March 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.


Astronomy Club of Tulsa Meeting


Friday, March 2, 2001 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.


Notes from the President

John Land

"Starlight, Star Bright, First Star I see tonight - -" Most of us are familiar with this simple rhyme. Trouble is for many of us we have to change the rhyme to read "Hope I can SEE some Stars Tonight". This month we have invited Patric Johnstone to return to give us an update on Lighting Issues in Tulsa. Several of you may recall Patric's presentation last year concerning Light Pollution Issues. As a result of Channel 6 News featuring Patric and some of our club members on their award winning documentary "Blinded by the Light" more Tulsans have become aware of lighting issues. The Tulsa Energy Board headed by councilman Rosco Turner recently invited Patric to present them with ideas about Lighting Policies for roads and businesses in Tulsa. Patric is hoping to convince them to adopt the American National Standards for Roadway Lighting. These standards include Full Cut-off Shielding for all roadway lighting. Patric will give us an update on the significant progress made this past year.

The recent concern about rising energy costs is helping to focus public attention on lighting. I have also invited a representative of PSO to come discuss their ideas on public and business lighting. At this writing I have not received confirmation from PSO. Hopefully PSO is becoming more aware of Public and Private interest in good lighting policy. I would ask us to be polite and non-confrontational to the PSO representative. With deregulation scheduled for Oklahoma in 2002, PSO and other utilities have a real vested interest in becoming more involved with the communities they serve. Organizations such as ours can build a spirit of cooperation toward fresh approaches to lighting issues. For a fantastic view of the earth at night go to:

If we do not have a PSO representative, I will give a demonstration and discussion of the "Message of Starlight", a brief history of spectroscopy and some of the information that can be discovered by the study of the spectrum produced by starlight.


Up coming Club meetings and events:

Shapley Lecture at University of Tulsa

"Conditions for Extraterrestrial Life To Be Topic of Public Lecture by Astronomer Feb. 28 at TU"

Just a reminder. Please invite friends, family and students. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Are we alone in the universe? Fritz Benedict, an astronomer at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, will address that topic -- and the steps that must be explored before answering the question -- during a lecture at The University of Tulsa on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Benedict, a senior research scientist who uses the Hubble Space Telescope for his work, will speak at 7 p.m. in Room M-1 of Keplinger Hall, Fifth Street and Harvard Avenue, home of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences. He will present the 2001 Shapley Lecture, titled "Nine Steps to Extraterrestrial Life."

Benedict says there are nine essential steps that lead to humans dominating this planet. "The first four steps involve an astronomical exploration of our universe," he says. "Is there anything special about our galaxy, our star, the Sun; or the planet we inhabit?"

Chemistry dominates the next three steps, he says. How did life arise on our planet? Could this process occur elsewhere in the galaxy?

"The last two steps are doozies," he says. Does intelligence arise as a natural consequence of a rich, threatening environment? Is our galaxy sterile, feral, fallow or filled? The answer, he says, "may most depend on a final, critical tenth step."

Benedict says most of his career has centered on the Hubble Space Telescope, planning, designing, building and using it for projects such as determining precise distances to stars, measuring precise masses for stars, and looking for planets around other stars. He also studies clusters of stars in other galaxies, looking for clues regarding star formation.

The Shapley Lecture, funded by the American Astronomical Society, is named after astronomer Harlow Shapley.

For more information, contact Shawn Jackson in the TU physics department at (918) 631-3022.


Friday April 6 - Wayne Wyrick of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium in Oklahoma City will be our guest speaker. Wayne will bring us up to date on some of the discoveries and developments in Astronomy. You won't want to miss this one.

Other future meetings for your calendar are April 6, May 4 and June 8

As spring arrives many groups want to learn more about Astronomy. Volunteers are needed to help with events.

Below are tentative dates for our club meetings and star parties.

Unless noted otherwise Events are at the Observatory.

Note: Poor Road Conditions are still a major concern. It is advisable to call before planning any trips to the observatory. Also at present the water is off due to a winter plumbing problem.


