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The Webfooted Astronomer - August 2000


Minutes: Show and Tell

by David Irizarry

THE July SAS meeting was held on Wednesday, July 19, and the program consisted of SAS members showing their treasures and telling their tales. But first things first, the meeting began with announcements.


Joanne Green mentioned that the Dr. Brownlee interview continues on Saturday, July 22, on "Reasons to Believe," which is Broadcast on KKMO AM 1360 at 9 a.m. and KGNW AM 820 at 11 a.m. You can also get the complete transcripts at the online archives of Reasons to Believe

Karl Schroeder announced the August 5 New Astronomer's Meeting at his house. The Astro-Camping trip near Goldendale was a success. To do it again, we need about 20 people to share the cost of attaining the campground. Goldendale observatory's Steve Stout expressed a need to raise funds for summer interns program at the observatory. There was also a concern about light pollution near the observatory. Also, Goldendale Observatory is looking for help in staffing the observatory when Steve Stout is out on vacation or ever gets sick. Contact Karl if you wish to help regarding these issues at 206-362-7605.

Randy Johnson announced the next SAS board meeting will take place at the Table Mountain Star Party. A tent will be available for this meeting.

Fred Quarnstrom reminded members that the SAS has telescopes that are available for loan. To borrow one, contact Fred at 206-329-0500. Scopes are available for sign-out Monday through Thursday at his office 3051 Beacon Hill, Seattle.

Bill Borsheim mentioned some interesting photos from the NEAR project (asteroid encounter). To get to these links, just enter "NEAR and Shoemaker" into your favorite search engine.

Mary Ingersoll announced the public night at Pettinger-Guiley Observatory on July 22. Maps and information are available from Mary.

Show and Tell

SAS members put on a series of short presentations pertinent to amateur astronomy. A brief description of each member's presentation is outlined below.

Randy Johnson constructed a finder by using a meniscus lens (derived from a watch glass), a red pinpoint light source and a frame to hold the components in place. The lenses were made by cutting out circular sections from large watch glass. The shape of the glass provides a way to focus the pinpoint light to a single dot in the center of the lens. In this way, a person can aim his or her scope by attaching such a device and looking through the glass. The red dot shows where in the sky the scope is aimed, and since the lens provides no magnification, the user has a wide field of view (not restricted like some finders which have such a small field of view, that they are almost unusable).

Jim Warner presented a picture display of his Eclipse trip in Hazor Lake, Turkey, on August 11, 1999. An impressive corona enveloped the eclipsed sun and viewing was optimum. Jim will provide us with a video presentation of this event in the near future.

Pat Lewis and Joanne Green created an astronomy desk lamp by modifying an architect's desk lamp with a red LED, 33 ohm resistor and a switch. The lamp clamps securely to an observing table and is quite useful for consulting charts and other reference materials in the field without ruining your night vision. It runs on two AA batteries.

Bruce Weertman outlined his experiences in Antarctica. Some years ago, while studying glaciers, his team was caught by surprise when an 80% eclipse took place unexpectedly. Bruce was so astounded and surprised, he fell over backwards into the snow.

George Melendez brought in some new eyepieces for display. The most impressive was a new type 5 31mm Nagler eyepiece. Weighing in at 2.2 lbs., and costing about $600, this eyepiece is a literal portal into space. With it's 82 degree apparent field, you can actually "look around" inside the eyepiece, kind of like looking out of a portal in a starship. Although expensive, an eyepiece such as this will provide a new dimension to deep sky observing.

Loren Busch stated that with a 2-inch diagonal, your SCT will see a remarkable performance improvement. The advantage of having such a diagonal is two-fold: You can use both 1-inch and 2-inch eyepieces. This expands your choices of which eyepiece types you would like to use. Also, it provides a brighter field of view than does a 1 -inch diagonal. Loren explained afocal digital photography using digital cameras. A mounting bracket is available, which will clamp your camera to an eyepiece. By moving the camera lens to where your eye would normally pick up the image, you can attain impressive astrophotos of brighter sky objects such as the moon or planets, and even image sunspots (through a properly filtered scope). Some coupling techniques employ the use of a tripod, a modified T-Thread adapter, or as stated before, an eyepiece clamp mechanism. When looking for a digital camera to buy, you should seek one that has a fairly good size lens, 10 X zoom function, and provides good control over exposure timing parameters, while minimizing the weight factor. (The heavier the camera, the harder it is to mount on your scope!).

Hulen Fleming showed us his painting "Star Party II" which he began painting about 10 years ago. He will have prints available for purchase soon. Mr. Fleming also made a painting depciting Carl Zambudo grinding and testing a mirror. He made the painting for Carl, and Carl in-turn is making a 20-inch telescope mirror for Hulen (mirror to be completed soon!).

Pat Lewis finished off the evening with a slide show depicting their observatory, located in a dry, clear area about 30 miles east of Bend, Oregon. The nights are so clear there, that they notice almost no atmospheric extinction near the horizon, making astrophotography of low-altitude objects possible. To prove this, Pat provided some impressive shots of NGC 6231, M6, M7, M8 the Beehive, the Coathanger, and four other slides depicting the motion of Uranus and Neptune over a one-month period.

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