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The Webfooted Astronomer - September 2000


Minutes: A Table Mountain Review

by Leslie Irizarry

The August Seattle Astronomical Society meeting was held August 16, 2000, in the Physics-Astronomy Building on the University of Washington campus.


The Tacoma Astronomical Society will display its Mars Millennium Project at the Western Washington Fair in Hobby Hall. Jim Bielaga of the Everett Astronomical Society announced an Orion Nebula Star Party September 28 30 at Table Mountain. Be prepared for cold weather. Last year the temperatures were in the 20s. Dress warmly and bring something to drink. "Freeze with a Friend."

If enough people are interested, it may be possible to observe at the top of Tiger Mountain. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources may allow us to have a key for the timber road leading to the top in exchange for two times per year doing something with schools. A small group of SAS members will check out the site.

The Oregon Star Party is August 31 September 3. Jackie Giuliano, former director of Discover Park, is seeking employment in the Seattle area. He specializes in Environmental Studies.

Dark Skies Northwest will be meeting at the Lighting Design Lab Sept. 7. Trendwest Resorts are moving into Roslyn, which will bring in an estimated 20,000 people into the area. The light output resulting from that would be like that of Wenatchee. This is a good time to have input on the lighting codes that will be established.

Table Mountain Review

The following people were acknowledged for their contributions to this year's Table Mountain Star Party:

Tom Jenkins, the Founding Father of Table Mountain Star Party; Marcy Roundtree is the person in charge of registration, who puts together and sends out hundreds packets; Kerry Winston, secretary of the TMSP, he organizes door prizes; Mike Fry, the coordinator of the telescope judging and swap meet; Richard Roundtree, who is in charge of the equipment; Mike Morris, who arranges speakers; Bob Isaacs and Ken Slavens, who are in charge of the student program; and Ken Slavens, who handles parking.

The first speaker was Ken Slavens. It has been an interesting couple of years: The students at the Tacoma Astronomical Society have been involved in the Mars Millennium Project. Table Mountain is a family event, and as such presents games and programs for kids. This year the kids played games such as The Cosmic Constellations Game wherein people dressed up as Leo, Cassiopeia, etc. Another game was Solar Frisbee Golf, in which the planets are staked out at proportional distances. Spaceship is a game in which the kids have to answer age-appropriate astronomical questions. There is also a treasure hunt where 25 items are hidden at the site. Some kids were coming back with unopened flashlights and sky charts with price tags on them. When asked where they got them, they'd point to vendor row and Pocono Objects and Captain's Nautical. It turned out that these vendors were allowing the kids to have these items! Face painting, a 3-legged race, a water race, and a watermelon-eating context were also enjoyed by the kids. There were 60-80 kids at the annual games. Ken mentioned Tracy Scott, who has been a workhorse for the student program. The student program has been going on since 1994.

Randy Johnson offered mirror-making experiences at Table Mountain. Anna Colwell stepped in for Randy when he couldn't be there for the first couple of days. Depending on the status of the mirror at the time, attendees either polish or grind the mirror for 15-20 minutes. The completed mirror is offered in the raffle.

Jim Bielaga works at Anacortes Telescope. In 1992 he went up on Tuesday and only a few people were there. He used to be able to settle in any spot he wished. Now, he can't even get a spot by the trees. He owns a purple scope that provides good images. It was clear on Wednesday, but around 7:30 p.m. it started clouding up and there was only sucker-hole viewing. Everyone blamed him.

He saw the fan-shaped comet of 6.5 magnitude. It moved straight across the sky through the Dipper. Thursday the weather kept getting better. The Northern Lights were spectacular, but hindered observation. The Pleiades showed very nicely. He saw the Dumbell Nebula with a Nagler and O-3 filter. He noted the usual dumbbell shape with two Cs on either side. There was mottling like polar jets. Through the big scope with a Panoptic (which he borrowed) at 130 power, the Dumbbell looked like a Hubble picture. He had never seen the Dumbbell look that good! The Veil Nebula had areas that looked like branches and braided rope. He was able to resolve globular cluster M15 to the core, despite the tight core. M2 busted up at 100X. M30 looks like it has feet at higher power. Jim mentioned that he got more "wows" this year!

Jim said that talks were offered on many topics, including Table Mountain history and The Summer Triangle and You (there's really cool stuff in or around the Summer Triangle.) Saturday night people sang together for 1 hours, which contributed to the wonderful sense of camaraderie. 1,210 people were registered. Jim says the Table Mountain Board should be acknowledged for the amount and quality of work they did.

Bruce Weertman gave a slide show. The comet was taken piggyback. He showed a panorama of the telescope field, M31, eclipses, Milky Way, the North American Nebula, and the moon rising. See Bruce's slides at

Show and Tell Addendum

At the July meeting, during Show and Tell, Billy Krueter presented two shareware programs for any kind of Palm Pilot. (You can find them at the many Web sites that have third-party software.)

The first program, Planetarium, is a stripped-down version of a program like "The Sky". It provides a star chart, a graphical and numerical display, altitude and longitude. You could actually use this as a compass. It has its' own database of objects and geographical locations. It also provides the rising and setting times for the sun, moon, and planets.

"Rise-Set" is a table of ephemeras of sun and moon. It is highly accurate. It contains more precise calculations than most programs. It can do a fairly decent prediction of eclipses and the time of the next lunar phase. If you are interested in locating the Web sites that offer these, contact Billy Kreuter at

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