December 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


Friday, 13 December 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.

*Note: If Tulsa Public Schools are closed due to weather, the ACT meeting will also be cancelled.

President’s Message

Denny Mishler

Our Annual Dinner Meeting at Furr's Restaurant last month had over 60 members, completely filling the larger room that we had reserved. Following our club election and David Stine's preview of the Leonid Meteor Shower, club member James Liley gave an entertaining and informative talk and slide presentation on the building of the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities (RMCC) Observatory. With the Observatory reaching it's 10 year Anniversary, we want to thank all of the dedicated club members who spent weekends over a 2 year period building the observatory that all of us enjoy now. Their hard work and dedication gave the club a first class observatory.

Our December 13th meeting will have something for everyone. We will start off with a review of the Leonid meteor storm. David Stine and myself will present an Audio and Video presentation. If anyone else would like to present their meteor counts, research, etc., please get in touch with me before the meeting starts. Also, if you have photos of the Leonids please bring them with you. We had a full house of over 80 people and 50 vehicles at the observatory for the November 18 -19 event, so there should be a wealth of information to share.

We are very fortunate to have a return of Astro Artist Robert Daniels for our December 13th meeting. Last year Mr. Daniels, gave a showing of his Astro paintings. This proved to be very popular and a number of members purchased prints from Mr. Daniels original paintings of Astronomy, Astro Sci-Fi and Military Aircraft. They make great gifts, and if you would like one as a gift just invite a family member to come and pick out a print from the reasonably priced selection that Daniels will have on display. That's what I had my wife Barb do for one of my Christmas gifts last year, and I was pleasantly surprised Christmas morning when I found that she had chosen one of my favorites. During the meeting Mr. Daniels will paint an original painting and donate it to the club. Just like last year, we can gather around the "Artist at Work" and then sell $2 chances and hold a drawing for the original painting. This will generate funds for the club and result in a lucky winner. Last year our Web-master Tom McDonough was the lucky winner.

While the painting is being produced we will also hold drawings for door prizes and feast on an assortment of cookies, punch and refreshments. And where will the door prizes come from.... Well, we don't want to go out and buy them using club funds; we want you to bring them. And what can you bring. Well, maybe you have a Sci-Fi movie (Star Trek, Star Wars, Contact, etc.) or an Astronomy or Science book that you have seen or read. Maybe you have 4 planospheres and only need three. How about an eyepiece that hasn't been used for years, or a finder scope that sits in a box never seeing the light of stars? The more we bring the more we win! This is a tradition that I would like to get started this December, so help me make the 1st Annual Door Prize Fiesta a big success. Bring, Bring, Bring.....Win, Win, Win.

Our Annual Club Elections were held at the November Dinner meeting with the following results:

President: Denny Mishler

Vice President: Craig Davis

Secretary: Jim Miller

Treasurer: Nick Pottorf

Asst. Treasurer: John Land

Craig and Jim are fairly new members to the club both joining within the last 2 years. Craig grew up in Winfield, Kansas, married Debbie, has a son Jerric and moved to Tulsa 22 years ago. He retired from the US Navy and now has more time to enjoy the hobby that he has been interested in since he was ten. Craig enjoys all phases of the hobby (solar, planetary and deep space) with his 6" refractor and 8" Newtonian and has been a frequent observer at RMCC observatory during the year and a half he has been an ACT member. During the day he has been a big help with repairs and maintenance at RMCC. Craig and Debbie have a Meade LX200 GPS 14" on order. You'll be able to locate Craig and Debbie and their new telescope at future Star Parties by looking for the long line of people.

Jim comes to us by way of Albany, NY and St. Louis, but has lived in Tulsa for 30 years. He is married to Dixie and they have two children, Nathan and Anna-Hope. Jim got interested in Astronomy at the age of 12 when he was given a 4" Edmund refractor. He enjoys planetary viewing the most and his favorite equipment is anything that he can borrow from Tony White, especially Tony's collection of eyepieces. According to Jim ....... Nothing beats being at Mounds w/my friends and my son on a windy, cold clear winter's night under a near full moon getting my "fix" of hypothermia, deep sky work and a Mama Lobrecht cookie sugar rush while working with a telescope that needs serious work. Now that's living!

