E-mail version

June 2000

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 Meeting


Friday June 16, 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.

Map -


Notes from the President

John Land


June 16 Meeting at TU

Work Days at Observatory - Sat. June 17 - June 24 - July 1

Special Observing Groups - June 13 -14 - 15 July 20 - 21 - 22

Keeping Our Astronomy Club Alive!!

If read the July 2000 Astronomy magazine there was a great article on page 88 titled "ReEnergize your Astro club". The best way to enjoy astronomy is to DO astronomy and to share that with others. Even though the nights are short in the summer, the warm temperatures allow us to spend extended time outdoors enjoying our hobby. The main reason most of us were attracted to the Astronomy Club is the opportunity to share our enjoyment of astronomy fellow enthusiasts. By joining a club we get a chance to share our knowledge. The novice gets to benefit from the wisdom of the experienced observer. But the veteran stargazer gets a chance to boost his/her spirits from the bubbling awe of wonderment when someone catches their first glimpse of Saturn or takes their first astrophoto. Before coming to this weeks meeting WRITE DOWN some of your favorite astronomy activities. Things you like to do most. We'll try to break up into smaller groups and let you share some of your ideas. Also bring some ideas for topics and activities we can do to spice up our club meetings this fall. If you know some great speakers locally, bring their name and phone number.

Wow!! If you missed observing Monday and Tues June 5 & 6, you missed some spectacular nights. Fri June 30 will we will have a Club Picnic at the Observatory Grounds. You bring everything you need for yourself and your family plus a few tasty snacks to share later while we're observing. We have chairs and a few tables but you may want to bring a ground cloth to sit on. Come early and help us set up. We'll plan to eat from 7 to 8 PM, then clean up and wait for the stars to come out. You are welcome to bring your whole family but please be sure you bring activities for the kids to do if they are not into observing. A few board games, card games or favorite book can help keep them safe and prevent accidents that may damage equipment. Kids need Mom or Dad to encourage an interest in observing and supervise or channel the rest of their energies. Remember we will be outdoors with "All God's Creatures Great and Small". You may want some spray to keep the small buzzing ones away.

May 19 comments: I am disappointed that so many of you missed the May 19th meeting. Patric Johnstone did an excellent job of presenting the issues of Light Pollution and has done extensive work in identifying existing Tulsa ordinances addressing lighting issues. One important bit of information he supplied is that there is a Tulsa company from which you can purchase the SKYCAP Hubble FULL CUT-OFF light shields to clip quickly on most standard streetlights in your neighborhood. For around $20 you can order one from Nelson Electric 918-627-1105. (A considerable savings than ordering them over the Internet!) Patric has assembled an impressive guide to many Lighting issue sites at http://www/ If you want to keep up with the issues try subscribing to the Dark Sky Mailing List. It is easy and does not cost anything. Simply send an e-mail message to In the body of the e-mail message, put only the words SUBSCRIBE DRKSKY-LIST. The subject line of the message is not important and can contain anything you wish.

The Chairperson of the local chapter of the Sierra Club visited last month and informed us that they are doing a big exposition of Urban Sprawl this fall. Light Pollution is, of course, one of the results of uncontrolled and uninformed development. Our club stands to gain by being a part of the total community and adding our expertise these efforts.

Volunteers needed:

There are lots of things that need to be done to keep our club and the observatory running. Call up a few of your friends and pick a project you will be willing to help with.

We need volunteers these Saturday's! ! June 17 - June 24 - July 1

We can even use people who can work in the cool of the morning on weekdays if we can get a crew of 3 or more together.

Contact Gerry Andries 369 - 3320, leave your Name and Phone Number, or email him at

MOWING the Observatory grounds

Well summer is here and the grass is growing tall. We have a lawn mower at the observatory for use on the grounds. We need several people to SIGN UP to mow the Observatory property once or twice during the summer. With the weather hot and wet the grounds must be mowed every 7 to 10 days. We are still in need of some work being done along the roadway leading to the observatory.

Observatory Roof Repair. Thanks to club member Dick Wollmershausr and Butch Woodall for supplying us with materials to begin work on the observatory. June 2 & 3 we finally began work to FIX the Dome LEAKS at our Mounds Observatory. Gerry Andries, Steve Chapman and myself got a rain shield installed about half way around the dome. We even got to see it in action due to a few mischievous downpours during our efforts. We need volunteers to complete the task. Our work will be futile if is not finished and painted.


