Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
March 2012

In this Issue

Events Calendar Solar System Stroll
Dues Member News
Astronomy Day 2012
Web Links 

Events Calendar

Weíll hold our monthly meeting on Friday, March 2, at 7:45PM, in room 215 of Davis Hall, the Aerospace Engineering Building.  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. 

March 2, Monthly meeting, 7:45PM, in room 215 of Davis Hall.
March 18, Solar System Stroll
March 24, Star Party at Cliff Hillís farm or ...
March 17 or 24, MOTDF Stargaze? Letís discuss at the meeting
April 28, Astronomy Day at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium
June 05, Transit of Venus


AAS memberships ($20.00/$10.00 for full-time students) were due in January. AAS members who are current on their 2012 dues are:

Joe Albree  Chad & Mary Ellington  Michael Pastorett  Russell Whigham
William Baugh  Dr. Rhon Jenkins  Allen Screws John Wingard 
Scott & Rebecca Carnahan  Everett Leonard William T. Sprankle  Dr. Ben Wouters
Alan Cook  Charles B. Lewis  Frank Ward  John B. Zachry

If you donít see your name above, and have just let this slip your mind, please make your check payable to ďAuburn Astronomical SocietyĒ.  Families are covered with a single membership.  If youíre unable to attend the meeting, mail your dues to: 

Auburn Astronomical Society 
c/o John B. Zachry 
501 Summerfield Road 
West Point, GA 31833 
Astronomy Day 2012

Astronomy Day 2012 will be on Saturday, April 28, at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium.  Planetarium director, Rick Evans, wrote to say that plans are changing on a daily basis; now the Digital Full Dome demonstration [for TSU administrators and City of Montgomery officials] will be on the Friday before Astronomy Day so we won't be able to show it on Astronomy Day after all. 

Chad Ellington has volunteered to give a presentation geared to the lay audience, and as always, AAS will offer telescopic viewing of the Moon and planets.

At our February meeting, Rhon read a copy of a letter from Dr. Michael Patton, (University of Montevallo Astronomy Club) to the Mayor of Montgomery.  In it, Dr. Patton cited what an asset that the planetarium was to Montgomery, and detailed the lengths to which Rick Evans has gone to make that happen.  Weíre glad that Rickís efforts were finally and formally recognized.

Solar System Stroll
Chad Ellington

I've scheduled a Solar System Stroll at the Alabama Nature Center on Sunday March 18th from 1-5pm. If the club is interested in helping me out in any, it would be much appreciated. Here's a little synopsis of what I've got planned: 1 kilometer scale model of our Solar System. Borrow a guidebook on where to find various planets/ spacecraft around the trail system of the Alabama Nature Center. Hands-on activities under/near the pavilion include: sorting Solar System images, sorting the Earth/Moon historical timeline, constructing a pocket Solar System, solar telescope viewing, making an origami wrist sundial and making/launching stomp rockets.

I still need some stomp rockets built...these are fun and we could always fire them off behind Davis Hall after the meeting for fun. Those attending the meeting could bring old calendars/heavy card stock and a few empty 2-liter bottles to help out with this.

Attached is the guidebook I mentioned above to give you an idea of what I'm working on. I plan on having several laminated versions of this on hand for borrowing as well as a few copies for public 'consumption'. 

Also attached is a file of what kinds of things I want to have on hand and where. As you can see it will be difficult, if not impossible, for one person to handle it all. Also attached is the Google Earth .kmz file for showing where objects will be found. 

I'm working with Rebecca Bearden at AL Nature Center on this. She wants to add more outdoor education programs to the Wildlife Center's repertoire so I'm trying to have this developed into a detailed package so she can run it (with Auburn Astronomical Society) in the future. SolarSystemStroll.pdfALNatureCenter.kmz

Member News

Get to know our newest members, Scott & Rebecca Carnahan at their Who R We page, 

Maybe you saw Chad Ellingtonís quotes from last monthís Wetumpka Crater tour in the Montgomery Advertiser.  See more photos HERE.  Hereís Chadís review of the tour:

The crater tour was rather enjoyable. I was on the last tour of the day so we got to spend some extra time up on Bald Knob. Luckily our tour guide was quite the geological expert. (I had heard one group had a weak guide but luckily one of the participants was a geology enthusiast so most folks stuck with him on their walk.) As much fun as I had on the tour, it did feel somewhat lacking in overall scope. Not enough getting out into the dirt and walking around for me.

Before the tour was a thorough 45 minute geologic presentation by Lucille Petruny regarding the evidence of the Wetumpka impact crater. Unfortunately some of her astronomy knowledge was lacking as I found myself shaking my head on occasion. The errors I caught involved asteroids, how many there were and general misinformation on Near-Earth Objects along with a complete misunderstanding of why our Moon is slowly drifting away from us via tidal interactions. She described it as though Earth's gravity was getting weaker over time! 
If I were to improve on the tour, I'd suggest a few things. More/better overlooks from atop the crater rim. I'd even go so far as to suggest some chain sawing on strategically chosen trees (and I somewhat consider myself a 'tree-hugger'). Find a better way to display their multitudes of posters. Laying on table tops with light's reflecting off their laminated surfaces wasn't optimal. Then maybe have portable microscopes or lenses for looking at some of the structures in the rocks up close.
A fellow on my tour who also attended Dr King's talk mentioned that I didn't miss a thing by only attending the tour, what we did on tour day was way better than the evening talk.

I uploaded a track of the van tour, although I didn't take good enough notes to correctly label all of the rock formations. Still, the photos show some of the evidence that this is indeed an impact crater. The property atop Bald Knob we visited is private property, although currently for sale...perhaps making this a good time to get up there and look across to the east rim without 'angering the natives'. The crater commission obviously mentioned that they are a non-profit so anyone purchasing this 6 acre lot could donate the overlook for a tax incentive.

Clear skies,


Jennifer Lolley, Outreach Administrator at the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve writes:  I would love to schedule some astronomy nights for the year for the Forest Ecology Preserve. One in late spring- March? Not sure about the new moon dates. And one in the late fall. 

Thanks,  Jen

Web Links

I found this (that Einstein may be correct about the speed of light after all) but was waiting for some corroboration from the domestic news sources.

The Keck interferometer is no longer funded by NASA.  Here is more on the future of high resolution optical interferometry from a new S&T news release.

Cloudy Nights just published William Paoliniís Best 1.25" wide angle eyepiece comparisons review.  The Cloudy Nights online version is:

Milky Way and Aurora time lapses, put to music.

Brian Combs' Mars image

Twin tails of comet 2009 P1 Garrard

Check out the new video about Georgia Sky View 2012

Itís not too early to begin preparation for the June 05, Transit of Venus.  The transit will begin in late (Tuesday) afternoon just before 5:05PM when the Sun is only about 35 degrees above the western horizon. The full silhouette of Venusí disk will be visible about 17 minutes later at 5:22.  Sunset is at 7:48 so weíll only be treated to less that half of the full event.  Obviously weíll need a near perfect western horizon and some really good luck with the clouds.  Be sure to get your solar filter if you donít already have one.  Just Google ďsafe solar filterĒ and donít forget our friends down in Pensacola.  Iím a big fan of the Baader solar filter.

Hoping to see everyone at the meeting,