The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 28, Number 9, September, 1996

Table of Contents

A Standing Ovation

by Larry Kalinowski

There is one member of the society that I feel deserves a standing ovation. He has given his heart and soul to the society on occasions that are too numerous to mention. A member for over thirty years, the growth of the society followed his path because he was willing to give when many others didn't. With just his mind and telescope, he introduced so many to the fascination of astronomy. He was the model and mentor for all struggling space enthusiasts. At every call, he was there, at star parties; giving lectures, at the observatory; giving lectures, at Messier contests; judging observers, at the colleges and high schools; giving planetarium demonstrations and showing astronomy through his well used eight inch reflector. At the Christmas banquets he produced and showed the entertainment, as well as arranging the banquets and proceedings. At eclipses and Cape Canaveral launchings, he was there, photographing and selling astronomy to all that would listen. As editor of the WASP, he published for seven or eight years, making sure the news of our society reached its membership. Armed with just a stapler as his publishing tool, I can recall his efforts to assemble the WASP with xeroxed articles contributed by the members, just before the meetings began. His astrophotographic enthusiasm produced an award for a spectacular panoramic view of the Aurora Borealis. Very few have given so much and asked for so little. How many will always remember his spoof of the motion picture 2001, where he ends up in bed, sleeping with his telescope. Nearly every memory you conjure up, that involves the WAS, you can bet he was there. The rule that limits our officers to two consecutive years in office developed because of his dedication. He was willing to serve all the time, in any office, whenever he was called to serve. If anybody gets to the stars before we do, it'll be Frank McCullough.

Observatory Update

by Gary Kondrat

Hello fellow astronomers. As we are gearing up for the September 26th total lunar eclipse I would like to mention that, weather permitting, I'm planning on going out to Stargate to observe the last total lunar eclipse until the year 2000. So if any members would like to join me, come on out.

If any members have astronomical equipment which they do not use any more and its just collecting dust, you might consider donating this equipment to the club. My ambition is to make Stargate a better equipped facility and possibly have a bigger (and better) selection of rental equipment available to our members. I would also like to see Stargate have a fairly complete tool set (possibly housed in a rolling tool cabinet) on hand. This would make spur of the moment adjustments or regular repairs/maintenance easier. Also the refurbishment of the club's 8" reflecting rental telescope is coming along nicely.

August 17, 1996

My wife Karen, her friend Cecilia, our dog Barney and myself opened Stargate at 9:00 pm. A thin crescent moon was looking just off the horizon (getting ready to leave us for a few days), Jupiter was starting to make its presence known and within 10-15 minutes stars began peppering the night sky with the milky way making a brilliant appearance. We had a nice little turn out of members, who started filtering in shortly after I opened. Both telescopes (the 12.5" and 10") received good use on this beautiful evening sky. The first object I turned the Stargate telescope to was Jupiter. We were able to see four of its satellites and this is how we viewed them: to the far east we had Callisto, then just to the west midway between Jupiter and Callisto we had Ganymede. If you looked to the western side of Jupiter, Europa and Io could be seen, both equally distant from Jupiter to the west. The darker bands were very clear and you could make out most of the lighter bands but the big red spit was not on the face of Jupiter we were observing.

About this time Riyad Matti pulled in to the park. After talking to Riyad (for a few moments) about his agenda for the evening, I offered him full use of the observatory if he didn't mind taking those in attendance on a short tour through the night sky. So I would like to thank Riyad for spending a couple hours locating a number of objects for those in attendance and answering questions about those objects we observed. The tour of the sky Riyad took us on went like this. He started out by putting the telescope on the double star which is located in the handle of the Big Dipper. Next we visited the Ring Nebula (M57, in Lyra). While everyone took their look, Riyad explained what a nebula is and the approximate size of the Ring Nebula. Our next stop was the Dumbbell Nebula (M27, in Vulpecula). After everyone looked at the nebula, Riyad asked if everyone had paid attention to what they had just seen through the eyepiece. He then placed a filter onto the eyepiece which allowed us to see better detail in the Dumbbell Nebula. After observing this object most of us stepped out of the observatory to gaze at the stars with the naked eye and talked about various topics. About this time a neighborhood cat paid us a visit and of course Barney (my dog) had to say hello. Barney stood there a while as the cat hissed and then the cat decided it wasn't a good idea to stick around, so it ran over to a tree by the road for a while. So Barney went back into the observatory and laid down by my wife's feet.

