The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 29, Number 1, January, 1997

Table of Contents

Stargate-MetroPark Update

The Society sent this letter to Mr. Robert J Havard, the Assistant Park Superintendent of Stoney Creek Metropark on November 12, 1996. It introduces the Society to the Metropark authority and begins the dialog about the future of Stargate Observatory now that Camp Rotary has been purchased by the Metropark system.

Dear Bob:

I am writing this letter on behalf of the WAS to tell you a little about our society and its members. Also enclosed are a member handbook, a list of current officers and officers for 1997, some astronomical definitions, an excellent article on lighting, a sample society membership form, a copy of our newsletter and a proposal for a cooperative astronomy agreement.

We are a group of approximately 110 people who are bound together by a common interest in observational astronomy and related subjects. Besides engaging in our favorite activity of observing the night sky outdoors, we meet once per month at the Cranbrook Institute of Science and once per month at the South Campus of Macomb Community College - Physics Department. Our members come from all walks of life and from all over the metro area. Our society, one of the largest in the nation, also belongs to the Astronomical League. The League is an umbrella organization for approximately 300 astronomy clubs in the nation. Several of our members are prominent in amateur astronomy and have achieved national recognition. A second activity that is no less important is the society's commitment to bringing astronomy to the public. We fulfill this commitment by arranging public viewing sessions, lecturing and viewing at schools and serving scouts at Stargate. We also have a long history of arranging astronomy events with the Metro Park System. The society maintains a staff of approximately ten lecturers. Some of these people hold advanced degrees in science and are superbly qualified speakers.

Our observatory. Stargate, has been in existence for about 25 years. The observatory houses an excellent 12.5" telescope mounted on a fixed pier. We also store a newly constructed 22" portable type telescope and a 10" telescope at our observatory. The dome of the observatory was constructed by WAS members. Much has happened over the last 25 years. The society has grown from a handful of people to over a hundred now. Also, the skies around Camp Rotary have become increasingly light polluted and there is light intrusion in and around Camp Rotary. The dome is reaching the end of its useful life and needs almost constant maintenance. As Stargate becomes less useable, the society will have to make some decisions in the not-too-distant future. Ideally, the society would like a larger, more up-to-date facility at a less light-impacted site. In the meantime, the society is considering, but not committed to, installing CCD technology at Stargate. A CCD camera will alleviate the light problem; however, the members prefer visual observing over CCD imaging of objects.

The future. Much is in the news. The existence of planets around other stars has recently been confirmed. The Hubble Space Telescope is bringing down truly awe-inspiring pictures of the universe. The case for ancient life on the planet Mars is very compelling. Spacecraft are leaving for Mars and Saturn in the very near future. A spacecraft is currently exploring the planet Jupiter and its moons. Construction of a space station commenced in Early 1997 and it appears that we will be treated to the comet of the century next spring. Because of all this, public awareness of things astronomical is and will continue to grow. In this vein, there are opportunities for us to work together in providing astronomical interpretive and visual experiences to the public. To this end, perhaps a more suitable structure and focal point for astronomical viewing other than Stargate could be made available in cooperation with the authority. There are many possibilities we can discuss for the future.

A few loose ends. You or whomever you designate will receive a copy of our monthly newsletter, a list of club officers and their phone numbers annually, any insurance papers you require, an article every quarter related to astronomy for your park newsletter if you desire and an open invitation to you or your representative to attend any of our events or meetings. A committee of two to three people is being set up to work with Metro Parks on a cooperative agreement. The names and phone numbers of two of these are listed along with society officers. If necessary, we can meet during normal business hours. Also, it was our custom to attend monthly meetings of Camp Rotary's Board of Officers. Should our input be required at any of your meetings, please do not hesitate to contact us.



President, WAS

Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

If you're reading this at the '96 awards banquet, welcome to the festivities. I hope you enjoy yourself, as much as all of our past members have in years gone by. It's a time for merrymaking and a time for reflection about past events and people. If you see a face that hasn't been around for awhile, don't hesitate to say hello. If you see a new face, make it welcome. Don't forget the raffle. Participation will help with future club events. You may even end up wining something you can use while gazing at the stars during your next club outing. Above all, enjoy.

Another year has passed. It seems like only yesterday. We've gone through a lunar eclipse and a darn good comet. The comet will be remembered, I'm sure. I wonder about the eclipse. Those of us that were at Metropolitan Beach, to welcome public interest in the event, probably will not forget, because the gathering of people helped make the eclipse a little more memorable. Comet Hyakutake was welcomed with open arms because a comet of its magnitude hasn't been around for quite some time. It showed us what the heavens can produce in a moments notice, that doesn't require any instruments to observe. It was memorable, to say the least. What about 1997? Will the taste of Hyakutake put you on guard for the promise of Hale-Bopp?

America On Line, Prodigy and Microsoft Network have all announced that they're changing their price structuring for Internet users. They've decided to provide Internet service for one set, $19.95, monthly fee. That means you no longer have to be afraid of those large monthly bills you've been acquiring lately. Other package prices are also available.

