August 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
Star Party and Picnic


Friday, August 9, 2002 at 7:30 PM


Club Observatory near Mounds, OK.

It is best to arrive before sundown. If you arrive after dark remember to dim your lights since some may be taking photos.


President’s Message

Denny Mishler

Once again, club members and guests can enjoy our Observatory and grounds for the August Star Party and Club Picnic on Friday, August 9th, with a rain date of Saturday the 10th should it rain or be cloudy on Friday. During July's Star Party, 50 members and guests were on hand even though it had rained earlier that day and it was partly cloudy. If the weather is clear August 9th don't let a 100-degree day prevent you from coming. If there is any kind of a breeze, it will be quite comfortable when the sun goes down. Speaking of the Sun, you may want to come before sunset and look at the Sun through a solar filter that someone will surely have set up on his or her telescope. Recent sunspot activity has been amazing. Large naked eye groupings have been very complex. You can check for a present view of the sun.

Some of us may take up the challenge of spotting a new comet that has just been discovered by a German Amateur Sabastian Hoenig. Comet Hoenig (2002 O4) should be about 9th magnitude on August 9th. Making it even more challenging from our observatory will be the sky glow from Tulsa. My rough interpolations show that it should be around 21h 30min RA and 72 Deg Declination at the time of our Star Party. This will put it in the constellation Cepheus (no man's land) on the right side of Polaris and opposite the Big Dipper.

On most weekend night's small groups of club members have been gathering at the Observatory. K. C. Lobrecht and Rod Gallagher have been working on their Lunar Observing Certificate so they are usually there even during moonlit weekends. Craig Davis usually joins them. On Saturday, July 27th for instance, I joined a group of 8 members who found comfortable viewing conditions atop "Old Breezy". While enjoying the numerous sights in Sagittarius and environs, we also enjoyed passes of the International Space Station and Iridium Satellite Flares. After enjoying a moonrise in the East at 11pm, it was time to pack up and go home.

And now I would like to thank two of our members for their recent contributions. Craig Davis donated a pair of end covers for our 16" Observatory Telescope. Craig's parents made them. He has also installed some battery-powered red lights along the dark area of the staircase. John Land has contributed his time and effort to locate new Insurance for our Club that will save us a considerable sum of money. Insurance has been our biggest expense and the reduction should put us on solid ground financially. Thanks for your contributions fellows.

Well, I hope to see a big turnout on August 9th. New members; we will be glad to give you help with new equipment or with identifying and finding celestial objects. One recommendation, if you need help with equipment, please come up early and setup while it's still light. It's easier to get familiar with your equipment when we can see it.

And finally everyone, don't drink the water from the observatory sink or even use it to make coffee. Okmulgee County says it is not potable at present. You may want to bring your own water although we may have several gallon bottles on hand.

See Ya!

Schedule of Events

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



08-08-02 Thu 07:45 Sheridan Rd Baptist Ch (20)
08-09-02 Fri 07:30 Club Star Party and Picnic Meeting (50)
08-12-02 Mon 08:00 Perseid Meteor Shower
08-16-02 Fri 07:45 Tulsa Bicycle Club (will camp)
08-17-02 Sat ??:?? Tulsa Bicycle Club (will camp)


09-06-02 Fri 07:00 Club Star Party



09-29-02 to 10-06-02 Okie-Tex Star Party
(At Camp Billy Joe, Black Mesa, OK)

Gerry Andries

Take the Astronomy Club Challenge

During the month of August, Taco Bell is having a contest to “Spot The Spork” in the sky to advertise their new bowl menus. It features a mosaic composite of a starfield. By identifying the “Spork” and sending in the entry you can win $1500. You can pick up an entry at any TACO BELL or Download one at

For the Astronomy Club Challenge, see if you can identify all or parts of EIGHT constellations, Three Star Clusters, Two Galaxies, Three Hydrogen emission regions and one eclipsing binary. As an added bonus when are all these constellations in the sky during August?

What else can you identify in the photo? Bring your ideas to the observing night on Aug 9th and compare notes.


