The Warren Astronomical Society Paper
Volume 29, Number 5, May, 1997
Table of Contents
by Larry Kalinowski
Hail Hale-Bopp! If you want to call it the comet of the century, you've got my vote! It couldn't be much better placed in the sky
for the casual observer. Even perihelion was magnificent. It's going to attract a lot of people to amateur astronomy. I have no
doubt that telescope sales will reach a peak because of this comet.
Evidently, Bill Gates and company have realized the importance of capturing that part of the public that still hesitates to get
involved with regular computers. Microsoft has purchased WebTV. The acquisition cost Microsoft 425 million dollars. Success in
this venture depends on the introduction of digital television and how well it's accepted by the public. Even so, Bill and company
are guaranteed some success, as today's TV sets will cease being manufactured by the year 2006.
Europa is making news because of Galileo's latest data acquisition of that moon. Three hundred foot high icebergs are evident in
the photos shown by NASA. Where there's water, there could possibly be life, of some form or another. At some depth below the
surface there may be enough heat to sustain it.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the Heaven's Gate cultists played amateur astronomer with a brand new LX-200 telescope about
two months before heading for la-la land. However, the $3,645 telescope let them down because they could see the comet but not the
space ship that was following it. So, they asked for their money back. Mike Fowler, of Oceanside's Photo And Telescope, reluctantly
cancelled their charge-card order. "They didn't know much about astronomy" Mike said. They went to another astronomy store called
Scope City in San Diego and bought binoculars, telling the clerk that they got a better view, of the comet, using binoculars. It's
amazing how strong a belief system can be, even when the evidence against your beliefs is staring you right in the eyeball.
There's been a slight change in Microsoft's plans for Windows 97. The name's been changed to Windows 98. Why? Because it's been
delayed. That's nothing new for them, they have a habit of delaying software introductions. It actually helps raise the public's
anticipation for the software.
The scheduled meeting, at Stargate observatory, with Metro-park personnel proved to be quite a gathering. The skies cleared for
the fourth straight day in a row, revealing a marvelous panorama of celestial wonders, for about forty members and visitors. Comet
watching was at the top of everyone's list. A lot of photos were taken and the twenty-two inch Dobsonian made eyes pop. If you haven't
gazed through the eyepiece of that 'scope yet, be prepared to get your socks knocked off.
I've been collecting Hale-Bopp photos off the Internet and have put 28 images on a floppy disk for sale to anyone that's interested.
These images aren't listed in the clubs shareware list. See me if you'd like a copy. They're one dollar per disk to club members.
It looks as though America On Line (AOL) is making an attempt to purchase Compuserve....rumors are flying. H & R Block owns
Compuserve, but has only one third the customers. AOL desperately needs more equipment to service its six million members.
Just what will happen to Compuserve members after such a purchase has yet to be determined.
Congratulations to Jack Horkhiemer (The Star Hustler). He just produced his 1,000th program. Jack's show can be seen for five
minutes on PBS, where his unscheduled, astronomical, wit has charmed all viewers with an interest in the sky.
The April computer meeting (may be changed to Jack Szymanski's home on short notice) will be at my home in Roseville, on Thursday
the 24th and the May meeting on Thursday the 22nd. 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.
An Open Letter from Alan Hale
by Alan Hale, dated March 21, 1997
submitted to the WASP by Joe Van Poucker
I am Alan Hale, the co-discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp which, as I'm sure you're aware, is getting a tremendous amount of media attention
at this time. Like I'm sure is true for many of you, I was inspired by the scientific discoveries and events taking place during my
childhood to pursue a career in science only to find, after completing the rigors of undergraduate and graduate school, that the
opportunities for us to have a career in science are limited at best and are which I usually describe as "abysmal." Based upon my
own experiences, and those of you with whom I have discussed this issue, my personal feeling is that, unless there are some pretty
drastic changes in the way that our society approaches science and treats those of us who have devoted our lives to making some of
our own contributions, there is no way that I can, with a clear conscience, encourage present-day students to pursue a career in
science. It really pains me a great deal to say something like that, but I feel so strongly about this that I have publicly made
this statement at almost every opportunity I have been given.
