The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 28, Number 8, August, 1996

Table of Contents

The Amateur Astronomer's Lament

by L. F. Kalinowski

The word is out,
The news just arrived,
A brand new comet,
Has just been spied.

You rush to the closet,
And move all the stuff,
Crack open the case,
Push aside all the fluff.

Out pops an eyepiece,
A Barlow and hope,
That all other parts,
Will turn into a 'scope.

Then rush to the yard,
And hunt for a spot,
That will give you a view,
Late tonight, or a shot.

After setting the tripod,
And leveling the mount.
You tighten all thumbscrews,
And then start the count.

The clock ticks away,
As the Sun starts to set,
The drive motor's checked,
Now you're ready, you bet.

The sky dims so slowly,
Your heart starts to pound,
Only minutes to go,
Your thoughts are profound.

Thinking tails and coma,
And sights seldom seen,
You're about to witness,
An amateur's dream.

"What's this?" you cry out,
Moving just into sight,
A cloud front is coming,
"Oh no, not tonight!"

The gloom moves right in,
and covers the spot,
where the scope was pointed,
now there's only a blot.

The rest of the sky,
Slowly covers and dies,
"Can't wait 'til tomorrow"
The astronomer cries.

13th Annual Summer Solstice Star Party Report

by Doug Bock

June 15, 1996 was a warm summer afternoon, in the 80's and Pat and his kids had come from Gaylord, MI. They were the first to show up. We had set all the perimeter markings, made the signs, and set up the registration desk. Everything was ready, finally. Lawn was mowed, cleaning was done, and the Porta-potti was delivered. Now, we just wait for folks. About 3:00, people started trickling in. The barbeque pit was fired up at 5:00 and by this time about 40 people were there. Special thanks to John White for cooking. I had a chance to stroll around and meet with old friends and met some new friends. I found out that several people lived right in the neighborhood, and was pleased they found us. Some new observing friends close by, maybe. While I was talking with someone, my wife and daughter conspired with many attendees, to suprise me with a birthday celebration for No. 40. Black balloons, candles, etc. They caught it all on video tape. That was fun. Special thanks to Harry and Ada for the special cake. And to my family, for adding a special memory for this party. At 7:00 I gave a brief slide show of the Texas Star Party. By 9:00 the place was pretty full. We had an estimate of 80-90 people here. Lots of scopes set up. Jack Kennedy brought his motor home, so he and his wife were set for sleeping arrangements. The sky conditions were clear, but hazy. One of the worst non-cloudy observing sessions we have had in a long time. But, that didn't dampen any spirits, save mine. The whirr of motors and buzzing and bustling of observers started up as twilight ended. I had a chance to show some of the new people, and some of the veterans, objects of interest through the 20 inch. Someone was taking astro-photos through the 12.5 inch, most of the night, so all equipment was getting used. That was great to see. I also had a chance to look through Riyad's 6 inch refractor at Jupiter and Saturn. That was outstanding. The night rolled on, and soon dawn approached. By now, most had left, but there were still about a dozen people left. I retired for sleep at about 5:00. At 9:00, we helped Ryad break down his mount. Later, Jack and Marge left in there motor home, which was our last goodbye for this years party. Thank you all for a wondrous and enjoyable event. Next year, we are planning on making this a full weekend.

Summer Solstice Party

by Brian Benning

Well, I have finally been initiated into the world of overnite star parties and must say that I totally enjoyed myself and plan to make this a habit. My first overniter was Doug Bock's summer solstice party and I must say that everything went well and everyone seemed to have a good time.

We got there at about 6pm and registered. I would say that there were around 60 participants. There were members from 4 or 5 different clubs present. Right away I was treated with a view of solar prominences thanks to Mike O'Dowd's Hydrogen-alpha filter on his 11" SCT. I found this remarkable. Doug gave a slide and video presentation in his garage around 7pm. He showed slides of Comet Hyakutake and the Texas Star Party. The video was about the star party as well.

