April 2004

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


Friday, 9 April, 2004 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.


President’s Message

Craig Davis

As we are carried along in our orbit of the sun, and it in its orbit within our galaxy, just what is it that is holding everything together without an obvious and clear reason? This and a tremendous number of other unanswered questions remain. Something that we are not totally sure of just yet is that which holds this enormous Universe together, as well as the interactions amongst it all. It is so perplexing as to how and why it carries on over such vast distances, millions of light years between so much, and there isn't a singular reason as to what keeps everything in place. For a better understanding of this old, demanding and ominous question our Guest Speaker for the next club meeting - April 9th - will be Dr. Roger Blais', University of Tulsa. Dr. Blais' will present to all of us an intriguing view of the mystifying field of Cosmology. Dr. Blais' has been with TU since 1986 and teaches Honors Cosmology along with several other classes in the Physics Dept. Perhaps from what Dr. Blais' will show us, we may all arrive back home with a much fuller understanding than what we hold right now. It most certainly will be well worth both an introduction and an update to the latest theories held.

SPRING - It's that time of year again and the thunderstorms just keep right on rolling. Even so, we'll still have several good nights for observing in store and coming our way. Stand bye, there will be plenty of breaks in the clouds and the thunderstorms yet to arrive. Weather is something that all of us keep an eye on for good or bad days to do any observing. But to what extent can weather actually play with observing sessions and what conditions would be the best to look for? Those questions and many others will be answered not to long from now. Fortunately the Messier Marathon held by TUVA wasn't washed out due to bad weather. Wind was the sole culprit of any trouble that may have befallen anyone that attended. As usual nuisances in the weather arena was dealt with, whatever was best. But the sky remained clear and all attending had a good time. We had a total of 6-club member's convoy down for the Marathon. And after a long tedious night our member Rod Gallagher had located the highest number of M-objects. Congratulations to Rod Gallagher! An additional "Thanks" to Tom and Maura Wood once again for presenting a very informative and enjoyable overview of the Marathon at our last club meeting. The Messier Marathon, an annual competition that is well worth every trying minute.

Something in the near future to really look forward to is the "Tulsa Spring Public Comet and Planet Watch". This upcoming public star party is scheduled to be held May 21st & 22nd. We are working in conjunction with the Oxley Nature Center, Mohawk Park on this open, public star party as we did last September for the Mars Watch. It's difficult to say as to how many people we will see for this spring public session but hopefully there may be as many as we had before. We'll keep everyone posted on any changes the closer we get. Break out your gear, Deep Forrest and stand-by; it's going to be a lot of fun for all.

NOTICE TO ALL: Due to recent vandalism carried out at the club observatory all combinations to gate locks have been changed, majority board approval. If you may possibly use the observatory on a consistent regular basis for personal observations you must formally request the new combination. To place your formal request contact me via e-mail at the following address - This change has been implemented solely to prevent any possible further vandalism to our clubs observatory.

