E-mail version

April 2000

ACT, Inc. has been meeting continuously since 1937 and was incorporated in 1986. It is a nonprofit; tax deductible organization dedicated to promoting, to the public, the art of viewing and the scientific aspect of astronomy.



The Astronomy Club of Tulsa Meeting


Friday April 14, 2000 at 7:30 P.M.


Room M1 inside Keplinger Hall, the Science & Engineering Building at TU. Enter the parking lot on the East Side of Keplinger Hall from Harvard and 5th Street. This will take you directly toward the staircase to enter the building. Room M1 is the first room on the left.

Map -


Notes from the President

John Land

April 14th Meeting - Light Pollution - Defining the Problem and Discussing Solutions.

 This month we will be discussing the problems of light pollution and some ways to make our community aware or better ways to manage lighting.  We will have a replay of the excellent series "Blinded by the Light" from KOTV Channel 6, plus slides and information on light pollution.  Our Club had several calls from the public following this series on TV.  Astronomers are not alone in wanting to control the needless spread of Urban Light Pollution.  Did you know that the USA wastes over $1.5 billion each year on needless lighting spilling into the night sky?  It costs at least $60 per year to run a dusk-to-dawn security light and some types of lighting can cost three times that much.  Even a small porch light costs $25 per year.  We will be discussing ways to provide good lighting when needed and avoiding needless light spill into the sky.

One of our best allies in education and legislation of light pollution is the International Dark-Sky Association.  You can find volumes of information at their web site   Individual Memberships are available for as little as $30 per year and astronomy clubs can join also.  As president I am proposing that the Astronomy club of Tulsa become an active leader in the efforts to control and reduce light pollution.

For our May 19 we have invited Patrick Johnstone of Tulsa to share how we can use existing Tulsa ordinances to address some lighting problems.  Patrick has done extensive investigation into ordinances being used around the country to reduce poor lighting and to save the communities THOUSANDS of dollars on poorly conceived lighting schemes.  For a view of the US at night, go to:

Observing Manuals Available

During our March meeting we discussed getting started in astronomy with one to the Astronomical League Observing Projects.  We have several of the "Universe Sampler" booklets to get you started learning the night sky.  We also have a few of the "Messier Observer's" and "Herschel I" manuals for the more advanced or ambitious observers.  For a look at these and other programs, check out the Astronomical League.

Scheduled Events:

As Spring arrives, we have many groups eager to visit the Observatory.  < Gerry Andries e-mail > and the Club can always use some willing members to help keep the groups occupied while he runs the big telescope for viewing.  List of Scheduled events:

04-07   Fri    19:30 Union School Young Astronauts 8th grade(15)

04-07   Fri    19:30 Club Star Party

04-14   Fri    19:00 Club Meeting at TU

04-15   Sat    10:00 Observatory Work Day

05-05   Fri    19:30 Club Star Party

05-06   Sat          Back up for 05-05-00

05-06   Sat    20:00-21:00 Undercroft Montessori School ( near Bishop Kelley)  This is a big family night with over 200 attending and they generally give the club a nice donation.

05-19   Fri    19:30 Club Meeting at TU

06-02   Fri    20:30 Club Star Party

06-06   Tue    18:00 Tulsa Girl Scouts Troop 366 6th grade

06-16   Fri    19:30 Club Meeting at TU

06-30   Fri    20:30 Club Star Party


OBSERVATORY WORK DAY - Sat April 15, 2000 We'll try to start around 10:00 AM.

A big "Thank You" to all those who helped out on March 25.  David and Nathan Lobrecht, Gerry Andreis, Howard Minor, George Brenner, Tim Wilson, Steve Chapman, John Land want to especially thank Troop 151 for cleaning up over five huge bags of broken glass and debris.  We spent a long day cleaning up the grounds after a brushfire that sweep through the area March 14th.  The Building and facility are unharmed and the fire probably saved us hours of clearing underbrush.  We have lots of cleaning and repair to do INSIDE and out on the building itself.  Our facility is over seven years old and it is time to do several small maintenance projects before they become major expenses in the future.  We are still in need of a welder brave enough to help us put a rain skirt around the edge of the dome.  We also need a good-condition small riding lawnmower if you know of someone who has one to donate or sell at a good price.  We also need volunteers to mow and weed-eat the grounds at least twice a month.  If several sign up we can keep the grounds attractive all summer.

From the Astronomy Club of Tulsa web page "Sky Events"

by Dean Salman

Check out the new picture of the club telescope on our web page!!

The sun is at sunspot cycle.  You should see quite a few surface features on the sun.  Enjoy viewing the sun during this peak, but please remember, you never can look at the sun without a filter.  YOU MUST HAVE A SOLAR FILTER TO SEE THE SUN.  If you don't have a solar filter you can view daily images of the sun and get the latest SPACE WEATHER at: April, as the sunsets in the western sky, three planets can easily be seen close together along with a crescent moon passing nearby.  The planetary gathering at dusk reaches its best in April when Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn all lie within a 5-deg circle.  A mere 6-deg separates Jupiter and Saturn on April 1st.  By April 5th, look for the very young moon entering the evening twilight scene.  The following day, on the 6th, Mars passes within 1.1-deg of Jupiter, with the growing crescent moon lying 3-deg south of Saturn.  Jupiter and Saturn roll deeper into the twilight each night, but Mars appears to linger.  On April 11th, the three planets form a beautiful equilateral triangle, followed by Mars passing 2-deg north of Saturn on the 16th.  Jupiter and Saturn will continue to get closer until May 31st when they will by just over a degree apart in the predawn sky.  The next time these planets become so close is 20 years from now, on March 26, 2020.

