Date: Fri, 28 Mar 1997 06:36:25 -0500
To: (Rhon & Joyce Jenkins), (Larry Owsley), (Allen Screws), (Christy Screws), (Gerald Marfoe), (Ferenc Fodor), (John Shaw), (Rich Hammett), (John Whigham), (Scott Enebak), (David Stanbury), (Randy Russell-AUM), (Ward Knockemus-Huntingdon), (Marc Schrier), (Jeff Clark), (Robert Rock), (Jim Chesnutt), (Furman Smith), (Russell Whigham), (Mike Fulmer), (Jim Burns), (David & Raye Newton), (Ron Hatherley), (Tony Miller), (Neal Murphree), (Gerald Roberts), (Dennis Grantham), (William Baugh), (Scott Thompson), (Ricky Wood), (Paul McKee), (Yen-Ming Cheng), (Mike & Adam Roberts), (Jim Locke), (Tim & David Rich), (Luther Richardson), (Michael Bozack), (Jean-Marie Wersinger), (Jason Ramsey), (Christian Nelson), (Chad Dicke), (Carole Rutland), (Jim Wert),
From: (Russell Whigham)
Subject: ASTROFILES, April, '97
Cc: (Rod & Dorothy Mollise - Mobile Ast Soc), (Sherri Martin - MAS), (George Byron - MAS), (Ginny & Tony Kramer - MAS), (Greg Robinson - B'ham Ast Soc), (Scott Smith - Cullman AL), (Dave Cornutt - Von Braun Ast Soc), (Keith Hudson - Florence AL), (Eric Greene - AAC), (Alex Langoussis - AAC), (Ken  Poshedly - AAC), (Art Russell - AAC), (Jerry Armstrong - AAC), (Len Philpot - Pineville LA), (Gloria Erdington - PAS), (Mike Sandras - PAS), (Walt Cooney-B.R.A.S.), (Larry Luke - Jackson Ast Assn), (Frank Loflin - Jackson Ast Assn), (Jim Hill - Rainwater Ast Assn), (Frank Moon ), (Dave Halupowski - EAAA), (Dr. Wayne Wooten - EAAA), (Yerby Land - Brevard A.S.), (Henry Freedenberg - TAS), (Scott Howard - editor of the TAS Newsletter), (Roger Curry - North East Florida Ast Soc), (Barry Beaman - AL President), (Ed Flaspoehler - AL Reflector), (Berton and Janet Stevens - AL Exec Secretary), (Berton and Janet Stevens - AL Executive Secretary), (Tom English - New Horizons Editor)

Greetings Hale-Boppers,

Well, it's here!  The comet of the century, Hale-Bopp, continues to meet or
exceed expectations.  It has made the local and network evening news and the
cover of Newsweek magazine.  Our own, Dr. John Shaw, was interviewed by the
Montgomery Advertiser for a feature article.  The next two weeks will be the
culmination of a year and a half wait.  And now that it's in the evening
sky, it will be even easier to see it.  If you have some photographs of the
comet, by all means, bring them to the meeting.  Watch for some impromptu
star parties as weather permits.  Here's a brief chronology of comet
Hale-Bopp and a summary of facts:

Discovered July 22, 1995 by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp.
Naked-eye by October 1996.
Early in March: 4:00 AM -- dawn in NE  Soft glowing light, brighter than any
surrounding stars.
Beginning in the middle of March: NW at first dark.  Easy naked-eye tail.
Closest to Earth: March 22.  About same as Earth - Sun distance.  (Moon
Best time to see: March 26 -- April 12. (No interference from the Moon.)
Closest to Sun (perihelion) April 1st
Best seen with binoculars.  Dark sky.  No lights.

What comet Hale-Bopp will NOT do:

Does NOT streak across the sky.  Motion barely perceptible in a telescope.  
Will NOT hit Earth.  Orbit inclined about 90 degrees to the plane of Earth’s

What is it made of?  Mostly water-ice, frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) and
other ices.

