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January 2012

The program this month was presented by Christian Bruggeman and Robin Roads, of the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club.  They discussed the OKCAC activities and programs, and explained the benefits of participating in the Night Sky Network.  The business meeting included the current treasurer's report, a final reminder to pay dues, a brief discussion about future events, ideas for greater involvement in public outreach, and an update on development of the program list for 2012.  A short review of astronomy news for 2011, and "Object of the Month" preceded the main program.

Business Meeting

Treasurer's Report

Beginning Balance - 12/01/11:                $1139.13

December Income:

Membership Renewals (7) -                       $93.33

New Memberships (2) -                             $40.00  

 David Cade and Sergey Pisetskiy

December Meeting Auction:                      $14.50

Ending Balance - 12/31/11:                    $1286.96


One last reminder was made for those members who have not yet paid club dues for the coming year.

Future Events

Arden Strycker summarized plans for our Winter Club Star Party.  The tentative date is Saturday, January 14, with the following weekend (January 20 or 21) as backup dates in case of bad weather.  Arden has already confirmed all three dates with the Wah-Shah-She Girl Scout Camp, where we will have access to a large open field for observing and the adjacent lodge for warm-up and indoor conversation.  This star party is intended for all members, regardless of experience level or equipment (or lack of it).  Telescopes will be set up, but are not required.  Binoculars will be good for observing, but those with no observing equipment will find this an excellent opportunity to observe through other members' scopes and binoculars.  A couple of experienced observers will be devoted to helping new and novice members get oriented to the sky, answering questions and providing observing tips and advice.  An email with additional details will be sent out several days before the event.  Don't miss this opportunity.

Steve Plank reported that registration for Sunfest is $30 again this year, and ends on April 30.  Meeting attendees agreed that BAS should participate in Sunfest this year.  We will proceed with early registration in hopes of claiming a booth site with electricity and a clear view of the sky, so that we can display live images of the Sun.

Public Outreach

Steve Plank has agreed to serve as the club public outreach coordinator.  Among his first activities will be to establish BAS membership in the Night Sky Network, supported and sponsored by NASA and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.  As explained by Christian Bruggeman in the main program, this makes available to BAS, a wide variety of resources and free educational materials, based on club participation in public events.  In addition, the club will have access to on-line scheduling and publicity of public astronomy events.

Within BAS, as an extension of Steve's "Beginner Stargazing" program, he is offering to provide individual mentoring to novice observers wishing to improve their knowledge and skills.  Steve will be available to assist beginners on relatively short notice.  Those interested should contact Steve directly.

Club Scope

We would like to begin an effort to acquire funds to purchase a large Dobsonian telescope to serve as a centerpiece for future public, educational and club events.  Several possible sources of funding, including grants, were discussed.  BAS will investigate these and other mechanisms for meeting this goal.

Future Programs

Program Director, Daryl Doughty, reported that he has been aggressively pursuing programs for 2012 ("twisting arms", in his words).  Fred Frey has agreed to do a program on mirror grinding and telescope making, Virgil Reese will present a program on Nucleosynthesis: The Universe as a Chemical Factory, and Arden Strycker has agreed to do a program on telescope collimation.  In addition, Daryl is finalizing scheduling for  a program by Boeing radar systems engineer, James Beauchamp, of Oklahoma City, on observing meteors with radio scanners and AllSky cameras.  Daryl is planning to do a program on Stellar Life Cycles.  As dates for these programs are finalized and additional programs are added, our 2012 program schedule list will be updated on our BAS Website Home Page .

Observing Reports

Several members reported viewing the stunning, close approach of the thin crescent Moon to Venus on Christmas night and the following night.  Christian Bruggeman reported observing and photographing the early stages of the lunar eclipse on December 10, although no BAS members observed it.  There was also a brief discussion of plans for observations of the Quadrantid meteor shower, although the gibbous moon was likely to interfere.

What's News

Virgil Reese presented an exciting and fast-paced review of astronomy news from 2011.  Supported by a delightful collection of images, he covered a very wide range of topics, including additional evidence that water once flowed on Mars, and numerous exoplanet discoveries by the Kepler spacecraft.  It was a vivid reminder of the rapid pace of astronomical progress during the past year.

The Hyades - Object of the Month by Daryl Doughty

The  Hyades Cluster in Taurus was the January Object of the Month.  Daryl began by putting the Hyades into context with surrounding constellations, using star maps superimposed with constellation lines and mythical figures.  While explaining the constellation mythology, he zoomed in with closer star charts and his own astrophotos to highlight the cluster.  Although the Hyades is the closest open star cluster to Earth, the brightest star within its borders, Aldebaran, is not even a member.  The cluster consists of hundreds of stars in a roughly spherical distribution, sharing a common distance of about 150 lightyears and a common velocity across the sky, against the background stars.  Aldebaran, on the other hand, is only about 65 lightyears distant and travels with a distinctly different velocity.  To highlight the difference, Daryl showed a fascinating computer animation of the proper motions of stars in the Hyades region from 300,000 BN (before now) to 300,000 AN (after now).  While the Hyades stars streamed nearly horizontally from right to left, Aldebaran, dove rapidly through the cluster from top to bottom.  Climbing high into the eastern sky, just below the Pleiades during January evenings, the Hyades will be well placed for observing throughout much of the night.

Oklahoma City Astronomy and the Night Sky Network by Christian Bruggeman and Robin Roads

This month our main program was presented by two members of the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club.  Christian Bruggeman, editor of the OKCAC club newsletter, Gazer's Gazette, and Robin Roads, program director of OKCAC, addressed BAS about a wide range of topics related to amateur astronomy activities in OKC.  Accompanied by photos and slides, Christian discussed public outreach activities at OKCAC, including public star parties and sidewalk astronomy, educational astronomical events at schools, and astronomical mentoring with organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  He also explained in some detail OKCAC's fund raising, construction and use of their dark site, Cheddar Ranch Observatory.  This provided some fund raising ideas for the BAS "large scope" plans.  Christian gave several demonstrations of techniques for promoting astronomical interest in fun and engaging ways.

Robin Roads discussed her experiences as OKCAC program director and offered many constructive ideas for expanding the scope of our meeting programs.  She also provided ideas for external sources of programs and speakers.  This information is immediately applicable to BAS and we will be pursuing some of these suggestions in the near future.

Both Robin and Christian, explained the many benefits of the Night Sky Network, a free astronomy club resource, sponsored and supported by NASA and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.  The wealth of free materials, creative educational resources and on-line tools for event planning and publicizing make NSN an obvious advantage for BAS.  Efforts are already in motion to submit an application for BAS admission into the Night Sky Network.

We consider ourselves very fortunate that Christian and Robin were willing to make the long drive to Bartlesville and give their time to offer their help, knowledge and encouragement.

Next Meeting

Monday, February 6, in the Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room, Daryl Doughty will present "Stellar Life Cycles".   For more information, see the meeting announcement on our website home page at <> .

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