January 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 January, 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.


Presidentís Message

Craig Davis

A new year has arrived with a peaceful entrance. But there is a bounty of new and thrilling occurrences that have yet to happen just yet. It won't be very long at all that we will be handed a new reward for 2004. Within but a few days we will be on Mars once again. It will be very exciting when both of our rover probes to Mars, Spirit (MER-A) and Opportunity (MER-B), have arrived and are sending back new panoramas of the desolate landscape as well as enormous amounts of data. Standby, Spirit will arrive this coming Sunday, the 4th. It was a true misfortune that the British rover, Beagle 2 hasn't been able to communicate since it touched down. A Christmas present that none of us wants for sure. Nonetheless, let there be accidents or poor communication links of this sort but it will never stop us from learning as much as we can of our mysterious red neighbor.

It was but last Wednesday that we were graced with Saturn being at its closest point to us. We won't have another chance of this for 29 years. I hope everyone had a chance to get a good look and enjoy a view that many of us may never have again. Saturn and its beautiful rings, what more could one ask?

Our guest speaker for the upcoming club meeting - Friday, 9th - will be Cory Suddarth. Cory is a well seasoned and experienced optical expert in the field of binoculars and lenses. He is a U.S.Navy veteran and received his training in the Navy as an Opticalman. His knowledge of binoculars as well as his experience of repairing and or totally reworking to museum level is very worthwhile to us all. Cory is located close bye in Henryetta and will help any of us that may need a pair of binoculars collimated or perhaps have scratches polished out of the lenses. I have personally seen what great difference he has made in the performance of a simple pair of binoculars so I'm quite sure that all of you will get a great deal out of both what he has to say as well as how he can help you out when ever it is needed. I'm looking forward to having Cory as our guest speaker and I'm quite sure you will find it very interesting from start to finish.

Craig D. Davis




and the

International Occultation Timing Association

Paul Maley, the Vice President of IOTA (International Occultation Timing Association) contacted our club in need of assistance. Paul was flying up from Houston (he works for NASA at the Johnson Space Center) in order to observe and video record the occultation (eclipse) of a star by the asteroid Kassandra. The occultation by this 60-mile diameter asteroid was predicted to occur in the Tulsa area on Saturday December 20th at about 7:20 PM. I contacted club member Rocky Keys who graciously offered the use of his dark sky site and telescope. Paul arrived at the observing site several hours before the occultation. Rocky and club member Chuck Bigbie helped in setting up the equipment, which consisted of a video camera, a VCR, a radio tuned to an international time signal, and a TV monitor. At the time of the occultation club members present included Rocky, Paul, K. C. Lobrecht, John Land, Bob Boston, Gerry Andries and myself. When the big moment came for Kassandra to occult the star nothing happened. Another words, it was a miss, but that's important data too. It turns out that the actual eclipse path was north and west of the predicted path. An observer in Stillwater, which was expected to be outside the path, measured a 6.5 second occultation. When enough observers are present over a scattered area, the shape of the asteroid can actually be determined by an analysis of the data. Paul himself has discovered satellites of asteroids during occultations. Occultations can also provide data about the eclipsed star such as its diameter, whether it has any unseen companions, etc. The experience of observing how one of the country's top observers went about observing this phenomenon was well worth the time and travel. Additional information about IOTA and Paul Maley can be found at their respective web sites.

Denny Mishler



Astroland Tidbits
by John Land

2004 Royal Canadian Observers Handbooks are FINALLY IN ! I will have them available at the Jan 9th meeting

10% Discount on Sky & Telescope products - If you are a Sky & Telescope subscriber you simply have to give them your subscription number and information on the shipping label to qualify for the 10% discount. See details in their catalog or online. I have preordered a couple of extra copies of the new children's book "There Once was a Sky Full of Stars" You can preview it at the meeting. This would make an excellent gift to a library or school near you.

