Moore's Meadow Observatory
The incumbent officers were all re-elected for their second terms.
Wetumpka Meteor Crater Tour
Keith arranged for Geological Survey of Alabama Geologist,
Tony Neathery to come to Montgomery in what may have been the coldest day
of the year, for a lecture and a guided tour of the Wetumpka Astrobleme.
On February 2, 1985 we caravaned from Auburn to the W. A. Gayle Planetarium,
where Mr. Neathery presented the lecture portion of the presentation.
From there, we adjourned to a Montgomery restaurant for a dutch treat meal,
then drove up to Jasmine Hill for the field trip, where we saw evidence
of the meteoric origin of the horseshoe-shaped arc of uplifted earth just
Keith Hudson, Linda Prince, Rhon Jenkins, Tony Neathery, Joyce Jenkins, Russell Whigham, and Daniel Morgan in the crater.
Also in February, with mechanical winches and cable donated by Davis-Dyar of Opelika, and the engineering skills of Rhon Jenkins, modification to the observatory's roll-off roof, enabled a single user to move the the entire structure back for observing (see the photo below).
In April, we had the now annual Astronomy Day exhibit at the mall and star party at Chewacla State Park to an increasingly interested public anticipating the return of Halley's Comet.
Columbus Enquirer September 9, 1985
A.U. Report October 7, 1985
The continuing education course was again the major source of revenue for the society. David Hagan donated his 10-inch Dobsonian telescope to the society, where it found a home at the observatory.
New members in 1985 were:
On the down side, AAS founder, Keith Hudson, accepted a position as a Alabama Wildlife Biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation in Florence, AL and relocated there. Eternal gratitude to Keith for his vision and drive, innumerable contributions, and for getting us off to a great start. Thanks, Keith!
Officers for 1986 were: Rhon Jenkins, president; Russell Whigham, vice president; and Allen Screws, secretary-treasurer. Our January star party had up to seventy-five members and friends at the observatory to see Halley's Comet as it grew larger and brighter by the month as it neared perihelion. Later that month, we mourned the loss of the space shuttle Challenger and its crew.
Our annual banquet was held at Mr. J's Family Steak House in March. Our speaker was Dr. Carole Rutland, director of the Patterson Planetarium in Columbus GA, who gave a presentation on Halley's Comet.
Recent new member, Bob McGwier, stepped in as an instructor to fill the void left by Keith in the continuing education class, that continued to be the society's major revenue generator.
In April, we took astronomy to the people with our Astronomy Day exhibit at the mall again, but the star gaze at Chewacla was clouded out. The light drizzle did not deter dozens of enthusiastic people from driving out to see the comet, however.
Work days were a regular feature of our monthly events, as we were careful to keep the observatory looking good and in good working order.
In what was to be the most controversial episode of the society's existence, two of the society's members took opposing positions on the minefield topic of science vs. religion. In January, Earl Kennamer gave a program entitled "Astronomy of the Ancients and the Effects of Religion on Science", in which Earl made his case, rather forcefully, that religion had been an impediment to science. Rev. Howard Dunaway took issue with Earl's views and asked for equal time with his presentation, "The Effects of Scientists on Science" in which he attempted expound the creationists' take on the subject . The discussion that followed Howard's presentation resulted in spirited, and contentious debate, with neither side being won to the other's point of view. Whoa, Nellie!
In June, Russell's work required his relocation to Montgomery. "You can take the boy out of the community, but you can't take the amateur out of astronomy." Larry Owsley assumed the responsibility as newsletter editor.
By mid-year, the society had 44 members, largely due to the interest in Halley's comet.
There was an especially good apparition Mars in June and July.
In the late fall of 1986, there was an attempted break-in at the observatory. Damage to the door and soffits were repaired, but the observatory was boarded up for the duration of hunting season.
Officers for 1987 were: Rhon Jenkins, president; Allen Screws, vice president; and John Zachry, secretary-treasurer.
Continuing Education continued in winter quarter.
In March, we had the annual banquet at Mr. J's Family Steak House, with Dr. Satoshi Hinata, of the Auburn University Department of Physics, giving a presentation on Magnetic Fields in the Universe".
In April, observatory was reopened. Repairs necessitated by the damage the previous fall had been made and the lock re-keyed.
Russell attended the Deep south Regional Star Gaze in McComb MS in October, and gave a program on the event at the November meeting.