Still outside gazing at the stars I witnessed five meteors, at least two seemed to be left over from the Perseid shower and three were very bright with extremely long tails. It was time to go back into the observatory and Riyad pointed the telescope at Jupiter. You were able to still see the four moons mentioned earlier. We were unable to get a real clear image this time, even after trying a couple of different eyepieces, so we moved on. For the last couple of objects, Riyad went to an open cluster and a globular cluster. Both were magnificent looking, unfortunately, I can't remember the names. After observing these last two objects, we packed up the car and left (it was about 11:30 pm at this time) so Riyad could get to his own agenda for the evening.

August 31, 1996

My wife Karen, our dog Barney, John Dombrzal, Robert Kondrat and myself arrived at Stargate approximately 9:30 pm. A slightly reddish moon was rising, but still just below the treetops. Already in attendance at Stargate was John Herrgott (who had a couple of guests with him) and Bob Watt (who was touching up the paint on the club's new 22" reflecting telescope). Robert Kondrat and myself started to get the dome opened up, meanwhile John Dombrzal was setting up his newly-built dual-camera tripod system. After getting situated inside the observatory, we turned the telescope to Jupiter. Visually Jupiter was a little fuzzy, but we did observe two of the Jovian satellites (to the east of Jupiter we had Ganymede and to the west we had Io). Unfortunately the once decent skies were starting to deteriorate, se we decided it was a good idea to spend some time looking for the comet Hale-Bopp and a few Messier objects. But we were unsuccessful at this take, mainly because the combination of the moon and light streaks of clouds started washing out the sky. Now it was 12:30 am and we had only one object that we could view, the Moon. So with little hesitation we turned the telescope to the Moon. We spent some time viewing the Moon and then John Dombrzal clicked off a roll of film on various areas of the Moon. It was finally time to pack it up for the evening. So we loaded up the cars, closed up Stargate and left for home.

Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

With the twenty-two inch Dobsonian telescope very nearly completed, it will now be stored at the club's observatory at Camp Rotary until another sight or storage area has been designated. According to Jeff Bondono, the telescope performed well at the SMURFS get-together. A balance problem still remains, however. The 'scope is a little top heavy and tends to fall down when pointed at something close to the horizon, so a little more additional weight will be required at the mirror end. There's no doubt that the 'scope will be a hit at the next public star party at Metropolitan Beach Metropark.

Woody Sullivan, a University of Washington astronomer has come up with an idea for getting the general public involved with the SETI program. He proposes the use of the Internet to disburse data and the proper program to analyze the data. Users with 486 and Pentium machines could download the software and some data, analyze it, then return a report to him via the net. The only hitch is, it'll take a half a million dollars to get set up. He's looking to corporations to provide the money. In return, they can advertise on his network system.

When I wrote this paragraph, Saturn was rising in the east at about 11:00 pm on August 8. I was using a 2.4 inch Tasco refractor (a garage sale discovery for $10.00) with about a 40X eyepiece that night. Not knowing what to expect towards the east, I was surprised to see a small disk that was skewered by a thin line in my eyepiece. By the time you read this on September 19, it should be rising about two hours earlier, putting the planet low in the south east at 11:00 pm. Jupiter should be low in the southwest, making planetary viewing the thing to do in September. Saturn should be visible all night long in late October.