02-23-01 Fri 18:00 Club Star Party 02-24-01 Sat 18:00 Back up for 02-23-01


03-01-01 Thu 19:00 Hoover Elementary (at the school) 2337 S Darlington, Tulsa Several Telescopes needed

03-03-01 Sat  18:00 Brassfield Elementary School (10)

03-09-01 Fri 18:00 Riverfield Country School (20) 

03-24-01 Sat Messier Marathon (at TUVA. Details at This event is near intersection of I 40 and Hwy 69 near Checotah, OK.  Note no Organized Club Star party due to Messier Marathon but members may visit the Observatory Grounds by request. Contact Gerry Andries 

03-30-01 Fri 18:00 Public Star Party (at TCC West Campus) 

03-31-01 Fri 18:00 Back up for 03-30-01 We will need several Telescopes for this one.


04-02-01 Mon ?:00 Collinsville (At Collinsville) ? 

04-05-01 Thu 18:30 Dove Science Academy (43) 

04-06-01 Fri 18:00 Back up for 03-09-01 

04-20-01 Fri Jennifer Wolf's grade school class w/ Chris Brown ? 

04-25-01 Mon ?:00 Collinsville (At Collinsville) ?


05-19-01 Sat 19:45 Pack 188 ? 

May 13 to May 20 Texas Star Party in SW Texas


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

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

To help Contact Gerry Andries - 369 - 3320 < Gerry Andries e-mail >


Observing Manuals Available

You can get 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. These are available for $8.00 each. Plus we also have a list of the features to be observed to earn your Lunar Certificate for only $1.00. For a look at these and other programs, check out the Astronomical League. Contact < John Land e-mail > at or call. 

03-24-01 Sat Messier Marathon (at TUVA. Details at

This event is near intersection of I 40 and Hwy 69 near Checotah, OK

This annual event brings astronomers from all over Oklahoma to test their skills and endurance. The object is to try to locate as many Messier Objects as possible in a single night. Some of our Tulsa club members have been reigning champions at this event.

Messier Marathon TUVA home of Ron and Maura McDermott Wood and BART their 24" telescope. 918-474-3275 

1. From the BA expressway, exit at 81st street which is also highway 51 (last exit before Muskogee turnpike starts)

2. Go about nine miles to Coweta. Watch for Walmart on left at the last light before you exit right off highway, onto highway 72. Go under railroad bridge and through downtown Coweta. BEWARE of SPEED TRAPS ! !

3. Continue on 72 through Haskell, Boynton and Council Hill.

4. About 3 1/2 to 4 miles south of Council Hill, 72 ends. Watch for signs that say this and "junction 266." To the right is 266 west to Henryetta, straight ahead 266 east to Checotah.

5. At this junction turn left (east) onto county road (used to be dirt, now paved right there)

6. Go 1/4 mile to stop sign, past white church. Continue two miles east to stop sign and white two story house,

7. Turn north (left). Go 1/2 mile north to silver and red gate on west.

8. There is a black mail box and white Muskogee Phoenix box. Turn in -- you're there! (Warning: Haskell and Boynton are speed traps)

No rain date because of the moon. Power is available and a charcoal Grill will be working for anyone wanting to use it. Participants may arrive anytime they like on Sat. afternoon and are welcome to camp out overnight.

The person observing the most Messier objects in the course of the night will win the Dave Stine Award, named for original and two-time winner David Stine. Winner's names are engraved on a plaque in the TUVA observatory. Other past winners include James Liley (twice), Marc Chouinard and Scott Parker.


Astronomy Software for Home and Telescope

I am pleased to announce that our club has been authorized to distribute copies of the Starry Night Pro and Starry Night Backyard at significant discount to our members. Starry Night by Sienna Software is available on CD in both MAC and Windows versions. It is one of the most spectacular pieces of Astronomy software to come along in years. I have been using this suite of software for 3 years and each new free update is even more fantastic.

