Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
July, 1998


Greetings Astrophiles,

In this Issue

July Meeting     June Meeting     Coca-Cola Space Science Center    Member & Friend News     Neat Stuff on the WWW     Through the Eyepiece

July Meeting

To avoid possible holiday conflicts, we will slip this month's meeting back one week to Friday, July 10, 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 7:00 PM. The June 20 star party was stormed-out. This month's will be on Saturday, July 25, at Holley's Field.

June Meeting

If you've been hoping for something a little out-of-the-ordinary, our June meeting certainly filled the bill. As you may remember, the afternoon of the meeting brought some pretty rough weather. Ron Hatherley called to be sure everything was still on for the meeting. The two of us had seen a few limbs down but nothing worse, so we, along with Robert Rock decided to head for Auburn. Jim McLaughlin called just before we left to say that he had some minor roof damage and thought he'd better stick close to home just in case there was more bad weather to follow.

We noticed several signs along the interstate had been blown over. As we exited I-85 heading toward the campus, it was obvious that the weather had taken a greater toll there -- more trees and power lines down. Traffic lights were out until we reached the campus.

As we approached the meeting room we were surprised to find it locked. John Shaw, Marty Skelton, Allan Cook, Allen & Christy Screws waited with Ron, Robert and I, until about 8:20 PM, then left a note and reconvened at the McDonalds across the street.

After returning home, I e-mailed John Zachry and Rhon Jenkins:

Hey Guys,

Sorry you couldn't make it to the meeting last night -- we assumed due to the severe weather/power outages etc. Those of us who did so up adjourned to McDonalds and resumed our visit. I didn't know until after I returned to Montgomery the extent of the damage in Auburn. My son, John, said a car was blown over just down the street from him and several homes damaged. John Shaw walked to the meeting because of a felled tree across Payne St. Power was out except for the campus and the central business district. Power was still out at the rest stop and dog track on our way back.

I hope you two escaped unscathed.


And Rhon Replied:


   I'd like to extend my sincere apologies to you and everyone else I stood up last Friday night. Things got so hectic Friday afternoon I didn't even remember there was a meeting until Saturday morning during a final exam I was giving. I was out on the golf course when the storm hit. You'll never convince me there wasn't a tornado ... trees were coming down all around us. We took shelter in the basement of the clubhouse for about an hour, watching the golf course being torn up. I finally got home around dark (dodging downed trees and power lines) to find (of course) that we had no power. It took a while to get the generator up and running, and somewhere in there I just lost sight of the meeting. We didn't get our power back until Saturday evening. To top it off, my office at work was trashed when the storm blew the window in and the ceiling out. I have the house back to normal, but I've got to face the mess in the office tomorrow ... I don't look forward to it.

In summary, we're fine, and I do apologize for not remembering.

David Malin to speak at Coca-Cola Space Science Center

For those of you who haven't received this message from Carole, and as a reminder for those who did:

Greetings from the entire Coca-Cola Space Science Center Staff!

 You will receive a more formal invitation through E-mail but, wanted you all to know that famed astro-photographer David Malin will be speaking at the Center on Wed., August 5th,7:00 p.m. EDT . His topic is: "A Universe of Colour". We have room for 120 folks and the tickets will be $5/person. You are receiving first notification and we will accept reservations if you care to purchase your tickets now. The invitations will go out around mid July unless we decide to send them sooner.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Carole Rutland
Executive Director
Coca-Cola Space Science Center
701 Front Ave.
Columbus, Georgia 31901
ph 706.649.1470, fax 706.649.1478

Thanks for letting us know, Carole.
 Member and Friend News

Dr. David King Jr. is currently taking core samples from the Wetumpka meteor crater. Larry Owsley is forwarding the day-by-day progress reports to us. A link to these reports can be found on our web page at :

Russell Courtemanche of Montgomery, attended our Astronomy Day event and has expressed interest in attending a star party. Welcome to the group Russ.

Sid Williams of Wetumpka yarddog1@aol has just received his first telescope -- a Meade 8-inch SCT, LX-50. Sid was referred to us by our friends at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium.

William Bottger was also referred to us by our friends at the Gayle Planetarium. William is interested in attending our star parities and visiting observatories on a trip out west.

Debbie Hornsby lives in Titus and a new-comer to the hobby.

Sam Varma . Sam is a grad student at Auburn University and has expressed some interest in astronomy and the club.

Robert Rock was quoted several times in a front page article in the Montgomery Advertiser in an article on the summer solstice.

Scott Thompson and Ricky Wood both report only minor damage when a tornado touched down in Alex City on June 16.


Neat Stuff on the WWW

Astro Chat Group
Recently, I have set up a place where Online Astronomers can meet. Itís the Online Astronomerís Meeting Hall at .  Its purpose is to provide a place where amateur astronomers on the Internet can have a specific place to schedule meetings online!

