Auburn Astronomical Society
In This Issue
This month's meeting will be on Friday, April 2 at
8:00 PM in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering
building, on the campus of Auburn University. Montgomery area car poolers
should meet at my house (518 Seminole Drive).
We’ll head for Auburn at 7:00 PM. If you're planning to ride over with
us, please e-mail or call (271-3684) so we'll have an idea of how many
to expect. Construction on the AE building parking lot continues, so come
early, or be prepared for a hike.
Our normal new moon weekend star party coincides
with the Peach
State Star Gaze. Several of us will be there, but for those who are
not, Holley's Field will be available on Saturday,
presented his spectacular drawings of the proposed Kiesel
Park Observatory, (the round, movable wall-roof design) at the March
meeting. As soon as Alan puts the finishing touches on them, they'll be
added to the Kiesel Park Observatory page, and you will be notified.
Please note Tom McGowan's address change:
Mnighttele@aol.com . Phillip
Hosey is the proud owner of a new Celestron Celestar 8 Deluxe.
After a year of doing his homework and saving his money, 15-year-old AAS
friend, Dustin Smith, has ordered
an 8" Deep Space Explorer, Dobsonian. We expect some more observing reports
March Star Party: Stormed
out again (sigh). At least this one was easy to call off.
Monsoon: The Sun reached the March equinox at 7:46 p.m. CST
on Saturday, March 20th, crossing the equator heading north marking the
moment when spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere. Phillip
Hosey, Jeff Schaub, and your editor waited optimistically to celebrate
the event at Holley's Field that evening. Phillip and Jeff set up
their brand new SCT scopes in a vain attempt to observe at least one object
between the clouds. An hour later, 30 MPH winds warned of an approaching
storm. Five minutes after leaving the field, the rains came.
March 22 Daytime Albebaran Occultation:
Trees on my horizon prevented me from seeing the disappearence, but when
the red giant reappeared on the Moon's bright limb, I was surprised to
see how easy it was to see against the blue sky with my 80mm f/5.
The reddish hue was obvious. Anyone else see it?
Observatory Open House
Thompson invites all AAS members and friends to attend an open house
at his Walker Ferry Observatory
on Saturday, April 10, 1999, beginning at 6:00 PM. Scott writes:
Let’s start before dark, say maybe 30 minutes
to an hour. The same time as you would if you were going to Holley’s Field.
I want this to be very casual so bring your scopes if you like. Julie,
my wife, will make cookies or something for everyone. Stay as late as you
like. I can do a 15 - 20 minute talk about the observatory and maybe the
ST7 camera. I have not used the camera that much and I am still in the
early learning stages. It might be better if I just answer questions. :-)
I will be ready either way.
There is not much flat land on my hill. However,
there is plenty of flat land in the pasture below the observatory. No cows
to contend with! So, if anyone wants to setup out there they can but it
is about 100 yards away. If anyone wants to scope all night I will arrange
the party house to be open all night with kitchen/tv/heat etc... Just let
me know when you arrive. This is a small house down below ours.
I look forward to seeing everyone and I think
you will enjoy the visit and tour. It never gets cloudy, foggy, cold, or
hot at my house! It’s always pitch dark! We aim to please!
It would be better if we can roll the roof off.
Let's postpone if raining. If we have to postpone till May 8 then I will
be prepared for rain or shine on that date.
From Hwy. 280 take 63 South and go 4 Miles. There
will be the turn off to the left to go to Wind Creek State Park keep going
to the next road to the right. This is in front of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Take a Right onto Walker Ferry Road / County Road 20 and my house is the
first drive on the left. Red brick house on the hill.
Going 63 North you will see 2 green houses on
the left. The next road to the left just over the hill will be Walker Ferry
Road. This is just before the Church ( Mt. Zion Baptist ) on the right.
If you pass the Church or the road that goes to Wind Creek State Park you
have gone too far. Once on Walker Ferry Road / County Road 20 my house
is the first drive on the left. Red brick house on the hill.
Quartz Found at Wetumpka Crater
by Dr. David T King Jr.
Update On Impactites
The impactites in our drill cores displayed interbedded
layers of (1) diamictites containing crystalline basement fragments brought
up from great depth, (2) impact breccias (containing similar crystalline
basement fragments), (3) huge blocks of target rock up to 35 feet thick,
and (4) clay-rich sands. Diamictite is a rock that consists of broken pieces
of target rocks in a matrix of finely pulverized rock. Impact breccia is
a rock that consists of broken pieces of target rocks that generally lack
finely pulverized matrix material. Both diamictite and impact breccia are
common impactite rocks in the world’s crater-filling units. Huge blocks
encountered in drilling were both pieces of deep crystalline basement rocks
and chunks overlying softer sedimentary target rocks. Clay-rich sands appear
to be a slurry formed from pulverization of the softer sedimentary-rock
target material within the impact crater.