The night of September 26 (Thursday) will bring a total lunar eclipse for North America. Mid totality occurs at 10:54 pm, EDT. First contact with the umbra starts at 9:12 pm, second contact (full insertion into the shadow) is at 10:19 pm. If you have a camera, don't miss this photo opportunity. You can get all the timing data by running the shareware program LUNAR ECLIPSE, available from the club's shareware library for $1.00 (members only). Since the eclipse takes place on the fourth Thursday of the month, the computer group meeting will be cancelled for September.

A new interloper has entered the solar system. Called Comet Tabur (C/1996 Q1). On September 5 the predicted magnitude will be about 8.9, however, brightness will increase to about 5.5 in early October. The comet has just entered Orion near Rigel and will begin a very fast thrust through the constellations because of its close approach to the Earth, moving about five degrees per day, a situation very nearly as close as Comet Hyakutake. By November 3, it'll have passed through five constellations, Orion, Gemini, Lynx, Ursa Major and Bootes. It is presently a morning object. Plug these elements into your favorite planetarium program: If you have any data for the Beta Lyrae (Sheliak) light curve, I would appreciate it if you would start turning it in. It's not necessary to turn in a full data sheet. Just turn in your old sheet and pick up a new one at the next meeting. The reason I'm asking for some data now is to avoid a large, last minute bombardment of data. The data is now being logged and starting the logging early will avoid rush problem later. So far, as of September 3, I have logged a total of 120 observations from three observers. We've surpassed last year's count already and more are expected because there's time for at least another month of observations.

FOR SALE. I have a twenty-four pin, dot matrix printer, made by Panasonic. Model KX-P1124. It was seldom used, but when it was, it served me well. Kept covered. Manual, cable and new ribbon included. $60.00. The selling price of this item will drop $5.00 each month until I feel the price has gone too low. Keep your eye on this one for a possible bargain.

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.

WANTED. Fred Judd is looking for a 386 or 486 laptop computer that is capable of running windows. A color monitor isn't necessary. He needs something to help him do CCD photography out in the field, at the telescope. Call him at 810-758-7458.

Gibraltar Trade Center, that bastion of garage sale deals, is starting to get their feet wet in the computer show business. Starting on October 13, they'll have a one day computer show. I think It'll be their first. That's Gibraltar Trade Center North, the Mt. Clemens location.

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 September meeting will not be held at Gary's place because of the lunar eclipse that evening.

Masterpieces Messier Missed

by Jeff Bondono

NGC 7209 at 22h05m +46d30m

This large splashy open cluster in Lacerta is catalogued as 25 arcminutes in size, magnitude 6.7, with a 9th magnitude star being its brightest member. Some catalogs state only 25 9th to 12th magnitude stars are members, others say up to 100 stars. During 1985 from my back yard in Madison Heights, the cluster was easy to find in my 8" Newtonian. I described it as a faint but pretty-well-isolated 17-arcminute cluster with bright outlining stars which filled a 50-arcminute field.

A 1986 observation with the same scope from my backyard in Shelby Township showed this cluster as a fairly rich 10-arcminute group of about 20 9th and 10th magnitude stars and many fainter ones. The cluster was circular in shape, with a mostly-empty center.

During 1991, the same scope from the darker skies of Imlay City showed me a medium-rich 25-arcminute circle of about 70 9th to 13th magnitude stars. The cluster was not compressed at all, showing an even distribution of stars both in terms of positioning and brightness, except for a hole in the center. It was again noted as pretty-well detached. The brightest star was 9th magnitude, at the southwest edge. A red 11th magnitude star was noted just east of the empty center. Very few stars were south of the cluster, but the fields north, east, and west were of average richness for this part of the Milky Way.

My 1995 observation from Birmingham, Ohio was my first of this cluster with my 14" Newtonian. The cluster showed as a large round splashy 25-arcminute well-detached but not concentrated group of 100 9th to 13th magnitude stars. The brightest stars prefer the northeast quadrant of the cluster. Most of the cluster's stars were around 11th magnitude.

Each scope and location showed this cluster pretty well, so I think anyone should be able to find this one with an 8" or larger scope from light polluted skies, or a 6" or larger scope from Stargate-class skies.

