September 2002
Astro Chatter
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astro chatter
Astro Chatter
by Larry Kalinowski

Coming up in September on the 14th, is the Tenth Annual Island Lake Star Party. This one day star party, sponsored by the Ford Amateur Astronomy Group, deserves all the publicity that it can get. Rain or shine, you deserve to be there for the festivities. Many clubs participate, including the WAS, so you won't feel alone in the field of fifty or more telescopes that usually fill the viewing site. There's plenty of presentations and demo's about observing and equipment. Vendors are there with special discounts on equipment for your telescope and there are usually plenty of books and star charts available for your inspection. There are door prizes for lucky visitors and gifts and certificates are awarded to youngsters participating in the observing list competition. Food is available. That's Saturday, September 14, at The Island Lake State Recreation Area in Brighton Michigan. You'll need a state park vehicle permit for that day, available at the entrance gate, which cost $4.00. If the weather is good, you are advised to get there early, before 6 o'clock, otherwise you'll be forced to park off site and take a shuttle bus to the observing site.

A special thank you has to go out to our library chairman, Louis (Louie the librarian) Namee. After a brief talk about the library and its contents, at MCCC, Louie admitted to being the librarian for the past ten years. Its been a job well done, with very little thanks from the membership. My hat is off to you, Lou, I couldn't have done a better job.

On September 9, at the Cranbrook meeting, Nancy Rowe, a longtime member of the WAS and amateur telescope builder, will talk about the Van Allan radiation belts that encircle our planet. Their danger to us and space travelers will be discussed, as well as how the belts originated. Nancy has been quite busy doing graduate work at Wayne State. That's why we haven't seen her very much lately. It'll be good to see her back into club activities again.

The Macomb meeting on September 19 will present Dave D'Onofrio and his continued discussion on CCD photography. If you've been looking in the direction of electronic astrophotography and aren't sure whether to take that step, catch his third lecture. It just might push you into the CCD realm.

It looks like the powers that be have decided to send out the club newsletter, in paper format, to all members of the club. Last month, at the Cranbrook meeting, a list of names were passed around the room, with the intention of finding out who DIDN'T want it mailed and was satisfied to read the newsletter from the internet. The same list will probably be passed around at the Macomb meeting too. So, if you don't want a hardcopy mailed to you, be sure to let Bill Beers, our treasurer know at the next meeting. You can also reach bill at beezoll@aol.com or 586-566-8367.

Another asteroid disaster has been averted. A closer look at the orbital parameters has shown the latest rouge asteroid has been corelled, found to be on another course than the one previously envisioned. It's not going to hit the Earth, according to astronomers who have taken a closer look. Thank God, it's getting to a point where I've begun to lose a lot of sleep worrying about huge hunks of rock zipping around in space. No wonder I've got so much grey hair.

There was a small handful of observers out at Stargate on August 17, the night that the asteroid 2002 NY40 was supposed to have passed by the Earth-Moon system. Unfortunately, there was only a third magnitude sky at the site, so the twelve inch telescope was taxed, along with the observers, trying to pinpoint the asteroid. Even with digital setting circles, no trace of the elusive body could be found. That is, before I left at 11:30 PM. Those that stayed may have had better luck. If you had better luck that night, please give us a report of your observation at one of our meetings.

The program, Messier Observer's Guide, in the club observatory computer, has been expanded to include all 109 objects in the Messier list. The M objects can be located by M number, month, magnitude, common name, RA, Declination or constellation.

The STARFEST anual convention, held in Mt. Forest, Ontario, seems to have had a grand 1,100 attendees during its August 8 thru 11 schedule. Some of those attending came earlier and stayed later because of the fabulous seeing during the convention. A ten inch telescope was raffled off and ten or more lectures, by prominent people each day, made the event superb. According to those that attended, there was even room for more at the great show. Camping facilities were outstanding and all from our club said they would return next year.

Another space probe seems to have misfired or got lost. CONTOUR, the probe that was supposed to flyby more than one periodic comet, has been lost because of lack of communication. After making an attempt to leave the grasp of the Earth, the rocket involved seems to have misfired or completely broke the probe into smaller pieces. An attempt at seeing the probe optically shows more than one object in its place. Attempts are still being made to determin what has actually happened to the probe. As of August 23, there is still no definite word. CONTOUR is an acronym for COmet Nucleus TOUR.

Doug Bock, the webmaster for the WAS, has had the WHAT'S NEW feature in the Boonhill.net website revised. This section was disabled for a few days, that's why you couldn't get to it. It's now become graphical and features the usual messaging section and a chat room feature. Log on, take a look at it and jump into the revised features.

Saturday, September 14, will be the closest weekend to the first-quarter Moon, so chalk that day as being our next observatory open house.

October is election month at MCCC. If you are interested in becoming an officer in the WAS, be sure to bring it up at the next few meetings. You can even nominate yourself on election day, October 17. The offices available are President, First Vice-president (program chairman), Second Vice-president (observatory chairman) Secretary and treasurer.


The Warren Astronomical Society Paper
Volume 34, Number 9 September 2002