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FirstLight Newsletter of the
Alachua Astronomy Club December 1996
December Star Party — Pamela Mydock
December 14, 1546, was the birthday of the astronomer we know as Tycho Brahe. AAC is giving him a 450th birthday party on Saturday
night. Come join the party at our usual Star Party site, at Bob Jacobs' house (a map to Bob's is in this issue). Starting at dusk (five-ishj we are having a fabulous pot-luck dinner, games and prizes, followed by
our monthly Star Party
Tyge (Latinized as Tycho) Brahe was born into the Danish nobility. He attended universities in Copenhagen, Leipzig, Wittenberg, Rostock, and Basel.
As a young man, Tycho was convinced that the improvement of astronomy required accurate observations. He eventually became one of the most famous astronomers of his time, and accepted an offer from King Frederick II to build what became the finest observatory in Europe, Uraniborg, on a little island near Copenhagen.
Tycho designed, built, and calibrated his own instruments. He made nightly observations, some of which have been verified as accurate to within half an arc minute. His observations were not published in his lifetime, but fortunately
for us, one of his students was none other than the famous Johannes Kepler.
Tycho's personal life was as interesting as his scientific adventures. On the penultimate day of 1566, he was involved in a fencing duel which cost him the tip of his nose. He had a gold nose fashioned as a replacement.
Kings and Emperors were his patrons in life, but sadly this patronage is what ultimately led to his death, in Prague in 1601. A librarian friend of mine told mc that Tycho died of a burst bladder. No one dared to ask for permission to leave, when in the presence of the Holy Roman Emperor.
So the moral here, according to my librarian friend is to "wiz if you gotta." Tycho didn't and he died. t>
FirstLight: Newsletter of the Alachua Astronomy Club Page 2
From the Sidewalk Saturday, Nov. 16, Williston FL
Although the monthly star party was a washout with rain all day and into the evening, the night wasn't a total loss. About 9:30 the skies cleared. Too late to setup the big telescope, I pulled out the trusty 10x50 twin refractor 'scope (hand held model), a few star finder charts, and had my own party for two.
We found just about every "M" object in the sky during the next two hours. Since I've been at this for less than one year, many of these objects were being seen, in person, for the first time. Got a good start on filing in the Messier Object Observation log provided to us by President John Brandorff at the last AAC meeting.
Monday, Nov. 18, Adel GA
Was out of town a lot this month and when the fog wasn't too thick, I set up. Took a chance tonight - some early fog. The first quarter Moon burned through but that's about all. By 9, the fog was so thick I almost couldn't see to break down. Just a handful of customers.
Friday, Nov. 22, Cedar Key FL
The Moon, nearly full in the early evening sky, Jupiter, Saturn clearly shining. No clouds..., sounds nice, doesn't it? Wrong! Set up in Cedar Key about 7 and we didn't last 45 minutes. Cold and very windy. Not one customer tonight.
Monday, Nov. 25, Adel GA
This is better tonight. Again, I'm set up at the "King Frog" parking lot but tonight there's a crowd of people. The word is getting out about this guy with a telescope. The police were there — at one point there were four marked units and they were on the radio calling for back-up. 'Tley, Bubba, you gotta see this dang thawng." I lost count after 30 customers. Even though the skies
— Randy Palmer there are hazy and light polluted, we still have fun, usually pulling out lots of books, charts, and photos.
Thursday, Nov. 28, Cedar Key FL
OK, I know it's Thanksgiving but I had promised some friends that live in Cedar Key a star party this weekend and tonight was their last opportunity. With out the Moon for the first few hours, we actually got to look at some real deep sky objects --mostly open clusters and double stars. The Moon rise over the Gulf was very beautiful - dark red on the horizon — awesome at low power in the 'scope.
Met one fellow, astronomy enthusiast for over 10 years, never owned a telescope. He did it all on his computer and naked eye. Said "Sky Globe" was his favorite program — not so much clutter on the screen. (I was glad to hear that; Sky Globe is the program I use too.) Of course, there were the usual drunks -- can hardly stand up -- telling me about the "eastern Star" while painting Jupiter setting in the West!
And the usual foreign tourist ~ I had stepped away for 2 minutes to take care of some business and, upon returning, found these two German speaking guys operating my telescope! I think they learned some new English words this evening.
