Another occultation of a planet will happen again, on August 15. This time its Jupiter. If you were able to see last month's occultaion of Venus, by the Moon, you should have gained enough experience to see Jupiter disappear in this encounter. Jupiter will be much dimmer. It's farther away. See the August issue of Sky and Telescope, page 110.
As most of you have finally surmised, the Boothill.net web site server was clobbered by some crackers and has been down for a week or so, as of this writing. Doug Bock, our webmaster, says the site will be restored and as of July 17, some of it has begun to recover. If you've depended heavily on the information and communication facilities it gives you, please be patient. It shall return.
Finally spotted Comet Linear C/2001 A2, from Roseville, near 12 Mi Rd and Groesbeck highway. That was on Wednesday, July 12, around 12:30 in the morning, in the constellation Pegasus. The comet is quickly moving north about one degree per day. That motion, combined with the usual westward motion of the constellations, is making the comet rise, unusually fast, to a comfortable observing altitude, earlier each day. Unfortunatly, it's also getting dimmer and moving farther away from the Earth. By the time you read this, around the first of August, it should be visible for observing around 10:30 pm. My first observation showed a coma of about sixth magnitude, comparable to M13 in brightness. I couldn't see a tail but it may have been because of the brightness of the background sky in my area. By the end of July, it'll be about seventh magnitude, if it continues it's present outburst. The ephemeris I passed out, dated April 1, is still quite accurate for positions, but the magnitude estimates are brighter by about 0.4 magnitudes.
A new ephemeris has been calculated for Linear A2. On July 13 the comet made another outburst, bringing it back up almost two more magnitudes. It'll be available at both the Macomb and Cranbrook meetings for July and August. The new brightness prediction for the end of July is about sixth magnitude.
The program ASTROSTACK has been donated to the club's software library, thanks to Rick Gossett. This is the program Rick uses to enhance his solar and planetary photos. The program was primarily designed to handle video frame capturing but you can also tell it to handle a group of .BMP photos. The program will handle the bitmap photos as though it were a series of video frames, aligning, stacking, calibrating and enhanceing the final picture. Windows 95 or higher is required to run the program. Members can have a copy for the paltry price of $1.00.
August means more astro fun for telescope enthusiasts. We can count on the Perseids showing us a fine shower, the SMURFS convention, in one of Michigan's best dark sky areas, Aug 13 through 18, and the Kensington GLAAC public star party, Aug 24 and 25.
Top all this with a view of Linear C/2001 A2 and you'll have quite a lot to remember and talk about at future meetings.
The July computer meeting, on the 26th, will be at Gary Gathen's home in Pleasant Ridge, MI. He's located at 21 Elm Park, three blocks south of I-696 and about half a block west of Woodward Ave. The August meeting will be on the 23rd. New visitors will recieve a free planetarium program at the computer meeting. All meetings occur on the fourth Thursday of the month. Exceptions will be announced at the regular WAS meetings or passed along via the Boonhill.net WAS e-mail link.