The Warren Astronomical Society Paper
Volume 29, Number 8, August, 1997
Table of Contents
14th Annual Summer Solstice Star Party - 1997
by Doug Bock
The first indicator that the star party was going to happen soon, came when Richard Brenz
from Cadillac, dropped off his equipment here, on Thursday night.
Friday brought mostly clear weather. I took the day off to finish up the preparations for
the weekend. I spent a couple of hours on the lawnmower cutting the grass over the observing
field. Next was trimming all the weeds around the house and the observatory. Especially the
10 foot dome, we were to work on over the weekend.
Friday evening brought partly cloudy skies, and some of the campsites were taken by those
who would spend the weekend. About a dozen scopes were setup by dusk, and we waited for
the sky to improve. Just patches of sky from time to time opened up, but we managed to
observe a few things. I packed it in about 3:30am Saturday.
Saturday morning brought crystal clear blue sky and dry conditions. It was gorgeous.
Blaine fired up the grill and made pancakes, and sausage for breakfast. Everyone chowed
down by 11:30am.
Now it was time to start one of several optional projects. The group decided to work on
observatory #2. It needed the flooring and joists to be pulled out and replaced. Ripping
the old foundation out, was pretty easy, since it was quite rotten. Once that was done,
we measured out what wood we needed. I then went down to the lumberyard and picked it up.
I bought all treated wood, including the plywood for the floor. We measured the wood, cut
it and put the floor framework together. Next we moved it to the 6 supporting posts from
the original building, and set it there. Now we cut the plywood out to fit the Hexagon
shape of the building. The flooring went down without a hitch. All this got done in about
3 hours. That included getting the wood from the lumberyard. The next item on the agenda
was to replace the 10 foot diameter ring on the bottom of the walls. This had rotted out
also. We drew the arcs on the plywood and started with the saber saw. The plywood is
3/4 inch treated, so it was difficult to cut. We ended up burning out the motor on the
saw. We only got one of the 4 pieces necessary to complete the ring. So this project
came to an abrupt halt. We packed all the tools away, and cleaned up the area. This
project will be continued at a later date, once I get some better tools. Stay tuned.
By the way, we videotaped this fire drill.
By now it was time for dinner, so we fired up the grills. Many more people arrived over
the next several hours. About 25 to 30 scopes were up on the observing field. The 20"
was setup for all to use, along with the 12.5". We put the 27" TV in the garage that
evening so people could watch the RedWings win game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
The sky conditions were great all day long. Come dusk, a cloud bank rolled in for about
an hour, then cleared away, leaving a high, choppy haze. We seem to have a ribbon of clear
overhead for the first half of the night, and finally it cleared all around, the rest of
the night. Still somewhat bright, as the moisture in the atmosphere, was significant.
We had an observing contest, of which Marty Kunz won. He was the only one who turned in
the list. Marty, you will get your prize the next time I see you. Observing went on all
night, with some leaving at dawn. In the morning we had a handful of people left, which
Blaine made breakfast for.
I would like to thank everyone who came out to the star party last weekend. I think I've
finally recovered. It was great fun, and we actually accomplished some things.
I especially would like to thank all of you who helped out with rebuilding the foundation
for the 10 foot dome. That was a real treat to get that done. After sitting there for 3
years rotting away, we can now put this observatory back into service. I hope someone
would like to use it. But if not, we will put the 8" f/6 in there.
The next project will be putting up a building for the 20".
We had 44 registrations, with a total of about 50 people. The participant who came the
farthest was from Northwest of Chicago. (More details about participants can be found
in Doug's original article.)
The next event schedule for NCO is September 27th, here, then Oct 3-5 at the Northern
Wilderness location west of Cadillac.
by Larry Kalinowski
Just saw Carl Sagan's and Ann Druyan's two and a half hour movie CONTACT. It's a must
see movie for amateur astronomers. It really captures the essence of the astronomer's
drive to understand the universe. There's some very good graphics in the scenes at Cape
Kennedy, where there's an attempt to test a new space vehicle. Jodie Foster plays the
astronomer who has to fight politics and prejudice. She's a radio astronomer in the SETI
program, looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life. The developing understanding of
a signal from a planet around Vega will keep you spellbound. Four stars for this one.