And the usual visit form our friend, Claude Blankenship, and his dog, Sunshine. They've visited with us at Cedar Key nearly a dozen times over the last few months. Nice fellow.
Hey, isn't it nice to see Orion back in the evening sky. I'm looking forward to seeing you all at the Christmas Party/Meeting/Star Party at Bob's this December 14th. Don't forget to bring your telescopes!
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November Meeting Minutes — Pamela Mydock November 12, 1996, at Doyle Conner Building in Gainesville Note from Editor: No space this month for meeting minutes. See January issue...
Upcoming Club Meetings and Events
Club Star Parties — dates & locations • December 14 (Saturday Night); NO rain date. This is a combination Star Party-Meeting-Holiday
Party. It will be a potluck dinner and it isalso Tycho Brahe's 450th birthday! • January 4 (Saturday Night); rain date January 11.
January Club Meeting Date Tuesday, January 14th Time 7:30 p.m. Place Auditorium, Doyle Conner Building, 1911 SW 34th St. Speaker: Dr. Humberto Campins, Associate Professor of Astronomy, UF, will present a talk about comets-in preparation for the arrival of Comet Hale-Bopp in early 1997.
December Executive Council Minutes — Pamela Mydock December 3, 1996, at Morrison's Restaurant in Gainesville
Officer*4br 1997: Bud Cridlin has volunteered his serv. ss as secretary for the coming year. The remaining officers have agreed to serve for 1997.
Education plans and activity: Gary Liljegren and Chuck Broward had a daytime astronomy session at Glen Springs Elementary School for 5th graders.
Solar System Model: The committee will meet in January to discuss plans for reconstructing the model in a more vandal proof fashion. So far the members are Howard Cohen, John Oliver, Bob Jacobs, Chip Sullivan, and Ming Chang.
AAC Club Loaner telescopes: Chairman Randy Palmer has a sign-up sheet for the 'scopes. And he has some plans for more and better accessories for the coming year.
Request for Star Party: Howard has received a request for a private star party for some home schoolers. We'll talk about it at the party to see is there are any volunteers.
Holiday Party Plans: We have ordered some very nice prizes as rewards for winning at some
of the games we will play, such as: Pin the Comet Tail on the Universe, Reverse Planet Toss, and Howard's Ultimate Slide-show Quiz.
You must be present to win! So come and help us eat all the wonderful food that is being prepared. We are buying turkey and maybe some ham. Dorothy Bernardo is making deviled eggs. Dexter Avery promises lasagna. Chuck Broward is bringing salad and Marion Cohen is bring coleslaw. Casseroles will be provided by Cindy Jarnagan, Kristin Liljegren, Mike Stingfellow. Pamela Mydock will bring Tycho Broccoli pie, William Spencer (Spence) will supply us with chips and dip, and Duane Sandene will supply the sodas. Dessert will be provided by Gary Liljegren and Don Loftus.
FirstLight: Newsletter of the Alachua Astronomy Club Page 4
Bob Jacobs' House
9617 NW 143rd Street
N£ Brick Mailbox 0.1 mi north of NW 94 Ave 94 AVE /
About 3.5 mi from NW 39 Ave
lo NW 94 Ave
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OB JACOBS 17 NW 143 ST J462-4558J
MILLHOPPER RD N o r t h w o o d ^ "
Wimberly Estates NW39AVE
Shadow Lawn Estates Rutledge
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FirstLight: Newsletter of the Alachua Astronomy Club Page 6
Continuing Meade ETX Saga — Chuck Broward
As some club members are aware, I placed an order six months ago for a Meade ETX Maksutov telescope. After a long wait I received it. Sent it back to Meade to be fixed. Got it back a week ago.
Meade either fixed or explained away the problems. A review in the latest Sky and Telescope mentioned most of the problems I encountered and implied that one should just learn to work around the problems.
Thus, I christen my ETX the "Volkscope." Like the old volkswagon, it works, has a unique appearance, and demands continuous fiddling and tinkering to keep it running! I also noticed that like the volkswagon, it's price is already rising. Meade raised the price of the ETX a hundred dollars! I like that.
