E-mail version

May 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 May 19, 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

May 19  Meeting -  Light Pollution – Discussing Solutions.

The Tulsa Astronomy Club invites you to join with us and other community groups to discuss courses of action to make the public and us aware of ways to eliminate poor lighting sources and minimize the effects of other lighting on our community and the creatures that share our environment.  Patrick Johnstone, a recognized authority on lighting solutions, will be our guest speaker. .  Patrick has done extensive investigation into ordinances being used around the country to reduce poor lighting and to save the communities THOUSANDS of dollars on poorly conceived lighting schemes. We have invited the local chapter of the Sierra Club and Audubon Society members to join with us during this meeting.  Light pollution is not just an Astronomy issue.  It is also an issue concerning the quality of our environment.  We need a good turn out of our Astronomy Club members to welcome these other guests.  

We had a great turn out of workers at our April Observatory workday.  We mopped and cleaned the inside and did considerable work outside also.  Thanks to club member Dick Wollmershausr we finally have a PLAN to FIX the Dome LEAKS at our Mounds Observatory.  We plan to have WORK days on Sat May 27 and Sat June 3.  We will start at 1:00 PM each day and stay over for observing if the weather permits.   If you can help either of these days please let Gerry Andries know at 369 - 3320.  Some of the work involves painting the rim of the dome and installing metal brackets around the edge of the dome.   We also need some additional work along the road up the hill.  Thanks also to the Astronomy Club from BA High for planting some wildflower seeds along the fence.  We will look forward to seeing them grow.  

We have One Item to vote on:  Motion that we purchase a club membership in The International Dark Sky Association

Since we will be having guests we want to save this business until the end.  The board has discussed this idea and we have sufficient funds to cover them.  If you need to have a lengthy discussion on either of these matters please call me before the meeting.

Observing Manuals Available

During our March meeting we discussed getting 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.

For a look at these and other programs, check out the Astronomical League.

Scheduled Events

As Spring arrives, we have many groups eager to visit the Observatory.  Gerry Andries and the Club can always use some willing members to help keep the groups occupied while he runs the big telescope for viewing.  List of Scheduled events:

Friday  May 19 - Club Meeting at TU - 7:30 PM

Sat May 27 - Observatory  Work Day - 1:00 PM - Until ?

(Come early  and work on the grounds.)

Fri  June 2 - 8:30 PM  Club Star Party

Sat June 3 - Observatory Work Day - 1:00 PM - Until ?

Tue June 6 - 6:00 PM Tulsa Girl Scouts Troop 366 6th grade 

Fri  June 16 - Club Meeting at TU - 7:30 PM

Fri  June 30 - 8:30 PM Club Star Party


Well we survived another gathering of the planets on May 5th. Hmmm? Was kind-a-wet that day?? Wish they would stop having these family reunions.  If you missed it you can find a great picture from the SOHO solar satellite observatory at  

Oh, by the way, the planets are even closer together on May 17.  At 4:30 AM Jupiter and Venus pass within 17” of each other.  That’s less than one half of Jupiter’s apparent diameter!  Unfortunately they will be too close to the sun to observe and on the opposite side of the sun from us.   So if you thought the rain on May 5 was bad, BOO !! Look out! It’s not over! Seriously if all the planets were perfectly lined up their TOTAL tidal effect on the Earth would be less that 0.0002 of what the Sun does to us everyday.   For more information look at Sky & Telescope’s website.

Hope to see you all at our May 19 meeting.

