Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
June, 1999

Greetings Astrophiles,
In This Issue
June Meeting
Astronomy Day, 1999 
May Star Party
WFO Open House
New on the Web Pages
 Seti @ Home
 Comet Lee
 ISS Tracking
June Meeting

This month's meeting will be on Friday, June 4, at 8:00 PM, in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building on the Auburn University campus. Our program will be a collimation demonstration given by Tom McGowan. Montgomery area car-poolers should meet at my house (518 Seminole Drive). We'll head for Auburn at 7:00 PM.

This month's star party will be on Saturday, June 12 at Holley's Field, sunset until dawn.


Astronomy Day '99 Reflections

On Saturday, May 22, the Auburn Astronomical Society, in cooperation with Rick Evans and the staff of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, joined similar organizations across the nation in celebrating National Astronomy Day. For a while it looked like we might get splattered by one of the afternoon's scattered showers, but the clouds parted right on schedule at sundown. The security officer on duty estimated that the crowd for this year's event was even larger than last year's.

Thanks to the following members who participated in our presentation on How To Select And Use An Astronomical Telescope: Rhon Jenkins, Russell Whigham, Tom McGowan, Alan Cook, Phillip Hosey, and Scott Thompson. I heard several favorable comments following the presentation.

Thanks as well to the following who made their telescopes available to the public:

And finally, thanks to Rick Evans for providing the facility, coordinating the event, handling the security and publicity, and presenting the program "More than Meets the Eye" in the planetarium. Following the event Rick wrote: Just wanted to pass along to you and your organization our sincere thanks for a wonderful Astronomy Day event. I think it was better than last year's event, and it's just going to get bigger and bigger.

Next year, I'd like to look into putting together a display to put up in Eastdale Mall, during the week, highlighting your club and the planetarium. I think it was evident, there are a lot of people interested, they just don't know where to go to get started.

Once again, thank you, and please pass along our appreciation to all your members who took the time to drive out here and set their gear up.

Rick Evans
W.A.Gayle Planetarium, Director

 And, from one of our mail list members, Alan Bender: Alan


[ Ed. Note:  If you have any photo's of this year Astronomy Day, please send them to me as .JPG files to be used on the web page. ]


May Star Party
Contributed by Phillip Hosey

Tom Danei and I decided to ride up to Holleyís Field together so that I could show him how to get there. We arrived after sunset, but there was still enough light to set up by. Alan Cook was already setup on the hill, so we pulled in near him and setup our equipment. As we were setting up, Alan told us that dew was already forming on surfaces and it wasnít too much longer before he lost his corrector to dew and it wasnít even completely dark yet! We knew then we were in for a wet night. It was fortunate that I had bought a dew zapper for my scope the day before.

After Alanís corrector dewed up, he decided to take a few piggyback shots and not too much later he decided to head out because the dew and fog were really getting heavy. As Alan was packing up, Jim McLaughlin came by but didnít have his scope. I shared views of showpiece objects with everyone and we talked about objects and our equipment and about how lousy the dew and fog were. We got a good look at Mars because the sky was pretty steady. In fact it was the best look at Mars I have had so far this spring. Tom was holding off on bringing his scope out of the car until around midnight when the objects he wanted to view were in a better position because he did not have any kind of dew protection for his corrector.

After Alan left, Jim stayed a while and eventually headed out also. Tom and I stayed for a while longer and the dew and fog were really getting bad around midnight - 1:00am. Itís a good thing we set up on the hill, because the fog was all around us, it was like a sea of fog. We debated whether to stay or not, and decided to pack up the equipment and just sit and drink a little coffee and see what happens. As we were packing up, I noticed that I could start to see the milky way, and that the fog that was all around us was nearly gone. I figured the weather was just playing with us like it always does, so we continued packing up. As we were nearly done, the fog completely disappeared, the sky was much clearer, and then the impossible happened... a slight warm breeze actually rose the air temperature above the dew point (Iím guessing here because it actually made the air feel less humid) and things actually started drying a little! I hurried as fast as I could to get the scope back out and set up again and then we had the best time scanning objects in the summer milky way. We looked at as many showpiece objects as we could before the batteries in my scope died. It was Tomís first time looking at many of the objects we finally got to see well. We looked at M3, M13, M92, M51, M65, M66, M64, NGC4565, M8, M20, M16, M17, M27, M57, M4, Veil Nebula, Albierio, and M-7, the large open cluster near Scorpiusís stinger, and many other unidentified things in the area of the milky way between Cygnus and Saggitarius. All in all it turned out to be a great night for Tom and I. Too bad there werenít any others there to share it with us. Tom finally got to use his scope under some fairly dark skies and we both got to see a lot of fine deep sky objects.

Hereís hoping for better weather and more participants in June!



WFO Open House

On Saturday May 8, we met at the home of Scott and Julie Thompson near Alex City to see Scott's Walker Ferry Observatory. The roll-off-roof structure is home for Scott's 7-inch AstroPhysics Refractor. On the northern end of the structure is attached a warm-up room where Scott keeps a P.C. dedicated to his SBIG CCD imaging system. While we enjoyed snacks and drinks that Julie had prepared, Scott gave a demonstration on the fundamentals of CCD imaging. Later we set up our telescopes in the yard and enjoyed observing under clear cool skies. Attending were: Scott, Ricky Wood, Phillip Hosey, Mark and Kim Harter, Robert and David Rock, Tom McGowan, Julie Ross and your editor. Congratulations to Scott on a superb facility and special thanks to Scott and Julie for inviting us.


