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June 2010

June 2010 Meeting Notes

Constructing a Backyard Observatory
Several years ago Daryl Doughty designed and built a roll-off roof observatory in his backyard.  During his presentation he explained the design considerations, material choices and construction methods with the help of a sequence of pictures demonstrating the process from the ground up.  He started by discussing the planned orientation of the structure and how to establish a true north-south line.  Once that was completed, there was a lot of shovel work to be done.  Daryl dug 8 holes for piers to support the structure and roll-off track, plus a very large center hole for the massive steel pier to mount the telescopes.  Once the cement was dry he constructed the floor of the structure, then framed the walls and finally built the roof on top, mounting it on heavy duty casters to roll along the roll-off track.  The project was clearly a major undertaking, requiring plenty of planning and a lot of manual labor.  But the final product is not only aesthetically pleasing, but very functional.  Daryl commented on how much easier an evening of observing or imaging is, when he can simply unlock the observatory, then flip a few switches and he's ready to go.

Daryl's handiwork didn't stop with the construction of Moosejaw observatory.  He also showed a sequence of pictures of the heavy duty (capable of carrying 100 lbs) equatorial mount he constructed, as well as exceptional astrophotos he has taken.  Many of these astrophotos, as well as pictures of his observatory can be seen at Daryl's Flickr Photostream at:

Eyepieces 101
Arden Strycker recently wrote a short article with plenty of helpful information explaining the use and selection of telescope eyepieces.  The article has been posted in the Hints, Tips and Recommendations section of the BAS website, so be sure and have a look at:

Dark Observing Site
Steve Plank, Arden Strycker and John Grismore set up scopes last Friday night at one of our possible dark sites at Hulah Lake.  The purpose was twofold; first to demonstrate to the landowner what we do, and second to evaluate site conditions.  We were successful with both.  The landowner was very cooperative and seemed interested in what we were doing and what we could see.  He stayed with us, looking through the telescopes at planets, open and globular clusters, nebulae and double stars for several hours.

Conditions when we arrived to set up were acceptable although there were some bands of high clouds scattered across parts of the sky. These lingered through twilight, but dissipated as dusk ended and the sky became dark.  Early in the evening, as the sky darkened, Venus, Mars and Saturn were the primary targets.  Venus showed a brilliant gibbous disk, while Mars displayed a small red, but fairly bright, dot.  Saturn, as usual, garnered the most "Oh Wow!" comments with its pale disk, crisp, nearly edge-on rings and two obvious moons. Even the shadow of its rings could be seen across the planet's disk.

With dark skies, the scopes turned to fainter objects; the Ring Nebula, the Dumbbell Nebula, globular clusters M13, M4 and M5,  open cluster M11 (the Wild Duck Cluster), the Whirlpool Galaxy, the Spindle Galaxy, M81 and M82.  By this time sky conditions had improved, providing steady seeing and good transparency.  Nearly all of the "faint fuzzies" observed looked quite good.  Naked eye observations easily reached 6th magnitude.  The globular clusters were resolved remarkably well, sometimes showing tendrils of stars that made them look almost like spiral galaxies, and the Dumbbell Nebula was the brightest I have ever seen it.

The landowner was very accommodating and has offered to mow an area for us to observe from, plus another area for parking.  We will proceed slowly and respect his desire not to have large crowds there.  But with time we hope to be able to make this exceptional site accessible to BAS members.

Assistant Treasurer
Vicky  Travaglini attended the meeting and has generously volunteered to serve as our assistant treasurer while Milt is out of town.  Dues will still be handled at normal meetings, but if Vicky is not there one of the club officers will accept payment and transfer it to her.

Club Responsibilities
There has been very little response to last month's request for volunteers to assist with club responsibilities.  A list of tasks and responsibilities currently in need of attention follows as a reminder of the ongoing need for help.
Please review the list and consider how you might best help keep the club active, then contact John Grismore or email  Thanks.

Handle publicity announcements   -   Carroll Ritchie   (assistant needed)
   Cable (channel 13)
   Library bulletin board
Coordinate with schools   -   Joyce Ritchie
Plan observing events - Steve Plank, Arden Strycker
Coordinate dark site search   -   Steve Plank, Arden Strycker
Forward info to non-email members - Jim Vogh
Treasurer - Milt Enderlin
Assistant Treasurer (while Milt is out of town)
Schedule Meeting Programs
Schedule Library meeting room monthly
Host out of town speakers
Set up meeting room
Produce newsletter
Produce meeting notes
Produce announcements and event notes
Handle club email contacts
Maintain web site
Manage BvilleAstro Yahoo Group
Maintain club calendars (Gmail and Yahoo)
Maintain member list
Maintain interested non-members list
Astronomical League Coordination (ALCOR)
   Send quarterly member roster
   Send new member dues
Club archiving (digital photos, video, etc.)

Next Meeting
The Bartlesville Public Library will be closed on Monday July 5 for the Independence Day weekend, so our next meeting will be Tuesday, July 6.  Instead of having a single formal presentation, we'll have several short, informal "show and tell" demonstrations.  Rather than assuming someone will bring something, we're trying to establish three or four demos of 10 to 15 minutes each.  Please consider volunteering.  Topics could be almost anything astronomy related, but there have been requests for hardware/equipment, software and internet resource demos.  Contact John Grismore or send an email to .

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