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March 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 March 17, 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

March 17th Meeting - Earning an Observing Certificate from the Astronomical League.

Spring is a great time to begin learning about the sky and planning your summer to get out to a dark site and enjoy the sky.  At the March 17 meeting we will be discussing how to begin or improve your observing activities. The Astronomical League has a number of observing programs that will help beginning and advanced astronomers learn more about the many hidden treasures of the night sky. Come learn about the Lunar Club, Universe Sampler, Messier Club and the Herschel I and II clubs.   I will be giving some basic tips on navigating the night sky and preparing yourself to see deep into the night sky.  David Stine and KC Lobrecht will be talking about some the observing certificates they have earned.  Perhaps   they will share some of their wisdom for enduring and enjoying those long nights at the eyepiece.  If you have earned an observing certificate bring it along and your logbooks for a sharing time at the end of the session.  We have ordered some of the observing manuals that will be for sale or order at the end of the program.  For a sneak preview you can look at some of these programs at:


Next Meeting - Friday April 14

Light Pollution Solutions and Education

I am really excited about this event.  Perhaps you got to see the TWO night series on KOTV Channel 6 "Blinded by the Light" featuring some of our own club members.   Scott Thompson, "The Oklahoma Traveler", did an excellent presentation on the issues of light pollution.   This has stimulated lots of attention in the Tulsa area, as evidenced by letters to Action Line in the Tulsa World.  We are working on getting a local expert on lighting legislation to help us spread the news that: "NIGHT is a RIGHT!" and  "PUT OUT the LIGHTS!"  If you have a special interest or expertise in the area of light pollution or have just had some success persuading your neighbors to cover their lights, please contact John Land before the April meeting.



1:00 PM to Dusk - We’ll have a sunset snack to sooth our weary bodies and then refresh ourselves after dark with a Club Observing Night.  We have several projects that need to be done to make the observatory more presentable.  Bring some paintbrushes and clothes, cleaning supplies and yard tools.  We especially need some gas powered weed whackers with heavy-duty line or brush blade to clean up along the roadway and fences.  We are also in need of a welder brave enough to help us put a rain skirt around the edge of the dome.  As spring arrives, we have many groups eager to visit the Observatory.  Gerry and the Club can always use some willing members to help keep the groups occupied while he runs the big telescope for viewing. To volunteer for our workday or visitor groups.  Call or email Gerry Andries  - Phone   < Gerry Andries e-mail >


Astronomy Club ON LINE

For those of you that have access to the Internet at home, work, school or library - our web page is  Dean Salman, our web master, keeps it posted with information about club meetings, sky events and astronomy information.  You can even look up the current weather forecast and calendar of the month's moon phases and other events.  One exciting new feature is an Astronomy Bulletin board.  You can read announcements about late breaking astronomy events or upcoming club events or even post one yourself.  If you post information please be sure it is accurate and portrays a good image of our club.   You can find it under: Club and Astro Events


Saturday - April 1   Messier Marathon

Home of Ron and Maura McDermott Wood and BART their 24" telescope. On a few nights in early spring it is possible to see almost all of the 110 Messier Objects in a single night.  This annual event draws astronomers for Oklahoma City, Tulsa and the surrounding areas.  See David Stine's section describing this event.  Be aware that the "facilities" are "Country Style" and you will experience nature with interference (or benefit) of modern technology.


From the ACT web page SKY EVENTS: By Dean Salman

The next 2 months will have Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn passing very close to each other.  This is one of the best evening conjunctions of the year.  On March 8th and 9th, the thin moon will pass by Mars and Jupiter.  By March 31, these planets are separated by just 9 degrees.  Jupiter, the brightest, stands in the middle of the trio.  Shining at magnitude 1.4, Mars appears dimmest of the three because it is lowest in the sky in bright twilight.  Saturn, a full magnitude brighter than Mars, lies highest above the horizon.  In the morning sky, Venus still rises before sunrise but it is very low in the sky.  From very dark sites it is possible to see the zodiacal light -- a cone of light extending up past M45 at times.  Viewing this elusive glow is made possible by the high inclination of the ecliptic, and March is the best time in the Northern Hemisphere in which to see it.  The zodiacal light is produced by trillions of tiny dust particles orbiting in the plane of the planets but requires a very dark clear sky to observe.