2002 Calendar of events

When Where
9 August Star Party - RMCC
6 September Star Party - RMCC
20 September Meeting at TU
4 October Star Party - RMCC
18 October Meeting at TU
1 November Star Party - RMCC
15 November Business Meeting
6 December Star Party - RMCC
13 December Meeting at TU


Notes on Membership

By John Land

Your Astronomy Club membership dues are $25 per year. Each Quarter I send a new mailing list to the Astronomical League to keep their mailing lists current. The next update will be in September. Check your mailing label. If it has LAST ISSUE on the label your membership expired prior to June 2002 and you will soon be dropped from our mailing list. Those with expiration dates of June to Aug 2002 are nearing expiration. Please contact me about renewing your membership. If you are on our E-mail only list I will notify you of nearing expirations. Hopefully our records are up to date, if not please contact me about errors.



Sep 29 to Oct 6

Registration Fees are $35.00 per person and $20.00 per additional family member 13 years of age or older. Children 12 and under are FREE. Pre-registration fees must be post-marked no later than September 15th, 2002. Fees received after September 15th and at the door are $50.00. (MEALS must be register for in advance. The closest "fast food" is 40 miles away.)

This premiere week of stargazing is held a Camp Billy Joe in the Black Mesa at the far edge of the Oklahoma panhandle. The skies are fantastically black even 2nd and 3rd magnitude stars twinkle like comic flashbulbs at the Angels All Star game. About 200 attended in 2001 with about 25 of those from Tulsa. Registration and meals must be prepaid. Sleeping quarters are available on the grounds in heated bunkhouses or bring your own tent with WARM sleeping bags. Contact members who have attended in the past about what to take and how to save some money on some of the meals. Registration on the web at http://www.OKIE-TEX.COM


ICStars Star Party

Sept 27 t0 29 in West Central Missouri

Registration is $30, plus meals I have some forms I'll bring Aug 9 or you can contact. Vic & Jen Winter 913-432-4636 Vic and Jen are the editors of the League Reflector magazine and are apparently involved in developing a Star Garden observing site that will be featuring regular star party activities throughout the year. This one even includes a telescope-making workshop where for $200 you can make and take home your own telescope.

Astronomy News from the Web

You can sign up to receive these and many more news notes at

"Scotty! More power to the forward shields! " Incoming Asteroids!!

We all enjoy the old Star Trek episodes but sometimes science fiction becomes Science Fact. We are beginning to realize the Earth moves about in a maelstrom of rock and debris orbiting the sun. The July 24 Astronomy Picture of the day shows a swarm of red around the earth's orbit marking objects with potential of impact.

The news headlines June 14th told us of a Football stadium sized object that nearly zapped us, missing by only 1/3 the distance to the moon. We never even saw this one coming since it came in from the direction of the sun. On August 17th and 18th a Near Earth Asteroid may possibly be bright enough for binoculars at 9.3 magnitude as it pass just beyond the moons orbit.

Finally an Earth killer asteroid has actually been rated on the Torino scale as an actual threat in Feb. 1, 2019. Were it to actually strike, it would deliver the kinetic-energy equivalent of 12 to 14 million megatons of TNT, enough to decimate much (or most) of a continent.

Finally someone forgot to tell the Sun that Solar Max is over. There have been two Gigantic Sunspot regions this month and several Aurora alerts.