Welcome to our new members. Murray Akers, Jeanettie Brown, Shelley Faust, Sandy Garwood, Bill Gilder, Chad Jobe, Chad Osgood, Hank Price, David Sargent, Christen Smith, Scott Ulman

TIME for MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS and MAGAZINE RENEWALS - See information below about sending in your renewals or bring them to the Friday Jan 9th meeting.

ON LINE REGISTRATION - 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. At this time we do not have an option for credit card payment but may explore that at a later time.

EMAIL NEWSLETTER vs POSTAL PRINTED NEWSLETTER In order to save postage and printing expenses and keep annual club dues low, The 100 plus members who have email will receive notice when each month's newsletter is posted on the web. If you prefer to also receive a printed postal newsletter make a request at < Membership e-mail > Email subscribers I will begin sending out notices on expiring memberships so you can stay current.

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. Do NOT mail renewals back to the magazine!

To get the club discount you must go through the club group rate. Sky & Telescope is $33 / yr Astronomy is $29 for 1 year or $55 for 2 years. If you cannot attend the TU meetings mail your orders with check to Astronomy Club of Tulsa to the address below.

Club Memberships and Renewals: If you see errors or make any changes in your address or E-mail please keep us informed. Contact John Land < Membership e-mail > or by mail to the address below. You may make Renewals and changes at any club meeting or mail a check to

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

Note: Sending your check to the club mailbox may delay processing several weeks.

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

Online registration automated form is found at or you may pick up a membership form at any of our club events. You may forward questions to the club by email < Membership e-mail > 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 address your question.

Address corrections: Every month we get several newsletters returned due to faulty addresses. Check your address label to see if it needs changes and send us an address change if you move. Also on your mailing address label you will see the month that your membership dues expire. Email subscribers I will begin sending out notices on expiring memberships.

Email Addresses - Sign UP to get the latest Astro Alerts from David Stine and other events that take place during the month. If you have not been receiving these we do not have a valid email address for you. If you would like to added to our email list send us your NAME - and Email address with subject - Astronomy Club email list to < Membership e-mail >



Do you want to learn about the night sky?
by John Land - Astronomy Club of Tulsa

You've read all about space travel and watched endless hours on the discovery channel about the universe but don't have a clue which stars or planets are out tonight. My number one recommendation is Go OUTSIDE and start learning the sky. Its out there every night so why are you inside reading about it. Go take a look! First buy a good book to learn the constellations and major stars. Having a telescope is of little use if you don't know where to point it. Start by learning the names of the brightest stars you can see in the evening. There most likely are some bright planets visible too. Make a careful drawing of their position in relation to the stars around them then come back a few nights later and make a second drawing. You'll discover why the ancient Greeks called the planets wanderers because they move against the background of stars. Continue making sketches for several weeks and you'll begin to understand why predicting planet motions was so difficult.

Next move on to learning the major constellations. There are 88 official constellations but you'll be able to find your way around the sky by learning about a dozen each season. Constellations are like learning the continents on earth. They give you a place to start when looking for an object. My all time favorite book for learning constellations and stars is The Stars (A new way to see them) ISBN 03952 48302 by H.A. Rey the author of "Curious George." This book presents the constellations in easy to learn stick figure images that resemble the characters for which the constellations are named. It also has many pages that help you understand motions of the sky and a set of monthly star charts in the back. For Younger children ages 4 to 9 Find The Constellations ISBN 03952 44188 Make this a family project. Teaching your children about the sky can be a rewarding family memory they'll treasure all their lives.

Want to know what's up in the sky tonight. Try This site is good for kids as well as novice adults. For more advanced topics try On the sidebar menu you'll find several links to articles about observing.