How big is it?  Nucleus about 25 miles in diameter.  Coma (the bright fuzzy
glow at the head of the comet):  several thousand miles. 
Tail(s): millions of miles.
Tail(s): May appear as long as 20 -- 30 Full Moon diameters at maximum.  Gas
tail -- bluish.  Dust tail -- yellowish

When will it be back again?
The current latest ephemeris from Don Yeomans at JPL says 2,380 years from
now.  Before flying past Jupiter last year, it had an orbital period of
about 4,200 years.

Compared to comet Hyakutake last spring:  Larger and intrinsically and
brighter, but 10 times farther away.

Photography:  B setting,  800 - 1000 speed film, 28mm or 50mm  lens,
aperture wide open, for about 30 seconds.  Longer exposures only if you have
an equatorially driven platform, such as a clock driven telescope.


The April meeting of the Auburn Astronomical Society will be in room 215 of
the Aerospace Engineering building, on the main campus of Auburn University,
Friday, April 4th, at 8:00 PM.  Following the business session, we'll have a
video tape "A Search for Alien Worlds," an up to date account of extra-solar
system planets.
Montgomery area car poolers, meet at my house (518 Seminole Drive).  As
usual, we head for Auburn at 7:00 PM sharp.  If you've never been to my
house, you can get a map from our web site:  Select "Members and Friends"
from the main menu, find my name, and click on [Map to my house].


A special welcome to  the folks recently added to our ASTROFILES list:  Jim
Burns, Paul McKee, Yen-Ming Cheng, Mike & Adam Roberts, Jim Locke, and David
& Tim Rich.  

In addition to the e-mail list, we have a growing list who receive their
ASTROFILES via fax. They are:  Dr. Jim McLaughlin, Dr. Stuart May, Dr.
Mollie and Jenny Isaacson, Rick Evans and the staff of the W.A. Gayle
Planetarium, and Mr. Bill Joiner.  
We were pleased to welcome Yen-Ming Cheng, Jason Ramsey and friend Julie at
our March meeting, and look forward to seeing them again.


We're still locked in the "First Friday/New Moon Weekend" coincidence, so,
like last month, our star party will be the Saturday (April 5th) following
our meeting.  Have your scope setup by sundown if you'd like to have your
photo included on our web page.  With the Moon well out of the way,  the
comet at a higher altitude, and just past perihelion,  we should have prime
observing conditions for the "Great Comet."


Our March 8th, 1997 star party was possibly the best attended we've ever had
since we've been using Holley's Field as our dark-sky site, with the
possible exception of last year's "Hyakutake" event.  Attending were:  Scott
Thompson (7 inch Astro-Physics), Ricky Woods (8 inch Meade LX-10), David
Key, Mike & Adam Roberts, Russell Whigham (Celestron C-11, SCT), Ron
Hatherley (10.1" Coulter Odyssey I), Marc Schrier (10" Meade Dobsonian),
Scott and Debbie Enebak and family, Allen and Christy Screws, Marty Skelton,
Jason Ramsey and friend Julie, and Paul McKee.  Although a cloud bank
prevented our seeing the  evening apparition of Comet Hale-Bopp, we had a
good evening.  Mars was somewhat of a disappointment -- even with an
assortment of filters, the only features seen were the polar caps.  We had a
brief glimpse of Saturn through Scott Thompson's refractor, virtually
parallel to the ground.  And while some thin clouds made observing the faint
fuzzies difficult at times, we were able to get good contrasty images at
times as well.  Considerable effort was given to trying to see the
"horsehead" with Scott's 7-inch, with somewhat ambiguous results.  We also
saw many of the Messier objects and Omega Centauri.  Die hards, Scott
Thompson and Ricky Wood, stuck it out until Hale-Bopp was up.  See Scott's
Hale-Bopp and assorted other images on his new astrophotography page on our
web site.


