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January 2012

January 3, 2012 Meeting
Due to the holiday schedule, this month's meeting will be on Tuesday.

Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room

6:45 p.m.   Setup and open discussion
7:00 p.m.   Club Business
7:15 p.m.   Current Astronomy News
                    Object of the Month

   7:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City Astronomy and
The Night Sky Network
by Christian Bruggeman

Christian Bruggeman is editor of the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club newsletter, Gazer's Gazette.  He will discuss OKCAC's amateur astronomy activities, accomplishments and future plans, as well as the important benefits of The Night Sky Network.

 Gypsum layer found on Mars. Evidence of a history of flowing water found by NASA's rover Opportunity. It's always nice to have such an important discovery by a rover that was never to have lived this long.
Sun “sandblasts” the Moon. The Solar wind creates "sputtering" on the moon that ejects dust into the thin atmosphere. Solar flares can cause an increase in sputtering as much as 50 times.
NASA’s Dawn mission to the asteroid Vesta. It appears that Vesta is more than an asteroid. It seems it has a crust, mantle and an iron core. Vesta is a protoplanet.

The Kepler mission has found a world where liquid water could exist in abundance. It's called Kepler-22b, circling around an 11th-magnitude star 600 light-years away in Cygnus near the junction with Lyra and Draco. It's 2.4 times the diameter of earth with a 290 day long orbit. The mass and density have yet to be discovered, so the composition of Kepler-22b will have to wait for now.

NASA’s Space Place

P a g e 9 G a z e r ’ s G a z e t t e V o lu m e 4 4 I s s u e 1 2

Re-thinking an Alien World:

The Strange Case of 55 Cancri e

Forty light years from Earth, a rocky world named "55 Cancri e" circles perilously close to a stellar inferno. Completing one orbit in only 18 hours, the alien planet is 26 times closer to its parent star than Mercury is to the Sun. If Earth were in the same position, the soil beneath our feet would heat up to about 3200 F. Researchers have long thought that 55 Cancri e must be a wasteland of parched rock. Now they're thinking again. New observations by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that 55 Cancri e may be wetter and weirder than anyone imagined. Spitzer recently measured the extraordinarily small amount of light 55 Cancri e blocks when it crosses in front of its star. These transits occur every 18 hours, giving researchers repeated opportunities to gather the data they need to estimate the width, volume and density of the planet.

According to the new observations, 55 Cancri e has a mass 7.8 times and a radius just over twice that of Earth. Those properties place 55 Cancri e in the "super-Earth" class of exoplanets, a few dozen of which have been found. Only a handful of known super-Earths, however, cross the face of their stars as viewed from our vantage point in the cosmos, so 55 Cancri e is better understood than most. When 55 Cancri e was discovered in 2004, initial estimates of its size and mass were consistent with a dense planet of solid rock. Spitzer data suggest otherwise: About a fifth of the planet's mass must be made of light elements and compounds—including water. Given the intense heat and high pressure these materials likely experience, researchers think the compounds likely exist in a "supercritical" fluid state. A supercritical fluid is a high-pressure, high-temperature state of matter best described as a liquid-like gas, and a marvelous solvent. Water becomes supercritical in some steam turbines—and it tends to dissolve the tips of the turbine blades. Supercritical carbon dioxide is used to remove caffeine from coffee beans, and sometimes to dry -clean clothes. Liquid-fueled rocket propellant is also supercritical when it emerges from the tail of a spaceship. On 55 Cancri e, this stuff may be literally oozing—or is it steaming? —out of the rocks. With supercritical solvents rising from the planet's surface, a star of terrifying proportions filling much of the daytime sky, and whole years rushing past in a matter of hours, 55 Cancri e teaches a valuable lesson: Just because a planet is similar in size to Earth does not mean the planet is like Earth.