Like clockwork, the beginning of hunting season brings another break-in at the observatory. This time, the society's 60mm refractor, and an 8-inch SCT that belonged to one of our student members, was stolen.
The year began with the first of the Callaway Gardens Astronomy Day events put on by Dr. Carole Rutland, director of the Patterson Planetarium, in Columbus, in conjunction with the Education Department of Callaway Gardens. Noted authors and astro-photographers Jack Newton, and Michael Covington along with Phillip Klass of Aviation Week and Space Technology were among the speakers.
A logging truck on the observatory property collapsed an old septic tank. The observatory is closed once again to prevent a really "nasty" accident. By April the damage of the septic tank had been repaired and the clean up of limbs and debris left behind by the loggers, had been completed by work party volunteers.
In May, we hosted the Astronomy Day exhibit at the mall, and star party at Chewacla State Park.
A heavy-duty steel gate placed in front of the door of the observatory, was installed by Rex Roach and Rhon Jenkins, in June. The goal was to make break-in's just too much of an effort from our uninvited guests.
This too shall pass...
In August, we received word from the property owner, that
we would have to leave the property and tear down the observatory.
Here is Rhon's letter to the society members:
So... the search began for another dark-sky site. We agreed to accept Mike Fulmer's offer of razing the observatory in exchange for the building materials that he could salvage. For those who had labored so hard on the observatory, the prospects of starting from scratch all over again, was not very appealing. Jim Chesnutt stored the telescope at his house, and other accessories were loaned to various members. What remained was the 14 by 40 foot slab, and the fondest of memories with our best friends.
With the wind pretty much out of our sails, the January newsletter had only one item -- the date and time for the monthly meeting. Officers stayed the same for 1989, but now with Jim Chesnutt (since he doesn't have an observatory to direct anymore) at the keyboard as newsletter editor. The newsletter evolved from typewriter fonts to dot-matrix printer editions as the popularity of personal computers emerged.
Earthlings survived an asteroid near miss in March when 1989 FC passed within 0.005 astronomical units of Earth. That's still twice as far as the Moon but still a close call as these things go.
We managed to have some good programs at our monthly meetings, but there were no star parties until May, when Rhon -- Rhon seemed to come through with this sort of thing on a regular basis, found a site located only a couple of miles from the old Moore's Meadow location. It was at the Beatty Christmas Tree Farm, owned and operated by Troy and Sally Beatty. Frank and Grant Moon had entered into the fold by June.
Ever in search of the perfect observing location, we took Mike Fulmer up on his offer to let us hold our star parties atop Chandler Mountain, located just east of Goodwater.
In March, Mike secured the donation of a 14-inch reflector mounted on a "Big Foot" equatorial mount, from Dr. Leslie Weaver of Calhoun GA.
Comet Austin was our solar system interloper in April.
During the summer of 1990, we learned that the long awaited Hubble Space Telescope, needed glasses.
We celebrated our tenth year as the Auburn Astronomical Society Mr. J's restaurant in October. AAS founder and past president, Keith Hudson, returned to give the keynote address recounting the society's history and concluding with a presentation of Keith's personal observatory.
AAS members, Robert Rock, and Mike Fulmer walked away with all of the prizes in astrophotography at the Deep South Regional Star Gaze, in October.
The only surviving newsletter from 1991 was the August issue. The program that month was Russell's video and narrative of his trip to Hawaii, and total solar eclipse the month before. Plans were made made for a group Perseid watch at the Beatty farm, in Macon County. Apparently the location at Chandler Mountain was a bit too far for some to drive. It seems that some business in Goodwater had put up a quartz halogen light that spoiled the view as well.
Many of us were getting our astronomy news from electronic bulletin boards, Compu-Serve, and Fido-Net. This was in the pre-"Windows" days of DOS. Remember "Sky Globe" for DOS and "Sky Travel" for Commodore? Amazing little programs using less than 360 Kbytes.
Membership in the society is down significantly, with only 18 members. The newsletter goes quarterly to save on copying and postage expenses.
Beginning in May the society began meeting in room 302 of the new Aerospace Building on the Auburn University campus.
Another change of venue, this time for the observing site, when David Ingram received permission from the land owner to use a hay field in Elmore County, later to be called Holley's Field.
In September, we invested in a video tape player for our programs.
Monthly programs and star parties keep the society going. The only big event this year came at the end of the year. The repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope was successfully completed and soon began returning never before seen detail in every object imaged.
