The Warren Astronomical Society Paper
Volume 30, Number 10October, 1998

icon The India Connection
by Randy Rubis

I was contemplating a fall project when I came up with the idea of a "remote controlled" telescope. I own a 10" LX200 so a remote scope should be easy. I began researching control software and live video conferencing [continued]

focus on

Randy Rubis
by Ceil Bondono

Randy has his fourth grade science teacher to thank for fostering his interest in science. "Let's see now... it was Sister ???" Anyway, she was a teacher at St. Raymond's Catholic School in Detroit. She frequently [continued]

icon A Letter from the President
by Dave D'onofrio

On August 2, 1998 I had a meeting at Kensington Park with the representatives from neighboring Astronomy Clubs here in lower Michigan who's collective name is called the GLAAC (Great Lakes Amateur Astronomy Clubs). The purpose [continued]

icon Minutes of Meetings
by Bob Watt

astro chatter Astro Chatter
by Larry Kalinowski

Now that MIR has reached the end of its usefulness, the inevitable must occur. Somewhere on this globe, about fifteen tons of scientific scrap metal will slam into the Earth's surface. That's the remaining ten percent of its hulk. The other ninety percent will burn up in the Earth's atmosphere, leaving a trail of spectacular incandescence. You may want to witness the first ninety percent of starshine but I don't think you'll want to [continued]

Cranbrook Meeting Schedule
The Cranbrook meeting night has been changed from the first Thursday of the month to the first Monday of the month due to scheduling considerations at Cranbrook. If the first Monday of the month is a holiday, the meeting will be held on the second Thursday of the month instead.

WASP Submissions
Articles for inclusion in the WASP are always welcome and should be submitted to the editor on or before the first of each month. Any format of submission is accepted, however the easiest forms for this editor to use are plain text files. Most popular graphics formats are acceptable. Materials can be submitted either in printed form in person or via US Mail, or preferably, electronically via direct modem connection or email to the editor (bondono@iname.com). If you have any questions about submitting an article, call or talk to Jeff Bondono.

icon The India Connection, continued

to be used with the remote scope. I downloaded, from the Internet, a program called "CUSEEME", pronounced, see you see me. This program allows the user to hook up a video camera to a computer and connect up to other users via the "WWW", world-wide-web. I installed the program, hooked up my Sony DF-1 camera and presto! I was "on-line"! I dialed up my ISP (Internet service provider) and connected to a CUSEEME reflector. A reflector is a computer that functions as a meeting place for video conferencing. I noticed that I could connect to a group of people in Melbourne Australia. A video phone call to Membrane would be a great test of the system. When suddenly, a bell sounded on my computer, signaling me that a video call was coming in. I answered the video call and saw an image of an Indian gentlemen speaking broken English. He seemed desperate! It seems this gentlemen was attempting to demonstrate video conferencing to the, get this, the Indian Parliament! He asked me if I would participate in the demonstration. Of course I said yes. I asked for a few minutes to freshen up and he said that he would call back in 5 minutes. I hung up and ran to the bathroom to remove my baseball cap and comb my hair. Video phones don't lie! Sure enough, he called back in 5 minutes and I found myself speaking to Parliament! His demonstration included a huge projection TV screen on his end, in India. Suddenly my image was six feet tall! Several of the members of parliament asked me questions. Mostly the questions dealt with my being confined to a wheelchair. They wanted to know if I was confined to my home and if video conferencing was the way I communicated with friends and relatives. Of course I said that I use it everyday! Actually I have only used CUSEEME for about 10 minutes. My portion of the demonstration was over and they thanked me several times for participating. Now, all I have to do is connect my camera to my LX200 and I will be in business. I would recommend "CUSEEME" to anyone using the WWW. It's a gas!

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focus on

Randy Rubis, continued

singled Randy out for extra credit assignments. (This author wonders if that wasn't because Randy was paying more attention to the girls in class than to the lesson!) He recalls participating in a Detroit area science fair around that time in his life, creating a project about colored light.

At the tender age of 19 in 1973, life took a different turn for Randy. He was seriously injured by a hit-and-run, drunken driver in an RV while Randy was walking in a parking lot. Randy has been paralyzed since then. Undaunted by the life changes he was forced to make, Randy states that he has had a wonderful life. His 'do or die' attitude is evident with every turn of his scooter. Anyone who has spoken to Randy about anything knows the enthusiasm and zest he brings to his life and those around him. "It is important to keep myself busy" says Randy, "and that is why I like astronomy."

Randy's first telescope, purchased around 1982, was a 4 1/2 inch Newtonian. His first observations were of Jupiter, his favorite planet. As a condo-dweller and a bit of a ham, Randy naturally drew his neighbors into his astronomical interests by offering them views of stellar objects. Even though Randy liked his neighbors, his primary motivation in being so generous with his scope time had to do with a pretty female neighbor who lived in the same complex. He invited her to view the eclipse and she ended up bringing the entire neighborhood along! (She must have known she'd need a chaperone around Randy, huh?)