Currently, only one meeting is scheduled: The Online Astronomerís General Chat which meets every first Saturday of the Month at 8pm (CST). Mark it down on your calendars, and join me this Saturday!   But, like I said, this is ONLY one meeting! I would love to find other astronomers online that would be willing to moderate and/or participate in specific groups including:   ATM      Astro-photography      Questions and Answers     Even work to build up a Virtual Online Astronomy Club!

If this sounds like something you might either want to join in, or even help out periodically, drop me a note. The Online Astronomer can only be successful if others, like you, join in!

Clear Skies,
John Calvin Hall
Editor - The Online Astronomer Newsletter
Web Master - The Online Astronomer Web Site

NEO News (6/11/98)
For those with a special interest in news on Near Earth Orbiting asteroids, (the most recent being 1997XF11), there's lots of good information at

Rex's Astro Stuff is now on the WWW at:   Rex McDaniel is a vendor who attends most of the regional and national star parties.

STARDUST Microchip Home Page
Want to have your name travel to an comet? For Stardustís 7-year, 3.1-billion-mile journey, solar panels will power the spacecraft to encounter Wild 2, a comet that altered course in 1974 after a close encounter with Jupiter. Now instead of circling among the outer planets in our solar system, Wild 2 (pronounced vihlt 2) travels among the inner planets. It was discovered in 1978 during its first close approach to Earth. Names are being collected at

Blinded by the Light
By Mark Ward
New Scientist June 20, 98
London, Brussels, Seattle and Kiev will be just some of the cities lit up from space in November if an ambitious Russian experiment goes to plan.

A consortium of aerospace companies intends to launch a giant mirror that will reflect sunlight down to Earth, appearing up to ten times as bright as the full Moon. The experiment, called Znamya 2·5, is the brainchild of the Space Regatta Consortium (SRC). The companies involved, led by Energia of Korolev, near Moscow, hope that a successful test will drum up interest in their plan to use up to 200 such reflectors to bring sunlight to the Arctic during the dark days of winter.

Astronomers are aghast. If the idea catches on, they say, it could spell the end of ground-based astronomy by dazzling their telescopes. "I cringe to think that we could lose the night sky because of all these companies with their brain-dead ideas," says Daniel Green, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In August, a routine Progress supply mission will fly to the ageing Mir space station. As usual, the craft will remain docked to Mir for several weeks while it is filled with rubbish. It will then descend into the atmosphere and burn up.

Before its demise, however, the Progress vehicle should on 9 November spin to unfurl a 25-metre reflector made from aluminised Mylar, mounted on the craft's nose. Over the following 24 hours it will complete 16 orbits of the Earth while the crew aboard Mir use a joystick to direct its reflected light onto northern hemisphere cities (see Map).

A similar experiment took place in February 1993 (Technology, print edition, 3 October 1992, p 19). This mirror measured 20 meters across, and was ONLY as bright as the full Moon, because the reflecting surface did not form a complete disc. It also could not be controlled remotely. "We want to test a new shape of the reflector and the ability to control the structure," says Chris Faranetta, deputy managing director of Energia's US office near Washington DC.

Znamya 2·5 should be between five and ten times as bright as its predecessor. If it fulfils its promise, the SRC will seek financial backing for another experiment with a reflector 70 meters across, providing light up to 100 times as bright as the full Moon.

Eventually the SRC would like to launch a constellation of up to 200 reflectors to light up the Arctic. Faranetta admits that rocket launch costs would have to fall substantially before this becomes an economic alternative to building power stations. If the economics do change, however, astronomers would be in serious trouble. Those who are interested in very faint objects must already abandon observations when there is a full Moon. The SRC's plans could put them out of business altogether.

Derek McNally of University College London, who campaigns against "light pollution", says that previous plans to launch reflectors to mark historic events or to launch orbiting adverts have failed, largely due to the reluctance of space agencies to get involved. "But sooner or later someone is going to succeed and then astronomers can pack up their tents and go home," he says.

Map, links to SRC and text:




[Editor's note:  Dustin is saving to buy a 8-inch Dobsonian.  While his bank account grows, he's observing with what he has -- his binoculars.  The
following should serve as an inspiration to those of us who have assumed a jaded and complacent attitude toward our observing.  RDW]

Date: 06/17/98
Time: 10:40pm-11:30pm
Weather: Slightly cloudy to the east, light dew, no wind.
Equipment: 10X50mm Tasco Binoculars

Tonight was my first *real* observing session. I used SkyMap to print maps of each cardinal direction, and climbed up onto our roof. I don't know the constellations as of now, so I had to use the "star hopping" technique to find objects. I started in the southern sky, and used the map to locate M7, an open cluster at magnitude 3.3. The next planned object to find was the Butterfly Cluster, another open cluster at magnitude 4.2. To my surprise, both clusters were in the same field of view through the binoculars, so I was able to view both objects at the same time. I then continued my search, my next target was the Lagoon Nebula, at magnitude 5.0. After searching for a few minutes, I eventually found a small patch of gray light, but I'm not sure if it was really the Lagoon Nebula, or one of the other dozen objects in the same region on the map. But who cares? All that matters is that I found my first two astronomical bodies using a star map.

