Auburn Astronomical Society E-Newsletter
August, 1999

Greetings Astrophiles,

In This Issue

August Meetings

We've Been Framed!

July Star Party

 Member News

SCT Mail List

Lunar Prospector Impact

New Comet

Observing Reports


August Meetings

This month's meeting will be on Friday, August 6, at 8:00 PM, in room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building, on the Auburn University campus. 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, August 14 at Holley's Field, sunset until dawn. Remember that this is the week for the Perseid Meteor Shower. Get out any night from Wednesday to Saturday (the peak will be in the predawn hours of Friday morning) and watch for fragments of comet Swift-Tuttle to "rain" down on Earth. The meteors tend to be very fast, with an average magnitude of 2.3, and about 45% leave persistent trains. See more at:

We've Been Framed!

The AAS Web page has a slightly different look now. Gone are the navigation buttons at the bottom of each page. They have been replaced by the icons in the scrollable left-side "window". Links external to the AAS pages will (should) keep the AAS site open and present a full screen view of the linked page. Internal navigation is now via the icons and "Back" button of your browser. Please let me know if you find any errors omission or commission as well as any "dead" links. If anyone is using a non-frames browser, let me know and I'll put some additional effort into the "No Frames" version. Your old bookmarks will work just the same.

July Star Party
Submitted by Phillip Hosey

On Friday July 9th Tom Danei and I went to Snipeís Farm to do some pre-star party observing. I had called the Snipes the night before and set it up. We arrived just after sunset and set up our scopes. As we were setting up, Donnie and Darlene came home and we spoke with them for a bit while we were setting up. After we got setup we spent some time showing them some of the more interesting objects in the Scorpius - Sagittarius region.

The sky was really good toward the south. You could see the Milky Way all the way to the horizon. There was no light dome at all on the south horizon. There was a heavy light dome to the north, northwest, and northeast from Auburn, one to the east from Phenix City (not quite as bad). I could follow the Milky Way from the southern horizon below Sagittarius and Scorpius all the way overhead through Cygnus and into Cassiopeia, even though it was in the light dome. Structure and detail in the Milky Way was very evident. I could see M8, M24, M6, M7 naked eye and possible the areas where M16 and M17 are as well. Other than the light domes, there were no interfering lights, the Snipes had turned off their lights and unlike Hollyís field, there were no headlights going up and down the road. (You canít see the road from their place). Tom and I spent the entire night looking at anything and everything we could find, mostly objects along the Milky Way. Later in the wee hours of the morning we got a good look at M31, M33 and then Jupiter and Saturn. Finally we watched the crescent moon rise not too far from the Pleiades and daylight started to break. We caught about a 20 minute nap in the truck then headed home.

I must say that I like this site better than Hollyís Field. For me personally anyway, it is much closer. I think the southern and overhead areas are darker than Hollyís as well, although I didnít do an actual limiting magnitude comparison. I felt that the southern horizon was better at snipeís farm than Hollyís, but Hollyís has a better N, E and W horizon.

Now to the star party.. Not much to tell here, the weather wasnít very cooperative. There were widely scattered thunderstorms in the area before sunset and it just didnít clear up very well after sunset. I arrived at the Snipeís place with my wife and son shortly before sunset. Rhon Jenkins was already there. Alan Cook showed up about 8PM CST. We did not have a meeting mostly because no one else showed up and also Rhon had to leave as his wife was not feeling very well. We stood around the scopes with the Snipes and some of their friends, Iím sorry I donít remember everyoneís name. We talked about many things while waiting for the clouds to go away (They never did.) The snipes invited us in for some refreshments and a movie while we waited for the clouds to clear. Finally a little after midnight we could see enough of the sky to attempt some observing. By this time everyone had either left or gone to bed. Alan and I and my wife and son went up to the scopes and looked at a few of the more showy objects for about an hour or so then we all packed up and went home. Maybe weíll have better luck next month.


Member News

We have one new member to welcome to A.A.S: Greg Glasscock of Auburn, . We look forward to seeing Greg at the meetings and star parties.

Just to reinforce the adage that "you can never have too many telescopes", Phillip Hosey a new 10" Dob to play with on those nights when he doesn't feel like setting up his C8. He's also has dismantled his 6" and is going to rebuild it with better materials.

