Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
February, 2009

In this Issue

Events Calendar 2009 Membership
Loaner Scopes IYA2009
Eastwood Star Gaze Space News 1
Space News 2 Web Links
Wetumpka Crater  Administrivia

Events Calendar

We’ll hold our February meeting on Friday, February 6, at 7:45PM in room 215 of Davis Hall, the Aerospace Engineering Building.   The doors to the classroom buildings now automatically 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. 

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, February 21, at Cliff Hill’s farm, , clouds permitting of course. 

February 5, Favorable ISS 5:49 p.m. and 5:55 p.m. CST
February 19, Wetumpka Crater Lecture (see below)
February 21, Wetumpka Crater Tour  (see below)
February 21, Dark sky star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
February 27, Eastwood Christian School Star Gaze?

2009 Membership
John B. Zachry

1 William L. Baugh  7 Dale Roberts
2 Alan Cook 8  Allen Screws
3 Dr. Rhon Jenkins 9  William T. Sprankle
4 Eddie Kirkland 10  Heather J. Tassin *
5 Everett Leonard 11 Russell D. Whigham
6 Dr. James T. McLaughlin 12 John B. Zachry 

*  Heather is a new member.  She’s assuming Rand Becker’s position at Horseshoe Bend.

If you thought you had paid for the current year but don't see your name listed, contact AAS treasurer, John B. Zachry to resolve the discrepancy. 

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 February meeting, mail your dues to:

Auburn Astronomical Society
c/o John B. Zachry
501 Summerfield Road
West Point, GA 31833
Loaner Scopes
ETX-90 Repair Completed

William Baugh 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 was loose inside the OTA. William agreed to see if he can get it back in working order.

William writes:

I have the scope fixed.  Will bring it to the next meeting.  The front light baffle had come off the lens and that is what was rattling around inside the scope.
Thanks, William!

20X80 Binocular Parallelogram Mount

Eddie Kirkland brought the Orion Paragon Binocular Mount to our January meeting.  Eddie picked up the binoculars from Rhon, and is checking to ensure that the two components are compatible and that everything is in proper working order.

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


Hello Rick,

Just checking to see if you're up for another Astronomy Day gig with AAS. 

One of our members, Dr. Jim McLaughlin, suggested that we support the  International Year of Astronomy, by having a day-long series of lectures and demonstrations to introduce the public to the world of amateur astronomy, either as a part of Astronomy Day or as a separate event.  The consensus at our January meeting was that it would probably be easier to get our folks out for a single combined event.

We tried something like this on Astronomy Day 1999 .  We called it “How To Select And Use An Astronomical Telescope” and was to include a wide range of topics given by several different members.  The topics included: 

• Are You Ready for a Telescope? 
• What about Binoculars? 
• How to Choose the Right Telescope FOR YOU? 
• What are your choices of optical and mechanical configurations? 
• What to Avoid 
• Accessories: Eyepieces, Filters, Charts, Software 
• Cleaning, Aligning, etc. 
• Coping with Dew 
• Observing Techniques 
We were met with mixed reactions.  As we neared the time to go out to look through the telescopes, our audience began to trickle outside during the presentations. 

Perhaps if we promoted the event with 

  • emphasis on the lectures, 
  • begin earlier in the day, 
  • update to include “go-to” scopes, and 
  • kept the telescopes under wraps during the presentations, 
they would be better received. 

What do you think?   Did you already have someone lined up as the keynote speaker?


Star Gaze

Ira Hostetter wrote in October to see if we could host a star gaze for students of the Eastwood Christian School under the dark skies of his rural Macon County home.  Everyone was too busy then so we’re trying again.

 Ira wrote:

Hello again and Happy New Year!!  I wanted to engage with you again and see if you thought we may be able to arrange and evening for you to come out before the end of the school year. 


Ira Hostetter

Hello Ira,

I recall that you had expressed a preference for a Friday evening.  As I mentioned before, our monthly business meetings are on the first Friday of each month.  The second weekends will be too near the full Moon to take advantage of your dark skies, but the third and fourth weekends of February and March are good.  Of these, Friday the 27th, for both months, looks better because we'll have a slender crescent Moon. Saturn's rings are beginning to open up once again, and Venus' crescent phase will best at the end of February.  Venus will not be visible at the end of March.  We'll also have a telescopic comet at the end of February, so I'm leaning toward February 27, based on what will be "up".    Why don't we shoot for that last Friday in February, and have the last Friday in March as a backup in case our February date is clouded out?

If this is OK with you, I'll put out a request for volunteers.  If we can't get enough telescopes on the Friday night, would Saturday be OK?  It will help if you can give me an estimate of the group's size.  Would 20 to 30 be about right?

