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May 2012

The May BAS meeting began with business that included the Treasurer's report, discussion of plans for several future events, a description of the Night Sky Network, an update on the effort to rewrite the club by-laws and a brief discussion of club equipment.  The business meeting was followed by a short presentation about the Sun and it's involvement in several upcoming astronomical events.  The main program presented a detailed discussion of the important factors that can degrade optical performance of amateur telescopes, and discussed how to overcome these problems.

Business Meeting

Treasurer's Report April 2012

Beginning Balance - 4/1/12:                            $1401.96

Dues Income: 

New Memberships - (3)                                      $50.00    

   Pete Wolcott, Ryoko Wisner, Liam Wisner


4/2/12 Program Expenses 

Travel Compensation                                         $150.00

Presentation Item                                                 $7.80

Ending Balance - 4/30/12                                 $1294.16

Annular Solar Eclipse

Monday, May 20, there will be an annular solar eclipse.  The centerline of the eclipse path will pass near Reno, NV, Amarillo, NM, and Lubbock, TX.  In Bartlesville, the eclipse will be partial, starting around 7:27 p.m. and ending at sunset, with the Sun approximately 75% eclipsed.  Several BAS members have individual plans for observing and photographing the eclipse, but no interest was expressed in holding a public observing event for the eclipse.


Last year BAS had a booth at Sunfest, in Sooner Park.  It was a great success that publicized the club and attracted many interested visitors and some new members.  This year Sunfest is on the weekend of June 1, 2, & 3, and we will once again have a BAS booth.  We will have handouts and information about the club, astronomical equipment and displays, and a video of the Sun's rotation, complete with sunspots.  But to make all this happen, we will need volunteers.  If you can help out, please contact one of our Sunfest coordinators - Steve Plank or Jennifer Walker.

Venus Transit

Two days after Sunfest, on June 5, Venus will pass across the face of the Sun during late afternoon and early evening, as seen from Bartlesville.  There will not be another such transit until December, 2117, so BAS will organize a public viewing for this event. We will not be doing any sort of optical projection, so only equipment with approved solar filters will be used for public viewing.  Nevertheless, we will need volunteers with or without solar equipment to help with the event.  If you can volunteer please contact our Venus Transit coordinator - Arden Strycker. 

Night Sky Network

Recently, BAS became a member club of the Night Sky Network, sponsored by NASA/JPL and several other organizations.   NSN is described as "a nationwide coalition of amateur astronomy clubs bringing the science, technology, and inspiration of NASA's missions to the general public."  Steve Plank, BAS's Night Sky Network coordinator gave a brief introduction to NSN, explaining how to access the website, how to find upcoming astronomy events and how to locate nearby astronomy clubs.  BAS events are posted on the NSN calendar.  To find out more about the Night Sky Network, visit <> .


Arden Strycker, chairman of the By-laws Rewrite Committee, gave a brief status update.  The committee has made progress in improving the section defining club offices and describing their duties.  In the near future, the committee will meet for a more intensive focus on finishing a preliminary version of the new by-laws.  The intent is to get input from the general membership once the preliminary version is available, revise accordingly and then conduct a membership vote to approve the revised by-laws by September.  This will allow us to conduct October elections under the authority of the updated by-laws.

Club Equipment

Earlier this Spring, a few members met at Mike Wood's place, where our club equipment is stored.  We assembled, evaluated and photographed most of the equipment.  Since then, Arden has done an assessment of the equipment and created a detailed list of what we have and it's condition.  During the meeting, there was a brief discussion about our options for this equipment.  They are, continue to store it, try to refurbish some of it, or sell what we can and apply the proceeds toward new club equipment.  Several commented that refurbishing was probably not a practical solution.  It was also pointed out that at least some of the equipment is probably not appropriate for beginning observers.  Since most of our equipment is old and in less than ideal condition, and it's unlikely we could get a good return, it was suggested that we might bundle some of it into a single sale, or try to have an "as is" sale locally.  No decision was made.

Club Responsibilities

Over the past couple of years we've done a good job of distributing many of the important tasks within the club.  However, there are still some responsibilities that have gone without volunteers.  We discussed this during the meeting, and a list of club tasks and responsibilities was passed around.  Several members have volunteered to help with some of these tasks.  Of the remaining responsibilities, we are especially in need of someone to write up and distribute notes summarizing monthly meetings and other club events.  If you'd be willing to help, please contact John Grismore.

The Sun - Object of the Month by Daryl Doughty

With the increase in activity as solar maximum approaches, much of the recent solar news has been about sunspots, solar flares and geomagnetic storms.  This month Daryl showed impressive images of sunspots.  But, the Sun also participates in other striking astronomical events.  The Moon joins the Sun in a couple of upcoming occurrences.  Daryl demonstrated the change in size of last weekend's widely hyped "super moon" with a photo of the somewhat larger (~14% ) full moon.  Since this happens when the full moon occurs during perigee (closest approach, and largest apparent size), that means that the following new moon will occur near apogee, when the moon is farthest from the Earth and at its smallest apparent size.  This explains why the upcoming solar eclipse will be an annular one.  On average, the Sun and Moon are very nearly the same apparent angular diameter, as viewed from the surface of the Earth, making it possible for the Moon to just barely overlay the Sun during a total eclipse.  But on May 20, with the Moon at apogee,it will be too small to completely cover the disk of the Sun, leaving an annulus, or "ring of fire" surrounding the new moon.  Hence the name, annular eclipse.  Daryl's images of a smaller moon overlaying the larger Sun, made this phenomenon quite obvious.  Two weeks later, the full moon will pass through the Earth's shadow, creating a lunar eclipse.

On June 5, the planet Venus will pass almost directly between Earth and the Sun, appearing as a small black circle drifting across the face of the Sun over a period of several hours.  This is a rare event, and won't be seen again until 2117.

CAUTION!  Never look directly at the Sun with any optical instrument.  If you're interested in observing either of these solar events, contact Daryl Doughty to find out how to construct a safe solar filter using the appropriate materials.

Is Your Telescope Achieving its Full Potential? by Arden Strycker

Viewing the sky through a telescope reveals a whole new universe of fascinating sights.  But to enjoy optimal views, it's important to recognize the factors that can degrade optical performance, and understand how to fine tune telescope components to maximize images at the eyepiece.  This month Arden Strycker presented a detailed discussion of how to get the full potential from reflecting telescopes.  His talk included numerous graphics depicting the most important optical problems, including spherical aberration, coma, astigmatism and chromatic aberration.  In addition to optical factors, atmospheric seeing conditions can play a big part in overall image quality.  Arden explained the causes of these optical distortions and displayed images and animations demonstrating their appearance.

The process of collimation is one of the most important ways that amateurs can ensure that their scopes will provide the best possible optical performance.  Although the procedure is somewhat different for Newtonian and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, the basic idea in both cases is to align all the optical components in the light train precisely, to produce a final image at the eyepiece that has maximum illumination and minimum distortion.  Arden explained detailed step by step instructions for collimating each type of telescope, complete with diagrams.  Although the procedure may seem a bit daunting at first, with a bit of practice and familiarity any amateur astronomer can make sure they are getting the full potential from their telescope.

Next Meeting

Monday, June 4, in the Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room, there will (probably) be an informal meeting.  For more information, see the meeting announcement on our website home page at <> .

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