The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 29, Number 3, March, 1997


Table of Contents


Hale-Bopp Update

from info submitted by Ed Watson

Comet Hale-Bopp is putting on a fine show in the morning sky. By the time this issue goes to press, the February moon will interfere with comet viewing. However, a good opportunity to view the comet is from March 2-March 20, with the best opportunity from March 7-20. These mornings should be a spectacular string of 14 consecutive moonless mornings for comet viewing. The comet nears its closest approach to Earth, its greatest brilliance, and the closest approach to the Sun, all slated for the last 10 days of March. The comet should be an easy naked-eye object. Times of best observation range from 5:51 am on March 4th to 5:27 am on March 18, as the sun rises earlier each day. March 4th the comet can be found 15 degrees below Deneb, and it moves until it's 30 degrees to the lower-left of Deneb on the 18th.

Be sure to get out and observe this comet. All you need are binoculars.

Be sure to look through the club's calendar of events. The evening apparition of this comet ranges from March 8th to May 11th for our latitude, although it will be quite low to the horizon until early April. We have many opportunities to view Hale-Bopp in the evening sky during April.

Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

Coming up, in the near future, is a floppy drive that will hold nine times as much data that the present high density, floppys hold. Present 3.5 inch drives hold about 1.4 megabytes of data. Would you like 120 megabytes? The LS-120 floppy drive, now being produced and shipping to original equipment manufacturers, has a read-write head that is optically positioned. It is also backwards compatible with older drives, which means it will read and write to 720K and 1.4 Mb disks.

The book is being rewritten about Gamma Ray Bursters. It was thought they were located in or near the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. New information, from the Compton Gamma Ray Satellite, now indicates that they are much farther away....so far, that they may be objects that are near the edge of the universe. Energies released, in ten seconds, are the equivalent of our Sun's lifetime output, at that distance.

How would you like to own a twenty-nine meter telescope? That's about 1150 inches, in diameter. The ELT (Extra Large Telescope) won't use expensive tracking motors. Instead, it'll be fixed in position, at 55 degrees, enabling it to see about seventy percent of the sky, according to POPULAR SCIENCE. This telescope will probably rely heavily on computers to correct off axis images. Reflectors have very poor images if the subject doesn't sit in line with the telescope's optical axis. Expected cost is 200 million dollars.

The South-Eastern Michigan Amateur Astronomical Convention, on Saturday, March 1, (SMAAC), promises lectures on CCD photography, telescope mounts, experimental rockets and NASA's Mars probe. At Eastern Michigan University, you can get more info about the convention by calling Norbert Vance at 313-487-3033. Admission is $5.00.

It appears as though a little chicken on a key chain is taking Japan by storm. Wholesalers are betting the US will latch on to this little chicken with just as much enthusiasm. What's it all about? It's electronic and it's a game. That's all the information I have right now.

According to a news report heard on the radio, the Russians have fallen a year behind in the building of the 'core' module for the multinational space station. The reason given was a lack of funds. As a result, the US has taken on the responsibility. No word was given as to when the US version would be available for launch.

An interesting turn of events occurred when the editor of the Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society (LVAAS) announced that comet Hale-Bopp had two nuclei. It seems he repeated a story heard on the Internet about a 'spiked' object near the comet. Just how he concluded there were two nuclei is probably a story in itself, but in the end it was determined to be just diffraction spikes on a nearby star. A phenomenon we all have witnessed using a reflector with a secondary spider support. A correction was printed in the following issue. The spiked star photograph made a lot of news when interpreted by novice observers, some even saying it was a UFO. I've seen photos of that spiked star and if you look carefully at the picture, there's a hint of four diffraction spikes, typical of a four vane secondary spider, which the photographer's telescope contains. It's amazing how a simple story can be blown all out of proportion, by people with unintentional misinterpretations.

Starting in February, all new attendees at the computer group meetings, will receive a free software disk, as a gesture of good will.

The April 3rd meeting, to be held at Stargate, instead of Cranbrook, is really a gathering of WAS members and the Metro-park authority. They want to see the WAS in action, so to speak, and we all want to see Hale-Bopp. It'll be important to make a good impression on our welcome visitors.

The February computer meeting will be at my home in Roseville, on Thursday the 27th and the March meeting also on Thursday the 27th. 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). (Take Common Rd. west before you turn north on Callahan.) It's about eight or nine houses from the corner. Please use the side entrance. Look for the yellow porch light.