Clear skies,



David's Astro Corner

By David Stine

This year's Messier Marathon at the TUVA Observatory site turned out to be a great success after an unpredictable day of threatening weather. By the time that we arrived at TUVA the clouds were almost gone and it looked like we were actually going to get some decent skies. What we didn't know at that time were the decent skies we were hoping for turned into some of the best viewing skies we have seen this winter. Take for instance; you could see the double cluster naked eye, not just by averted vision but directly and bright. The Milky Way could have been mistaken for a cloudbank and objects like the Lagoon Nebula were the brightest that I think I have ever seen before naked eye. You couldn't have asked for a better night except maybe a little less wind. The only real light pollution was from Venus itself. We kept wishing the planet would hurry up and set. The early threatening weather probably kept many from coming but those of us that did were not disappointed. Steve Chapman (famous for his Elephant Star Cluster), Denny Mishler, Ken Black (Meteor Chaser), Bob and Marcie Boston, Rod Gallagher (Defending Messier Marathon Champion), his daughter, and several members from the TUVA club including Gerald Miller (CCD Imager) attended this year's marathon. Ron and Maura Woods were great host and they had a feast set up for us when we got there. We started out with the traditional Messier Marathon buffet, and then listened to Denny Mishler talk about his trip to South America to see Halley's Comet in 1986. Denny had some beautiful slides of that part of the country. As it started to get dark we moved out to our scopes and binoculars. Our first view of the night was the five naked eye planets. Even Mercury could be seen very low above the Western horizon. After Mercury came Venus, then Mars, Saturn and Jupiter in the East. Then it was time to start looking for objects. As it became darker more objects came into view. One object that is always difficult was finally picked up by Rod, M74. M77 once again escaped us. I believe M31 was one of the first objects found, however others quickly pointed out some objects out of our sequence. As I said before it was a great viewing night. The skies were unbelievable, and the stars were hardly even twinkling. Rod pointed out how bright the double cluster was naked eye and M44 looked like a bunch of geese flying over. Denny and I used just binoculars and we both picked up 47 M objects this year. My new 15x70's performed excellently. One of the best views I saw through them was the Lagoon Nebula and the Trifid Nebula together in one view. It was an awesome sight. More on them at a later time. Rod Gallagher viewed and logged the most objects for the second year in a row. His final total was 101. No one even came close to that total this year. Steve and Ken both found 49 and Denny and myself found 47 with binoculars. Bob and Marcie Boston, just getting their feet wet as this was their first marathon, came away with several objects. Not bad for the first time. It was just a great night for everyone and its hard to really do justice to the experience in words, you had to have been there. The final icing on the cake came the next morning as we were greeted with a beautiful TUVA sunrise. Steve came running into the clubroom saying you must see this. We all went out and saw the orange red sun just coming over the horizon shooting a golden pillar straight up into the sky for about 20 degrees or more. It was an awesome sight and a fitting end to this year's Messier Marathon. Ask Steve to show you the pictures he took of the sunrise. Everyone is looking forward to next year's marathon and we hope you will make plans to become a part of the experience in 2005.

Comet Neat Q4 Just Around The Corner

Possibly the brightest comet since Hale-Bopp will be entering our skies in a few weeks leading up to its closest approach to Earth in May. Comet NEAT-C/2001 Q4 will finally appear in the Northern Hemisphere in early May. Your first view of the comet could come as early as May 5th when the comet passes 9 degrees from Sirius in the very early evening. There won't be a very long window to try and catch it as it will only be 8 degrees above the SW horizon but could be close to its expected peak brightness of 2.5 Mg. Each day thereafter it climbs higher into the sky, where it will reach a maximum altitude of 48 degrees by May 27th and still be as bright as 4th Mg. On May 9th it will pass near Procyon and May 14-15 pass close to the Beehive Cluster in Cancer, which should be a photo opportunity. By the weekend of our Comet/Planet Watch May 21-22 it will be high in the WSW and maybe as bright or brighter than 3rd Mg. On the other hand, Comet Linear-C/2002 T7, will be much more difficult to see even though it may even be brighter than Q4. The comet will appear just before dawn April 11th in the East in Cetus but just be 5 Degrees in altitude in a bright dawn. It climbs a little higher by April 26th when it then dives back down and reappears in the WSW May 26th in the evening. It climbs each day thereafter until it reaches a max. altitude of 13 degrees by the first of June and could still be 5th or 6th Mag. If you have any travel plans to the southern hemisphere you can see both comets at the same time. Now that would be something. A word of caution, comets are unpredictable as far as brightness, so both of these comets could fizzle out or even become brighter, so the only way to know is start watching and seeing for your self. Mays issue of Sky and Telescope has an excellent article on the two comets and what to expect with nice charts for both. Who will be the first to see Q4 from the club? For more detailed charts go to the Comet Observation website at

Comet 43P/Wolf Harrington and Aldebaran Meet:

A very interesting meeting of a 13th Mg. Comet and the star Aldebaran will occur on April 12 at 10:27p.m.CST. Comet 43P/Wolf Harrington will pass very near Aldebaran and will even occult it in Canada. Aldebaran is the bright star in Taurus and will be in the Western sky at that time. If you can find the star then you should be able to pick up this dim comet. It will be a challenge but a chance to see an interesting comet that you normally would have a difficult time locating. Good Luck and let me know if you see this close pass. Rod and Gerald this might be a good one to try and image.

Tulsa Spring Public Comet/Planet Watch 2004:

We are fast approaching our Comet/Planet Watch - Taking Tulsa to the Stars public star party May 21-22. We will be able to show the public Venus, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Comet Q4 and many brighter M objects such as M13, M44, M81-82, and several open star clusters. It should be a great two nights for public viewing. As I have been saying we will need lots of volunteers and scopes to help out, so if you haven't already volunteered please do so. I hope to have flyers for everyone promoting the event by our April meeting so you can start spreading the word. We will have more information on our website soon. The event will begin at 8:30p.m. and end 11p.m. However if it is like the Mars event we were there till after Midnight. The location will be the same at John Oxley Polo Grounds at Mohawk Park. We will have signs directing people to the site as they come into the park. So come on and join the fun and make plans to help out May 21-22. You can now see the flyer and be able to print out copies at

Recently I recognized all of our club members who have received their various observing certificates. Some people were left off and since then there have been additional awardees. Its great to see so many members active in observing. So here are the new additions. Great work to all of these people and keep observing.


