May 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, 7 May, 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

Ah, the boisterous month of May is upon us. And along with not only the unpredictable weather patterns that are coupled with it we are going to be very busy this month too. Our club will be holding a public "star party" for local communities. This will be the "Tulsa Public Comet/Planet Watch" that is scheduled to be held on the 21st and 22nd of this month at Mohawk Park. Unfortunately these dates are overlapping our regularly scheduled club star party at the observatory. This mistake was not noticed until recently but I will take full responsibility for this mistake. Even so, many of you may very well enjoy coming to this event and assisting with the large curious crowd of people that I'm sure will undoubtedly attend. And we will have a very good time of showing the general public the planets and of course the two comets that will be very much visible at that time. Comet Q4 Neat along with T-7 Linear will both be up and visible to the naked eye. With these two comets and the planets Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter up and shining brightly couldn't really say that that is not too bad of a setup for a public viewing session at all. So it is a true time to enjoy what not only we will be able to see but also what we can put on display for the public. There are so many people in our local area that I'm quite sure many would be both fascinated and intrigued with what we shall be able to show them. Much more detail information concerning this public event that is not all too far away in the future will be passed to everyone at our next club meeting, May 7th.

Concerning our next club meeting - our guest speaker for this month is going to be Travis Meyer, Senior Meteorologist from Channel 8, KTUL. Travis has been with Channel 8 since 1981 and has seen the many turns Oklahoma's weather can take in a very short period of time. Travis is in charge of a staff of meteorologists that forecast daily weather, cover severe weather and make presentations to help keep people safe from Wicked Weather. He is always looking for the next new technology that will help make forecasting weather and severe weather better for Channel 8's viewers.

Travis went on to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where he received his B.S. Degrees in Meteorology and in Geography. Travis is a member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association.

With that I most certainly hope that Friday, May 7th will not be a rowdy weather day. Needless to say, if we have some serious thunderstorms close by Travis will of course have to stay at the station with a close eye on the radars. Without that we wouldn't have any forewarning to what may be heading our way and that in and of itself is so very important to all of us. Clear skies are the best forecast to all of us. It will be very interesting no matter what may come.

As a reminder, if anyone that is using the observatory on a regular basis for personal observations and would like to have the combination to the locks on the gates, please contact me at .

Clear Skies,

Craig D. Davis





By David Stine

The time has finally arrived. The most anticipated arrival of three possible naked eye comets at the same time is now reality. I can't remember another time in astronomical history that there has ever been such an opportunity of viewing so many bright and naked eye comets at one time. We are fortunate to be living in this era. Reports from members have been coming in the last few days of observations of C/ 2002 T7 and C/2004 F4 Bradfield and by the time you read this or shortly there after C/2001 Q4 should be observable in the early evening. The latest report on Q4 came on April 29 from southern observers….Terry Lovejoy reported…."it was pleasing to see that despite bright moonlight, Q4 was an obvious naked eye object of mag. 3.7. The tail could also be perceived about 2 degrees with the naked eye with moonlight interference. It should be a really nice comet in May, even if it only reaches magnitude 3!" All three comets have been active and there are many awesome images on the internet that show long gas and dust tails of several degrees. Bradfield was of course the surprise comet surviving an encounter with the Sun that no other comet had survived when coming that close to the Sun. I was able to view both Bradfield and T7 with 15x70 binoculars (the Burgess specials I reviewed in last months corner) on the morning of April 27. Bradfield was just awesome. In my opinion the best so far of the three (with Q4 yet to come). I was not able to see it naked eye but by panning under Andromeda with my binocs I first noticed a nebulous streak not far from the star Delta Andromeda. I followed the streak downward and it kept getting brighter until I located the head of the comet. That streak of course was Bradfield's tail and the tail must have stretched at least 8 degrees. It looked like your textbook comet with the long tail behind a round comma. On the other hand T7 was too low even though I did find it in twilight. No tail was visible just an unusual irregular blob. The good news is Bradfield will be climbing each morning putting it in a darker sky longer but at the same time will be losing its brightness. T7 will be getting lower in the morning and will not be visible until it reappears for a brief time in the early evening in the last few weeks of May where it too may become naked eye and an incredible site with a long tail just above the WSW horizon. I am not going to go into allot of detail on what to expect this coming month but below are several sites that have charts and images that will keep you on track in following and observing these comets in May and June. Q4 is still our best bet for a nice naked eye comet in the evening in a dark sky and you should be able to see it pass near Sirius May 5-7 in the WSW low on the horizon. By the night of our Comet/Planet Watch event the comet will be high in the West in Cancer and should be a real draw for the public. By the end of May around the 24th T7 should also be observable as I mentioned earlier, but low in the WSW and both comets will be visible at the same time possibly even naked eye.

