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October 2011

October 2011 Meeting Notes

During the business meeting this month, in addition to the Treasurer's report we discussed storage for club equipment, possible ideas for club scopes, bulk purchase of 2012 astronomy calendars, future events and future programs.  In addition, Chase Barnett introduced the nominations for officers and voting was conducted.   After the business meeting several members reported on recent observations and Daryl Doughty presented the Object of the Month.  Our main program this month was three separate hands-on demos of astronomical software.

Business Meeting

Treasurer's Report
Beginning Balance September 1, 2011:  $1161.05
Income:  New Members:  Carl Holloway - $20
                                         Dennis Logan - $20
                                         Mike and Donna Sharp - $20
Expenses:  Seabury and Smith Liability Insurance, 9-1-11:  $320
                  Astronomical League, 3 additional members, 9-8-11:  $11.25
Ending Balance September 30, 2011:  $889.80
IRS 990-N ePostcard Status:  The IRS has approved the change in their records of the dates for our Fiscal Year to be July 1 to June 30.  Even so, the IRS will not allow BAS to file an additional ePostcard report to reflect this change for 2011.  The IRS directs us to file our next ePostcard after June 30, 2012.  The IRS contends that this will be acceptable.
Renewal date of annual membership dues of $20 is November 1, 2011.  Members who have joined the club during the past year during a month other than last November will have a prorated amount due if you wish to bring your anniversary date in line with 11-1-12.  It will be an amount less than the $20.  I can let you know any prorated amounts.  The new members joining this year in September and October will be considered as already paid to November, 2012. 

Club Storage & Scopes
Mike Woods has generously offered to provide some storage space for club equipment and materials in his new garage/workshop.  A 2.5" refractor on equatorial mount, donated last summer, and an 8 inch Newtonian scope built in 1964, and donated just a few weeks ago, have already been stored at Mike's place.  After the meeting, most of the other club equipment (excluding the currently non-functional 12.5" club-built dobsonian) was transferred to Mike for storage.  Having this equipment centralized in one place will allow us to better track and use what we have.

In the past we've discussed establishing a loaner program to make club scopes available to new and novice members without scopes.  Unfortunately, most of our club scopes may not be in the appropriate condition to benefit our members.  Mechanically sloppy mounts or poor optics can quickly discourage budding amateur astronomers.  There are several possible courses of action.  1) We could try to refurbish our club scopes.  The cost to do this is unknown and the usefulness of the resulting upgrades is uncertain.  2) We could try to pull together the best components of our existing scopes to assemble one working scope.  This should be less expensive than option 1, but again, the usefulness of the upgrade is in question.  3) We could cull the sellable components from our existing club scopes, sell them and use the resulting income to start a fund to buy a large commercial scope to serve as a centerpiece for club and public star parties.  Such a scope would probably cost between $1000 and $2500.  Since the money raised from selling off our existing scope components would likely not come close to our goal, this would require a significant fund raising effort.

A show of hands indicated no support for a club project to refurbish most of our scopes.  There was more support, though not overwhelming, for purchasing a new scope rather than cannibalizing parts to create one functional club scope from our existing ones.  Several members noted that we couldn't really make a decision until we know more about the current condition of our existng  
Therefore, Jim Vogh and Fred Frey have agreed to take a look at our club scopes to determine the advisability of trying to refurbish one or more of the scopes.  In the meantime, members are encouraged to offer ideas for fund raising efforts toward the purchase of a new club scope.

2012 Deep Space Mysteries Wall Calendars
John Land, of the Astronomy Club of Tulsa, forwarded to us some information about a significant discount for club purchases of the 2012 Deep Space Mysteries Wall Calendar.  Several members expressed interest in purchasing the calendars, so Karen Cruce volunteered to investigate the discount details, report back to the club, and coordinate a club purchase.  If you're interested in one of these calendars,
  or call Karen

Future Events
Plans for several future events were discussed.  A star party at the Copan Schools Book Fair the following night was first on the list.  That has now happened and was very successful.  We also have a star party scheduled for Boy Scouts at Camp McClintock on Saturday, October 8.  At the time of the meeting, weather forecasts looked dismal for this event, but have since improved.  If you're willing to help with this event please contact John Grismore.

