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March 1999

ACT, Inc. has been meeting continuously since 1937 and was incorporated in 1986. It consists of 150 members and is a nonprofit, tax deductible organization dedicated to promoting the science of astronomy and the education of the public.


Words of Wisdom:

Words of Wisdom: "We need science to help us solve all the problems we wouldn't have if there were no science!" Milton Berle


The Astronomy Club of Tulsa Meeting


Friday March 26, 1999 at 7:30 P.M.


NEW PLACE: Room M1 inside Keplinger Hall, the Science & Engineering Building at TU. Enter the parking lot on the east side of Keplinger Hall from Harvard onto 5th Street. This will take you directly toward the staircase to enter the building. M1 is the first room on the left.


April 30, May 28, June 25


Tut Campbell will be presenting his "Ongoing Update of Supernova Patrol Search" in conjunction with Arkansas Tech University in Russelville, Arkansas. Tut began observing as a teenager during the 60's, studied astrophysics in the early 70's, and has taught basic and internet observational astronomy at Mercer University and Kennesaw College in Atlanta, Georgia during the late 70's. He has his own observatory (Mt. Sherman) which houses a 16" f/6 reflector telescope. Along with his techniques on supernova patrols researching several thousands of galaxies, Tut will also speak on cataclysmic variables and touch on what is happening with light pollution and the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Tut is a dynamic speaker and we are all in for a special evening.


Gary Campbell gave a nice presentation on "CCD Imaging Techniques." Gary showed us some of his very detailed and beautiful images of galaxies and star clusters, and answered many questions people had about using his ST-6 and ST-7 cameras, which were graciously passed around for all to see. Thanks Gary!


I have truly enjoyed serving as your President during the past year and a half or so. Making new friends and spending quality time with old ones has been one of the many benefits for me personally. The Astronomy Club of Tulsa has given me the opportunity to do some things I love most: sharing astronomy with friends while meeting new people, and putting into action some of the many creative ideas that comes from the collective wisdom of many people united for a common cause. It has been a great experience working with and getting to know so many of you better than if I was less involved. My desire is to see the Astronomy Club of Tulsa thrive in the technological innovation the new millennium brings, grow in membership as it attracts people interested in sharing astronomy from all over this region of Oklahoma, and find better ways to continuously serve the needs of its members as well as those of the community. My hope is that the club will continue in a positive light and be skillfully led with a vision worthy of its greatness. Thank you to all of you that have helped me in so many ways while serving as President. As I said in the beginning, the Astronomy Club of Tulsa is looking up!




By David Stine

This month I want to take time out to talk about one of our friends in astronomy. Recently Ron Wood had a terrible accident, which could have ended his life. Ron, if you are not familiar with him, is an avid astronomer and hosts the annual Messier Marathon at his ranch near Checotah, where the TUVA Observatory is located. On February 26, he was working at his ranch with a fertilizer spreader that was attached to his tractor. The day was very windy and it was impossible to keep a cap on. Ron encountered problems with his equipment and got off his tractor to correct the problem. As he was bent over checking out the problem the wind whipped Ron's hair up into the moving shaft and pulled his scalp away from his head from the nape of his neck to just above his eyebrows. He ended up being very lucky as the result was no broken bones, no brain injury or neurological damage. On the same day of the accident he underwent a long surgery with plastic surgeons working on him, reattaching his scalp. Since then he has had several more surgeries with more to come. Even with all of this, he still was planning to hold the Marathon. The doctors said he was amazing and they were surprised by his strength and attitude. He had surgery again Tuesday March 9 in preparation for an eventual scalp skin graft. He is getting stronger and can now walk around and talk on the phone some. He was expected to go home on Wednesday March 17 and was excited still about the possibility of having the Marathon. He will have to go back to the hospital for the major operation later. They hope to cover the entire skull with one graft. Maura and Ron want to thank everyone who has sent cards, phoned or visit. Ron's recovery will be a fairly long process, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. At the time of this writing the Marathon was to take place if the weather cooperated. If not, Ron would like to have another star party later in the Spring or Summer. More details will be available at the monthly meeting. I will keep you updated on Ron's recovery.


The GREEN Flash !!!

By John Land

On Sunday, March, 14, 1999 I was returning from visiting my parents in McAlester, Oklahoma. My Dad had been hospitalized for several days and I as I watched the Sun slip closer to the horizon, I was contemplating how life slips so slowly and surely through our frail grasp on time. The ground was partly covered with the remains of the last great blizzard of the century that had roared in on Saturday dumping 12 inches or more of snow. The sun had burst forth-early Sunday morning and its warming rays had swiftly brushed aside winter's chilling grip. My mind had wandered to how the Son of God shines forth and brushes aside death's chilling grip upon our souls. I was on the Muskogee Turnpike about 5 or 6 miles southeast of the toll plaza and had been watching a golden orange sun pressing close to a ridge of low hills 15 to 20 miles away. The sky was crystal clear washed clean by the storm. I decided to pull off the road and watch the remainder of the sunset. The fields round about were brushed golden by its last fading rays. I watched as the last golden tip of the sun disappeared behind the ridge.

Then suddenly the ridge flashed a brilliant green like a spotlight shining through a giant emerald. The center was more white than the edges of aurora green. My eyes telegraphed the message to my brain. GREEN they screamed!! My drifting mind was wrenched from its deep pondering for the meaning of life. GREEN ?! - - FLASH of GREEN ?!? GREEN FLASH ! ! ! ! THE GREEN FLASH !!!! but alias by the time the message had been decoded the scene was only a latent image on my retina. I had seen The Green Flash of the setting sun. Like a royal jewel from the crown of heaven it thrust forth proclaiming victory over the dying sun and the victory of the Son over death. I nearly burst through the roof of the car with excitement. My mind screamed out for an Instant Replay, Rewind and savor the moment in slow motion. But like life there was only ONE shining moment to savor the majesty of heaven. God doesn't give us a rewind button. You have to be prepared when the curtain of night draws closed on the fleeting moments of life.

