The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 28, Number 9, September, 1996

Table of Contents

Observatory Update

by Gary Kondrat

Hello fellow astronomers. We're 2/3rds of the way into 1996 already and for the most part have experienced, in my opinion, below average observing conditions. But in the same breath I will also mention that we have also experienced some spectacular astronomical events. Just to name a few of the more prominent events we had the comet Hyakutake, a total lunar eclipse (with another in September) and now the comet Hale-Bopp. At this time I would like to thank the Warren Astronomical Society members for giving me the opportunity to serve as 2nd vice president. In saying that, I would like to give a brief report on the Stargate observatory happenings to date during my term.

Early in the year Doug Bock notified club members that he was transporting a number of mirrors for recoating. So I picked up the 10" dobsonian (from the observatory), removed the mirror and elliptical, then delivered the package to Doug Bock's residence. Once they were returned I picked up the package, assembled the necessary items and returned the tube assembly to the observatory. There were some flaws with the new coating on the 10" mirror, but it appeared to be functional.

This past spring we experienced periods of gusting winds which wreaked havoc on the observatory dome. The sheet metal on the sliding slit cover (which had already started to separate from the frame) was pulled off the cover frame (about 2 to 3 feet) and nearly torn in half. I would like to thank Bob Halsall and the other members who secured the damaged cover to seal out the weather till repairs could be made. After a few weeks of inclement weather and a few more weeks of my own personal/work schedule being full, repairs were finally underway. So at this time I would like to announce that the Stargate observatory dome repair is 100% complete.

On behalf of the Warren Astronomical Society I would like to thank John Dombrzal, Robert Kondrat and Kim Dyer. On a number of weekends the three individuals worked long into the night to make the necessary repairs to the observatory dome. In the months to come there will be some general maintenance done to Stargate to keep it looking and running in top-top condition. These items will be reported later in the year. If there are any suggestions that will help make Stargate look and run better feel free to contact me with those suggestions. Last but not least, I am currently undertaking the task of refurbishing the society's 8" loaner telescope. It has been longing for a little tender loving care.


Annual Pitch

by Jeff Bondono

The club will elect 1996 officers at our October Macomb meeting, so now is the time of year to try and convince people to run for office. Although none of the offices take a great deal of your time, all are essential for the continued existence of the WAS. Please consider what the club has provided for you, then look at what you can provide for the club. Past officers have often run simply because they want the club to continue and it is in their self-interest to see that happen. I would invite anyone who wishes to contribute to the WAS to become an officer and join the other electees in having some fun while serving the club.


Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

Four new programs have been added to the WAS computer software library. MOON MANAGER lets you pick out over 600 lunar features, with your arrow keys. Then a brief explanation of the name of the object, size and location, in lunar coordinates, are given. SATELLITES OF SATURN will display the positions of the first, largest, eight moons of Saturn, along with the planet and the proper tilt of the rings, for any date that you choose. You can color code the satellites for easy visualization and flip the view, right, left, up or down, to match the view of your own telescope. NEWT will calculate the parameters for a Newtonian telescope and graphically show you if your diagnol size is correct for 75 and 100 percent focal plane illumination. Incoming rays are traced and shown how they are accepted by your telescope design. Baffle sizes are also calculated. Finally, B_STAR will draw the shape of an orbit that represents a star orbiting a primary star in a physical double. You must enter double star parameters like periastron year, the period in years, inclination, first year to plot and last year to plot, etc. Rik Hill donated the programs.

The 12 1/2" telescope at the club observatory got a good workout on Saturday, July 20, the twenty-seventh anniversary of Armstrong's lunar walk, thanks to Riyad Matti. The sky cooperated magnificently, with the Milky Way dominating the overhead sky. I got my first look at Hale-Bopp, through the club's Cassegrain, and it looked quite interesting, even at the distance of 257 million miles. The head-on comet shows a slightly offset tail, a nebulous smudge behind the sixth magnitude head.

In an attempt to determine whether the WAS's 22 inch telescope was designed properly, the optics saw first starlight on Tuesday, July 30. The support tubes, holding the upper diagonal mirror assembly, were attached to the mirror base and an attempt was made to find out if the focus point was near the design specifications. The telescope focused on some unknown star at the zenith, the only point the 'scope could be pointed to, for the moment. Collimation, additional construction to the mirror box base and shortening of the support tubes, are still required.

