April 2002

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 Club

Cory Suddarth

Suddarth Optical Repair


Friday, April 26, 2002 at 7:30 PM


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.

Presidentís Message

Denny Mishler

Cory Suddarth, an expert in optical repair will be our featured speaker at our April 26th meeting. Cory first learned optics at the Navy's Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Wisconsin. There he met Bill Cook who has written many articles for the Amateur Telescope Making Journal. Cory became a Technical Adviser to the ATM Journal. Later, he joined Orion Telescopes and Binoculars in Santa Cruz, CA with the position of Senior Optical Technician. Recently Cory returned to Oklahoma and continues to operate his business Suddarth Optical Repair in Henrietta, OK.

Cory will first speak to us on Binoculars and their 400-year history. He will then give us a general discussion of Optics. This will include explanations of chromatic aberration, achromatic lenses, prisms, impurities in glass, and the tremendous advances in optics made by Carl Zeiss. I hope to bring the club's 125mm binoculars, which are in need of repair, and if you have equipment in need of optical repair bring it to the meeting to receive an estimate for repairs. Meetings about the technical nature of our hobby's equipment have always been popular so bring plenty of questions for Mr. Suddarth to answer. We'll have a door prize or two and a refreshment table following the meeting so please feel free to contribute to the refreshments.

Board member Hugh Selman recently underwent bypass surgery and is having a good recovery. Diana Williamson-Smith has resigned from our board. Since we now have a vacancy on our board of directors we will have an election to fill the vacancy at the April meeting.



By David Stine

"An Astronomical Month"

There has been so much activity in the astronomical world lately that it leaves your head spinning... so here we go...

Comet Ikeya-Zhang continues to dazzle observers with its show. I have had numerous reports from members in the club, including Denny, Gerry, KC, Steve, Ron and Maura, just to mention a few. All have commented about the beautiful long tail that it has been producing. Most observers agree that it is the best comet since Hale Bopp. At the time of this writing it was an easy naked eye object at Mg. 3.2 and was exhibiting a 5-8 degree tail. Even naked eye the tail was noticeable. On April 4th the comet passed near the Andromeda Galaxy and several from the club watched the event even though no one could see the galaxy. Check out the picture of this close encounter at Astronomy Picture of the Day for April 12. This was probably the last time the comet was easily visible during the early evening. It is now best viewed in the morning hours. My last observation was the morning of the 10th and oh what a view it was. You didn't need charts to locate it, it was right there naked eye for anyone to see from a dark location. Binoculars revealed its beautiful tail and bright coma. The tail has definitely increased in length since the last of March. Charles Morris observing from California on the morning of April 14 reported that he could see the comets tail stretching almost 10 degrees naked eye from his dark location. I have been observing comets for 30+ years and this comet had to rate as my third best comet only behind Hale Bopp and Hyakutake. Ikeya Zhang has produced shock fronts, jets, ion and dust tails that stretch for several degrees. By the time you read this article, the comet will be circumpolar, meaning it never sets. This will occur between April 16th-and 30th. It should still be a naked eye object from rural areas. The later part of April could be the best viewing time as the comet will be high in a dark sky between 1a.m.-4a.m. At this same time it will also be viewable low In the North in the evening skipping along the northern horizon; however your best view will occur after midnight. It actually passes the closest to Earth on April 29th. During this period it will be travelling through Cepheus and Draco. If the comet continues to perform it could remain naked eye late into May. By May 10th, it will be almost straight overhead by 3a.m... So if you haven't seen it yet, the best is possibly yet to come.

For a few mornings in April we had not one but two naked eye comets. Comet Utsunomiya drifted through Perseus and Andromeda at Mg. 5.8 not too far from Comet Ikeya Zhang. Unfortunately by the time you read this it will be in the sun's glare and not be visible until June when it will be a 10th Mg. object.

A third comet was discovered in March, Comet Snyder-Murakami. This comet is already headed back out of the solar system. These three comet discoveries by amateurs put faith back into backyard comet discoveries. This just goes to show that the N.E.A.T.'s, W.A.T.T.E.R.S., B.A.T.T.E.R.S. and LINEARS observatories don't catch them all and amateur comet hunting is not dead.

It is unfortunate to report that famed comet discoverer Yuji Hyakutake died of a heart attack at 51 last week. His comet in 1996 in some ways was more impressive than Comet Hale Bopp as the comet produced one of the most amazing tails ever seen on a comet stretching half way across the heavens at its close approach to earth. He will always be remembered by all comet lovers.