We welcome Craig and Jim, avid colorful additions to our officer's corp.


The following members have been elected to the Board of Directors at Large for a term of 1 year:

Gerry Andries, Steve Chapman, Aaron Coyner, Teresa Kincannon, Tom McDonough, Hugh Selman

Congratulations and Thank You for your willingness to help our club.


It all began August 21st 1993 with the observation of M16, the Eagle Nebula, and ended less than three weeks ago on November 25th with the completion of the Sunspotters Club Award. During 9 years of observations and recordings of 1692 Astronomical Objects, club member K.C. Lobrecht has achieved what fewer than 20 other Amateur Astronomers have been able to do. She has earned the coveted Master Observer Club Award of the Astronomical League by completing the requirements of 10 observing club programs. Five of observing programs are required and 5 additional programs were selected by K. C. The programs and certificate numbers K. C. earned are as follows:

Observing Certificate

Certificate Number

Master Observer


Messier *


Herschel 400 (I) *


Herschel II


Arp Peculiar Galaxies




Lunar *


Binocular Messier*




Double Star*




* Required Program

To get some idea of this accomplishment, go to the Astronomical League's web site at and click on Observing Clubs.

Some of K.C.'s comments: The Arp's were the most difficult. You should have at least a 16" telescope. I fell in love with the Lunar Program half way through it. Rod Gallagher was a big help. The Caldwells are a logical extension of the Messier Program. They are a delightful group of objects chosen by the famous popularizer and author of Astronomy, Patrick Moore.

K. C. would like to thank all of the members who have helped her and kept her company over the past 9 years. We would like to thank K. C. for earning this distinguished award and for providing us with brownies, cakes and chocolate chip cookies.



Davids Astro Corner - "Leonid Storm of 2002"

By David Stine

A very impressive Leonid Storm was seen by many at the observatory in November. It probably wasn't as impressive as the 2001 storm or the 1998 Fireballs, but it was still very exciting for most viewers not only at the observatory but through out the world. It's really hard to compare with last year, as there was no moon to block out at least 60% of the meteors. Without the moon rates would have soared. Even with the moon the ZHR rate in Tulsa ranged from 2230-2808/hr between 4:32-4:52a.m. This was real close to Esko Lyytinens prediction of 2600. We were seeing an average of 55 meteors every 5 minutes during this time period. My son called from Skiatook and reported to us that as a group they had counted 220 in a 20 minute period. What was really interesting was that when members would call people elsewhere such as in Tulsa or Broken Arrow, while on the phone they would see the same meteor we were seeing. Tom McDonough who couldn't be at the observatory reported that from his backyard in east Tulsa at 3:45a.m. he started immediately seeing meteors. They would come in spurts 6-10 in about 30 seconds, then a lull for a couple of minutes and then another spurt. Most were swift, and bright blue-white. I noticed as well as Ken Black that most of the meteors were near Jupiter coming right out of the sickle of Leo, unlike last year when they seemed to be all over the sky. The meteors were dimmer than last year and there wasn't any bolides with long lasting trains, however there were several that did leave trains that lasted 5 seconds. There was one that I only was able to see the train after everyone started yelling out ooh's and aah's. This train had to have lasted almost 10 seconds for me to have been able to turn and see it in time. Several of us tried video with camcorders and caught several meteors, but the audio tells the real story. Hopefully we will get to hear some of the highlights at the December meeting. I have read reports from all around the world and they are fairly consistent to what had been predicted. The International Meteor Organization show that from all the reports they have received, there were two peaks as predicted from two trails, both peaks were a little later than predicted. The first peak came at 4:10UT (which we weren't able to see) with a ZHR of 2350. The second peak which we saw came at 10:50UT with a ZHR of 2660. As far as who got the closest on the predicted peak time and rate was Vaubaillon on time for the first peak being off 6 minutes and for rate Vaubaillion off about 1100. This peak was the one that was older and their was some speculation that the trail wasn't as dense and might not produce the high numbers everyone had predicted. The second peak, again Vaubaillion was was only three minutes off the peak but Lyytinen was right on the numbers predicting 2600. Esko Lyytinen e-mailed me a note that he and his wife watched the storm from Puerto Rico and was satisfied with the success of the predictions of the maximum rates, but that the shorter than predicted maxima was the surprise. Its amazing that these guys can get that close. Pretty much everyone agrees that this was the last hurrah for the Leonids for a long time. How long is a long time? Well the odds are that there will not be any more Leonid storms until 2099. In 2032, 2065, and 2098 there may be a repeat of the 1998 Fireball shower which many of us saw at the observatory that year and still remains in our memories. Rates of several hundred per hour are possible in the period 2032-2034 and 2065-2067 which will be better than your average Leonid rates. Of course the Leonids are not the only meteor shower or storms; there are chances of other outbursts from the Alpha Monocerotids in 2005 and the Alpha Aurigids in 2007 according to Robert Lunsford with IMO. If you travel to Europe or Western Asia in 2004 Lyytinen is predicting that Earth will pass through a trail of debris shed by comet Swift-Tuttle during its 1862 visit. He is predicting a few hundred meteors per hour, but they will be faint in this unusual Perseid Meteor Shower. Then in 2028, Lyytinen expects a real storm out of the Perseid's as earth passes within 37,000 miles from a stream of debris that Comet Swift-Tuttle released into space in the year 1479. He expects the United States to see several thousand and hour, although it will come under unfavorable moonlight conditions. The moon will be at last quarter outshining some of the dimmer shooting stars. In summary we have seen probably the last storm in our life time, but we still can see future meteor showers and the next one is just around the corner.