Our latest addition to the mail list is Lance Hollon of Prattville Lance and his girlfriend Alicia enjoy observing with a 4.5" Telestar Reflector. Lance writes:

We're looking for a sub $1000 scope that can do anything we want. It doesn't have to do it all well :) if anyone has any ideas, I would love to get some E-mail..

David Nicholls writes:

I want to thank you for keeping me up on activities over this last year. However, I will no longer be able to go to any activities because I have moved to Virginia. Once again, thanks for keeping me up to date with events.

We hate to see you move on, but we did enjoy the one star party that you were able to attend. I hope you can find another group at your new home. Thanks for letting us know about your relocation. Bookmark our Web page and check back on us from time to time.



New SCT Mail List

[Editor's Note: Because my DSRSG observing buddy, Rod Mollise, needed something to occupy his time when he's not at TSP, or the regular MAS star parties, or writing a book on observing from the city, and another on SCT's, or making cogent comments on virtually every astronomy related mail list and newsgroup on the Internet, or editing the MAS newsletter Skywatch, or being Webmaster for the MAS site, or having his letters published in Sky & Telescope, or teaching the astronomy lab at the University of South Alabama, or making astro-images using his astrovideography skills, or rebuilding a telescope or being at work or having a normal day at home being husband and dad, he is now the creator and moderator of the sct-user's mail list. This is a niche that one would have thought already filled by the existing Meade and Celestron mail lists, but in under two weeks since it's debut, has nearly 400 subscribers. Here's Rod's initial announcement:]

From Rod Mollise, MAS:

Hi Gang:
Just what the world needs, another mailing list, right? Well, I got to thinking that, while thereís a Celestron Usersí list, various Meade groups, and also lists for Mak-Cass users, there is not ONE list where users of all these CATs can share experiences and information. Sadly, the celestronuser list is (and has been) very inactive. Thus the sct-user list. This is for all users of all SCTs. 16" LX-200s to white tube 60s Celestrons! Mak-Cass users are encouraged to joining up too...and I mean you ETX fans in your hordes!
How do you join? You can go to the list home page at:
or you can subscribe manually by sending:
OR:  by filling out a form youíll find at

Lunar Prospector Impact
Submitted by Allen Screws

According to the ALPO website it will be at 4:52 C.D.T.(9:52 U.T.) on Saturday morning July 31 in the Southern Highlands of the moon (S87.7 E42). I believe this is near a crater called Mawson. Probably nothing will be seen in small scopes, but it might be worth a look.


Here are some related links:

New Comet

By Don Machholz

Daniel Lynn of Australia found a new bright comet on July 13. He was using 7x50 binoculars. The comet is now visible low in our western sky. Below is the ephemeris for every other day.

C/1999 N2 (Lynn)

Date(00UT) R.A. (2000) Dec El Sky Mag

07-29 11h45.8m +10d38' 48d E 8.0
07-31 11h54.1m +12d45' 47d E 8.2
08-02 12h01.4m +14d39' 47d E 8.4
08-04 12h07.7m +16d20' 46d E 8.5
08-06 12h13.4m +17d51' 46d E 8.7
08-08 12h18.4m +19d13' 45d E 8.9
08-10 12h22.9m +20d28' 44d E 9.1
08-12 12h27.0m +21d36' 43d E 9.2
08-14 12h30.7m +22d38' 43d E 9.4
08-16 12h34.0m +23d35' 42d E 9.6
08-18 12h37.2m +24d28' 41d E 9.8
08-20 12h40.1m +25d17' 41d E 9.9

Object: Lynn
Peri. Date: 1999 07 23.099
Peri. Dist (AU): 0.76096 AU
Arg/Peri (2000): 357.816 deg.
Asc. Node (2000): 254.322 deg.
Incl (2000): 112.443 deg.
Eccen: 1.00
Orbital Period: Long Period?
Ref: Cir. 7224
Epoch: 1999 07 23
Absol. Mag/"n": 9.5/4.0

Observing Reports

Dustin Smith
Date: 7/12/99-7/13/99
Time: 11:30pm-12:10am
Weather: Very light cloud coverage, slight haze visible in the sky.
Limiting Mag: 5.25 Seeing: 6/10 Transparency: 6/10
Equipment: Orion 8" DSE Dobsonian, Sky Atlas 2000.0, Herschel 400 Observing List, SkyMap Pro maps.

