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July 2009

July BAS Meeting Notes

The Bartlesville Astronomical Society met Monday evening, July 6, at the First Christian Church.  An informal discussion covered several interesting topics.  A summary is presented below.

Jim Vogh - Astrophotos
Jim has been experimenting with astrophotography using several medium to long telephoto lenses on a Canon Rebel DSLR camera.  He brought a laptop and displayed a set of daylight pictures taken at Tall Grass Prairie to demonstrate the capabilities of a folded optics (two mirror) 500mm lens.  These photos seemed to show some "fuzziness" or "softness" in distant landscape shots, but performed quite well for distant portrait shots, where the background is expected to be out of focus.  The same lens, though, performed better in night shots of the moon.  Jim commented on the fact that as the night progressed, his photos improved, suggesting that the "softness" may be due to thermal distortions in the daytime air.

An unguided 30 second exposure displayed a single obvious star trail, along with a few faint ones.  But an on-the-spot adjustment to the photo brightness revealed many more fainter trails as well as a satellite trail cutting completely across the picture.  And finally, Jim showed a very interesting night picture of a swarm of lightning bugs along a wooded skyline.

Jim is currently working on refurbishing a barn door drive that he constructed some years ago, and hopes to have tracked astrophotos with these same lenses for the next meeting.  It will be very interesting to find out what kind of limiting magnitudes he can reach with this equipment.

Here's a link to the mirror lens that Jim used for these tests:

Don Fudge - Orion 80mm scope
Don has recently been observing with an 80mm short tube refractor from Orion.  He brought the scope to the meeting and gave everyone a chance to take a look at it.  It's a very nice, compact, wide field telescope that looks to be well built and very solid.  Don gave glowing reports of the views he's been seeing with this scope, and claims it's the best scope he has used for deep sky observing.  Although Don's interests are in visual observing, this same scope, it turns out, is quickly becoming a "scope of choice" for amateur occultationists because of it's wide field, compact portability and solid construction.  With a sensitive video camera attached it's possible to reach limiting magnitudes near 12.

Here's a link to the Orion ShortTube 80mm Refractor:

Joe Eder - Astronomy Books
Joe brought a number of astronomy books from his personal collection, covering a wide range of astronomical topics.  He is offering these to club members at a deep  discount.  Several books were snapped up on the spot.  For more information about the books Joe has for sale, contact him by phone or email.

Mike Woods - Star Party
Although several people met at Mike's place for last month's star party, the event was clouded out.  Mike has suggested that we try another one on August 22.  A final announcement will be made the week before the star party.

Club Discussion
We talked about club activities and membership, as well as ways to retain existing members and attract new ones.  An earlier email survey found that there was interest in having more star parties and club activities, as well as occasional meeting programs that go a bit beyond our usual informal discussions.  While members at the meeting agreed that the informality is itself an enjoyable part of the meetings, it was also mentioned that past programs have at times been very informative and have helped encourage and energize our members.  In the future, we'll try to get announcements of public meetings into the paper and on the local cable channel.  If there are other good ways to inform the public, let us know.  Mike pointed out that a good way to reach new people is through social networking sites like Facebook.  If someone is interested in setting up a Facebook page for BAS, please volunteer.  Don asked about existing BAS web pages.  There are actually a couple, but we haven't had any activity there in some time.  The links for those are:

BAS 2006 Forum Page:

The BAS Yahoo Group is our preferred method of communication, since it is a private site with categories for messages, photos, files and calendar.  All members are encouraged to join, so that we can maintain more frequent communication about our astronomical activities and interests.
• The Files section currently contains a few files about passive dew shield construction, SCT optics cleaning, and seeing and transparency scales.  There's plenty of room for lots more information and data here.
• The Photos section currently contains a snapshot of a BAS event several years ago, some exceptional astrophotos by Daniel Parrot and a few astrovideo images.  Again, there's plenty of room for much more here.  Anyone who has astrophotos is encouraged to upload them.
• The Links section includes a few links to astronomical sites,
• and there's a Messier Cross Reference Table in the Database section.

Finally, everyone expressed preference for sending our club newsletter and announcements by email.  Not only does this save the club money, but it is more timely and responsive, and for most people, more convenient.  There are a couple of members who do not have email, so any suggestions about the best way to keep them in the loop would be appreciated.

Next Month
Star party August 22.