Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
April, 1998

Greetings Astrophiles,

In this Issue
April Meeting
Door Prize
April Star Party
March meeting
New to the List
New Members
Update On Wetumpka Drilling
Astronomy Day
Geology of the Solar System Update
PSSG '98
April Meeting

This month's meeting will be on Friday, April 3, at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building. AAS President, Dr. Rhonald Jenkins, will give a program on "Starship Propulsion--Space Travel in the Next Century". As an extra incentive to attend the meeting, I'm offering "previously-loved" Burnham's Celestial Handbook Vols. 1, 2, & 3 (no extra charge for the margin notes) as a door prize. I recently, after years of resisting the temptation, joined the Astronomy Book Club, just to get the hardbound edition of BCH. Now that I have the new set, I'm hoping that the first set will find a good home. As usual, Montgomery car-poolers, we'll leave from my house at 7:00 PM.

April Star Party

The Saturday nearest the new moon will fall on April 25. Plan to be at Holley's Field at sundown. The weather should be mild and the sky FULL of galaxies.

March Meeting

Dr. John Shaw highlighted our March meeting with his program on R Corona Borealis & Stellar Evolution. His explanation of the H-R diagram made sense for the first time for many of us. Ron Hatherley, Scott McCullough, Rick Fanning, Scott Thompson, Ricky Wood, Marty Skelton , John Zachry, David Newton, Robert Rock, Alan Cook, Allen Screws, Drew Johnson, Rhon & Joyce Jenkins and your editor attended. We also discussed or plans for Astronomy Day at the W.A. Gayle Planetarium...

Treasurer's Report

AAS Treasurer, John Zachry, reports a balance in First National Bank of West Point of $ 973.87. See John's thoughts on how we might convert some our liquid assets to some astronomical hardware, in the "Member News" section.

On The Tube

This is an early reminder to stock up on VHS blank tapes an to make sure you have HBO for the twelve part series on Apollo: From the Earth to the Moon by Tom Hanks starting April 5th. 

Astronomy Day at W. A. Gayle Planetarium

Here's my correspondence with Rick Evans, Director of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery:

 Hello Rick,
 At our meeting last night, Rick Fanning reiterated your desire to have the AAS as part of an Astronomy Day event at the planetarium. I just checked the Astronomical League's page and found the "Official" Astronomy Day this year is May 2.
 Perhaps, if there's time between the end of your planetarium show, and the time we have folks looking through the telescopes at the Moon, we could have our members discuss the different optical and mechanical designs of the scopes represented there.
Let me know if this will give you enough time to make the necessary preparations.
 And Rick replied: 
Let's shoot for May 2. I'll get the ball rolling on this end. I want to have a show put together that shows what people will see when they look through a telescope. This would tie in nicely with the actual observance period with your members. We are in our busiest period of the year right now. I'll work on the plans, and will coordinate with you before I finalize anything. May 2nd sounds great. I think it will something that will really be great for Montgomery and the surrounding area(s). Thanks for your assistance in this endeavor.
Rick Evans
And later, the confirmation:


We are a go for May 2nd! I have contacted WCOV television and we will run an announcement for 10 days prior to advertise for the event. In addition, Coca Cola will provide us with banners for advertising ( start looking for them around town next week or so).

The agenda is tentatively set as follows:

7:00 PM - Auditorium presentation (More that Meets the Eye) (A show specifically designed to show what people should expect to see when viewing through a telescope)

7:30 PM - Introduction of key members of your organization, followed by a presentation on telescopes, eyepieces etc... in general whatever you wish to discuss.

8:00 PM - Outside viewing through the telescopes brought by AAS.

We are requesting reservations, so we should know in advance how many people will be attending. If you could work with the AAS and get me a firm commitment on how many of them will be coming and bringing telescopes for public viewing, it would be most appreciative.


I think this has the potential to be an outstanding event, and truly look forward to working with and learning from your organization. Let me know if this agenda sounds okay with you, as I said before, we are open to any ideas and suggestions.

Thanks in advance

Rick Evans

W.A. Gayle Planetarium


Of course, we'd like to have as diverse assortment of sizes, optical, and mechanical examples of telescopes as possible. Please let me know if you think you'll be able to attend and bring your scope(s) so that i can give Rick a scope count…


New to the Mail List

Dustin Smith; is currently in 9th grade at Central High School in Waterloo AL, and has a 3.86 GPA. Dustin has two Boxer Bulldogs, and 4 cats of mixed breed. Dustin writes, "I plan to attend Auburn University in the fall of 2001 and major in Aerospace Engineering. I would like to work in the private aerospace industry. I enjoy working with model airplanes (radio control), and studying about space/astronomy.

April A. Barnes; . April is the webmaster for the "Virtual Geology" page was kind enough to add a link from her page back to the AAS page late last fall. We're glad to have her on the mail list now. Thanks to Larry Owsley for the referral.

Amber Douglas; We met Amber at the Peach State Star Gaze this past weekend. She was there with her dad and heard that some of us from the Auburn Club were there as well. We look forward to seeing Amber again soon.

