Astronomy Club of Augusta met on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at NMR DSO in
Williston. Nine members attended.
It rained three times that day, and was cloudy to begin. Grabbing our attention, Stan opened the meeting at 7:30 with a brief video of the “Green Bean Monster”, featuring produce harvested from Lalit’s NMR garden. This was quickly followed by a National Geographic video on space travel visiting our 4.6B year old Sun, the volcanoes of Venus, Mercury’s iron core, and the dust devils of Mars. It explored the thoughts of life being a “virus” and, while we think of carrying life to other planets, our life might indeed have come from Mars – making us all Martians.
Tedda addressed club business by following up on our outreach to the Aiken County Public Schools. She read a follow-up she is sending to King Laurence thanking him for the time they spent with ACA and summarizing next steps and suggestions such as enhancing curriculum to include large number concepts, which they discussed in the meeting. Russell Romanella has agreed to speak if they can arrange for a large number, the best time being between mid October and Thanksgiving. Tedda will be sending copies of the letter to the officers as well as some of the links mentioned in the letter.
Ray mentioned that he thought it would be a nice service for ACA to provide telescopes at outdoor functions (like public parks). He will start by contacting Veterans Memorial Park in Barnwell to see if this can be arranged and what if any concerns (like liability) there may be.
John W shared his knowledge of the many objects that can be viewed in Saggittarius, including 16 Messier objects. Using the teapot as our guide, John noted that at the spout and a “spout’s distance” again to the right is the center of galaxy. He also pointed out the Sagittarius Star Cloud between the spout and the lid above M6. Then using several books, manuals and charts John had each of us pick an object in Sagittarius and talk about it. We all agreed it is important to know the Greek alphabet to better navigate the charts. It was a wonderful lesson that we all thoroughly enjoyed…. THANK YOU John!!!
Mark M. set up his 8” Orion Sky View Pro EQ 15mm Reflector telescope. With the weather being so bad lately we anticipated that there would be no observation this evening so it was a real surprise when Mark yelled out “Who wants to see the crescent moon? We all ran out to observe and record , Hercules, Atlas and Endymion to the north, Catharina, Cyrillus, Theophilus, Piccolomini and Fracastorius east of M. Nectaris , all near the terminator as the sun set and Saturn appeared.
Those of us that anticipated only cloudy skies and left our equipment home learned another lesson – you never know when the clouds will break – ALWAYS be prepared!!! Who would have thought we would find much of the sky clear with stars and planets sparkling down like a clear winter’s night. And there in the southern hemisphere Sagittarius was waiting for us to find all of the wonderful sights that John promised earlier.
By now Mike Mc. had set up his new 10” Orion EZ Star Maksutov Cassagran 90. It has a Dobsonian mount, and using the EZ Finder, Mike was able to set it up ion SECONDS! Stan set up the 4” Televue Refractor.
Throughout the evening we munched on snacks. Stan provided the 27lb watermelon!!! Dot brought stuffed sausage rolls, Lalit brought crunchy tart leaves, and we had other snacks. Summer is a wonderful time! THANK YOU ALL!
Tedda reminded us of our MEETING on this Friday, July 19, 7:00 PM at ASU/GRU, and encouraged us to bring friends and family. Come a little early to sign up for prizes and opportunities. The program will be Nuclear Power and Space Exploration given by Dr. Clinton R. Wolfe. Lalit will provide the refreshments, and the you can provide Hurrahs for the Annual Awards. Mark M. will tell us about Oceanus Procellarum and the Aristarchus Plateau which we will be able to see when we go outside for Lunar Observing.
The meeting adjourned around midnight – we all had a great evening!
Astronomy Club of Augusta met on Friday, July 19, 2013 at ASU/GRU in Augusta. Seventeen members, and nine new members and guests attended.
Tedda welcomed members and guests to our meeting at 7 pm. Ken introduced our program, and asked Stan to introduce our speaker, Dr Clinton R. Wolfe.
Dr. Wolfe has been the Executive Director of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA) since 2008. He managed the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) Strategic Materials Technology Department from 1996 until his retirement in 2005. He served as chair for the external advisory board for the Dept. of Chemistry at Clemson University, the SC State University Educational Foundation board of directors, and the Technical Advisory Panel to the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Plutonium Focus Area. He is the recipient of the SC State University’s Distinguished Service Award.
Dr. Wolfe provided very interesting and informative insights into the history of and the prospects for nuclear energy, with some concurrent development of nuclear power in space technology. In his presentation he showed us the beginnings of the nuclear age and what drove talented scientists to the US and England. He progressed through the periods of nuclear proliferation and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) to the current environmental issues of storing weapons grade nuclear waste and of mixed oxide (MOX) conversion to usable energy.
information Dr. Wolfe shared went a long way to open dialog with the general
public promoting an understanding of the critical role the SRS plays,
addressing the ever present safety concerns and recognizing the magnitude of
the decisions we make today on the generations that follow. We thank Dr. Wolfe for sharing his expertise
and experience with us - a great learning opportunity for us.
Club business followed with the annual awards.
Ken presented this year's Program Award to Mark Moffatt. Mark regularly shares his expertise on the moon with the club, providing interesting information and expert direction at our lunar observing nights to ensure no mare or crater is missed. Stan announced the Observing Award will be presented to Mike Bush later, as he could not be at this meeting. Mike’s impressive knowledge of telescopes and binoculars, and ability to quickly locate deep sky objects is an inspiration to all of us on dark sky observing nights. He shares his vast knowledge with the ease of telling a story, making us want to stay outside longer to see just one more asterism or nebula even on the coldest nights. Dot presented the Attendance Award to Lalit Reddybattula. He has been an active member for two years, learning how to put a new telescope together, and then helping others with theirs, observing and photographing moon and stars, volunteering for outreach programs, all while balancing heavy demands of his PhD program, travel back and forth to India and around the country, and some medical issues, all with happy equanimity. His enthusiasm is an inspiration for us all. Tedda also presented an Attendance Award to Dot Valentine. New to the club in the 2012-13 year, she immediately agreed to take on the role of secretary in addition to participating in the SEED project at the asteroid Vesta station.
In preparation for the climax of the awards ceremony, Tedda displayed the club plaque with many familiar recipients of the President's Award from over the years. She then gave this year's President’s Award to Kenneth Beard, with the hearty support of the officers and members. For the past 3 years Ken has been a dedicated member of the ACA, growing in his knowledge of astronomy, sharing his experience and helping wherever and whenever he can. As VP of Programs, Ken has sought out and arranged for presentations by some of astronomy’s most interesting and experienced professionals to both inform and educate our club members. And he has not missed any meetings during this time! Congratulations Ken on a job well done.
Throughout the year we are grateful to ALL of our members for their participation. You are ALL award winners! We thank you all and look forward to a fun-filled year ahead of learning and sharing.
We enjoyed refreshments that were provided by Lalit – the sandwiches were delicious and those pickle flavored potato chips – YUM! Many thanks Lalit. Tedda reminded us of the upcoming Annual Club Picnic on Saturday, August 10th. This is our informal date with family and friends to introduce them to our programs and plans for the coming year. Please bring a covered dish and let Tedda know if you are planning to attend.
Among the numerous sign-up sheets at the meeting was one for ACA polo shirts. Enough people signed up, so we will make our order as soon as a good special is available. Please email Tedda ASAP if you would like to get one. We headed outside where Mark and Stan had telescopes set up for lunar observations.
The meeting wrapped up around 10 PM – we all had a great evening!