My scientific mind droned on about refraction of light and atmospheric conditions. I had read about rare sightings of the green flash being visible across vast expanses of ocean and even seen what I now know were feeble attempts to capture this moment on film. I have been an avid watcher of the sky most of my 51 years on earth, an amateur astronomer for 22 years and astronomy teacher for 19 years. I spent almost a year recording the positions of the sunset taking slides to show to my classes but NEVER have I witnessed the green flash at sunset. No photograph could possibly capture the magnificent Emerald glow I had seen. My soul rejoices to have been a part of this special moment in time.

For those curious about this event. When we see a red or golden sunset, the physical orb of the sun is already slightly below the horizon. We see it because the longer wavelengths like red refract (BEND) through the atmosphere to reach our eyes. If you remember the ROY-G-BIV spectrum from school all to the colors are refracted but the shorter wavelengths are scattered high above our line of sight. On rare occasions the atmosphere is such that the green slice of the spectrum can still reach our line of sight. But mear scientific rhetoric cannot begin to express my astonishment and joy at seeing this for myself.




By Joel Fream


Over the years one forgets the awe and excitement that can come from astronomy.

After several years of respite I reentered astronomy with diligence and money.

I told everyone I know of my new found excitement and got several different reactions to my enthusiasm.

I told my Brother-in-law about my new telescopes. I explained how I once had an 8" telescope and enjoyed it. But now I have ordered three telescopes, each for a special purpose. The smallest is a MEAD ETX-90. This meant absolutely nothing to my sister's husband. So I went on to explain, it is a small telescope, ideal for taking pictures of the moon and sun. With it the craters and mountains on the moon are clearly visible. Also, with a special filter, sunspots can be viewed and photographed.

The second instrument is a 7" Maksutov Cassegrain for looking at planets, comets and other fairly bright objects in the night sky. The third instrument, a Newtonian 16", as big as a car and about as heavy. It is for looking at deep space objects.

At this news he was somewhat excited. "When you get the big one will you be able to see the rings of Saturn?" I told him, the rings of Saturn could be seen with the ETX-90 that I have already received. This piece of information was met with a mix of skepticism and excitement. It soon became clear to me that Mark wanted to see the rings of Saturn.

I went home and pulled up the current night sky on my computer. I knew the convergence of Venus and Jupiter happened in the next few days but what I was excited to find is that Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are all visible in the evening sky. I called Mark and we were off on a micro star party with a 90mm telescope. His wife, my sister, went along on somewhat of a whim; she wanted to see too.

The sky is crystal clear. We set up and waited for the sun to set. Soon darkness tried to vanquish the light. Shortly after sunset a picture appeared to me that I had not seen in many years. From the western skies starting at the horizon there they were Mercury, Venus and Jupiter, then high in the sky Saturn. They traced the ecliptic across the night sky.

First order of business, the rings of Saturn. I sighted in on the planet through the finder and there it is dead center in the main scope. The picture is small but very clear. I stepped aside and told Mark to take a look. He peered into the small telescope and remained motionless for a few moments. Then with obvious shock and disbelief raised up and looked at the tiny dot of light in the night sky. Then he quickly looked back into the scope. Mark spoke while looking into the telescope, "Barbara you have got to see this." Excitement filled the air and soon these two adults sounded like small children. "I want to look, let me look!" "I'm looking at it, just wait a minute." This went on until I suggested there are other things to look at. Finally I regained control of the scope and pointed it at Jupiter. Mark looked and realized that this is a disk in the sky not a spot of light. Jupiter and Venus are both in his field of view. I explained that Jupiter is an outer planet and is on the far side of its orbit. It is a very long way away. They decided that Jupiter must be really big, I assured them they were correct.

After a few minutes of viewing Mark remarked "there are stripes on Jupiter and they are at an angle". I told him to look at the sky. "See the line of planets?" I pointed at the line of planets across the sky. That is the plane of the solar system. He looked at the sky and again into the telescope. "Then the lines are not at an angle, they are straight, we must be on an angle."

We continued to observe until Venus and Jupiter drifted below the Western horizon. We then turned our attention to the moon. It is high in the sky and as bright as daylight. The reaction was almost the same.

A few days later I was asked if their grand child look at the rings of Saturn. I set up in their front yard and a semi interested 15 year old girl looked into the scope. Once again the new observer remained motionless for a few moments. Then with the explosive action of fear the young lady lurched back from the telescope as if it were a snake. She carefully looked at the optics to see if this image was painted on the glass. In that moment I gained a small understanding of the up hill battle the pioneers of Science and Astronomy must have had. I can only imagine the whole world filled with those who don't want to be enlightened. With the help of her grandmother the young lady was convinced that what she was looking at is real and not a trick. She still had some trouble understanding why she could not see it without the telescope. However after a few other observations she accepted the assistance of the strange devise.

I think I am glad to have lived when knowledge and enlightenment are not bad things.


Astronomy Club meeting dates for 1999.

The club will meet the last Friday of each month except for November and December when a holiday will interfere with the last Friday. The November meeting will be on the 19th, and the December meeting will be on the 17th.

The dates are:

26 March

30 April

28 May

25 June

30 July

27 August

24 September

29 October

19 November

17 December



That’s all folks…