By David Stine

It's only a few days away until the debris of Comet Swift Tuttle will be showering the earth. The annual Perseid Meteor Shower will be very active on the morning of August 12 and 13, and you don't won't to miss it. Always a very dependable shower, the Perseids actually started passing through the earth's path in space on the day I wrote this article. In fact, there was a report of a Perseid Bolide (very bright) -2 Mag. on the morning of the 19th from a meteor subscription service I have. You have probably noticed an increase in meteor activity. During our Star Party scheduled for August 9th, we should be able to view several during the night while we observe. The best night though will be August 12, and the morning of August 13, near the peak. At this time you should be able to view 40-70 an hour or more. Both mornings of the 12th and 13th should be good though. The peak is centered around 2200UT or 5p.m. CST on the 12th. Since it will still be broad daylight at the peak, the morning of the 12th and the evening of the 12th, and morning of the 13th should be our best bet. We will be having a Perseid Meteor Shower Party at the observatory on the night of the 12th, so you don't won't to miss it. The meteors are fast (132,000mph), bright and are known to show brilliant colors and leave persistent trains. The radiant where the meteors seem to come from is just above the top of Perseus, between Cassiopeia and Perseus. The best time to look for Meteors is when Perseus is highest in the sky, around 3a.m. until dawn. Perseus actually begins rising around 9p.m. in the NNE and reaches its highest elevation of 60 degrees at 5a.m. This will be a good preliminary for November's Leonid Storm, which I will be talking about in an upcoming article in the newsletter. Hope to see everyone at the observatory for the Perseids.

That's it from my Astro Corner this month




Sebastian Hoenig of Germany discovered a new comet on July 22, now designated C/2002 04. The comet was around 12th Mg. at discovery and is now brightening. Preliminary calculations show the comet will reach perihelion on October 2, 2002, at a distance of 0.774AU. Right now the comet is well placed for northern hemisphere observers and is circumpolar. It will slide under the pole in the evening sky by Mid August. Peak brightness is expected to be MG. 8.8, however it could be a mg. brighter by perihelion date. Now is the time for us to observe this new comet as it will be placed poorly for us during perihelion. Reports are already coming in. P. Clay Sherrod of Arkansas reports on July 30th that the comet was brighter than he had expected and very round. It was also exhibited a small straight bright tail. Bob King of Minnesota also observing on that night said the coma was very round and much brighter than he was hoping for. It was easy to see the northward motion after a half hour. During our star party August 9th, and Perseid Meteor Shower 12th-13th, will be a good time to try and catch this new visitor from deep space. Here are preliminary coordinates:

Aug 9 22 22.37 +67 43.0
Aug 12 21 37.31 +73 46.8
Aug 16 19 29.50 +79 29.2
Aug 20 16 22.17 +79 08.0
Aug 23 14 55.94 +75 39.6
Aug 26 14 10.18 +71 27.4
Aug 29 13 43.74 +67 15.1


What member of the Astronomy Club of Tulsa is 32,872 days old?

Do your Math - Hint: There are 22 leap years in this total

This member would be: 3 years old on Saturn, 7.6 years old on Jupiter, 47.9 years old on Mars, and 375 years old on Mercury

In fact this member may be to only active member in the club more than 1 year old on Uranus

Well have you guessed who it is yet?


HAPPY 90th Birthday NICK

Nick has been in the Astronomy Club for over 40 years that I can confirm.

He has served faithfully as the club treasurer since the early 70's. Every time I get to talk with other clubs our size I am amazed at how financially stable our club is compared to others. Most Clubs struggle to stay afloat. We should all give Nick a big hand for the many hours he has spent keeping the books straight and the money stable.

In his "Day Job" Nick was a Patent Lawyer for Standard Oil, which became AMMACO oil- now BP AMMACO

By night Nick was and is an accomplished astronomer, telescope maker and willing helper to anyone interested in astronomy. Nick is from the "old School" if you want a great telescope MAKE IT YOURSELF ! Most of us have had a chance to observe through his nationally known Solar Telescope which uses a narrow prism called a Herschel's Wedge and welding glass to view the sun.

Nick has helped make dozens of telescopes, eyepieces and accessories for people in the club. I am still amazed at the seamless perfection of the instruments I have seen. All were made in his basement shop. Nick and Mary were always willing to welcome me and others into their home to head down to the shop to work on this or that great little project we needed his help with.

THANKS NICK for ALL you've done for me and Countless others.

John Land

Look at that Asteroid

A big space rock will soon come so close to Earth that sky watchers can see it through binoculars.


2002 NY40's trajectory through the night sky on August 18, 2002. Dots denote the position of the asteroid during the hours near closest approach.

July 30, 2002: Relax, there's no danger of a collision, but it will be close enough to see through binoculars: a big space rock, not far from Earth.

