The Warren Astronomical Society Paper
Volume 30, Number 11November, 1998

astro chatter Astro Chatter
by Larry Kalinowski

SOHO has been found. The out of control solar observatory, that was thought to be lost indefinitely, has been rediscovered using the Arecibo radio telescope and some RADAR techniques. The solar panels are slowly being [continued]

icon Masterpieces Messier Missed
by Jeff Bondono

NGC 253
at RA 00h 48m
Dec -25d 17'

Well, we have an NCO Wilderness star party coming up on Oct 16-19 (see the calendar of events) so I thought I'd dig through some old observing notes to find something that really benefits from those dark northern skies. So although its been 18 months since you [continued]

Cranbrook Meeting News
There will be no meeting at Cranbrook during October. It will be replaced by Family Night at Stargate Observatory on Saturday, October 17. See the Calendar of Events for details.

An error crept into the last WASP. The "Cranbrook Meeting Schedule" article should have read as follows:

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 Monday of the month instead.

icon Minutes of Meetings
by Bob Watt

1998 Awards Banquet

astro chatter Astro Chatter, continued

shifted to face the Sun, as a result, batteries are starting to recharge. By the second week in September, there should be enough of a charge for the satellite to receive and understand commands that will turn on orientation jets to get the satellite's solar panels in full view of the Sun. Then it's back to full time operation. SOHO has been credited with discovering eighty-one new solar grazing comets since its deployment, as well as opening new vistas in understanding other solar phenomenon.

The push is on for DVD (digital video disks). You'll see ads touting those super disks getting bigger and louder, especially for the upcoming Christmas season. Some computer manufacturers already feature them in their brand of computers and large retail chains are pushing DVD's as movie playback devices, replacing the tape operated VCR. The DVD's main advantages are crisper video, multiple languages, random access to any part of the disk and multiple ratings like G, R or X on the same disk, as well as different endings for the same movie. Recordable DVD's are also available but at much higher prices.

Jupiter's rings have been discovered to be created by space debris that has crashed into the four Galilean moons. A detailed look at the ring and moons, by the Galileo spacecraft, show an orbital relationship that could have created the rings.

IBM's copper wired computer chips are now being distributed to computer manufacturers. The copper wire allows chips to run 33% faster because of less generated heat. A 400 MHz chip is in the works and should be available very soon. The Earth was showered with gamma rays and x-rays on the night of August 27th. Seven satellites detected the massive eruption from some unknown source in the heavens. Some of the satellites actually shut down because of the intensity of the bombardment, according to research physicist Kevin Hurley, at the University of California, Berkeley. More than one type of Neutron star is known to produce such radiation. The Earth's atmosphere prevented any overexposure that might harm life.

The first year 2000 lawsuit has been settled and it was in favor of the company that sued a computer provider for inadequate software. The Warren, MI produce market, PRODUCE PALACE INTERNATIONAL, is accepting a $250,000 settlement from TEC AMERICA of Atlanta, Georgia. It looks as though this is going to set a precedent for businesses that run into Y2K computer problems. There's fifteen months to go before we reach the 1999 finish line. I wonder if software and systems providers are quaking in their boots. If I were them, I wouldn't plan on a big celebration on New Year's Eve at the end of '99.

Now's the time to start thinking about the WAS awards banquet in December. Last years attendance was outstanding with a great raffle and excellent food. The banquet will be at the usual Warren Chataeu, just east of Mound Road on Ten Mile Road on December 17th. Tickets are $22.00 per person. Please get your registration in before the banquet

The October computer meeting will be at Gary Gathen's home, on Thursday the 22nd. His observatory has been spiffed-up for a demonstration at the next computer meeting. If you haven't seen the clam shell type of building that houses his telescope, get ready to be intrigued. 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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icon Masterpieces Messier Missed, continued

last saw Masterpieces Messier Missed in your WASP, I'm baaaaaaack!!

