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From: rwhigham@mindspring.com (Russell Whigham)
Subject: ASTROFILES, February '98

ASTROFILES
Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
February, 1998

Greetings Astrophiles,

FEBRUARY MEETING
This month's meeting will we held on Friday, February 6 at 8:00 PM, in room
215 of the Aerospace Engineering building on the campus of Auburn
University.  Anyone from the Montgomery area wishing to carpool over to
Auburn for the meeting, should meet at my house.  We will leave for Auburn
at 7:00 PM. 

This month's star party will be Saturday, February 21 at Holley's Field.

JANUARY MEETING
Last month's meeting turned out to be one of the better meetings we've had
in a while.  Dr. John Shaw gave a program on the dynamics of novae.  John's
work, in the physics department, is generating atomic data, like
electron-impact excitation rates and radiative rates, for people who study
fusion as a possible energy source on the earth.  The same data is used by
the astrophysicists, so he has some loose connections to the supernova group
at Oak Ridge and the stellar physics group at the Center for Astrophysics up
in Cambridge. Some the work John did on cobalt for the Oak Ridge group was
published in an Astrophysical Journal Letter on type Ia supernovae in
December.  The main author was Weihong Liu and he is in the list of authors.
A longer paper on the atomic physics is almost ready for publication and
that is under his name.  Thanks to John for making it interesting and
understandable for us. 

A.A.S. president, Dr. Rhon Jenkins, spent about 15 minutes on an overview on
the preliminary plans for a manned mission to Mars in 2014.  I think he has
something along those lines up his sleeve for next month on propulsion
systems on the horizon -- warp drives, ion drives etc. 

GEOLOGY OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM CONTINUING EDUCATION COURE
Geology of the Solar System, a continuing education course at Auburn
University.  No prerequisites. Contact the Outreach Program Office, Auburn
University, 100 Mell Hall, 334 844-5100.  Meetings:  Monday nights 0600-0900
PM CST during spring quarter (March 30-June 1). Meeting room is 118 Petrie
Hall (Department of Geology). Instructor:  Dr.  David T. King, Jr. (334
844-4882;  kingdat@mail.auburn.edu)  Topics:  Historical geology of the
solar system;  impact cratering; properties of comets and asteroids; geology
of Mercury, Venus, Earth-Moon, Mars, Jovian system, Saturnian system, Uranus
and Neptune, and Pluto-Charon.  Field trip:   Wetumpka asteroid impact
crater, Alabama.  Optional take-home lab exercises.  NOTICE:  There will be
a minimal enrollment fee for the class that has yet to be determined by the
OPO.  Also, there will be a textbook and possible additional minor lab
expenses.  Please note any changes in meeting times and dates when you
register. 

JANUARY STAR PARTIES
On Saturday, January 24, I sent out a broadcast message to the group, to see
if anyone wanted to try to work in an unscheduled star party.  Unfortunately
for all of the folks whose e-mail address is "auburn.edu",  the message
bounced.  I can only assume that the server was down.  When I arrived at
about 5:30 PM, Bill Possel and David Rich were already set up and ready to
observe.  Some clouds were already forming.  By the time I had my scope
ready, we were about 90% clouded out.  Bill and I  tried to do a little
between-the-cloud observing, only to be thwarted at virtually every attempt
by the clouds.  I left at about 9:00PM with no improvement in the weather.
Bill, however, stayed and was rewarded with crystal clear skies within an hour.

This past Saturday, January 31, Paul McKee, Margie Brand, Allen & Christy
Screws, Ron Hatherley, Robert Rock, Bill Possel, and I met at Holley's
Field.  This time, the sky stayed clear.  At 6:05 PM we saw Mir, passing
from the southwest to northeast almost directly overhead.  A second object
on the same trajectory and speed but about 5 seconds behind Mir was also
seen.  We all thought that Endeavor was supposed to land earlier that day,
but assumed that the second object was the shuttle.  An article in the
following Sunday paper reported that Endeavor had landed just before sunset.
The pass that we observed was 45 minutes after sunset. The second object was
about 25% as bright as Mir.  Anyone have a guess as to what it was?

Paul is narrowing down the choices for his telescope -- looking seriously at
one of the 8-inch SCT's, and was there to do a little comparison shopping.
If you have some advice for Paul, he's still soliciting input.  Send him a
note at paulkee@earthlink.net.  Ron was sporting his new Meade ETX that
yielded pinpoint star images.  Bill found comet Tempel-Tuttle in his 4-inch
AstroPhysics.  Under normal circumstances, this would be considered a very
decent comet, but with Hale-Bopp still fresh in our minds, the consensus was
more on the order of "Hmmm, OK".

WELCOME TO THE MAIL LIST
John Rogers is a 15-year old from Smiths AL, an avid observer with his 60mm
refractor. John is an aspiring professional astronomer.  John has access to
a dark-sky site near Hatchachubee AL and has offered the site as an
alternative to Holley's Field, should we lose our current location.
  
