March 2004

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


Friday, 5 March, 2004 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.


President’s Message

Craig Davis

Another month has gone by and we are getting closer and closer to the transit of Venus in June. This will be one of the most interesting occurrences in such an extended amount of time. That alone will grace all of us with something that will come only once in our entire life times. Wouldn't it be rather funny if Venus made the same number of transits as there are solar eclipses? But no, planetary orbits aren't quite the same. It only takes place after many, many years. The countdown has started and hopefully when we get down to the final few hours of it we won't have to contend with a vast overcast. If the future weather reports and satellite images reveal a socked in agenda it may actually be worth a short, or perhaps even a long trip to an open sky area. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. Break out the filters and be ready, it will be a grand transit as we've never seen before.

Both Spirit and Opportunity have been churning out a tremendous amount of information concerning the geological arena of Mars surface. Each of the small rovers busy grinding away at a rock face to see what may lie below. Both of the Mars rovers are starting to generate less power these days though because Mars is starting to slip into Winter. In order to compensate for the reduced amount of light falling on the rovers' solar panels, engineers have begun a new lower-power communications plan. The rovers will only receive information in the morning, and transmit through Mars Odyssey twice a day. The rovers will also take more "naps" during the day to conserve battery power. Even so, there has yet been a definite and positive confirmation of possible water deposits, or from what may very well be salty brine that may lie just below the surface. If so, this in and of itself will possibly hold a form of water. With that, in a way, it only fits the on running mystery of Mars as it will remain intriguing until the final conclusions are made - one way or another. Is there, or is there not water? The answer remains to be found.

A planning session is to be held for the upcoming "Public Planet Night". This will be held in conjunction with the Oxley Nature Center at Mohawk Park just as the Mars Watch was back in September. With events of this nature we will be well known by the public at large as well as showing many people what is so beautiful and rewarding in the field of amateur astronomy. Specific dates and times for this event will be relayed to all as soon as possible. It will be looking forward to I'm sure. Keep your fingers crossed and we won't have the same encounter with heavy dew as before. Oh yes, keep an eye on comet T7. Before long it will be naked eye visible and well worth the view.

It's with true regret that I must say that we shall not have a guest speaker at the upcoming March meeting. After having contacted so many people at so many different schools and institutes, unfortunately, none were available for our next meeting. From so many different schedules that effect availability all other meetings up to October are locked in with a guest speaker but for some unknown reason there has seemed to have been a curse that was placed on March. I truly apologize to all of you. No, our meeting has not been canceled, yet there will be many things exchanged that I believe will be of considerable interest to all. Stand bye, you can't ever tell what's coming up to counter this curse of March. See you all at our next meeting.

Craig D. Davis
Astronomy Club of Tulsa



David's Astro Corner

"Messier Hunting"