The sun is near sunspot cycle, you should see quite a few surface features on the sun.  Enjoy viewing the sun during this peak, but please remember, you never can look at the sun without a filter.  YOU MUST HAVE A SOLAR FILTER TO SEE THE SUN.  There have been several M and X class solar flares recently, which increase our chances for seeing the Northern lights.  Several good displays were visible from 1989 through 1991 during the peak of the last solar maximum activity.  If you don't have a solar filter you can view daily images of the sun and get the latest SPACE WEATHER at:


Future Club Meeting Dates:

We are trying to have our club meetings on a Friday near the Full Moon to avoid interfering with members observing plans.  Likewise our Club Observing Nights are scheduled near the New Moon.   Club Observing Nights are scheduled for Friday night with Saturday as the backup night.  Below is a list of proposed dates subject to change for unforeseen events:


Club Observing Nights

Meeting Nights

April 7

April 14

May 5

May 19

June 2

June 16

June 30

July TBA

July 28


Aug 11 Perseid Meteor Shower

Aug 18 Fall Meeting




David Stine


Its that time of year again when you can attempt to view all 110 Messier objects from dusk to dawn.  And what better place to do this is at Ron and Maura Wood's farm better known as TUVA Observatory near Council Hill, Oklahoma.  Each year, except for last because of circumstances beyond their control, Ron and Maura are gracious host to an annual Star Party for anyone up to the challenge of locating all the Messier objects in one night.  This event usually falls the last of March or first of April.  This year the date is Saturday, April 1.  The first year that the event was held I found the most objects something like 97, I believe, old age makes you forget things.  Anyway, because I found the most that first year, Ron started the Dave Stine Award for the person who finds the most Messier objects.  Since then other club members have surpassed me, such as James Liley who found over 100 objects in one night.  The night is a lot of fun and you aren't required to do anything if you don't want to, just enjoy TUVA's dark skies and the company.  Ron was having his Messier Marathons even before everybody else started jumping on the bandwagon.  Now there are Messier Marathons all over of the world.  You should have patented them Ron. Actually, the first known Messier Marathon that was held was in Arizona.  Gerry Rattley from Dugas, Arizona completed the list and hunted down all 110 objects in the 1970's.   This year’s marathon has an added twist.  Not only can you attempt to view all the Messier objects, but all nine planets will be visible for a planet marathon. I have never seen Pluto, so maybe Bart will be able to pick it out of the stars.  Also 13.5 MG. Comet C/1999H3 (Linear) will be visible, which will be challenge for just about everyone except maybe Queen of the Skies, K.C. Lobrecht.  There is a very good chance that with the enormous activity that is now going on the Sun,  with any luck at all, we might even get to view a rare aurora like we did several years ago at TUVA.  Also with all the activity going on the Sun come early Saturday and view the Sunspots on the Sun.  Don't forget snacks, beverages, warm clothing (It does get cool in the early mornings at TUVA). Now how do you go about finding all the objects?  You will need a good star chart and a general knowledge of where the objects are in the sky and what time during the night. I made a log of my objects in the order and time to locate them with charts that will be available at the site, however in March’s Sky and Telescope there is a very good check off list that can be pulled from the magazine and used.  The one thing that you need to do if you are going to see over 100 objects is to start early even before dark or as soon as you can see some stars.  The first 4 objects on the list are low in the west and northwest and are difficult if not impossible as James and I can attest to.   M77, 74, 33, 110-James and I were looking right at this ones location two years ago and never did see the galaxy, and the last 10 objects, M69, 70, 54, 55, 75, 15, 2, 72, 73, and the hardest of all M30 at or around dawn.  Of course the Virgo Cluster is no easy task, but is manageable since it will be high overhead by Midnight.  I have some tips for you if you attempt the challenge:

  1. Go out now in the early evening and try and locate the first four objects now and find reference stars that you can locate near the object that will help direct you to the objects come Marathon night.


  1. On marathon night start as early as possible trying to locate the impossible objects low in the west-northwest. The start is hectic.  You have to work fast.  You will have to find a lot of objects before they set in very little time.


