Date: Thu, 01 Jan 1998 21:43:03 -0500
To: (Rhon & Joyce Jenkins), (Larry Owsley @ Home),
        OWSLEY@ALUMNI.AUBURN.EDU (Larry Owsley), (Allen Screws), (Allen Screws @ Home), (Christy Screws), (Ferenc Fodor), (John Shaw), (Rich Hammett), (John Whigham), (Scott Enebak), (David Stanbury), (Randy Russell-AUM), (Marc Schrier), (Jeff Clark), (Robert Rock), (Jim Chesnutt), (Furman Smith), (Russell Whigham), (Mike Fulmer), (Jim Burns), (David & Raye Newton), (Ron Hatherley), (Neal Murphree), (Dennis Grantham), (William Baugh), (Scott Thompson), (Ricky Wood), (Mike & Adam Roberts), (John Howard), (Paul McKee), (Yen-Ming Cheng), (Jim Locke), (Tim & David Rich), (DAVID E. GREGORY), (Dacia Marshall), (Chris Talley), (Margie Brand), (Marcus and Susan Howell), (Vince Cammarata), (Luther Richardson), (J. D. Perez), (Michael Bozack), (Jean-Marie Wersinger), (Jason Ramsey), (Christian Nelson), (Rick Evans -- W A Gayle Planetarium), (Alisha Vila), (David T King Jr ), (Ted Kicklighter), (Jason & Claudia Glasgow), (Lee Cook), (Jason Schein), (Rick Fanning), (Scott McCollough), (Jim Stierle), (Kenneth Bryant), (Gary Whiteside), (Ronald Hornsby), (Mark A Kunkel), (John Zachry),
        cookala@GROUPWISE1.DUC.AUBURN.EDU (Dr. Alan Cook), (Carole Rutland), (Jim Wert), (Astronomy)
From: (Russell Whigham)
Subject: ASTROFILES, January '98

Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
January, 1998

Happy New Year Astrophiles,

Because our normal "first Friday" date falls on January 2, and to avoid
possible conflicts with holiday travel (and the bowl games), we will slip
the meeting date back one week to Friday, January 9.  As usual, we'll meet
in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building at 8:00 PM.  If Santa
brought anyone any new "toys", bring them for show-and -tell.

Rick  Fanning  at W.A. Gayle Planetarium
A while back, Rick Evans , director of the W.A.Gayle Planetarium, sent out a
mass Email asking if anyone of us would be interested in working part-time
at the planetarium.  Rick Fanning has accepted the position.  Here's a note
from Rick:

>The job at the planetarium is very cool!  We (Scott and I) are learning
lots.   When you teach something you have to learn it very well.  I spoke to
Rick and suggested that we (the planetarium) host one of our upcoming
meetings.  He didn't give me a firm answer but I think it will be possible
sometime in the new year.  We can go stargazing anywhere on the planet!  I'm
hoping to start Friday night shows that would include some basic star gazing
right there at the planetarium.  This is our thing!  We enjoyed UC
Berkeley's public education shows that we want to get something like that
started here in the capitol city!  Rick Evans is real open to all kinds of
ideas!  He has really turned this program around!

Thanks for the note, Rick.  Keep us posted on that Friday night meeting

>I went by Alabama Steel in Montgomery on the way back from Selma to look at
the  roofing and siding. I picked red for the siding part and brown for the
roof. It will match the house which is important to the wife. I have got to
sit down this week and come up with a list of all the materials I am going
to need.  The  cement slab setup fine and as soon as it clears I am going
put my mount on the pipe and line it up on Polaris and drill holes for the
screws. I will paint the pipe next. I am having a lot of fun building it! 
>I will probably get the materials this weekend and try to build next
weekend. If all goes well.
>Scott Thompson,

LUTHER W. RICHARDSON sends this update from the CCSSC
>It has been a while again, but I'm still around!  Columbus State University
has hired Dr. Shawn Cruzen who is an astronomer to teach astronomy/physics
and take care of the observatory.  
>We've been working on some video connections to the scope in conjunction
with the Hydrogen-alpha filter to "broadcast" live video of the Feb 26th
solar eclipse.  Also, if the club would be interested, I thought individual
members could be allotted some time to use the 16" scope on a night in
February or late January?  Let me know if there is some interest.  The time
could be used for observing, photography, or CCD photography.  Hopefully, we
will get rid of the vibration problem by then!
>Luther W. Richardson, Jr.		

If you think you'd like to take advantage of Luther's offer to use the 16
inch, let us know.

ALLEN SCREWS has been traveling terrestrially and in cyberspace.  Here's
what he's found:
>Christi and I took an anniversary trip to Disney World. We stopped by Cape
Canaveral on the way back. At the IMAX theaters there one of the films they
are showing is the 3D movie "L5: First City in Space". I give it 4 stars and
recommend it to anyone who has a chance to see it.
>I have found another interesting web
site( is a NASA-Goddard site
allowing you to look at any region of the sky in any wavelength for which
data exist.

The Thumbnail Biographies (labeled "Who Are We" on the menu buttons) is up
now. So far, Rick Fanning, "Skot" McCullough, Scott Thompson, Ricky Wood and
myself have pages there.  Wouldn't you like to have one too?  If so, just
click on the "Who Are You" menu button, and send me something to publish.

Wetumpka Meteor Crater page is finished now.  If you'd like to see what we
saw on our field trip there, have a look at "Field Trips/Wetumpka Meteor
Crater". Thanks to Dr. David King for providing many of the graphics and

Scrolling Messages at the bottom of the "Main Menu" page,will help you learn
of the latest announcements, star parties and meeting reminders.