Since we haven't had an open, public star party for some time, it was decided during this discussion that our next meeting, Monday, November 7, will be a public star party at Sooner Park.  We will keep the Library Meeting Room scheduled so that we'll have a place to meet inside for informal activities, if the weather is prohibitive.  Since Sunfest, we've been planning a "Beginners Stargazing" program.  We will offer this during our public star party, hopefully with a laptop, projector and screen one or more informative presentations and several telescopes set up primarily for an explanation of how they work and comparisons of how they differ.  We also hope to have a couple of knowledgable members available to provide a short sky orientation to small groups of visitors.

Joyce Gray-Ritchie stated that Ranch Heights School has expressed interest in having BAS provide a star party in November.  A quick check of moon phase on Mike Woods' iPad indicated that the first week in November will be best.  Joyce will coordinate a date with Ranch Heights and report back to the club when this has been confirmed.  In recent years we've found that it's best to establish a single date and stick with it regardless of weather.  Rescheduling becomes so difficult that we often completely miss the event.  So, that means we need to be prepared to provide some interesting indoor astronomy activities in case the weather doesn't cooperate.  Informal, hands-on activities, rather than lectures or formal presentations, will probably work best.

Future Programs
During our September meeting, our Program Chairman, Daryl Doughty, conducted a future programs workshop to brainstorm ideas for future meeting programs.  Meeting attendees were split into two groups, each producing a separate list of ideas.  During the October meeting, Daryl handed out the merged list of ideas and requested input and feedback from members on the most interesting ideas.  This list is also available on our BAS website and can be downloaded from the Files page at <> .  We'd like to have meeting programs schedule for six months or more in advance by November.  Please express your preferences to Daryl at by email or phone.  Daryl will also be very excited to hear from you if you're willing to volunteer to present a meeting program.  Programs can be as short as 15 or 20 minutes and need not be a polished Powerpoint presentation.  The only requirement is an astronomically related topic that interests you.

Election of Officers
October is elections month.  Since offices are two year, staggered terms, we elected Vice President/Program Chairman and Treasurer/Secretary.  Chase Barnett, who served as the nominating committee, presented the existing nominations (Daryl Doughty and Vicky Travaglini), and requested additional nominations.  With no other nominations, members unanimously approved election of Daryl Doughty as Vice President/Program Chairman and Vicky Travaglini as Treasurer/Secretary.

BAS by-laws state that the club will also elect board members.  A request was made for volunteers to be nominated for board member.  Arden Strycker, Steve Plank, James Campbell and Duane Perkins volunteered and were promptly elected to serve on the board.

Observing Reports

Steve Plank noted that, if you haven't gotten out at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning to see the sky, you should.  Skies have been especially clear and steady, and a variety of objects are well place before dawn just now.  Jupiter and Mars bracket the southern sky, with Jupiter high and very bright in the southwest and Mars similarly placed in the southeast.  In between, the constellation Orion, Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, and the winter Milky Way dominate the sky.  The exceptional weather recently has permitted stunning views of the Orion Nebula (M42).

On Saturday, September 26, we had our first club star party at Mike Woods' place in some time.  Four or five members sat under cloudy skies for an hour and a half or more, watching occasional small clearings drift by, before calling it a night.  The conversation was interesting and the temperature was comfortable, so the event was a success even without telescopes.  The following Saturday Mike called a redo.  Although only three members attended, the sky was crisp, clear and steady.  At dusk, the crescent moon was a good target, but as the sky darkened, observing turned to deep sky objects.  Messiers dominated the evening.  Observations included M13 (the globular cluster in Hercules), M92 (also a globular in Hercules), M101 (galaxy with supernova in Ursa Major) maybe with a little imagination, M6 (the Butterfly Cluster in Scorpius), M11 (the Wild Duck Cluster in Scutum), M8 (the Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius), M15 (globular cluster in Pegasus), M28 and M22 (both globulars in Sagittarius), M27 (the Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula), M57 (the Ring Nebula in Lyra), the Double Cluster in Perseus, M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy) and its satellite galaxy M110.  Needless to say, it was an exceptional night.

