June 2001

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 Picnic and Star Party


June 22, 2001 at 6:00 P.M.


Club Observatory near Mounds, OK.

Notes from the President

John Land

Club Picnic and Star Party - Friday June 22nd. If the weather is cloudy on the Friday then we will meet on Saturday. Future Events: July 20, Aug 10 - 11

During the warmer months many club members and their guests enjoy gathering at the club's observatory for an evening of observing and visiting with friends. For the new comers to astronomy this is a great chance to see different types of telescopes and enjoy a variety of celestial objects. Arrive early and bring materials for a picnic before sundown. We have plenty of tables and chairs and even an outdoor grill. All you need to bring is plenty of food and drinks and some snack food or dessert to share with others. Its summer time so remember to bring your insect repellent. If you stay late a light jacket or windbreaker may be useful depending on the weather conditions. The observatory does have a single access restroom.

We typically have 30 to 50 people for these events and 15 to 20 telescopes to look through. In addition our observatory features a 16-inch telescope and classroom area. We also have about 1.5 acres of open ground for setting up your own equipment. This is a great time to begin work on one of the observing certificate programs offered by the Astronomical League. Families are welcome but Children MUST be supervised. You can see more about the observatory at our website. The Observatory is open at club star parties and other scheduled events. If you plan to go at other times < Gerry Andries e-mail > or a club officer should be notified. Due to our remote location it is not advised for observers to go alone. See schedule of events below.


The Planet Mars is making a spectacular return to the evening sky. Mars rises about 10:00 PM in the SE as a blazing orange beacon. You'll want to wait until it's higher to get a good view through your telescope. Mars is Huge in your telescope! This is our best view since 1988 and it will be even better in August of 2003! You'll probably want a filter to look for subtle details. Light blue or green filters help bring out some of Mars surface features. If you don't have a filter try a pair of those red & blue 3D movie glasses to compare views of Mars. Mars is at opposition on June 13 and closest to earth on June 21st only 42 million miles away. Sky and Telescope has a great Mars Observing page on the Internet featuring a complete map of Mars surface features and even a download tool to predict which features are visible at a specific time.

Mission to Mars On April 7, 2001 NASA launched Mars Odyssey 2001 to arrive at Mars on late October 24, 2001. Mars Odyssey will enter a polar orbit allowing it to survey the entire planet especially changes in the polar ice caps. Its primary mission is to survey the mineral composition of Mars rocks especially those that would indicate past or present evidence of the action of water on Mars. An additional instrument will monitor the radiation exposure near Mars that may be encountered by future astronaut missions to Mars. 

Unmasking the Face on Mars. Check out the great images from Mars Global Surveyor of the so-called "Face on Mars" first observed by the Viking spacecraft in 1976. See how fuzzy images and a lot of imagination lead to a decades old myth of aliens on Mars.

Observing Mars without a Telescope - Even if you don't have a telescope there is much you can learn about Mars. As June begins Mars is magnitude -2.1 on the boundary of Ophiuchus and Sagittarius. Astronomers use the term magnitude to describe how bright an object appears. The brightest stars are 1st magnitude while the dimmest stars we can see on a dark country night are about 100 times dimmer at 6th magnitude. For planets and other bright objects we use negative numbers. Thus at -2.1 Mars is 17 times brighter than a bright star. About 16 degrees to the west of Mars is the red giant star Antares in Scorpius. In fact Antares name means, "rival of Mars" since they are nearly the same color. Take time each week during the summer to make a drawing of Mars position relative to Antares and several other stars in this region. You can measure the angle between Mars and Antares using your fist as a guide. Your fist at arm's length covers an angle of about 10 degrees. As the earth overtakes Mars in its orbit, Mars will appear to move backward (to the west) among the stars. This is called retrograde motion. By June 13 Mars will be -2.35 Magnitude: almost 23 times brighter than Antares. By July 22 as earth races away from Mars, it will have dimmed to -1.7 magnitude (only 12 times brighter than Antares) and lay only 5 degrees away from Antares. By making your own accurate observations of Mars you can join in the grand tradition of the ancient astronomers who sought to read the mysteries of the God's universe. Using only the Human eye and diligent measurements the Danish Astronomer Tycho Brahe collected the data that allowed Johannes Kepler to the discovery of his famous mathematical Laws of Planetary Motion. All this was accomplished before the invention of the telescope.