Starry Night Backyard features 1 million star Hipparcos/Tyco database, images of all 110 M objects, zoom features from 100 degrees down to one arcsec, ability to go forward and backward in time with full precession from 4713 BC to 9999 AD. In addition you can travel to any object in the solar system or stars within 20,000 light years with full accounting for parallax. Many of the objects are linked to additional information on the Internet. It comes with a database filled with comets, asteroids and earth satellites with room for you to add many more. In addition you can customize print or capture charts to export to other software. The SE version also comes with an astronomy tutorial book by John Mosley.

Starry Night Pro is for the advanced astronomer comes with all the above plus much more. It has a 19 million star database including the Hubble and NGC/IC catalogs plus the PGC catalog of 70,000 galaxies. Ability to link to several major brands of telescopes including Meade LX, ETX and now Celestron. Automatic update of database via the Internet for Comets, Asteroids and Earth satellites so you will always have the most precise positions. There are so many more features you will just have to check them out for yourself.

We will be taking orders through March 20. Contact < John Land e-mail > - 357 -1759 Bring your money Friday if you can.


Starry Night Backyard $ 35 Reg $50

SE edition $45 Reg $60

Starry Night Pro $90 Reg $130

You save $15 to $40 plus no shipping if we order in bulk. We hope to have these available to you at our April 6 meeting or sooner.




by David Stine

March brings thoughts of warmer weather, flowers blooming, trees budding and most of all clear night skies for observing. It is also the time of year that it is possible to view all the Messier deep sky objects from dusk to dawn. For you that are not aware of what a Messier object is, I will give you a brief history. Messier was a comet hunter, and many of the objects he came across while looking for comets, actually looked like comets. Comets move after several minutes and deep sky objects remain fixed. Messier had to wait and wait and wait to see if the object he was looking at moved. So to eliminate this distraction he started numbering these objects that were not comets and the rest is history. These objects include globular star clusters, open star clusters, double stars, galaxies, planetary nebulas, and nebulas. They number 1-110. On March 24, you will have the opportunity, weather providing, to view all of these objects, if your have the patience to look for them from dusk to dawn. There are actually marathons throughout the world that are held at this time of year for just this purpose. We are fortunate to have one near us at the TUVA Observatory near Council Hill, Oklahoma, just a 45-minute drive from Tulsa. Ron and Maura Wood host the Messier Marathon at their ranch. They have very dark skies for observing. Ron is inviting everyone to come early and set-up anytime in the afternoon of the 24th and camp overnight if they desire. They will have the coffee pot on and electrical hook-ups if needed. Ron and Maura have been hosting this marathon for several years and it has always been a highlight for the year for observers. Ron even awards the person who sees the most Messier objects with what he calls the "David Stine Messier Marathon Award." Whoever wins gets their name on the plaque. I won it the first year finding 98 objects and that is where the name comes from. Since then several other members have won including James Liley, who found over 100 objects, Scott Parker, and others. I don't think anyone has ever achieved finding all, so maybe it will be you this year. Ron's marathon was one of the first, and now everyone is doing them. This will be the first marathon since Ron's accident so the revival should be exciting. If you want the challenge get ready, it isn't easy. You need to start as soon as it is dark enough to start seeing stars. The hardest objects are: M77, M74, M33, and M110, the first to look for, and the last early dawn objects: M69, M70, M54, M55, M75, M15, M2, M72, M73, and the very hardest, M30. Of course the Virgo Cluster is no easy task, but it is manageable since it will be high overhead by Midnight. Tips to remember:

Start early-You will have to find a lot of objects before they set.

Don't spend a lot of time on each; locate the object then on to the next one.

Have a list and time frames for the objects that will be available at the marathon for your use. Stay on schedule, but take breaks.

