Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
May 2013

In this Issue

Events Calendar Web Links
Astronomy Day Member News
Public Star Gaze Updates

Events Calendar

We’ll hold our monthly meeting on Friday, May 3, at 7:45PM, in room 215 of Davis Hall, the Aerospace Engineering Building. 

Our new moon star party this month will be on Saturday, May 11, at Cliff Hill’s farm, and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site Stargaze on May 18

May 03, Monthly meeting in room 215 of Davis Hall
May 11, Dark-sky star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
May 18, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site Stargaze 
May 25, Wetumpka Meteor talk by Dr. King at the Forest Preserve
May 27-28, Jupiter, Venus, & Mercury conjunction
Jun 07,  Monthly meeting in room 215 of Davis Hall
Jun 08, Dark-sky star party at Cliff Hill’s farm
July 24 – 27, Astronomical League Convention in Atlanta

Astronomy Day

Another Astronomy Day is in the books.  We had absolutely perfect weather for this year’s event at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery, on Saturday, April 20th.  We began arriving at the planetarium around 3:00pm and started setting up the telescopes and the AAS information table.  Planetarium director, Rick Evans and planetarium assistants, Trish Jester and Dana Hartsfield had already greased the skids for us by getting out the publicity and having everything ready.  Early visitors were treated to safe views of the Sun through the H-a and white-light filtered telescopes and the Moon.  Rick, Trish and Dana were giving planetarium shows throughout the afternoon.  At 6:00pm, our own  Dr. Rodger Morrison gave a presentation on "Taking Good Pictures of Cool Stuff with Amateur Equipment" in the planetarium auditorium, followed by a preview of our evenings quarry, "Tour of the Night Sky". 
You can see the fruits of Rodger's labor at his photography Web page.  Since most of us were outside attending the telescopes, we’ve already had requests from our members for Rodger to give an encore presentation at one of our meetings.

Beginning around 8:00pm the guests came out for telescopic viewing of the Moon, Jupiter, binary stars, and later, Saturn.

Photos of the day’s activities by John Wingard and your editor may be viewed by going to the “Field Trips” link from the Auburn Astronomical Society Web page then to “W.A. Gayle Planetarium Events”. 

Attendance seemed slightly down from previous years, no doubt due to the heavy competition of virtually every other organization in the River Region as well as two A-Day games out of town and the final rolling of Toomer’s Corner on Auburn’s doomed live oaks.  For those who were able to attend, all seemed to enjoy the day. Thanks to everyone who helped with their telescopes, especially those who drove all the way from Auburn, Opelika, and Columbus:

Rodger Morrison: 10-inch Newtonian, AAS CGEM100 SCT & solar scope
Russell Whigham:  Celestron C-11 SCT 
Allen Screws, AAS 12.5-inch Dobsonian 
Frank Ward, 12-inch Lightbridge, AAS CGEM 1100, & AAS PST solar scope 
John Wingard, 3.5-inch Questar 
Jim McLaughlin, 8-inch Meade SCT 
John Tatarchuk , 25-inch Dobsonian 
Alan Cook, 3.5-inch Questar or 10-inch Meade 
Ray Kunert, 10-Meade LX200 

Also joining us for the day were AAS members: Camryn Smith, Melanie Folds, Rick & Michael Pastorett, and Eric Bair from the AAS Facebook Group.

New on our e-mail list are: planetarium assistants, Trish Jester and Dana Hartsfield as well as Astronomy Day visitors, Alex & Cathy Alkire, Carrie Callaway, Denise Rasnek, and Ray Zaworski.

Thanks also to Robert Fuller and Eddie Kirkland who wrote that they would have to sit out this one due to illness.  Here’s hoping for speedy recoveries for both.  We also received “regrets” from Gail Smitherman in Selma who already had plans to be out of town.

As always, special thanks to Rick, Debra, & Rachael Evans, planetarium assistants, Trish Jester, and Dana Hartsfield for hosting our group and providing drinks and sandwiches for us. Thanks to you all!

Public Stargaze Updates

We have two public stargazes planned: First is our May 18, Tuskegee Airmen NHS, event. Park Ranger, Christine Biggers, will begin the evening with a presentation on celestial navigation learned by the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII.  She writes:

Besides the telescopes I had when you visited, I have purchased some red light filters for our flashlights and a couple of regular sized tripods.  We have the one large telescope and the 4 smaller ones with the tabletop tripods.  The two regular sized tripods are for two of the smaller telescopes, and the other two we will set up on a little table for the children to be able to view from.
Sunset will be at 7:36 P.M.   We can start viewing the 1st quarter Moon by 8:00, then Jupiter before it sets, while we're waiting Saturn to rise a little higher in the sky.  We’ll set up our telescopes near the upper parking lot [MAP], Please let me know if you can help with this. 

Next fall, Jennifer Lolley is already planning for the next Forest Preserve fall stargaze on November 23rd.  If comet ISON predictions hold up, we could have a full calendar next November.

Web Links

Here is a cool website that shows exactly how far it is to Mars. Wait if the screen blanks out.  The program hasn’t crashed — it just takes a long time.

Glynn Alexander sent this interesting short documentary on the Hubble Space Telescope.  It is preceded by a skippable ad and interrupted by another skippable ad in the middle. 

Here’s a nice look at the Earth’s rotation as seen from the southern hemisphere.   As the moon is .5 degree across, it takes it almost exactly two minutes to rise.  This beautiful extravaganza occurred on January 28, 2013 in Wellington, N.Z.   (sound on...!) 

Member News

Matthew Warren and Michael & Rick Pastorett for 2013 A.A.S. have re-upped for 2013. Welcome back!  Most recently, Camryn Smith and Melanie Folds, won the AAS free membership drawing at Astronomy Day.  Congratulations and welcome to the group.

Rodger Morrison sent this report from our April star party:

It’s just before 7am and I just got home.  Wow.  Robert and I were set up about sunset and it was very cloudy, though you could easily see the brighter stars off and on and Jupiter was hazy but viewable.  By 8:30 or so, most of the clouds in the west were moving away to the east and we got a very nice view of the ISS passing overhead.  By 9:00 or so, the sky was mostly clear and by 11pm, it was very clear.  It took me until about 11pm or so to get everything lined up and working (drift aligning still takes me a while), and I started shooting Orion, but it was getting low by the time I could get on it.  I ended up shooting only a couple of dozen frames from M42, then shot about the same amount of a couple of globular clusters, the Sombrero Galaxy, M51, Bode’s Nebula, M13, the Swan Nebula, and the Eagle Nebula.  I also piggy-backed a camera onto my tube rings and shot the Milky Way with an 18mm lens.  Mounting it on my scope let me take some 1 minute exposures without star trails, which really turned out nice.  I did set up my “observatory” out of tarps, which worked very well.  I’ll definitely do this again in the future. 
We were the only ones there last night, but we had a good time.  The temperature was in the mid-40’s, but there was only a very few minutes when there was any breeze, so it was nice.  Robert left a couple of hours after midnight and I left when Mr. Hill’s dogs sounded like they were heading my direction at about 5:45 or so.
 Fun stuff, for sure.  I’ll definitely go to Mr. Hill’s place again, hopefully sometime in the next week or so. 
Hope to see everyone at the meeting,