The Astronomy Club of Augusta met on December 8, 2012 at NMR-DSO (Dark Sky Observatory) for a presentation, light dinner, and dark sky observing. In total there were twenty attendees. Twelve current members, seven new members and one guest.

The evening started with John White giving a demonstration of how to clean, adjust and collimate a Dot's telescope. He removed the mirror (~ 4 ¼”) and placed it in a weak soaking solution of Dawn dish detergent with alcohol, and warm water for two to four minutes. While the mirror was in the solution, he used a clean cotton ball and did 1 swipe across the mirror, avoiding any pressure on the mirror. This action was continued until he observed the mirror looked cleaner. Removing it from the solution he proceeded to dry it with a tissue, again no pressure. He replaced the mirror and hand tightened the scope. No parts were left over!

Next step was to check the alignment. This, John explained, was done using a collimator. This typically is done more often than cleaning the mirror due to it getting jarred from typical movement. The technique was demonstrated by John. (Collimation: the accurate adjustment of the line of sight of a telescope).

A variety of questions and comments were raised and discussed throughout the session. A few highlights include: Why do we need a red flashlight, and what’s the best way to get one? Hint for homemade version was shared: Simply place a piece of red plastic film cutout from a red lobster bag, and presto you’re all set! Why it’s good to keep a star/observing notebook. The Stellafane Convention held in Springfield Vermont is the birthplace of amateur astronomy, telescope making, and an annual star party.

After the presentation we feasted on hot dogs, chili, a variety of condiments, including Tedda’s homemade pickles, and beverages. A feast of desserts provided by Dot, Tedda, Lalit's Rasmalai, and others graced the table in the breezeway. This gave our new members ample time to observe the breezeway solar system. Once we had our fill we made our way outside to observe.

It was moderate temperature with partly cloudy skies. Sabi & Simar and Jordan set up their telescopes. Stan setup a club telescope and provided binoculars for observing. John W. and Mark M. helped newer member Michael Axel with his telescope. We all helped each other in observing. Jupiter was a planet "star" attraction, observed along with the Pleiades, Orion, the Three Kings and the Winter Hexagon. The evening concluded earlier rather than later due to the cloud cover that came in from the west. In spite of that, it was a wonderful gathering and enjoyable evening.

Respectfully submitted,

Cathy Axel







The Astronomy Club of Augusta held its Annual Club Christmas Dinner/Party at Bobby’s Bar-B-Q on December 15 at 6PM.  Twelve members attended.

Bonnie & Tedda made festive decorations for the tables. Each person placed their pretty gifts on the gift table and took a number. We also drew for door prizes. We enjoyed delicious meals from the buffet, and lots of table talk.


Stan and Tedda reported counting 95 Geminid meteors on Thursday night from 8-11PM. Samir, Sabi, and Lalit counted 105 through midnight, Lisa was only out briefly but saw 2.  

Tedda reminded us about the Lunar Observing  program planned for Friday, December 21 at NMR-DSO. We will start at 5PM with Mark Moffatt's movie called “Star of Bethlehem”. Tedda will list lunar items to look for on the ACA website Calendar of Events page.  Stan said he would show us all a neat trick for the winter equinox on how to balance an egg. John mentioned that if we want to see if the world is ending on the 21st, just pull up a website in Australia on that day.


While we finished our meals, Tedda asked each person to tell what they enjoyed about this year, and what they are looking forward to in the new year. Some of the things mentioned were dark sky star parties, Most Excellent Adventure to Roper Mountain, seeing comets, taking photos of objects, Transit of Venus, International Observe the Moon Night, papier mache planet making project, SEED event, getting some younger members and watching them learn more.  Lalit shared that he was excited when he showed his family in India the Transit of Venus. Simar got an award in India for his photo of the moon.  After helping us so much with dark sky observing, Mike B. is looking forward to some organized AL lunar observing.  


Everyone picked a gift from the gift table starting with the lowest number. Once the gifts and door prizes were all opened, everyone showed what they had gotten. Some gifts included a 2013 Sky calendar, several beautiful star books, star studded pjs, framed astronomy photos, thumb drives, red flashlights, etc. Stan gave out door prizes and copies of Space News.


Simar said the moon is moving further away from us. Stan spoke briefly about the two GRAIL spacecraft, Ebb & Flow, hitting the moon and what might happen. John recommended that those interested in observing the moon be sure to research and learn why and how lunar objects are named. Check out: Virtual Moon Atlas.  Everyone pitched in to help clean up and leave a nice tip. Our meeting adjourned before 8:00PM.


Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Sistare-Harkins







The Astronomy Club of Augusta met on December 21, 2012 at the NMR Dark Sky Observatory (DSO) out from Williston for a movie night, dinner and dark sky observing.  Fourteen members attended.  


Mark Moffatt presented Stephen McEveety’s movie The Star of Bethlehem, the story of, attorney and amateur astronomer, Rick Larson’s search to find the true nature of the Star of Bethlehem.  The movie examines scripture, ancient writings, indisputable astronomical facts. and nine specific features of the "star" as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew and other parts of the Bible, later used to eliminate most celestial objects as candidates.   

In the first part of the movie Larson describes how Johannes Kepler paved the way for rediscovery of the Star. Kepler puzzled out the math which drives the heavens. Incorporating this math, software using Kepler’s equations allows Larson to animate ancient skies over the Mid East for us with great precision and in doing so the sky comes alive.

Larson goes on to show the dance of the stars, how a "star" can appear to “stop” in the sky and sets the date of the birth of Jesus.  An amazing production, giving us much to reflect upon and which many of us will view over and over again.  Many thanks to Mark Moffatt for sharing this with us.  


After the movie we moved to the breezeway for refreshments.  We were treated to a holiday feast of turkey and ham and all the trimmings, including fruitcake, and Dot and Mark's holiday cookies, which was very much enjoyed by all and added much to the holiday spirit of the evening.


Stan, Kenneth, John W., Elizabeth, Sabi and Simar set up telescopes for a chilly evening of observing.  Dot was able to try out her telescope, recently restored by John at the previous meeting.  She observed and shared views of the Moon and Jupiter with four of its moons – amazing!  Many thanks to John for sharing his knowledge and expertise of telescopes with our club members.

As the evening progressed we watched the moon progress across the sky, while we caught views of Tycho at the very edge of the terminator, with its rays and central peak.  We noted Mare Imbrium stretched across the terminator, and the whole of Mare Crisium and the other western maria.  Plato, Archimedes, and Ptolomaeus stood out clearly.  Despite the bright moon, were treated to clear naked-eye views of the Winter Hexagon.  Sabi and Simar captured long exposure photos of the Andromeda galaxy,the Orion nebula, and the Moon with the camera attached to their telescope.  Click on them to view after processing.


By 9:30 most of us were sufficiently cold and headed back to the house.   Sarabjot and Simarjot stayed on in an attempt to view the comet Nibiru.  In the end, they were unable to view the comet which thankfully did not collide with earth, and therefore did not fulfill the end of the world prophecy at this time.  


We adjourned sharing warm holiday wishes for each other and a wonderful, star-filled year ahead.

….. and to all a good night ………………



Respectfully submitted,           

Dot Valentine    

ACA Secretary


PS.  After warming up inside, Lisa and Elizabeth enjoyed an extended session of ping pong with Stan, Tedda and Kenneth.