The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 30, Number 6, June, 1998

Table of Contents

Focus On: Riyad Matti

by Ceil Brooks

A beginning physics class and a set of binoculars got Riyad interested in astronomy when he was still a boy of 13 in Baghdad, Iraq. Riyad tells that back then it was not possible to buy telescopes; you had to make them. His physics class provided basic directions on building a telescope. Being a very industrious kind of guy, Riyad went to an optometrist and ordered the lenses he needed. Working with these lenses and a cardboard tube used to store fabric bolts, he fashioned his first telescope. Sky-gazing in his back yard was made easier because of a telephone pole located nearby. Riyad frequently could be found resting his scope against the pole while searching for interesting objects. One of the first things Riyad remembers seeing was a lunar eclipse in (about) 1974.

Telescopes may have been hard to find in Baghdad but astronomy clubs were not! Riyad was a member of a club in Baghdad when his family decided to move to the US via Greece in the fall of 1976. After leaving Baghdad and moving to Greece, Riyad met a person who ran a planetarium there. Several visits to the planetarium furthered his interests in astronomy. From Greece, Riyad moved to Madison Heights, Michigan in 1977 where he began his quest for an astronomy club to join. His search took him to a science store, (now out of business), called 'Science and Things'. There, he met and formed a friendship with Steve Franks, the manager of the store's astronomy department and the then 2nd vice-president of the club. Riyad learned about the WAS from Steve. He soon attended his first meeting which was held at Cranbrook and joined the club that very evening. Things moved quickly from there and when Steve left his post in mid-year, Riyad was asked to take his place. He was then elected to the post of 2nd vice-president (Observatory Chairman). He eventually moved on to hold the post of club president for a year. Riyad has contributed a great deal to the club over the years including helping out at the observatory, clean-up days, and also helping to rebuild the 12-1/2-inch at Stargate.

Riyad just married on June 1, 1997. Riyad's wife Reem is learning to appreciate the night sky by observing alongside him. Riyad is working on his degree in mechanical engineering from Wayne State University and hopes to graduate by the year 2000. When asked whether he hoped his ME degree would help him build a better telescope he answered "hopefully!"

Riyad is especially interested in planets, double stars, the moon, the sun, and 'some deep sky objects'. He'd be happy to answer any questions you have about telescope design and observing techniques.

This is the first in a series of interviews of club members by Ceil Brooks. I look forward to reading her enthusiastic writing and hope you cooperate with her when she approaches you for your moment in focus. -ed

Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

If you stayed home and missed the Kensington Metropark Star Party, then you missed quite a show. Not in the sky but in David Levy, the co-discoverer of that famous, Jupiter collision, comet. His talk was inspiring, to say the least. You can see and hear his love for the sky in everything he presented, including his admiration of the late Gene Shoemaker. Best of all, he showed us that being able to contribute to the world of professional astronomy isn't always what you see or measure in the sky, but what you measure in the eyes of a youngster, sharing the wonder of the sky with you. I only had a chance to see his Saturday night presentation, but if Friday night was half as good, I'm sorry I missed it. David Levy, you did a marvelous job on those two cold and dreary nights. My observers hat is off to you.

WINDOWS 98 ARRIVES? If all goes as planned, Microsoft will put WIN 98 on sale in stores across the country on June 25, the day we meet at the Gathen residence for the June computer meeting. Some of us may have already tried WIN 98, the Beta (public testing) version. You can expect improvements in hardware detection (plug and play) and more reliance on the Internet for applications. Previous owners of WIN 95 will get a price break for upgrading. The bill will be around one-hundred dollars. New owners should expect to pay more.

More evidence of other planetary systems made news again. The Scripps-Howard News Service reported that an astronomy team using the Keck II telescope in Hawaii has discovered a star that shows a cleanly swept belt of dust and gas surrounding the star. The cleaned portion of the ring may have been caused by one or more developing planets in orbit around the star. David Koerner, a member of the Keck team, was quoted as saying "perhaps there are lots of places for life to exist."