For a week in July, comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 gives Jupiter several black eyes -- a truly memorable experience for those who had the fortune to observe this unique event.
Summer meetings were suspended while Rhon was at Marshall Space Flight Center.
Frank Moon moved to Maryland, and subsequently served as chairman of the Tri-State Astronomers in the Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia area.
The AAS discovers the World Wide Web after the Netscape Web browser facilitates use of the Internet for the common man. Astrofiles is introduced as the e-newsletter. Only the Winter-Summer edition of the newsletter was sent via "snail mail". Many of our monthly meetings consisted of exploring astronomy sites on the the Web.
On the night of July 22-23 1995 Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered. It was the most distant comet ever discovered by amateurs. Perihelion was two years away. Word spread quickly throughout the amateur community, and as summer haze gave way to crisp fall nights, we were all dazzled by the new discovery.
Comet Hyakutake, with its 30 degree tail, highlighted the spring sky towards the end of March. The AAS Web page made its modest debut in June.
Carole Rutland, director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, gave a presentation on their new state-of-the-art facility in September.
Another meeting room location came in October when we moved down one floor to room 215 of the Aerospace Engineering building.
The year began with a couple of memorable field trips. In January, the co-discoverers of comet Hale-Bopp, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, were in Atlanta. Robert Rock and a couple of friends from the Mobile Astronomical Society were there to meet and hear from the famous pair.
In February, we traveled en masse to Columbus GA to have a private tour of the new Coca-Cola Space Science Center, including a show in the digital planetarium, a simulated shuttle launch, and a trip up to the 16-inch Meade SCT in their observatory. Scott Thompson and Ricky Wood joined the society.
From mid-March to mid-April, comet Hale-Bopp, the biggest and brightest comet of a lifetime, was at its finest.
In May, it looked like we might team up with the City of Auburn and the A.U. Department of Physics in a joint venture to have an observatory at Kiesel Park, just outside Auburn. But alas, after months of planning and proposals, the project withered on the vine, perhaps to be resurrected some day.
All eyes were on Pathfiner in July, as the small robotic craft motored around on the surface of Mars. On a sad note, astronomers and geologists around the world mourned the untimely death of Gene Shoemaker.
The highlight of the year was a two-part program on the Wetumpka Meteor Crater. Dr. David T. King Jr., gave a presentation of his findings at the site at our November meeting, followed by a tour of the crater the next day.
Scott Thompson and Ricky Wood build personal observatories -- Walker Ferry Observatory,and "The Wood Shed".
Alan Cook, whose architecture class was assigned the design competition for the Kiesel Park Observatory project, the joined AAS and was soon the owner of a 10-inch Meade SCT, and a regular at meeting and star parties.
In March, Dr. David T. King Jr., and his collegues, gave a presentation on more conclusive evidence the the astrobleme in Wetumpka was in fact an ancient meteor crater. Core sample drilling began in the summer, eventually finding schocked quartz- the final piece of evidence to remove any doubt that this was an impact crater.
Our Astronomy Day redux began on May 2, at the invitation of Rick Evans, the new director of the Gayle Planetarium, in what was "the beginning of a beautiful friendship".
In August, we were off on another field trip, this time to hear the world renouned astrophotographera David Malin, lecture at the CCSSC in Columbus GA. His work was with photographic emulsion. Remember that?
In December Rick Evans invited us to the planetarium for a Christmas party and laser show at the Planetarium.
Tom McGowan, observer extraordinaire, and telescope maker, joined AAS.
Jim McLaughlin arranged to have Dr. Sarma Mukkamala, retired Director of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Hyderabad (India), speak at our January meeting on the subject of "Binary Systems".
Eddie Kirkland, Nancy Coburn, and Phillip Hosey joined AAS.
With the threat of losing Holley's Field loomong over us we accepted an offer from Darlene Snipes, to use her prpoerty in Macon County as a possible site for our star parties. Coincidentally, it's virtually next door to The Beatty Farm and the Moore's Meadow location. Scott Thompson also arranged to have the Russell Amphitheater opened for us for a trial run there.
In Februry, Rhon accepted delivery of his new 18-inch StarMaster telescope, ensuring his induction into "the big scope club".
Tom McGowan had an extreme field trip for a week-long star party in the "outback" of Austrailia. Tom recounted his experiences at our April meeting.