After reading about the Herschel lists on sci.astro.amateur, I decided to take a shot at the first 400-object list. I surfed over to the Astronomical Leagueís web page, printed the list (in order of Tirion chart number), and put the stack of lists in my observing notebook. After the skies got fully dark, I packed all my gear into my truck, and drove out into the center of a hay field to the west of my house. I setup in the bed of the truck, which keeps me out of the wet grass, but limits the area I have to move around in. I opened up Sky Atlas 2000.0 on the cab of the truck, and began my search for my first Herschel object, NGC 6144 in Scorpius. Since this globular cluster is very close to Antares, it only took a few seconds to locate it. It appeared as a circular smudge of gray, about half the size of M4. I couldnít resolve any stars, even at 120x. After a few minutes comparing it to M4, I moved on to the second object on the Chart 22 list, NGC 6235. This was another globular cluster in Ophiuchus, listed at magnitude 10.4. Since I only have a reflex finder, I have to star-hop using stars visible to the naked eye...which wasnít easy tonight with the haze in the air. As if this wasnít already difficult enough, there are no bright stars near this little fuzzy, making the hunt even more challenging. I pointed the scope in the general direction of the object, and swept side to side....with no luck. If I remember correctly, I had a look at this object a few months ago when I was sweeping the Scorpius region....but Iím not sure if this is the same NGC object Iím thinking of. Clouds started rolling in from the west, and the dew was getting quite heavy, so I ended the session. I didnít get a lot done tonight....but at least itís a start.

Dustin Smith
Waterloo AL USA
The Heavens: Astronomy on the Net
Orion 8" Deep Space Explorer Review

Tom McGowan

Hello everyone,

I finally made time to write-up an article on my observations from Australia. Iíve put together the more memorable objects. Most are visually stunning, others significant for another reason. All these objects were the combined efforts of Tom Czarnecki (Ft. Worth TX), Van Robinson (Ft. Davis TX), Marc Salameh (Paris,Fr) and myself. It was this core that observed all night-every night. Van was the true iron man. At age 60, he stayed up the longest including the super-human effort of climbing Ayerís rock after staying up all night observing. I will always treasure our times together.

NGC 3372 Eta Carina

AWESOME!! Words are hard to find describing this one. Unbelievable detail seen in the structure of the nebulousity. In center, the star Eta, is immediately involved in a small, hour-glass shaped nebula called the Ďhomunculusí. It is a blazing orange-rust color. There are many dark rifts and patches around besides the famous Ďkeyholeí nebula. A real science-fiction object! Stuff filled the view where -ever I moved the scope in this area.

NGC 2070 Tarantula Nebula:  Another totally outstanding object. Easy to see how it was named. Many awesome twisting legs of nebulousity snaking away from a central "body". Detail of "tendrils" amazing.

Large Magellanic Cloud:  Looks like a cloud in the night sky. Quite large, say the size of Lyra. I was lost when peering through the eyepiece. We were looking for Comet Hale-Bopp (supposed to be in LMC during our trip). I centered the scope on the field and looked in the eyepiece only to see 15 separate objects-in the same field of view! Taking the scope and just cruising around the LMC and you could see many, many objects-mostly globs and open clusters. There is a distant galaxy, NGC 1809, located within the boundaries of the LMC. I couldnít say I've seen it -- there was literally too much stuff in the eyepiece.

Small Magellanic Cloud:  Not quite half the size of the LMC. It was situated low during our stay but it showed off nicely. Nowhere near as rich with stuff as the LMC it does have some neat objects-NGC 330, 346,371 and 395.

NGC 104 (47 Tucanna):  But nearby the SMC is this showpiece object. It has a tight, bright nucleus that fans out in all directions. This blows away all of our northern globulars.

NGC 362:  Another large, bright globular near the SMC. Being near NGC 104,itís probably similar to M92 being overlooked by M13.

NGC 5139-Omega Centauri:  Straight overhead!!! I held my breath as I climbed the ladder to first view this. How would it look? Radically different than any other time Iíve observed it before! As Marc described it as, "What a big snowball overflowing the field with infinite of resolved yellow-white crisp little diamonds". Well said. It truly is a monster! Think of how M 13 might look in a 60-inch. I have to say this is the best globular ! I thought NGC 104 might have a chance, but after comparing the two ,Omega rules!