Update On Shock Features
Shock features are permanent deformation features
imparted to individual minerals owing to the passage of a hypervelocity
shock wave coming from the impact cratering event. At Wetumpka impact crater,
our microscope slides revealed: shocked quartz (showing two intersecting
planes of shock lamellae, a high shock-level indicator and "strong, solid
proof" of impact); feldspars that show internal dislocations and crystal
damage (looks like "lunar highlands texture" produced by impact events);
micas that show dislocations parallel to cleavage (a texture that is either
impact-related or due to regional metamorphism); and garnets with internal
crush features (a texture that is seen in some impactites, not all).
April 2 April Monthly Meeting
April 4 (Daylight Savings Time Begins)
April 10 WFO Open House at Scott Thompson's*
April 15-18 Peach State Star Gaze http://stlspb.gtri.gatech.edu/astrotxt/supdoc/pssg99.htm
April 14-17, Mid-South Star Gaze : http://rainwater.astronomers.org/stargaze/
May 8 *WFO Open House If April 10 date is clouded
May 7 May Monthly Meeting
May 15 May star party
May 21 Lunar occultation of Regulus
May 22 Astronomy Day at the Gayle Planetarium
The shocked quartz is important and is as close
as we will ever come to "absolute proof" of the impact origin of Wetumpka.
Evidence qualifying as "absolute proof" is hard to come by for geological
events that occurred millions of years ago in any sort of investigation,
and studying impact events presents some special challenges. Shocked quartz
is the highest standard of proof, as it is only found (as far as we know)
in impact craters and nuclear weapons test sites. To form, shocked quartz
textures require many millions of atmospheres of pressure and those must
be applied within a few nanoseconds.
The shocked quartz turned up in the last set of
samples that we looked at and were in some of the smallest grains seen
under the microscope. They were not very obvious at first and required
a lot of looking. I was greatly relieved when I found them a few weeks
ago, as I viewed their discovery as finally ending the debate over origin
for Wetumpka. The Mayor and her staff were obviously pleased with our discovery,
which I announced on February 27 at a City Council meeting and news conference.
Dr. Peter Schultz, of Brown University, had reviewed our evidence and the
microscope slides the day before and was there at the news conference to
back up my claims.
Of my announcement on February 27, I think we
can safely say that it has been a long time since a few tiny mineral fragments
from deep underground created such an uproar in a small southern town.
The avalanche of publicity and interest over the past few days has been
The complete daily accounts of the core sample drilling
as well as this final chapter, is online at: http://www.mindspring.com/~rwhigham/trips/wetu/drill.htm
Correspondence with Rick Evans at the W. A. Gayle
We can work out details later.
I was looking ahead a little and it looks like
Astronomy Day, 1999 will fall on Saturday, May 22. Just checking to be
sure you’re still planning something like a repeat of last
year’s event. I think we’ve talked about possibly adding a telescope
clinic a little earlier in the afternoon and anything
else you have in mind. I also think we could
have done a better job of showing the differences in the telescopes on
display with the owners giving
the advantages of each type.
And Rick Replied:
I think it would be a tremendous idea to make
it an annual event out here at the planetarium. I am open to suggestions
on what we should do this year. If you want to put it before the AAS and
get feedback from last year’s participants, on what we could do better,
we will do it right! I like the idea of the telescope workshop; we get
a lot of questions on that topic.
Let’s consider it a "GO" and start working on
In the second century BC, the Greek astronomer Hipparchus,
quantified stellar brightness by grouping them into six orders of relative
brightness -- from the brightest to the barely visible as seen with the
naked-eye from a dark location. In what at first seems counterintuitive,
the brighter stars have lower number while the dimmer stars have the higher
numbers. Each magnitude has about a 2 ½ times difference in brightness.
There are two stars (not counting the Sun) that have negative magnitudes:
Sirius at -1.58 and Canopus at -0.86. Solar system objects with negative
magnitudes include Jupiter at -2, Venus at -4, the full Moon at -12, and
the Sun at -26.
The above magnitudes are known as APPARENT magnitudes
and have size, luminosity, interstellar dust absorption, and distance factored
in. ABSOLUTE magnitudes refer to the brightness of a star as seen from
10 parsecs (32.6 light years). The Absolute magnitude of the Sun is 5.
Conveniently placed in the late Spring Sky,
is a celestial reference chart for comparing magnitudes
Map segment reproduced from MegaStar
Vega (Alpha Lyrae)
-1, 0, and 1st Mag. Combined
Deneb (Alpha Cygni)
* These stars form the asterism "The Lozenge",
and in some renditions of the constellation, form the head of the Dragon.
SAO 30538 is the dragon's eye.
Hope to see everyone at the meeting,