The Astronomy Club of Augusta met on Friday, 7:00PM at GRU, New Science Center Auditorium, W1008.  Attendance:  25 members, 2 new members, 3 guests. Total = 30.

We signed two cards, one of condolence to Russell R. and a get well card to Ray O. and his Mom.


President, Tedda Howard, welcomed members and guests.  VP Programs, Kenneth Beard, explained that our speaker for the evening had to cancel at the last minute due to laryngitis.  Kenneth asked if we would like to reschedule the topic on Variable Star Light Curves.  A show of hands was overwhelmingly in favor.  Michelle Moyers agreed to take the minutes of the meeting. Thank you!


It was fortunate that two days before the meeting, one of our newer members, Victor, sent three related web addresses to help us prepare for the program.  Tedda listed them at the top of our Calendar of Events page, and a few of us read through them before the meeting. 

Tedda introduced these websites, and Stan discussed the concept of the classroom 101 article for working out equations using variable star data to find the center of our Milky Way galaxy. We hope that familiarity with these websites will encourage us all to go to the ACA website and access this information.  


In conjunction with this discussion, it provided an opportunity to review the information available on our ACA Calendar of Events page and how it could be more useful to our members.  Tedda noted the interesting programs that Kenneth has planned for this spring. We had positive feedback for a possible venue at the Aiken County Public Library for our June meeting.   We discussed the ACA outreach programs for this spring, asked for and got volunteers. Please sign up via the email that was sent to members. 

Tedda pointed out that the Augusta Chronicle article about the club is on the Calendar of Events page to read and to show others.  An article about RTG's (nuclear batteries for space missions) is also listed on our Calendar of Events page under 2014 Aps, Astronomy News.  Twelve members of our club are going to the WSP = Winter Star Party in Florida this year. 


VP Observing, Stan Howard, presented his video of the donation of the Meade 12" LX200 telescope by Becky Sparks and her 2 daughters at our January 25 star gaze, in memory of her husband J. Michael Sparks.  Email Stan for a copy.  We could see how big this Schmidt-Cassegrain scope is.  Stan pointed out that the club now owns 10 telescopes, of varying types, and we are happy to have our members try them out, show them out at our star gazes, even loan them out. Come early to our Star Gazes and set up a club scope.  It's a great way to become familiar with parts, action, and capability of both the scope and you! (You may occasionally find yourself in positions you never thought possible, and learn how to avoid them!)


John told us more about the capability of this scope, the eyepieces and other attachments. It is not a brand new scope, but it has the manual and instructions, and  he feels that it is in pretty good shape.  A few adjustments, a case for the attachments, and a dew cover will make it very useful to our club.  Everyone agreed that he should make the repairs and bill the club.  John showed us the nameplate he made to place on the telescope, in memory of J. Michael Sparks.  We appreciate his volunteer time and labor. Mark Mof. and Dave P. had interesting comments as well.

The telescope is research grade, with high quality coating on the lenses, 12.37" mirror. F10 resolving power .375/sec., visual magnitude 15.0.  Photographic magnitude 17.5 ( can photograph Pluto & Charon), It has a heavy duty tripod fork, and fits on to the Joe Bartee memorial pads at NMR-DSO.  The Sparks telescope weighs 70lbs, 57 lbs for the tripod.  144,000 objects are built into the data base. It lists the bright stars needed to do alignment, and can interface with the computer.


We adjourned to the conference room.  Many thanks to Virginia Adams for the delicious refreshments: cupcakes, chips, dip, and sodas.  Again it was too cloudy to go out and observe.  We enjoyed talking with new members, new ideas, new plans.  John D. age 6, showed us his abilities with numbers and dates. He met several people by name and asked them their birth dates. Michelle Ma. wrote down the dates, so we could keep track of each other in this way.  Thank you.     There was an air of enthusiasm, and we look forward to personal astronomy growth while sharing with each other and the public.


Our next Star Gaze is on February 21, Friday, 6PM at NMR-DSO.


Respectfully submitted,

Michelle Moyers






20140222ACATHMin Winter Star Party - Most Excellent Adventure 2


Twelve members of the Astronomy Club of Augusta attended the Winter Star Party at Girl Scout Camp Wesumkee, Big Pine Key, Florida. Stan made a short video of our trip, called MEA2 (Most Excellent Adventure 2), and showed it at the Mar.14 meeting.

