The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 28, Number 6, June, 1996

Table of Contents

My Favorite Planet

by Ben Tolbert

My favorite planet is the planet Saturn because it was the first planet I ever saw through a telescope. Seeing Saturn for the first time through a telescope is what really got me interested in Astronomy, and it has sparked my interest ever since. Although all I had at the time was a $30 telescope, which I bought on sale at a discount store, it proved to be one of the best investments I ever made!

Like most beginners I had no idea what I was doing or how to set the thing up, but I felt I only had a few bucks to lose so why not give it a try anyway! I ripped open the box and opened the instruction manual - which turned out to be more valuable than the telescope for me because it not only explained how to put the thing together, but how to find things in the night sky after getting it together. I read it three times trying to memorize some of the hints they have on how to find a planet, like the fact that they all follow along this imaginary line in the sky called the ecliptic, and that they don't blink like stars do.

As I anticipated darkness to fall, I tried to carefully align my finder scope that was included. Then the darkness fell, I grabbed my scope and instructions and set up everything as fast as I could. I started off by looking for the biggest object in the sky; the moon. It was neat, but I had already viewed it up close with a pair of ordinary binoculars. My goal tonight was to find the planet Saturn!

I viewed the moon for another 30 minutes anyway to try and pick out some of the craters from the map that was included with my new telescope's manual, and then I began my search for a planet! After about 10 minutes I thought I found one but it turned out it was a bright star instead. Then on my second try I found it! Saturn! Complete with it's rings! I was so excited I wanted to run and show all my friends, but at the same time I was too scared to take my eye off it for fear of losing it and never finding it again, so I just continued to enjoy the view as it moved across the eyepiece. I thought about what Galileo must have felt in 1609 when he first saw the image of Saturn for the first time, and what it would be like to fly by Saturn in a space ship on the way to some other planet one day. I also thought about things like could there be life on some other planet, and could they be looking at other planets too! I was only 16 years old but that's when I knew I had to find out more!

Even now I can't understand it all, and don't have all the answers all the time, and perhaps that's what continues to make Astronomy so incredible and interesting to me, because I continue to get that same feeling every time I go out at night. That feeling of wonder and amazement of how vast our universe really is and how blessed we all are to be able to view it, and try to understand it's awesome power, enormous size and incredible wonder, and solve some of the mysteries, or figure out how do we fit into the scale of things. But even now, Saturn still reminds me of the beginning of understanding of our surroundings, and what can we do to make things better for the Galileos and Saturn-seekers to come!

Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

Say goodbye to Hyakutake, a celestial visitor from who knows where, it wetted the appetites of everyone who wanted to taste a comet and it set the stage for a possibly bigger comet show at the end of this year. It's easy to see how a comet could excite the ancients, a star with a head and tail, hanging suspended in the black sky, visible for weeks. Knowing what they did, what reasonable explanation could they conjure up for such a celestial aberration? If Hale-Bopp is only half as bright as predicted, it'll still provide an even better show than Hyakutake.

I would like to propose a name change for the club newsletter. The WASP doesn't fit the theme of the publication. Hearing the name doesn't bring astronomical thoughts to mind. If I told a stranger our paper's name was the WASP, they would think we're running a political organization. How about naming our newsletter after our observatory? Stargate. That name tells it like it is. How about Stargazer, Stellar Observer or Starwatch? What do you suggest? Maybe we should have a name contest for our newsletter, just like we did for the observatory.

You can have five free hours of Internet time, each month, by switching your long distance provider to AT&T. This new marketing ploy gives the bigger companies quite an advantage over the smaller providers. Look for Internet prices to drop with the added competition and look for some of the smaller providers to fold up. If you're heavy into e-mail, you may find yourself without a mail box, unexpectedly. AT&T provides unlimited access to the Internet for $19.95 per month. However, the smaller providers usually offer other a little something more for your money. Perhaps it's a better Web browser or more features for the Macintosh. Much depends on the kind of features you'd like to have besides Internet access. More than one independant Internet provider has dropped their unlimited access to $15.95 per month.

Additional variable star report forms will be available at the meetings because there are plans to continue observing Beta Lyrae (Sheliak) for Raymond Travis. Ray wants to continue his mathematical research into the abnormal light curve that our estimates produced last year. There won't be any contest this year. Your data will just be added to the pool that already exists. Please use a separate form for the Beta Lyrae estimates. Starting earlier in the year should produce more estimates than last year and will also provide a little more comfort viewing away from the zenith. You should be able to see Lyra about ten degrees above the north-eastern horizon, at ten o'clock, right about now.