NGC 5128-Centarus A:  This too, was straight up! At first glance I didnít think it was a much better view than what Iíd seen from Arizona. But then I realized the clarity of what I was seeing. It resembled itís nickname "the hamburger galaxy". The dust lane cuts a wide track through itís irregular oval shape. And at the center of the dust lane is a fine, white lane that bisects it. Really cool !

M 83:  I never had been impressed with this galaxy in the past. Seems like itís always located in the murky swill near the horizon. Not here! M 83 follows NGC 5139 + 5128 across the sky. It was the best detailed-view of any galaxy Iíd seen! A glorious spiral with a central bar and nebulous knots situated in the arms. This view was better than my best view of M 51 through a 25-inch scope, absolutely!

NGC 1448:  This will start some lesser known objects(to us in the north). 1448 is a nice, somewhat large edge-on galaxy located in Horologium

NGC 1566:  This is a nice face-on galaxy. We observed this right after 1448 making a interesting contrasting pair. Itís located in Dorado.

NGC 2818:  This is small, oval-shaped planetary located in the open cluster NGC 2818A. Very nice. Located in Pyxis.

NGC 2867:  Nice planetary! Small, solid, round in Carina.

NGC 2899:  Another planetary. This one being irregular-shaped in a wonderful rich-field setting. Itís shape was like that of the crab nebula. Located in Vela.

NGC 3132-The "8-burst" nebula:  I called this one the sister to the Eskimo nebula, NGC 2392. Looks very similar but not as good. This planetary is in also in Vela.

NGC 2997:  Great galaxy! Face-on, not quite circular. Reminded us of smaller version of M33. In Antlia.

NGC 2808:  Very nice globular!! Strong nucleus. Appears a bit flat on left side. 50% bigger and brighter version of M 15(easy way to increase aperture). This beauty is in Volans.

NGC 4755-Jewel Box:  A collection of precious stones and sparkling diamonds make up this gorgeous open cluster. Looking like a miniature version of Orionís belt is three fairly bright stars lined up in the middle. Each star having a different color: orange, golden-white and blue. And if thatís not enough, the huge dark nebula "the Coalsack" boarders the immediate area. Through a large pair of binoculars(25 x 125) the Coalsack comes alive with a peppering of faint stars through-out. Located in Crux.

NGC 5189:  Located in Musca is this very nice planetary. It shows a unique filamentary structure that I thought of as weird. I was definitely on the sky. It looks like the Taoist symbol for the Yin-Yang!

NGC 3576:  Part of the Vela supernova remnant. The view was unexpected, itís curves would remind us of a small and sharp version off the Tarantula. In the same field, we could see a nice cluster (NGC 3603) known to be the densest concentration of very massive stars in our galaxy.

NGC 4945:  This beautiful edge-on in Centarus blows away NGC 4565 (at least Marc thinks so). Definitely larger in size and density than 4565, but I could only detect a hint of a dust lane. A very nice galaxy indeed!

NGC 2573:  This is a small, elongated-oval galaxy. It was tough a first to detect. Itís significance ? This 13. 5 mag. galaxy is -89. 20 degrees south, making it the closest NGC object to the south-celestial pole. By the way, itís in Octans.

NGC 6302-the Bug Nebula:  Hereís a planetary we can see here but not this good. It resembled the shape of NGC 7331 (thatís right, the galaxy 7331) and we could clearly see the curve at the end of the nebula (itís antennae). Itís in southern Scorpius.

NGC 2613:  A nice edge-on in Pyxis similar to NGC 891.

NGC 3199:  Located in Carina, this planetary was one of our best surprises. Without a filter it looked like NGC 6888 w/ OIII filter. With an OIII, it was marvelous, bright evident filling the field with irregular nebulosity far after the end of the crescent. We nicknamed it the super-crescent, of course.

NGC 4038/4039-the Antennae:  Best view of these two colliding galaxies in Corvus. It was like two snakes forming a U.

I had the best views of all my favorites in Sagittarius/Scorpius region. Such objects as M17,M16,M8 ,M22,M20. . . I also saw B 72 -- the "Snake", a dark nebula in Ophiuchus. Real cool !

And my absolute favorite ? Looking at the Milky Way spanning the entire sky with Sagittarius straight up! The detail is mind-blowing! Much better than any photo Iíve ever seen. I sure do miss it. But I know Iíll be back...

Tom McGowan

Hope to see everyone at the meeting,