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Astro Chatter
by Larry Kalinowski

This year's Awards Banquet will take place at Stephensen House, on the northbound, I-75, service drive, just south of Ten Mile Road. The event replaces the third Thursday meeting at MCCC. So circle December 19 for a grand social, food, spirits, a lecture, raffle and awards. All members are welcome to attend, as well as their guests. Last year's banquet was quite a smash hit, mainly because of the numerous door prizes that were handed out and a fine speaker. The price for food and other details will be announced at the next few upcoming meetings. Last year's price was $20 per person. If you get your $20 in before a possible price increase, you won't have to make any additional payment. The club will take the loss. Ken Bertin will be the featured speaker. By the way, if you have something to donate to the club for a raffle prize, don't hesitate to bring it with you on banquet night. We're looking for astronomical items like books, telescope hardware, observing aids, calendars or any literature related to astronomy. As in the past, your banquet money must be in club hands by the first meeting in December. There will not be any last minute registrations, at the door, on the night of the banquet.

Phil Martin gave a fine impromptu talk about his latest atempts to capture deep sky images with his CCD camera at the Cranbrook meeting. Projected on Cranbrook's auditorium screen, his shots were quite imressive considering he has only been taking astrophotos for about a year now. The penetration ability of a CCD chip is quite astounding, even in poluted city skies.

Al Mangani couldn't make it to the last Cranbrook meeting so his talk about quarks and other small stuff is being moved to a future meeting. Our honorable president, Marty Kunz, took over his place with an excellent discussion of mutual events envoving the Gallilean moons of Jupiter. He gave a detailed discription of the different kinds of eclipses and occultations the moons could display. This discussion was quite timely because the planes of the orbiting moons are all level to our line of site, causing these mutual events. This condition will continue for a few more months, giving Jupiter observers a lot of interesting viewing. Then the planes will change and will not repeat again for six more years. If you enjoy observing Jupiter and its moons, you might try recording these events with that new electronic eyepiece that a lot of members aquired last year. The moons are just bright enough to record on a VCR.

Steve Greene, the WAS "shooting star", gave a marvelous talk about spectroscopy at the November MCCC meeting. His presentation took advantage of the college's latest computer classroom hardware which projected the graphs and pictures he used in the PowerPoint presentation. There was a thorough showing of the history of light analysis, from Newton to Bohr. He also did a grand lob of showing the difference between emission and absorbsion spectra and how different colors of light are produced and absorbed when those types of spectra are produced. Steve has definitely increased the quality of the club's presentations.

Doug Bock will be the December speaker at Cranbrook. He plans to talk about his remote controlled telescope, with which he is going to do some astrophotography with a CCD camera. Don't miss it.

Bill Beers reported that the Halloween star party only had clear skies for about five or six hours of observing time out of the four day scheduled party. Eleven people showed up for the event, however, Bill says it turned into a rather happy party when people started pulling out their guitars and turned the fest into a sing-song gala.

The Galileo space probe, you know, the one that was sent to survey the planet Jupiter and its moons, was launched in 1989 and arrived at Jupiter in 1995. Problems developed while the probe was enroute to the planet. Those problems, involving control of the tape recorder that stored the pictures on board, still exist today. The planet's ring system and the study of Amalthea, One of Jupiter's smaller moons, was the last of the probe's job to inspect. So far, the tape recorder hasn't responded but NASA's scientist's are still trying to get that information before the probe is officially shut down on January 15. The probe will purposely be sent crashing into the planet, in order to prevent any earthly contamination of the moon Europa.

It's kind of early to start talking about the next approach of the planet Mars, but the next one, due in August 2003, is a humdinger. It's going to be the closest approach in 73,000 years. That means your best real time view ever of this planet won't be available again, in your lifetime. The planet will be 34.6 million miles from the Earth, on August 27, at 5:51 AM EDT. It'll be six times larger than it is today and eighty-five times brighter. Mars will outshine Jupiter in the sky. I can't wait to get a look at it with our 22 inch scope. More about observing Mars in later columns.

No Leonids in the Detroit area. Sure is disappointing. That's the third year in a row that I missed those buggars. Last year brought clear skies but a lot of ground fog. Heard that the westerners got another good show. Oh well, At least I'll get a chance to see 'em in Sky And Tel.

Binary stars are a dime a dozen. It's estimated that half of all stars are binary, at least. Triple stars and multiple stars are fewer in number. The binary scene is now changing. Until now, it was thought that blackholes only existed in singular form but evidence for a binary blackhole has now been found. The Chanra x-ray observatory has discovered two blackholes doing a binary dance that may have resulted from two galaxies that have merged. It's called NGC6240. The interesting part happens when the binary holes finally combine into one. Of course, all hell breaks loose but the result could be startleing. Gravity waves that are produced would shake all the worlds in the neighborhood. The two blackholes are about 3,000 lightyears apart, moving at an orbital velocity of about 22,000 MPH, and will finally merge into one hole after gradually moving closer and spinning faster. Their final speeds could nearly reach the speed of light. When they finally merge, gravitational waves will spread across the universe. It'll take a hundred million years for the merge to occur and another hundred million for the evidence to reach the Earth. It's thought that our Milky Way galaxy and M31 may suffer the same fate as NGC6240, someday.

The December open house at Stargate will be on Friday the 13th (oooooohh), according to Steve Greene, our observatory chairman. There are plenty of scopes to borrow that evening if you want to try out something different or if you don't have a scope of your own. Of course, all visitors are welcome to bring their own scopes, especially if you're having a problem using it and need some help along those lines.

Steve also wants to let everyone know that he is reviving his telescope workshop. If you have a scope that needs some sort of repair, contact him for the closest meeting date. There's no gaurantee that the workshop will run indefinitely. The workshop is subject to unscheduled changes and can end abruptly.

I'll be seeing you at the Banquet.......mmmmmmmm, love those wingdings. I hope you're one of the prize winners and/or an award winner.

 

WASP
WASP
The Warren Astronomical Society Paper
WAS
Volume 34, Number 12 December 2002