Hello again Astro friends,

Here are a couple of asteroid targets for the star party:

MAY 18, 1996


A small asteroid measuring 300 to 500 meters across will zip past
Earth this weekend. Designated 1996 JA1, it was only discovered on May
14th by observers Tim Spahr and Carl Hergenrother in Arizona. It will
pass just 450,000 km from Earth on May 19th and get as bright as
magnitude 10.5. Meanwhile it will be streaking up to 9 degrees PER
HOUR across Virgo and Leo in the evening sky. If you don't see it on
the evenings of the 18th or 19th, forget it -- by the 20th it will
already have dimmed to 16th magnitude.  Here are a few positions in
Universal Time, but note that they are geocentric and could be off by
up a fraction of a degree. Observers with access to the WWW can get
a custom-generated topocentric ephemeris at the following URL:


(Holley's Field is at 32 degrees, 42 minutes North Latitude and 86 degrees
and 00 minutes W.  Elevation is 615 Ft.)


The asteroid 4 Vesta reached opposition on May 11th and now shines at
magnitude 5.6, making it visible with the unaided eye if your sky is very
dark. Observers at mid-northern latitudes can look for Vesta in the
constellation Libra beginning in early evening low in the southeast.
Find the three bright stars that form the upper part of the Scales of
Libra. Third-magnitude Beta Librae is at the top, and Vesta is about 4
degrees northwest of Beta. A finder chart appears on page 71 of SKY &
TELESCOPE's May issue.

And a little mirth for what it's worth from ASTRO mail list:

(the following originally appeared in August, 1991 issue of Astronomy-
 by Dave Clyburn)

Police those Star Parties!

The star parties staged by our astronomy club were becoming unruly and
chaotic. Perhaps you've noticed the same trend in your own club observing
sessions. Do your typical group nights consist of telescopes careening
rapidly from one bright object to another - a minute on M13, another
minute for the Andromeda Galaxy, a brief glimpse at the Ring Nebula?
Observing at excessive speeds is a common infraction. Another is the
stunting that some observers revel in. They claim to see targets like
Palomar 4, a magnitude 14 globular cluster, in a 4-inch telescope and
then have the nerve to boast for all to hear, "But it's real easy to see!"

Another insidious practice that is becoming more widespread occurs when
lazy observers rush over to see an object that a more disciplined am-
ateur has found after spending half the night star-hopping to its obscure
location. Such thievery of photons is unconscionable. What's more, these
parasitic observers then glance through the victim's finderscope or
Telrad finder so they can sight the location of the target and quickly
sweep up the same object in their telescopes. They then add insult to
injury by claiming to have found the object themselves. Such claims are
illegitimate in our minds. Guilty parties should be stripped of their
Messier badges.

The disorderly conduct was becoming to much to handle. The trend had to stop.
To stem the tide of unruly observing, our club formed a much-feared but
effective Observing Police. Their job: bring discipline and good ob-
serving skills to the uncontrolled nighttime mob. It was a tough job,
but someone had to do it.

To enforce order, our Observing Police regularly patrol local star
parties. Armed with red flashlights, they inspect observers and hand
out citations for any observing they feel does not conform to the high
standards we are attempting to instill. Citations that the Police have
recently issued include:

OBSERVING TOO QUICKLY - A speed of 5 objects per hour is in force at
our observing site. All objects must be sketched and sketches must be
available for inspection during random spot checks. PENALTY: Confis-
cation of eyepieces.

the head with the tube of a long refractor or wiring a telescope tube
to a high-voltage generator to create a giant "dew-zapper" effect.
PENALTY: Observing with said telescope.

STUNTING - Such as claiming to see invisible objects. PENALTY: Thirty
days Solar observing. A further crime is claiming to actually see
detail in invisible objects. PENALTY: Immediate promotion to club pres-

RECKLESS OBSERVING - You're guilty if you think you see objects not
actually being viewed. (such as exclaiming that "the Cocoon Nebula is
really bright!" when the telescope is pointed at the Andromeda Galaxy).
Also includes viewing objects with inappropriate filters and mag-
nifications (such as scanning the Pleiades at 900X with an O III filter).
PENALTY: One night in the Coma-Virgo galaxy cluster with a 60 mm tele-
scope and an old Norton's Star Atlas as your only guide.

IMPAIRED OBSERVING - On one occasion an observer was caught trying to
find an apparently interesting object called NGP. "But it's marked right
here on my atlas!"he protested, not realizing the object was, in fact,
the North Galactic Pole. Carefully searching for deep-sky objects with
a sub-aperature planetary mask in place over a Dobsonian is also subject
to ticketing. TYPICAL PENALTY: Tracking down all the Messier objects-
in numerical order.

IMPERSONATING AN OBSERVER - Infractions include arriving at an observing
site in July with a 20-inch telescope with the intention of observing the
Orion Nebula. Or owning a 20-inch telescope with digital setting circles
and never looking at anything except the brightest Messier objects.
PENALTY: A mandatory one-night Messier Marathon- WITHOUT the digital
circles.Our Observing Police have also found a lucrative method of raising
for Club activities - mostly to purchase Nagler eyepieces for all the club
executives. We now require that all observers buy observing licenses. We
set the highest fees for the brightest objects. This discourages people
from partaking in the tiresome and unproductive practice of observing the
same bright objects over and over again. Our license fee structure is as

Moon                    $1000.00
Planet                   $500.00
Galaxy                    $20.00
Planetary Nebula          $10.00
Orion Nebula            $1000.00
All other diffuse
  nebulae                  $2.50
M13                     $1000.00
All other globulars        $1.50
Open clusters and
  double stars              FREE
Comets and Meteors   3 for $1.00

In addition, novice observers must obtain a learner's permit, at a cost
of $50.00.

By enforcing these regulations we have found that our star parties are
now much easier to manage. Gone is the boisterous, uncontrolled en-
thusiasm of the past. The chaos has been replaced by a quiet, disci
plined observing that is a credit to amateur astronomy. Perhaps your
club will follow our lead. (Club affiliation of the Author withheld)


See you tonight,


Russell Whigham