On the night of our club meeting, Dec. 13, the always dependable Geminid Meteor Shower will be going on. At its peak at 3a.m. the morning of the 14th you should be able to see 1 or two meteors every minute. The Geminids are one of the most watched showers as the radiant is already high in the East in the early evening and you can begin seeing meteors without staying up late. However, the best time to see the Geminids is after midnight when the radiant is almost overhead. The moon sets around 1a.m. so it should not be much of an interference as it was for the Leonids. The Geminids are know for their green and red colors and they produce allot of bolides or very bright meteors. They are also slower than the Leonids making the view last longer when they streak across the sky. If the weather permits many of us will probably venture out to the observatory after the meeting to catch this beautiful shower.

That's about it from my corner this month, don't miss the meeting where there will be pictures and video of the Leonids shown, and after the meeting catch a Geminid. Next month I will review what's coming up in 2003 in the astronomical world.

Astroland Tidbits

By John Land

Club Membership: Adults $25 and Students $15 per year. Most of our club members will need to get their club dues in by December 2002. You can check your mailing label to see when your club dues expire. Avoid the cash crunch at Christmas time and renew early. Renewal forms are available on the Internet site also.

Magazine Subscriptions: You can get substantial discounts for Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazine by ordering thorough the Astronomy Club. If your magazines are coming up for renewal, try to save the mailing label or renewal form you get in the mail.

Sky & Telescope is $30 / yr and Astronomy is $29 for 1 year or $55 for 2 years. Sky and Telescope also offers a 10% discount on most of its books and posters if ordered through the club. You can view their products a

Contact John Land for questions on Memberships or Magazine renewals. Note: Sending your check to the club mailbox may delay processing. If you need prompt action contact John.

Your 2003 Astronomy Wall calendars are here. If you need them for Christmas mailing be at the Dec 13 meeting or contact John Land. Hopefully the orders for the 2003 Canadian Observers Handbooks will also arrive before the meeting.

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"Hey Lady" Want to see my planets?"

A friend sent the following story to my wife. It is her account of a strange encounter with an amateur astronomer. Some of the details have been altered to protect the guilty.

I have a story! A true one! Nothing out of the ordinary ever happens to me, but THIS did, so I'm eager to share! One morning, I was taking my dog out for a run; a man came forward from between two houses flagging me down. He asked me if I could stop and come over to him for a minute. At the time, I was thinking about the fact that I was on the clock, and if I were to stop, it would mess up my time. So I just hollered back regretfully, "I can't!"