Jeff Bondono, our 1st vice president, was deemed by three judges, to have given the best, fifteen minute dissertation, at the Cranbrook meeting in May. Jeff was one of four entrants in the club's essay contest in which all entrants talked on a subject of their choice. The other three entrants were John Herrgott, Ben Tolbert and Mike Cyrek. Jeff's topic was about his method for making brightness estimates of Beta Lyra.

COMPUTER TIP OF THE MONTH. Some who have switched to Windows 95 have been reluctant to quit Windows 3.1. As a result, they've installed both operating systems on their computer. Notice, I said operating systems, not programs. Keep in mind that Windows is not just a program but software to control how your computer system operates. You can consider it a disk operating system (DOS) with graphics. Both Windows operating systems can't run together at the same time. If they did, your computer would come to a screeching tilt with both systems conflicting with each other. However, running each system separately can produce some problems. For instance, if both systems use the same areas for data storage or goto pointers, deleted data results, and individual programs may have trouble starting or running. As a result, users are being advised not to install both old and new Windows. Another thing. Since Windows 95 is a self running system, no longer depending on DOS to survive, using both those systems running together or separately, will also cause some problems. Ask any 95 user about the difficulties encountered when trying to run DOS only programs. The DOS system included with 95 is no longer a separate system. It's emulated DOS, that depends totally on Windows 95 to run. The exact reverse of Windows 3.1.

Meet you at the Fair? The 26th Annual Apollo Rendezvous and Telescope Fair, that is? This year it runs Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, with 6:00pm the starting time on Friday, when the vendors and flea market open for business. The Dayton Museum Of Natural History is the place. You can save $5.00 on the individual registration fee and $6.00 on the family fee if you preregister before May 15. Prices will be $20.00 and $28.00 respectively, at the door. You can expect a home made telescope contest, an astrophotography contest, a computer software display with numerous hands on computers, a basket lunch on Saturday and a grand dinner Saturday evening. Prominent lecturers will be speaking all day Saturday, including Dr. Robert Q. Fugate on adaptive optics and Rob Landis, program coordinator of the Space Telescope Science Institute talking about the latest photo acquisitions and future plans for the U.S. space station. Tom Bisque, author of The Sky, will demonstrate remote telescope operation on Friday night, provided the weather is adequate. Along with door prizes, a raffle, static display prizes, the museum displays and digital planetarium, with observing at a dark sky sight Saturday night, you'll find yourself plenty to keep you occupied. You must arrange your own room accommodations, if staying over Friday or Saturday night.

LAUGH OF THE MONTH. Your local supermarket contains a tabloid news article which shows the latest Hubble photo....heaven. It sure takes a lot of gall to print something like that, or is it just plain stupidity. The sad part is, a lot of people will believe it. Too many believe that if it's printed in a newspaper, it must be true. You can also put a lot of blame for the selling of such trash on your local businessman....the proliferation of garbage in the name of public education and profit.

Did you hear about the PC user who pirated a copy of Windows 95, then jumped on the Microsoft Network? Microsoft checked the validity of the users ownership and determined it was a pirated copy. As a result, that user now faces a possible $1000 fine.

Eros, an asteroid, is one of many earth orbit crossers, and seems to be heading for a 50-50 chance with an Earth collision about 100,000 years from now. If preliminary calculations are wrong, the possibility for collision exists again in about a million years. Get those worry beads out.

Apple is offering a chance to talk about your defective computer and possibly getting it fixed for nothing. Call 800-SOS-APPL about your problem and find out if it falls into the free fix catagory. Some problems reported are computer freeze-ups and monitor color shifting in Perform as and Power Macs. Casing cracks around hinges and loose adapter jacks are other problems reported for the PowerBook laptops.

Computer shows for late May will be in Taylor, Saturday, the 18th, at the Democratic Club Hall, 23400 Wick Rd., four blocks east of Telegraph, about one mile south of I-94 and Farmington Hills, on Sunday, the 19th, at the Farmington Hills Activity Center, 28600 Eleven Mile Rd., three blocks east of Middlebelt.

The summer and fall computer meetings, May through October, will return to Gary Gathen's home in Pleasant Ridge, three blocks south of I-696 and a half block west of Woodward. His address is 21 Elm Park. Gary's phone number is 810-543-3366. The May and June meetings will be on the 23rd and 27th respectively. The fourth Thursdays of those months.

Light Pollution Bill

As many of you know, a light pollution bill has recently been introduced into the Michigan Legislature. The text of that bill follows...