Four of us, Stan, Tedda, Kenneth & Ray carpooled down in 2 cars, and stayed in tiki huts. John, Daniel and Mark Mo. drove together, and set up a tent in our same circle. Jim and Cathy drove together, had bunkbeds in our tiki hut, but stayed mostly at a motel. Jim, Anne, and Dave flew in for two days, stayed at a motel, and then continued on another vacation. We all met at our tiki hut and on the berm.

On Sunday arrival, we registered but never did get our WSP T-shirts. Tippi D'Auria welcomed us all at the "fire pit". There were astrofolks from all over the world, mainly from up north, who liked the idea of a winter break to southern balmy weather.

Monday some went to the Swap&Shop and came back with filters and lenses at good prices. Ray & Kenneth went out to get pizzas. That evening we were given a laser sky tour, though lasers were strictly prohibited for the rest of us while there.

On Tuesday, we went to the Vendors booths, and sat in on two presentations: . Afterwards we went to the No Name Pub, covered in dollar bills, to eat delicious Grouper and other fish dishes.

Wednesday was another Swap&Shop, and Tedda came back with a great deal on a hardback book: Chasing Venus by A.Wulf. She didn't realize what a good purchase it was until we started reading it out loud to each other and with our neighbors: Don, Jan, and Lucy, and Kevin. At some point we had 9 people listening to the fascinating story of astronomers traveling around the world to be in position to measure the time of ingress and egress during the Transit of Venus in 1761. This included some good discussion and camaraderie, and lauding the technical details in yet another book: Longevity. We drove in to Big Pine Key to get peanut butter, apples, carrots, bread, crackers and other supplies.

On Thursday we got close up to someone's photo taking drone, so capable, buzzing in the sky, so fragile on the ground. Stan and Kenneth decided to use it in a movie of Tedda's "Alien Abduction". We'll see how that turns out! We went back to check out the vendors. We heard two presentations: The Smithsonian program to reach the public in Washington, DC, and All about the ISS Astronaut inhabitants, presented by an historian. The video tour of the ISS by NASA Commander Sunita Williams was really good (25min.) . We now have it and some other related videos available to show here at home.

It turned misty and cloudy that afternoon and night, but otherwise we had lovely, clear weather for observing..

We were all invited to a WSP BBQ supper, really good.

On Friday everyone showed up at the fire pit for the prize drawings. The children who went to AstroCamp made a notebook, learned a lot, and won prizes by merit. Kevin's daughter, Zoey, won the first prize 8" SC telescope! The adults were in for the random drawing. Ray won a ticket to the Chiefland, FL Fall Star Party, close to where his Mom lives. Stan won a bright red cap, and a ticket to Starfest August 2014, located NW of Toronto, Canada! After the drawing, seven (7) of us ended up in Marathon for fish lunch and delightful conversation.

Throughout the week nights we walked over to the berm, flat on the Atlantic waters to the horizon, with steady air, which brought us southern delights that we cannot see here. Thanks to our southern observing slope, we can see Canopus and Omega Centauri, so new views included the whole of the Constellations Columba, Puppis, Vela, Crux, the Southern Cross), Centaurus, and Lupus. Location is important, as are big 26" and 32' telescopes to see the colors of the Raspberry nebula, and others. Of the 550 people registered to be at WSP, everyone was just as nice as they could be, generous with views through their scopes, and explanations of the scopes we were using, and what we were seeing. They helped us find the Christmas tree asterism near Crux, and other little things we would have missed otherwise.

On Saturday, Stan, Tedda, and Kenneth drove to Key West and enjoyed snorkeling along the coral reef, 2nd longest in the world. We saw coral, sea ferns and other plants, fish of all colors and sharks. Afterwards we walked to the famous cuban restaurant, El Siboney, for steak, pork, and a fancy fried whole fish: head, tail and all. The black bean soup, saffron rice, and sangria were all delicious. We were full, but after some window shopping, Kenneth couldn't resist a double chocolate mint, caramel coffee. Yumm!

Back at our tiki hut, we packed and were ready to leave early Sunday morning. We stayed in Titusville that night. On Monday morning we were ready to tour Kennedy Space Center at 9AM. The size of the rockets, the surround theater, and a conversation with Astronaut Bob Cenker, with photos were highlights of the day. We couldn't bring ourselves to leave until after 4PM. By then we hurried into town for some KFC! We were then on our last leg, and arrived at NMR about midnight. Ray made his way through the Everglades and up the western coast of FL to visit with his Mom near Tampa. John, Dan & Mark Mo. drove a straight shot home on Sunday.

It's been mostly cold and dreary here since!