Objects found: M7 - Open Cluster - 3.3
Butterfly Cluster - Open Cluster - 4.2

Date: 06/20/98

Time: 12:31am-1:40am

Weather: Light breeze from the southeast, heavy dew, clear skies. Thankfully, no dew developed on the optics. Equipment: 10X50mm Tasco Binoculars

12:30am - Created a makeshift night flash light by taping yellow plastic to the end of my father's MagLite flash light. Not very pretty, but it works.
12:44am - Located M4 (My first globular cluster!)
12:50am - Tried to locate M80 (globular cluster, 7.2), unsuccessful.
01:01am - Located the Lagoon Nebula, Trifid Nebula, M21, and M23.
01:08am - Located many small gray patches of light northeast of the Trifid Nebula, but could not determine which objects were which. Possible  matches (according to the map) are M18, M24, Omega Nebula, or M16.
01:08am - Located M25.
01:13am - Attempted to locate M28 (globular cluster, 6.9) and M22 (open cluster, 5.1), but could only resolve M22. Globular clusters are by far the hardest objects to detect with my binoculars thus far.
01:24am - Saw a small meteor near the Zenith.
01:25am-01:39am - Looked around in the clouds of the Milky Way, for no particular object.
01:40am - Due to lightening and heavy due, I ended the session.

Objects found:
Lagoon Nebula - 5.0 M22 - Globular Cluster - 5.1
Trifid Nebula - 6.3 M23 - Open Cluster - 5.5
M4 - Globular Cluster - 5.9 M25 - Open Cluster - 4.6
M21 - Open Cluster - 5.9

Dustin Smith
"The Heavens: Astronomy on the Net"


JOYS OF SUMMER FROM MARCUS PAUL HOWELL We moved to a new house in April. Our home is located just off one of the fairways at the Enterprise C.C. Since our departure from the suburban sprawl of Fort Rucker/Enterprise the sky has really opened up for us! (I find it simply unbelievable how much "glow" hangs above Enterprise from all the streetlights and shopping centers.) Last week I turned my 6" Dobsonian on the Scorpion. With the Telrad ablaze ( and a little visual guessing) I was able to locate M80, M4, M62, M6 and M7 fairly quickly. M7 was IMHO the loveliest of these Messier objects. Tonight I turned the glass towards Sagittarius and was able to find M69 and what I believe was the Trifid Nebula ( a rather smoky patch quite similar to the Orion Nebula but a little more narrow and not quite as pronounced). I looked for NGC 6822 (Barnardís Galaxy) but was unable to locate any fuzziness that might indicate the galaxy ( I need a bigger scope!). I was able to get a good long look at Jupiter shortly after 1:40. What a sight!

The other night I took my first shots of the Moon with Jupiter just to the left. I used Kodak T 400 B/W. I am anxious to see if any of the exposures turned out half way decent. I have dusted off an old Tasco tripod from years past and am attempting to use it to manually guide the camera. I am doubtful if it will work. I may try my hand at building a double arm barnyard door mount and purchasing a telephoto for the OM-1. I would rather sweet talk my wife into a SCT. :-)

Marcus Howell



S. Nakano, Sugano, Japan, reports the discovery of a possible nova (mag 9.5) by Kesao Takamizawa, Saku-machi, Nagano-ken, which was found on two T-Max 400 films (each exposure about 4.5 min) taken on June 15.561 UT with a 0.10-m f/4.0 lens. Takamizawa reports the position of the possible nova as R.A. = 17h32m00s.0, Decl. = -19o13'56" (equinox 2000.0). No star is present at this location on 48 previous patrol films taken by Takamizawa between 1994 Feb. 17 and 1998 May 19. R. and Y. Kushida report the following position end figures for the variable star from a poor CCD image obtained on June 16.531, when they estimated V = 10.0: 31m59s.82, 57".0 (uncertainty stated as 1" or more; average of three frames). There is a red USNO A1.0 star (B = 18.0, R = 16.8) at position end figures 59s.79, 55".0. T. Kato, Kyoto University, notes that the possible nova lies within the 16" error circle of the ROSAT source 1RXS 173200.0-191349.

 Hope to see everyone at the meeting NEXT Friday,