On Saturday, March 22, the night of Hale-Bopp's closest approach to Earth,
Robert Rock, Mike Fulmer, Jim Locke, Diane Weldon and yours truly met at
Holley's Field to observe and photograph the comet.  Despite an almost full
Moon, we were able to spot the comet while still in bright twilight.  Later
as the sky around Hale-Bopp darkened, we had a close look at the comet's
head.  One prominent jet was seen spewing the gas and dust from the comet.
As the comet rotates, it produces spiral bands of ejecta.  We were able to
see three - four bands of this out-gassed material.

Brisk winds prevented any serious observing of Mars, but we were able to see
some detail between gusts.  The yellow-green filter seemed to work best,
showing the large Syrtis Major and the north polar cap.  We also did a
little retina welding by looking at the Moon.


While at the above mentioned Hale-Bopp gaze, we had the pleasure of meeting
our neighbors to the north of the field, Mr. Newman and Ms. Williams.   They
seemed to enjoy seeing the comet through the telescopes and were NOT total
strangers to the night sky.  They're really nice folks.  But while there, Mr
Newman said that the field and the property across the road had just been
put up for sale as sub-divided residential lots.  So, unless one of you will
volunteer to buy the land for us, it may soon be filled with new homes and
streetlights.  We probably will have several more months use of the
property, but we'd better be on the look-out for another dark-sky site.


On Sunday evening, March 23-24, we observed the deep, partial (92%) lunar
eclipse.  At maximum, the sky was quite dark, and the view through the
telescope gave the illusion of a translucent globe, lit from within by a dim
rust colored lamp.


On Tuesday, March 24, a lecture on the Wetumpka meteor crater was given in
room 118 of Petrie Hall.  The lectures were aimed more for the students
going on Wednesday's field trip of the site, than for the general public.

There were four speakers:  Dr. Tony Neathery (University of Alabama), Dr.
David King Jr. and Dr. Lorraine Wolfe, (Auburn University), and Christian
Koberl (University of Vienna and NASA/JPL expert on impact craters).  They
made a good case for this being a meteor impact event.  The missing evidence
of shocked quartz keeps this from being recognized as an official meteor
crater, but all of the combined circumstantial evidence, leans toward this
conclusion.  They offered a field guide booklet for sale which may still be
available through the geology department.  Besides the geologists, Allen
Screws, David Stanbury, Larry Owsley and Russell Whigham were there
representing the "starheads".  The field trip on Wednesday was featured on
WSFA that evening and made the front page of the Montgomery Advertiser on


Robert Rock, normally a fixture at our star parties, was checking out a
dark-sky site between Mobile and Selma with some of the members of the
Mobile Astronomical Society.  Here is his report:

Since members of our club had been invited to go to Millry to stargaze I
decided to go. It was on the night of our meeting at Holley’s. I thought
about it a while and decided to go down. It is 180 miles on 2 lane highways
most of the way , however I made good time.  Only 3 hours , including a
stop. If you look on a map , there is at least 6 ways to go , so I picked
Camden, and Thomasville.  Upon arriving and meeting up with members of the
Mobile club, we went to this open field of 175 acres. I watched until about
10 PM and all the skyglow I saw was the twilight from the sun. We had
students from the local school for a while, where Sherri`s cousin teaches.
They all had been instructed to bring red lights and they did so we had no
problems. We observed many familiar objects including the Horsehead in my 8
inch Celestron. As for Hale-Bopp in the morning it got fogged out by what
Sherri and her cousins call ocean fog. Believe me, you could see it roll in
at least 100 miles away and we knew it was after us. But we did get in a
good many hours of very very dark observing time. We all spent the night
camped out on the field. The next morning we found bacon, biscuits and
coffee made by the owner of the field. No one expected this but Gene the
owner is very nice and welcomes us down anytime. Call first , however. A
lady from Texas was there visiting and noted the skies were like  out in
West Texas. All I can say it was dark. 

The next day I was treated see Sherri's grandmother's place, very private
and dark as well. Also in their family I was shown another 600 or so acre
field about 2 miles down a dirt road. Talking about in the sticks this is
it. The nearest town is 30 miles away. Only a few hundred people there. This
place is about as far away from a town as you can get and still have a road
to drive on. 

