more:  <>

A more expensive version with optical glass lenses is at:  <>

Big Moon

The December 12 “Big Moon” captured lots of attention.  Check out the following images that were submitted.

Scott Thompson’s  moonrise images over Lake Martin show what you can do even with only a tripod and telephoto lense, only hint at his photographic skills.  See Scott’s other jaw-dropping nature images from the “Slideshow” icon on the upper-right of the first page.

Submitted by Scott Thompson

Submitted by Scott Thompson

Submitted by Scott Thompson

Phil Hosey’s image has excellent focus and exposure.  It looks like He's jumped back in to the deep end of the astronomy pool.  Phil writes:

Here's a pic I took of that moon.  Taken at the prime focus of a Meade 10" Schmidt-Newtonian (f/4, 1016 mm) with a Canon XSi DSLR, ISO 400 for 1/2500 sec.  I was out tonight testing the new gear out and I figured since this thing was washing out everything I wanted to try and shoot, I would go a head and take a shot of it.


 Submitted by Phil Hosey

Dave McConnell writes:

Thanks so much for the heads up on the moon today. You really made tonight, one I will remember forever. I am attaching a couple of shots from just a little digi-matic camera. 

Submitted by Dave McConnell

Acouple of weeks earlier, on November 30, I snapped this image of Jupiter, Venus, and the 3-day old Moon above my neighbor's manger scene.  Canon 10D, FL 21mm, f/2.8, Exp 1/2 sec, ISO 400.

Submitted by Russell Whigham

Member News

Rand Becker wrote:
I accepted a job offer at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs, MS today. We'll probably be moving and the end of the month and will not make it to the meeting. I will be closer to Conecuh NF now and try to make it to a dark sky star party.   Let me know if you want a beach holiday.

Oh, noooooo!  We hope your successor at HBNMP still wants to have us up for the stargazes.

If you want to do the same at your new location try: 

South Mississippi Astronomical Society 
Jeff Wernikowski 

Congratulations and best wishes at your new assignment.  Stop for a visit if you're ever back up this way.


Rhon writes:

I had a nice telephone conversation with Syd Spain recently.  He is a former member of the AAS, and still receives and enjoys our newsletter.  Syd was in town visiting friends and relatives for the holidays.  I was delighted to hear that he is doing well.  Dr. Spain is now the Executive Director of the University of Mississippi Research Park.  This facility, once it is complete, will be one of the finest of its kind in the US.  He still loves astronomy and is trying (like some of the rest of us) to use his telescope more often.  It was wonderful to hear from him, and, from me personally. 
Web Links

Dark Energy Progress Reports:

Buyer’s Guide for Your First Telescope:

For Sale

I would like to let the group know I am parting out a Meade LX 50, 8". Everything but the tube itself. Also a complete setup of Lumicon digital setting circles. You input the RA. and Dec. and it will put you on your target. 

David McConnell 334-745-7143

Star Gaze

Jennifer Lolley writes:

I am thinking about having a short night class- maybe 2 sessions- on learning the Winter night sky- I would limit this to a small group- I would like to have them in an indoor facility first- School of Forestry- to teach and ;look at PowerPoint of constellations- then head outside to a nice dark spot for some stargazing. It would  be great to have a couple of telescopes. I know you are in Montgomery, but do you think anybody around here would be interested in setting up their scope for me. Thinking about doing this in February. Just in the planning stages right now, but I think there is some interest. Our big astronomy nights are so busy, this could be more intensive to any interested parties.  Your thoughts? 
Thanks, Jen

Sounds good to me.  Let's run this by Rhon and we'll mention it at our January meeting, but I see no reason why we couldn't do this.  Except for Venus, there's not much up in the way of planets in February early in the evening.  Would you want to have the Moon out, or concentrate on the deep-sky objects?  I don't have a 2009 calendar yet, but will by next newsletter time.

Which "nice dark spot" did you have in mind?  On campus, or out at MOTDF?

I am actually looking at a new site, north of town. Much darker. The MOT is really getting to be too light, unless I can convince Sam's and Tiger Town to dim the lights on our star gazing nights.    A.U. has lots of land, I am checking out some of the ag sites. I will let you know. 


Space News
John Zachry

Jan.   4 - Mars Exploration Rover - Spirit landing in 2004
Jan.   6 - Contact restored with Mercury Messenger after Superior Solar Conjunction
Jan. 14 - Venus at greatest Eastern Elongation
Jan. 15 - NASA's Orbiting Carbon Obersatory launch date
Jan. 15-16 - Statistically Coldest Days of Year (I look forward to these days - warmer thereafter)
Jan. 16 - Look for I.S.S. 5:51 - 5:56 p.m. CST traveling SW to NE
Jan. 18 - Look for I.S.S. 6:08 - 6:14 p.m. EST traveling SW to NE (West Point only, Poor for Montgomery & Auburn)
Jan. 19 - New Horizons (Pluto) Spacecraft launch in 2006
Jan. 22 - End of Venus Express Extended Mission
Jan. 25 - Mars Exploration Rover - Opportunity landing in 2004
Feb.   4 - NOAA -N weather satellite launch date
Feb. 12 - Space Shuttle Discovery launch date with 4th solar panel

Binocular Interocular Spacing
Sky & Telescope, January 1986, page 99

After years of wondering whether the exit pupils of my binoculars were even remotely aligned with the pupils of my eyes, I have found a method to set the interocular spacing that works well. 
The exit pupils of binoculars are the disks of light that appear to be "suspended in air" just back of the eyepieces. Actually, each one is the image of its objective lens. The exit-pupil diameter equals the objective's diameter divided by the power of the system. If you stop down the entrance aperture, the exit pupil also shrinks. By making two circles of cardboard and cutting 14-mm holes in their centers, then taping these diaphragms over the objectives, you reduce the exit pupils to 2 mm on 7-power binoculars.

When someone stands outdoors in bright sunlight, the pupils of the eye also contract to about 2 mm. Using the binoculars under such conditions makes it very apparent whether the interocular setting is correct -- you either see or you don't! The diaphragms may then be removed, and you can use the glasses at night, secure in the knowledge that all available light is entering your eyes. 

ED ALLEN 46 Herman Ct. 
Watsonville, Calif. 95076 

[Editor’s note:  For my 15x70s, stop down to 30mm (2x the power)]

Why a 359 Tooth R.A. Gear?

Most old ac synchro drives used a gear ratio that would give 1 rev in 24 hours if run off 60Hz ac with a 360 tooth main gear. But they used a 359 tooth gear instead. The 1/360 difference almost perfectly compensates for the fact that a sidereal day is different from a 24 hour solar day by 1 part in 365.

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,