From Sky & Telescope

Observing prospects for Mars at a glance: its visual magnitude, size, orientation, and phase throughout the 2001 apparition. On the globes, celestial south is up for comparison with the view in an astronomical (inverting) telescope used from the Northern Hemisphere. For easy comparison with the accompanying Mars map, grid lines are drawn at 20 degree intervals of Martian latitude and longitude. Sky & Telescope diagram.


The following is the current schedule of star parties and public groups. Tentatively scheduled dates are bracketed with question marks. All events are at the RMCC unless noted otherwise: Contact < Gerry Andries e-mail > at Phone


06-02-01 Sat 10:00 RMCC Observatory Work Day

06-06-01 Wed 20:00 ORU Math/Science Academy w/ Kevin Manning (35)

06-07-01 Thu 20:00 Back up for 06-06-01

06-19-01 Tue 20:00 Tulsa Math Equity Academy (35)

06-20-01 Wed 20:00 ORU Math/Science Academy w/ Kevin Manning (35)

06-21-01 Thu 20:00 Back up for 06-20-01

06-22-01 Fri 19:45 Club Star Party

06-23-01 Sat 19:45 Club Star Party (Backup for 6/22)



? 07-17-01 Tue Kansas, OK Public Library (At location near Kansas,OK) ?

? 07-19-01 Thu Back Up for 07-17-01 ?

07-19-01 Thu 13:30 Coweta Public Library (at the Library w/John Land & Tony White)

07-20-01 Fri 19:45 Club Star Party & Picnic

07-21-01 Sat 19:45 Club Star Party (Backup for 7/20)



08-10-01 Fri ACT Club Picnic and Camp Out (Location to be determined)

08-11-01 Sat ACT Club Picnic and Camp Out

08-12-01 Sun ACT Club Picnic and Camp Out

? 08-17-01 Fri Tulsa Bicycle Club w/ Ed Kirkman ?

? 08-18-01 Sat Tulsa Bicycle Club w/ Ed Kirkman ?

The 2001 MidStates Convention

June 8, 9, 10

Conway, Arkansas

The Central Arkansas Astronomical Society is pleased to announce the annual meeting of the Mid-States Regional Convention of the Astronomical League on June 8, 9, 10 at Hendrix College, Conway, Arkansas located in a Scenic Central Arkansas.

The keynote speaker will be Robert Reeves of San Antonio, Texas. Robert's talk will be titled "Astrophotography For The Rest Of Us." So named because few of us can shoot the sky like Jack Newton or Tony Hallas. Robert will explain how we can create our own stunning celestial images with easily available equipment. He is a magazine and book author and teaches astronomy at both the Northeast Independent School District and the Alamo Community College District in San Antonio. He has written many dozens of astronomy articles for Astronomy Magazine, The Astrograph, The Reflector, Amateur Astronomy Magazine, and Deep Sky and Deep Sky Journal. Astrophotography has been a passion of his since 1960. Other features of the convention include an observing night, Catfish fry, door prizes and several other speakers. If you want to present a paper, contact them at their website.

Regional and National Astronomy conventions are a great place to meet people active in their hobby of astronomy and find out what other clubs are doing in the region. There are lots of astronomy equipment vendors and swap meets at these events so you can check out the latest equipment or pick up a bargain or two. Our Tulsa Club may have an opportunity to host the 2002 convention in Tulsa. We would like to be well represented at this year's event to find out how to organize such an event.

More Information - Registration forms and lodging reservations forms are available at their website


The club now has its own domain name and a new web site. The new URL is

Tom McDonough, the webmaster, has done a great job redesigning a great site that Dean Salman originally designed. Thanks to both.



Although nearly 2 inches of rain fell during the day our the Club's Star Party on Friday May 22nd turned out to be a rounding success. Some 25 members brought telescopes and binoculars of all sizes and were rewarded to a very good night of viewing. The Messier Certificate Group got their observations off the ground with 7 of the 8 participants present. For the inexperienced, operating telescopes and reading star charts while looking for faint objects proved to be a challenge. But each time it's done progress occurs. I would like to tell all Messier observers to bring star charts and locate the objects they plan to view on a star chart before the observing session. Chart's such as Norton's Star Atlas ($44.95) or The Cambridge Star Atlas ($21.95) can often be found at Borders or Barn's & Noble. Will Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000 ($29.95 to $69,95) can be found at Even a revolving planosphere can be a big help in getting orientated to the stars. Our next club star party is Friday June 22nd (rain date 23rd) and we welcome all members and guests to come out for another beautiful night of viewing.