Start an observing program. The Astronomical League has several observing certificate programs that will present you many nights of stimulating observing. They will teach you how to keep an observing log of objects you've seen and a stimulating list of objects to search for. It's a big universe. Just like playing a video game, its helpful if you know where the hidden treasures are located. Some good starter observing projects are: The Universe Sampler, Urban Sky Observing, Lunar Club, Sunspotter Club and a new program for kids called "Sky Puppy's" Look over the list of observing club certificates at: Note: In order to receive your certificate you must be a member in good standing of an astronomy club and turn your observing records into the club representative for evaluation

Come to an Astronomy Club meeting or Observing Session. The Astronomy Club of Tulsa meets monthly at TU featuring stimulating speakers and topics. We also have an observatory located SW of Mounds, OK. where we gather regularly for observing. Check out our website at Where else can you find a group of friendly experienced observers to give you tips and advice about observing. Besides that you'll probably get to look though several of their telescopes and learn some new objects to search for yourself. Astronomy is the real universe NOT the science fiction images we have of looking out the "TEN FORWARD" window on Star Trek. There are some skills and techniques you can learn to make your observing more rewarding.

When its time to buy a telescope, DO YOUR HOMEWORK and then ask questions of several experienced astronomers. My personal bias is to buy a good quality telescope but don't spend a huge amount of money until you've had time to observe at least two years. By that time you'll know how much time and effort you have to do observing. A casual observer has about as much use for a $5000 telescope as your Grandmother does for a Mercedes to drive to the grocery store once a week. The new computerized telescopes are tempting but to even start using one you will already have to know a number of bright stars to align the telescope before the computer will work. It can be a frustrating experience for a first time observer. Personally for the beginning observer I recommend staying with a simple telescope you can move on your own. You brain and a good star chart can do everything the computers can for free.

When you finally decide to invest in a telescope its objective diameter ( aperture ) is the primary factor determining its light gathering ability. A small 60 mm refractor collect 73 times more light that the human eye while a 6 inch ( 150 mm ) telescopes collects 473 times more light. In addition to more light grasp the larger diameter will allow you to see details more clearly - a term astronomers call resolution.

Don't be tricked by false advertising. Magnification is not the most important factor in choosing a telescope. NO TELESCOPE can perform more than about 50 power per inch or 2 power per mm. A 60 mm telescope can do no more magnification than 120 power despite much overrated ads of 300 to 400 power common in department stores. Atmospheric turbulence seldom allows magnification powers more than 200 power. The advantage of a larger telescope is more light grasp to let you see faint objects more clearly not magnification.

Read my article at Note: I wrote this article in 2000 so some of the links at the end may have expired

Also a great set of articles on How to Pick a Telescope are found at Astronomics in Norman. Especially the Starting out right and Juggling "P's"

Below are some articles from Sky and Telescope about getting started in astronomy. Your First Steps in Astronomy This article is available in Adobe PDF format in our Getting Started in Astronomy flyer, which also includes six bimonthly star charts and a Moon map. This free black-and-white publication is suitable for printing, photocopying, and distributing at star parties, in classrooms, at scout-troop meetings, and at any other gathering of the astronomy-interested public. Check it out! Binoculars: Halfway to a Telescope

Choosing Your First Telescope



There Once was a Sky Full of Stars
by Bob Crelin
Book Review by John Land

This is a wonderful children's book about the sky and light pollution. Written in bedtime story book style, this wonderfully illustrated book would be an excellent gift to that special child in your life. Do you have a school or public Library nearby? Think about donating a copying in name of the Astronomy Club with our web address inside.

The book starts out " There once was a sky full of Stars, before lighting the roadways for cars. The worlds far away would come out to play, like Jupiter, Venus and Mars."

It goes on to describe some of the wonders of the night sky and then poses the question with a some kids looking up into a yellow dusky sky. " Where are these wonders, these beautiful sights? And why are they so hard to find?" From there its tells about light pollution, some of its affects on viewing and animals and ends with the kids putting up well-shielded lights and taking back the night.

I gave away several copies as Christmas presents but will have one at the January and February meetings. If you buy them from Sky & Telescope the cost is $12.95 plus $4.95 shipping. ( $5.00 of each book goes to the International Dark Sky Association.) However if we make a group order I can have them available at the March meeting for $13.50 each. You can reserve your copies by contacting me at < Membership e-mail > or paying me at the January or February meeting. Contact John Land



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