New Members

Drew Johnson lives in Auburn and owns a Meade 10-inchStarfinder Dobsonian. Drew expresses interests in amateur astronomy, old cars, model cars, reading and music. He also enjoys cosmology and physics , and adds, "I don't know very much at all on these subjects but find them fascinating." Well Drew, that's pretty much where we ALL are. Welcome to the club.

Alan R. Cook, associate professor in the school of Architecture, whose class came up with our observatory designs. Alan is the proud owner of a new Meade 10-inch SCT. See Alan's thumbnail bio at

Michael R. Wallace of West Point GA was added to the mail list last month and has since made it official and joined. See Mike's bio page at :

Update On Geology Of The Solar System

Registration is in progress and will continue through April 13. The cost is $40/person. The meeting dates are April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 25 (subject to class vote), June 1, and 8 (subject to class vote). The field trip will probably be a Saturday in June. A syllabus is available now for your information. Contact Dr. David King Jr. at David also sends this update from the Wetumpka crater…

Update On Wetumpka Drilling

Our plan to drill at the impact crater site has been hampered by legal questions, but we hope to have them resolved in early summer and thus commence drilling. We hope to recover shocked materials from the basement rocks, especially shocked quartz (the definitive proof of impact pressures). Updates will follow. See a virtual trip to the crater by going to the Geology home page on the Auburn web site (

Member News
Scott Thompson had pictures of his just completed Walker Ferry Observatory to share at our March meeting. If you didn't get a chance to see them then, he has a few posted on his web page at: VERY nice job, Scott & Ricky

John Zachry writes: "Just a suggestion for our telescopes at the Kiesel Park observatory: With a CCD camera and monitor many people could view a celestial object at the same time for extended periods of time (would not have to "hurry up" for the next person), each person would not have to refocus the telescope for there own use (which wastes time), we could be assured all see the same thing (some may be reluctant to admit they don't see something everybody else does - couldn't focus telescope properly or really understand what we were telling them to look for) and finally once an object is observed it could be enhanced on the monitor and a hard copy printed out for the public to take home to show others who then may want to visit the observatory themselves."

 This from the keyboard of John Rogers,

 I am pleased to announce that I have won a Orion Ultrablock filter from a Nebula Filter contest. I have had it mailed to me and it was free of charge. I have used it and it has made a big difference in the way I look at the heavens. I have been able to see nebulas at greater views. I got it from a contest online called the Nebula Filter Contest, the website is at at least it was, he sent in the money. His name was Doug Snyder, and he paid $100.00 for it. It was a 1.25" and I have tried it on the Orion Nebula and it works great. I can't wait to try it on the Eagle Nebula M-16. I could choose from 5 different filters that were like four of them were Lumicon and one Orion which I chose.

 Clear Skies,

John Rogers


PSSG '98

What a GREAT weekend! I'm sure everyone who sent in their reservations for this year's PSSG, had in the back of their minds, that at best we might have one good night of observing. And if the el niño phenomenon continued as it had for the past several months, we might have to settle for Saturday's slate of speakers without any observing. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. We had three excellent nights of observing. Mild temperatures required only a sweatshirt for the all-nighters. As usual we rekindled old friendships from years past and made some new friends. The bunkhouses were virtually full and the observing field was packed with telescopes. Amateurs from as far away as Ohio and Illinois as well as all of the states in the southeast were there.

Representing the Auburn Astronomical Society this year were: Robert Rock, Alan & Max Cook, Scott Thompson, Ricky Wood and yours truly. One of the new folks we met was Amber Douglas, an Auburn University student who has expressed interest in meeting with us.

We started or observing Thursday night with the PSSG list of Peach Fuzzies -- a list of suggested objects put together by AAC member Alex Langoussis. Alex's list was made up of objects often over looked by most amateurs. Only one Messier object was on the list of twelve objects. The rest were some of the more interesting NGC objects, a new variable star, and a dark nebula. But by far the toughest yet most rewarding was Pluto. Using a finder chart that showed stars down to 15th magnitude, provided by Alex, we were able to star hop to Pluto. It took a while but at least now Robert & I can both honestly say that we've found and seen the most difficult of the planets.

Each of the three nights we saw the Hubble Space Telescope pass over the field and on Saturday Mir as well. We were also alerted to the recently discovered supernova in NGC 3877 (in Ursa Major).

For the first time since PSSG has been held at Indian Springs, breakfast was served on Saturday morning. This was well received by all and may start at new tradition. Of course, we made the obligatory trip up the road for some "Fresh Air Bar-B-Q" and Robert represented the rest of us at the Saturday evening meal at Buckners Restaurant.

The speakers lived up the event's reputation for having top notch presentations on Saturday afternoon. Several nice door prizes were awarded, including a software observing program won by AAS's Scott Thompson.

Special thanks to event director, Ken Poshedly and his staff from the Atlanta Astronomy Club for making this Peach State, the best yet.

 Hope to see everyone Friday at the meeting,