That Newtonian turned out to be quite the 'chick magnet' for Randy. Unfortunately one of his girlfriends was so appealing that she managed to lure him away from astronomy for quite awhile. It was not until 1996 while surfing the internet that Randy came upon an astronomy program called 'The Sky'. Downloading that program rekindled his interest in astronomy. Randy was still working full time for Ameritech Cellular as their System Administrator, so computers were a big part of his everyday life. Randy purchased a Meade 10" LX200 which he found worked perfectly with the software he'd acquired. Randy recalls the day the Meade was delivered by UPS. He had the day off due to illness. In spite of a fever of 101 degrees, he assembled the scope in his living room. It turned out to be 6' high in its finished form! In order to use the scope, Randy had to 'butcher his telescope by chopping off legs' and placing it on wheels so it could be used with a wheelchair or scooter. Since the purchase of the Meade, Randy developed an interest in astrophotography. He mounted an ETX to his LX200. He has a 208XT CCD Camera on the ETX and controls the LX200 with his laptop computer. Randy's web pages, some of which describe autoguiding using this combination of equipment, have attracted hundreds of amateur astronomers to his web page. Randy also reviews new astronomy equipment and places the reviews on his web page. Drop by for a visit at http://www.look-inc.com/rrubis/randy1.htm.

Presently, Randy's 10" LX200 has a permanent resting spot in his garage on a dolly specially made for TV cameras. He states that 'the best scope is the one you use the most' so he has made his Meade very accessible in very short order and says he can actually move it from the garage to observing mode in three or four minutes.

Randy is on a 'sabbatical' from Ameritech Cellular after working much too hard for all too long. Randy says it couldn't have come at a better time to offer him the opportunity to do some very serious observing. Randy goal is to attend all star parties within 400 miles of home. He even bought a special van to house his modified Meade. Not wanting to stop at the van, Randy popped for the scooter you'll most likely see him riding around in at club meetings. He also has equipped his van with a Global Positioning System (GPS) which helps him get to all his star parties. The laptop Randy has onboard his van (are we getting the idea yet that this guy is spoiled folks???) plots his course with the help of GPS satellites. Randy's GPS even talks to him, giving him voice directions to get him where he needs to go (female voice, of course).

Randy is presently a single guy and admits that ladies are one of his favorite pastimes. He also enjoys the internet, his family, and his best buddy Shadow, a three year-old Shetland Sheepdog. Randy lives in St. Clair Shores on the tenth fairway of the St. Clair Shores Country Club. He gladly invites anyone in the neighborhood to stop by, say hello, and stay for a beer. (Shall we take a headcount club members? Regular or Lite?)

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icon A Letter from the President, continued

of this meeting was to put an agenda together for 1999 which would involve all of the participating clubs to work together towards sponsoring public events to further educate the public in the field of Astronomy and related sciences. In the past, we have successfully worked together to put on such events as the Hale Bopp Star Party in 1997 and the Spring Star party (with David Levy) this year.

The Kensington Authorities have been so impressed with our collective cooperation and support of each other, that they wanted to establish an Astronomy Club there at Kensington. However, as you know, there is a lot of work setting up a club (including legal work) and they expressed concern about being able to do this. It was then suggested that the GLAAC could possibly run and operate this new club if the individual Clubs agreed to become participants and if Kensington would provide the resources to establish such an organization.

The purpose of such an organization would be the following:
  1. Educate the public in the field of Astronomy and the related sciences.
  2. To establish a formal entity called the GLAAC which would have it's headquarters stationed at Kensington Park.
  3. To provide at a minimum, a good observing site (at Kensington) that is open to all participating club members 7 days a week.
While the specifics of such an organization have not been defined, here are some ideas that were discussed as to what this organization might look like.
  1. The GLAAC organization at Kensington would be run by a board (similar to our club) that would be composed of one representative from each of the participating clubs and also include a representative from the Kensington Metro Park Authority. As to how that board would be set up and it's operating rules have yet to be determined.
  2. Each Club participating would make a commitment to designate a representative from it's club to be on the board and execute his or her duties on behalf of the club its represents.
  3. Each Club would agree to participate to the best of it's ability to support the GLAAC as it responds to public Astronomical events which may include events such as boy scouts and girl scouts gatherings. This may be similar to what we already do at Stargate. The good news is that the Warren Club is not obligated to do all of these events. With a good number of clubs participating, I believe the time commitment on the Warren club would be minimal because this would be a shared activity.
  4. Kensington Authorities would agree to provide a site at Kensington that is the best site available for the purposes of viewing the skies.
  5. Kensington would agree at a minimum to provide the following:
In addition we (the GLAAC) will pursue the possibility of Kensington funding a building which could provide meeting rooms, astronomy displays, and a storage area as well as the possibility of constructing an Observatory.