It's something to re-think about. Get a kid thinking about extrasolar planets by pointing him or her to "Lucy's Planet Hunt,"; a story in rhyme about a girl who wanted nothing more than to look for Earth-like planets when she grew up. Go to http://

The original research reported in this story has been accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The lead author is Brice-Olivier Demory, a post-doctoral associate in Professor Sara Seager's group at MIT. Artist’s rendering compares the size Earth with the rocky “super-Earth” 55 Cancri e. Its year is only about 18 hours long!


Thanks to the OKC Astronomy club for this article. Gazer's Gazette Volume 44 Issue 12

Lasers and Astronomy 

By: Jerry Mullennix 

I  am  sure  most  of  you  remember  when we  used to  just  point  to  any  area  of  the  sky  with  a finger  to  teach  astronomy.  Along came the green laser and from our  perspective  much  changed  in  pointing  our scopes and teaching astronomy. Although,  I  really  wonder  sometimes,  how  much  astronomy  we  really  teach  when  we  turn  them  on  and  point  them?  It  seems  to  me  if  the  group  is  too  young  they  lose  all  interest  in  astronomy  and  the  questions  turn  to  the  laser  itself.  Sometimes  it  happens  with  much  older  groups.  I am writing this note because in the past  week  there  were  two  incidents  in  the  area  of  our  observatory  of  lasers  being  pointed at aircraft. I seriously doubt any  of  our  group  had  anything  to  do  with  these events, but It still does not hurt to  point out the seriousness of such action  anyway.  IT  IS  A  FEDERAL  CRIME  TO  POINT  A  LASER  AT  OR  IN  THE  VICINITY  OF ANY AIRCRAFT.  I can assure you the  FBI  does  not  take  this  lightly  either,  as  they  have  contacted  us  in  regards  to  finding the individual responsible.  One  of  my  favorite  things  to  do,  when  I  have time, is read newspapers from other  parts  of  the  world  to  gain  perspective.  One article I read in a Russian newspaper  had an article about a pilot on approach  at  night  when  he  was  hit  with  a  green  laser.  It  was  the  best  description  I’ve  read of what happens in an aircraft when  a laser shines in.   He said “because the cockpit is lights out  except  for  instrumentation,  when  the  laser shined in all of us in the cockpit saw  nothing  but  the  green  glare  that  lit  the  cabin  and  it  was  extremely  dicult  to  read  my  panel  as  I  landed  the  plane.  Some  instruments  went  blank  because  they  are  green  lit  as  well  and  could  not  be seen”    As astronomers we are acutely aware of  how  sensitive  the  pupil  is  to  light  and  how  long  it  takes  the  human  eye  to  recover  from  light  glare  and  build  more  purple  visual,  let  alone  if  the  pilot  had  been hit in the eye with a laser. It might  never recover.   You couple this with the fact he has hundreds of lives depending on him to land  that  plane  safely  and  it  makes  perfect  sense the FBI would be hunting violators  down as vigorously as if they had robbed  a  bank.  Use  lasers  responsibly  people’s  lives and freedom depend on it.

(Thanks to Jerry Mullennix and the Astronomy Club of Tulsa.

The December “What’s Up…” publication is now available on the League website.

ALCORS:  Please make sure your members get a chance to read this by emailing this to individual members, posting it on your club’s website or possibly providing this to your newsletter editor for use with your newsletter.  This is one of several methods the League uses to communicate with our members, so we appreciate your help in distributing this information timely.

 This issue includes

·         Christmas greetings

·         A report on the League’s collaboration with Keck Observatory

·         Awards deadline dates and presentations articles for several 2011 awards

·         Alcon 2012 general information-registration to be available on website approximately December 26

·         Award application forms for National Young Astronomer Award, Horkheimer Service Award and the Horkheimer/O’meara Journalism Award

 Carroll Iorg

President, Astronomical League

  • December 22 - December Solstice. The December solstice occurs 05:30 UTC. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the southern hemisphere.

  • December 24 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 18:06 UTC.

  • January 3, 4 - Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on January 3 & 4, but some meteors can be visible from January 1 - 5. The near first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight, leaving dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.

  • January 9 - 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 07:30 UTC.

  • 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.


                            2012 Programs

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








Next Meeting

February 6, 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


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