The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 29, Number 4, April, 1997


Table of Contents


Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

This is it! The month of the comet. Perhaps the comet of the decade. If you haven't been out and seen it, don't pass by this late March-early April time period. It may be the last big comet for years to come. Wouldn't it be grand to tell your kids (or grandkids) about the great comet of '97! The March MCCC meeting should be quite interesting, now that The comet has begun to blossom.

According to David Chandler's last newsletter, dated January 27, Hale-Bopp has already begun to form an anti-tail. It hasn't been visible from my observing site in Roseville but I've only been using binoculars in a light polluted sky. It's unusual to have one form so long before perihelion is reached.

A very good friend of mine, Neron Nesmith, reported seeing the comet during the morning and the evening of March 10th. Neron reports that it was visible about fifteen degrees above the northwest horizon at about 7:00 PM, in Livonia.

After learning that Neron had no trouble locating the comet in the evening sky, Bob Watt and I had a go at it. Sure enough, Hale-Bopp is quite easy to see after evening twilight. So far, the morning view is still the superior one. However, that will change as we near the month of April. The evening view shows the tail pointing due north (towards the right).

So far, I've been able to make eight significant observations of Hale-Bopp. All eight about 5:30 AM during the last half of February and first half of March. My last observation, on March 12th, shows six degrees of tail from Roseville. Dark skies should show three times as much, if not more. The tail is noticeably broad, much wider than Hyakutake's. Magnitude is hard to estimate now because it outshines everything in the morning sky except Mars. It kind of reminds me of comet West back in '75. However, the tail's not as long....yet.

This has truly been the comet decade. They've made astounding news during the last three years. The collisions with Jupiter, along with Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp are making headlines and astronomical history.

I was able to find some Ektachrome P-1600 film at Dunn's in Royal Oak. If you're a slide film enthusiast living on the east side of town, that's the place to go. It was only available in thirty-six exposure rolls for $12.95.

Ray Travis announced the results of the 1996 Beta Lyrae project during the Cranbrook meeting and passed out printed copies of his calculations to the members that participated in the observing program and others who were interested. Additional copies of his results will be available at the March Macomb meeting. He is asking all participants to continue with observations, so that the data base collected this far will continue to improve. I'm transferring data collection duties to Ray for the '97 period, however, copies of blank data forms and maps of the constellation Lyra, showing comparison stars, are still available from me.

Microsoft announced the development of another family of Overdrive chips designed for the slower 486's. It'll nearly double the speed of the 75, 90 and 100 Mhz models. You can increase speeds up to 166 Mhz. MMX technology is also included in the new chips. That's the technology that increases multimedia speed capability up to 20 percent. Future models will increase chip speeds to 200 Mhz.

The SMAAC turned out to be a significant conference in Ypsilanti last month. Excellent speakers, and a raffled six inch reflector added impulse to the event. I was able to sell about forty shareware disks for the club and Alan Rothenberg captured ownership of the six inch reflector.

A company called WAVEPHONE has contracted an agreement with PBS to provide one way communications utilizing the TV spectrum. It plans to use the PBS network and the blanking portion of the PBS TV signals to broadcast computer programs and educational material, on six different channels, via PBS. It's going to take a special I/O card, one designed to receive a PBS broadcast signal (basically a UHF receiver on a slotcard) to take advantage of instant data transmissions. However, the baud rate will still be in the 28 to 33K range.

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.

Internet users will get a big kick out of a new program called WEB TRANSLATOR. It allows you to write your E-mail in one language, then translates it to a language of your choice before sending it out. This program should open up much more E-mail traffic. Just how good the translations are, are another matter. Slang and new sayings always demolish translations, let alone words with double meanings.

Thanks to Bob Watt, the computer library now has an additional 50 formatted, disks. Bob went out of his way to take advantage of a COMPUSA sale that sells the 50 disks for $15.00. The rebate that comes with it, returns the $15.00, so the net cost becomes zero. Of course, Bob is out the $15.00 until he gets his rebate, but that was sure nice of him to think of the computer group that way.

The March computer meeting will be at my home in Roseville, on Thursday the 27th and the April meeting on Thursday the 24th. 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.

Third Huron County Star Party

Make plans now to attend the Third Huron County Star Party on May 1,2 and 3, 1997 at Duggan's Family Campground located at the tip of Michigan's Thumb. The camp ground, on M-25, 8 miles west of Port Austin, is privately owned and will be made ready for dark observing. It has clean restrooms, hot showers, playground, 2 dumping stations and much more. Activities nearby include: Canoe Rentals, Horseback riding, Golf, Restaurants, and Museums. All in a very scenic backdrop with Lake Huron 500 ft. to the North. Choose a "rustic site" with no electricity and large open views of the sky or a site with electricity in the more wooded area. All areas suited for observing will have electricity available for your observing needs. You will be responsible for providing your own extension cord and power strips.

