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Date: Sat, 10 Aug 1996 22:39:57 -0400
To: (Rhon & Joyce Jenkins), (Larry Owsley), (Allen Screws), ( Christy Screws), (Gerald Marfoe), (Ferenc Fodor), (Luther Richardson), (Michael Bozack), (Jean-Marie Wersinger), (John Shaw), (Rich Hammett), (Randy Russell-AUM), (Marc Schrier), (Robert Rock), (Jim Chesnutt), (Furman Smith), (Russell Whigham), (David & Raye Newton), (Ron Hatherley), (Tony Miller), (Bob Howell - Channel 12), (Dan Overcash - Orangeburg SC), (Rod & Dorothy Mollise - Mobile Ast Soc),
        75573.1263@CompuServe.COM (Greg Robinson - Birmingham Ast Soc), (Scott Smith - Cullman AL), (Dave Cornutt - Von Braun Ast Soc), (Carol Rutland - Columbus College Space Science Center), (Eric Greene - Ast Society of the Atlantic - Atlanta), (Alex Langoussis - Atlanta Astronomy Club),
        102745.313@CompuServe.COM (Ken  Poshedly - Alanta Ast Club), (Len Philpot - Pineville LA), (Gloria Erdington - PAS - New Orleans LA), (Yerby Land - Brevard Astronomical Society, Melbourne FL), (Henry Freedenberg - Tallahassee FL Ast Soc), (Scott Howard - editor of the TAS Newsletter), (Roger Curry - North East Florida Ast Soc), (Barry Beaman - AL President), (Ed Flaspoehler - AL Reflector Editor),
        73357.1572@CompuServe.COM (Berton and Janet Stevens - AL Executive Secretary)
From: (Russell Whigham)
Subject: August '96 Astrofiles
X-UIDL: 81fe99b08e42dbd296c42c24062f4dbb

Greetings Astrophiles,

Apologies to all for not getting out a meeting reminder for the August
meeting.  Between the short interval between meetings and a two week
business trip out of town, it just didn't happen.

We are entering a new phase in the newsletter publication;  Allen Screws,
snail mail newsletter editor is now online!  For a while, Allen and I will
be merging the hardcopy and e-mail editions.  Bare with us while we work out
the details.  

I've added a few more links to our neighboring society's web sites (notably
the Von Braun Astronomical Society in Huntsville) and will be adding the
meteor pages mentioned in Allen's atricle under the Organizations link heading.

Please welcome  Marc Schrier of Montgomery to the list of e-mail recipients.
Marc is currently using a 4 inch refractor and is planning to purchase a
Meade 10 inch. Marc is an Auburn graduate, working as an air traffic
controller here at Dannelly Field.  Glad to have you with us Marc.  

Also, we've renewed contact with Carole Rutland.  Many of you will remember
that Carole helped the infant AAS learn to crawl when all four members treked
over to Columbus to the planetarium.  Later, Carol hosted the Astronomy Day
activities at Callaway Gardens for several years.  Now she's at the Coca-Cola
Space Science Center.  We're looking forward to making a visit there

 The following is Allen's Summer edition.  Thanks Allen.

                       Auburn Astronomical Society
                         Newsletter, SUMMER 1996

Well, this newsletter is coming out a little sooner than usual, but I've
found a couple of items I thought might be of interest around the time of
the Perseid shower and other late summer and fall showers.  First a little
club news; our August program was was a video tape on the measurement in
astronomy, stellar parallax, chepids, red shifts etc.  The material on the
tape was a little basic, but it did stimulate an interesting discussion
afterward.  Our star party will be August 17 at Holley's Field.  The next
meeting will be Friday, September 6th, room 302 of the Aerospace building,
at 8:00 P.M.

In case the next news letter is too late, remember -- September/October is
the time to renew club subscriptions to Sky & Telescope and Astronomy, so
get your piggybanks ready.  I actually have an email address now which is:
My phone number is:  334-821-2183.
Check out our homepage at:

                       CATCH A SHOOTING STAR

I heard this idea from Condrad Kussner, a well known Birmingham amateur,
about 15 years ago in a Birmingham News article around Perseid time.  I
thought the idea was kind of "far out" but I have since seen this technique
described in textbooks and recently a press release from JPL on the internet
(  Using these procedures, you may
be able to collect dust sized metallic (nickle-iron) micrometeorites, some
of the many tons of meteoric material that settles to earth each day.

1)  Collect from a roof downspout in a deep bowl.
2)  Dry the material.
3)  Remove leaves and other obvious debris.
4)  Place the remaining material on paper.  Place a magnet under the paper
to attract the metallic particles.  Shake or tip off the remaining material.
5)  Examine the remaining material with a good magnifier or better still, a
microscope.  Micrometeorites should be rounded, possibly with small pits on
their surface.

Here is another procedure, probably better, as more care is given to
seperating contaminants from meteors.