By David Stine

How many of you have been able to locate and document all 110 Messier objects over the past several years. I bet only a handful. What if I told you it is possible to see all or most of them in one marathon night. It can only be done at a certain time of the year and that time will be in a few weeks. OK lets back up for a minute for all you new comers. What is a Messier object? Way, way back when astronomy was just being recognized as a legitimate science, a man named Charles Messier was one of the first true comet observers. He was constantly looking for new and unobserved comets. He did have one irritation. There were allot of comet look-alikes that when he would venture upon them he would have to take valuable time to determine if what he was looking at was a comet or not. You see, comets move after a few minutes and other objects don't. After doing this many times, Messier decided to number these objects and log them so that if he came upon them again while searching for comets he would immediately know that it wasn't a comet he was looking at and wouldn't waste valuable time. The rest is history, these irritations have now become known as Messier 1-110, some of the most beautiful objects in the heavens known as galaxies, nebulas, star clusters, etc. I am sure you have seen some of the brighter ones like, Orion nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, Lagoon Nebula, etc. Back in the 70's people like Tom Hoffelder wondered if it was possible to see all of the objects in one setting. So after several calculations he determined the date that it was actually possible to accomplish the feat. And the marathon was born. There are as I said 110 of these objects and at one time of the year all of them can be seen from dusk to dawn. This year the date is March 20. Tom got the ball rolling then others like Ron and Maura Woods established their own marathons here in Oklahoma. Every year our neighboring astronomy club, TUVA near Council Hill, Ok. Hosts a Messier Marathon. It has always been a highlight event of the year and a joy to participate in. One year it was even reported in Oklahoma Today magazine. Each year whoever finds the most Messier objects is designated the winner of the David Stine Messier Marathon Award. It was named after me because I was the first winner back in the early 90's. Last year Rod Gallagher won finding 104 objects. The event is always a lot of fun and many members and past members show up for the event. If you enjoy observing the sky and talking with others about your hobby you do not want to miss this event and you might even find the most objects. Ron and Maura are great hosts and you will enjoy their hospitality. This year in addition to finding all the Messier objects, you may be able to locate all the planets as well and possibly see Comet T-7 before it sets in the west. You might also try for the 2nd brightest star, Canopus, which will be south of Sirius the brightest star and hugging the southern horizon. Also a favorite is the Omega Star Cluster, which will be just above the southern horizon after 1a.m. I'm sure Steve Chapman will be happy to show you the Chapman Star Cluster that resembles an elephant too. I will be leading a caravan starting at 3:15p.m. on that Saturday. If you want to travel in the caravan meet me at the Homeland parking lot at 91st and Memorial or directions to the site are the following: Go south on Memorial through Bixby make the big curve back east and go through Leonard and Haskell. Stay on the Hwy 72 south through Boynton and Council Hill. G0 3.5 miles south of Council Hill watch for "End 72" and Junction266". Exit left (east) at junction. You can also see a church steeple from 72, which is you sign to turn. You will be on a dirt/gravel road. Go east 2 and ¼ miles to second stop sign and turn left (north) at a two story white house with black roof. Go north ½ mile to an open field where TUVA is located. Turn left back west and find you a parking spot. You are here and ready for an all night marathon of observing and fun. Give yourself about 35-45 minutes from Tulsa. TUVA now has a nice building next to the observing site where you can rest and warm up if so desired during the evening and look through their many astronomical readings and even see a meteorite and learn about the history of TUVA. Even Bart (Big Astronomical Reflector Telescope) may be available for you to check out the sky. Ever look through a 30-inch scope? Its awesome and home made. TUVA's ace photographer and imager, Gerald Miller, may be available to talk to about his CCD work. He has some awesome images. As I said, it will be a great time for all and I hope to see you there. Be sure to bring several layers of clothing, as it does get chilly during the evening and morning. There's always snacks available but be sure and bring your own also. If you plan on going with the caravan please be at the Homeland by 3:15p.m. sharp. You can reach me at 810-2243 if you are meeting us there. Again that's Sat. Mar. 20.

One of the M-Objects has been getting additional attention recently. On the night of January 23rd, Jay McNeil observed M78 in Orion and took some CCD shots. He noticed something different about the area. There was another nebulous object near M78 that wasn't in any of his other pictures. He immediately notified Brian Skiff of the Lowell Observatory. On Feb. 10th the International Astronomical Union announced that McNeil's new object seems to be a faint optical counterpart to the infrared source IRAS 05436-0007 that has gone into outburst producing a large reflection nebula. It has been dubbed " McNeil's Nebula. Looking at past pictures this nebula has appeared before, so it apparently has outbursts. When you view M78 be sure and see if you can spot this dim nebula near by.

Last year the Astronomy Club of Tulsa and Oxley Nature Center co-hosted a public viewing of Mars at its nearest approach to earth. It was a very big success and we are in the planning processes of co-hosting another public viewing this spring. This time it will be the major planets. We will need all the help we can get from our members to have a successful event. The proposed date is Saturday April 17 at the John Oxley Polo Grounds at Mohawk Park. I hope everyone will bring their scopes and expertise to show the public the planets. Please let me know if you will be able to participate in this event. More details will be available in the future.

Comet Linear 2002 T7 has slowed down on brightening in the last few weeks and has stayed steady at around 7th Mg. Does this mean it may fizzle. Not at all, it is still performing as it should, but it will be reaching a critical stage in the next few weeks where we will know definitely if the comet will be another Hale-Bopp or not for Southern Hemisphere viewers in May. Presently it is on track to become at the least a 2nd Mg. comet with a beautiful fan dust tail and could be even as bright as -0.3. Unfortunately it will be too far south for us to see, however it may still be naked eye in late May and June when we will be able to see it again. Right now it is getting closer toward the Sun and won't be visible much longer in the Northern Hemisphere so you better get out and view it in the early evenings before it is gone. On the other hand viewers in the southern hemisphere are reporting that Q4 is continuing to brighten and this comet will be our best bet for a bright naked eye comet in early May in the evening. At that time it is expected to be at least 3rd Mg. and possibly as bright as 1st Mg. It should be a quite a site hanging between Venus and Jupiter in the constellation Cancer in May. It should be something to look forward to.