Bring your wife or girlfriend to see it. You'll be glad you did.
Intel made a startling announcement about the Pentium chip. It claims it will lower Pentium
prices as much as 60% during the month of July. That can only mean that production of their
new chip, the Pentium II, will be going full bore by then. The Pentium II is capable of 233
and 300 Mhz.
The plaques that will be presented to Frank McCullough and mounted on the 22 inch Dobsonian
telescope are now ready. Bob Watt showed the June Cranbrook group the completed plaques.
It's a fitting award for a job well done. Since Frank won't be around for a formal presentation,
his plaque will be mailed to him. On Saturday, June 14, Bob Watt mounted the McCullough plaque
on the 22 inch telescope base. Five programs were placed on the 386 computer out at Stargate.
They are SKYGLOBE, MESSIER, JUPITER, SATURN and MOON. The Jupiter and Saturn programs are
satellite programs that help locate the positions of those planets satellites. Skyglobe is a
planetarium program with a search capability for finding many deep sky objects. Messier and
Moon are programs to help locate the Messier objects and lunar craters. Once the computer
warms up and the C: drive symbol appears, all you have to do is type one of the names mentioned
above and press the enter key to start the programs. The program will start automatically. At
the present time the computer is being stored in the cabinet near the west door, so it must be
removed and assembled on the table near the east door before it can be used. The connectors on
the back of the computer are clearly marked, so there should be no problem determining which
cables go where. Windows 3.1 will be installed at a later date. A 12 foot extension cord
(supplied) is required to plug the computer into the outside, south, wall socket.
Like to play games on your company's computer? That may not happen much longer. Software
designed to detect who is playing on the system is in the making. It'll tell your boss who's
playing and for how long. There's also going to be a built in software scratcher. It'll take
about twenty seconds to detect your game software, then poof, it goes to la-la land.
I saw my first DVD (digital video disk) drive at the last Gibraltar Trade Center computer show.
It was about as big as a CD-ROM drive, but the price was a little bit higher ($329.95). In case
you haven't been keeping up, the DVD drive uses the new 6 gigabyte CD video disks, as well as
the old style CD music and computer ROMS. They're going to replace the present CD-ROM drives
and revolutionize the audio and video world.
On Saturday, July 26th, the society will have its Summer outing at Stargate Observatory, now
officially located within the bounds of Walcott Mill Metropark. Festivities begin about 2:00
pm. There will be a picnic (bring a plate of food to pass), observatory training on the new
computer outfitted telescope and of course, a star party, featuring our new 22 in. Dobsonian.
Rocket launchings are planned. Swap tables of astronomical and computer goodies are planned,
as well as other festivities, for the afternoon. Hot dogs and coffee will be available from
the society, for all that attend.
Morning viewers can catch an occultation of the star Aldebaran by the Moon, on July 29th (Tuesday).
The disappearance will occur about 5:32 AM EDT, on the bright limb. Reappearance takes place in
daylight about 6:26 AM, on the dark limb, during sunrise. Reappearance is easier to see because
of less brilliance by the Moon's limb. Allow about plus or minus ten minutes for unexpected errors
Wasps are no longer a problem at Stargate observatory. The nests were removed with the help of the
park ranger, Glen Wilkins and myself. It was a battle royal but we won (for now). There was only
one casualty. Glen got the Purple Heart for his bravery facing the enemy the week before. If you
ask him, he may even show you his wound.
Computer shows for July are in Livonia, on Saturday, the 19th, at The Livonia Elks Hall, 3117
Plymouth Rd., one block east of Merriman and one mile south of I-96. Also in Madison Heights,
on Sunday, the 20th, at The UF and CW Hall, 876 Horace Brown Dr., one block east of I-75 and
one block south of 13 Mile Rd. A five dollar entrance fee is required for regular adults. One
dollar less for seniors.