Note from John - Fear NOT the gathering of the planets!!  Jupiter and Saturn had a Triple Conjunction is 1980 and despite dire predictions then, we are still stuck with California soaking up all the sun on the west coast.  I think all these doomsday predictions are just a plot by the Chamber of Commerce's in Arizona, Utah and Nevada trying to get in on some seacoast tourism!

Summer Astronomy Conventions

If you have never attended one of the many summer astronomy conventions, you don't know what you're missing.  We received mail from the MidCon 2000 50th Anniversary Convention to be held in at Avila College in Kansas City June 9, 10 & 11.  Early registration by May 16 is only $30 and you can stay on campus with meals at very reasonable prices.  You will also be able to visit their Powell Observatory - featuring a 30-inch fully equipped telescope.  Major named speakers like Fred Espenak and David Dunham are also featured.  Registration forms will be available at the meeting.  For more information try:


 By Don Cole

Once again I must apologize for not submitting anything for the past few months, as personal commitments, work schedule and etc. have kept me very busy.  This month I am scrambling to get something to Richie as the dead line is just a few hours away.  So, here goes nothing.

Nebula: a localized conglomerate of the gaseous and finely divided dust particles that are spread throughout interstellar space.  Before the invention of the telescope, the term nebula (Latin, "cloud") was applied to all celestial objects of a diffuse appearance.  As a result, many objects now known to be star clusters or galaxies were called nebulas.

Nebulas exist within other galaxies as well as in our own Milky Way galaxy.  They are classified as planetary nebulas, supernova remnants, and diffuse nebulas, including reflection, emission, and dark nebulas.  Small, very bright nebulas known as Herbig-Haro objects are found in dense interstellar clouds, and are probably the products of gas jets expelled by new stars in the process of formation.

Planetary nebulas, or planetaries, are so called because many of them superficially resemble planets through telescopes.  They are actually shells of material that an old average star sheds during a late, red giant stage in its evolution, before becoming a white dwarf.  The Ring nebula of the constellation Lyra, a typical planetary, has a rotational period of 132,900 years and a mass calculated to be about 14 times that of the Earth's Sun.  Several thousand planetaries have been discovered in the Milky Way alone.  More spectacular but fewer in number are nebulas that are the fragments of supernova explosions, perhaps the most famous of which is the Crab nebula in Taurus, now fading at the rate of about 0.4 percent per year.  Nebulas of this kind are strong emitters of radio waves, as a result of the explosions that formed them and the probable pulsar remnants of the original star.

Diffuse nebulas are extremely large structures, often many light-years wide, that have no definite outline and a tenuous, cloudlike appearance.  They are either luminous or dark.  The former shine as a result of the light of neighboring stars.  They include some of the most striking objects in the sky, such as the Great nebula in Orion (the middle "star" in the sword).  The tremendous streams of matter in the diffuse nebulas are intermingled in violent, chaotic currents.  Many thousands of luminous nebulas are known.  Spectral studies show that light emanating from them consists of reflected light from stars and also, in so-called emission nebulas, of stimulated radiation of ionized gases and dust from the nebulas themselves.

Dark, diffuse nebulas are observed as non-luminous clouds or faintly luminous, obscuring portions of the Milky Way and too distant from the stimulation of neighboring stars to reflect or emit much light of their own.  One of the most famous dark nebulas is the Horsehead nebula in Orion, so named for the silhouette of the dark mass in front of a more luminous nebular region.  The longest dark rift observed on photographic plates of the star clouds of the Milky Way is a succession of dark nebulas.  Both dark nebulas and luminous nebulas are considered likely sites for the processes of dust-cloud condensation and the formation of new stars.

** Astronomy Dictionary **

Orion a constellation located on the celestial equator east of Taurus.  It is an oblong configuration with three stars in line near its center.  It is represented on pictorial charts as the figure of Orion, the hunter in Greek mythology, standing with uplifted club.  Three bright stars represent his belt and three fainter stars aligned south of the belt represent his sword.  Alpha (a) Orionis, or Betelgeuse, is located in the left corner of the oblong, corresponding to Orion's shoulder.  Beta (b) Orionis, or Rigel, is diagonally opposite Betelgeuse.  A nebula surrounding the three stars marking Orion's sword is one of the most conspicuous bright nebulas in the heavens.

Crab Nebula is a kind of exploding supernova star that leaves behind a rapidly expanding cloud of gaseous material called a nebula.  The Crab Nebula was produced when a star in the Milky Way galaxy exploded in 1054.  At the center of the Crab Nebula, a spinning pulsar star emits light of varying brightness.  This illuminates the gaseous particles of the nebula to give a cloud-like appearance.

So until next month here's Dark Skies and Steady Seeing to You...


Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS

President: John Land

Vice President: Grant Cole

Secretary: Teresa Kincannon

Treasurer: Nick Pottorf

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Dean Salman

New Membership: Dennis Mishler

Librarian: Ed Reinhart

Education Coordinator: Scott Parker


That’s all folks…