Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
March, 2009

In this Issue

Events Calendar 2009 Membership
Astronomy Day Eastwood Stargaze
MOTDF Stargaze Space News
Web Links Comet Lulin

Events Calendar

We’ll hold our March meeting on Friday, March 6, at 7:45PM in room 215 of Davis Hall, the Aerospace Engineering Building.  The doors to the building automatically lock at 8:00PM, so if you’re running late, rap on the door nearest our meeting room and we’ll let you in. 

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, March 28, and will be in conjunction with our Forest Preserve stargaze at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest (see below).

March 1-15, Venus gets closer/larger. Crescent phase visible in binoculars
March 6, Kepler launch to search for Earth-like planets
March 5, Comet Lulin appulses M-44, Beehive cluster
March 6, AAS Monthly meeting at 7:45PM
March 8, Daylight Savings Time begins
March 10, Full Moon, the “Worm” moon
March 12, Titan transits Saturn 4:30-7:10AM
March 12  STS-119Space Shuttle Discovery
March 13, Favorable ISS pass
March 14-31, Look for zodiacal light in the west in evening twilight
March 15, Favorable ISS pass
March 20, Spring equinox
March 27, Venus in inferior conjunction
March 27, Eastwood Christian School Stargaze
March 28, Titan transits/grazes Saturn 3:30AM
March 28, Stargaze at MOTDF (see below)
April 23rd – 26th  Georgia Sky View '09

Members/Friends News

Jason Hill, Ray Kunert, Mike Holley, Jennifer Reuss, Perry Myer, Charles Floyd, and Joe Albree have renewed their memberships. We also welcome Aniket Shirgaokar as a new member.  This brings our 2009 membership to twenty-one. 

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. 

New on mail list: 

Elliot Errera wrote:

I recently moved to Auburn, to work as a mainframe Computer Programmer for Northrop Grumman. I've always had an interest in astronomy. I thought that now would be a good time to get involved. 

Denise Stoeckel wrote:

I'm Denise and my husband, Jim, and daughter, Maggie are new to Auburn. My husband is a fisheries faculty member. Maggie has always been fascinated with the night sky and asked for a telescope from Santa. we, uh, I mean Santa gave her a Bushnell 525 X 3 Voyager Reflecting scope (We got a phenomenal price and it came recommended as a first scope). We went out with the scope to a place near Society Hill last nite to use the scope for the first time.

We saw the moon and Maggie was in awe. We had a little trouble with focusing and keeping on target but it was pretty cool to see the surface. I tried to spot a nearby star and saw the most amazing thing: a circle of lights. what was this? A star? Unfortunately my husband and daughter when inside to warm up and by the time we got back to scope to look at it was out of field and I couldn't spot it again.

So kids join you guys and gals on your star parties? We are thinking of joining one of the star gazing nights at the forest preserve next time around. We are looking forward to getting out when the nights get warmer to see more things.

From Phil Hosey:

Just wanted to share some pics.  I recently decided to sell the SN10 and go with a refractor for imaging.  I've been working on getting my system down and also learning post-processing techniques.  Hopefully we'll have good weather this weekend, if so I'll come out for this month's star party.  Here's some images taken with the new scope.

As I'm typing this to you, from the comfort of my bedroom, the scope is setup outside taking subs of the Horsehead region while I monitor everything on my laptop outside through VNC. 


Astronomy Day 2009

In the February Astrofiles, we discussed the possibilities of an expanded role in astronomy education at our Astronomy Day event in recognition of the International Year of Astronomy.  We continued the discussion at the February meeting.  To be honest, there was not much enthusiasm for an hour or two of lectures.  I think one person offered to give a talk.  The consensus seemed to be that most of our guests at Astronomy Day come only to look through the telescopes.  We’re considering this alternative to the auditorium lectures:

We usually schedule the "Telescope Clinic" at 5:00.  In the past, this has been for folks with telescopes that were in need of instruction, repair, or assembly.  Rhon suggested that this year, we expand the telescope clinic to include a walking tour of our telescopes, stopping at each for the owner to describe his/her telescope, why they selected the one they did, and its assets and liabilities.  If it works out that there are six SCT's, some owners could use their time to explain: 

• Why they have a box full of eyepieces and filters 
• How we use sky charts to find invisible things 
• Why there are batteries and wires
• Why we use dew shields and light shrouds 
• The convenience of "GoTo" scopes 
• Image orientation differences
• Focal length, aperture, f/ ratios, fields of view
At five minutes or so at each telescope, we could impart a lot of information about telescopes without taxing the visitors' attention spans, and finish in time for Rick to start  the indoor shows at 6:00 . When Rick turns them loose to come back out to the telescopes at 8:00, they should have a better appreciation of what they're looking through.

We still have plenty of time, so if anyone has ideas, we're still open to them.  Let us know what you have in mind.

Eastwood School Stargaze

Ira Hostetter has been trying for several months to find a mutually convenient time for AAS and the students at Eastwood School to meet at his home in southern Macon County, for an evening under the stars.  In our most recent attempt, Ira suggested Friday, March 27th. He anticipates 20-30 students.

The skies are very dark there.  We’ll need 3-4 scopes.  Unfortunately, your editor will be out of town that week.  If you can help, please let me know so that we can finalize the details. 

MOTDF Stargaze

Jennifer Lolley wrote:

I would like to schedule  our next astronomy night. Already have a Scout troop interested. I looked at the calendar and noticed that it is feeling up quick. I would love to have March 28th if possible. April 25th is Auburn City Fest, so I think that would hurt our attendance. If a quarter moon is OK, May 2nd would be another possible date. May 23rd is another possibility. Would you check it out with everybody and give me some dates. The public is already asking about it!  Nice to have such a popular event! 

I think this will be our last one at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest. They are building a new CVS right at the corner of Ogletree and Moore's Mill, so more light pollution. I hate it because the facilities are so nice, but it is just getting too light to see stars well. 

Thanks, Jen

Jennifer Lolley
Administrator,  Forest Ecology Preserve

We should have plenty of folks to help.  Why don't we shoot for March 28th.  Let us know if you can help.

Space News
John Zachry

Vote for Serenity!!!
March 6 at 9:48 p.m. CST (new date) Kepler launch to search for Earth-like planets
March 12 - Space Shuttle Discovery launch with 4th solar panel
March 13 - I.S.S. Southwest to East 7:58 p.m. - 8:02 p.m. CST
March 15 - I.S.S. Southwest to Northeast 7:17 p.m. - 7:23 p.m. CST
March 18 - Mercury Messenger orbit insertion in 2 years
April 15 - Ares 1-X test flight (4 segment solid rocket +1 dummy segment)
April 16 - ESA’s Herschel infrared telescope + Planck cosmic background radiation telescope
April 26 - Soyuz TMA 14  with crew of 3 to ISS
April 28 - GOES - O launch
May 20 - Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launch 

Web Links

RegiStax 5 (beta) has been released. You can download this latest version free from

Comet Lulin

Comet Lulin finder chart:

Here are Scott Thompson’s images of comet Lulin: 


Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,