It’s time for another newsletter. I must apologize to all our members for not having any meetings for a couple of months – I’ve been so busy with the course and other things. . . I did invite you to one of the class sessions, but only one person took advantage of the offer. There has not exactly been a cornucopia of good observing nights recently, but I personally have been out a couple of times in the last month. I remind you that, in the absence of a call on the club phoning “tree”, anyone interested in going observing is free to call me, or Jim, Kim or Eric on a clear evening. We’d be happy to accommodate you if at all possible.
Two important happenings have occurred recently and two are in the works.
- We took delivery (officially it’s a loan) of a microdensitometer and blink comparator from the UBC Astronomy Dept. The former device will be used to measure accurately the positions of objects on a photographic plate and will be important in our project of measuring comet positions. The latter allows one to observe two plates of the same region of the sky, taken at different times, switching rapidly between the two. If anything changes, like a comet or asteroid moving, or a star varying in brightness, it is noticed immediately. Both devices will be of great value to us.
- We have started to move finally on the project o bringing power to the observatory. I don’t have to tell you about the advantages! The whole thing is contingent on three things:
- The availability of poles (6 needed) and at what price.
- The price for stringing the cable, and 3. What money we can raise at casino nights. (See below). We’re in the process of making enquiries. Stay tuned on this one!
- As I mentioned in the last newsletter, casino nights have been scheduled for July 4, 5, 6 and August 26, 27 and 28. Four volunteers are needed for each night to help out. (I am not exactly sure what the duties are, but they will be light – the professionals will actually run things.) We hope to raise several thousand badly needed dollars for the society.
- I’m planning a work “bee” for Saturday May 23 at TMO. This is the chance for all of you who haven’t done anything for the society to get involved. Three basic tasks are planned:
- Scrub with a wire brush those parts of the blocks that are peeling and repaint. Obviously. if the weather is not fine, we’ll have to postpone this part.
- Lay the carpet in the warm room. This will largely finish the room.
- Service the lower shutter and try o get rid of the squeak.
As you can see, there is potential a lot going on. Let’s try to make this observatory really great!
RECENT EVENTS AT TMO
I went out observing on Apr 21/22 with Brian Stauffer and on May 6/7 alone and did my variables for the AAVSO.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SKY
On the evening of May 15th:
- Sunset is about 9 PM PDT; officially it will be twilight all night, but assume darkness starts at about 10:15 PM.
- Mars sets at about midnight and is rather poorly placed for observations. Wait until next apparition, two years from now.
- Saturn rises at about 11 PM and is a beautiful sight. What about some photos guys (and girls)? It’s easily done with some fast film and a doubler.
- Uranus rises at 11:45 PM, Neptune at 12:19 AM. Still very late night objects.
- Pluto is something we should go for – it rises at 6:08 PM, sets at 6:30 AM and is about magnitude 13.7 – difficult but possible.
- The Leo, Coma and Virgo constellations with their many galaxies are well placed for viewing (with the 13″).
- For those who can stay up very late, the Sagittarius region of the Milky Way is very spectacular with many nebulae such as M8, M17, etc.
Wednesday, May 20 at 7:30 PM in room 2-223 (the Physics Lab) at CNC. I’d like to discuss our activities further, get people involved, etc. You’ll get to see (and tinker with) the microdensitometer and blink comparator. In addition, for those of you interested in computers, we’ll have all our software out. If you own, or have access to an Apple computer, bring a handful of disks for some software.
For all you members of the class who have not joined yet, why not come along and get involved?
I hope to see all of you there!
Bob Nelson, President