Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
May, 1998


Greetings Astrophiles,

In this Issue

May Meeting                     Astronomy Day                 May Star Party                April Meeting             Member News         Tasco buys Celestron

Voice from the Past         "Life on Mars" Lecture         New on the Web Page    New on the List         Eta Aquarids
May Meeting
This month's meeting will be on Friday, May 1, at 8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building. Anyone wishing to ride over to the meeting from the Montgomery area should meet at my house.  We'll leave for Auburn at 7:00PM.

Astronomy Day
The following Saturday, May 2 is National Astronomy Day. We have been invited by Rick Evans at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, in Montgomery, to have our telescopes and other astro-ware on display for the visitors to the planetarium. Following the program in the planetarium, we'll host a Moon Gaze on the planetarium grounds. This should be an excellent opportunity for those who live in the Montgomery area, who find it difficult to attend the meetings in Auburn and the star parties at Holley's Field.

For those coming from downtown Montgomery, exit at Forest Avenue, turn left back over I-85. Oak Park is in the first block north of the interstate. If you're coming from east Montgomery, take the Mulberry exit. Turn right on Mulberry, go one block and take a left on Holly St. I believe the park road is one-way. You should enter at the northern most entrance and circle the park. The planetarium is near the exit at Jackson Hospital. Parking is available across from the planetarium. For a map see:

The agenda is 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.

Rick said that the event will go on even if cloudy, in which case, we will have the scopes set up in the lobby of the planetarium.

Thanks to the following folks who have volunteered to bring their telescopes:

Robert Rock: Meade 2045 SCT
Rex Roach: Meade 2080 and his Celestron Compustar, the 8" SCT
John Shaw: 10" Meade SCT ; 60mm f11 refractor ; 5" rich-field refractor
Alan Cook: 4 1/2" Newtonian; 20x80 binoculars with tripod & his Meade10-inch SCT, LX50
Christina Wilson: "I have that little catadioptric that I can bring."
Scott Thompson: 7-inch AstroPhysics refractor
Mike Fulmer: 10-inch Meade SCT; 14-inch Newtonian
Russell Whigham: Celestron C-11, SCT; 6-inch Newtonian; 80mm refractor
Ron Hatherley: 10-inch Coulter Odyssey II Dobsonian; Meade ETX 90mm Maksutov; binoculars
Bill Possel: 4-inch Astro-Physics Traveler refractor
Ricky Wood:  12-inch Meade SCT, LX200

The Dobsonians seem under represented.. It sure would be nice to have a few more of these to show. How about it Dobbers? Some of the big guns would certainly be impressive for the visitors. Let me know if you can help.

Here's the latest correspondence from Rick Evans:

Thank you for your assistance in this endeavor. Sounds like we'll have a pretty good representation of telescopes for the event. I sent a press release to every radio and television station in the Montgomery Metro area. They finished shooting the promo ad for WCOV television last week, and we should start airing it about 10 days before the event. I put Coca-Cola banners around town with the information on it as well. I plan on running a piece in the Montgomery Advertiser the week before the event. I'm also going to try to get one of the television stations to come out and cover the event.

To answer your questions:

1) Feel free to use the map (from the TSUM web site). I'm somewhat embarrassed about our web page. I don't have access to it at this point, unless I go downtown. That is going to change in the near future, and I'll be able to make it first rate.

2) We will provide A-C power cords for those who need them.

3) I don't want to even think about it raining or being cloudy. But should that occur, I think displaying the scopes in the lobby would be a great idea.

4) The planetarium does have two telescopes (neither of which are operable). I've been trying to assemble one out of the two, but not much success to date.

5) I can come out early. I had planned on being here around 5:30, but if you need me here earlier I can do that.

I've been spreading the word at each of our public shows and school shows, so keep your fingers crossed that we have a good turnout. Thanks again
for all your help.

Rick Evans

W.A. Gayle Planetarium

May Star Party
Our star party will be on Saturday May 23 at Holley's Field. This could be our last star party before the muggy summer doldrums set in.