  1. Don't spend a lot of time on any one object because you might miss another object that has set in the West.  Always start in the West and go East or as the stars move across the sky.


  1. In my list, I have the time of night that certain objects should be located, also the Sky and Telescope list also gives appropriate parts of the evening and morning to locate the objects.  Stay on schedule or ahead of schedule as you will need to take breaks off and on during the evening. If you are on schedule and have completed the early objects, Leo and the Big Dipper Region you should have time to take a break before you start on the Virgo Cluster.  After this and after Midnight on to Cygnus and Ophiuchus.  By 3 a.m. you should be on schedule and be ready for another break.  Now comes the hectic finish, finding 24 objects in the Scorpius/Sagittarius region.  All are bright and easy though.  The final objects are the hardest and possibly impossible to locate as you will be looking for them as the sky begins to brighten in the East.


As the sun rises above the horizon and whether you have bagged 100 or more objects, you will have that satisfaction of knowing that you did it and can be considered a member of the Marathon gang.  You could even win the David Stine Award or even better win Stephen James O'Meara's new book, The Messier Objects by registering and reporting back your results at  To add a couple of more challenges for you that aren't that hard, but are interesting, try and locate three Southern Hemisphere objects that are possible at this latitude.  They are: the 2nd brightest star in the Universe, Canopus located near the southern horizon below the brightest star Sirius when that star is directly south. Then the galaxy Centarus A, a radio source, and the Omega Star Cluster considered the largest and best in the Universe, but will look like a large dim blob because it is so low, are both near the horizon below the star Spica and M83.  And who knows what else might be in store for us that night, an iridum flare, a blazing meteor, etc. It should be a great night that y6u don't want to miss.  So how do you get there, follow my Comet - 1 license tag or do the following: 


Coming from Tulsa going east on the Broken Arrow Expressway, take the last exit before Muskogee Turnpike, which will put you on Highway 51 to Coweta.  Drive about 8.7 miles, exit Hwy 51; take Hwy 72 south, watch for a Jiffy Trip on right at the last light before Hwy 72, exit right on 72 and go under railroad and through downtown Coweta.  Follow 72 south to Haskell, Boynton and Council Hill.  3.5 miles south of Council Hill watch for "End 72" and “JUNC 266".  Exit left (east) at junction.  Go east 2 and 1/4 miles to second stop sign and turn left (north) at a two-story white house with black roof.  Go north 1/2 mile to the open field of TUVA and turn left and you are there.  Give yourself about 35-45 minutes from Tulsa.  You can also bypass Coweta and go south on  Memorial through Bixby, make the big curve and go through Leonard to Haskell, and follow the directions above from Haskell.


Hope to see you there and if you have a hard time following directions meet me at 91st/Memorial in front of Steinmart between 3-3:15p.m. and follow me. I will leave at 3:15p.m. sharp so don't be late. That’s it from my ASTRO CORNER this month.



You might remember about a comet I had earlier mentioned in a past article that had a promising apparition brightening as much as Mg.3 in July of this year.  Well we may have another Kohoutek.  Remember that 1973 comet with promises of being the brightest comet of the century, and then fizzing out causing astronomers to have egg on their face until the late bright comets of the 90's.  Now D.G. Schleicher of the Lowell Observatory stated that the apparent decrease in dust production by Comet C/1999 S4, implies either an earlier outburst or significant variability due to rotation.  Meaning what?  That if the comet is new, the decrease in dust production likely predicts behavior similar to that of Comet Kohoutek.  Now predictions have been updated for July and instead of our first bright comet since Hale-Bopp they are just barely naked eye expectations at 5.8.  Things could change though so don't despair, comets are very unpredictable.  Stay tuned as July approaches.

For sale

I will finally sell my 13 mm TeleVue Nagler.  No longer made.  Received my Herschel I Certificate with this eyepiece.  Caps and box, in great condition.  $250.

Filters for 1 1/4" and 2" eyepieces:  OM111, and Deep sky/nebula.  $50.

K.C. 918.267.4763  


The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

The Observer’s Handbook for 2000 from The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has finally arrived.  If you ordered one see Nick at the meeting or call him at 918.742.7577.



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…