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May 2011

May 2, 2011 Meeting

Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room

   6:45 p.m.   Setup and casual conversation
   7:00 p.m.   Club Business
   7:15 p.m.   
Introduction to BAS On-line Resources

   7:30 p.m.

The Past and Future Habitability of Planet Earth

Speaker - Virgil Reese

A look at the variety of cosmic circumstances that have enabled our planet to host and evolve complex life for over 3 billion years.  And an inquiry into how long we can expect this habitability to continue.

 Astronomy Day Star Party, at Sooner Park. May 7, 2011.
Volunteers are needed or we won't be able to celebrate Astronomy Day. Contact
Steve Plank

T Pyxidis Finally Blows Again!

The recurrent nova T Pyxidis, which had its last outburst in December 1966 and has been very overdue for its next, has shot up from magnitude 15.4 to at least 8.5. In 1966–67 it reached 6.5. 

Note: A recurrent nova is generally associated with a white dwarf star in a close binary system with a normal star.  Gravity pulls matter from the outer atmosphere of the companion star onto the surface of the White Dwarf. Finally enough mass accumulates until it reaches a critical point at which an uncontrolled chain reaction of Hydrogen fusion takes place on the surface of the star.  This causes the star to flare up in brightness for several days to a few weeks until all the hydrogen is consumed ant the process starts all over again. 

Here's a blink animation showing before and after, courtesy Ernesto Guido and Giovanni Sostero in Italy. South is up.

It's in the dim constellation Pyxis east of Puppis and Canis Major. Pyxis is currently fairly high in the south-southwest right after dark, in good view for observers at north temperate latitudes and points south. The star is at declination –32°.

Here are finder and comparison-star charts from Sky & Telescope, and larger-scale comparison-star charts 15° wide, 5° wide, and
2° wide courtesy of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). On all charts north is up and east is to the left. The numbers next to stars are comparison-star magnitudes to the nearest tenth with the decimal points omitted. Sent in By Newsletter editor Jerry Mullennix.

Book Review:

 “Parallax – The Race to Measure the Cosmos”

  By Alan W. Hirshfeld

 Tired of setting around waiting for the skies to clear? 

Here is a perfect book to wile away a cloudy night. ( WARNING: You may not be able to put it down if the sky clears ! )

We have become so accustomed to turning on our computers and seeing the latest Hubble images or news from far away spacecraft orbiting a distant planet, that we forget those who pioneered the pathways to the stars.

Close one eye - look at  a pencil held out at arm’s length in front of you. Then blink your eyes back and forth. The pencil will seem to jump back and forth.  You have just discovered PARALLAX – the apparent change in an object’s position caused by the motion of the observer.  Even the ancient Greeks understood that if the Earth moved, the stars should appear to change position over the course of a year.

The first part of Hershfled’s book traces the historical development of the idea of Parallax from the Ancient Greeks to Galileo.  Along the way you’ll meet great thinkers such as Aristotle, Archimedes, Aristarchus, Ptolemy, Kepler, Brahe, Copernicus  and Galileo.

Once Newton had firmly established that the Earth did indeed move around the Sun,

THE RACE WAS ON ! !  Who would be the first to observe Parallax and therefore measure the distance to the stars?  Hershfeld follows a menagerie of astronomers both well know and obscure running the race to the heavens.  Along the way you’ll read of a peasant apprentice who survived being buried in the basement of a collapsed house and went on to build the finest telescopes in the world.  Another youth who escaped from Napoleon’s dragoons to run through the night to freedom and become one the greatest astronomers of the era.  Also a South African astronomer who had to avoid poisonous snakes and chase leopards off his observatory.   Unexpected discoveries found when careful observations revealed by Serendipity new mysteries of the motions of the Earth and Stars.  Well if I tired to tell you all the twists and turns in the pathways of discovery, I’d have to rewrite the book.  So go get the book !

By John Land   - Astronomy Club of Tulsa

Regional Astronomical Events:

2011 MidStates Regional Astronomy Convention.

May 20 to 22 near Ozark, Ark.   Set in the middle of the Ozarks, this will be an excellent opportunity to meet other astronomers and find out what other clubs are doing.  Early registration is Due by May 8th   Details at.

Astronomical League National Convention, June 29 to July 2

The 2011 convention brings astronomers from all over the USA.  This year’s convention is held in beautiful Bryce Canyon Utah where the wonders of both earth and sky meet in one astounding place.  An impressive group of speakers are lined up for this year.

Get your registration in soon.     Lodging accommodations are going fast.

Star Bright – Star Light – Where shall I pitch my tent tonight?

Making plans for your summer travels.  Here are a few places to pitch your tent. Actually several also have more comfortable lodgings nearby.

Okie-Tex Star Party  Sept 24th to Oct 2nd

Get your registrations in early.  Especially for the meals. This is favorite fall gathering for many in the Tulsa club at the tip of the Oklahoma panhandle.  Al Nagler of Tel-Vue optics proclaimed it as one of the darkest sites in America.

Other regional Star parties include: This is by no means a complete listing.

Rocky Mountain Star Stare   June 29 to July 3.

Nebraska Star Party  July 31st to Aug 5th

Several of our members have attended this star party on the Great Plains.  Early registration is due by July 1st

 Heart of America Star party near Butler, MOAugust 25-31, 2011

Their website for 2011 isn’t up to date yet.

Astronomical Events for the Month:
  • May 3 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 06:51 UTC.

  • May 5, 6 - Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids are a light shower, usually producing about 10 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower's peak usually occurs on May 5 & 6, however viewing should be good on any morning from May 4 - 7. A thin, crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what could be an good show. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight, far from city lights.

  • May 7 - Astronomy Day Part 1. Astronomy Day is an annual event intended to provide a means of interaction between the general public and various astronomy enthusiasts, groups and professionals. The theme of Astronomy Day is "Bringing Astronomy to the People," and on this day astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out about special local events by contacting your local astronomy club or planetarium. You can also find more about Astronomy Day by checking the Web site for the Astronomical League.

  • May 11 - Conjunction of Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter. The three planets will form a 2-degree long vertical line in the early morning sky. The planet Mars will also be visible nearby. Look to the east near sunrise.

  • May 17 - 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 11:09 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

  • June 1 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 21:03 UTC.

  • June 1 - Partial Solar Eclipse. The partial eclipse will be visible in most parts eastern Asia, Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)


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


Milt Enderlin / Vicky Travaglini


Additional club positions:


Arden Strycker


Carroll Ritchie

Publicity/Public Website

Steve Plank & John Grismore

Member Observing

Steve Plank & Arden


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

B.A.S. is a registered, non-profit organization.



2011 Programs

 Month Program Presenter
 JanThe Cheapskate Astronomer’s Introduction to Astrophotography Rick Bryant
 FebKen Willcox: The Birth of an Eclipse Chaser Daryl Doughty
 MarThe Cheapskate Astronomer’s Introduction to Astrophotography
Rick Bryant
 AprDSLR AstrophotographyDaryl Doughty
 MayThe Past and Future Habitability of Planet EarthVirgil Reese
 Aug?? The Cheapskate Astronomer's Introduction to Astrophotography
Part III  ??
 Rick Bryant

Next Meeting

June 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  .

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