By the way, July 20th marks the 28th anniversary of mankind's first walk on the Moon.
The July computer meeting will be at Gary Gathen's home, on Thursday the 24th, 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, at 21 Elm Park,
three blocks south of I-696 and a half block west of Woodward Ave. His number is 810-543-3366.
An Evening of Globulars and Galaxies
by Jeff Bondono
I enjoyed a nice clear night Monday, June 10 and did some deep-sky observing with my 14.5" dob
from my site just north of Imlay City, Michigan. I rated the sky 7/10 in both seeing and
As darkness fell, I observed the globular M53. It was pretty compressed, with a 2' diameter
glow and stars resolved easily at x262 from the center out to a diameter of 4'.
From there I moved just one degree to NGC 5053, another globular. It was easy to find off a
few nearby stars, but difficult to see. At x131, it appeared as an extremely faint barely-detectable
10' glow. About 30 extremely faint stars peppered the glow, the brightest of which is 14th magnitude
or maybe a bit fainter. The cluster was quite loose, not compressed at all. x239 showed about 30
resolved stars with slight central compression. At that power, the glow all but disappears, only
appearing in the central 1' or so. At x53, the glow is not quite as difficult, and lies a bit north
of the line connecting a 9th magnitude star and an 11th magnitude star which nearly precede and
follow the globular.
Next up was the galaxy NGC 5016. Again some nearby stars made it easy to find. It appeared as
a faint round 1.5' glow, brighter in the middle to a small core, with a stellar nucleus which was
barely brighter than the core.
Just 30' south from NGC 5016 was another faint galaxy, NGC 5012. This moderately edge-on galaxy
was pretty faint, and about 2'x0.75' in pa 165. It grew slightly brighter toward the middle to
a core with a stellar nucleus. The surface appeared slightly mottled, but I couldn't make out any
definite arms or dust lanes. There was a pretty persistent superimposed 13th magnitude star within
the glow nearly at the PA 345 edge. The galaxy appeared to be inclined about 45 degrees to the
line of sight.
I found NGC 5116 very difficult to find. Once I succeeded, the x131 view showed a very faint,
very small 1.5'x0.3' edge-on in pa 45. No details appeared to me; no brighter core, no stellar
nucleus; just a brushstroke. I tried higher powers, but it didn't improve the view and the galaxy
became more difficult to observe. An arc of 3 10th to 11th magnitude stars guarded the galaxy on
its preceding and north side.
Next was a quick peek at M51. The galaxy was quite detailed and beautiful, but I didn't want to
spend an hour on it so I moved on to the galaxy I was really after: NGC 5198. Located just 30'
south, I saw it as a pretty faint 1.5' round glow which became much brighter in the middle to a
0.5' core, then a stellar nucleus. The core was quite sharply defined in this galaxy, rather than
the gradual brightening which is evident in most galaxies.
My next target was NGC 5297. At x262, a bit faint but large, highly-inclined galaxy, 5'x1' in pa 150,
just slightly brighter in the middle to a core, with a stellar nucleus. The core and nucleus are just
a bit offset toward the preceding from the centroid of the glow. The preceding edge is more sharply
cutoff than the following edge, and the entire disk is slightly mottled. A 14th magnitude star is
superimposed just inside the edge of the glow at pa 150. A 10th magnitude star lies just beyond the
edge in pa 330, and there's a 9th magnitude star 3' away in position angle 60. As I repeatedly
recentered the galaxy, I often suspected an extremely faint very small glow just 1 or 2 arcminutes
preceding this galaxy, and that might have been its companion NGC 5296, but this is a very uncertain
While I was looking at Uranometria chart 76, I noticed a tight group of galaxies near the lower-left
corner and decided to hop over there. Boy am I glad I did. As it turns out, I've observed this
group before, but haven't really appreciated it as I did on this night. The NGC 5350/3/4/5 group
is an easy, excellent, attractive, fairly tight group of bright galaxies. They are all located within
a 10' circle, and easily fit in a moderately high power eyepiece. Two of the galaxies (NGC 5353/4)
are touching, and form one corner of an equilateral triangle completed by the remaining two galaxies.