April Meeting
AAS president, Dr. Rhon Jenkins' excellent presentation on space travel in the next century, stimulated our collective imagination as Rhon gave us a peek over the horizon of the present into the possibilities of the future. For a glimpse of what you missed if you were unable to attend, see Marc Millis' web page on warp drives and related topics at:

Member News
Alan Cook won the Burnham's Celestial Handbook, Vols. 1-3, door-prize. The set should make a nice complement to his new Meade 10-inch LX-50. Christina Wilson has joined the society. We were pleased to meet her husband, Ken Wilson, as well.

 Tasco Buys Celestron International
Yes, it's true -- your Celestron just turned into a Tasco. Well, at least now you can have a scope with 695X. But seriously folks, the corporate buy-out could be a good thing for Celestron. Anyone who has watched as the ads in the magazines for the past several years can attest, Meade has dominated the marketing battle. One has only to count the number of pages devoted to each in any recent issue to see that. And, from what I read on the ASTRO and Celestron Users Mail Lists, Tasco does not manufacture telescopes, they only market them. Celestron will keep it's name and Tasco has promised a hands-off policy concerning the technical side of the operation. You may begin to see Celestrons in outlets other than camera shops and telescope emporiums.

Voice From the Past
From: "Harold E. Cole"


You may not remember me, but I was in AAS and lived in Arrowhead back in the
80s. If you recall, I was really into astrophotography with my Meade 8" SC.
Are you still using the Celestron 11"? What is going on these days with
astronomy in Montgomery and Auburn?
I was searching the Internet and ran up on you guys.

Best Regards
Harold Cole

Good to hear from you again Harold. Stay in touch.

Lecturer to Discuss "Life on Mars"
(From the April 13, 1998 issue of AU REPORT)

"Life on Mars?" will be the title of a public lecture at 8 PM, April 28, in Broun Hall auditorium by Richard N. Zare of Stanford University. Zare, who is the 1998 G. M. Kosolapoff Award Lecturer of AU's Department of Chemistry, is Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science at Stanford. He will also present a chemistry
colloquium lecture at 1 PM, April 29, in Chemistry Building 134.

 New on the Web Page
Beginning with the March '98 issue, the Astrofile Archives on our web page are in hypertext to facilitate finding articles and linking to e-mail and web sites. I hope you like it.

New on the List
Please join me in welcoming Carsten (Kit) Haaland. Kit is a retired physicist who worked as a Research Physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is now living in Dadeville. He found us on the World Wide Web. See Kit's biographical profile under the "Who Are We" page on our web site.

Eta Aquarids
By George Zay on the ASTRO Mail List

The Eta Aquarids are the outbound (post-perihelion) particles of Halley's comet. This shower is active from mid-April through the end of May with a broad maximum occuring from May 2 through May 10. May 6 is designated as this showers peak. With a full moon on May 11th, the best mornings to observe would be around May 2nd thru the 6th. This shower is not well seen from the northern hemisphere due to the low radiant altitude. For latitudes around 33 deg North, I recommend observations to begin near 2h30m local time. Under clear, dark skies, expect to see about 15-20 meteors/hour. An observer may see nearly 60 meteors per hour at shower maximum from tropical latitudes, decreasing to invisibility as you approach 50 degrees north latitude. From the southern hemisphere the Eta Aquarids are by far the strongest annual shower at maximum. With the frequent trains and a medium average magnitude, this shower shouldn't be too difficult to photograph. I would expect a 50mm and a 28mm lens to be about equally successful. If you are using a fast 50mm lens... such as at f/1.4 or 1.8...stop down a little to around f/2.0. This will give you sharper images...particularly if your camera is guided. Aim your camera towards the radiant, but above it. Be sure to record camera start/stop times and meteor appearance times as close to the exact second as possible. 1998 Max: May 5/6 at 04h UT; ZHR: 60; Vel. 65 km/s(Very Fast); Duration: Apr.19-May 28; Population Index: 2.7; Radiant Diameter: 4 degrees; Train Production: 41.1%; Radiant: RA 22h36m, Dec. -01; Three Letter Shower Code: ETA

Hope to see everyone at the meeting and Astronomy Day event,