Minutes of Meetings

by Blaine McCullough


The meeting was called to order at 8:30 p.m. by Ben Tolbert. About 15 members were present. there were no visitors or new members in attendance. The club's treasure reported that our current account balance is $3,155.48 as of August 15th. No other officers reports were available at this time. Kim Dyer suggested that the club members get together and make some concrete repairs on the structure around the clubs observatory - Stargate while the weather is still favorable. Kim pointed out that there are quite a few areas along the buildings walkway that could be repaired now, and save the club added expense in the future. Any club member who is willing to help out with the project is asked to contact Kim at the next meeting.

The clubs new 22" truss tube telescope is for the most part finished, and was taken to the annual S.M.U.R.F.S outing as reported by fellow club members. Members also expressed a desire to have Stargate observatory opened the night of Thursday - September 26th for those who want to observe the upcoming Lunar Eclipse. Several other members responded that they thought it was a neat idea, and that they would like to attend.

About 10 club members showed up for last weekend for our clubs annual campout.This summer it was held at Port Crescent State Park - near Port Austin, Michigan. Riyad Matti and Ben Tolbert who both attended the campout said they had a great time this year - observing at night, and enjoying the local area during the day. The area turned out to be perfect for members who wanted to bring the family along, Available during the day was swimming, horseback riding, go-carts, water bumper boats, mini-golf, a local shopping area, and even Little Caesar's Pizza just 15 minutes away! Yes - these were really rustic conditions!! Doug Bock bought along his 16" truss tube telescope and braved the sandy conditions on the beach. Several very excited campers enjoyed the view, and Doug's sharing of astronomical knowledge with them. Ben Tolbert also bought along his 10" Meade, but wasn't as daring as Doug. He kept it in his mini-van for fear of the dreaded sand in the telescope curse. Most of our members bought along binoculars, and there favorite lawn chair to set along the beach, and observe the Perseids Meteor Shower. The best night for observing was Friday night when the sky averaged about 1 meteorite - every 3-5 minutes, and many of them were quite spectacular! Riyad also attempted to photograph several of them, and promised to show any photos that were lucky enough to catch a meteorite on film at a future meeting. We were also able to view the comet Hale-Bopp - (with binoculars) , and the Andromeda Galaxy -(naked eye) just to name a few. The campout was a great success, but it would have been even better if more of our members had attended.

Heated debate broke out concerning the 13,000 year old Mars meteorite that was found in Antarctica. A group of NASA scientist believe it contains some sort of primitive life form that once existed on the planet. A few members said they plan to evaluate this evidence, and perhaps state their own opinions based upon there research at the next meeting . The big question on everyone's mind seems to be: could this be true and what will it mean for NASA's space program - or is this just another invalid conclusion based on a bunch of newly developed scientific equipment and scientist that want to prove there costly equipment really works!

Club member Lorretta Kapa bought her new 4" Meade 2045 S/C to the meeting and tried to get some feedback on which eyepiece to add to her collection, and what makes one better than another. Several members were more than willing to help her, and she appreciated it. We also tried talking her into letting us take it out for a test drive, but unfortunately she didn't take the bait!

Lou Faiks gave an excellent slide presentation on telescope drive systems, and dedicated his talk to a long time friend who since passed away. He explained why astronomers need good drive systems, how he managed to build one that was as good or better than most on the market at the time, how he built many of the parts using a common lathe, and even how to check your very own drive system out using a camera, and some simple math. One of Lou's telescopes and drive systems was featured in the May 78 issue of Sky & Telescope, and a few observatory's have even adapted part of his designs. Everyone enjoyed the presentation, and I think we were all able to see what a difference an accurate drive system can make when your trying to do astro-photography or serious deep sky observing. Thanks again Lou! The Macomb meeting was closed at 10 p.m. A few members went to Coney Island Restaurant afterwards for coffee, and further discussions.

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This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on Sept 16, 1996.