President: John Land


The Vanishing Night - An Endangered Habitat

All who have had the opportunity to enjoy the natural outdoors and marvel at the wonders of God’s green carpet of nature, can’t help but feel a need to preserve these wonders to be enjoyed for future generations.  We hear of endangered wetlands, deforestation, erosion, air and water pollution.   Ozone depletion and the Greenhouse effect stir global concerns for our environment.  Much of this pollution is produced by our insatiable appetite for electricity.  Few of us notice one of the earth’s most rapidly disappearing habitats -NIGHT.  Yet 40% to 50% of electricity used for nighttime lighting is wasted as its drifts pointlessly into the sky swallowing up the night.   Anyone who has savored a sunset in the mountains and felt the cool breezes of dusk quickly comes to learn that NIGHT is not a still blanket of sleep but alive with creatures eager to step forth into their home - the protective curtain of darkness.  Sadly the dawn often brings to our eyes some of these creatures along the roadsides that have run afoul of our stampeding metallic chariots.  What would happen to these creatures if there were no more night?  Would we miss the screech of the Owl - the cry of the coyote - the far off cry of the Whipper Will?  NIGHT is perhaps the largest unique environment, yet we think nothing of driving it into extinction with a thoughtless flip of an outdoor light switch as we draw down our shades so that we may rest until the dawning of our diurnal world.

The International Dark Sky Association ( says that only about 1 in 10 Americans have truly experienced a sky dark enough to reach the limits of our natural night vision.  Most of us live under a canopy of  man-made luminous haze isolating us from the expanse of the universe. We are forced to count the stars by 5’s and 10’s instead of by 1000’s.  Few among us have watched our shadow cast upon the ground by the searing light of distant Venus or marveled at the arching arms of our Milky Way galaxy cradling the sky from horizon to zenith.  I remember my six-year-old nephew from Dallas asking in wonder how those “airplanes” sat silent and motionless in the sky above our small rural town.  He had no concept of stars outside of the pictures in his storybooks.  (See the United States at night)

All of us know how light can confuse and entrap nature’s creatures.  Our literature evokes "Drawn like a moth to the Flame" to illustrate the lethal attraction of light.  While we may consider insects as a nuisance to our activity, they form the base of the food pyramid of creatures more attractive to our senses.  The April 2000 Audubon Society Special Report ( documents cases where 1000’s of birds have been killed in a single night confused and disoriented by artificial lighting.   “As recently as January 22, 1998 between 5,000 and 10,000 Lapland longspurs crashed into lighted radio towers near Syracuse, Kansas.”  (Audubon -Apr 2000)   Yet, we daily erect new cell phone towers as close as 5 miles apart that nightly flash like angry daggers thrusting into the sky.  It has been experimentally documented that many nocturnal migrating birds use patterns of stars to help guide them to the ancestral nesting grounds.  Those of us living in the central flyway are familiar with the honking of flocks of geese overhead at night.  It is our low flying songbirds that run the greatest risk of being “drown” in our sea of lights.  In Toronto, Canada a group called FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) is trying to educate the public to dim the lights during critical migration periods.  Migration instinct itself may be driven by the changing seasonal cycles tied to the length of the day.

Come join the Astronomy club and other community groups as we discuss ways to increase public awareness and solutions to Preserve the NIGHT.

 By John Land - President - Astronomy Club of Tulsa - 4/25/2000



Wanted Information:  Curtis James, one of our new members wants information about building a guiding platform for a 13” Dobsonian telescope.  Anyone who has old articles about these designs contact Curtis at 918-358-3421. 



For Sale (2) heavy duty card board tubes: 7 foot long x 15 3/4 inches in diameter x 3/8 inch wall thickness. Make best offer for both tubes. Contact Don Cole @ 252-9255 to leave a message, or E-mail me at ( )


From the Astronomy Club of Tulsa web page "Sky Events"

by Dean Salman

Dean has set up a great new way of posting Astronomy events and questions.  Take some time to look at his new Astronomy Bulletin board  -

If you send out an email about a fast breaking Astronomy event, please post it on the bulletin board.


Summer Astronomy Conventions

If you have never attended one of the many summer astronomy conventions, you don't know what you're missing.  We received mail from the MidCon 2000 50th Anniversary Convention to be held in at Avila College in Kansas City June 9, 10 & 11.  Early registration by May 16 is only $30 and you can stay on campus with meals at very reasonable prices.  You will also be able to visit their Powell Observatory - featuring a 30-inch fully equipped telescope.  Major named speakers like Fred Espenak and David Dunham are also featured.  Registration forms will be available at the meeting.  For more information try:  Contact – Keith Green,  522 2nd  St,  Belton, MO 64012, Phone 816-318-0514 or email



 By Don Cole

I will have to admit this is a weak subject for me and the information is changing daily, so be kind.  Nova and Supernova (Latin novus, “new”), [Is this something that goes bump or at least a very big big in the night?] are the names of two kinds of explosive events that take place in some stars. A nova is a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness and then slowly fades, but may continue to exist for some time. A supernova exhibits the same pattern of behavior, but the causative explosion destroys or profoundly alters the star. Supernovas are much rarer than novas, which are observed fairly frequently in photographs of the sky.


