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September 2011

September 2011 Meeting Notes

During the business meeting this month, in addition to the Treasurer's report by Vicky Travaglini, Chase Barnett summarized our procedure for October elections, Arden Strycker discussed a possible rewrite of the club by-laws, Steve Plank outlined plans for a "Beginner Stargazing" program and Arden summarized our dark sky sites.   After the business meeting Daryl Doughty presented an Introduction to Fall Constellations, followed by an Introduction to Stellarium, by Steve Plank.  Our main program this month was a workshop to brainstorm ideas for future programs.

Business Meeting

Treasurer's Report
Beginning Balance August 1, 2011 :  $1119.05
One new member joined in August:  Phil Lorenz - $20
One early renewal :  Joseph Howard - $20
Donation found on stairs:  $2
Balance on August 31, 2011:  $1161.05
Seabury and Smith 1 million liability insurance policy renewal, paid Sept 1, 2011:  $320.00.
This is the same premium cost as last year.  Policy in effect from Sept 14, 2011 for one year. 
Balance on Sept. 6, 2011:  $841.05. 

October Elections
Nominations are now being accepted for the offices of Vice-President and Secretary/Treasurer. The duties and responsibilities of these offices can be reviewed in the Bartlesville Astronomical Society bylaws at <>. Your nomination can be made to Chase Barnett via any of the methods listed below:
Mail:     1030 East Dr.  Bartlesville, OK 74006

By-laws Rewrite
As previously discussed, our club by-laws have remained unmodified for well over twenty years and are in need of a review and a rewrite.  Arden Strycker, who has experience with writing by-laws for another organization, has volunteered to shoulder the primary responsibility for this task, but has requested assistance from a few other volunteers.  He pointed out that it's probably not desirable for the by-laws to be the product of just one individual.  There are a number of issues that need to be considered, including compliance with current regulations for non-profit organizations such as ours, realignment of officer positions, terms and responsibilities to more closely match our current mode of operation and 
more careful definition of how club money may be used.  In addition, Chase Barnett pointed out that the by-laws need to be modified to be gender neutral.  Once a preliminary draft of the updated by-laws has been written, it will be brought before the members for comments and discussion.  The final draft of by-laws must be approved by the membership to become effective.

Beginner Stargazing Program
Steve Plank gave a summary of his efforts to organize a "Beginner Stargazing" program for novice members and interested individuals on our email list.  Considerable progress has been made, with preparation of a presentation nearly complete.  The following additional suggestions were made.

It would be beneficial to try to schedule the lecture and the outdoor, hands-on portions of the program at the same place. The Girl Scout Camp might be a good possibility for this.

The program needs to build from the idea of a beginner with no equipment, then move into the equipment discussion.

It might be good to consider two different groups or presentations.  One to address the "eyes only beginner", and another to address beginners who want to move to telescopes or other equipment.

Several ways to incorporate these ideas into the existing plans are being discussed and more detailed information will be released in a future email.

Observing Reports
Arden described several recent observing sessions at Skull Creek by himself, Steve Plank, Daryl Doughty and Duane Perkins.  Arden has observed from this site more than any other club member, and has begun to develop some experience with the variable conditions there.  An interesting discovery on his part has been that, although this site is undoubtedly the darkest site that we have access to within reasonable distance from Bartlesville,  conditions can generally be expected to improve even more (become darker) by 2 a.m., when exterior lighting in nearby communities decreases and the light domes seen from Skull Creek diminish significantly.

Introduction to Fall Constellations - Daryl Doughty

As the summer constellations fade into September sunsets, a whole new collection of fall constellations slides into our evening skies from the east.  Daryl described this seasonal transition with the help of star charts and his own astrophotos.  The Navigator's Triangle, also known as the Summer Triangle, is an asterism comprised of the three bright stars, Vega (in Lyra), Deneb (in Cygnus) and Altair (in Aquilla), and was the starting point for Daryl's discussion.  He showed photos of several interesting objects in this area, including an impressive image of the Ring Nebula (M57) in Lyra.

Turning next to the constellations of autumn, Daryl used star charts to locate some of the most important ones, including Cepheus (the King), Cassiopeia (the Queen), Andromeda (their daughter), Perseus (the Hero) and Pegasus (the winged horse).  In ancient mythology, the vain boasting of Cassiopeia caused Poseidon (the Sea God) to send a terrible sea monster (Cetus) to destroy the coast of King Cepheus's territory.  To appease the monster, Andromeda was chained to a rock by the shore to await her fate.  But, before the monster could kill Andromeda, Perseus swooped down from the sky (in some legends, riding Pegasus), killed the monster and took Andromeda for his bride.  Whew!  Lacking HDTV and 3D movies, the ancient Greeks still did a great job of telling an exciting story using the constellations above.

Daryl also showed some excellent photos of the Milky Way, taken during a recent night of observing at Skull Creek.  In addition, he displayed the results of his latest solar photography using a narrow band filter, centered on green light at the frequency where human vision is most sensitive.  Several distinct sunspot groupings were visible on the face of the Sun.  Finally Daryl recommended The Sun Today as a good on-line site for tracking the daily solar activity across a wide range of wavelengths.
Introduction to Stellarium - Steve Plank

Planetarium programs and apps are an excellent way for amateur astronomers and beginning stargazers to determine what will be visible in the night sky, from their location, at any point in time.  There is a wide range of software to do this, but at this month's meeting Steve Plank gave an introduction to Stellarium, which is a particularly useful and appealing option.  Not only is this desktop planetarium visually attractive, easy to use and responsive, but it's also free!  Steve gave a live demonstration of Stellarium, showing off some of it's features, including setting the time and location, displaying constellation lines and names (and even mythological artwork), displaying horizon (altitude/azimuth) or equatorial (right ascension/declination) grid lines, showing the ecliptic (path of the planets across the sky) and varying the number of nebulae displayed.

Clicking on any celestial object displayed by Stellarium puts a block of detailed information about that object in the upper left corner of the window.  This text includes name, brightness, coordinates, distance and other useful information.  It's very simple to type in the name of any object in the search box and quickly locate and center the object.  When a question arose about the visibility of Canopus, Steve searched for it and demonstrated that to see it during the meeting, we would have to look downward, through the Earth.  Stellarium can be set to automatically synchronize with the computer's clock, meaning that the display will stay current, updating frequently to match the motion of the sky.  There is even the option to fast forward the time, accelerating the movement of objects across the sky (caused by the Earth's rotation) to many times faster than real time.  This gave a great demonstration of how the stars all appear to pivot around Polaris (the North Star) during the course of the night.

Stellarium is a powerful and easy to use planetarium program, with a beautiful interface, that will enhance every stargazer's observing experience.  You can find out more about Stellarium's features and how to download it at <> .

Future Programs Workshop

This month's program was about future programs.  In order to plan ahead for the next six months to a year, and make sure that we have interesting programs at each meeting, Daryl Doughty, our Vice President and Program Chair, organized and coordinated an informal workshop to brainstorm program ideas.  Meeting attendees were divided into two smaller working groups.  The intent was not to force anyone to volunteer to make a presentation, but rather to establish a list of topics for interesting future programs.  Participation was enthusiastic and each group generated an impressive list of ideas.  Daryl will collate the two lists and email the resulting list to club members and interested individuals in the near future.  This will provide a good foundation for interesting and engaging meeting programs during the coming year.  Thanks to everyone who participated. 

Next Meeting
Monday, October 3,
  in the Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room
   For more information, see the meeting announcement on our website home page at <> .

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