LEONID METEOR STORM RESULTS - It now has been determined from all of the reports that the American maximum of the recent Leonid Meteor Storm, consisted of two peaks, 20-25 minutes apart, both with a ZHR of 1650. The two peaks were at 4:39:43 CST and 5:03:12 CST. This was pretty much right on the money with what the Tulsa Astronomy Club Meteor Chasers observed in West Texas. There also was a possible smaller peak at 3:39A.m. and 6:01a.m. The Asian storm had a sharp peak at 18:16UTC with a ZHR of 3750. The verdict is still out on where to travel for this year's possible storm, but early predictions are the best places to be are some regions in North America, Southwestern Europe, and Northern Africa. Maybe the weather will cooperate and us Meteor Chasers won't have to travel out of town to observe possibly the last Leonid Storm this Century.

A rare planet alignment is beginning to take shape in the West. By late April, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn will bunch up just after sunset. Jupiter will also be nearby. In Early May, Venus, Saturn, and Mars will even get in a smaller area. According to Astronomer Robert C. Victor, the five planet conjunction on May 6 will be an incredible event, one of the best this century. There will only be 3 more chances in the next 100 years to see five planets so close to each other, Sept. 2040, July 2060, and Nov, 2100. Don't get worried there will be no disasters on earth because of this line up as astrologers always predict. Now is the time to start watching the planets as they gather for the grand conjunction. The best views will come during the evening of May 5-6th. You don't want to miss this grand event.

And on the Sun... Sunspots have soared this month. Close to a dozen sunspot groups were crossing the Earth-facing side of our star. These were expected to produce possible strong solar flares and in return provide Earth viewers with possible beautiful aurora activity. Keep a close watch out on the sun. Most people have the notion that after the Solar Maximum activity stops. This is far from the truth. Statistically, the declining years of the solar cycle are the most stormy in terms of geomagnetic and auroral activity, so we can expect several more years of potentially violent space weather activity according to the Astro Alert Service. Remember never view the sun without approved solar filters.

Old Mother nature did it twice this year, both the original March date and then again the April date of the Messier Marathon were weathered out and both nights had to be cancelled. Maybe next year. Thanks to Ron and Maura Wood for all their efforts of trying to host the event.

Now if that's not a head spinning month in astronomy, I don't know what is. That's it from my corner this month, keep your eyes skyward and check whats up this coming month.




Please let me know if you will be able to help with the two school events away from the RMCC that will be coming up within the next week. If you do not have a telescope but still would like to help, let me know. I have a couple of extra scopes available for you to operate. NOTE BELOW THAT BOTH EVENTS HAVE BEEN RESCHEDULED! Locations are as follows:

1. Darnaby Elementary School is at 7625 E. 87th St in Tulsa. Turn West at 87th and Memorial, and it should just be a couple of long blocks. We plan to set up on the bus loop on the South side of the school. You do not need to be there before 7:30PM to set up, since the coordinator (Pam O'hallorin) may be the only one to arrive that early. She is telling the kids to be there by sunset at 8:00PM.

2. Herald Elementary School dark sky site is NW of Collinsville. From US Hwy 169, take OK Hwy 20 West through Collinsville to Memorial Ave (Hwy 20 makes some funny turns downtown, so stay alert for that). At Memorial, turn North to 176th St. We will be at the 3rd home on the left past 176th St.

Tentatively scheduled dates are bracketed with question marks. The number of persons expected is in parenthesis.


04-20-02 Sat 01:00 Spring Fling Clean Up Day
04-20-02 Sat 07:30 Cub Scouts
04-22-02 Mon 07:30 Skiatook Gifted an Talented (25)

05-10-02 Fri 08:00 Club Star Party


04-18-02 Thu 07:30 Darnaby Elementary 5th Grade (100) (at the school)
04-25-02 Thu 07:30 Herald Elementary School (100) (at Collinsville)
04-26-02 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting (at Keplinger Hall)

? 05-10-02 Fri 08:00 Darnaby Elementary rain date for 4/18 (at the school)?
05-24-02 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting (at Keplinger Hall)

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2002 Calendar of events

at TU
  Apr 26
May 10 May 24


Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS

President: Dennis Mishler

Vice President: Teresa Kincannon

Treasurer: Nick Pottorf

Assistant Treasurer: John Land

Secretary:Aaron Coyner

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Tom McDonough

New Membership: Dennis Mishler