Let me know,


Space News 1
John Zachry

The International Space Station can be seen passing over the Montgomery - Auburn - West Point area on Tuesday, February 3rd and again on Thursday, February 5th.  On Tuesday, February 3rd the I.S.S. can be seen traveling from Northwest to Southeast between 6:28 p.m. and 6:32 p.m. CST. On Thursday, February 5th the I.S.S. can again be seen traveling from Northwest to Southeast this time between 5:49 p.m. and 5:55 p.m. CST. 

Feb. 4   NOAA-N Prime weather satellite launch NOAA-N Prime (NOAA-19) Delta 2 Launch
Feb. 7   Cassini  Titan flyby at 597 miles  Cassini
Feb. 9   Penumbral Lunar Eclipse 
Feb. 10 Progress M-66 cargo spacecraft to I.S.S. Progress M-66 Soyuz U Launch
Feb. 12 Space Shuttle Discovery launch to I.S.S. with 4th solar panel 7:30 a.m. EST
            STS-119 Launch, Space Shuttle Discovery (International Space Station 15A
Feb. 17 Dawn spacecraft flyby of Mars  Dawn, Mars Flyby
Feb. 23 NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory launch Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)
Mar. 5   NASA’s Kepler spacecraft launch “to discover ... hundreds of planets” 10:48 p.m. EST 
             Kepler Delta 2 Launch

Space News 2
Everett Leonard

While this is not directly related to astronomy, some members are probably interested, so I thought I would share.

Saturday, February 7, the USSRC in Huntsville will be hosting an Apollo Anniversary Gala. The astronauts scheduled to appear include:

Alan Bean (Apollo 12, Skylab 2)
Scott Carpenter (Mercury 7)
Walter Cunningham (Apollo 7)
Charles Duke (Apollo 16)
Owen Garriott (Skylab 2, STS-9)
Joseph Kerwin (Skylab 1)
Jack Lousma (Skylab 2, STS-3) 

The actual gala is a black tie optional event starting at 6:00 PM.  There will be other events during the day including a book signing by Walter Cunningham and Owen Garriott at 2:30 at the gift shop.  I noticed the website now says tickets for the Gala are now sold out.  I am planning on going up on Saturday, but I was just going for the signing and to see the museum anyway and not for the gala.


Looking a little farther ahead and away, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation will be holding its Astronaut Autograph and Memorabilia Show November 6-8 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. (I attended both the 2007 and 2008 shows). You can already purchase tickets on their website.

My source for most of this is the collectSpace website:

Web Links

From Larry Owsley:

New Web cams provide real-time view of activities on campus

Want a bird's-eye view of Samford lawn? Ever wonder what Jordan-Hare Stadium looks like on a weeknight? Thanks to Auburn University's new Web cameras, visitors to the university's Web site can log on and view in real time what is happening on campus from several different locations. Ten new cameras provide views of high-traffic, popular areas around campus including Cater Lawn, Toomer's Corner, Jordan-Hare Stadium, Samford Lawn and the Harrison School of Pharmacy. Seven of the cameras are operated by Auburn's Office of Communications and Marketing while three cameras, such as two that provide interior views of Ross Hall, are operated from other sources. All 10 cameras can be viewed at this link. To read the news release, click here.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with astronomy, it’s the Foucault Pendulum in Ross Hall.  If we can get in after 8:00p.m., maybe we could walk across the parking lot to be sure that the earth is still rotating. ;-)

Got a loose screw?  Go to go to threaded things on the main page and you should be able to find replacement screws.

Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin)

Decoding battery numbers:  CR2032 is a 20 mm diameter battery that is 3.2 mm thick.  A 2016 is a 20mm diameter that is 1.6mm thick.

Animated transit of Titan (scroll down to see Christopher Go’s animation.)

Wetumpka Crater
Dr. David T. King, Jr.

I am giving the annual lecture at 6:30 on Thursday, February 19 at the Wetumpka Civic Center.  On Saturday, the 21st, the annual crater tours will occur.  I have trained 5 students to lead these tours and they will be working with the Crater Commission folks to do this.  The tours are different now versus a few years ago. 

There are displays through the day at the Civic Center and van tours as well.  You can do either or both, but I think advance registration is required for the van tours.  Interested persons should call city hall about the van tours. 

City of Wetumpka Administrative Building
408 S Main St.
P. O. Box 1180
Wetumpka, AL 36092-2748
Phone: (334) 567-5147
Office Hours:  Monday – Friday, 8 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce   (334) 567-4811
By the way, as you can see, I gave the city a 16-slide Powerpoint presentation on the crater that can be downloaded from the city web page under: 
"About Wetumpka" <>
Events and Attractions." <>
Wetumpka Impact Crater” <>
Wetumpka Astrobleme” <>
Crater History and Origin Presentation”  <>

In mid-December we changed the AAS Web host.  January 2009 was the first full month there.  Here are a few of the Web stats:

• 9,524 pages sent. 
• 23,674 requests handled.
• Top 5 most viewed pages:

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,