The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 29, Number 7, July, 1997

Table of Contents

Computer Chatter

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 to WWW.NSF.GOV.

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, 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 is 810-543-3366.

Minutes of Meetings

by Glenn Wilkins

Cranbrook - May 1, 1997 Cranbrook - June 5, 1997
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