1)  Collect rainwater in a shallow flat pan, like a 12 inch pie pan lined
with aluminium foil or plastic wrap.  Collect a pre-shower control sample.
Pre or post shower particles may be industrial pollution etc.
2)  Sweep bottom pan containing rainwater with a magnet wrapped in a plastic
3)  Place magnet with metallic particles attached in another clean, shallow
dishcontaing distilled water, again lined with plastic wrap or foil.
4)  Remove magnet from bag, swirl empty bag in distilled water.  Any
metallic particles will fall off and settle to the bottom of the dish.
5)  Repeat steps 1-4 several times to collect as much material as possible.  
6)  Evaporate water in second pan.  (You can do this quickly by boiling with
a stove or microwave.)  After material is dried up, keep it covered to
prevent dust contamination.
7)  Collect metallic particles with a magnetized needle.
8)  Put on clean paper or microscope slide.  Examine with magnifier or 100X
microscope for smaller particles.

                        EXAMINING PARTICLES

Look for particles different in size or shape from control group.  You might
also try sorting particles according to size, shape, or shower origin.

Many non-metallic particles left in the rainwater pan may be stony
meteorites.  Evaporate or boil off water. Use wet non-magnetized needle to
pick particles up and place on paper or slides.  Compare with pre/post
shower control groups to identify meteorites.

The reason you collect rainwater is that the dust size meteor particles
which are normally suspended, are washed out of the atmosphere by rain or
snow.  The larger the collection area, the more particles you should get, so
a wading pool might be another possible "collector".If mother nature provide
a rainstorm soon after a major shower, try using an enamel pan with
distilled water.

Some people suggested a number of years ago, that major meteor showers
*caused* increased rainfall by providing nuclei for raindrops.

                        ROCK MUSIC

Meteors can be monitored by radio due to the frequencies in the range of FM
radio (88-108 MHZ) are not reflected by the ionosohere, but depend on
line-of-sight transmission.  The ionized trail of a meteor can reflect
frequencies (40-150 MHZ) that incvlude FM and some TV.  This allows normally
distant stations that cannot be picked up to be heard for periods of 0.1
seconds to several minutes for large meteors.  This temporary enhancement of
signal can also be picked up on VHF TV (channels 2 to around 9).  Here are
some pointers on how to try for these signals.  

It is best to use a digital radio for precise tuning hooked to a Yagi (TV)
type antenna.
Before the shower, search the FM band or TV for frequencies where no signal
is picked up.
The station should be 200 to 1000 miles from you.  Another way to do this is
to look up appropriate stations in a radio/TV atlas(these can be found in
many libraries) or look for station advertisements in phonebooks or
newspapers of distant cities.  This allows you to set your radio exactly
without searching for "empty" frequencies.

Count any enhanced signal of one second or longer as a meteor.  A signal of
five seconds or more may be due to a bright (-1 magnitude or brighter)
visual meteor.  It could be interesting to use a radio along with your
visual count project.  You could carry the radio outside with you or perhaps
record an audio tape (or video tape on the VCR if you're monitoring TV
channels) during your observing period.  Some observers report 20% to 40% of
visual meteors can be heard using these methods.  Like visual counts, radio
meteor rates are higher after local midnight than before.

One nice thing about this technique is that it can be used to monitor
showers in daylight, moonlight, and cloudy weather.  There are daytime
showers monitored exclusively by radio.  Here is a list of daytime showers
for the next year:

SHOWER                   PEAK               ZHR
Lambda Leonids           8/25               05
Sextanids                9/27               30
Sagittarids              2/01               15
Chi Capricornids         2/13               06
Piscids                  4/02               ??
Delta Piscids            4/24               ??
Epsilon Arietids         5/09               ??
Arietids                 5/16               ??
Omicron Cetidids         5/20               15
Arietids                 6/07               60
Sigma Perseids           6/09               40
Beta Taurids             6/28               25

Please understand that the techinique described here is the kind of
no-frills/bare bones method.  It is based on a May 1976 article in Sky &
Telescope and and a chapter from the North American Meteor Networks online
guide to meteor observing  on the WWW at:

Folks who are amateurs use different radio frequencies and much more
sophisticated equipment.  A good  place to check out these advanced
techniques is International Meteor Organization'web page at:

Well I don't know if these little projects or just be so much bravo sierra,
but perhaps you can try them or force some innocent child to do them as a
science project.  I haven't tried the meteor collecting thing and haven't
had any catches on the radio.  Good luck if you five either a try.

Allen Screws, Editor


Here's some additional information from Allen after this had already gone
to "the "printer" ;-)

     Micrometeors-It may be best to try collecting samples from rain 
about 30 days after the meteor shower. It takes about 4 weeks for the 
meteor  dust to reach the weather-producing  levels of the atmosphere. It 
has been theorized that stronge meteor showers may lead to increased 
rainfall by providing nuclei for raindrops.(Time magazine 9/29/61) 
     Rock Music-Meteors may also generate radio waves directly(Sky and 
Telescope 3/92). VLF radio waves produced by bright meteors may be 
detectable when a piece of clothing, frizzy hair or other material acts 
as a transducer and converts radio waves into audible sounds. This could 
account for sounds often reported with bright meteors. These sounds are 
said to occur at the same time as the bolide; if this was a normal sound 
it should, of course, occur after the visible meteor the way thunder 
follows lightening.   

Russell Whigham
Montgomery AL

Auburn Astronomical Society