#16C Rod Gallagher Arp Peculiar Galaxy
# 22 Brad Young Asteroid Club Regular
#159 Gary Buckmaster Binocular Deep Sky
#580 Gary Buckmaster Binocular Messier
#585 Brad Young Binocular Messier
#221 Brad Young Double Star
#228 Gary Buckmaster Double Star
#393 Brad Young Lunar Club

Looks like Brad and Gary have a heavy competition going on, what's next on your list? Great Work!!!

Binoculars-High Quality for Less Expense:

If you are searching for a good pair of binoculars but want more power than the 7x35 and 10x50's but don't want to pay the cost that is usually associated with larger binoculars, look no more. What if I told you that you could now purchase 15x70's and 20x80's for less than what you would pay for the smaller models other companies are selling? I recently purchased the 15x70's on Craig Davis advice and trust me for the price they can't be beat. I put them through the test at the recent Messier Marathon and boy they made believers out of me and anyone else that looked through them. They are actually light enough to be hand held but a mount makes them allot steadier of course. They were picking up open star clusters and globulars without any trouble. Andromeda Galaxy was very low but again the binoculars showed the galaxy and M32 also. The wide field gives you views that you normally don't get with a telescope or other binoculars. I was really impressed with the nebulosity that the 15x70's were able to pick up the Pleiades stars Merope and Alcyone and the Lagoon Nebula and Trifid were awesome, both in the same view. Galaxies such as M81-82 both appeared bright and you could see the disruption in M82. Stars appeared pinpoint and planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, although small, were distinct with the rings being detected and brighter moons of each. Even hard objects such as the galaxy M33 could be seen. They have a long eye relief of 16mm, ultra high transmission coatings, and BAK4 Prisms. They are not real fancy, just a basic flat black smooth outside coating with no grips. They don't have a fancy carrying case or strap, but they do come with a soft black nylon case and strap. But you don't need all those things and those are things that make other binoculars more expensive. Optics is what you are interested in and that's where these surpass others. You would expect binoculars this size to cost anywhere from $200-$500 or more. Would you believe me if I told you that you could pick up a pair for $99 and freight cost? Unbelievable. If you want even more aperture you can pay a little bit more for the 20x80's for $149.00 Honestly I am not a binocular expert by any means, but what I have seen from these I am very pleased. So if price is a major concern but you still don't want to suffer quality I really don't think you can go wrong with these. For more information go to for a list of products and prices.

That's it from my corner this month. Don't forget to start looking for Comet Q4 at the end of the month and start getting ready for our May Public Star Party. Until next month keep your eyes on the stars.



MSRAL 2004

June 18-19 at Springfield, Mo.

Join us in Springfield (MO) for the MSRAL Convention on 18-19 June. Plan on observation time (weather permitting), a visit to the SMSU Observatory (16" research-grade telescope with advanced CCD camera), a banquet, a full day of workshops and other presentations, an astro-imaging contest, an astro art contest (something new this year), and more! Watch for full details in a direct mailing soon, and check out the Springfield Astronomical Society web site: - Bill Burling – MSRAL 2004 Chairman

Texas Star Party

The Great Texas Star Party is May 16 to 23rd in SW Texas. This year they are having a drawing for the 700 lucky registrants allowed to go. See the details at

AstroCon 2004

AstroCon 2004 July 20 - 24 - National Astronomical Convention at Berkley, California Tours of Lick Observatory, Nationally Renowned speakers Banquet on the USS Hornet commemorating to the day the return of Apollo 13.

Okie-Tex Star Party

A lot closer to home at the tip of the Oklahoma Panhandle is the Okie-Tex Star party to be held Oct 10th to Oct 17th, 2004 There has been serious discussion of limiting attendance to 300 so stay tuned to their website.



The Tuva Astronomy Organization congratulates Rod Gallagher who has captured the David Stine Award for the second year in a row by logging 101 messier objects in a single night at Tuva's annual Messier Marathon. We would like to thank all those who participated and helped make it one of the best marathons ever and a special thanks to Marsha Boston for her outstanding contributions of cherry cheesecake and Swedish meatballs.