More Information: Comet T7 and Q4, for photos and coordinates:

More Information: Messier Marathon:

That's about it this month from my astro corner. Next month results from the Messier Marathon, more comet news, updates on the Spring Public Planet Observing, and a review on binoculars. Keep you eyes to the skies until next time.



MSRAL 2004 coming June 18-19 at Springfield, Mo.

Many of you attended the MidStates Convention here in Tulsa last June. The Springfield Astronomical Society is pleased to be the host for the 54th annual MSRAL convention.

Watch for details to be posted on the web page

The Great Texas Star Party is May 16 to 23rd in SW Texas. This year they are having a drawing for the 700 lucky registrants allowed to go. See the details at

A lot closer to home in the tip of the Oklahoma Panhandle is the Okie-Tex Star Party to be held Oct 10th to Oct 17th, 2004 There has been serious discussion of limiting attendance to 300 so stay tuned to their website.



Astroland Tidbits

by John Land

New member William Varney sent this great personalized website with all sort of astronomy events, sky maps and forums. It is likely to become one of your most used web resources. William lives near Ft Gibson Lake and has just completed making his own customized 10-inch Dobsonian and is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his mirror so he can start observing. Congratulations William!

10% Discount on Sky & Telescope products - If you are a Sky & Telescope subscriber you simply have to give them your subscription number and information on the shipping label to qualify for the 10% discount.

Welcome to our new members.

Troy Reiner, William Varney, John Boston, Jim Wolfe

TIME for MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS and MAGAZINE RENEWALS - See information below about sending in your renewals or bring them to the Friday Feb 9th meeting.

ON LINE REGISTRATION - We now have an automated on line registration form on the website for new AND renewal memberships plus magazine subscriptions. You simply type in your information and hit send to submit the information. You can then print a copy of the form and mail in your check. At this time we do not have an option for credit card payment but may explore that at a later time.


In order to save postage and printing expenses and keep annual club dues low, The 100 plus members who have email will receive notice when each month's newsletter is posted on the web. If you prefer to also receive a printed postal newsletter make a request at Email subscribers I will begin sending out notices on expiring memberships so you can stay current.

Magazine Subscriptions: You can get substantial discounts for Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazine by ordering thorough the Astronomy Club. If your magazines are coming up for renewal, try to save the mailing label or renewal form you get in the mail. Do NOT mail renewals back to the magazine!

To get the club discount you must go through the club group rate.

Sky & Telescope is $33 / yr

Astronomy is $29 for 1 year or $55 for 2 years.

If you cannot attend the TU meetings mail your orders with check to Astronomy Club of Tulsa to the address below.

Club Memberships and Renewals: If you see errors or make any changes in your address or E-mail please keep us informed. Contact John Land or by mail to the address below. You may make Renewals and changes at any club meeting or mail a check to

Astronomy Club of Tulsa
25209 E 62nd St
Broken Arrow, OK 74014

Note: Sending your check to the club mailbox may delay processing several weeks. Club memberships are $25 per year for adults and $15 per year for students. Online registration automated form is found at or you may pick up a membership form at any of our club events. You may forward questions to the club by email or call our message line at 918-688-MARS (6277). Please leave a clear message with your name, phone number, your question - along with address or email Please make email subject lines address your question.

Address corrections: Every month we get several newsletters returned due to faulty addresses. Check your address label to see if it needs changes and send us an address change if you move. Also on your mailing address label you will see the month that your membership dues expire. Email subscribers I will begin sending out notices on expiring memberships.

