Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
In this Issue
We’ll hold this month’s meeting on Friday, April 3, 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.
Our new moon star party this month will be on Saturday, April 25 at Cliff Hill’s farm, clouds permitting of course.
The Auburn Astronomical Society in partnership with the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, will celebrate National Astronomy Day, at the planetarium in Oak Park in Montgomery, on Saturday, May 2. In recognition of the International Year of Astronomy, we’ll have an expanded role in astronomy education at this year’s event.
This has traditionally been our best attended event of the year. We extend a special invitation to those of you who live too far away to attend most of our events, to come and spend the afternoon and evening with us. If you plan to attend, please let me know. If you’re bringing telescopes, let us know what type(s) and size(s). Planetarium director, Rick Evans, needs a list of names for the name tags and a head count for refreshments.
We've heard from the following volunteers to help with Astronomy Day this year. If I've mis-remembered that you volunteered (or didn't), let me know.
Here is this year’s tentative agenda:
2:00-3:00PM: AAS members and friends begin setting up telescopes in time to have them ready by the time the visitors begin arriving. If you can't be there that early, just come when you can. We'll try to set up around the entrance to the planetarium first, and save the area to the east of the sidewalk for those who arrive later.
3:00PM: Early visitors will be able to view the eight-day-old Moon, and the Sun in the light of hydrogen-alpha with the AAS PST solar scope, and members’ scopes filtered white-light images.
5:00PM: Telescope Clinic will be open for guests to bring their sick, disassembled, or otherwise malfunctioning telescopes for repair. This year, we will 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 turns out that there are six SCT's, some owners could use their time to explain:
• Why they have a box full of eyepieces and filtersBy spending 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 programs 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.
6:00 PM: TBA guest speaker’s presentation in the auditorium and door-prize drawings.
7:00 PM: Rick will present a "Tour of the Night Sky" in the planetarium, giving an overview of what the guests will see when they see when they step outside.
8:00 PM: The guests come out to view Saturn, its rings and retinue of moons; the mountains and craters of the eight-day-old Moon. The Moon will be one day past first quarter, making the “Straight Wall” and lunar highlands an impressive view.
For those who have never attended one of our Astronomy Day events, you can get a feel for what goes on, by going to the “Field Trips” link from the AAS menu, then to “W.A. Gayle Planetarium Events”.
Here are a few reminders to help make the most of your Astronomy Day experience:
We’re still waiting to hear from our host on a mutually convenient date.
CPODD Stargaze at Children’s Harbor
I am the coordinator for at Center at UAB that cares for kids diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The Center is called "CPODD" - Center for Pediatric Onset Demyelinating Disease. We are funded by the National MS Society. We provide comprehensive care to kids at Children's Hospital in Birmingham. MS is very rare in kids and often these families have never met another going through the same thing. MS is a chronic often disabling illness and there is no cure.
The Moon will not be visible for viewing on the dates you mention, but I think the skies at Children's Harbor are sufficiently dark to view Saturn and more subtle celestial objects such as star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, binary stars.
Most of our members are free to volunteer their time only on weekends and that Sunday is Father's Day, but I think we can have enough telescopes for the stargaze. Do you have some idea of the number of people who will be attending the retreat? The reason I ask is that the weather in mid-June us quite unpredictable. If we had a forecast of clouds for Saturday, perhaps a few of us could come up Thursday or Friday if the weather was better. We like to have one telescope for every 5 or 10 guests to keep the queues reasonably short.
Because summer solstice, the day of most daylight, will fall on Sunday June 21, sunset on Saturday will be at 7:55 PM, and the sky will not be dark enough for telescopic viewing until about 45 minutes later. Will this be too late?
Will access to the eyepiece present a problem? Depending on where in the sky we're looking, the eyepiece height can vary from about three feet from the ground to a couple of steps up a ladder. We have some latitude in our choice of objects to view and can probably minimize any extremes, but I wanted to make you aware of this issue.
Another concern is that we'll need a large open area to have full access to the entire night sky. I just checked the Google Earth image of Children's Harbor, and see only one possible location near the lighthouse and chapel with somewhat limited horizons. There is one other open location near the highway, but the lights from passing traffic would spoil the experience. Are you familiar with the surroundings there? If the lighthouse and chapel area is not an option, do you think a five minute drive to the Russell Amphitheater might be an option?
Thanks again for writing. I'm looking forward to resolving any issues that may arise.
From: "Sarah M. Dowdy" <email@example.com>
Thank you for your reply! I’m so glad to hear that we might be able to make this work. I will try to answer your questions.The group size you're anticipating is well within our capacity. We have two or three events each year with over 200, and some as small as twenty. Let's plan on Saturday night, June 20. Let's also plan on the lighthouse site -- unless the beacon cannot be turned of for a couple of hours.
I don’t think the height of the telescope would be a problem. Most of our kids are ambulatory in fact, most just look like normal kids. And when I saw kid, really most of our patients are teenagers, but of course, a lot will bring younger siblings.Good. Thanks!
I think that area by the chapel and lighthouse if the most open. I’m not sure that there is much traffic on that road. I’m not sure if there are street lights out there either. Where is the Russell Amphitheater? I am not familiar with it.After checking, I see that the correct name is Lake Martin Amphitheater . It's Children's Harbor's "next door neighbor", just a mile south on the same side of the highway 63. You might check with your contacts at Children's Harbor to see if that's an option. We'll discuss this at our April meeting and begin signing up volunteers.
Again, thank you so much for your willingness to participate in our Retreat. I think this will be fun and new experience for a lot of our families.
Apr. 15 - NASA’s Ares 1-X test flight (4 segment solid rocket plus 1 dummy segment)
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Hoping to see everyone again soon,