NGC 5350 is the largest and 3rd brightest in the group. It stands at the north-preceding corner of
the triangle, and is almost round, 2' in diameter, oriented in pa 105, somewhat mottled, and very
slightly and gradually brighter in the middle. NGC 5353 is the south-more of the 5353/4 pair which
forms the south-preceding corner the triangle. The two galaxies are angled such that they're leaning
toward each other. NGC 5353 is about 2'x1' in pa 150, much brighter in the middle to an elongated
core with a stellar nucleus. NGC 5354 is about 1.5'x1.3' in pa 75, much brighter in the middle to
a round core with a stellar nucleus. The following corner of the triangle is anchored by NGC 5355,
which is the faintest and smallest of the 4. It appeared as a 1' round pretty-faint glow, brighter
in the middle to a core, but without a stellar nucleus. This group is one which should not be missed.
Heck, if you can just pick a great group of 4 from a glance at a chart, why not continue that way?
A short sweep over to the spot marked NGC 5371 showed a beautiful face-on spiral, about 4' in
diameter, almost round but slightly elongated north-south. It was pretty faint, but suddenly
brighter in the middle to a small core with a stellar nucleus. A 14th magnitude star was
superimposed 1.5' in pa 105 from the nucleus. The galaxy had a smooth disk and I couldn't make
out arms or dark lanes, but the small core and large round halo made this a dead giveaway for
a spiral, and I was convinced they must be there. Gotta get more aperture one of these years
and come back to this one.
Pushing my luck further, I went over to NGC 5311/3. These two were a lot less spectacular.
NGC 5313 was the brighter of the two, being a fairly bright glow elongated 3'x1.5' in pa 45,
gradually brighter in the middle to a pretty bright stellar nucleus which was a bit offset toward
pa 315 of the centroid glow. I didn't see any superimposed **. NGC 5311 was smaller and had a
fainter halo, appearing as a 1.5'x1' glow in pa 120, brighter in the middle to a stellar nucleus
which outshone the nucleus of NGC 5313.
NGC 5326 was next. At x262, it was a fairly bright 1'x0.5' glow in pa 135, brighter in the middle
to a stellar nucleus. No core was seen, just an 11th magnitude nucleus. No superimposed stars were
seen. After observing this for a while, I noticed that it is surrounded by a very faint 2' round
glow, suggesting that the glow I originally saw might be the bar in a face-on barred spiral. (After
reviewing this observation with picture, I think fatigue must have been setting in).
Nearby NGC 5337 appeared as a very soft, pretty faint 1.5' round glow with a very faint stellar
nucleus superimposed. NGC 5346 was not seen, marking my first complete failure of the night.
I wrapped up the night with M7 and M6, then packed up for the too-long too-late drive home.
14 Globulars in a 15 degree Circle
by Jeff Bondono
June 28, 1997. Something is amiss in Michigan. We've had 3 clear nights in a row, and the third
fell on a Friday night with moonrise holding off till 2 am. I went to my usual spot at Imlay City,
Michigan, with my 14.5" dob newtonian. I rated the night 7/10 for transparancy, and 5/10 for seeing.
The first object on my observing list was NGC 6293, a globular cluster in the corner of Ophiuchus
that cuts between Scorpius and Sagittarius. I noticed that there were a whole flock of globulars
nearby; in fact Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000 shows 15 within a 15 degree circle. I ended up spending
most of my time on those globulars, seeing 13 of them, failing to see 1, and forgetting to try 1.