Everyone was setting up and getting ready for an evening of observing. We were concerned when we saw clouds move in around 8 or 9pm, but they didn't pose a lasting problem for the evening. Throughout the evening the skies were clear but the seeing wasn't perfect and there was a high haze which affected viewing. In Michigan you take what you can get. I also noticed that I was comfortable all evening with just a light jacket on. I must also say that insects did not pose much of a problem either. All in all it was a very pleasant evening.

Of everyone that was there, I had the easiest time setting up; I just pulled my 60mm refractor out of the van already on its tripod. I must say that I had the smallest scope of everyone there, too. There was a lot of impressive and expensive equipment.

I was really impressed with Riyad Matti's 6-inch refractor and could not beloeve what he had to go through to set it up but must say that the images that the scope delivers are worth it.

I did more observing that night than I ever did at one time. It was really a wonderful experience. I looked at M13 through Doug's 20-inch reflector and was impressed. It was truly something. I looked at Jupiter through Riyad's scope and must say that it was a beautiful sight. Mike O'Dowd's scope also showed a wonderful image of Jupiter as well. I was impressed because I am used to the tiny images of Jupiter through my small scope. I also viewed comet Hale-Bopp through a few scopes.

Jeff Bondono introduced me to the world of galaxies. I had never seen an extragalactic object firsthand before and it was very exciting. We observed M51, M63, M82 among others. We also looked at M13, the Ring Nebula, the Lagoon Nebula, among others. I observed so much that evening and also met a lot of nice, interesting people from other clubs.

I also saw CCD imaging firsthand for the first time and found it very exciting. One of the observers near us from another club imaged M108 and I found this remarkable.

About 3:30 or 4am, we looked at Saturn in the east through Riyad's scope. This is the last object I viewed and I was extremely tired and must say that I was ready to call it an evening. I can't wait till my next star party.

Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

The origin of the Blue Moon thing seems to be the game of Trivial Persuit. Up until 1986, the "once in a blue Moon" saying held no particular attachment to a second full Moon. The first reference to a second full moon seems to have begun as an answer in that game. If you can find any reference that is dated earlier than '86 and mentions the second full Moon, let me know.

Dr. Carl Sagan is back in the hospital again with his reoccuring blood problem, myelodysplasia. The 61 year old astronomer, who is still teaching at Cornell University, was treated about two years ago, for the same problem. He had to have a bone marrow transplant back then. Just what's being done this time, wasn't mentioned.

On July 25, Hale-Bopp will be at magnitude 6.1. During the month of August, the magnitiude increases from 6.0 to 5.7. Located in the head of Serpens (Cuda), the comet will become visible all night long, as it moves into Ophiucus, with the highest elevation reached around midnight.

The price of memory boards seems to have bottomed out at about eight dollars a megabyte. That's about a 75% drop in price from just a year ago. Now there's talk of a rise in memory prices. Have you taken advantage of the lower prices yet? Memory isn't the only hardware that's dipped in price. Hard drives and CD-ROM drives have dropped about 50%.

While I was at the computer meeting last month, I asked Gary Gathen if he had one of those Precision Planet and Star Locators, advertised by Sky Publishing Corporation. Not surprisingly, he did. The star locator is another planisphere. You know, a star wheel with dates printed around the circumference. However, this one by David Kennedal, has a feature that I wish all planispheres had, an RA and Declination indicator. You can actually dial in the astronomical coordinates of a comet, asteroid or planet and see where the object will be in the sky within a degree or so. With the altitude and azimuth lines provided, you have no trouble finding out where and when its best to observe your favorite subject. It's not cheap. The going price is $19.95, and you have to include shipping charges of $5.95, but the ease of operation and handiness is worth the money. With Hale-Bopp just around the corner, this planisphere is a must have item for all observers. There is a model for each latitude of 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 degrees or a multihorizon model that covers 30 through 60 degrees. The 40 degree model is sugested for the Detroit Metropolitan area (item # S00C8). Credit card users can call 800-253-0245 for more information.

