The Warren Astronomical Society Paper
Volume 29, Number 7, July, 1997
Table of Contents
by Larry Kalinowski
The latest program added to the WAS's library is MARS EXPLORER. It's a shareware program that uses NASA space probe
maps to help identify many of Mars' features. The program allows you to pick a section of a flat (Mercator) map for
enlargement, then lets you pick a feature with your mouse cursor. The feature's name and coordinates are shown on
the screen. An additional feature shows the globe of Mars as though it were in 3-D stereo. The globe rotates to show
80% of the entire surface of Mars. It's a DOS program that can be run in Windows 3.1 or 95, if it's loaded manually.
Is it raining comets on the Earth? Louis Frank, a University of Iowa physicist, says they're falling to Earth at a
rate of seven to twenty per minute. That's four to twelve hundred an hour. Since they're mainly water ice, they dissipate
into clouds before reaching the Earth's surface as rain. It's created a controversy and it's understandable. Critics say
we should be able to measure the impacts of those small comets hitting the Moon, if they're as plentiful as Frank says
they are. The only evidence is that which has been interpreted by Frank himself. A polar satellite, that Frank helped
design, shows pictures of high altitude, fast moving trails(?), in our upper atmosphere. He believes those trails are
the result of dissipated comets. Internet users can see some of the pictures taken from the polar satellite by going
Has there been a large meteor fall in Australia? Siesmic equipment has measured what was thought to be a weapons test
or a mining blast in May, 1993. Aboriginies digging for gold sighted a brilliant meteor just before the quakes were
measured. It's estimated that a meteor two meters in diameter may have produced the quake, creating a crater the
size of a football field. A search is now under way for that crater in Australia's Outback.
Carl Sagan's novel CONTACT hits the wide screen in mid July. Look for it at many theaters. It's Sagan's and Druyan's
attempt to prepare the world for the Earth's first communication with another planet. The effect of alien communication
on different sections of our society is portrayed quite well in the book. At first, the contact is considered a joke,
originating somewhere on the Earth's surface. Then, further analysis of the signal, reveals much more information. Sounds
like a must see for amateur astronomers bent on science fiction (?)
On July 4, 1997 a probe will land on the surface of Mars. Pathfinder is designed to roam the planet's surface and analyze
minerals and possible evidence for life.
It's a dwarf planet....no, a super asteroid? Whatever it is, it's a new discovery. Jane Luu, an astronomer at the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, says it was discovered last October. It's three hundred miles in diameter and
orbits three times as far from the Sun as Pluto. Designated 1996TL66, the period is about eight hundred years and comes as
close to the Sun as 3.2 billion miles and moves away as far as 14 billion.
If you're not receiving the League's publication called the REFLECTOR and you're a dues paying member of the WAS, contact
Ben Tolbert, our Astronomomical League CORrespondent (ALCOR), at 810-790-2823. The ALCOR's job is to keep our society's
league mailing list up to date. Be sure your name and address is correctly recorded on that list.
May's computer meeting was well attended, with comet photos presented by Tim Skonieczny and slides by Walt Wawrzynski
and Jack Szymanski. The June computer meeting will be at Gary Gathen's home, on Thursday the 26th, as well as the rest
of the fourth Thursday meetings through, and including, October. All new visitors will receive a free Windows planetarium
program. Gary lives in Pleasant Ridge, three blocks south of I-696 and a half block west of Woodward Ave. His number
Minutes of Meetings
by Glenn Wilkins
Cranbrook - May 1, 1997
Cranbrook - June 5, 1997
- Lou Faix opened the meeting at 7:45 for 27 members and 3 guests. Blain reported that Stargate is fully operational and
that there will be an observatory training session in the early evening on 5-17. All officers have keys now. Blain also
reported that the treasury balance had decreased to $3,112 as of 5-1.
- Lou reported that the Kensington Park Authority was very pleased with the Comet Party event and estimated that 5,000
visitors participated. The programs were "on target" for the audiences. Visitors mentioned radio announcements, and a
Channel 50 team showed up briefly before being summoned to a hotter assignment. Lou counted 53 scopes & binoculars on
Saturday. WAS now seems certain to be part of Metro long-term planning.
- Bob Watt noted 2 small sun spots from Kensington.
- Doug Goudie thanked the WAS for Astronomy Day help plus assistance over 17 days with comet viewing. It was estimated
that 4,100 showed up for 12 clear evenings including 900 on one evening. Tim noted that there was a web report that
Hale-Bopp set two records - longest time above 0 magnitude, and longest time as a naked eye comet going back to 1577.
- Jack Shemanski will host the next computer meeting. Maps will be available at the Macomb mtg. for the site near
Mt. Clemens. MSU will have an open house at their observatory on May 16/17. Lou noted a recent discovery which strongly
suggests an anti-matter explosion emanating from the center of The Milky Way. Sky & Tel called attention to radio pollution
which threatens to end earth-based radio astronomy, perhaps in our lifetime.
- Roger Bajorek, representing the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, sent the WAS a nice letter thanking us for our
invitation and efforts relating to the Camp Rotary Comet Party, and asking for inclusion in future events. Doug Goudie
circulated his comet pictures.
- Jerry & Mary Ann served coffee during the break from 8:27 to 9:00. Then Mike O'Doud ran his tape describing the
extraordinary effort made by Canadian amateur astronomers who made a brief but very impressive "motion" picture of Comet
Hyakutaki using time-lapse photography. Their efforts were recognized by the professional community and enjoyed by the
general public as well. The meeting was adjourned at 9:51 with an invitation to Denny's.
- Dave opened the meeting with 30 members and guests in attendance on the night of the 3rd. Stanley Cup game! He read
a letter of appreciation from the Metro Beach Association indicating that approximately 4,500 visitors attended our comet
party despite the poor visibility. The WAS realized a total of $1,300 in profits from sales at both Metro Park events.
A few Hale-Bopp T shirts are still available for $10 each.
- Bob Watt showed us the plaque which was prepared for mounting to our 22" scope. It reads as follows:
The members of
An identical plaque on rosewood will be sent to Frank.
the Warren Astronomical Society
dedicate this telescope to
for his many years of service.
- Scroll -
22 inch f5 Dobsonian
Completed July 1996 by
The WAS Telescope Making Group
- Ben reported a treasury balance of $4,405.72 as of today. Blain indicated that about 7 to 10 members showed up for
the observatory training session. It was complicated somewhat by the large number of interested scouts that are now expected
to be there most weekends. Therefore, further serious use of the observatory should be scheduled for weekdays whenever
possible. Marty Kuntz reported seeing a brief fireball last weekend that was as bright as the full moon but only lived
for a degree or two.
- Coming event summary - Doctor Dave Harrington will talk about the physics of solar eclipses on 6-17. Jeff Bondono
will present an in-depth review of the Hubble Deep Field results on 7-3. The 7-17 meeting is being rescheduled to Stargate,
tentatively on 7-26. The 8-7 meeting is being designated as a family/friends event at no cost. The planetarium and
observatory will be used. Ray Travis will discuss Cepheid variables at the 8-21 meeting. Beta Lyra forms are also
available at all meetings for those wanting to participate in this useful test - an area where amateurs can make an
important contribution. Campsites are still available at Sleeper State Park for the Perseid event.
- Treats were provided by Angie and Mary Ann. Then the feature presentation on light pollution was made by Norbert
Vance of the Eastern Michigan University Astronomical Society.
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