A good time was had by all. That sums up the results of the annual WAS picnic. About thirty showed up for the event and the weather co-operated quite well for the picnic. However, a lot of haze engulfed the nighttime viewing, leaving only the area around the zenith worth looking at with a telescope. Of course, the bright planets easily poked through the haze but faint fuzzies were lost in all directions. The ISS and Space Shuttle made a grand view around 11:18 pm. The combination produced a magnitude -2 glow in the sky. When the sky got too hazy, everyone gathered around a TV set to watch the hockey game and continued watching until the haze opened up again.
At the next Cranbrook meeting, on July 1, Phil Martin, a new member of the WAS will talk about that other computer operating system. You may be interested in this talk if you've been contemplating getting rid of Windows, or cussing because of constant lock-ups in your present system. Phil will be talking about Linux, the other system that seems to be growing in popularity. Is it for beginners or must you be a computer guru to run Linux? Is it compatible with any Windows programs? Does Linux have anything to offer in astronomical programs? All your questions will be answered, I'm sure. Don't miss it.
Our speaker for the July Macomb meeting will be Scott Ferguson. The topic will be dew heaters. You know, those devices that everyone says they'd like to have because they keep the dew from forming on your optics when you're observing out in the field. Well, he'll talk about building and using those devices. He can save you a lot of money if you know just a little about resistors. I'm sure he'll have a sample to show you and give advice about how to check it out to make sure it doesn't get too hot or a way to make sure it's hot enough. Personally, I use one of those 12 volt heat guns that plug into my car cigarette lighter socket. It works but if you want a heater that runs continuously to keep those optics clear, then catch Scott's talk on July 18.
Another close asteroid. This one, named 2002MN, was calculated to be about 75,000 miles away when it neared the Earth. This isn't the first time an asteroid came this close. There was one that came just about as close in December 1994. 75,000 miles is about one third the distance to the Moon. It made the approach on Friday, June 14. This one also wasn't detected until June 17, three days later. About one hundred yards in length, it could have made a big dent in the planet if it landed on the Earth. Astronomers think that more than one such an asteroid passes by each year. The LINEAR research program reported the event.
Those of you that enjoyed reading the Cliff Jones' "Meet A Member" article last month, might consider submitting something about yourselves in another Meet A Member article in the future. Cliff wrote the article himself but it really isn't necessary to do so. If you wouldn't mind getting your story published in the WASP, even if it's just an introduction to a brand new member, contact Cliff via telephone or e-mail with your story. You can reach him at 248-559-3886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.