Review of Cosmic Catastrophes by J. Craig Wheeler
|Volume 33, Number 1
Book Review of Cosmic Catastrophes
by J. Craig Wheeler
by Mike Simonsen
This book could have just as easily been entitled "Everything
Mike Wanted To Know About Stellar Evolution and Variable Stars,
But Didn't Know Where To Ask".
The first chapter deals with star formation, the hydrogen burning
cycle and the evolution of single stars. Chapter two takes you
on a trip in time to the end stages of a star's life cycle. Immediately,
I was hooked as the topics of Red Giants and stellar winds were
by Joe Van Poucker
by Larry Kalinowski
This issue of the WASP will probably reach you before January
1, so I'm going to take this time to wish all of you a happy holiday
season and I hope all of you take the time to appreciate what
you have instead of what you'd like to have. Don't stop wishing
though, It's what keeps us driving forward in life.
Looks like Leonid meteor predictions are getting better than ever.
November's predictions for the east coast were right on as many
observers in New [continued]
by Larry Kalinowski
Cranbrook Meeting Minutes
by John Herrgott
The next three chapters tell of binary stellar evolution, accretion disks,
white dwarfs, and the origin and evolution of cataclysmic variables. Now we're
talking my language!
Five more chapters cover supernovae, neutron stars, pulsars, black holes and
quasars. These are the major areas of study and interest to the author, and
are the core of the topics covered in this book.
The last two chapters deal with some really strange objects and theories.
Gamma-ray bursts, black holes and wormholes, string theory and singularities.
All this may sound a bit intimidating at first glance, but the book is written
in plain English for plain folk. There are no mathematical formulae to wade
through and the chapters are built upon the foundation of each of the previous
chapters in a way that lets the reader understand how all these topics are
Another thing I appreciated about the book is the freshness and up to date
nature of the information. This book deals with many topics on the cutting
edge of astrophysics and the reader is given the most recent research, observational
data and theory. This book should remain viable for many years to come.
I checked out a copy at the local library, but it's going on my Christmas
list in the "must have" column!
New Members for November 2000:
- Jeff Hobert; Ferndale, MI
- Frank Talarico; Warren, MI
- James Wynn; Oxford, MI
W.A.S. Anniversaries for January 2000:
- 13 Years: Jeff Bondono & Family; Macomb Twp., MI
- 13 Years: Robert Graham; Lathrup Village, MI
- 13 Years: Michael O'Dowd; Troy, MI
- 8 Years: Greg Milewski; Warren, MI
- 2 Years: Bruce Mandel & Family; Lake Orion, MI
- 1 Year: Milton & Patricia Antonick; Royal Oak, MI
- 1 Year: Gary & Barbara Boyd; Ray Twp., MI
- 1 Year: Darwin Drake; Fort Gratiot, MI
- 1 Year: Richard Gala; Royal Oak, MI
- 1 Year: Vicki Martz & Family; Utica, MI
- 1 Year: Michael Palaski; Romeo, MI
- 1 Year: Michael & Patricia Peseski; Chesterfield, MI
- 1 Year: John Rasmussen; Royal Oak, MI
- 1 Year: Brian Robinson; Warren, MI
- 1 Year: Gerald Stevenson Sr.; Eastpointe, MI
- 1 Year: Terry Stokes; Hazel Park, MI
- 1 Year: Peter & Irene Tomlinson; Romeo, MI
York and other states saw meteor counts go as high as 250 per hour. It amazed
many because the last quarter Moon was expected to cause observing difficulty.
It even looks better for next year's shower. Those Leonids could become one
of the best showers for the years 2001 and 2002.
All of us involved in understanding science know that the next millenium really
starts on January 1, 2001, because of the Christian method of counting years.
Seems like the haves back then didn't like to start numbering years with zero,
so they used one instead. Actually, it gives us all a chance to celebrate
again, even though most of the general public let out all their millenium
steam last year.
Speaking of zero, that number can be easily overlooked in ordinary number
counting when it comes to everyday activities. Many of us are so used to counting
by starting with one, that its easy to forgive others when they do the same.
However, the importance of the number becomes apparent when we try to discribe
a series of numbers on a graph. It's becoming more and more important today
because graphing is becoming a way of life, a method of displaying evidence
or data in such a way as to bring out any abnormal or positive data grouping.
With the advent of negative numbers, zero became an absolute necessity because
the origin of a graph made more sense with a number called zero. Whenever
we cross from positive to negative numbers, the zero becomes evident. Overlaying
a positive and negative one on a graph makes no sense. When counting, zero
represents none, not nothing.
Another fairly bright comet is entering the northern hemisphere skies and
it carries the co-discovery name of Utsanomia-Jones (C/2000 W1). It proves
that humans can still beat the critical eyes of those automated sky scanners
that belong to the LINEAR and CATALINA teams. Perihelion takes place on December
26, 2000 and the estimated maximum magnitude should be around 5.5. There's
one bad apple though. It'll never get up more than ten degrees above the south-west
horizon at the end of evening twilight. If you don't mind observing during
late evening twilight, you have a better chance of spotting it above the neighborhood
trees. An ephemeris for December will be available from yours truly, just
for a phone call.
I think everyone in the club knows there's going to be a partial eclipse of
the Sun on December 25. If not, this mention should pass the word. The eclipse
starts (first contact) at 10:52am. Maximum is at 12:27pm, and last contact
will be at 2:03pm. At maximum, the Sun will be about 65% covered.