To add a couple of more challenges for you that aren't that hard, but very 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 the star is due south. Galaxy Centarus A, a radio source, and the Omega Star Cluster, considered the largest and best star cluster in the heavens. It will look like a large dim blob because it is so low. Both objects are near the horizon, below the star Spica and M83. Also you will get to see the unusual star Delta Scorpii. It has recently brightened from Mg. 2.3 to 1.8Mg. and is now easily the brightest star in the naked-eye row of Beta, Delta, and Pi Scorpii in Scorpius. Delta seems to be undergoing an outburst. Delta is a rapidly rotating star occasionally flinging mass from its equator.

So, how do you get to the marathon? 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 Highway 51, take Highway 72 South, look for Wal-Mart and Sonic on the left and Jiffy Trip on the right at the last light before Highway 72, exit right to 72 and go under a railroad and through downtown Coweta. Follow 72 south to Haskell, Boynton, and Council Hill, watch for End 72 and Junction 266. Exit left (East) at the junction. Go East 2 and 1/4 mile, mostly dirt, to the second stop sign then turn left. Go North 1/2 mile to the TUVA observatory, which will be on your left, and you are there. You can also bypass Coweta and go south on Memorial through Bixby, make the big curve to the east and go through Leonard to Haskell and follow the directions above from Haskell. Don't forget to bring snacks. Hope to see you there and if you have a hard time following directions meet me at 91st and Memorial in front of Steinmart between 3-3:15p.m. and follow me.

Ron said if weather is a problem on the day of the marathon or you get lost, you could call him at 918-474-3275 for any last minute information. I also will be available for last minute questions and information at 834-1310.


The club welcomes our new members:

Many new members have joined us during the past month. Gordon Nesbit, a retired Stockbroker is renewing his long time interest in Astronomy. Deborah Palmour has been reading up on Astronomy at the Library. She is works in Fiberoptics Telecommunications for A T & T. Martha Atkinson, a Professional Nurse, talked her friend Karen Bishop into coming to our meetings and now both have joined ACT. Karen is a Secretary at Atkinson Engineering. She recently read "Atlas of the Universe" a Readers Digest publication and wants to learn a lot more about Astronomy. Katie Sharp is a Student at Holland Hall where she recently formed an Astronomy Club that already has 20 members. The club is off to a great start having been donated a 20" telescope. Jackie Westfield, a retired Home Care Coordinator from St. Francis Hospital finds that she now has the time to pursue her long time interest in Astronomy and may want to do some space art paintings. She recommends reading "Space, Time, Infinity" by James Trefil. Chuck Gilroy took a free Barnes and Noble Astronomy class on the Internet and has purchased a nice traveling telescope, a Meade ETX 90. Chuck is a Stage Electrician at the downtown Performing Arts Center.

Denny Mishler, New Member Coordinator



We'll be starting up an observing group of club members that want to earn a Messier Certificate by observing the famous Messier deep sky objects over the next year. This can be done by observing 1 or 2 nights a month and we'll use the regularly monthly club star parties on Friday or Saturday night as our main observing time. This is a fun activity that myself and several others in our club have done. It is a suitable activity for new members or old members that want to start observing again. We can share telescopes so that those without a telescope can also participate. See the last page of the Reflector Newsletter from the Astronomical League for additional information, and see me after the March and April meetings to sign up for this worthwhile activity.

Denny Mishler, New Member Coordinator


Greetings Phellow Photon Phanatics !!

As the Vice-President of the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society I wanted to let you know about a fantastic event we have planned for this summer in case any of your members are passing through our neck of the woods this summer:

JUNE 21-24, Colorado. The 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Star Stare hosted by The Colorado Springs Astronomical Society will be held in the pristine Tarryall Mountains of central Colorado. Our observing site is located approximately 50 miles west of Colorado Springs in the Pike National Forest at an elevation of 9000 feet. Guest speakers, workshops, door prizes, contests, children's activities, barbecue, family camping and some of the most transparent skies in the country. Registration fees prior to May 18th are $10.00 per adult and $4.00 per child. After May 18th fees are $15.00 and $5.00 respectively. For more information contact Chris Earley at (719)567-8292; e-mail: or visit our website at

Clear Skies !!

Chris Earley


Colorado Springs Astronomical Society


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