The subject of this month's installment is NGC 253, a beautiful galaxy located in the southern autumn constellation of Sculptor. This galaxy is quite large, lighting an oval of sky 27' by 6' with its knotty and patchy glow. That makes it very nearly as long as our sky's moon is wide. This galaxy is really bright, too, appearing in catalogs as 7th magnitude. With statistics like these, you should get the impression that this is a showpiece galaxy and indeed it is. From a more southerly latitude, this galaxy rivals our views of any Messier galaxy except perhaps M31. Similar to the way M31 is referred to simply as "the Andromeda Galaxy", NGC 253 is named "the Sculptor Galaxy". You also might see it referred to as "the Silver Coin" from its likeness to a silver dollar viewed nearly edge-on. NGC 253 is well known for its complex dust lanes. The arms of this spiral galaxy are better defined by dust lanes than by stars.

Although the galaxy benefits greatly from a trip to warmer climates, an enthusiastic observer from the crisp autumn of Michigan can get a wonderful view of this galaxy as it climbs to its highest point above the southern horizon. The key is to get away from the city to darker skies like those of the Bock Wilderness site or Northern Cross Observatory, and observe the galaxy when it appears due south and is therefore as high above the southern horizon as it will get.

I failed to see the galaxy from my Shelby Township back yard with my 8-inch newtonian telescope during two attempts in 1986 and 1988. I was barely able to make it out with the same equipment during 1989, describing it as a "very faint 15' by 5' glow". I noted that the center of the galaxy was just 10' south of a pair of 8th magnitude stars.

A 1990 trip to my Imlay City observing site with the same equipment made NGC 253 grow into a "very bright 25' by 6' glow running northeast to southwest". I noted a couple of 12th magnitude stars superimposed. The galaxy showed a moderately even glow, being only slightly brighter in its central bulge. The northern edge of the galaxy was sharply cutoff rather than fading gradually to the black of the sky, which suggested to me that a dust lane was cutting its light off abruptly. The entire surface of the galaxy showed a slightly mottled texture. Remember that this observation was made using the same equipment as my Shelby Township sightings which showed much less detail, but it was made under dark skies.

Add some aperture to the equation and the view improves. A 1994 observation using my 14.5-inch dobsonian from Doug Bock's Wilderness site added more details. I noted that the glow was gradually brighter in the middle. A dust lane encircled the southwest edge of the core and the center of that lane (that is, the part due southwest of the core) ran straight out into the arms of the galaxy then swirled back around, cutting the southwestern part of the galaxy into an inner half and an outer loop. The halo faded rapidly and suddenly on the northwest edge of the core, and maintained a constant faint glow as it extended northwest till it reached the edge of the halo. The dust lane continued along major axis northwest of core all the way across the core to the northeast side, then seemed to wrap weakly around that side of the core. In my standard newtonian configuration, the dark lane and arms unwrapped clockwise from the center of the galaxy toward the outer extents. Among other nearby stars I noted, my log states that 2 9th magnitude were 10' south of the core (note that this is the opposite direction from my earlier observation; that first observation was in error) and that the northeast tip of the galaxy was punctuated by a 14th magnitude star. With all this detail showing, I considered that this might just be the 5th best galaxy in the sky, after M51, M31, M33, and M82.

Now you just can't go through another autumn without seeing the 5th best galaxy in the sky, can you? Get yourself out to one of Doug's star parties and catch some light from NGC 253.

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1998 Awards Banquet
Plan to attend the Warren Astronomical Society's 1998 Awards Banquet, featuring award presentations, a raffle, and time for socializing. The price of admission includes breaded wing-ding appetizers, dinner and door prizes. There will be a cash bar.
When:Thursday, December 17, 1998
Social and cocktail hour 6:30
Dinner 8:00
Meals:Sliced beef tenerloin with au jus
Gourmet chicken with special sauce
Vegetable plate
Where:Warren Chateau
6016 E. 10 Mile Rd
(Just east of Mound)
$22.00 Payment:
Steve Greene
23844 Settlers Dr.
Macomb Twp, MI 48042
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icon Minutes of Meetings

Cranbrook, September 14, 1998

Macomb, September 17, 1998

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This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on October 5, 1999.