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January 2010

January 2010 BAS Meeting Notes

Despite the bad weather, we had good attendance at this month's meeting.  Among those braving the snow and cold were a couple of new faces.  Prior to the program there were some good conversations about astrophotography, telescopes and mounts, backyard observatories and other astronomical topics.  The program this month was a complete guide to collecting meteorites, and following that we briefly discussed a couple of club business items.

*** Star Party Reminder ***
Since last month's winter star party was clouded out, Mike Woods has invited us back to his place for a second attempt on Saturday, January 16.  It's a good idea to arrive early enough to get set up before twilight ends.  The "go/no go" decision is left to each individual.  Even if the weather is questionable, there may be some optimistic members set up in anticipation of good luck, clearing skies and warmer than normal temperatures for this time of year.  For a map to the observing site contact John Grismore.

A Cheapskates Guide to Starting A Totally Awesome Meteorite Collection
The program this month, presented by Rick Bryant, was a very thorough and interesting guide to meteorite collecting.  He began with an explanation  of how to collect, touching on the importance of establishing your own interests and limits.  This focuses the collection on a manageable range of criteria, making it easier to organize and finance the collection.

Of course, understanding what meteorites are and how to identify them is a critical skill for collectors.  Although the presence of magnetism, or a fusion crust or chondrules may strongly suggest a real meteorite, the most certain identification is by chemical analysis.  Inattention to proper meteorite identification could be costly to a casual collector.  Even once a sample has been identified as a real meteorite, there are a number of factors that influence the appropriate size and cost for your collection, including type (family) of meteorite, rarity, authenticity and condition, among others.

Rick emphasized the importance of working with reputable, full-time meteorite dealers and rock shops to avoid scams.
Some recommended national dealers include:
   IMCA <
   Meteorite Exchange <>
Recommended eBay Dealers are:
   ArgusRocks (micromounts, thumbnails)
   EarthlyTreasures_NZ (Deans' NWA)
   Voyage Botanica Natural History
And recommended magazines are:
   "Meteorite Magazine" (Quarterly)
   "Meteorite Times"   (Monthly, on-line)

A good article on distinguishing between real meteorites and fakes or look-alikes is:
   Meteorites more Wrong than Right By Kelly Ettenborough at:

At the end of the program everyone browsed the samples and display cases Rick brought from his own collection.  This included a diverse range of meteorites, including some rare ones, and even two small samples of a meteorite originating from the Moon, and two originating from Mars.

Club ByLaws
During the holiday break, while Milt was returning Christmas lights to his attic, he drug down a couple of boxes of old BAS documents and located a hard copy of our club  bylaws from 1989.  Four pages were scanned in as jpeg images and then an optical character recognition web site was used to convert them to text.  After a bit of clean up and reformatting, we now have a text file of our 1989 bylaws.  The original scanned images, as well as the clean text file, have been uploaded to the Files section of our BvilleAstro Yahoo group.  I'd really appreciate it if a couple of people would review the text document and verify it against the scanned images to make sure everything is as it should be.

In anticipation of an eventual review of our club bylaws (it has been 20 years!), I also uploaded the AL bylaws, the AL guidelines for member society bylaws, and just for comparison, the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club bylaws and the Des Moines Astronomical Society bylaws.  If anyone is willing to begin the process of reviewing our bylaws for updating, this would be a big help.

Dark Club Observing Site Search
There are several possibilities for club dark sites.  Steve Plank continues to pursue contacts with the Army Corps of Engineers at Copan Lake and Hulah Lake, as well as Osage Hills State Park and the Boy Scout camp.  But bureaucracy grinds slowly.  Nevertheless, we are optimistic that we will see some progress in the near future.

Non-email Communications
Jim Vogh has volunteered to serve as liaison between our club email and on-line communications, and those BAS members who do not have access to email.  The club will compensate Jim for any printing or mailing costs incurred.  In addition, he will contact many of the people on our list who previously expressed interest in the club, to determine if they are still interested in receiving BAS newsletters, announcements and other information.

Night Sky Program for Schools
Joyce Ritchie has been in contact with local elementary schools about providing star parties and astronomical activities to be offered as a community service by BAS.  Wayside elementary, which now has an expanded "gifted and talented" program, has expressed interest, and would like to have two separate sessions; one for the lower elementary grades and one for the upper grades.  Joyce will be working with Wayside to establish dates for these sessions once the weather improves.  Offering programs through the schools is one way we can provide astronomical outreach to the community without the high cost of carrying our own liability insurance.

Astronomical League Member Society
BAS is once again a member society of the Astronomical League.  This provides us with many benefits, including book discounts.  The AL also offers a number of observing clubs, which establish goals and direction for an individual's observations.  Observers' accomplishments are recognized with a certificate and a pin.  There are over 30 observing clubs, including the Messier Club, the Herschel 400 Club, the Caldwell Club and the Binocular Messier Club.  Interested BAS members should visit the AL web site at <> .  In addition, paid members of BAS will receive AL's quarterly publication, The Reflector, beginning in March.

Programs, We STILL Need More Programs
Our programs during the past couple of months have generated quite a bit of interest.  Hopefully, we can continue to provide useful and engaging programs, but to do that we need program ideas and volunteers.  We want to keep these programs brief and informal so that they don't become a burden to prepare.  There must be lots of good program ideas, so please send your suggestions to Jim Vogh (program chairman) or John Grismore.  And of course, we need people to present programs.  This will work best if members volunteer without anyone having to "twist arms".  We currently do not have a program for the February meeting.

Next Meeting
Monday, February 1, in the Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room A.  Program to be determined - volunteers needed!!!

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