House Bill No. 5526

Retiring Editor, Toni Bondono

I have resigned as editor of the WASP. In my place will be a familiar face--Jeff Bondono. I have enjoyed the opportunity to be the editor of the WASP for the past few years. Reading the articles submitted to me has expanded my knowledge of the cosmos. It's been fun, yet hectic. My classes and personal life are demanding more of my time, and so, I must say "good-bye" as the editor. But you can't get rid of me easily--I'll see you at the meetings! With Jeff's experience and new ideas, I think you'll find the WASP to be a better than ever paper. Enjoy!

New Editor, Jeff Bondono

Many thanks to Toni for her years of service to the club as newsletter editor. You'll find few changes here... its hard to improve on the work Toni did. Please keep those articles coming, and feel free to make suggestions to me.

Masterpieces Messier Missed

by Jeff Bondono

NGC 5907 at 15h 15m 52.9s +56d 19m 33s

I can't help myself. There's one more beautiful edge-on spiral galaxy I have to write about. This one is located at a high declination in Draco, making it ideally placed for observation from Stargate.

My first observation of this galaxy was in late June of 1987 with my 8" Newtonian plopped down in my Shelby Township back yard. I saw a faint 9'x1' spike of a galaxy oriented in position angle 165 degrees. Two observations from Imlay City during 1991 again showed a 9'x1' glow. Apparently, since the considerably darker skies of Imlay City didn't make the galaxy grow, light pollution doesn't affect this galaxy quite as much as most others, perhaps because of its high declination. I noted a slightly brighter 0.5' core during these observations. Two 8th magnitude stars which are plotted in Sky Atlas 2000, one of which is a double, point right to the galaxy from the west-southwest.

I've observed this galaxy twice with the 14.5" scope. 1994 showed it as a very long very thin very bright 1'-wide glow with a bright 1'x0.5' core aligned in the same direction as halo of the galaxy. The northeast edge of the galaxy appeared a bit more sharply cutoff than the southwest edge which faded more gradually to background sky. This was my first hint of a dark lane. My 1995 observation of NGC 5907 showed that the core is offset toward the northeast edge of the galaxy, again suggesting that if the core is really centered, then a dark lane is cutting off part of that side of the galaxy. Still I had no definite sighting of any glow beyond that dark lane, though. I didn't forget to write down the length of the galaxy that second time, and noted it as 10' long.

This year I haven't yet had the opportunity to observe this galaxy. Maybe someone can point their scope toward it from our Bad Axe star party, call me over, and save me the work of finding it myself.

For anyone interested in more details about this galaxy, about the best picture I've come across is in Astronomy magazine, March of 1992, page 71. That year's December issue talks about the search for dark matter in NGC 5707 on page 28, as does Sky and Telescope, February of 1995, page 12.

Louie the Librarian's Book Highlights

by Louis Namee

Book of the month: Starseekers, by Colin Wilson

This book has three main sections to it. First it deals with ancient cosmology that includes an examination of Neolithic Astronomy, The observatory temples of early civilization and the changing world views of classical antiquity. Secondly, the era of discovery through knowledge brought about by Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Newton and Herschel. Finally, the exploding universe traces the exhilaration of astronomical discovery since Einstein and Quantum theory. Looking for a book of this nature? You have found it.

Thanks to Alan Rothenberg for donating this fascinating book to our club's library.

Camping and Gazing

Huron County / Bad Axe Star Party

Held on Friday, May 17th and Saturday, May 18th at Justin's Family Campground, West side of M53, 4.5 miles south of Bad Axe, Michigan. 130 sites with electricity, modern restrooms, showers, playgrounds, canoeing, fishing, hiking, trails, and dark skies. $14.00 per site per night. Motels, restaurants and stores nearby in Bad Axe.

Annual Perseids Camp Out

Friday, Aug 9th till Sunday, Aug 11th at Port Crescent State Park. All those wishing to attend must make their own arrangements. Port Crescent State Park is full, but Sleeper State Park is nearby, as are several private campgrounds. It would be wise to make your reservations now. You can contact the state parks through their 800 number. Remember the peak time for the Perseids will be Sunday night/Monday morning, so you may wish to plan accordingly.


The premier dark-sky star party in Michigan will be held from Wednesday, August 14 till Sunday August 18th at the abandoned airstrip site near Hillman, Michigan. Prices and other details for the Southern Michigan Universal Regional Festival of Stargazers will be forthcoming. The viewing from this site is spectacular. Several club members have attended in recent years and had a great time. Join in the fun!

Minutes of Meetings

by Blaine McCullough

CRANBROOK MEETING: Thursday, April 4, 1996

MACOMB MEETING: Thursday April 18, 1996 Return to WASP page
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This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on May 27, 1996.