Christina Wilson is an Auburn University student 03EE. She presently calls
Montgomery home, and had an attraction to astronomy since childhood.  See
both John's and Christina's profiles on our "Thumbnail Biography" pages.  

Seth Adkins, of Montgomery, has moved from the snail-mail list to the e-mail
list.  
Ken Baker was referred to our group by his coworker, Jason Glasgow.   Ken
has a 4.5-inch reflector and is anxious to learn more about observing.  

Rex Roach  (yes, the same one that wrestled a power auger with Rhon at
Moore's Meadow observatory) has found us, despite changing meeting places
two times since we shook him a dozen years ago ;-)   If no one buys his
telescope (see below) we might be able to lure him back to a meeting or even
to a star party.  Welcome back, Rex!

FOR SALE
For Sale:   Meade 2080 8-inch SCT of 1990 vintage, tripod, RA and DEC
drives, wedge, 15mm Meade and 32mm.  $1000 Charge cards accepted.  Contact
Rex Roach at: rroach@mindspring.com   Phone 334-749-0815 days or
334-749-3377 evenings.

Trade:  David Rich is looking for someone with a 4mm to 5mm, 1.25 eyepiece
to trade for his Orion Ultra-Block filter.  Contact: David Rich  793 Dark
Corner Rd., Tallassee AL  36078,  Phone  334-283-2480

Robert Rock has two items For Sale: Sure Sharp Focus Tool  $110.00. If you
have a Pentax K mount then I also have a T Ring for it. If not then Spectra
will have it for your camera.  Andů
For Sale: View Adapter home made but much less expensive than the 79.00 that
Spectra wants for it. I will take $10.00.  Call and leave message at
334-567-9419 if I do not answer or email me at:
therocks@mont.mindspring.com    (Robert Rock)

MEMBER NEWS
Scott Thompson writes:
I thought I would bring you up to date on the observatory progress. Since we
last talked I believe the slab had been formed. Now the frame has been built
and the metal siding and roofing has been applied. It really looks good and
as soon as Ricky gets his pictures developed we will get them scanned!

The only thing left is the gable ends and doors. I thought I would also put
metal on them as well and then thought I would use wood ??? Still haven't
made my mind up.  Anyway the colors match the house with the roof brown and
the sides red. Julie  thinks it is a cute building so I guess I did good. HA HA!

There were a lot of mistakes made but Ricky and I hacked through them like
true amateur carpenters! @#%$#@%#%$@^^^^@!!!!  And I won't say how many
fingers got cut, bruised, and battered!  

First mistake was the roof did not roll off far enough to see Polaris so I
had to extend the rails another 4 feet and cut off the overhang a foot and a
half.  Also, the roof does not roll as smooth as I thought it would but I
can get it off by myself with not too much trouble. I have better plans in
the future to fix this problem. 

Lastly, first light will probably be the next clear night moon or not!  Lots
of other small construction needs to be done to finish the job and make the
building secure. I have had loads of fun building it and will enjoy many
nights gazing!

Scott
scott@lakemartin.net
KA4JFN / 73's

And from Ricky Wood, this good news:
I got the Meade 12" LX200 with the superwedge and a few accessories.  Have
only used three times I think. This winter has not been good for astronomy
not very many clear  nights! Also, Scott and I have been spending nearly
every weekend working on the "Walker Ferry Observatory"; and we are just
about finished. Think we are really going to love it and use it a lot. Love
the views through the LX200 and especially like the GO-TO!!!!!! Have seen
more galaxies than I ever imagined!! Hope to c u at the end of the month at
Holley's Field!
Gaze on!!
Ricky

FEBRUARY 26 SOLAR ECLIPSE
The following times are for Montgomery, but shouldn't vary too much for
folks in Auburn and surrounding locations:

Partial Begins:   10:53 AM
Maximum :	      11:52 AM
Partial Ends:     12:50 PM

For a comprehensive article on solar observing safety, see the article on
page 36 of the February Sky & Telescope.  And for a look at how the eclipse
will look from different places along the path, see:
http://planets.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/TSE1998/T98lookUSA.html

PSSG ' 98, MARCH 26-29
Although we haven't heard any specifics from Ken Poshedly, the 1998 Peach
State Star Gaze is less than two months away.  I'm sure that this year's
event will meet or exceed those of years past.  I would urge those who have
never been to give it a try.  Even if you can't be there for the entire
weekend, a trip over there for the programs on Saturday is well worth the
time.  For an idea of what we've done there for the past few years, see our
web page at http://www.mindspring.com/~rwhigham/pssg.htm

KIESEL PARK
We haven't heard of any further developments on this front.  We can only
assume that the two finalists in the design phase are still in the cost
analysis phase.  More news as it develops.


Hope to see everyone at the meeting,

Russell


Russell Whigham
Montgomery AL
rwhigham@mont.mindspring.com

Auburn Astronomical Society
http://www.mindspring.com/~rwhigham/