The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 30, Number 1, January, 1998


Table of Contents


Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

You'll probably get your first chance to read this column at the Annual Awards Banquet. Let me be the first to wish you happy holidays with many more to come. Last year about sixty percent of the membership showed up at the banquet, making it the most popular activity the society shares with its members. This year should be the same, if not more. There's enough activity around here to please everyone. Food, entertainment, awards, door prizes, spirits (both kinds), old friends and a common tie that binds us all, astronomy. Don't forget to buy some raffle tickets. All proceeds go to the society and you may win a valuable astronomical prize. Enjoy!

Keep your eyes open for the Intel's next revolution in graphics cards. It's called AGP, for Accelerated Graphics Port. It incorporates a new bus design that will run at 66 Mhz instead of PCI's 33 Mhz. There is actually four design stages for this graphics bus and card. Each stage will outperform the last, ending with AGP 4x, the fastest. It will operate by sending four 32 bit chunks of data with each 66 Mhz clock cycle, effectively producing a 266 Mhz graphics data bus. Other tricks will be used to send data, so this design offers an explosion in graphics capability. Windows 95 will be required. The new motherboard designs for this graphics ability will have either a special slot for the graphics board or a new port built right into the motherboard.

What's the ultimate sky chart for the serious amateur astronomer? The answer is The RealSky CD. It's the Palomar sky survey, stored on eight CD-ROMS, it covers the northern sky down to -15 degrees declination and down to twentieth magnitude. It isn't a computerized set of star charts but the actual sky survey placed on disk, with real images of all the deep sky objects just as they appeared on the actual survey. Priced at two-hundred and fifty dollars, it seems a minor price to pay for the ultimate starchart. The southern sky survey is also available for the same price.

IBM is making news again with the announcement of its development of a higher density series of disk drives. The drives range from 3.1 gigabytes to 16.8. They're the result of a new head technology based on Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) material. Prices will range from 275 to 895 dollars for the series of drives. Shipping begins in December and the technology will be licensed to other manufacturers.

It seems that the answer has been found to explain the huge difference in temperature between the solar corona and the photosphere. The coronal temperatures can go up to a million degrees while the Sun's surface is only about 6,000 degrees. The huge magnetic fields that well up from the Sun's surface, causing spots, prominences and flares, seem to be the transferring medium for the phenomenon.

Intel found another flaw in its Pentium and Pentium with MMX chips. The flaw could help 'malicious programmers' crash your computer or network server if your equipment used those chips. However, everyday users wouldn't encounter the problem with ordinary home use. Intel expects to come up with a 'fix' for the flaw, very soon.

anet Stevens, the Executive Secretary of The Astronomical League, reports in the November '97 REFLECTOR, that there are 13,808 members in the League, comprised of 216 societies.

This year, the computer group has been able to fatten the club treasury with another donation provided by shareware sales. So far it amounts to $156.00. I'd like to thank Bob Watt and Kim Dyer for their help along those lines.

The club's comet watchers will find this new comet a challenge. It's not expected to get brighter than tenth magnitude. However, if you want to sharpen your observing skills, dim comets are the best targets to practice on. You'll use everything you've learned about using your telescope to find those dim needles in a haystack. This comet will be in Aquila during the months of December and January. Plug the elements on the front cover of this WASP into your favorite star chart program. They're from David and Billie Chandler in Springsville, CA. You can get their web page at http://www.csz.com/dschandler.

The December computer meeting will be two days earlier, on Tuesday, the 23rd, due to Christmas Day on the third Thursday. Call me at the number 810-776-9720, for further information. This will be the last scheduled computer group meeting until a further announcement is made. The next one will probably be in April or May, at the home of Jack Szymanski, so keep your eye peeled on this column every month.


Minutes of Meetings

by Glenn Wilkins

Cranbrook - Nov 21, 1997 Officer's Meeting - Dec 4, 1997
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