Scott Thompson hosted an open house for his recently completed, Walker Ferry Observatory, near Alex City, in May. Later in the month we held our Astronomy Day event again at the planetarium.
The AAS Web page was converted to "frames" in July, simplifying navigation.
We were invited to host a star gaze at the Emerald Mountain Christian School, near Wetumpka in September. This was followed by another school star gaze at the Head Elementary School in Montgomery in December, coordinated by Tom McGowan.
Everyone on Earth braced for "Y2K".
Whew! The world didn't come to a screaching halt when the clocks rolled over to January 1, 2000. ;-)
At our January meeting, Jack McDaniel shared with us his
findings while investigating the possibility of using an area in the Tuskegee
National Forest as a possible observing site. The location seemed
to have potential, and we had a few star parties at the site, but alas,
the combination of proximity to the city of Tuskegee's lights, the prospects
of a never ending battle with kudzu, limited horizons, and the financial
complications of paying the National Forest Service for a lease, were more
than we bargained for.
We concluded the year with a star gaze at St. Mark's Methodist Church, in Montgomery in November, and two school star gazes at public schools in December. The first at Thomas Head Elementary in Montgomery, followed a few days later by another at Opelika Middle School.
Following our December meeting, Robert Rock gave us an under the stars (and plenty of artificial lighting) demo of his latest acquisition – a 60mm Meade ETX 60AT Go-To refractor.
On Christmas Day we wrapped up the year with the partial (42% obstruction) solar eclipse.
Our first event for 2001 was our annual Astronomy Day , that fell on Saturday, April 28, followed the next month by our first Forest Ecology Preserve stargaze.
On Saturday May 26, at the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve just north of Auburn, AAS members, Rhon Jenkins, Allen Screws, David Newton, and Russell Whigham hosted a star party for about 40 facility visitors. As we waited for dark, we gave descriptive overviews of the different telescopes represented. Despite some low, fast moving clouds, visitors queued up at the telescopes for views of the four-day-old Moon, binary stars, a couple of galaxies, and M-13. For many, it was the first look through “a real telescope”. All seemed to enjoy the evening and we may even have picked up a couple of new members. Thanks to Margaret Holler for coordinating the event.
Teresa Johnson, teacher at Eastwood Christian School, in Montgomery, contacted Robert Rock and asked us to host a star party at their school on Monday, October 22 on the school grounds at 1701 E. Trinity Blvd. next to Eastwood Presbyterian Church.
Then in November, we instituted the video tape/DVD library that would be made available to AAS members to be checked out for one month.
Leonid Storm, 2001
On the night of Nov. 17/18, 2001 The American Meteor Society reported a double peak of about 2,500 ZHR from about 4:30AM to 5:15AM CST. What is a typical peripheral vision -- 120° or so? I'm sure we all missed about ½ of them. Had I believed all of the hype, I'd have been better prepared. I really hate that I didn't replace the 200 speed film in my camera with some 800 to 1000 and try to catch some on film. I usually look straight up for meteors, but this time I offset the radiant slightly so that I could still see it well peripherally, but gazed toward the area near Canis Major. My favorite impression was a 2-3 second interval when I saw 4 streaks within 5 degrees of the radiant. Now THAT'S a meteor shower. A close second, was a train near the radiant that persisted for 15 - 20 seconds and distorted into somewhat of a corkscrew before fading out completely. I'm curious as to what caused the distortion. It looked wind-blown, but I thought the ionization occurred in the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere -- far above any jet streams. The bronze metal goes to the near head-on meteors that manifested themselves as less than ½ ° streaks. Something to tell the grandkids about.
And, the following week on January 26, Rick Evans and his staff at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium in cooperation with the Montgomery County Schools, and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, hosted Family Science Night.
On Tuesday March 19th, Greg Glasscock organized a stargaze at Ogletree Elementary in Auburn, where two of his daughters were students.
On Monday, February 18, club members Russell Whigham, Jim Locke, Mark Brown, Jim McLaughlin, Julie McGowan and Tom McGowan met at Maxwell Air Force Base to treat the residents to a celestial show, organized by Tom. Views of Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon and the Orion nebula were enjoyed by all. We had good skies. For many people, this was their first time looking through "real" telescopes. Everyone was delighted to be able to view such beautiful sights as Tom had much feedback thru-out the week. They expressed many thanks to the club members for taking the time to share with them. He receive many letters from the kids. Here is a particular letter Tom wished to include:
"We Really enjoyed "gazing at the stars" last night. It was an experience that Cody and I will never forget. Thank you so much for your time, effort and thoughtfulness--- and for caring so much about our kids in the community!This is one of the main reasons we should continue to participate in public stargazes. Many people don't have the equipment and knowledge to see for themselves but do have the wonder and interest of the heavens. And it is us, the club members, who can make the skies accessible to them. Who knows how we may influence these people-especially the children, to open up a new window of discovery for them. I like to think that their exposure to the skies from a star party will always be in their memories and may be the catalyst for some to further their interest in astronomy. And all it costs us is the time of one evening.