NGC 6293 appeared as a 2' glow at x262, suddenly concentrated to a bright core, but not very well
resolved at all. About 10-15 outliner stars were resolved, the brightest of which was on the
preceeding edge. In general, the stars resolved on the preceeding side seemed a bit brighter than
those on the following side. A slightly brighter star was 2' north-following the center; I don't
know whether that one's member.
M19 was a bright and pretty well resolved 4'x3' glow, elongated north-south. About 20 stars resolved
over the glow, with very few stars outside the glow. It wasn't especially concentrated, just very
gradually brighter in the middle, without a sharp central peak. 2 11th magnitude were on the n edge.
NGC 6284 showed a 1.5' soft outer glow suddenly brighter in the middle to a 0.5' peak. A few stars
were resolved at x262 with averted vision on the outskirts of the glow. The smooth outer glow and
bright spike in the center made it look like a face-on spiral galaxy to me.
NGC 6287 was a very faint extremely soft 1.5' round glow, very slightly brighter in the middle, with
no resolution at x262.
NGC 6325 was not found.
NGC 6355 was an extremely faint averted-vision-only 1.5 round glow, very slightly very gradually
brighter in the middle. No stars were resolved at x68 or x262.
NGC 6316 was similar in appearance, but a bit brighter. I noted it as a faint pretty small 1' round
glow, very gradually very slightly brighter in the middle. No stars were resolved. A 12th magnitude
star was 1.5' south-following. 13th and 12th magnitude stars were 1' and 2' preceeding, respectively.
NGC 6304 appeared as a 1.5' round glow, gradually very slightly brighter in the middle, and also
not resolved at x262.
M62 was the largest and brightest globular in the area. This 3' glow was slightly elongated
south-preceeding to north-following, and was gradually brighter in the middle until a suddenly
much brighter 0.5' core was reached. The south-following edge of the globular appeared to be
cutoff before extending out as far as it "should" have, as if it was blocked by an intervening
dust cloud. The cluster was very well resolved, and many 13th magnitude stars were just outside
the preceeding and north-preceeding edges of the glow.
NGC 6401 looked like a slightly fuzzy star at x68. At x262 it was a very soft very faint 0.75'
round glow with a sharply-spiked bright nucleus or superimposed 12th magnitude star which was a
bit offset toward the south-following. It gave me the impression of an elliptical galaxy with
a brighter nucleus.
NGC 6440 was a 1' soft glow without resolution at x262. It was slightly and gradually brighter
in the middle, located in a north-south chain of 11th magnitude stars.
Just 20' north from NGC 6440 was the planetary nebula NGC 6445. This bright 1'x0.75 glow in pa
165 degrees was easily seen at x68 and x262 both with and without the UHC filter. I've noted the
unusual shape of this planetary in the past as lockwasher-shaped (I think Tom Polakis suggested
that description), but tonight I saw it as more apple-core shaped, like a small-scope view of M27.
Its considerably brighter on the northern edge. Don't let the listed magnitude (13.2) of this
planetary fool you. It is much easier than that suggests.
NGC 6342 showed a 1.5'x1' glow in pa 30 degrees, gradually brighter in the middle, but without
any resolution at x262. A 12th magnitude star was 1.5' away, in pa 210 degrees.
M9 was a bright, well-resolved 3' round glow with about 30 stars resolved. Stars extended further
out of the glow toward the preceeding than the following.
NGC 6356 was a bright but very soft 2.5' round glow, gradually brighter in the middle, slightly
mottled but without resolution.
The globular I forgot to observe was NGC 6235. A May of 1990 observation of that one showed a
very faint 2' glow (in an 8" scope) with about 5 stars of resolution that came and went with
The farmer on who's land I observe from has put up an extremely obnoxious light on "my" side
of the barn. Its about a half-mile away from where I setup, but nothing but a flat cornfield
lies between me and the light. I've been observing from here since May of 1990, with over 100
pleasant observing sessions next to the cows, the corn, or the snow. Ironically, that
observation of NGC 6235 took place on my first night from this site; one of the 40 objects I
observed that night, 18 of which were first-timers. Turns out that 4 of the globulars I observed
tonight were also seen for the first time that night. Most of my Herschel 400 objects were observed
during the first few years I came here. Looks like now the site has run its course, though, and
I'll knock on a new farmer's door next time I go observing.