He responded, "That's okay", and I went on. As I got a few houses down the road, I begin to think about how weird that was. When I'm on these early morning runs, the only human life I see are old men coming out in their jockey shorts and T-shirts to pick up the paper, or people warming/getting into their cars to make it to an early morning job. NO ONE is standing around like he was DRESSED WITH A SKI-TYPE KNIT CAP ON HIS HEAD AND A HEAVY COAT. This guy was bundled up to stay out in the cold. (Low thirties in temp) I recalled how he had been standing in the dark (pitch black as the night) between two houses before walking forward to get my attention. So, I decided to call 911 and just let them know about his weird approach to me.

They agreed it was a concern, so they kept me on, feeding them information about the location, my cell phone number, address, etc. Finally they let me know that an officer was on the scene, and if they needed anything else, they'd call me on my cell phone.

After work, I called the police department for a follow-up. The girls in the office looked up the report and found that "he was an astronomer, and he wanted to show me the rings of Saturn." I asked if she bought that. She said, "Well, he did have a telescope there."

That night, I called and was able to speak directly to the police officer that had been there. He felt sorry for the guy because he didn't have a clue about how that looked. Finally the policeman asked if he was married. The man said no. The cop said that that explained it! Anyway, the officers totally believed his good intentions, and actually, I do too. But my husband thinks he's weird and should have known better.

Here was my wife's reply to her friend.

Having been married to an astronomer for 32 years this is not unusual behavior for them. They are so excited about what they see and want to share it with any and everyone!!! Of course we've lived in the same house for 15+ years so our neighbors know what to expect from him. I agree that for someone not acquainted with the lifestyle of astronomy buffs it would be weird behavior. By the way, I probably know your weirdo!

Well I thought you'd enjoy a look at ourselves from the outside world. NOW the QUESTION IS - - does anyone in the club have a confession to make? I guess it's a good thing he was looking at Saturn instead of the 7th planet. "Hey Lady want to see - - - - ."


Saturn Observing at its best

Unlike the hapless astronomer in the story above you don't have to be up before dawn to observe Saturn. Saturn is well placed for viewing in the east by 6:15 PM. Saturn is just off the tip of the nose of Taurus, the bull, less than 2 degrees from the star Zeta Tauri. To find Saturn locate Orion and draw a line from Rigel at the bottom right of Orion along the right side through the star Bellatrix to bright yellowish Saturn. Saturn is in the middle of its retrograde loop and reaches opposition on Dec 21. During opposition Saturn appears brightest (magnitude -0.46) and largest (21 arcsecs) making for great viewing opportunities.

Planet Tag in the early morning sky.

The planets Venus and Mars are putting on a grand ballet in the morning sky. Early risers (before 6:30 AM) have surely already seen dazzling bright Venus in the SE sky. The reddish orange "star" just to the right of Venus is the planet Mars. The two planets make their closest approach on Dec 6 about 1.6 degrees apart but will remain within 3 degrees of each other until Christmas. They are moving from the constellation of Virgo into Libra. On Christmas day Mars will be ½ degree above the double star alpha Libra and Venus will be just 3.5 degrees to its left. A waning crescent moon will pass near the pair on the mornings of Dec 29 and 30. Now is a great time to look at Venus in a telescope. Even a low power telescope will reveal the crescent shape of Venus and many may be able to make it out with a pair of sports binoculars. Galileo used his 1610 observations of Venus as proof that Venus must revolve around the sun. During its crescent phase Venus passes between the Earth and the sun. But a few months later it appears as a gibbous or almost full phase, which can only be seen when Venus is farther away than the sun. Mars will be putting on a grand show at its close opposition in August 2003.

Phases of Venus



Club Memberships

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Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS

President: Dennis Mishler

Vice President: Craig Davis

Treasurer: Nick Pottorf

Assistant Treasurer: John Land

Secretary: Jim Miller

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Tom McDonough

New Membership: Dennis Mishler

Newsletter: Richie Shroff