Thomas L. Head Elementary School: In keeping with the schools “Reach for the Stars” theme, on Tuesday, April 16, AAS members Jim McLaughlin, Tom McGowan, Jim & Diane Locke, and Russell Whigham convened at the Thomas L. Head Elementary School in Montgomery, for our annual star gaze for the students. The first quarter Moon and all of the naked-eye planets line up single file for us to see. Principal, Susan Mallett, had soft drinks and pizza for us. Because the St. Bede star gaze, originally scheduled back in March had to be cancelled, principal Mallett graciously agreed to have the St. Bede students join the Head students for the evening.
By the end of the year, we learned that Dr. King's Wetumpka Meteor Crater Findings had been published:
I am pleased to tell you that our definitive paper establishing Wetumpka as an impact crater and presenting the unequivocal shocked quartz and iridium evidence has been published (this month) in Earth and Planetary Science Letters (an highly regarded Elsevier journal published in the Netherlands). The paper is titled "Shallow marine impact origin of the Wetumpka structure (Alabama, USA). The reference is King et al. (2002) EPSL v. 202, p. 541-549. Those with access to Science Direct or other similar journal access systems can down load a PDF version for themselves.
Greg Glasscock, organizer
The Ogletree Star Gaze was brought to fruition on March 11th. The weather was ideal. This year only brought out 25-30 people as opposed to around 100 last year. My theory is that word leaked that Rhon would not be in attendance. Those that were on hand to share their hardware and enthusiasm were Mackall Acheson, Alan Cook, and Jim and Diane Locke. Everyone was very complimentary of how the kids were treated by the scope owners. The Locke's and Mackall earned extra credit for coming from Montgomery. Alan also deserves credit for lugging a 10" SCT with lower back pain. Andy Camerio had planned on coming from Montgomery for the first attempt that was rained out. Thanks for trying Andy! Mackall also brought his digital camera and supplied some shots to share.
We were witness to the best apparition of Mars in tens thousands of years and The Auburn Astronomical Society shared this event with the visitors at the W.A. Gayle Planetarium, in Montgomery on Saturday, August 30.
On Saturday night, January 3, 2004, we a had a special event at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, to observe Saturn. Saturn was closer to the Earth than it has been for the past 30 Years, and as close as it would be for the next 30 Years.
New AAS Domain Name: The Auburn Astronomical Society
had recently registered the domain name, “http://www.auburnastro.org”.
NASA astronaut, Jim Voss presented a program for us on the evening of Thursday March 11. The program concerned the space station and its role in a possible future mission to Mars. Jim presented a short movie taken aboard the station, some slides, and his expert commentary on what life is really like aboard the station. One the best programs we've had in a long time!
Astronomy Day 2004, Saturday, April 24,
Transit of Venus -- June 8, 2004
Joe Albree, Department of Mathematics, AUM, had selected a site; a large conference room located on the tenth floor, atop of AUM’s Library Tower. Ray Kunert visited the room and reported, as Joe told us at the May meeting, that although the windows in the room are recessed, viewing to the northeast will be good. The windows have permanent blinds (adjustable tilt, but not “raisable”) within the double panes, but they posed no problem with the Sun’s image when focused at infinity. This minor problem was more than offset by being able to enjoy the event in the comfort of air conditioning!
On the day of the event, I arrived at AUM at 4:30AM. Several people were already set up in the room on the tenth floor of the AUM Library Tower. Venus would be nearing the end of her transit at sunrise in Montgomery on June 8, 2004 at 05:33. The Sun rose at 62 degrees azimuth into a bank of clouds on our otherwise unobstructed northeastern horizon, and spoiled the first several minutes of the event. Venus then teased us like and exotic dancer, with sneak peeks between the veil of clouds until about 15 minutes before she exited, stage right. The atmosphere in the room where we were gathered was one of quiet ecstasy during the transit. Everyone had a good view at one time or another as we took turns at the telescopes. At the end, we gave her a round of applause and a curtain call , but there was no encore -- not for another 8 years anyway. It was a truly memorable experience.
