March 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room

6:45 p.m.   Setup and Discussion

7:00 p.m.   Club Business

7:15 p.m.   Current Astronomy News

                  Object of the Month


7:30 p.m.

Stellar Life Cycles
by Daryl Doughty

The stars in the sky have fascinated man for thousands of years, as he wondered what they were, how they shine, and why they are in the sky. Man has projected his own yearnings and spirit into the sky, picturing the stars grouped into familiar shapes from his religion, mythology, and the creatures around him. Only relatively recently in the last few hundred years have men finally begun to understand what stars are, why they are not all the same, how they came to be, and what will happen to them at the end of their life. My presentation will describe the most current knowledge we now have about star classification and the birth, life, and eventual death of stars.

Polar Star Trails by Daryl Doughty
Winter Star Party, January 14, 2012

A Close Encounter of the Hot Kind

Daryl Doughty
Moose Jaw Observatory
36.734195D N
95.928025D W

Australian amateur astronomer, Terry Lovejoy, discovered the comet named after him on December 2, 2011.  Researchers quickly realized that Comet Lovejoy was a member of the Kreutz family of sun_grazing comets and was going to pass very close to the sun. This class of comets are named after the German astronomer, Heinrich Kreutz, who first studied them.  They are all believed to be fragments of the great comet of 1106 that broke apart.  Most of these fragments are believed to be small (< 10 meters in diameter) and are observed falling into the sun every few days by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

Comet Lovejoy appeared to be at least 10 times bigger, however, somewhere in the range of 100 to 200 meters across, so its encounter with the sun promised to be more interesting.  A range of high power solar instruments were trained on the comet on December 15 as it approached the sun.  Little did they know they would record a historic encounter!  Below are two still frames from videos cap

tured by the camera on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.  The picture on the left shows Comet Lovejoy inbound very close to the sun’s photosphere just visible at the right edge.  Its tail is distorted by the solar corona and magnetic fields close to the sun.  In the videos available at the NASA URL listed below, this turbulence is easily seen.  The picture on the right shows the comet emerging from its close encounter.  That Comet Lovejoy survived its encounter was surprising and the researchers believe this means that Comet Lovejoy must have been even larger, perhaps as big as 500 meters.  During the close approach the comet passed within 120,000 kilometers of the sun’s photosphere and was immersed in the hot gases of the solar corona for an hour.

Below is a still frame from a GIF animation of the encounter captured by the coronagraph on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.  This shows Comet Lovejoy inbound toward the sun which is blocked by a disc within the instrument.  The complete animation of the encounter can be seen at the URL listed below.


All these videos are very interesting to watch so a visit to the website below is well worth your time.

Current News from Sky and Telescope

Mars and Moon: Not Dead Yet? — February 24, 2012
The Moon and Mars have long thought to be dead geologically, however, recent observations from orbiting spacecraft indicate that recent activity is still occurring. There is evidence the moon's crust is stretching, breaking and dropping. Evidence on Mars indicates large boulders that have recently moved, likely from a marsquake.

GJ 1214b: A Steam-Bath World — February 21, 2012
This planet discovered in 2009 is 40 light years away and is a "superearth" that is 2.7 times the size of earth. What is most interesting is that by spectroscopic analysis it appears to me a mixture of water and rock that is probably only a few hundred degrees above boiling water.

Closure Looms for Keck's Interferometer — February 17, 2012
Another consequence of the loss if NASA funding will be the loss of the optical link between the Keck telescopes that have allowed them to work as a single telescope. This was the most powerful interferometer of its kind on the planet. It seems there has been long-standing conflicts between the locals and the sacred mountain, the scientific community and Washington, DC.

Sunspots' Secrets Unraveling — February 13, 2012
Scientists from the National Solar Observatory and the University of Hawaii have discovered H2 ions from within sunspots. Previously H2 had been identified above sunspots, but this was the first evidence of the hydrogen from withing the sunspots on the surface of the sun (the umbrae). They hope to utilize this information to help explain and predict the intense magnetic fields from within sunspots.

Now is your chance to participate in an International effort to survey the effects of light pollution on our night skies.   The project is to observe and count the number of stars you can see in the constellation of Orion then pinpoint your location on the world map and enter your results on the world wide web.

The project is simple enough for novice and elementary students to participate but also informative for experienced observers.   All the details and comparison maps are found at

The optimum dates for observing are during the 3rd quarter and new moons

Feb 12 thru Feb 24 are ideal dates for 2012  from about 8:00 to 10:00 PM

The moon is absent from the sky near Orion.   You may even want to compare the sky for your

own yard to your favorite sites in the country or suburban outskirts.

Later dates of March 13-22       April 11-20  are also listed but the return of Daylight Savings time and

Orion setting in the west will make these dates far less favorable.

The first four years' efforts netted some 16,000 observations from scores of countries. This is a great example of "citizen science" that's helping to raise dark-sky awareness in every corner of the globe. 

Thanks to John Land 

Spring is coming soon and the stars are preparing for a grand show.

Mars comes to opposition on March 3

On March 5th Mars is closest to Earth

( but this is not a great year for Mars Since it was farthest from the Sun Aphelion on Feb 15th )

You can see reddish Mars in Leo about a 1/3 of the way up in the east around 9 PM now

Mercury reaches its greatest evening height on March 5th

Venus and Jupiter will be within 5 degrees of each other from March 8 to March 17

Finally Saturn makes opposition on April15th  - so pay your taxes early so you can go observing !

Great weekly sky shows for of all ages

A great weekly online video of things you 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 -

Skyweek from Sky and Telescope Magazine also presents a variety of astronomical events for the naked eye as well as telescope viewing.

Let’s Go Stargazing

Lots of activities and information for families and novice astronomers.

Courtesy of John Land, Astronomy Club of Tulsa.


  • 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.

  • March 14 - Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. The two brightest planets in the sky will be within 3 degrees of each other in the evening sky. On March 25 and 25, the crescent Moon will be near the two planets, creating a dazzling evening spectacle.

  • March 20 - March Equinox. The March equinox occurs at 05:14 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the southern hemisphere.

  • March 22 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 14:37 UTC.

  • April 6 - 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 19:19 UTC.

  • April 15 - Saturn at Opposition. The ringed 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 Saturn and its moons.

  • (Source:

  •                             2012 Programs

     Month Program Presenter
    Oklahoma City Astronomy and
    The Night Sky Network
    Christian Bruggeman
    Astronomy and Weather
    George Flickinger
     MarStellar Life Cycles
    Daryl Doughty
     AprNative American Star/Sky StoriesLynn Moroney





    Next Meeting

    April 2, 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 .

    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


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     Steve Plank
     James Campbell
     Duane Perkins


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