Menu Buttons are now at the bottom of each page (except the Main Menu)to
make navigating the pages a little easier.

And finally, the Kiesel Park page now includes photos from our picnic and
site survey last spring as well as the drawings that Rhon used to show the
architect students what we had in mind.  It also has a hyperlinked table of
contents to save wear & tear on your "page down" key.

Want to buy:   I want to buy the book "Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky" by
Roger N. Clark. I will pay top dollar for a copy of this in like new
condition, though will purchase one in fair/good/excellent condition.
Contact me with condition and your asking price at 601-992-5504 or or
George Barrett , Jackson (Mississippi) Astronomical Association

For sale:   32mm Wide Scan 2 inch eyepiece by University Optics. $200.00. 
Contact David Rich, 793 Dark Corner Rd., Tallassee AL 36078. Phone:

At our December meeting, we perused the exhibits of the proposals by Alan
Cook's architecture class.  The designs ranged from the traditional roll-off
(gabled) roof  to some elaborate and innovative designs-- variations based
on the low-profile cylindrical concept described by Rhon in the December
issue of  Astrofiles.  One feature, that we had not thought of suggesting,
was benches along the walls for those not at the eyepiece, was incorporated
into a couple of the proposals.  I liked Allen Screws' criterion for any
design proposal, which was the old KISS  (keep it simple, stupid) principle.

In further developments, Rhon writes:
>Alan Cook, Joe Perez, and yours truly met on Wednesday, December 10, to try
to come to some sort of decision.  The mayor and her entourage viewed the
exhibits Friday afternoon before we did.  I'll bet that you can guess which
design they wanted ... that's right, the towmotor. Because this design
disregarded the requirement for rigidly mounted piers for the telescopes , I
strongly  advised against that design.  Perez agreed ... Joe also stated
that he (the Department of Physics and us (AAS) would call the shots on
this, not the City of Auburn.
>We selected two designs to carry forward to the cost estimate phase:
>Option No. 1:  the "conservative" option .... is the traditional roll-off
roof design (a la Moore's Meadow), with the domed classroom building which
could conceivably be used as a planetarium
>Option No. 2:  the "unusual" option ..... is the pie (or cake) shaped
building where one-half of the building rotates around.  The building, mind
you, not just the roof.  The latter was done over my objections but I
figured we had to compromise somewhere.
>That's where we stand now.  I think it's obvious that Joe is willing to
work with us and listen to our advice.  This bodes well for the future, I think.
>I'll let you know when the initial cost estimates come in.  At that time
we're going to have to make a recommendation as a group as to what to do then.

Early last month,  the Moon and several planets could all be seen in the
evening sky.  While this made for a beautiful sight, it was of little
consequence scientifically.  However, it seemed to catch the attention of
the local and national media.  Even the term "alignment" brings with it some
astrological connotations. Here are some thoughts on the subject exchanged
between Rick Evans and myself:

>Hello Rick,
>Saw you on the front page of the Montgomery Advertiser this morning and
tonight on TV.  Great job!  
>I'll have to admit that the public (or media) interest in this caught me by
surprise. After all, all of the brighter planets have been up in the general
area for the past four months and no one seemed to care.  
>I had a call from Alvin Benn [Montgomery Advertiser], Tuesday (I think),
wanting some background for his story.  I'm afraid that I treated his story
on the "alignment" as a non-event.  In hindsight, I should have tried to do
a better job of explaining the loose grouping (I don't think objects spread
over 100 degrees in the sky should be called an "alignment"), but I was so
on-guard for the New-Age / Millenium / end-of-the-world / horoscope/
astrology / Nostrodamus angle, that I quickly became a non-source. Remember
the "Jupiter Effect" hoopla back in the early eighties? 
>I still think that the Advertiser (or their wire service) over-sold it to
the public.  The suggestion that a novice could find Uranus and Neptune
(perhaps even Mercury) with binoculars was a disservice to the people who
tried and couldn't find them.  It's also been my (limited) experience, that
media folks don't want to help people understand so much as they want a
sound-bite (or word-bite) to fill 30 seconds of air time, or a couple of
column inches for their deadline.  Our club was "stood up" by television
reporters on three different occasions during Hykutake & Hale-Bopp events.
>Good luck with your Christmas shows.  Perhaps you can correct some of my
neglect.  Better hurry though--the "alignment" ENDS this weekend.  ;-)

And Rick Replied:

>Good Morning Russell,
>I, like you, was somewhat surprised and caught off guard by the media
attention to this issue.  But, I had an ulterior motive for granting the
interview (which by the way they took completely out of context), and that
was to advertise for the Christmas show.  I have to agree that the media in
general took this thing and  s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d  it as far as they  could.  I
tried to correct he "conjunction" that was being tossed around so
carelessly, but that didn't work either.  In the Christmas show we do
address that Venus and Jupiter passed each other (albeit several billion
miles apart), but it would have created a brighter than normal light in the
sky.....  Anyway, I appreciate your feedback ( you were being too kind ...
must be the Christmas season... because I thought both the paper and TV were
terrible).  Thanks for your continuing support of the planetarium and
Astrofiles news letters.

A similar event will occur in May of the year 2000.  Perhaps we should be
better prepared for that one.  I anticipate more of the same.

Hope to see everyone at the meeting,

Russell Whigham
Montgomery AL

Auburn Astronomical Society