Painting - cleaning - wood and wall repairs: As soon as the roof work is complete we must tear out and replace sheetrock. Repair or replace stairway - Clean and paint. Due to the long-term water problems this work must be done this summer. If we fail to complete the repairs we stand to have to invest large $$ amounts of money professional repairs or stop allowing use of the large telescope. Please contact Gerry Andries and let him know when you can come help.

Observing Manuals Available

During our March meeting we discussed getting started in astronomy with one to the Astronomical League Observing Projects. We have several of the "Universe Sampler" booklets to get you started learning the night sky. We also have a few of the "Messier Observer's" and "Herschel I " manuals for the more advanced or ambitious observers.

For a look at these and other programs, check out the Astronomical League.

Scheduled Events:

As Summer arrives, we have many groups eager to visit the Observatory. Gerry Andries and the Club can always use some willing members to help keep the groups occupied while he runs the big telescope for viewing. List of Scheduled events:

06-13-00 Tue 20:00 ORU Academy / with Kevin Manning

06-14-00 Wed 20:00 ORU Academy / with Kevin Manning

06-16-00 Fri Club Meeting at TU 7:30 PM

06-15-00 Thu 20:00 ORU Academy / with Kevin Manning

06-30-00 Fri 20:30 Club Picnic - Work Day & Star Party


07-01-00 Sat 20:30 Work Day & Club Star Party Backup

07-20-00 Tue 20:00 ORU Academy / with Kevin Manning

07-21-00 Wed 20:00 ORU Academy / with Kevin Manning

07-22-00 Thu 20:00 ORU Academy / with Kevin Manning

From the Web page Sky events:

By Dean Salman

Dean has set up a great new way of posting Astronomy events and questions. Take some time to look at his new Astronomy Bulletin board - If you send out an email about a fast breaking Astronomy event, please post it on the bulletin board.


By David Stine

Its just about time for what could be the best comet since Comet Hale Bopp. It has been a long wait for comet lovers, but the wait is just about over--------maybe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I told you about this coming comet, C/1999 S4 Linear, in my yearly review of astronomical events in my January corner. At that time it was predicted to possibly become as bright as Mg. 3 by late July. Well right after that, the comet's brightness remained constant at Mg. 14 for almost 4 months. This was not a good sign. Whether it would get back on schedule or not was anyone's guess. In late May after the Linear reappeared from the Sun's glow, Japanese amateurs estimated its Mg. to be around 11, which is about two Mg. dimmer from the original prediction. The comet has been determined to be a new interloper of the solar system and that's bad news also. A new comet will have a very thin mantle and far from the sun will begin rapid out gassing expelling dust and producing a bright and large coma. After this thin mantle is exhausted, the brightening slows to a crawl. This comet was very bright when first found at Jupiter's distance and early speculation was a possible 1st-3rd Mg. comet in July.

It could still flare up, but it's unlikely, however the latest predictions have the comet reaching naked eye visibility in July. Comet researcher and discoverer John Bortle gives his predictions. In early June the comet will be a 10th-11th Mg. object very low in the morning sky. On June 9th -17th it will pass by the star Beta Triangulum. During this time it will be approximately 20 degrees high at 4:30a.m. in the ENE. On the morning of June 29-30 the comet will pass 1 and a half degrees by the open star cluster M-34 in Perseus and be at Mg. 8.5. It should be between 30-40 degrees in the Northeast. Between the 7th and 10th of July the comet brightens to Mg. 7 and passes a few degrees west of the star Alpha Persei. Now it is high enough in the sky to start really getting serious. It actually becomes circumpolar, meaning it never sets, but is still highest in the morning at 40 degrees in the Northeast. Now comes the excitement if the comet doesn't fizzle. By July 20th the interloper can be found 5 degrees east of the star Omicron Ursae Majoris and be an evening object at naked eye Mg. 5.7. For the next few days after the comet will reach its brightest probably between Mg. 5 and 5.5 and be an easy object in the star poor area of the bears legs. Between 9-11p.m. in the NNW. After this the comet moves through Leo then Virgo. One of the real unique events the comet will go through is transiting the Sombrero Galaxy on August 20-21, but unfortunately only our southern hemisphere neighbors will get to view the event as the comet will be to far south. Now all of this could evaporate and the comet never get any brighter than 8th or 9th Mg., but then again it might fool everyone and become as bright or brighter than it's earlier 3rd Mg. prediction. The only way we will know is to get out the scope and start following this magnificent object of the heavens. I will give updates by e-mail as they become available as Comet C/1999 S4 (Linear)progresses. If you want to be included let me know at For now here are coordinates for the comet for various mornings in June and July:

Sat. June 17 - 02 16.66 R.A. +36 08.4 Decl. Mg. 9-10

Wed. June 21 - 02 20.51 +38 00.3

Sat. June 24 - 02 24.08 +39 21.8 Mg. 8-9

Wed. June 28 - 02 30.32 +41 33.9 Mg. 7-8

Sat. July 1 - 02 36.79 +43 36.9 Mg. 6-7

Wed. July 5 - 02 49.68 +47 06.6 Mg. 6.-7

Sat. July 8 - 03 05.20 +50 31.3 Mg. 5.5-6

One last thing before I close, it was recently determined that Comet Hyakutake's tail was an enormous 3.8AU in length. In layman's term, that means the tail stretched almost 4 times the distance of the sun from the earth. In the Comet Rapid Announcement Service it was stated that the earth-comet-sun phase angle during Ulysses tail crossing on May 1 1996 was 32 degrees and if the tail had been then visible from the earth its apparent length would have been 80 degrees. That means if you started at the horizon and drew a line , it would end almost straight overhead. WHAT A TAIL AND SIGHT!

That's it from my corner this month.


By Don Cole

This month let us take a brief look at stars in general (or maybe generally look at stars). Star, large celestial body composed of gravitationally contained hot gases emitting electromagnetic radiation, especially light, as a result of nuclear reactions inside the star. The sun is a star. With the sole exception of the sun, the stars appear to be fixed, maintaining the same pattern in the skies year after year. In fact the stars are in rapid motion, but their distances are so great that their relative changes in position become apparent only over the centuries.

The number of stars visible to the naked eye from earth has been estimated to total 8000, of which 4000 are visible from the northern hemisphere and 4000 from the southern hemisphere. At any one time in either hemisphere, only about 2000 stars are visible. The other 2000 are located in the daytime sky and are obscured by the much brighter light of the sun. Astronomers have calculated that the stars in the Milky Way, the galaxy to which the sun belongs, number in the hundreds of billions. The Milky Way, in turn, is only one of several hundred million such galaxies within the viewing range of the larger modern telescopes. The individual stars visible in the sky are simply those that lie closest to the solar system in the Milky Way.

The star nearest to earth and the solar system is the triple star Proxima Centauri, which is about 40 trillion km (about 25 trillion mi) from earth. In terms of the speed of light, the common standard used by astronomers for expressing distance, this triple-star system is about 4.29 light-years distant; light traveling at about 300,000 km per sec (about 186,000 mi per sec) takes more than four years and three months to travel from this star to earth.

The sun is a typical star, with a visible surface called a photosphere, an overlying atmosphere of hot gases, and above them a more diffuse corona and an out flowing stream of particles called the solar (stellar) wind. Cooler areas of the photosphere, such as the sunspots on the sun, are likely present on other typical stars; their existence on some large nearby stars has been inferred by a technique called speckle interferometry. The internal structure of the sun and other stars cannot be directly observed, but studies indicate convection currents and layers of increasing density and temperature until the core is reached where thermonuclear reactions take place. Stars consist mainly of hydrogen and helium, with varying amounts of heavier elements.

The largest stars known are super giants with diameters that are more than 400 times that of the sun, whereas the small stars known as white dwarfs have diameters that may be only 0.01 times that of the sun. Giant stars are usually diffuse, however, and may be only 40 times more massive than the sun, whereas white dwarfs are extremely dense and may have masses about 0.1 times that of the sun despite their small size. Super massive stars are suspected that could be 1000 times more massive than the sun, and, at the lower range, hot balls of gases may exist that are too small to initiate nuclear reactions. One possible such brown dwarf was first observed in 1987, and others have been detected since then.

Star brightness is described in terms of magnitude. The brightest stars may be as much as 1,000,000 times brighter than the sun; white dwarfs are about 1000 times less bright.