It is important to note that none of this has been approved as of yet and none of this can start until all of the involved clubs agree to participate. Our first step is to decide as a club, if the Warren Astronomical Society wants to participate in this new organization. A question was asked at our Macomb meeting, "Will the Warren Club lose it's identity if we become part of this new organization?" The answer to this is a resounding NO! As president it is my obligation to make sure that the Warren Astronomical Society continues to flourish as an independent organization. It is the judgment of the board of officers of the Warren club that our identity and independence will not be altered in any way by becoming a participant of this new organization. In fact, it is our belief that the Warren club can benefit by our involvement due to the fact that we could get new members from the public activities sponsored by the new organization and also by providing a new observing site available to all of our members. Furthermore we would now have a legal voice that can express our concerns to our state representatives on such issues as Light pollution.

What I need from the Warren club is a show of hands at the next Macomb meeting on Sept 17th. as to whether we want to be involved with this proposed organization or not. I ask that you please make every effort to attend this meeting for a vote. This vote will not lock us into a final commitment towards the new organization, but simply OK the process to begin.

P.S. Stayed tuned for our plan to upgrade Stargate. (We haven't forgotten our number 1 site)

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icon Minutes of Meetings

Macomb, August 20, 1998

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astro chatter Astro Chatter, continued

be around for the last ten percent. Just where that final splash or crash will occur has some of the world's best calculating machines doing loop the loop. So much depends on the final shape and condition of the material that its almost impossible to pinpoint the area. The last big piece of space junk (SKYLAB) missed its predicted mark by an entire continent, landing somewhere in Australia.

Even though Bill gates has won the preliminary round in his battle to keep his web browser tied to WINDOWS98, he has been given the notice to turn in the 98 code to the government for additional scrutiny. Needless to say, Bill won't do it without certain guarantees about the safety of that code.

Cranbrook meetings are going to have some changes. The first Thursday of the month will no longer apply. It looks as though the first Monday will become the new meeting day. On those months when the first Monday falls on a holiday, the meeting will be moved to the second Monday. A special announcement will be made elsewhere in the DAS newsletter concerning the change.

Two more Earth approaching asteroids have been discovered by NASA. Although data is preliminary, the two, one mile wide, objects are presumed to approach no closer than 3.0 and 1.7 million miles.

Jupiter reaches opposition on the fifteenth of the month, which means you can now see that planet all night long. No need to wait until it rises in the evening. It'll be up and ready when twilight ends and should be high for viewing in the evening sky for the next four months. It's a great planet for viewing with the Galilean moons always putting on a show. On the same date, Saturn begins to peek over the eastern horizon at about 10:00pm and is quite observable by 11:00pm.

The Sixth Annual Island Lake Star Party will take place on Saturday, September 26th. This is one of the best star parties available in the Detroit Metropolitan area. Sponsored by The Ford Amateur Astronomy Club, Rider's Hobby Shops and the Nature Company, it promises fun, friendship and festivities. There will be excellent prices on used and new astro equipment and reference material, as well as door prizes and free hot dogs, beverages and potato chips for the first one-hundred registrations. Lectures and advice about buying or using telescopes will fill the evening along with the stars, if weather permits. Don't miss it. Get off I-96 at Exit 151 (Kensington Rd.) and go south for half a mile until you reach the park entrance. Spring Mill Pond will be 2 1/2 miles into the park. A $4.00 state park fee will be charged at the entrance if you don't have a vehicle permit.

Mike Best, the former president and founder of the Livonia Astronomical Society, is looking for a used 6 or 8 inch Dobsonian telescope. If you have one for sale or know of one that might be for sale, pass the word along to Mike at 734-459-2378.

Another comet calculation program has been added to the club's software library. Called KOMSOFT, the program calculates a comet's position from orbital elements that you obtain from other sources like SKY & TELESCOPE or ASTRONOMY and tabulates the position for as many days that you ask for. It also converts the data into a form that can be inserted into other programs like DANCE, EARTH CENTERED UNIVERSE or SKYMAP, so you can plot the comet's position on a starchart. It's a DOS program that can be loaded into WIN95 or WIN98. A small database of periodic comets is provided along with the ability to log your observations for future reference. The price is a dollar to WAS members.

Please note that ALL program disks sold to club members at one of our Macomb or Cranbrook meetings are $1.00 each.

The September computer meeting will be at Gary Gathen's home, on Thursday the 24th. The October meeting on the 22nd. 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 248-543-3366.

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This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on September 24, 1998.