Four more moons have been discovered orbiting around Saturn, bringing the
total count to twenty-two. Uranus is now second with twenty-one. The annoucement
was made during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasedena,
Ken Wilson and wife Betty stopped in to say hello at the Macomb meeting in
November. Ken is an old WAS member who helped build the Stargate Observatory
back in the seventies. He's the co-author of a well known book titled Making
And Enjoying Telescopes. Along with Robert Miller, their book featured tips
on telescope building, observing and photography. Ken is Director of Astronomy
at The Science Museum Of Virginia in Richmond. All you old timers can reach
him at firstname.lastname@example.org
, if you want to
say hello. He came to Warren to see his folks for the Thanksgiving holiday.
It looks like you and I are going to help pay for the resurrection of the
Iridium satellite constellation. The government is going to buy the company
and use the satellites for communications themselves. They also plan to let
the public use it too, in about six months. So the waiting ends. The satellites
won't come down, yet, and you and I will continue to see those bright flashes
for awhile longer.
Destination Mir, the NBC program that was supposed to be version two of Survivor,
now has to be renamed. The Russians decided, again, to bring down the Mir
space station in February 2001. The new winning survivor was to be trained
for a space ride in the Russian station. Now NBC has to salvage whats left
of the program and give it a new theme, to save the money already put into
The US government has cancelled another NASA program. Much of the personnel
assigned to the Pluto mission were protesting the cancellation of the program.
It's the only planet that hasn't been scrutinized by some kind of space probe.
Here's a tip from Rik Hill, the AAVSO solar coordinator. You can get the latest
space science news from a webpage at www.universetoday.org. It's a neat little
webpage that has you pick today's news or any past news you may have missed.
Don't forget www.heavens-above.com for Mir, ISS and Hubble satellite predictions,
as well as other satellites.
Intel has now released the Pentium IV for production by original equipment
manufacturers. The new Pentium is capable of running at 1.5 GHz, perhaps even
There's been a lot of discussion going on concerning asteroids and planets.
In 1999, the Astronomical Union decided to keep Pluto a planet, even though
it could also be termed an asteroid. With the discovery, in 2000, of a four
hundred mile wide body between Neptune and Pluto, the debate was rekindled
by the press. If you use the LFK method of classification, all planets are
spherical globes, all asteroids are irregularly shaped bodies. Composition
The December computer meeting, on the 28th, is up in the air right now. An
announcement will be made at the banquet. Gary Gathen's home is 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 January meeting will be on the 25th.
I'll be seeing all of you at the Awards Banquet. Don't forget to buy some
raffle tickets to help pay for those unexpected bills. If you have anything
astronomical or astronomically related, that you feel someone elese might
get some enjoyment out of, donate that item to the raffle the night of the
This column is for those who are interested in buying, trading or selling
items. Call 810-776-9720 (email@example.com
if you want to put an item for sale or trade in this section of the WASP.
The ad will run for six months. The month and year the ad will be removed,
is also shown.
- FOR SALE. Seventeen inch monitor, Visual Sensations, .30 dot pitch,
Power and video cords included. $75. 810-757-4741. (7-01).
- FOR SALE. Celestar-8, 4 1/2 years old. Excellent condition. Complete
with tripod, wedge, original finderscope, 25mm eyepiece, manual and boxes.
Also included are an Orion dew shield, nylon dust cover and a delux Latitude
Adjuster. $750. 248-542-9426. E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- WANTED. Meade LX-50 or older 10 inch in good condition. 248-542-9426,
e-mail at email@example.com. (7-01).
- FOR SALE. Mirror grinding machine. Double spindle Elgin type. $350.
- WANTED. Pentium laptop computer with floppy and CD-ROM drives. 810-776-9720.(3-01).
Cranbrook Meeting Minutes
- Blaine McCullough opened our meeting with the usual introductions of
guests and prospective members. Blaine also reminded members of the upcoming
holiday banquet and awards festivities coming up in December. The program
for the banquet was not announced at this time. However I can give you
"insider" information and tell you it will be a very good program.
- Blaine also announced the results of officer elections held in October
at our annual general business meeting. Blaine continued and informed
the membership that design and construction of a structure to house our
22" telescope at Stargate is on hold. The reason cited was a lack
of interest and participation by club members. Perhaps another day. Also
we were informed by the Metro Park people that the building directly east
of our observatory is utilized and not available for our use.
- With announcements completed the meeting's attention turned to recent
observations of the sky. Reports from Stargate, Fish Lake and "Boon"
all reported that serious observing at the eyepiece was completely thwarted
by a sky that refused to go dark! Aurora was the culprit. Members reported
the light show as truly awesome. Some seeing was accomplished though with
one member reporting the observation of three of Saturn's moons at Stargate.
- Riyad Matti informed the membership of a program he is offering at Stargate.
On the weekend closest to first quarter moon Riyad will be offering lunar
observing and elementary astronomy. For those of you new to our club/observing
this is an opportunity for you to learn from one of the best.
- Next year's elected president, Mike Simonsen, reports he is actively
engaged in formulating plans and activities for the members in 2001. Dave
D'Onofrio tells us we have a chance to have David Levy as a speaker sometime
next year. The future looks bright. Marty Kunz showed the members what
I can only call a Michigan star chart - an umbrella with constellations
imprinted on the underside! Also showed were some astronomy magazines
published and sold in England. The meeting concluded with a program.