I am finally getting around to writing another newsletter. I must apologize for the delay, and also for the fact that we missed the February (and March!) meetings, but I have been extremely busy of late — more about the next meeting later in the newsletter.
The general interest Astronomy course at the College is going extremely well (to date we have held 7 out of the 10 evenings). We have about 25-30 very keen participants, some of whom are society members and many who are not. It is to be hoped that many will join our society and contribute their enthusiasm. We will be making a pitch.
It is with sadness that I report the recent deaths of two participants and members.
- Bob Fulton (age 29) had been active for a year or so and hoped to give the last session on photography.
- Marjorie Hiller (age 78) had been active in the class and was a member a year or so back.
Both will be missed.
RECENT EVENTS AT TMO
We did have a good turnout (20 or so people from the astronomy class) on the evening of Feb 23. We looked at M42, 37, 36, 42, 37, 31 and other things with the main telescope and my 13″ but had to quit around 9:30 when the clouds came rolling in.
Not an awful lot has been happening. We did recently obtain a 32 mm Erfle eyepiece (2″ barrel) for the 24″ telescope; it gives improved views but the magnification is even greater than for the 50 mm Plossl it now joins. Jim and I are contemplating ordering a (large) telecompressor lens to give wider angles and brighter images than the present setup which does not work well for galaxies. Jim is writing to the States for an estimate of the cost.
The 4″ x 5″ camera is just about ready for testing. Speaking of photography, all of you should be thinking about bringing your cameras next time we go out as the astronomy class will be doing some darkroom work and I would like to encourage everyone in this direction — astrophotography can be really rewarding. What I am thinking of here is either simple piggyback pictures with your 35 mm camera (fast B&W or fast colour film) or easy through-the-telescope photos of the Moon or planets. We hope to have a darkroom session (B&W only) to show you how really easy it is to develop and print your own stuff.
In a month or so, I hope to have work parties at the observatory to lay the carpet, make furniture, repaint the building, service the dome, etc.
Remember the casino nights scheduled for July 4-6 and Aug 26-8. Other than putting on the course (for $450), they remain our best hope for earning needed funds for all the grand things we hope to do. Volunteers are needed for these nights.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY
- Jupiter is behind the Sun but Mars is still well up in the southeast at sunset. Saturn and Uranus rise around 2 AM DAYLIGHT time (boo, hiss), a bit late but they should be better in a few months. The best planets to look for now are the outer two planets
- Neptune and Pluto. Neptune will rise about an hour before Uranus but Pluto should be visible from 10:00 on – in the 24″ only – (we do have a finder chart). Other objects well worth looking for are the many galaxies in the constellations of Coma Berenecies and Virgo – in the 13″ telescope.
For those of you that can make it, why not come along to the astronomy class this Wednesday (April 8) at 7:00 in room 2-202 at CNC (gratis)? I plan to finish up our discussion of the solar system complete with a slide show on the planets, and also a take a look at current knowledge of the Moon and Sun. You would be welcome to join the rest of the class.
Whenever possible, I will pass the word out to members for observing nights. However, I would encourage anyone wanting to go observing to take the initiative and call me around 5-7:00 PM any time that it looks as though it may be clear. Tuum est!
Bob Nelson, President