Ray Kunert observed chromatic aberration (red tinge on one side of the image – blue on the other side) above and below Venus with his 10-inch Meade SCT. We mused over why this might be as the phenomenon had never been seen in this instrument before. Subsequently, we read numerous reports of this on astronomy mail lists. The consensus seemed to be that it was atmospheric chromatic aberration and that it was more pronounced when seen using larger apertures.
Others observed the event from various locations in our area:
Gail Smitherman, Selma: I got to see a smidge of the end of the Venus transit through the tree limbs [in Selma]. Enough to say I saw it!!!!
Jim McLaughlin, Gulf Shores: I was in 6/8 and a bank of clouds on the eastern horizon blocked the sun til about 6AM, at which point I estimate Venus was within 2 diameters of egress. Saw first contact with the limb at egress with a slight "teardrop" effect and last contact but views were interupted by scattered clouds, but it was worthwhile seeing planetary orbital motion in real time.
Scott Thompson, Alex City: Attached is my Venus Transit picture from Alex City. It turned out quite good with the clouds partially covering the sun and the color was just awesome. The picture info: AP7, Prime Focus f/9 with the Canon 10D, no solar filter. Once the sun cleared the clouds and the horizon I applied the filter.
Joe Albree: Thanks to all of you in the Auburn Astronomical Society for making last Tuesday really special. I know that the students and faculty who we did have there benefited from having all of you there also. With the death of President Reagan last week, I believe the coverage that the Transit would have gotten was probably scaled back in most newspapers and TV stations. But, how many events from that day 122 years ago (even those that made the front pages of all the newspapers) are still remembered? Without meaning any disrespect to Mr. Reagan or expressing any political partianship, in the long view of history, I think we arguably had an event that was at least as newsworthy.
Attending were: Paul Williamson, Susanna Fillingham, Casey Curran, Mark McGregor, Robert West and grandson Tom Mooneyham, Rhon & Joyce Jenkins, Rod Havens, Robert Rock, John Clifton, Russell Whigham, Ray Kunert, Mike Holley, Taylor Jernigan, Ricky Woods - Math Club President, Randy Russell – AUM Astronomy Professor, Jack Gina Franz & family and organizer, Joe Albree, math professor.
The "Green Laser Pointer" controversy was in the news. A New Jersey amateur astronomer was arrested and had his green laser pointer confiscated by the FBI for pointing the beam at an aircraft.
Astronomy Day 2005 was on Saturday, April 16 at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium. Dr. David T. King Jr. gave a presentation will be on the Wetumpka Meteor Crater.
We celebrated out 25-year anniversary on Saturday, September 10, 2005, at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium. The event was catered by Demitri Polizos and his staff from the Capitol Grill in Montgomery. Our special guests were Keith Hudson, founder of the Auburn Astronomical Society, his wife Carolyn, and daughter, Mandy, were there from Florence AL. Dr. David T. King Jr. gave a an excellent presentation on the Wetumpka Meteor Crater.
In October we increased our membership dues from $15.00
per year to $20 per year -- the first and only dues increase since the
society was founded.
Rhon ordered a 10 foot “Home-Dome” a modular fiberglass dome-type observatory from Technical Innovations in Gaithersburg, MD. The dome was completely automated, and follows the telescope as it slews. The dome houses Rhon's 12-inch Meade LX200-GPS which rests on a LeSueur pier (made in Birmingham) and has an 80mm rich field refractor finder, and infrared sensors (for automatic dome/telescope rotation synchronization) mounted on it, as well as a Losmandy 2D counterweight system.
Rick Evans had hosted a private birthday party for one of Montgomery's philanthropic and civic-minded citizens at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium. The guest of honor was Richard Blondheim. Rick said that Mr. Blondheim expressed interest in having a multi-million dollar facility for Montgomery -- perhaps located on the grounds of the Shakespeare Festival, that would be home to a state-of-the-art planetarium and/or observatory. Rick has asked that we do a star gaze for the Blondheim's and their friends at their home, the first week in May. We enjoyed views of the first quarter Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter, and pointed out constellations to the gathered guests. Helping with the event were: Ben Wouters, Russell Whigham, Patrick Moylan, Aaron Wilson, Jim McLaughlin, Wayne Martin and Jean Hafer.