James Campbell mentioned that early in September he spent a pleasant evening observing from a friend's ranch near Delaware, OK.  He and his friends were able to view several faint nebulae and a few open clusters.  Although they were out late enough to see Jupiter rise in the east, it was still so close to the horizon that atmospheric distortions interfered with the image.
Daryl briefly discussed solar observations he's been making with a special filter on his telescope during the past few weeks.  He tracked a large, complex sunspot after it appeared near the limb of the Sun, across the central portion of the solar disk and toward the opposite limb where it split into two separate sunspots.  He also mentioned that there's a good website, called The Sun Today, that contains current and past solar images in several different wavelengths.  This is a good way to stay informed about the Sun's activity.  Sunspots during the second half of September triggered solar flares that created significant auroral activity on Earth.

Arden Strycker attended the Okie-Tex Star Party last week, and gave the following report during our meeting:
Okie-Tex Star Party, an annual event organized by the Oklahoma City Club, was held last week (Sat to Sat). The event is held near Kenton, OK (OK-NM-CO border in the panhandle), and there were about 350 registered attendies. Many of those attending were from the region, but many were also from other parts of the U.S., including CA, MN, VA, PA, ME and many other states. Weather was great, with clear skies at least part of every night. Being higher in elevation and dry air, the skies are particularly dark--darker than Skull Creek, and darker than most clubs' sites throughout the U.S. Views of faint objects are truely spectacular. Featured afternoon speakers included Carrol lorg, Astronomy League President, and Zolt Leavay, NASA senior image processor (Hubble), office of public outreach.

What's News?

Virgil Reese presented a nice, fast-paced summary of recent astronomical news.  Among the stories were "first light" radio images from ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) of the Antennae Galaxy, new images and discoveries from the Dawn spacecraft, now orbiting Vesta (the second largest asteroid), remarkable images of some of Saturn's moons as seen from the Cassini spacecraft (still hard at work after orbiting Saturn for over seven years) and new discoveries about Mercury revealed by the recently arrived Messenger spacecraft.  There's no shortage of timely astronomy news and the pace continues to quicken, so we will make this a regular feature of future meetings.

Object of the Month - The Ring Nebula (M57)   by Daryl Doughty

Another new, regular meeting feature starting this month, is Object of the Month.  Daryl Doughty used star charts and astrophotos to show how to find and observe M57, the Ring Nebula.  He began with a wide view, establishing the orientation and identification of the surrounding constellations.  Then in several steps, he zoomed in to find the constellation Lyra, then the two guide stars bracketing the Ring, and finally a close-up look at the nebula, as would be seen in a telescope.  Daryl did remind us, however, that while our eyes can detect very faint light, the color receptors are not sensitive enough to show the colors seen in astrophotos of nebulae.  He also pointed out another interesting, nearby object, Epsilon Lyrae, the "Double Double" star.  This is a multiple star system about 160 light years away, consisting of two very close binary stars, orbiting each other widely separated.  Daryl recommended the use of a handy field guide to the stars as a convenient way to plan for and observe some of the best celestial objects.

Show and Tell

Rather then a formal presentation, this month our main program was a hands-on demo session.  Three separate demonstrations ran simultaneously as meeting attendees moved from table to table, watching the demos and asking questions.  Daryl Doughty used a DSLR camera and a laptop to demonstrate the use of Canon software for camera control to capture and process astrophotos.  Steve Plank used a laptop to demonstrate features of the free planetarium program, Stellarium.  And John Grismore demonstrated a powerful, cross platform program called AstroPlanner, for planning and recording observations, as well as for telescope control.

Next Meeting
Monday, November 7,
  the Bartlesville Astronomical Society monthly meeting will be a public star party held at Sooner Park
   For more information, see the meeting announcement on our website home page at <

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