Stuff You Can See

Jane Houston

First there were the elections. New Board members Akkana Peck, Morris Jones and Jim Bartolini replace members Ed Erbeck, Terry Kahl and Bob Elsberry who are not running for election. Thanks Ed, Bob and Terry! Welcome Akkana, Jim and Mojo! The officers will be selected at the next meeting, and will be announced in the next newsletter. The program, Stuff You Can See, was next.

A five course optical feast was presented by club members and friends. Lance Shaw of the AAVSO and the Hercules Public Stargazers whetted appetites with his description of the recurrent nova U Scorpii which is undergoing a bright outburst - the first since 1987. Lance also handed out a finder chart centered on U Scorpii for those who might like to observe variable stars like this one.

Next up was Mark Wagner of TAC who presented Galaxies of Spring in a slide show he created using The Sky software by Software Bisque. It was quite a visual feast! Gorgeous examples of all galaxy types from lenticular , on to spiral, elliptical, irregular and compact galaxies were shown and explained. Mark also gave helpful hints and observing tips to help track down and identify the fainter of the fuzzies.

Jane Houston continued the deep sky portion of the celestial menu by describing some useful Messier Marathon tools. Endurance and caffeine are some intangible tools required. Practice also helps. Don Maccholz's Messier Marathon Observer's Guide, or Bob Garfinkle's Star-Hopping, Your Visa to Viewing the Universe (Chapter 15 is the Messier chapter) are two great guides. Another useful book is Harvard Penningon's The Year-Round Messier Marathon. One or more of these books will give a helpful boost to those trying to "see 'M all" in one night. First Marathon report is already in. Marsha Robinson grabbed 88 on March 12/13. A great number 88 - the number of keys on a piano and constellations in the sky! Way to go Mars!! And speaking of Mars.

Akkana Peck described observing the red planet, Mars. Using Mars and Earth Globes, she demonstrated opposition, explained subtle features to look for and warned the audience that it takes practice to distinguish Martian features, but not to give up, but rather to keep looking up! Colored filters don't hurt either. Akkana also showed some of her sketches of the red planet and encouraged everyone to try it, sketching, that is.

David North raised the roof the moon roof, that is - discussing elevation. The moon is at greatest elevation at first quarter and in the spring this elevation means we have less air to look through. David used a globe of the Earth - with a green Gumby stuck on to represent "the observer" in his demonstration of this phenomenon. A moon globe and a bright light bulb representing the Sun completed the picture. That about covers it!

Jane Houston; last updated: October 04, 2007 Prev Next