Denny Mishler, Club Vice President

Observing at the RMCC Observatory

Astronomy is a natural science. It makes perfect sense to be drawn to the beauty of nature, taking the opportunity to enjoy the countryside. How most of us become fascinated, seems to be the curiosity of the inner child. If we should happen to acquire great knowledge or talent, it is never wasted if shared with the observing groups. The 'WOW' of a kid, forever hooked in awe, a rare event, (maybe 1 in 100 boys, 1 in a 1000 young girls). I just love it when a kid won't let go of the eyepiece, ignoring the people behind him and there he is again after a few people have had their turn. Share with an observing partner that moment in time when a child awakens to science. Your smile and twinkle will not be empty.

Objects to observe before night fall:

Mary Ann Brenner calls the white flowers that cover our lawn in the spring Star Flowers. Do you really need to know the scientific and genus names? Tientalis Borealis and Primrose Family (Primalaceae).

Blue Bird boxes hatch several clutches a season on the north and west fence line. They were made by Donita Woodall's Dad, Mr.Gray and placed by the Woodalls, summer of '92.

The snake stories are some of the wildest. Copperheads delight on the warm pavement, on the drive near the observatory. A black bull snake thought Chris Brown was a tree, when he was checking on the south door, closing up one evening, down came a hunting predator from the south entry's ceiling. I haven't checked for bird nest since. Later that snake was injured when the door was locked and shut, we never saw him again. Gerry asked me to hold a 5-foot copperhead in position, which we scared up from the riding mower, while Gerry would look for a shovel. I never stopped the snake from his freedom. Gerry Andries is our Club's Observatory Manager, and defender of tarantulas. Is it impossible to educate people on the benefits of some of our wild life? Is the natural order really true if you take out one pit viper, another moves in, hopefully a bull snake? Like the naturalist say, there aren't any bad snakes.

Early times at the observatory, there is the story of a coyote running through the field and knocking an observer off his chair.

Inside the RMCC Building:

Spring we accidentally trap barn swallows in the classroom. If they try to come under the bathroom door with stiletto wings, in the dark - that's a new thrill.

Warnings of Brown Recluse, Black Widows, occasional Water Moccasin, and the soft body Scorpion, all love the cool of the building in summer. Tell that to one person in a group, with open toes, and you won't see them sit on the ground.

In winter, we have huge colonies of Lady Bugs, in clusters, usually on the inside doorframe on the north door.

When it's time to observe:

Sunset appears to be more than the close of just a day, the experience shared with fellow observers, is worth getting there early. Civil, Nautical, and finally Astronomical Twilight, (setting sun, to the sun 12 degrees below the horizon).

The nocturnal creatures sing to us. The piercing pitch whistle of a bat. We mostly appreciate the coyotes, owls, whip o wills and katydids.

My son Nathan and husband Dave, witnessed seeing a dark phase Mt. Lion, the winter of '94, between our two gates. That tail has remained thick and three feet long. I quit observing alone after that.

The drive home:

Deer regularly jump out in front of the weary motorist. Fox and bobcat are reported every few years. Those planetaries are much more common in my sites and I hunt for both. Those raccoons, opossums, cotton and jack rabbits, skunks and great horned owl gliding overhead, impart so much more, that no matter if we could not find that latest supernova or comet, our universe has wrapped you completely in the natural world.

Now what makes you think you need a telescope to come to the observatory to observe?

K.C. Lobrecht .


George McKinzie and his son Kyle joined the club after locating us on the Internet. George is an X Ray Technician at Mayes County Medical Center. Monica Kistennacher is taking Chris Browns Astronomy class at TCC. Monica and her husband Hans are both originally from Munich, Germany. Hans is a Chemical Engineer. Diana Williamson-Smith comes to us from San Francisco, CA where she and other amateur astronomers observed from Mt. Tamalpais. Diana is a Writer and Biblical Teacher. Steven Overfield learned about Astronomy from his Dad who is a founding member of the Bartlesville Astronomy Club. Steve has a 6" Newtonian reflector. He is a Product Designer at Baker-Hughes Centrilift. The other new members are David McGill and L. Scott Jones. This brings us to 20 new members for 2001. I encourage everyone to meet our new members and welcome them to our hobby.

Denny Mishler, New Member Coordinator


Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS

President: John Land

Vice President: Dennis Mishler

Secretary: Teresa Kincannon

Treasurer: Nick Pottorf

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Tom McDonough

New Membership: Dennis Mishler

Librarian: Ed Reinhart

Education Coordinator: Scott Parker