As the new member coordinator of our club I would like to begin orientations for those of you who would like some help finding your way around the nighttime sky. What I would like is for you to contact me if you are interested in joining a group that will meet around dusk at our monthly Star Party (next Star Party April 16th, rain date April 17th). You can contact me by email or phone (refer to the last page of your newsletter) and I'll make sure that myself or one of our experienced members will be there to help. For those of you that may have a new telescope and are having difficulty using it, myself and other club members are eager to help. I have experience with Meade and Celestron goto telescopes, equatorial mounts, setting up finder scopes, etc. If I can't figure something out we'll find someone that can. Get in touch with me and we can give you help over the phone or at our next Star Party.


To help you learn the sky, buy yourself a planosphere. A planosphere has a round map of the sky that you rotate and position according to the date and time that you are observing. Planosphere are almost always available at the large book stores (Borders, Barnes and Noble etc.) with the Astronomy books. Bring it along during our sky orientations at the observatory during club Star Party's. The best way to learn how to operate a new telescope is to set it up in your home, read your instructions and try some dry runs in the light of day. It's very hard to setup a new telescope and figure out how to operate it in the dark. I learned out how to operate all the telescopes I have owned by running them through their paces in my living room.

Clear skies,
Denny Mishler
New Member Coordinator



Astroland Tidbits

by John Land

Welcome to our new members. Mark McKillip, Scott Muckleroy, Chrissy Hummel, Jerry Mullennix

ON LINE Club Memberships and Renewals:

Club memberships are $25 per year for adults and $15 per year for students.

We now have an automated on line registration form on the website for new AND renewal memberships plus magazine subscriptions. You simply type in your information and hit send to submit the information. You can then print a copy of the form and mail in your check.

Astronomy Club of Tulsa
25209 E 62nd St
Broken Arrow, OK 74014

Monthly Newsletter - You have a choice! We prefer to use email when available but if you prefer to also receive a printed postal newsletter make a request at

Magazine Subscriptions: If your magazines are coming up for renewal, try to save the mailing label or renewal form you get in the mail. Do NOT mail renewals back to the magazine! To get the club discount you must go through the club group rate. Astronomy is $29 for 1 year or $55 for 2 years. Sky & Telescope is $33 / yr Sky and Telescope also offers a 10% discount on their products.

Address Corrections- Email changes - Questions: You may forward questions to the club by email or call our message line at 918-688-MARS (6277) Please leave a clear message with your name, phone number, your question - along with address or email Please make email subject lines that address your question. Emails without clear identification may be DELETED by the spam filters!





The following four events are away from the RMCC, so volunteers to bring or operate scopes are essential. I can sometimes survive by asking guests from the smaller public groups to help me operate the Observatory, but we have no choice except to cancel at events elsewhere without your time, talent, and equipment.

1. Broken Arrow Haskel Middle School on Fri March 26th.- Thank you to the several people who have volunteered to help. (which is not in Haskel, but at 81st and Lynn Lane in Broken Arrow).

2. Chouteau School on Fri Apr 2nd - We have three scopes volunteered presently. If anyone else can help, please send me a message so I will at least know how many are interested, and can notify you of changes.

3. Collinsville Herold Elementary on Tue Apr 6th - Let me know if you can help of this. The school gets a $50 grant to donate to us each year. We expect about 200 to attend.

4. Mohawk Park Public Planet Watch on Fri May 22nd - A similar event had record breaking attendance last year. It is being coordinated by a special committee headed by David Stine, so let David know if you can help on this one.



16 Fri 07:30 Club Star Party

17 Sat 07:30 Back up for 04/16




02 Fri 06:30 Chouteau School (100) at the school

03 Sat 07:30 Back up for 04/02

06 Tue 07:15 Collinsville Harold Elementary (200)

09 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall

13 Sat 06:00 Back up for 04/06



07 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall

21 Fri 08:00 Public Comet/Planet Watch (2000) at Mohawk Park Polo Grounds

22 Fri 08:00 Public Comet/Planet Watch (2000) at Mohawk Park Polo Grounds


Gerry Andries
Observatory Group Director



Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS

President: Craig Davis

Vice President: Ruth Simmons

Treasurer: John Land

Secretary: Jim Miller

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

RMCC Facility Manager: Craig Davis

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Tom McDonough

New Membership: Dennis Mishler

Newsletter: Richie Shroff