I only made the Friday night portion of the Kensington, Astronomy On The Beach, star party but what I saw was a very enthusiastic public attending. The 22 inch 'scope was as busy as ever that night. The multitude of telescopes had lines of astro wannabies attached to them too, with the automated, computer controlled telescopes getting quite a bit of attention. The attendance eqauled or topped last years attendance. The highlight of the evening, a talk by Dr. Stephan J. Edberg, gave all of us some insights into Saturn's Cassini planetary probe and some of the little known secrets revealed by previous probes to that planet. Dr. Edberg was enticed to talk at this year's star party by our well known ambassador of Michigan astronomy, Randy Rubis.
An object 55 AU from the Sun has been discovered by Robert W. Millis and has been designated 2000 CR105. The 4 meter telescopes in Arizona and Chili tracked the 24th magnitude wanderer for about a year, only to discover that it really has an aphelion point about 400 AU's away. About 10 times the distance of Pluto. It takes about 3300 years to complete a full orbit around the Sun. The closest point to the Sun is 44 AU. The size is estimated to be about 120 miles in diameter. If this object belongs to the Kuiper belt, than the belt is much larger than theorized.
You may not get this bit of info about the occultation of Saturn in time to take advantage of it but here goes anyway. Saturn disappears behind the Moon on September 10, about 9:08 AM, EDT. Disappearance occurs at about the 260 degree point (North=0, East=90 deg., etc.). Reappearance at 45 degrees or so, about an hour later. In the Detroit area, Saturn will be tough to see because its dimmer than Jupiter, which was barely visible during last month's occultation. Daylight occulatations aren't made for planetary viewing, but if you like a challenge, it's there for the taking. Another occultation of Saturn occurs on November 30. Supposedly easier to see, it happens in the evening that day.
Another year and another SMURFS astronomical star party goes into the record book. The consensus from Bob Watt and Blaine McCullaugh, was the party was better than last year, with more observing time. Rain did spoil some of the days but not enough to dampen the astronomical spirit. Joe Van Poucker captured the main prize at the raffle, an 8.8mm super wide angle eyepiece. About one-hundred attended the event with about fifty telescopes displayed.
This years winners of the Edgar Wilson comet award are Albert Jones of New Zealand and Syogo Utsunomiya of Japan. They will share the $20,000 prize for their discovery of C/2001 W1.
The September computer meeting, on the 27th, will be held at Frank Spisak's home. He lives east of Old VanDyke, just south of Twenty-one Mi. Rd., at 8430 Elizabethann. You can reach him at 810-731-2091 for further questions. Gary Gathen, our normal host for the meeting, will not be available for the meeting. New visitors will recieve a free planetarium program. The October meeting should resume on the 25th, at Gary's place.