The club's new twenty-two inch Dobsonian is finished and available for observing. If it hadn't rained the night of the November, Cranbrook meeting, we all would have seen it instead of a video about constructing it. They say that good things are worth waiting for. If you haven't looked through it yet, I guess you'll just have to wait. Man, Jupiter was sumptin' else.

Getting a new computer for Christmas? The entry level computer today is a 133 or 166 Mhz Pentium. It'll have sixteen megabytes of memory, a 1.2 gigabyte hard drive, 8x CD-ROM drive, a 28.8 Kilobaud modem and fax, a fifteen inch SVGA monitor, sixteen bit sound card with stereo speakers, a 3.5 inch floppy drive, Windows 95, a mouse, a suite of business programs that include a word processor, spreadsheet, database, a drawing program and games. Don't forget a printer too. Preferably a color inkjet type. That should keep you up with the Jones' for about a year or so.

Mixed emotions prevailed when I heard of the failed Russian Mars probe that entered the Earth's atmosphere last November 16. Back during the cold war, I wouldn't have given it a second thought. Today, I consider it a loss, not only for Russia but the scientific community. In fact, we all lose when missions of this type end unexpectedly.

Proceeds from shareware disk sales were given to our treasurer during the December Cranbrook meeting. The computer group is happy to say that we just reached the $100 mark in sales. Many thanks to Bob Watt for helping out with sales during the SMURFS star party. I'd also like to thank the Detroit Astronomical Society for contributing, with their purchases during the annual swap shop.

1997 marks the beginning of construction on the International space station. The core of the station will be put into orbit by the Russian space program. Other countries will contribute hardware and personnel, adding to the station until it reaches full bloom. Rumor has it that the orbit inclination will be 51 degrees, making the station pass over the Detroit area occasionally. This will give nearly everyone in the world the capability of watching it grow while in orbit.

I hope to have a special comet presentation for the January, MCCC meeting. If all goes well, we'll talk about the what, why, where and when of comets, with the help of a laptop computer, an overhead projector and the program Powerpoint.

The Detroit Astronomical Society will have its annual Christmas party, on December 20, at their meeting place in The Southfield Civic Center, the third Friday of the month, the day after our annual awards banquet.

FOR SALE. 486 DX2-66 MHz computer. 8 MB ram, 210 MB hard disk, Sound Blaster audio, VGA monitor included, SVGA ready. Keyboard, mouse, Windows 3.1, Dos 6.22, 3.5 and 5.25 in. floppy drives, $300. 810-758-7458.

Computer shows for late December are in Livonia, Saturday, the 21st, at The Livonia Elks Hall, 31117 Plymouth Road, one block east of Merriman, one mile south of I-96. In Dearborn, on the 22nd, at The Dearborn Civic Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., corner of Greenfield Rd. and in Taylor, on Saturday, the 28th, at The Democratic Club Hall, 23400 Wick Road, four blocks east of Telegraph Rd., about one mile south of I-94.

The December meeting will be at my home in Roseville, on the day after Christmas, Thursday the 26th. The address is 15674 Flanagan, two blocks west of Groesbeck Highway and two blocks north of Common Rd. (12 1/2 Mile Road). (810-776-9720). Please use the side entrance. Look for the yellow porch light.

Masterpieces Messier Missed

by Jeff Bondono

NGC 1528 at 04h15m +51d14m

I first saw this object on my fourth night of observing with my first "real" scope, the 8" Newtonian, during November of 1984. My first reaction to this cluster was that the brighter stars formed a mushroom shape, and its been known to me as the Mushroom Cluster ever since.

About a week later after I understood how to use my star charts a little better, I hopped from the cluster to the brighter nearby stars and confirmed that this cluster was indeed NGC 1528. I described the cluster as "faint but medium-rich, with a central quadruple-star that was barely resolved at x122".

Seven years later, from Imlay City, the same 8" scope showed NGC 1528 as a 15' round cluster of 70 9th to 13th magnitude stars. It was well detached, but not condensed. I noted that the mushroom shape is at the western end of the cluster, with its staulk pointing southwest. The eastern half was almost entirely composed of fainter stars than the western half.

During August of 1995 from the Porcupine Mountains in the UP, my 7x50 binoculars showed NGC 1528 as a very faint thumbprint of glow with no stars resolved.

December 1995 brought my first view with my 14" dob. I noted the cluster as an unconcentrated 15' triangular grouping, with the one side of the triangle running north-south along the western edge. I counted about 40 stars, but only counted those brighter than 12th magnitude. The brightest were again noted as being at the western end, except for one of equal brightness at southeast edge. No colorful stars were seen. Two mushroom-shapes are actually present. The second one is fainter, and has the base of its stem pointing east.

I apparently forgot to write down just where in the cluster that fainter one is, though. Maybe you can check it out this winter and let me know where the second in this mushroom patch is. Perhaps the cluster has even sprouted a third one during some dewy night since I last looked.
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This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on Dec 21, 1996.