Are you one of those amateur astronomers that enjoy scanning the night sky with your telescope and want to contribute something to the astronomical community, something solid that will put an "I contributed" feeling of deep satisfaction in your stomach? If that's the case, you should consider joining Sky And Telescope's Astro Alert for nearby supernova group. They recently held a test for interested amateurs. Their goal is to alert amateurs around the world to look for a new supernova after ground based detectors find an increase in neutrinos bombarding the Earth. You'll be contacted via the internet with the general location given in RA and Declination. After examining that part of the sky, you'll be required to fill out a report form indicating where the "new" star appears. If you think this could be your cup of tea, you can find the required report form at http://skyandtelescope.com/ observing/proamcollab/astroalert/article_867_1.asp. Find out more about the alert system by going to the Sky And Telescope web site.
Not much is happening as far as space news is concerned. Probably the most significant space items concern the shuttle disaster and those three astronauts now orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station (ISS). They are pretty much resigned to having a longer stay than originally planned. The last shuttle tradgedy kept flights cancelled for about two years, a time line that is unsuitable for the ISS members. Their only hope of return will be the Russian space system, which has the capability to provide sustinance and a return trip to the Earth. If the Russian system doesn't work, I'm betting that the US would chance another shuttle launch, even if they wouldn't find out what actually caused the re-entry disaster.
Cliff Jones, our WASP editor, will be the featured speaker at the March 3rd Cranbrook meeting. So far he hasn't given us a clue as to what the talk will be about. One of my past notes says it'll be a book review.
On March 20, Dave D'Onofrio will give another lecture in his series on CCD photography, at the Macomb meeting, with plenty of do's and don'ts and assorted frustrations. Dave has been through the proverbial mill when it comes to astrophotography and telescope problems and is well worth listening to. He'll come well equipt with charts and sample photos to explain his woes.
The raffle for the 14mm, extra wide angle, Meade Eyepiece has been given the OK from the board of directors. Ticket sales will take place over a period of two months so that all members will have two meetings at Cranbrook and two meetings at Macomb to buy tickets. Rumor has it that the tickets will cost a dollar each with special sales at twelve for ten dollars. Here's your chance to support the club with your ticket purchases and possibly become the lucky winner of a $300 eyepiece. Sorry, only members can participate in this drawing. Final ticket sales and the drawing for the 14mm, super wide angle, eyepiece will be held at the March Macomb meeting, on the 20th. You're not required to be there for the drawing, as names will be taken and recorded on each ticket. Rumor has it that, if ticket sales are substantial, the club may do it again with another astronomical item.
Thirty-eight people attended the February, Macomb meeting. That's probably the largest group we've ever had at the college. The lecture was given by our club secretary, Stephen Uitti, on planning an observing session.
For those of you that remember Lou Faix and would like to take the time to pass along a few "remember the old days notes", you can reach him in Arizona, at this web address: firstname.lastname@example.org. He's pretty much settled in now but would like to hear from some of his old friends.
Open house at Stargate Observatory will be on Saturday, March 8. If you need training on the 12 1/2 in. scope, this is a good time to to get it, even if the sky doesn't cooperate. Otherwise, enjoy the night sky through a telescope designed to find those elusive deep sky objects with a flick of a switch.
UPCOMING EVENTS. If you've never attended a Messier Marathon, you'll get the chance to see one in action at Stargate Observatory on April 5. This is the time of the year when the length of darkness and the celestial sphere cooperate to maximize Messier object observing time. How many can you spot in one night?
Astronomy Day occurs on May 10 this year. Both Cranbrook and Stargate observatory will have open houses for the public. If you live near one of those facilities and would like to help out by showing the night sky or Daytime Sun to the public, you're more than welcome. If you have any kind of display to set up for the general public, be it photographs or information concerning geting started in the astronomy hobby, please bring your display also. Both sites are usually well attended and they can use all the help they can get.
A lunar eclipse occurs on May 15, and again both Cranbrook and Stargate will need help for accomadating the public. THE SECOND ANNUAL CADILLAC WEST STAR PARTY takes place May 23 through 27 at Bill Beers northern hideaway. More info will be forthcoming at future meetings. Maps and accomodation information will be handed out and facilities will be discussed.
Mark Saturday, June 7, as the day we will hold our club picnic. You can arrive as early as one o'clock in the afternoon to help with setting up the site for the food tent and telescopes. If you'd like to man one of the club's rental telescopes for the evening, let Steve Greene know about it before they're assigned to others that day. We'd also like to have a swap table set up for those who are looking for some astronomical bargains. So bring whatever you have that you'd like to sell because there is always someone willing to buy, if the price is right. Remember, Saturday, June 7, at Stargate Obsevatory. Don't forget your telescope either. Observing will be going on all night if the weather permits it. In the past, members were asked to bring a dish to join the festivities. It can be something homemade or something purchased, something in the refreshment catagory or the main course, it doesn't matter.
Last but not least, think Hydrogen. The most abundant substance in the universe could become the best and cleanest fuel the automobile industry has ever seen. It could even run our present day reciprocating engines with modifications. No need to wait for fuel cells or other glamorous inventions to become cost effective. The time for Hydrogen has finally emerged.