New on the Web Pages

Nancy Coburn now has her sunset images on the Astrophotography page. 

Phillip Hosey has his amazing CCD images on his Web page at:

David T. King, Jr. suggested a new link for spotting satellites passing overhead with help from NASA:

Sightings - New software from NASA, called "J-Pass," can tell you when and where to spot satellites passing overhead - from your own backyard. The software can even mail you a message for upcoming satellite passes if you canít use the software over the web! Full story:

Dustin Smith, mail list member, future A.U. student, & AAS member, has added some new pages to his Web site. Dustin writes:

My Dob web page is now up at . Click on "observing reports" in the menu for....guess what....observing reports! You can link to them at .
 Here are a few new links on the Astronomical Web Sites Page:

Miscellaneous: Astro Photo exposure determination software -- Free (and fast) download. From the Astronomical Society of Southern New England.

Organizations: International Supernova Network 

Observing: Adventures in Deep Space


Seti @ Home
Submitted by Randy Farmer, 04MIS Auburn University

Iím pretty sure that this should interest at least a few members of the astronomy club. Seti@Home is a screensaver based client for home PCs that mines through the piles and piles of data collected from Arecibo. Your computer downloads a slice of data, does some fast Fourier transforms while the computer isnít being used by you (when the screensaver pops up), and does some curve fitting to the results, looking for certain gradients, peaks, etc. After youíre computer is done with its slice of data, it sends the results back to the Berkeley server the next time you log onto the net and downloads another. The web site has more info on exactly what the program does, how it does it, and what itís looking for.

One of the newer features is the ability to join and contribute your CPU time to a team. All of the current teams are University based.. Georgia Tech has a lot of members and have completed quite a few work units. As of right now, Iím the only member of the Auburn University effort.

Anyway, I think itís a good use for spare computer time. Like most people I leave my computer up and running all the time, so itís sitting here doing not much of anything a good portion of the day. Plus the program gives you the exact ascension and declination and time your data slice was collected, so for the astronomy enthusiest this could be of great interest.

 Randy Farmer


Ken Poshedly

The Atlanta Astronomy Club is pround to announce that Antonìin Rükl, author of the widely-acclaimed and best-selling book "Atlas of the Moon," will be the featured speaker of the Year 2000 Peach State Star Gaze. The event will open Thursday afternoon, April 6, and officially close at noon, Sunday, April 9.

Comet C/1999 H1 Lee
From Tom Krajci ; The Astro-Photography Mailing List

I had my first chance to see comet C/1999 H1 Lee last evening (5/5). I was surprised by how large and diffuse this comet appeared in my 8x56 binoculars. There havenít been any observations posted for this comet since the moonlight interference ended, and it has apparently grown by quite a bit. Unfortunately, my observation was made briefly between two trees and a chimney, so I canít say much about the magnitude of the comet other than to say it was easily visible and very diffuse. Similarly I can only say that it appeared to be about twice the size predicted by SkyTools (4.8í) based on the most recent observations. Lee will become easier to observe from the northern hemisphere as the month progresses. It should be at 7.4 on June 1, brightening to 7.1 by the 15

For those that want to shoot Comet Lee in a moonless sky, the "astrophoto window" opens the evening of June 01, Tuesday. When the sun gets about 13 degrees below horizon the comet stands about 21 deg above horizon. The moon doesnít rise for almost another hour. Comet Lee will be moving about 2.5 arcsec per minute, at a position angle of 345 degrees. Coordís that evening (early 2 June in UT for USA astrophotographers): RA 8hr 33min, Dec. +4deg 55min.

By Friday evening, it will be three degrees farther north, essentially same elevation above horizon, moving about 2.35 arcsec/min at 345 deg pos. angle.



 Map reproduced from MegaStar
ISS Tracking
Early morning risers can catch the International Space Station (and possibly STS-96) sailing silently overhead for the next few days.  Give it a try:

Satellite #25544  : ISS (Space Station)
TLE Data File     : tlex.dat
Element Set Number: 598 (Orbit 2848)
Element Set Epoch : 21May99  1999/141  19:27:43.240 UTC   (1.4 days ago)
Launch Date/Time  : 20Nov98  1998/324  06:40:00.000 UTC
Start Date/Time   : 23May99  1999/143  00:00:00.000 CDT
Orbit Geometry    : 387.19 km x 381.38 km at 51.613 deg
Propagation Model : SGP4
Ground Station    : Montgomery, AL, USA   ---   EM62UJ
Time Zone         : CDT (UTC - 5.00 h)
Prediction Type   : COM
Minimum Elevation : 10.0 deg

Date (CDT)         Time (CDT) of        Duration   Azimuth at   Max  Visib Orbit   MET at AOS
               AOS      MEL      LOS     of Pass  AOS MEL LOS  Elev   Code

Mon 31May99 04:57:31 05:02:42 05:07:52  00:10:21  226 316  45  83.1  NVVVV  2998 192/03:17:31

Tue 01Jun99 03:58:38 04:03:39 04:08:39  00:10:01  206 131  56  31.8  NNVVV  3013 193/02:18:38

Wed 02Jun99 04:35:19 04:40:25 04:45:29  00:10:10  240 319  39  38.7  NVVVV  3029 194/02:55:19

For a Sky chart for the pass you select, go to:  Satellite Tracking


Hope to see everyone at the meeting,