WINDOWS 98 FLUBS. With Bill Gates standing beside one of his co-workers, on national TV no less, WIN 98 burped while trying to get a scanner program installed or running. The embarrassed Gates quickly blurted "I guess that's why we haven't started shipping yet", in a sheepish voice. The pair quickly moved over to another computer on the table. Bill and colleague were appearing before a government body to try to demonstrate the need for his Internet program that was being sold with the 98 operating system. The government recently ruled that his Internet program was being forced upon computer manufacturers and that it wasn't needed to run WIN 98.

More water has been found in deep space. The Orion nebula seems to contain an enormous amount of water vapor. So much, that astronomers are changing their views about how water comes into existence in the universe. The unlimited amount of hydrogen and oxygen in developing stars could be a great source of water at warmer temperatures. If water is the result of stellar evolution, there could be a tremendous amount existing in space. Such large quantities of water vapor could easily develop into comets when temperatures drop lower, supporting the hypothesis that comets are the source of planetary oceans. Until space probes were used, it was difficult to measure water vapor because the Earth's atmosphere absorbed much of the infra-red radiation used to detect it.

Last year (June 97 WASP) I brought up the idea that Gateway 2000 should change their name because some people would hesitate to purchase a computer from a company with 2000 in their name, in the year 2001. Basically, the company name would be outdated and so would the public's impression of their products. Well, it's come to pass. The number 2000 is being dropped from their name, according to a small item mentioned in the Detroit News.

The Leonids, the meteor shower that's famous for a thirty-three year cycle of fantastic shower displays, could supposedly damage some of our circling satellites. The next huge meteor shower is due this November, or possibly next November, astronomers aren't really sure. The last display of Leonid significance had amateurs reporting thousands of meteors per minute. The display didn't last very long but the brief interlude was spectacular, to say the least. With such a shower possibility, satellites are vulnerable to the fast moving particles, some of which could act like a twenty-two caliber rifle bullet at the speeds those small particles move. Most meteors are tiny things about the size of a dust particle. The larger ones, about the size of a sand grain could be the ones to cause irreparable damage.

Another operating system that will make news is Microsoft's WIN CE system. It's primarily designed to be used in an automobile. Basically, it's a computer that will integrate all your automotive functions like your radio, CD player, cellular phone, engine operating parameters and give you additional luxuries like an address book, global positioning system and driving directions. All these features will be controlled via your voice, so that you can keep your eyes on the road while you're driving. Your Auto PC will also be capable of accepting third party programs via the built in CD player, as well as software upgrades for the CE system. You can even subscribe to a satellite radio program for special information and music. How would you like to be able to hear your favorite radio station while traveling clear across the U.S.A.? No problem. Bill Gates is planning to engulf you with twenty-first century wonders.

The second largest explosion in the history of the universe has been witnessed by astronomers. Something at a distance of twelve billion miles has exploded in a large gamma ray burst. Noone has any idea what's caused it. The Big Bang theory offers no explanation. Actually, it's really the largest explosion ever witnessed. The Big Bang is still an unwitnessed theory.

IN MEMORIUM. Richard Lloyd (1913-1998) passed away on Thursday, May 7th. Those of you who knew him, knew of his devotion to the amateur astronomical community here in the Detroit area and nationally. Richard was one of the movers and shakers of astronomy, especially in the Detroit Astronomical Society. He and many members of the Detroit society helped to start a telescope making group in the Warren society back in the early '60's. In the mid '50's, he played an important role in keeping the League going strong, with his efforts to sponsor a national convention in Detroit. He was a leading character in my introduction to astronomy and I'm sure many others found his enthusiasm for the universe rubbed off on them too.

IN MY OPINION, Brian Marsden did exactly what was expected of him when he reported the possible collision of 1997XF11 with the Earth in 2028. His prediction was based on then known parameters. He even qualified his prediction by saying "the chance of an actual collision is small but one is not entirely out of the question." You and I would take such news just as it was meant to be taken, with guarded reserve. The press, however, blew it all out of proportion. One good thing did come out of the announcement. It woke up the astronomical community to getting off of its duff and doing an update on the orbit of the asteroid ...and pretty darn quick, I might add.

The May computer meeting will be at Gary Gathen's home, on Thursday the 28th. The June meeting on 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.

I'm still looking for someone to take my place as Computer Group chairman. If you're interested, give me a phone call at 810-776-9720.

Minutes of Meetings

by Bob Watt

Macomb, April 16, 1998

Cranbrook, May 7, 1998

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