The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 29, Number 8, October, 1997


Table of Contents


Observing Jupiter

by Marty Kunz

The planet Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. This fall it is easily visible just after sunset. Look to the southeast as the sky begins to get dark and it will appear as a very bright star. Jupiter is so bright that Cranbrook is getting calls about UFOs.

To be sure you have found Jupiter try using a pair of binoculars. If you hold them very steady you should see up to four of it's sixteen moons. If you have a telescope first look with low power and you will be able to see two dark cloud bands on Jupiter.

Next to the planet, looking like stars, are its moons. The moons will appear in a straight line. Some or all of them will be on either side of the planet. If you find an object well above or below this line it is a star. Sometimes when looking at these moons you may not see all of them because some may be passing in front of or behind Jupiter.

The moons of Jupiter orbit rather quickly around the planet. This makes them an interesting subject for observing because they offer a different view every night. Some nights you will see unusual groupings and if you know when to look you can watch the moons and be able to see them move. The best time to see them move is when they are near the edge of Jupiter or entering or leaving the shadow of Jupiter. For a list of the times of these events, look in Astronomy or Sky and Telescope magazines. If you look at these lists carefully you may notice that more than one event will occur at almost the same time. Below is a list of some multiple events for September and October. Start watching at least ten minutes early so you won't miss it.

Sept 18, 19972:08 amIo will reappear out of the shadow of Jupiter.
2:42 amEuropa will appear traveling across the face of Jupiter.
Oct 17, 199712:23 amGanymede will appear out of the shadow of Jupiter.
12:27 amJust four minutes later, Callisto will follow, appearing out of the shadow of Jupiter.
Oct 19, 199710:29 pmEuropa will leave the face of Jupiter.
10:46 pmIo will appear out of the shadow of Jupiter.
All times are U.S. Eastern Daylight Savings time.


Star Party Report for August, 1997, my little perspective

by Doug Bock

August was a busy month for us. We attended the SMURFS party and the Nebraska Star Party, then a week in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

We headed up to SMURFS on Wednesday the 30th of July and it was clear all that night. Unfortunately we arrived about 11:00pm and I had to set up the camper first, and then the scope went up. By about 1:00am I finally put an eyepiece in the 20" to start observing. After a full day of work and all that traveling, setting up, etc. I was pretty tired. I looked at some of the easy stuff, and then turned in about 2:30.

Thursday it was clear and we walked around and talked to people most of the day, looking at their scopes, and revisiting friends from last years star party. If I recall correctly, it was actually cloudy Thursday night, and Friday was supposed to be more of the same, so we left Friday morning for the Nebraska Star Party. From what I have heard it cleared up late Friday night, about 1:00am Saturday morning. And it stayed clear Saturday night.

I found out later I won CCDSoft from Software Bisque. Now I'll have to get a CCD camera to use it with.

Meanwhile we journeyed through the Upper Peninsula on Friday, and stayed at a motel in Wisconsin. By the time we arrived there, it was clear. We went to bed early because we had a long day ahead of us. Saturday morning we left about 6:30am and drove all the way to Valentine Nebraska. On the way we noticed hundreds of motorcycles heading west with us, and later realized they were heading for Sturgis South Dakota for the annual motorcycle rally. As we got to our exit to head south into Valentine, we noticed a huge storm south of us. While heading south we chased this storm all the way into Valentine. We later found out the park where we were going the next day, had gotten dumped on with 60 mph winds. I was glad we decided to stop. About 10:00pm we arrived at a KOA there, and slept . Of course after the storm rolled through it cleared that night too.

The next morning, we headed to the park about 30 miles away, across more prairie land, which we had been driving through most of the day before. This area is quite hilly, so as you crest a hill, you can see for many miles. There are very few trees in Nebraska, which allows for great views of the surrounding landscape.

