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November 2011

Uncooperative weather spoiled our plans to host a public star gazing event at Sooner Park during this month's meeting, but a couple of members stepped up with presentations for an indoor meeting.  Daryl Doughty presented another in his "Object of the Month" series and Arden Strycker gave a program on the functions and benefits of the Astronomical League.  In addition, there was interesting discussion about members' recent observations and about current astronomical news.  November is dues month for BAS, and many members paid before the meeting.  Club business included the Treasurer's report and dues reminder, discussion of our effort to raise money for a large club telescope, ideas about increasing club star party participation and planning for future events and programs.

Business Meeting

Treasurer's Report

Beginning Balance - 9/30/11                 $889.80

Welcome New Members - John Tobola and Joe Shveima

and three membership renewals.          Income:  $78.33 

Ending Balance - 10/31/11                   $968.13                            


Last year BAS made the decision to establish November as the yearly dues date for all members, and many paid during the meeting last Monday.  This facilitates dues collection and simplifies our payments for liability insurance and Astronomical League dues.  Those who haven't paid dues for the upcoming year are encouraged to mail dues to the Treasurer.  The address can be found on the membership application form on the Join BAS page of our club website.  Members who joined and paid dues less than a year ago still need to pay, but will only pay a prorated amount to bring them into sync with our November dues cycle.  If you have decided not to continue with BAS membership, please inform one of the officers so we won't continue to send reminders.

Club Star Party Participation

During the past year or two, participation in club star parties has been disappointing.  A brief discussion uncovered the fact that novice members and those without telescopes may feel intimidated or hesitant to participate.  Actually, club star parties are intended to give all members an opportunity to observe the sky, share knowledge and techniques, ask questions and compare how various equipment performs.  It's one of the best places for beginning star gazers to learn more.  In future star party announcements we will make an effort to emphasize that the only thing a member needs to have to attend, is an interest in astronomy.

Future Events

We have a school star gazing event scheduled for November 29 at the Wesleyan Christian School.  We'd like to have enough telescopes and binoculars there to give all the kids plenty of opportunity to view the Moon and other objects.  If you're willing to volunteer, please contact John Grismore.  We want to continue to develop planned indoor activities that we can use for any educational or public events when the weather prevents outdoor star gazing.  Daryl Doughty and Duane Perkins are developing an introduction to the sky using a planetarium program.  More prepared activities like this need to be developed.

Arden Strycker is preparing a calendar of astronomical events and BAS activities for the coming year.  Once it has been completed, it will be available to all club members and interested individuals on our BAS website.  If you have events to suggest, please contact Arden.

Future Programs

Once again we discussed the need for meeting programs.  At the September meeting, Program Chairman Daryl Doughty coordinated a brainstorming session to come up with ideas for programs for future meetings.  This produced a good list of interesting topics, which Daryl presented to the club at the October meeting.  Unfortunately, he has not heard from any volunteers willing to present a program.  We are currently struggling from month to month to provide interesting programs, but we really need to schedule out six months ahead, or more.  If you're willing to help with a meeting program, or have an idea about how to improve our program planning, please contact Daryl.

Observing Reports

Steve Plank briefly described an enjoyable evening of observing during the last club star party at Mike Woods' place.  Arden Strycker spent quite a bit of time with him, coaching him through the basics of star hopping.  Steve commented on the sense of accomplishment in finding objects on his own, without the aid of a computerized Go To  scope.

John Grismore explained a new video technique for determining the position angle and separation of double stars.  He showed a brief video of his first double star observation using this technique, as well as a short video demonstrating the data analysis methods.  The resulting data can be supplied to the Washington Double Star catalogue, so that it will be available for use by amateur and professional astronomers.

What's News

Much of the discussion about current astronomy news centered on asteroid 2005 YU55, which was to pass closer to the Earth than the Moon's orbit the following night.  Additional topics included, deflecting Earth-approaching asteroids, new information about the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, and a White House response to a freedom of information request, stating unequivocally that the government has never had any contact with, observation of or evidence from any extraterrestrial intelligence.

Object of the Month by Daryl Doughty

This month's object of observation is the Double Cluster, a striking pair of closely associated open star clusters in Perseus.  Using Stellarium, a free planetarium program that can be downloaded from the internet, Daryl began by displaying a star chart of a large region of the northeastern sky, as seen during November evenings.  The view stretched from the Moon and Jupiter on the right to Capella and Cassiopeia on the left.  Adding constellation lines highlighted the constellations in between, including Andromeda, Triangulum, Aries, Perseus and Camelopardalis.  After recounting some of the mythology surrounding these constellations, Daryl moved to Cartes du Ciel, another free planetarium program, to display more detailed star charts and zoom in on the exact location of the Double Cluster, found between Perseus and Cassiopeia.  After establishing the location, Daryl displayed two of his own astrophotos; the first, a very nice image taken on film in 2007, and the second, an exceptional photo taken with a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera in 2009.  After this presentation, we should all be well prepared to find and view the Double Cluster in Perseus.

The Astronomical League by Arden Strycker

Part of BAS members' annual dues go to The Astronomical League, the premier national organization of amateur astronomy.  In a very interesting program, Arden explained what our dues are for, and the advantages and benefits we receive from AL.  Discounts on astronomical books and calendars, preferred pricing on Astronomy magazine, Sky & Telescope and Dateline, and a free subscription to the AL Reflector are among the benefits.  Of particular importance to BAS has been the ability to acquire liability insurance for the club at a reasonable price.

Among the many ways that AL fosters interest in astronomy and motivates its members to action, is through the Observing Clubs program.  These clubs are mostly observing challenges set forth for members to pursue, and cover a broad range of topics with varying degrees of difficulty.  Requirements for each club are available on the AL website and completion entitles participants to a certificate and pin to accompany their sense of accomplishment.  There are, apparently, no current BAS members who have completed one of the AL Observing Clubs, but Arden is currently working on a couple of double star and deep sky object clubs.  There may be several members who have completed the requirements through their own activities and merely need to formalize their accomplishments with AL.  These Observing Clubs are an excellent way to increase our knowledge of the night sky and improve our observational abilities and techniques.  Hopefully, more BAS members will soon become actively involved in this excellent program.

A few of the AL Observing Clubs include:

Constellation Hunter Club

Planetary Observers Club

Lunar Club

Sunspotters Club

Meteor Club

Earth Orbiting Satellite Observing Club

Messier Club

Double Star Club

Open Cluster Club

Outreach Club

A complete list can be found here.

Members who have completed enough of the AL Observing Clubs to demonstrate their advanced level of astronomical knowledge and observation can qualify for the Master Observer Club.  This club establishes master observers who are particularly capable in assisting other amateur astronomers and novices in a wide range of astronomical areas.  BAS will plan a special celebration for our first Master Observer.  Now's the time to get started.

Next Meeting

Monday, December 5, in the Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room, Steve Plank will present "Star Gazing for Beginners".   For more information, see the meeting announcement on our website home page at <> .

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