Detailed charts for all three can be found at When you go to the site, click on comet charts and it will take you to the most detailed charts of each. There are several charts for different periods of time. If those charts are too detailed go to the following…

More open sky charts for the comets and easily readable can be found at When you get to the site go to Comet Chasing and it will take you to a description of the comets and whether or not the comet is visible from a certain latitude. There is a chart with each, not as detailed as the other site.

Sky and Telescope in the May issue had a very good article on T7 and Q4 with easy to follow location charts and if you go to there is a nice color location chart of Comet NeatQ4 from latitude 40 degrees from May 4-20th. Note to important dates for Q4 - May 5th passes just south of Sirius, May 9-10 passes just south of Procyon and May 14-15th passes north of the Beehive Cluster and its tail may even go through the cluster. has an outlook for the comets and charts showing how the comets may look in May. Notice May 24th for T7 above the WSW horizon. Now that would be awesome if it were to look like that. is the Comet Observation Home Page and all observations of the comets can be seen here as well as recent images. This site is updated just about every day.

The comets are taking the spotlight this month but we also are now just a few weeks away from the Tulsa Spring Public Comet/Planet Watch May 21-22. Both Comet T7 and Q4 will be visible at that time. T7 just above the WSW horizon and Q4 high in the West in Cancer. We will have four planets, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter to show the public also. If you haven't already volunteered please e-mail me with what you can do and the equipment you can bring. Thanks to all who have already volunteered. We are going to have a fun time. We expect to have a good turnout from the public both nights so we will need everyone's help. It was determined by the committee to charge a suggested donation fee of $2 per person to the public. This money will be divided between the club, Oxley Nature Center, and the Scout Troop that will be directing traffic. The money the club receives will go back into the general fund for club expenses that we may encounter in the future and help pay for any other expenses of the watch. Many clubs charge much higher than this so I don't think this is unreasonable. Rocky will have his motor home and stay at the site all night so members can leave their equipment and not have to haul it back and forth if they so desire. There will be plenty of electric supplied by Rocky to drive everyone's telescope. Its great to have volunteers like Rocky, Steve Chapman, Denny Mishler, Teresa Kincannon, John Land, Vince Moore, Bob Boston, Craig Davis, Tom McDonough, and Carlos Cedeno in the club to help and organize events like this. Without them and others, events like this could not happen and the public and our mission of "Taking Tulsa to the Stars" would not be possible. Again the date is May 21-22 at Mohawk Park in the John Oxley Polo Grounds from 8:30p-11p.m. I would suggest setting up between 6p-7:30p.m. to give yourself time to plan and organize what you are going to show the public. Teresa Kincannon will be handling the front information and entrance table and she will need help. Bob Boston will be handling security at the front table. Vince Moore and his scouts will be handling the traffic flow. Steve Chapman, Donna Horton, Denny Mishler and myself will be setting up the viewing area and we can always need help. Many members have more than one telescope, so if you don't have a telescope there will be several that will need operators. Its going to be a great two nights of observing and educating the public about the stars and planets that you will not want to miss. We have a flyer that is being distributed throughout the county and you can access it at our website and print your own to distribute at

June 8 will be a memorable date as Venus transits or moves across the Sun. The last time it did this was 122 years ago. I don't think any of us saw this unless maybe Nick did, just kidding. The only problem is whether the Sun will be high enough for Tulsans to even see the transit. The Sun rises at 5:06a.m. on the morning of the 8th. By the time the Sun clears the horizon and gets about 8 degrees in elevation Venus will be going into what is called 3rd contact which means just touching the outer rim of the Sun and getting ready to leave the surface altogether. So it may be a challenge here in Tulsa but worth the effort. Your best chance is to travel north and east to see more of the transit. However don't worry because if you miss this one, you don't have to wait another 122 years, only 8 years June 6, 2012 for the next one and this one you will be able to see the whole transit. After that one only your great great grandkids will see the next one on June 11, 2247.