After checking in at the parks entrance, we drove another 8 miles to one of the camping sights near the observing field. We found a campsite on the lake about 1/8 of a mile from the primary observing field. There were about 50 people there already, with scopes setup. There were many dobs and SCT's there. We got the camper setup and the kids headed for the beach. Their big discovery were the frogs that were all over the place. The lake is many miles long but rather narrow, and the water was pretty chilly. There were many fisherman out on the lake each day, and one of the star party contests was, who could catch the biggest fish. The winner was a couple of campsites from us, with a 7 lb something or other. I'm not a fisherman.:)

Sunday night was cloudy, but Monday it cleared off, and the sky was great. It was quite humid though, and the dew dropped almost immediately after dark. This ended up being the best night of the week, except for the previous Saturday, which was clear and dry. The dew got to my scope within 2 hours, so I was done for the night, since I don't have any dew fighting equipment for the field.

Tuesday was cloudy. Wednesday and Thursday were clear with haze, and very windy ( 20 - 30 mph). This made for difficult observing, since star hopping requires checking the field on the charts and then going back to the eyepiece. By the time I'd get back to the eyepiece, the wind had moved the scope to another part of the sky. It makes a great weathervane. So, I didn't get any serious observing in.

The star party had a beach party one day, and tubing down a river another day, and on Friday the talks and the prize giveaways. My daughter won a pair of binoculars. And my wife one a very nice astronomy book. I won some software, which runs on a Mac, so I gave it to a Mac user.

At the Beach party, they had many activities for both children and adults. Kite flying, volleyball, tug-of-war, water balloons, cookout, sandwedge shot for the golf fanatics, and the 3-legged race. My wife and I won the 3-legged race for the adult division.

Saturday was cloudy so we headed for the Black Hills in South Dakota. Apparently most people left the star party on Saturday.

One of the pieces of data I overheard, was a list of telescopes was accrued by one of the organizers. I didn't get an exact count, but there was one 36", I think two 26", one 25", three 24", six 20", and many in the 12 to 18 inch range, and a ton of 8 and 10" scopes there.

The star party was fun for the family, but the weather didn't do us any favors for the week. However, I am planning on going back next year, because this location is so far from any major city, that the sky is black all the way around the horizon. The one good night we could see milky way from horizon to horizon. If the moisture had been less, these skies do rival the famed skies of the Texas Star Party, which I went to last year.

I also met a few people from Michigan at NSP. Notably Tim from Traverse City, who will be attending the October star party in Cadillac this fall.

The week in the Black Hills brought 2 nights of clear weather, with a bright moon, but I set up on one night and showed some of the neighboring campers a few things.

In addition, we went horse back riding, swimming, and saw Wind Caves, Rushmore Caves, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument, buffalo, long horned sheep, mountain goats, elk, deer, Needles highway in the mountains, and the Badlands. This part of the trip was the favorite for the family. More to do and see than at the NSP.

All in all it was great fun, and I'll be back.


Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

Compuserve, the popular on-line provider, owned by H&R Block, has been bought by Worldcom, which intends to sell a third of Compuserve to America On Line. AOL gets bigger in this deal, but is still a piker compared to some of the other multimedia services.

What kind of improvements would you like to see made at the club's Stargate Observatory? You have the chance to put your two cents worth of ideas into perspective by mentioning your idea to one of the Metropark-Stargate representatives. That's John Herrgott, Ben Tolbert, Blaine McCullough or myself. Mention your idea at one of the club's meetings, we'll be glad to listen to what you have to say.

The confirmed discovery of a new Quark, an exotic Meson, has been announced by The Brookhaven National Laboratory. The discovery of a new subatomic particle can be likened to the discovery of a new planet or galaxy. It becomes a new object to explore. It also helps us understand the true makeup of our physical universe. Its true, you and I will probably never get to see that new particle but the knowledge gained by studying it will add to our understanding of the mechanics of the universe.

Stargate BBS, the Astronomical League's official bulletin board, has ceased functioning, as announced by John Waggoner in the August '97 issue of The Reflector. In its place will be a new information source, developed by a new organization called The American Association of Amateur Astronomers. It will be a member of the League, organized to operate in conjunction with the Internet. Keep your eyes glued to future issues of The Reflector for more information.

The September computer meeting will be at Gary Gathen's home, on Thursday the 25th, 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.


Minutes of Meetings

by Glenn Wilkins

Cranbrook - Aug 7, 1997 Macomb - Aug 25, 1997
Return to WASP page
Return to WAS Home page
This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on Sept 14, 1997.