I am trying to use the media attention that is currently being focused upon me to raise awareness of this state of affairs, and
perhaps start to effect those changes that will allow me to convey a more positive message to the next generation. So far, I'm
sensing a certain reluctance among the media to discuss this issue, as they seem far more interested in items which I consider
to be irrelevant and unimportant. But I intend to keep hammering away at this, and I'd like to believe that eventually some are
going to sit up and take notice. I am also attempting to schedule meetings with some of our government leaders, to see if I can
at least get some acknowledgement from Washington that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with.
My reason for writing to you is to ask your help. I know that I'm not alone in being frustrated about the current prospects for
pursuing any kind of decent career within science, and I'm quite sure that many of you have "horror stories" about your searches
for decent employment that are quite similar to my own. I'd like to hear them. I'd especially like to hear from those of you who
are on your second or third or fourth post-doc, or who have left the field as a result of the employment situation, or who have
experienced severe personal difficulties (e.g., break-up of a marriage, etc.). I realize that some of these might be painful to
discuss, but I'd like to show that we are not a bunch of impersonal statistics, but that we're human beings trying to make an
honest living and perhaps make a contribution or two to society while we're at it. Speaking of statistics, though, if you received
any information about the numbers of applicants to some of the positions you applied to -- which was often a 3-digit number in my
case -- I'd like to hear that, too.
Please e-mail your stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, with a subject line of "horror stories" or something like that. Please let me
know if you would prefer to remain anonymous when I share these stories with the press and the government. Also, please pass this
message on to any of your friends and colleagues who might be interested in sharing their stories with me, and keep in mind that
I would like to receive stories from as many scientific disciplines as possible. (Because of the amount of e-mail traffic I'm
receiving these days, along with everything else that's going on, I probably won't be able to acknowledge each message individually.)
Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you. Perhaps, with the opportunity we have before us right now, we have the
chance to make a difference.
14th Annual Summer Solstice Star Party
See the official page at Doug's site
Where: Northern Cross Observatories
When: June 6-8, 1997
Cost: $3.00 per person or $5.00 per family
Camping is allowed, but you must pack in/out everything. There are Motels nearby (5 miles) that you can make reservations at.
NCO is located near Fenton, MI. We will also have speakers on Saturday afternoon. There is a call for papers for those who wish
to participate. Please send an abstract to the addresses below by May 1, 1997.
- Enter at your own risk
- No Alcohol
- No Pets
- Bring your own food, we only provide the barbeque grill
Activities that are planned as of now
- Observing Friday and Saturday Night
- Volleyball Saturday afternoon.
- Talk on the building of the roll-off observatory
- Comet Hale-Bopp roundup. Bring your pictures and slides of the comet and any events you participated in related to the comet.
We will have a slide projector setup. So show your stuff.
- Childrens Observing program
- Adult Observing Program
- Solar Observing
Masterpieces Messier Missed
by Jeff Bondono
NGC 4216 at 12h16m +13d09m
NGC 4216 is catalogued as a 10th magnitude 8'x2' Sb spiral galaxy. I first saw it with my 8" Newtonian from near Selfridge Air
Force Base during May of 1986. I apparently didn't see much because I only noted that it was a small round glow.
An attempt from my Utica backyard in June of 1986 was unsuccessful, but March of 1987 from that same site showed me a 5'x2'
sliver of light with a bright nucleus.
Much darker skies at my Imlay City observing site during May of 1990 showed me what I called a first-class galaxy. With direct
vision, the galaxy again appeared as a 5'x2' glow with a bright nucleus. Averted vision added fainter outskirts and I could
imagine this galaxy as a textbook nearly-edge-on spiral.
An April 1992 observation at the same site with the same scope added only that the core was 1.5'x1'.