We all, about 25 or 30 total enjoyed the stargaze. The 25 or 30 included
local students.  From Mobile we had George, Judy, Sherri, and Vince. Some of
the others just could not make it. The trip back did not seem too bad as it
was very varied through many little small towns. Still the drive was about 3
hours, which is not bad for 180 miles.

Our club has been invited and since Mobile club accepts us as though we were
members  I feel that in the future there may be many more meetings like this
one. We will be notified as well, so get your travel clothes ready.



If you hurry, you can still make the Mid-South Stargaze in French Camp MS
the weekend of April 3-5.
Star Gaze Registration Fee: $10.00 This includes all observing sessions.

· Cabins at the lake: There are 16 of these cabins that will sleep up to 16
people each. These cost $3.00 per person per night. These cabins share a
common shower house (with sides for men and women). You will need to bring
your own bedding. Lights and electricity, but no heat. Clubs may wish to
rent one or two for their members to stay together  (indicate this under
comments). One or more cabins will be reserved for ladies only (indicate
this also).
· * RVs and tent campers may stay at the observatory site at no extra
charge. There are water , electricity, and toilet facilities available on
the hill in our planetarium/astro-education resource center.
   * Hall Lodge: 4 motel type rooms at the lake (1.5 miles from the
Observatory). $50.00 for one or two people per night. Connecting baths.
   * Memphis Guest House: 8 motel type rooms with queen sized bed and two
single bunk beds. This site is also near the lake, 1.5 miles from the
observing site, but near meals. $50.00 per night for 1 or 2 persons.
   * Bed & Breakfast Inn: Restored log cabin lodge. Includes breakfast (1
mile from the observatory). $50.00 per night, for 1 or 2 persons. The B & B
is in the historical area on the Natchez Trace. A neat place. Call 547-6835
for reservations, 4 rooms available.
· Off-Site Lodging: Available at the following places near by: 
· o Jeff Busby Campground: A National Park Service Campground and scenic
area 10 miles north on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The campground is free and
operates on a first come, first serve basis. No reservations needed.
        o Best Western - Trace Inn: 20 miles south at Kosciusko. (601)-289-6252
        o Day's Inn of Kosciusko: 20 miles south at Kosciusko. (601)-289-2271
        o Ackerman Inn: 15 miles away in Ackerman. (601)-285-3281
        o Day's Inn of Winona: 30 miles northwest in Winona. (601)-283-3900


   * We are planning four group meals. If there is sufficient response (30 or
     more), we can set up additional meals. Indicate this on the form.
Lunches - Friday & Saturday, family style $6.00 per person at the lake lodge
at 12:00 PM. Suppers - $8.00, 5:00pm. There is also a cafe 4 miles east of
French Camp on Miss. Hwy 413, and there is a Quick Stop just across the
Trace. Great breakfasts and lunches are available at the Council House Cafe
in the historic area "downtown."

Note: As at all star parties, please be courteous to your neighbors. Don't
use a telescope unless its owner is there and invites you. All flashlights
should be covered with red tape or tissue paper. (A supply will be available
at the Observatory.) No car lights should be used after dark in or near the
observing area. Wait until past the trees to turn on you headlights if
leaving. We request no smoking in the buildings, and no
alcohol. Thanks. 

Other Activities:

   * Hiking, canoeing at the lake available crafts, log cabins, and the
antebellum Drane ($1.00 per person per day), the historic area on the
Natchez Trace Pkwy. with sorghum mill, local home. Additional talks will be
scheduled in case of cloudy weather.

For More Information Contact:
James G. Hill
Rainwater Observatory
French Camp Academy
French Camp, MS 39745

Office Phone: (601)-547-6865
Home Phone: (601)-547-6970
Fax: (601)-547-6790

 Please Print this page to keep for your records and click here to fill out
the registration form.


 (Editor's Note: Several from our group are planning to attend again this
year.  If you've never been before, I can highly recommend it.)