If you have further questions, feel free to contact Barry Craig at (810)-547-1299 or direct your campground questions to Diana at Duggan's Campground (517)738-5160. This event will be held rain or shine for your camping and observing pleasure.

P.S. The campout has moved because Justin's Campground has closed.

Minutes of Meeting

by Glenn Wilkins, Secretary

Macomb Meeting - February 20, 1997

Dave called the meeting to order at 7:43 for 20 members and 2 guests who braved the rainy weather.

The treasurer reported a balance of $3,618.62 as of 2-20-97. Ben also announced that at least 14 overdue members would no longer receive the WASP by mail unless they pay the $5 annual fee shortly. A large iron/sew-on jacket patch sample was circulated for consideration which could be made with the WAS logo costing $8.50 ea. in quantities of 75. The proposed member cost would be $10. Comments to Ben.

Blain announced that the keys for the Stargate gate have not been received yet although they are expected shortly. It is possible, however, to park at the house and walk to the observatory.

A formal invitation has been extended to the local Metropark staff to attend our meeting at Stargate on 4-3.

All members with binoculars and tripods are requested to bring this equipment to the public gatherings at Stargate, Metro Beach and Kensington as the best way to view the comet. Mars will also be in opposition on 3-16 and will make a good telescope object.

At Metro Beach we expect to have beverages, souvenirs and handouts providing details about the comet and the WAS. At Kensington we will not be allowed to handout specific advertising for the WAS; however, generic information will be permissible for the 'Southeastern Michigan Astronomers' as the group is tentatively being called. The Metro Park Authority will make the copies of all handouts. The Kensington gathering will be combined with their annual Spring Festival and the event is expected to draw several thousand visitors if the weather is suitable. The event will be advertised and all parties are very enthusiastic about this joint venture. Elias Brothers will offer food and a table will be provided for each of the participating astronomy clubs. Special trucks will be available to move telescopes and equipment through 2:00 A.M. Volunteer lists were circulated again with a plea for everyone to get involved for these huge and unique opportunities.

Mike O'Dowd exhibited samples of a dramatic proposal for WAS business cards featuring a Hubble deep sky image on the front. The idea was well received and minor suggestions were entertained.

Fred Judd showed off his new ST7 CCD camera and promised to follow up later this year to share the results with us.

After a 40 minute break, Riyad showed slides taken from the beach at Port Crescent during the Persiad Meteor event last summer. It is obviously a very attractive site and Riyad cautioned that summer weekends are always completely booked by Spring.

The meeting adjourned at 9:53 with the usual invitation to socialize at the Coney Island.

Cranbrook Meeting - March 6, 1997

Dave opened the meeting at 7:43 with 31 members and guests in attendance.

The secretary read a letter from the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority that they have gladly accepted our invitation to attend our comet party at Stargate on April 3 (Thursday). John Herrgott noted that it is important that the WAS make an especially good showing at our first outing with them since this alliance has the potential to be very beneficial for our observatory facility. Beverages will be provided and a slide program is being prepared by Blaine and Jeff.

Dave met with Metropolitan Beach representatives on 3-5 and determined that we will set up between the sidewalk and nature center although other alternatives are being considered. Set up on April 4/5 can start at 5:00 and the program will be over at 10:00. Don't forget tripods and binoculars as well as telescopes. We will offer beverages, t-shirts and comet stickers as well as information on the comet and the WAS. Any offers of help through Dave will be warmly received!

The Kensington party hours will be 6 PM to midnight for the general public on April 25/6. Five astronomy societies have committed support and two more are pending. Each society has been asked to prepare a 20 minute presentation. Fred Judd will bring the 22" scope. Off course, volunteers are also needed for this exceptional opportunity for amateur astronomy.

Solar scopes and help are needed for Astronomy Day at Cranbrook on April 12.

Doug Bock announced that plans for the Badaxe star party on May 2/3 are being revised since Justin's Campground has been closed. An attempt is being made to move to Duggan's private Campground near Port Austin. There is a concern about lights at this site.

Hale-Bopp is meeting all expectations so far with reports on the net that the tail is 20 deg. long from dark sites! Four to six degrees of the tail are even visible from most city locations now with improvement from night to night.

Doug Bock was the feature speaker with a fine history of Charles Messier's career, and slides of Messier objects and aurora. The meeting ended at 10:00.

For Sale

Celestron C8, 3 eyepieces, 2 finder scopes, barlow, stand, dew zapper, excellent condition. $900 Detroit area 313 865-2056 or e-mail rradinski@radley.com.



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