Astronomers discovered the nearby asteroid, named 2002 NY40--not to be confused with better-known 2002 NT7--on July 14th. It measures about 800 meters across, and follows an orbit that ranges from the asteroid belt to the inner solar system. On August 18th, the asteroid will glide past our planet only 1.3 times farther away than the Moon.

"Flybys like this happen every 50 years or so," says Don Yeomans, the manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program office at JPL. The last time (that we know of) was August 31, 1925, when another 800-meter asteroid passed by just outside the Moon's orbit. In those days there were no dedicated asteroid hunters--the object, 2001 CU11, wasn't discovered until 77 years later. At the time of the flyby, no one even knew it was happening.

2002 NY40 is different. We know the asteroid is coming, and astronomers have time to prepare.

One team of observers led by Mike Nolan at the giant Arecibo radar in Puerto Rico will "ping" 2002 NY40 with radio waves as it approaches Earth. Such data result in impressive 3D maps of asteroids, which have often surprised astronomers with their weird shapes. Some prove to be binary systems (one space rock orbiting another) and one even looks like a dog bone.

"Radar data will also improve our knowledge of the asteroid's orbit," adds Jon Giorgini, a member of the radar team from JPL. "At present, we know there's little risk of a collision with 2002 NY40 for decades. When the Arecibo radar measurements are done, the orbit uncertainties should shrink by more than a factor of 200. We'll be able to extrapolate the asteroid's motion hundreds of years into the past and into the future, too."

2002 NY40 is faint now. It shines by reflected sunlight like a 17th magnitude star. As it nears Earth, however, the space rock will brighten, soaring to 9th magnitude on August 18th. That's about 16 times dimmer than the dimmest star you can see without a telescope. But as asteroids go, it's very bright.

"Asteroids are hard to see," explains Yeomans, "because they're mostly black like charcoal. The most common ones--carbon-rich C-type asteroids--reflect only 3% to 5% of the light that hits them. Metallic asteroids, which are somewhat rare, reflect more: 10% to 15%."

"We don't know yet what this asteroid is made of," he continued, "but we'll have a much better idea by the end of August." Astronomers using ground-based telescopes will have little trouble recording the asteroid's spectrum and thus its composition.

On the date of closest approach, the asteroid will sail past Vega, the brightest star in the evening summer sky. Sky watchers with powerful binoculars or small telescopes can see it--a speck of light moving 8 degrees per hour. (Note: The flyby will be visible mostly from Earth's northern hemisphere; this is not a good opportunity for southern sky watchers. North Americans can see it best after sunset on Aug. 17th; Europeans should look during the hours before dawn on Aug. 18th.)

Something extraordinary will happen hours after 2002 NY40 passes Earth: the space rock will quickly fade.

Asteroids, like moons and planets, have phases. The sunlit side of 2002 NY40 is facing Earth now. It's full, like a full Moon. On August 18th, the asteroid will cross Earth's orbit on its way toward the Sun. Then the phase of the asteroid will change--from full to gibbous to half.... finally the night side will turn to face Earth. The asteroid will grow dark, like a new Moon.

It's not every day you can peer through binoculars and see a near-Earth asteroid--and then see it disappear. But 2002 NY40 has a lot to offer.

"Mother Nature is making it very easy for us to study this one," says Yeomans. That's good because "we need to know more about near-Earth asteroids in case we ever need to destroy or deflect one." What are they made of? How are asteroids put together? These are key questions that 2002 NY40 will help answer.

"Don't forget," adds Yeomans, "most asteroids pose no threat to Earth. But they do contain valuable metals, minerals and even water that we might tap in the future." When such asteroids come close (but not too close!) we have relatively easy access to them--both to study and, one day perhaps, to visit.

Or, to paraphrase Nietzsche, asteroids (like 2002 NY40) that do not hit us, make us stronger.

Club Memberships


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Please bring this application along with a check for the total amount made out to the Astronomy Club of Tulsa to the next meeting or mail the payment and application to:

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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

Newsletter: Richie Shroff