The Atlanta Astronomy Club is proud to announce the 1997 Peach State Star
Gaze Thursday through Sunday, May 1 - 4, under the dark skies of Camp
McIntosh at Indian Springs State Park near Jackson, Georgia, an hour's drive
southeast of Atlanta.

Highlights of the event include:
* Saturday afternoon talks by some of the most famous names in amateur astronomy
* Workshops on mirror cleaning, polar alignment and more throughout the event
* Open observing on two flat, open fields located adjacent to the lodging
and meeting facilities
* Swap-tables on the observing field 

Camp McIntosh is a group camp located near Jackson in central Georgia.
Onsite are four dormitory-style cabins, three staff quarters buildings, a
crafts building and a dining hall fully equipped with cooking and wash-up
facilities.  Registrants provide their own bed linens/pillows and towels.

The centrally-located ballfield serves as the main observing site where
campers may also park. The field features a wide, low horizon (-44 degree
horizon when viewing south from the north end). A smaller observing field is
located between the crafts building and dining hall.

The Peach State Star Gaze prides itself on the quality of the Saturday
presentations. This year, we continue that tradition with:

Michael Covington is the author of Astrophotography for the Amateur (soon to
be revised to include digital imaging) and co-author of the Cambridge
Eclipse Photography Guide. 

Michael T. Kitt is the author of The Moon:  An Observing Guide for Backyard
Telescopes and a frequent contributor to Astronomy magazine and The
Observer's Guide. His presentation will discuss new insights that enable the
amateur to observe the Moon in a more intelligent, and therefore more
revealing, way.

Tippy D'Auria has been an active astronomer since 1980 and is the founder of
the Winter Star Party in Florida.  He is currently a member of the Southern
Cross Astronomical Society and has served in various capacities there. His
talk will detail Newtonian telescope collimation.

And if you agree that good events are worth remembering, please place your
order in advance for one or more of this year's special Peach State Star
Gaze tee-shirts. Last year's was different from this one, and next year's
version will be different again!

To register, include the information listed below along with your check or
money order (payable to the Atlanta Astronomy Club) to:

Ken Poshedly, PSSG Chairman
1741 Bruckner Court, Snellville, Georgia 30278
Make your check or money order payable to the Atlanta Astronomy Club.

Confirmation packets will be sent by return mail and include your lodging
assignment, a map of the park's location, and a photocopy of your
registration form.

If you have any questions, phone (770) 979-9842 or e-mail to
Rain or shine event

Registration (required) -- $20 per adult (age 13 and up); $10 per child
(ages 5 through 12); children under 5, free.

State of Georgia Parking fee (required) -- $2 per vehicle. Covers your
entire stay. 


* Private Rooms -- $20 per person per night. Include heat and showers. Each
room has two twin beds.

* Bunkhouse -- $15 per person per night. Includes heat and showers in
bunkhouse-style arrangement.

* Camping -- $8 per person per night. Tent or vehicle on the observing
field.   No open or campfires or waste dumping is   permitted. Showers
available in the nearby bunkhouses.

* Off-Site Lodging -- A list of several motels will be provided on request.


* Cook your own at the fully stocked dining hall (you provide the food)
* Cook your own at your campsite stove (no open fires permitted anywhere)
* Visit any of the area restaurants listed on the handout provided when you

TEESHIRTS (optional; specify quantity and size):  XXL _____ XL _____ L _____
M ______

Street Address 	
City, State, ZIP 	
Work Phone 	
Home Phone 	
Total Enclosed 	


In addition to being skilled amateur astronomers, several of our new members
and friends are amateur radio operators.  If there are other hams among us,
please let us know.
Ricky Wood :     KD4FJS
Mike Roberts:    KF4CQB
Adam Roberts:    KF4LSC
David Wayne Key: KD4LZN
Scott Thompson:  KA4JFN

Hope to see everyone at the meeting, if not before,


Russell Whigham
Montgomery AL

Auburn Astronomical Society