*** Astronomy Dictionary ***

SUNSPOTS: The American astronomer George E. Hale discovered in 1908 that Sunspots contain strong magnetic fields. A typical sunspot has a magnetic-field strength of 2500 gauss. For comparison, the earth's magnetic field has a strength of less than 1 gauss. Sunspots tend to occur in pairs, with the two spots having magnetic fields that point in opposite directions, one into and one out of the sun. The sunspot cycle, in which the number of sunspots varies from low to high and then low again over 11 years, has been known since at least the early 18th century. The intricate magnetic pattern associated with the solar cycle, however, was found only after the discovery of the sun's magnetic field.

Of sunspot pairs in the sun's northern hemisphere, the spot that leads its partner in the direction of rotation has a magnetic-field direction opposite to that of a leading sunspot in the southern hemisphere. As a new 11-year cycle begins, the magnetic-field direction of leading sunspots in each hemisphere reverses. Thus, the full solar cycle, including the magnetic-field polarity, takes approximately 22 years. In addition, the sunspots on the sun at any given time tend to occur at the same latitude in each hemisphere. This latitude moves from about 45 to about 5 during the sunspot cycle.

Because each sunspot exists for, at most, only a few months, the 22-year solar cycle reflects deep-seated and long-lasting processes in the sun and not just the properties of individual sunspots. Although not fully understood, the phenomena of the solar cycle appear to result from the interactions of the sun's magnetic field with the convection zone in the outer layers of the sun. These interactions, furthermore, are affected by the rotation of the sun, which is not the same at all latitudes. The sun rotates once every 27 days near the equator but once every 31 days nearer the poles.

So until next month Dark Skies and Steady Seeing to You ...

Reference Material :: "Astronomy, A self-teaching guide." by Dinah L. Moche (4th ed.) "Guide to the Stars" by Leslie Peltier. " Astronomy, For the Earth to the Universe" by Jay M. Pasachoff (3rd ed.)


David Stine

Comet C/1999 S4 - Linear photos are starting to come into the internet. Most show the comet to be around 10.6 MG. which is behind the predicted early brightness scale. The latest observation was on June 2 in Italy where the comet does show a developing tail and large coma. By the time you read this you may have your first glimpse of C/1999 S4.

The Sun, on June 6th, produced an enormous flare, that was caught by the SOHO observatory as it flared. It was so large and bright that if you had of been looking through your filtered scope at the time you would have seen it as a white flare inside the large sun-spot group that is now moving across the Sun. The flare classified as an X-class, the largest class, covered an area so large it could fit roughly 30 times the entire surface of the earth within it. You had to see it to really understand what I am talking about. The real time photos and videos were just awesome. Check them out at or or There is also a movie of the event at The enormous coronal mass ejection was headed for the earth at the time of this writing and was expected to produce auroraes as far south as Kansas and Missouri. The mass was to slam into the Earth with a velocity near or in excess of 1.8 million miles per hour according to Astro Alert. The concern was satellites, possibly losing control and begin losing altitude or even tumbling. Some radio communications and early warning systems could also be affected. The Sun is nearing its peak of activity, which is expected in mid July, so expect more from our solar furnace in the coming weeks.

M-51 by Gerald R. Miller

We have a 10 F6.3 Meade LX200 set up in the observatory, and use an SBIG ST7E CCD camera for the shot. I used a F6.3 focal reducer for an effective focal length of about F4.0.

I started imaging, used 5 minute exposures, when it was still light in the western sky, and shot 18 5 minutes shots continuously for a total of 90 minutes. I then took 2 thirty minute shots for an addition hour. I don't know where I came up with four hour exposure, it was just 2.5 hours.

All the images were combined after dark frames were subtracted using MaximDl. I deconvulted the image very slightly using CCDSharp, and then used Maxim to process with various tools, and then used Paintshop Pro to take out some noise that remained, and cropped it, and saved it in jpeg format. That's about it.

We have also acquired an Optec Filter Bar, and an Optec TCF focuser, that we plan on using this summer and fall for color. Some other shots you can see that we've taken can be found at our TUVA web site at .

I would be honored if the shot was published, and you certainly have my permission to do so if you need it (just give me credit for the shot).

If you have any other questions, please let me know.



Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS

President: John Land

Vice President: Grant Cole

Secretary: Teresa Kincannon

Treasurer: Nick Pottorf

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Dean Salman

New Membership: Dennis Mishler

Librarian: Ed Reinhart

Education Coordinator: Scott Parker


That’s all folks…