Bill Gates and company has slowly been buying the rights to scan and digitize important art works around the world. Bill feels this will be one way of presenting art to the general public (through the Microsoft Network and other media) that would ordinarily be difficult for the public to find.

The latest version of THE SKY, has a feature that is unique among planetarium programs. It allows you to draw a custom horizon for your observing location. A provision is made to make a plot, using your telescope, if you wish, every one degree around the azimuth of your telescope location. The astronomical coordinates, RA and Declination, can also be used to define your horizon, if you prefer. You can store more than one location's horizon if you do your observing in more than one place and can bring that horizon to the screen whenever you change observing sights.

The following elements are for the new Comet Brewington. It's a tenth magnitude comet that can be seen in the western sky in the evening. On the 15th of August, It'll be in the constellation Canes Venatici. Over the period of Aug. 15 through Oct. 13, it'll move past Ursa Major, then into Draco, where the comet passes just north of the dragon's head. The predicted magnitude will not be any brighter than 9.9, as the comet won't come any closer to the Earth or Sun than one astronomical unit. An ephemeris and map will be available at the MCCC and Cranbrook meetings.

Cider is spilling on school floors because the Apple crunch is on. In the early days of computing, Apple swung many deals to give schools a good deal on new computers. In fact, Apple gave away thousands of computers to gain a foothold within academia. Now schools are finding it's cheaper to install and maintain IBM compatibles. Both students and teachers are shooting for network operation nowadays and the IBM format lends itself, much better, to that type of operation. Operating costs are lower and implementation of network and Internet features, easier.

FOR SALE. Two memory boards, never used, with four megabytes of memory on each board (1X36). This is the parity checking type of memory (9 chips) with seventy-two pins. Never used, asking twenty-five dollars per board. Call me at 810-776-9720 for more info.

Computer shows for late August are in Madison Heights, on Sunday, Aug 18, at the UF and CW Hall, 876 Horace Brown Dr., one block east of I-75, and one block south of 13 Mi. Rd. In Dearborn, on Sunday, Aug 24, at the Dearborn Civic Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., corner of Greenfield, one mile east of Southfield (M39). In Taylor, on Aug. 31, at the Democratic club Of Taylor, 23400 Wick Rd., four blocks east of Telegraph. For early September, In Southfield, at the Southfield Pavilion, 2600 Evergreen, between Ten and Eleven Mile Roads.

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 August and September meetings will be on the 22nd and 26th respectively. The fourth thursdays of those months.


Masterpieces Messier Missed

by Jeff Bondono

NGC 6826 at 19h44.9m +50d32m

The "Blinking Planetary" nebula in Cygnus is a favorite of most deep-sky observers. It weighs in as a 1/2 arcminute nearly-round planetary (27"x24") with 9.8 magnitudes of light and a 10.5 magnitude central star. With a 6" scope where the limiting magnitude is around 12, the central star is just barely visible above the planetary's background glow. The star disappears when you look directly at the planetary, and appears when you use your averted vision. The blinking of the central star as you alternately look at and away from the nebula yield the "blinking planetary" name.

During an April, 1985 observing session with my 8" Newtonian in Madison Heights, the blinking planetary appeared as a homogenious glow, easily seen at all powers with or without the UHC (nebula) filter. A bright central star was obvious at 272x. So much for having to use averted vision on the central star. The sight of this planetary from such a light-polluted site proves this planetary is a really bright one. For comparison, M97 was never visible from that site without my UHC filter, and then just barely so.

During July 1986 with the same scope from Utica, I added that the planetary was round. During August 1989 I noticed that the western edge of the planteary is fainter than the eastern edge. The central star can only be called central if that faint eastern edge is included.

July of 1995 brought my first and only observation with my 14.5" scope, from Imlay City. At 478x, the planetary appeared as a large, slightly blueish glow with a bright star in the center which was easy to hold with direct vision. The planetary was not annular (like the Ring Nebula) at all, but filled in and slightly mottled. Rather than being round, it is slightly oval in position 75 degrees (nearly east-west). The outer edges appeared slightly scalloped rather than smoothly curved.


Minutes of Meetings

by Blaine McCullough

Macomb, Thursday, July 18, 1996

Astro-Facts

by Greg Milewski

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


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