Hi everyone! It’s hard to believe this is our tenth newsletter! This will be somewhat shorter than newsletters of late because we’ve had less time since the last one.
Although we’ve been out only 4 times this month (all at Forests for the World and some of them only for a couple of hours), this January has not been bad, give that we often have much cloud, ice fog, and bitter cold at this time of year. As a matter of fact, it’s been downright mild and pleasant at times. Our last session (Saturday Jan 23) was quite popular with 5 telescopes being set up over the evening.
Why not consider coming out next time? The site is quite convenient – to get there, drive out to Foothills Blvd (between 5th and 15th), drive up Cranbrook Hill Road, make a left at the top of the hill, and drive 1.6 km to the end. We do welcome people new to observing – you do not need to own a telescope! Moreover, some one will take the time to show you some things in the sky, get you started, etc. On clear nights, we will attempt to reach our members through the phoning “tree” – please see the revised copy enclosed this month – but in any case, feel free to phone any of your executive. Hope to see you out next time!
We haven’t been using the observatory of late and that’s a shame since our 24″ telescope appears to be ideal (awesome?) for astrophotography. Your executive is determined to change this. Needed improvements to the instrument are being planned as well as the completion of our sensitizing tank. We also hope to complete our Moon shutter soon so that full-frame 4″ x 5″ negatives of the Moon may be taken. For the 35 mm format, we will be buying adapter rings for the popular cameras so that you too may take some easy astrophotos. [Let us know what kind of camera you have.]
Another thing we hope to do is develop film at TMO – that way we’ll be able to see if we’re doing things right, on the spot. Why not plan on joining us?
WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY
- Jupiter, Venus and Mercury make a fine show just after sunset. Jupiter we’ve seen for a while – it’s still quite high in the sky at sunset. Venus is the next (very) bright object in an arc down to the southwest. You have to be quick to catch Mercury, though – it’s visible only from about 5 to 6 PM further down the arc, near the horizon. You can use an ordinary pair of binoculars, or your naked eye (when you know where to look). You’ll see little detail with Venus and Mercury, though, since they’re both in the “blob” (gibbous) stage. It’s reputed that Copernicus never did see Mercury …
- There are a couple of bright asteroids visible: Vesta and Ampridite in Cancer and Gemini. There is a finder chart in January’s Sky and Telescope.
- Other good objects to look at are the old reliables: Orion Nebula, the open clusters in Auriga, the Double Cluster in Perseus, the Crab Nebula in Taurus. At our next star party, we can show them to you or, better still, show you how to find them for yourself.
Wednesday, February 3 at 7:30 PM at the College in room 2-223 (Physics Lab). We’ll show the concluding tape of the “Spaceflight” series. By the way, the Observer’s Handbooks have come in (finally!). Be sure to buy your own copy of this valuable guide: only $9 to members. [Note: some of you reserved a copy last fall – if you can’t make it to the meeting, be sure to let a member of our executive know.] Hope to see you there!
Bob Nelson, President