February 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012
3:00 p.m.

Arvest Bank Meeting Room

Astronomy and Weather
by George Flickinger

BAS is very fortunate this month to have KJRH meteorologist, George Flickinger, as our guest speaker.  George's presentation will be divided into two parts.  In the first part he will discuss how to use weather computer models to forecast astronomy viewing conditions.  In the second part he will present "What if the Joplin tornado occurred in Bartlesville?"  This promises to be a fascinating program.  Don't miss it.

Monday, February 6, 2012
Bartlesville Public Library  
No agenda.  No program.  No business meeting.  Just casual conversation.

In the news this third week of January, a large, potentially disruptive flare was observed on the sun that could affect electric power grids, communications, even possibly forcing the grounding of airplane travel for flights over the polar regions.  These flares shoot out streams of charged particles from the sun and if they are directed towards the earth they interact with the earth’s magnetic field, causing these effects.  If we use proper solar filters to protect our eyes from the intense light of the sun, we see a uniform spherical ball with occasional dark spots on the surface as seen in the photo on the right taken shortly after noon on January 23rd.  However, if we had access to special equipment with filters that show us the sun’s light in wavelengths we normally don’t see well, the sun looks a good deal more active as shown in the photo on the left taken on the same day from one of our solar observatories.  Comparing the two photos we see that the sunspots are associated with the areas of greater activity.  What we see visibly as sunspots are areas of cooler gases on the surface caused by intense magnetic fields that erupt on the surface of the sun.  Because they are cooler, and light output depends strongly on temperature, they appear much darker.


While we don’t fully understand the mechanisms that generate this activity on the sun, human observations over the centuries have tracked the occurrence of sunspots and a record of cyclic activity has been recognized.  In the figure below, downloaded from a Wikipedia article on sunspots, is a 400-year record of sunspot activity.  The activity follows an 11-year cycle from minimum to maximum and back to minimum.  Why it is 11 years is not understood.  Currently, we are in an upswing in activity with the local maximum set to occur in 2013.  Of recent interest is the prediction that we are entering another “Maunder Minimum” over the next 70 years, such as the one observed in the last half of the 17th century.  The sun’s power output increases during periods of greater activity and decreases during quiet periods.  Predictions are that this coming Maunder Minimum could result in a cooling trend in the 21st century.  More to follow: stay tuned!


Current News from Sky and Telescope

Black Hole Shoots Bullets — January 11, 2012
Powerful jets of high energy material shooting out of the poles may improve understanding of black holes. The more interesting finding is their appearance is associated with the disappearance of cyclic X-ray variations called quasi-periodic oscillations, or QPOs. Key to the finding were observations from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and ironically, budget cuts has terminated it's mission.

Alien Mars Announced — January 11, 2012
Three small exoplanets have been discovered around a sun-like red dwarf. A British amateur astronomer alerted a professional team the fact that KOI-961 had properties eerily similar to those of Barnard’s Star.

New Maps of Dark Matter — January 10, 2012
New maps of dark matter's distribution reveal a weblike network of gigantic dense and empty regions. Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey (CFHTLenS)  looked at more than 10 million galaxies in four patches of sky, covering a total of 155 square degrees.

A February observing project or event.  Jan and Feb are the best months  - if you wait until Mar or April Orion is getting too low in the west to observe well.

They have a similar event in the fall that features the Summer Triangle. The two video sections are good even of special interest at club meetings.

Great weekly sky shows for Kids of all ages

A great weekly online video of things kids can see with the naked eye. These 5 minute video segments feature events that anyone can enjoy by merely going outside and “Looking Up”! Keep this one on your favorites list - http://video.wpbt2.org/program/star-gazers/

Skyweek from Sky and Telescope Magazine also presents a variety of astronomical events for the naked eye as well as telescope viewing. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/videos/skyweek

This is an annual world wide project that lets students and astronomers observe the night sky and collect  meaningful data about the state of the night sky. Its very simple and almost all levels can participate.


The GLOBE at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. Light pollution threatens not only our “right to starlight”, but can affect energy consumption, wildlife and health. The GLOBE at Night campaign has run for two weeks each winter/spring for the last six years. People in 115 countries have contributed 66,000 measurements, making GLOBE at Night one of the most successful light pollution awareness campaigns.

NEW! 2012 Dates for GLOBE at Night

In 2012 there will be four opportunities to participate in GLOBE at Night:

  January 14-23     February 12-21    < Best dates for Tulsa Area  before DST starts
  March 13-22       April 11-20

Learn more from the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: GLOBE at Night Kickoff: Seeing the Light.

Courtesy of John Land, Astronomy Club of Tulsa. astroclubbiz@windstream.net


  • January 23 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 07:39 UTC.

  • February 7 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 21:54 UTC.

  • February 20 - March 12 - Best Chance to see Mercury. The planet Mercury will be far enough from the Sun's glare to be visible shortly after sunset. Mercury will reach greatest elongation from the Sun on March 5, reaching a relatively bright magnitude of about -1. This will be your best chance to see the planet this year.

  • February 21 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 22:35 UTC.

  • March 3 - Mars at Opposition. The red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Mars.

  • March 8 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 09:39 UTC.

  • (Source: http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2012.html)

  •                             2012 Programs

     Month Program Presenter
    Oklahoma City Astronomy and
    The Night Sky Network
    Christian Bruggeman
    Astronomy and Weather
    George Flickinger







    Next Meeting

    March 5, Monday. Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room (tentative)

    Newsletter Contributions Needed

    Our club newsletter is reaching more people each month, and member contributions in the form of short articles, interesting news items, alerts of upcoming astronomical events or activities, descriptions of personal observations or useful equipment, and observing tips, are encouraged.  Recurring columns or multipart articles are also welcome.  Please submit your contributions to Mike Woods or to bvilleastro@gmail.com .

    Bartlesville Astronomical Society - Membership


    B.A.S. is an organization of people interested in Astronomy and related fields of science.

    The current officers are:


    John Grismore

    Program Chair & Vice President

    Daryl Doughty

    Information Officer (Newsletter)

    Mike Woods


    Vicky Travaglini / Milt Enderlin


    The current board members are:
     Arden Strycker
     Steve Plank
     James Campbell
     Duane Perkins


    Additional club positions:
     Publicity/Newspaper  Carroll Ritchie
     Public Website  John Grismore
     Member Observing Program  Steve Plank & Arden Strycker
     Meeting Room Arrangements  Steve Plank
     On-Line Media  James Campbell

    Membership is open to everyone interested in any aspects of astronomy. 

    Adult. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  $20.00

    Students (through 12th grade) . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  $10.00

    Magazine Subscription (reduced rate for members)

    Sky & Telescope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . .  $32.95

    Astronomy Technology Today Magazine. . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . $14.00

    Astronomy Magazine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . $34.00/yr

    If you want to have your email address removed from the Bartlesville Astronomical Society mailing list, please send an email requesting removal to bvilleastro@gmail.com