During 1993-4 I built my 14.5" dobsonian scope, and my first observation of NGC 4216 with that scope came again at Imlay City,
during March of 1995. The extra aperture expanded NGC 4216 into an 8'x2' spindle running about north-south with a very bright
nonstellar core offset toward the northwest from center. The galaxy's halo did not grow wider around the nucleus; instead the
halo appeared to be a flat brushstroke of pale light in the sky with nearly-parallel edges, with the core superimposed. The halo
seemed more sharply cutoff on the eastern edge than on the western edge. There appeared to be an extremely faint glow just east
of the sharply-cutoff eastern edge, and I thought I might have seen a dust lane with glow beyond, but I noted this observation
as very unsure. Later I read other people's observing notes and found this to be a real feature. This lane shows very well in
the picture on page 92 of April 1996's Sky and Telescope and here. I noted no superimposed stars or stars very close to galaxy, so I
apparently didn't see the star just off the eastern edge of the galaxy. This seems odd.
Observations during 1995 and 1996 added that the core of the galaxy is elongated in the same position angle as the main body,
that within that core a very slightly brighter stellar occasionally shows during moments of the steadiest seeing, and that the
faint glow of the halo appears on both the eastern and the western sides of the core, so the galaxy can't be truly edge-on.
On the Lighter Side
submitted by Al Vandermarliere
The beguiling ideas about science quoted here were gleaned from essays, exams, and class room discussions. Most were from 5th
and 6th graders. They illustrate Mark Twain's contention that the 'most interesting information comes from children, for they
tell all they know and then stop.'
Question: What is one horsepower? Answer: One horsepower is the amount of energy it takes to drag a horse 500 feet in one second.
You can listen to thunder after lightning and tell how close you came to getting hit. If you don't hear it you got hit, so never mind.
Talc is found on rocks and on babies.
- The law of gravity says no fair jumping up without coming back down.
- When they broke open molecules, they found they were only stuffed with atoms. But when they broke open atoms, they found them stuffed with explosions.
- When people run around and around in circles we say they are crazy. When planets do it we say they are orbiting.
- Rainbows are just to look at, not to really understand.
- While the earth seems to be knowingly keeping its distance from the sun, it is really only centrificating.
- Someday we may discover how to make magnets that can point in any direction.
- South America has cold summers and hot winters, but somehow they still manage.
- Most books now say our sun is a star. But it still knows how to change back into a sun in the daytime.
- Water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. There are 180 degrees between freezing and boiling because there are 180 degrees between north and south.
- A vibration is a motion that cannot make up its mind which way it wants to go.
- There are 26 vitamins in all, but some of the letters are yet to be discovered. Finding them all means living forever.
- There is a tremendous weight pushing down on the center of the Earth because of so much population stomping around up there these days.
- Lime is a green-tasting rock.
- Many dead animals in the past changed to fossils while others preferred to be oil.
- Genetics explain why you look like your father and if you don't why you should.
- Vacuums are nothings. We only mention them to let them know we know they're there.
- Some oxygen molecules help fires burn while others help make water, so sometimes it's brother against brother.
- Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun. But I have never been able to make out the numbers.
- We say the cause of perfume disappearing is evaporation. Evaporation gets blamed for a lot of things people forget to put the top on.
- To most people solutions mean finding the answers. But to chemists solutions are things that are still all mixed up.
- In looking at a drop of water under a microscope, we find there are twice as many H's as O's.
- Clouds are high flying fogs.
- I am not sure how clouds get formed. But the clouds know how to do it, and that is the important thing.
- Clouds just keep circling the earth around and around. And around. There is not much else to do.
- Water vapor gets together in a cloud. When it is big enough to be called a drop, it does.
- Humidity is the experience of looking for air and finding water.
- We keep track of the humidity in the air so we won't drown when we breathe.
- Rain is often known as soft water, oppositely known as hail.
- Rain is saved up in cloud banks.
- In some rocks you can find the fossil footprints of fishes.
- Cyanide is so poisonous that one drop of it on a dogs tongue will kill the strongest man.
- A blizzard is when it snows sideways.
- A hurricane is a breeze of a bigly size.
- A monsoon is a French gentleman.
- Thunder is a rich source of loudness.
- Isotherms and isobars are even more important than their names sound.
- It is so hot in some places that the people there have to live in other places.
- The wind is like the air, only pushier.
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.
Celestron, Celestar 8
Complete, including 25mm eye piece, boxes, manuals, hard case. Like new, 1 year old. Excellent condition.
Contact Mike Affeldt
313-891-5229, after 5 p.m.
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This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on
April 15, 1997.