On Thursday evening, April 30, the Auburn Astronomical
Society was invited to host a star gaze for eighty-five fifth graders from
St. James Elementary School, in Montgomery, during their annual Science
Camp at Camp ASCCA on Lake Martin. Students, teachers, parents, and
camp staff all seemed to enjoy the evening and expressed their appreciation.
Then in October, Ray Kunert reported that the tube assembly has cleaned up nicely with its fresh paint and new hardware. The mirror looked to be in good condition, as well. William Baugh re-aluminized the secondary.
Tom completed the rocker box in August of 2007. Rhon donated two 2-inch eyepieces, and Ray donated the plaque. The refigured 12.5-inch made its debut at Astronomy Day.
Ray began this project as a roll-off roof design. It was nearly complete when he found a 3 meter, motorized, Observa-Dome practically “for the taking”. This required the demolition of most of the original design to accommodate the dome. then, after months for work, the observatory is ready for operation with Ray’s 10-inch Meade GPS.
And in December, we set up the AuburnastroYahoo! Group
On Saturday, January 12, we were back for the Forest Ecology Preserve Star Gaze at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest, with an estimated 200 visitors who braved the January cold to enjoy the experience.
Randall Becker, park ranger at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, hosted a stargaze / astronomy program at the park on Saturday, February 9. It began at 7:00 with a short PowerPoint presentation covering light pollution awareness, basic orientation to the night sky and some Creek / Cherokee star myths. We then moved out to the parking lot and have a constellation tour with more stories.
On Friday, April 18th, Mellisa Mullin, Reading Teacher for Maxwell AFB Elementary School. invited us to host a stargaze to coincide with their School Book Fair called “Reading Under the Stars”.
In May, we had Astronomy Day 2008 at the Planetarium. Later in May, Jim McLaughlin tackles Light Pollution Legislation. He wrote:
I've furnished my brother [Representative Jeff McLaughlin – 27th District (Marshall Co.)] with a copy of the city/county ordinances for Flagstaff, Arizona from the IDSA website and he is turning it over to the Legislative Reference Service which is the office that actually writes up bills in legalese for legislators. Something will go "in the hopper", as they say, i.e. an anti-light pollution bill will be floated before this session ends but can be virtually guaranteed to come to naught this time and likely for several sessions before getting a serious hearing, if ever. But it will be a start and input as to the specifics of regulations would be welcome as well as alerting other astronomy clubs around the state to get them working on their representatives to co-sponsor a dark-skies bill. My brother and I have had a running joke about him tying his political future to the fate of a dark-skies bill ever since he was elected in 2000 but he is sincere and serious about trying to get something started on this. We'll see what happens.Jim followed through by contacting all of the othe astronomical socities in Alabama to solicit support for the bill. Unfortunately, the bill has yet to be voted out of committee.
I had a call in June from a widow who wanted to donate
her late husband's astronomical assets. I explained that the AAS
had a loaner scope program and that her husband's equipment would complement
our current collection nicely. It was obvious that it was difficult
for her to let go of this part of their life together. The following
items have been donated to our loaner
scope collection by Mrs. Diane Swanton, in memory of her husband, Lyle
G. Swanton, who died in February. The Swantons were active in the
Columbus GA astronomy club. Mrs. Swanton wanted to be sure that the
equipment would be used.
Our first public event of 2009 was on Saturday, April 25 where we gathered at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest for our spring, Forest Ecology Preserve stargaze.
This was followed by our annual Astronomy Day 2009 at the planetarium in Oak Park in Montgomery, on Saturday, May 2, and the CPODD Stargaze at Children’s Harbor in June.
October 2, We had a special presentation by Tom McGowan on the most recent inovations to his truss-tube Dobsonian Midnightelescopes. Tom had three of the 12.5-inch f/5 ready for delivery. He brought one of these to demonstrate the filter slide and adjustable altitude bearings. Tom gave a wonderful presentation/demonstration of his beautifully crafted and well designed 12.5-inch telescope.
This really doesn't qualify as "history" yet, but you can check the Astrofiles archives for our more recent activities.
Cow's Breath in the Virgo Cluster
The Flatulent Faux Pas
Water Truck Valve
Rhon's Dob gets christened
Russell Falls for the Geminids
Poor Little rich boy, Tells Chesnutt that his Dob tube is falling.