A tremendous cottage industry will flourish around the ETX. Some inventive soul will produce a midget telrad type finder for it. I, and others have already devised hand controllers for it. Someone needs to make a wedge/tripod for it, another will locate a 4 l/8th diameter soda bottle or another container to use for a dew shield. I notice the Tuthill already has a list of goodies, including a low battery indicator, which is absolutely needed since you are never sure the clock drive is really working!
Does it work? Optically, regardless of what Meade implies, it does not
outperform my C-8. Nor is it much better than my Celestron C-90. I feel it is good. I have looked at the Sun using a 40 mm and 25 mm eyepiece with good results. Trying higher magnification wasn't too fruitful. Night viewing has been limited to the Moon (fun), and M42, and a few doubles. Trying to find your way around the night sky with a finder that can't be used is frustrating! A fl3, the ETX is not a wide field device.
I took it into the classroom with some fifth graders, and we had fun with it. It is very useful for portable use, and actually impresses the kids, which means I no longer will drag the C-8 to local schools for a hour demo.
I will modify the mount, which is so poorly designed that it really isn't too functional as a astronomical mount in the southern latitudes. I will find a finder for it.
I will make the clock drive work right. I have, for those who know me, improved it's appearance by use of some exciting astro-stickers here and there. So, I will see you with my "volkscope" almost anywhere!
FirstLight: Newsletter of the Alachua Astronomy Club Page 7
FOR SALE TRADE....SWAP Call Chuck Broward for the following at 392-1051/475-1014 or email at [email protected]
CELESTRON C-8, two eyepieces, 8 X 50 illuminated finder, Wedge, field tripod, Telrad finder, dewshield, and a few stickers $850
MEADE 2 inch star diagonal and Series 4000 Super Plossl 56 mm eyepiece in very clean condition $300
CELESTRON Photoguider with reducer lens $50
TIRION DELUXE BOUND SKY ATLAS 2000 $50
12 V DEW ZAPPER, brand new $15
12 Volt to 110 Volt inverter $40 (25 if purchased with C-8)
CELESTRON C-90 System....$300
AAC meets every second Tuesday of each month, at 7:30 p.m., in the Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34th Street, Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida, USA.
General public and beginning stargazers are invited to all meetings, star parties and club events. No equipment needed. Call a club officer (most area codes 352) for more infomation or e-mail [email protected]
John Brandorff Gainesville (375-1043)
Howard L. Cohen Gainesville (376-5833)
Ryan and Don Loftus Alachua (904-462-1227)
Bud Cridlin Gainesville
Randy Palmer Branson (528-9614)
Pamela Mydock and Duane Sandene Lochloosa (481-5238)
Chuck Broward Melrose (475-1014)
World Wide Web Home Page at URL http://www.astro.ufl.edu/~cohen/aac
mailto:[email protected]:[email protected]://www.astro.ufl.edu/~cohen/aac
December 1996 Astro Calendar (Times EST)
Wed Sun Tue Thu
a 1 3
nm 07:00 Julian Date 2,450,419.0 (12:00 UT) 00:06 Last Quarter Moon 16 Mars (mag. +0.9) 4° N of Moon 06 Saturn (mag. +0.9) stationary 08 Venus (mag. -4.0) 2s S of Moonl 11:56 New Moon 00 Mercury (mag. -0.5) 7" S of Moon 18 Jupiter (mag. -1.9) 5° S of Moon 18 Gemlnd Meteor Shower
(1/4 peak duration = 3 days, ZHR • 95) 14 Mercury (mag. -0.4} at greatest elong E (20")
Comet Hale-Bopp (-mag. +414) low in NW. Conjunction with Sun on Jan. 4 makes Hale-Bopp difficult from Dec. 15 to Feb. 1, but look for possible conspicuous tail late Dec. to early Jaa
04:31 First Quarter Moon 15 Saturn (mag.+1.0)3° Sol Moon 09:06 Winter Solstice (winter starts in N. Hemisph.) 10 Ursid Meteor Shower
(1/4 peak duration = 2 days, ZHR = 20) 19 Aldebaran (mag. +0.8) 0.9" S of Moon 09 Mercury (mag. +0.3) stationary 02 Venus (mag. -4.0) 6° N of Antares (mag. +0.9) 15:41 Full Moon 23 Mars (mag. +0.5) 3°N or Moon
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