Minutes of Meetings
by Glenn Wilkins
Cranbrook - July 3, 1997
Officer's Meeting - July 7, 1997
- Dave opened the meeting to 21 members and guests at 7:44. Due to ongoing interest in astronomy events like the Comet Party, Kensington officials have agreed to meet with Dave, and Bob McFarland of the Ford Astronomy Club, to discuss possible future activities. Ford is especially interested in investigating Kensington as a possible regular viewing site for their club which is presently meeting at nearby Island Lake.
- A committee was established to negotiate the future of Stargate with Metro Park representatives. It will be led by John Herrgott and will pursue the following immediate objectives:
Establish our objectives
- Determine what Metro wants from the WAS
- Merge our goals with a plan
- Determine what structural improvements/new facilities are feasible
- Determine costs & timing
- Immediate support for this team was offered by Larry Kalinowski, Ben Tolbert, Bob Watt & Blaine McCullough. Anyone else who is interested should contact John.
- Glenn noted that wasps have been building nests at Stargate. Six nests were removed from the inside and outside of the building but observatory users should be alert to the possibility of new nests. Glenn can attest to the fact that they don't like the noises made by opening the dome!
- Lou reported that the family night theme at the Cranbrook Planetarium on 8-7 will be Stars & Mars. There will be a gravity funnel demonstration as well as hands-on activities in the Physics Lab. Groups will be taken through the observatory 12 at a time. Comet making is also being considered. A total of 4 or 5 volunteers are needed. The entire museum will NOT be open for this free event.
- Dave noted that the cabin, which we usually rent for our picnic (7-26), was condemned! Other accommodations are being investigated. A swap table will be set up and a resolution contest will be conducted for home-made scopes of various apertures. Please do not bring beverages in glass containers, but do bring a dish to pass. WAS will supply the buns. Blaine will offer observatory training.
- Ben reported a balance of $4,771.74 in our treasury as of 7-3.
- A board meeting is scheduled at Blaine's for 7-7.
- A 28 minute break commenced at 8:26 and then Jeff Bondono gave us a fine presentation of the famous Hubble long-exposure deep sky photograph with an analysis. The meeting adjourned at 10:17.
- All of the society officers were present plus John Herrgott. It was announced that Frank McCullough was very happy to receive our telescope dedication plaque and has since had it mounted on his bedroom wall.
- PICNIC - July 26: Dave will extend an invitation to Bob Haward and his Metro-Park staff to join us.
- FAMILY NIGHT - August 7: Dave will provide beverages for the guests at WAS expense. Doug Goudie will be asked to provide "background" slides. Volunteers include John Herrgott, Blaine McCullough, Jeff Bass & Doug Goudie.
- CHRISTMAS BANQUET - December 18: It was decided to schedule this event (Blaine) at the same location, without assigned seats. Soft background music will be used to allow conversation. The presentation last year by a WAS member(s) was considered successful and we are now accepting suggestions for this year. However, if a popular outside speaker becomes available, we will certainly consider recruiting him/her. The secretary will send out "beg" letters for raffle items about 10-1.
- STARGATE COMMITTEE: The Metro Park management has shown a keen interest in considering any proposals by the WAS for improved facilities and/or observatory or observing sites. The committee will inspect the Camp Rotary/Walcott Mills grounds and have a meeting during the picnic. The proposal(s) must be in a "professional" format. Anyone with architectural ability or connections, and a willingness to get involved, should contact John Herrgott. Contribution of small articles for the quarterly Metro Park publication would be appreciated and help establish us as partners in their organization. Can you help?
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