Get out and observe these beautiful comets this month and I hope to see everyone at the Comet/Planet Watch May 21-22. That's it from my corner this month.



Astroland Tidbits

by John Land

Welcome to our new members.  Amy Beauchamp, Bill Goswick, Rachel Ocker, David Hall, Michael Gaut, Ronald Coates, Rachel Wright, Taylor Landness, Henry Bradsher, Marilyn Berry, Javier Mena

Sky & Telescope announces new magazine for beginning astronomers.

NightSky This new bimonthly magazine has been designed especially for entry-level observers who want to enjoy and explore the stars above. With its clear, nontechnical writing and helpful tips, you'll be star-hopping across the heavens in no time! And our equipment experts will help you get the most out of your telescope - even if you've given up and stashed it in a closet out of frustration! All this and much more will be wrapped inside each colorful, entertaining issue.

Night Sky premiers with the May/June 2004 issue. Newsstand copies are $3.99, but a year's subscription (offering 6 great issues) is just $17.99 - a 25% savings.

I have ordered 400 free issue introduction coupons for the May planet watch.

MSRAL 2004

June 18-19 at Springfield, Mo

Five State Astronomy Convention - Information AVAILABLE ONLINE

Keynote speakers: Mr. Charles Armstrong, key member of the Houston NASA International Space Station Team; Dr. Kevin Evans, SMSU, speaking on impact craters in Missouri

Many of you attended the MidStates Convention here in Tulsa last June. Plan to renew friendships with other area clubs in Springfield (MO) for the MSRAL Convention on 18-19 June. Plan on observation time (weather permitting), a visit to the SMSU Observatory (16" research-grade telescope with advanced CCD camera), a banquet, a full day of workshops and other presentations, an astro-imaging contest, an astro art contest (something new this year), and more! Bill Burling - MSRAL 2004 Chairman

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

AstroCon 2004 July 20 - 24 - National Astronomical Convention at Berkley, California Tours of Lick Observatory, Nationally Renowned speakers Banquet on the USS Hornet commemorating to the day the return of Apollo 13.

A lot closer to home at 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.

ON LINE Club Memberships and Renewals: Club memberships are $25 per year for adults and $15 per year for students. 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.

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

Monthly Newsletter - You have a choice! We prefer to use email when available but if you prefer to also receive a printed postal newsletter make a request at

Magazine Subscriptions: 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.

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

Sky & Telescope is $33 / yr Sky and Telescope also offers a 10% discount on their products.

Address Corrections- Email changes - Questions: 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 that address your question. The spam filters may DELETE emails without clear identification!




THANK YOU: A special thanks to the seven people who answered my desperate plea for help on the Oologah Elementary event at the school. Because of you, what was destined to be a major failure turned out to be the best school event in my memory! It is still mind boggling to me what that public school in a tiny country town has accomplished in using space and astronomy to teach middle school science to elementary age children.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: 1. Mohawk Park Public Planet Watch on Fri & Sat May 21st- 22nd - A similar event had record breaking attendance last year with thousands attending each day. It is being coordinated by a special committee headed by David Stine, so let David know if you can help on this one.

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


02 Wed 08:00 Family and Friends (6)
03 Thu 08:00 Cub Scout Pack 33 (15)
08 Tue 07:30 Venus/Sun Transit watch - the first since 1882
18 Fri 08:15 Club Meeting and Star Party


07 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall
21 Fri 08:00 Public Comet/Planet Watch (2000) at Mohawk
                  Park Polo Grounds

22 Sat 08:00 Public Comet/Planet Watch (2000) at Mohawk
                  Park Polo Grounds

Gerry Andries
Observatory Group Director


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