Since some of us have had the chance to experiment photographing Hyakutake, here's some film recommendations. Kodak's Ektachrome P1600 made a good showing in the positive transparency catagory. Slides are recommended if you want as much detail as you can get. P1600 can be processed at 800, 1600 or 3200 ISO. 1600 is recommended. Just indicate which speed to process at by checking the proper square on the package. In the black and white catagory, you can't go wrong with hypersensitized 2415. The only problem is, a high contrast developer, like D-19, is needed here. If you have the roll processed by a local drug store, that's not going to happen. You'll have to have custom processing or do it yourself. However, 2415 is probably the best astrophotographic film available to the amateur. A good over-the-counter black and white film to use is Kodak's Tri-X, provided you don't expose for more than five minutes for any subject. The ISO rating drops considerably after five minutes. Just about any color print film can be used, provided its in the 400 ISO range, or better. All standard films lose their ISO sensitivity very quickly because they're designed to be exposed for only fractions of a second. Color shifting is to be expected because each primary color in the film has its own ISO response that degrades at a different rate with long exposures.

Computer shows for late July are in Livonia, Saturday, the 27th, at The Livonia Elks Lodge Hall, 31117 Plymouth Rd., one block east of Merriman, Madison Heights, Sunday, July 28th, at The U.F. and C.W. Hall, 876 Horace Brown Dr., one block east of I-75 and one block south of 13 Mile Road. In early August, Farmington Hills, on Sunday, August 4, at The Farmington Hills Activity Center, 28600 11 Mile Road, three blocks east of Middlebelt.

The summer and fall computer meetings, June 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 July and August meetings will be on the 25th and 22nd respectively. The fourth thursdays of those months.

Masterpieces Messier Missed

by Jeff Bondono

IC 4565 at 17h46m +05d43m

This month's Masterpiece Messier Missed was also missed in the New General Catalog! The IC prefix in its name stands for Index Catalog, the list of objects they either forgot to put into the NGC or discovered photographically. Look on chart 15 of Sky Atlas 2000 and you'll see this huge open cluster in Ophiuchus, one of only 7 open clusters that I know of in the entire constellation. Catalogs list this cluster as 40 arcminutes in size, with a total magnitude of 4. The brightest of the 30 member stars is 7th magnitude.

This one should be easy with any instrument, and I think binoculars give the best view. My 7x35's show this cluster as a very bright and easy round group of about 15 7th to 10th magnitude stars, with some unresolved nebulous glow. 2 stars run out of the north end of the round ball, and an 5 9th to 10th magnitude stars guard the cluster's southwest edge.

The view through a telescope is somewhat less grandiose, but shows something I think is interesting. Look at the cluster carefully, and you'll see that the field contains both very bright and very faint stars, with few stars of intermediate brightness. Due to the large size of this cluster, I've always assumed it is nearby. I think what's seen in this field are the apparently bright stars which form the nearby cluster superimposed on the much fainter stars of the background Milky Way. When I gaze at this field the 3-D nature of space really jumps out at me.

While you're training your telescope on this cluster, try to find the double star Struve 2212 within its confines. It consists of an 8th and 9th magnitude star, separated by 3 arcseconds in position angle 340 degrees.

Astro-Facts

by Greg Milewski

Did you know that.... from The Cosmic Mind Boggling Book, by Neil McAleer, Warner Books, New York, © 1982.

Camping and Gazing

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.

SMURFS '96

The Southern Michigan Unorganized Regional Festival of Stargazers is Michigan's premier dark-sky star party. It will be held from Thursday, August 15 till Sunday August 18th at the abandoned airstrip site near Hillman, Michigan. Although the star party officially starts Thursday, people are welcome to arrive as early as Tuesday, August 13 to observe. A mere $15 fee will admit one person to the star party for the entire weekend. Although the camping facilities are primitive (read as portable bathrooms, outdoor shower), the observing from this site is spectacular. Several club members have attended in recent years and had a great time. Join in the fun! For more information and directions, pick up a SMURFS '96 flyer at a club meeting or contact Kurt Kemp at 810-732-7829, send him email or visit the Smurfs '96 web page.

Top 20 Cool Things About a Car that Goes Faster Than the Speed of Light

Author Unknown

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