Joe Mihalick's Picture of the Month

by Joe Mihalick

Joe Mihalick's Picture of the Month

Minutes of Meeting

by Glenn Wilkins, Secretary

Macomb Meeting - January 16, 1997

Dave opened the meeting at 7:55 by introducing the new officers and thanking the '96 officers and other major contributors. There were 18 members and 3 guests in attendance on an arctic evening.

Treasurer's Report - As of 1-16-97 the WAS had a balance of $3,529.10. Ben Tolbert also presented a summary for 1996 indicating an increase of 8 paying members to 102. See Ben if you would like a complete financial report.

Regular scout lecturers are needed for Stargate and support is also needed for Astronomy Day at Cranbrook on April 12.

The February issue of the WASP reflects the activities plan (p. 5) for the first half of 1996 as agreed at the last Officer's meeting. The 4-3 meeting will be at Stargate instead of Cranbrook on a trial basis, and to take advantage of Hale-Bopp. The 4-25/26 public comet parties may be revised to include the Ford Astronomy Club. The 6-6/7 events will be at Northern Cross (Doug's place) instead of Stargate. Campers will be welcome.

The officers would like to increase subgroup activity at the regular meetings. Also, it is felt that a beginners group is needed with involvement by advanced members who enjoy teaching. Your ideas on how to implement these objectives would be welcome. See Dave.

The telescope subgroup plans to resume meetings in April. The first objective is to replace or improve the dob mount for the club 10" scope. Contact Fred Judd with other suggestions or personal telescope needs.

The next Officer's mtg. will be at Blain's home on 3-13. In addition to further events planning, we will discuss development of usage rules for the 22" scope.

Recent magnitude measurements of Hale-Bopp indicated a 3 vs. a predicted 2.

A 36 minute break commenced at 8:44 featuring treats by Angie.

The feature presentation on comets was by Larry Kalinowski and was done on Power Point to demonstrate some of the software used by the Computer sub group.

The meeting adjourned at 10:28.

Cranbrook Meeting - February 6, 1997

Dave opened the meeting at 7:41 for 36 people eager for the scheduled planetarium show, perhaps desperate for even a simulated glimpse of stars!

Yours truly was surprised and extremely pleased to be presented with a nice plaque for being the Amateur Astronomer of 1996.

John Herrgott volunteered to head a team to prepare for our comet show at Metro Beach on April 5 and 6. Contact John to help out (810) 505-9346.

A team leader and team are also needed for the comet show at Kensington Metro Park on April 25 and 26. It will be a joint effort with the Ford Club and, perhaps, the Genesee Club. Dave indicated that the Metro Park people are very excited about this event and will provide full support at Martindale Beach which offers a good view to the northwest. We control lighting to the extent that public safety allows. Contact Dave (810) 563-6652.

The 14th. annual summer solstice party will be at Doug Bock's in Fenton June 6 to 8. Doug is asking for volunteers to assist him in this event which will welcome campers. There will be a fee this year of approximately $3/night to cover expenses for portable toilets. Doug also asked for pictures which can be added to the WAS web site which he is developing. On April 11-13 and May 9-11 Doug will host star parties at his property near Cadillac. (810) 750-0273

Treasurer's report: Balance = $3,568.70 as of 2-1-97.

John Hergott reported that the Metro Park authority accepted in full our operating plan for Stargate, essentially the same as our prior agreement. Furthermore, they indicated a willingness to consider any reasonable plan that we might propose for an interpretive facility! The next meeting with the park authority will be on April 3. Maximum attendance by the WAS at this meeting is very important to validate our interest and commitment. Contact John for details.

The Perseid Meteor shower is August 11-13 which is during the week. Riyad recommended making reservations and vacation plans now at Point Crescent the weekend of August 8 due to high demand.

The annual SMURFS star party is believed to be the weekend of August 1.

The feature presentation was on comets in the planetarium by Jeff Bass. It was entertaining and informative with Jeff indulging many requests for special views and effects. The Cranbrook observatory will be open to the public for the 17 days in March/April offering the best views of Hale-Bopp. An additional planetarium show for WAS families is being scheduled for this fall.

The meeting ended at 9:53.

For Sale

8" f4.5 Coulter Odyssey Coulter Odyssey 10.1"
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This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on Feb 15, 1997.