Email Addresses - Sign UP to get the latest Astro Alerts from David Stine and other events that take place during the month. If you have not been receiving these we do not have a valid email address for you. If you would like to added to our email list send us your NAME - and Email address with subject - Astronomy Club email list to


Astronomy Club of Tulsa
Expense Summary 2003 Treasurer - John Land
New Memberships 77 New Members  $   1,560.00
Renewal Memberships 69 renewals  $   1,685.00
Observatory Donations  $     632.00
Net 2003  Mars Watch Donations  $     211.20
MSRAL Share to Astronomy Club of Tulsa  $     578.65
Close Out of Nick Pottorf Books    $     400.00  
Total 2003 Income  $   5,066.85
Total 2003 Expenses  $   4,816.18
2003 NET Balance  $     250.67
Ast League 2001 Dues  ( Back Dues owed)  $     360.00
Astro League dues 03-04  $     444.00
Club Meeting costs -- Guest Speakers Etc.  $     194.32
News Letter  $     424.90
Postal BOX  $      90.00
AstroTulsa Web Site  $      99.00
Bank fees        $      35.05  
Club Operation Expenses  $   1,287.27
Total Cost at Observatory  (See Below )  $   2,735.17
Special One Time expenses  
MSRAL Gift Certificates  $     125.00
New Eyepieces for Observatory  $     472.00  $     472.00
Gas Line Weed Mower  $     196.74  $     196.74
Donations to Curtis James Family No Cost to club  $     110.00
Product Orders Paid in Advance by Club members  - No Net Expense or Gain
Astronomy Magazine Subscriptions  $     951.00
Sky & Telescope Subscriptions  $   1,297.00
Year in Space Calendars  $     256.00
Astronomy Wall Calendars  $     229.00
Miscellaneous Sales Items  $     129.27
Canadian Observing Handbooks  $     348.50
Observatory Operation Costs
Liability Insurance  $     753.00  Annual Fee
 Phone  $     411.73  ( $31.66 / mo)
Electricity  $     534.55   ( $48.60 / mo)
Water  $     193.60    ( $19.36 / mo)
 Observatory Maintance & Repairs  $     842.53   for 2003 yr
Many repairs due to MRSAL Hosting      
 Observatory Total cost  $   2,735.17  ( $227.93 / mo)
Minus Observatory Donations  $    (632.00)  
 Net Observatory Costs  $   2,103.17  ( $175.26 / mo)
Note Club accounts are in process of changing banks
Annual Report of Accounts as of   Dec 31, 2003
F&M Bank - Checking $1,059.81
F&M Bank - Savings  $   1,206.27
1st Nat BA - Checking  $   1,078.14
1st Nat BA - Savings  $     100.06
Total Liquid Assets  $   3,444.28
AG Edwards Accounts  Dec 31/03 Yeild
Continental Money Mkt  $   2,071.97 0.43%
40 Shares- Fanne Mae  $   3,002.40 2.40%
Franklin Fund  $   7,017.55 5.98%
Total Club investments  $  12,091.92
Total Club accounts  $  15,536.20




1. We will need a minimum of two scopes for the So. Side Cadets group of 60 Girl Scouts at 07:30 PM Fri Feb 27. We will be at Hunters Park, on the south side of 91st St. about 1/2 mile west of Sheridan. If everyone who has talked to me shows up, we should have the minimum amount of volunteers. Anyone else who shows up will be appreciated, so come on out and join the fun. If you do not have a scope, just let me know beforehand and we can provide you with equipment.

2. So far, no one has volunteered to help with the The Haskel Middle School (which is actually at 81st and Lynn Lane in Broken Arrow) on Fri March 26th. I have tried to set the date as far from the Spring Break as possible and still have a Moon for the kids to observe in that cycle. This is the venue almost in your own back yard that some of you have requested, so come on people, and show your public spirit now!

Tentatively scheduled dates below are bracketed with question marks. The number of persons expected is in parenthesis.



19 Fri 06:00 Club Star Party


16 Fri 07:30 Club Star Party




05 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall

20 Sat Messier Marathon at TUVA Club House near Checotah

26 Fri 06:30 BA Haskel Middle School (300) 81st and Lynn Lane ?



? 02 Fri 07:30 Chouteau School (100) ?

? 03 Sat 07:30 Back up for 04/02 ?

09 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall

? 23 Fri 07:30 Comet Watch at Mohawk Park ?

Gerry Andries
Observatory Group Director
Astronomy Club of Tulsa



Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS

President: Craig Davis

Vice President: Ruth Simmons

Treasurer: John Land

Secretary: Jim Miller

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

RMCC Facility Manager: Craig Davis

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Tom McDonough

New Membership: Dennis Mishler

Newsletter: Richie Shroff