Before the era of modern astronomy, a star that appeared suddenly where none had been seen before was called a nova, or “new star.” This is a misnomer, as the stars involved had existed long before they became visible to the naked eye. Astronomers estimate that perhaps about a dozen novas occur in the Milky Way, or the earth's galaxy, each year, but two or three of them are too distant to be seen or are obscured by interstellar matter. Indeed, novas are often more easily observed in other, nearby galaxies rather than in the earth's. Novas are named according to the year of their occurrence and the constellation in which they appear.  Typically, a nova flares up to several thousand times its original brightness in a matter of days or hours. It next enters a transition stage, during which it may fade and grow bright again and then fade gradually to or near its original level of brightness.

Novas may be considered variable stars in a late stage of evolution. They apparently behave as they do because their outer layers have built up an excess of helium through nuclear reactions and expand too rapidly to be contained. The star explosively emits a small fraction of its mass as a shell of gas—the cause of the increase in brightness—and then settles down. Such a star is typically a white dwarf and is commonly thought to be the smaller member of a binary (two-star) system, subject to a continuous infall of matter from the larger star. This is perhaps always the case with dwarf novas, which erupt repeatedly at regular intervals of a few to hundreds of days.

Novas in general show a relationship between their maximum brightness and the time they take to fade a certain number of magnitudes. By means of measurements of nearer novas of known distance and magnitude, astronomers can use novas in other galaxies as indicators of the distance to those galaxies.


A supernova explosion is far more spectacular and destructive than a nova and much rarer. Such events may occur no more than once every few years in the Galaxy; and despite their increase in brilliance by a factor of billions, only a few are ever observable to the naked eye. Until 1987, only three had been positively identified in recorded history, the best known of which is the one that occurred in ad 1054 and is now known as the Crab nebula. Supernovas, like novas, are more often seen in other galaxies. Thus, the most recent supernova, which appeared in the southern hemisphere on February 24, 1987, was found located in a companion galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. This supernova, which exhibits some unusual traits, is still the object of intense astronomical scrutiny.

The mechanisms that produce supernovas are less certain than those of novas, particularly in the case of stars approximately as massive as the earth's sun, an average star. Stars that are much more massive, however, sometimes explode in the late stages of their rapid evolution as a result of gravitational collapse, when the pressure created by nuclear processes within the star is no longer able to withstand the weight of the star's outlying layers. Little may remain after the explosion except the expanding shell of gases. The Crab nebula has left behind a pulsar, or rapidly rotating neutron star. Supernovas are significant contributors to the interstellar material that forms new stars.


*** Astronomy Dictionary***

Pulsars and Neutron Stars : A number of distinct sources of radio pulses, referred to as pulsars, have been discovered with radio telescopes. Typical pulsation periods of the pulsars are near 1 sec.  The periods range from several seconds to a tiny fraction of a second, as confirmed by optical and X-ray observations. The pulsation periods are so constant that only the most precise clocks can detect a slight increase in the average pulse interval for several pulsars; this increase indicates that it would take approximately 1 million years for typical periods to double.

The evidence strongly suggests that pulsars are rotating neutron stars with diameters of perhaps only about 16 km (about 10 mi). Probably they rotate once per pulsation period. Their density is so enormous that if the volume of the ball on a ballpoint pen were packed with neutrons, as in a pulsar, it would contain more than 91,000 metric tons of mass.

So until next month Dark Skies and Steady Seeing to You...

Reference Material :: "Astronomy, A self-teaching guide." by Dinah L. Moche  (4th ed.) "Guide to the Stars" by Leslie Peltier. " Astronomy, For the Earth to the Universe" by Jay M. Pasachoff (3rd ed.)



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…