E-mail version

January 2000

ACT, Inc. has been meeting continuously since 1937 and was incorporated in 1986. It consists of approximately 150 members and 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 January 21, 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.


Tonight's Meeting: Learning how to use your telescope. Our President John Land will make a presentation about basic skills in selecting and using a Telescope.

So you want to buy a new telescope for yourself of a child or grandchild. There are so many choices and so many prices. Wouldn't it be nice to have some Basic Performance Criteria to use to judge which telescope will perform the best? You have shopped all the malls and toy stores. Are there any good places to shop for telescopes? Little Johnny has $250 he has carefully saved to buy his first telescope. He has narrowed his choices to TWO Telescopes.

1)A 60-mm Refractor telescope with a motor to track the stars. It advertises 72x, 155x and 360 POWER!! Its Cost $22O

2)A 1OO-mm Reflecting telescope. It has no motor but slow motion controls for Altitude and Direction. It advertises 55x, 12Ox and 18O POWER. Its Cost $24O

We will be discussing this and other ideas that will help you know what to expect of your telescope and how to get more out of it.

If the Weather is clear we will set up telescopes before and after the meeting to view the moon and planets. Contact John Land if you would be willing to set up your telescope.

Up Coming EVENTS:

Feb. 18th Meeting - Dr. Mike Keas from OBU will be presenting: "Flat Earth Mythology and Astronomy from Plato to NATO" Dr Keas has a Ph.D. in History of Science. He was a Fulbright Scholar in East Germany. Dr Keas has also been instrumental in establishing Oklahoma's only student run planetarium at OBU. You won't want to miss this meeting!

March 17th Meeting - Earning an Observing Certificate from the Astronomical League. We will be talking about the many interesting and challenging observing programs available to amateur astronomers.

Congratulations to our very own K C Lobrecht for becoming the first women, and only the 10th person ever, to complete the HERSCHEL II certificate!!

Your President, John Land


DAVID'S ASTRO CORNER - "The Year 2000"

By David Stine

Now that we have all survived the Y2K scare and the world has not come to an end and everyone has made it through the beginning of the false millennium, what's in store for us astronomically in 2000 as we prepare for the start of the real millennium in 2001.

January kicks off with a total lunar eclipse on January 20. It is the world's first total lunar eclipse since 1997 to be visible across all of the Americas. The moon will be high overhead. The moon enters penumbra at 8:03PM CST and totality begins at 10:05PM and ends at 11:22PM. The moon finally leaves penumbra at 1:24AM. It should be an awesome sight.

February kicks off with a close pairing of the crescent moon and Venus the morning of February 2.

In March the grouping of the naked eye planets begin their march toward each other which will end up being a very close grouping in May. Watch this month as Saturn, Jupiter and Mars draw closer together at dusk.

In April the planets continue to draw closer with a very close conjunction of Mars and Jupiter on April 1st of 2 and a half degrees. Between April 13th-15th, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will fit within a circle only 5 degrees in diameter. Also the annual Messier Marathon Star Party will take place at Ron and Maura Woods property at the TUVA Observatory on the night of April 1. This is always a highlight event of the year where it is possible to view all the Messier objects from dusk to dawn. Last year the marathon had to be cancelled because of an unfortunate accident to Ron. He is doing much better and wants everyone to know that both are looking forward to this years marathon.

MAY-DOOMS DAY - Or at least that's what the prophets would want you to believe. In actuality we won't be able to see much of this close gathering of the five naked eye planets, but just to know its happening is exciting. An unusual grouping of the Sun, Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Saturn will commence on May 3rd and 4th where they will be gathered along a span of the ecliptic only 27 degrees long. Then on the 17th, with the moon gone, the other objects will fit into a 20-degree span of sky. It would be an awesome sight except for one thing, the Sun sits right in the middle of the grouping. The combined forces of these planets will not cause earthquakes and chaos on Earth as some would want you to believe, as they are nowhere near each other, it just looks that way. So don't pull out your left over Y2K provisions that didn't get used.

June - This month could be very interesting leading up to what could be the highlight event of 2000. The first naked eye comet since Hale Bopp , Comet C/1999 S4(LINEAR) will have brightened to Mg. 9 by the first of the month, but afterwards it begins a rapid increase in brightness leading to its July perihelion. By the end of the month the comet should have brightened to Mg. 6.7 and pass near the star cluster M34 in the early morning hours.

July - Comet LINEAR continues to brighten and by the 18th of the month may be as bright as MG. 3 with a flowing tail and a perihelion distance of 0.72AU. The comet will be passing near the constellation Camelopardalis and be visible all night never setting. The best time to view though will be between Midnight and dawn where it will be it's highest in the sky. In the next two weeks it will speed across the sky becoming an evening object. By the 30th it will be near Denebola in Leo in the early evening sky in the West. If the comet lives up to expectations, this month will be a good time to hold a public star party. Watch for updates.

August - The first of a triple-header of major meteor showers occurs this month, The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks on the night of August 11 and the morning of the 12th. There will be a bright moon interfering until it sets around 3AM. A meteor a minute is not unusual for the Perseids and is usually a very dependable shower.

September - The glorious Milky Way flows like a river from the south horizon to the north horizon. At the RMCC Observatory and at any dark sky site, the view is overwhelming. It has been mistaken by some as clouds moving in during observations.

October - It's public star party time. This month is when we invite the general public out to an urban location to view the sky with us. This event has always been very popular with the public.

NOVEMBER - METEOR STORM MONTH - The 2nd of the triple-header meteor showers occurs and what a shower. On the night of November 16 and the morning of the 17th, the stars will fall from the sky-----well not really, it will just seem that way if predictions hold up. It will be an all night event and you have to be willing to stick it out all night. The Earth is predicted to pass near two different debris streams the 1733 and 1865. The first will be favorable for western Africa, and northeastern South America, peaking at approximately 9:44 PM CST with as many as 5,000 an hour. The second is expected to peak at 1:51AM CST favoring North America and Tulsa as Leo will be high in the East by that time. Anywhere from 100 to 5,000/hr is possible. The only drawback is a last quarter moon very near the radiant, but even so I think with a possible 83 meteors a minute, that even the moon cannot spoil this spectacle. Again I must caution these are predictions from reliable astronomers, McNaught and Asher, but no matter how reliable you are, meteors are very unpredictable. If not this year wait to 2001 where they have predicted 25,000/hr for N orth Americans.

December - The third and last of the triple-header meteor showers ends out the year. The Geminid's are the most reliable meteor shower. They never fail from one year to the next to put on a good show. Again a bright moon will hinder seeing the dimmer meteors but at peak you should be able to see approximately 60-120 meteors per hour.

To end the first year of the 21st Century on New Years Eve, Saturn and Jupiter will look like two diamonds in the evening sky 8 degrees apart, shining brilliantly to welcome the real true start of the third millennium.

What a year in store for the astronomical community and there's still that chance of new bright comet discovery, super novas, auroras as the sun reaches its 13 year cycle maximum in mid 2000, and who knows else what might occur. The only way to know is keep your eyes on the sky in 2000.

That's it for my astro corner this month.


For Sale

For sale: 20-mm, Meade Series 4000 superplossl. It is in excellent shape and I am listing it for $50.00. Anyone interested can contact me at my e-mail address. Thank you, Mark Mullins.


That’s all folks…