The Astronomy Club of Augusta met on March 14, 2014, Friday 7:00PM at the RPSEC for its monthly meeting. Seventeen (17) members were present along with three (3) guests. There was lots of chit-chat about WSP before the meeting began.


Our President Tedda Howard opened the meeting with upcoming announcements. Tedda asked for additional volunteers to help at our ACA School Outreach on March 26 at Byrd Elementary. The following people have volunteered: Stan, Tedda, Kenneth, Perry, JohnW., MarkMo, Wes.Tedda will send details and directions to the volunteers.March 29 is our Messier Marathon at NMR-DSO. Plan to come early and stay late and see how many objects you can find. Our SC State Star Party will be on April 5, Sat.7-10PM at RPSEC. Please wear your ACA polo shirt or an astronomy shirt, and bring your telescope.Thank you.

Our next meeting will be on April 11, Fri.7PM at RPSEC. Clayton Heller will come again, this time talking about Longitude.Tedda explained how the books Longitude and Chasing Venus tell the story of determining the size of our solar system, and will be good preparation for Dr. Heller's talk. Mars is in opposition on April 8, and there will be a Lunar Eclipse on April 15. Afterwards, Stan showed a short video on the Winter Star Party trip. Observing questions were asked next and prizes given away.


Kenneth Beard was up next to introduce our speaker for the evening, Erik Benner. Erik is a co-founder of Deerlick Astronomy Village and was asked to speak to our group about basic time-lapse astrophotography.He focused on using cameras with sturdy tripods. He was very pleasant and knowledgeable and explained the dos and doníts and the pros and cons of various methods in photography.He encouraged beginners to try minimal expense options first, and mentioned more sophisticated options as well. A question and answer session followed .


Refreshments were announced and Mike McCoy was thanked for volunteering to host them . Thanks for the drinks and yummy cookies Mike. Letís not forget John White's delicious cherry/chocolate cake.


Outside Stan and Kenneth set up a scope for lunar observing. A small group formed to observe and discuss telescopes and timelapse further.


The meeting ended at around 10:00. A good time was had by all. Our next ACA Monthly Meeting will be on April 11, Friday7PM at RPSEC.


Respectfully submitted,

Ray Owens, Acting Secretary


Dear ACA Outreach at BE Volunteers,

Thank you for volunteering. You influenced over 125 fourth grade students at Byrd Elementary, Graniteville, SC on this cold but clear day.

We were sorry that some of our initial group was not feeling well, and could not attend. However, the rest of us had a great time. After signing in, the school principal, Mr. Gunter, came out to greet us at the open flat field with shielded, recessed lights. He even pounded in our two T-posts for us, a good sport! and invited us for lunch at their cafeteria. The parent and grandparent volunteers and teachers were so nice, welcoming, and helpful. The students were attentive and eager to learn. Thank you.

We saw lovely sunspots in John's solarscope, DHostetler's solarscope, and the club Televue with solar filter. John, Stan and Kenneth also showed the students how they could tell that the Earth is moving (rotating on it's axis). The students liked looking at the sun through welder glass, solar sunglasses, and indirectly through the Darth Vader bucket head viewers with Lalit's help. Tedda talked about the moon, and helped them find the moon in the daytime sky, Stan let them look at the moon on their own through a bunch of binoculars. We all talked in more detail about the Sun and the Moon, and they seemed to enjoy reviewing what they learned from their teachers, and learning new facts, and concepts. We left some brochures about Responsible Lighting.

We hope that some of the teachers, parents, and students will check out our website, Calendar of Events page, follow up with attendance to our public outreach programs, and some will join our club and begin a lifetime of astronomical challenge and enjoyment.

We made a great team.

We sent several attachments to the teachers and school volunteers:
Solar Structure, Space weather, Sunspots, Explore the Moon - 12 Maria, Phases of the Moon, You Can Help brochure, Better Lights for Your Nights.

Thank you so much for what you guys did yesterday! My co-worker said she wants to invite you guys back every year and that y'all are so passionate about what you do. Thank you because you're probably inspiring some of the kids to be passionate about astronomy and learning in general. I apologize that I couldn't be here. I definitely needed that time to go to the doctor and rest up. I hope you have a great day Tedda! Thanks again!

Kate Mitchum :)
Byrd Elementary School
4th Grade Teacher

The Astronomy Club of Augusta sent three representatives, Stan, Tedda, and Doug, to talk and observe with about 20 CAP = Civil Air Patrol cadets on March 20, 2014, Thursday 7-9:00PM at Daniel Field for their weekly meeting. These high school students are nice young people who want to make a difference in their community. Longtime ACA member, Anna, is currently a cadet. Tedda talked with them in their classroom about orienteering, longitude, the moon, planets and constellations, using Stellarium, and Responsible Lighting. Outside off the tarmac, Stan set up the Televue and 8"Meade for nice views of Jupiter and its moons. Tedda helped cadets identify and name the Winter Hexagon stars and constellations. The evening started out a little cloudy, but cleared up nicely when we observed. There are a lot of lights out there.


The Astronomy Club of Augusta met on March 29, 2014, Saturday at 7:00PM at NMR-DSO. It was rainy and cloudy. Seven attended: Stan, Tedda, Kenneth, Lalit, John, MarkMo, DaveP.

John is interested to get our donated Sparks Meade 12" LX200 working in goto mode. He brought a battery/transformer arrangement that will convert power to 18 volt, which is required by the LX200. So we opened up the scope to check out the electronics. Stan and John confirmed that the battery worked and that power went as far as the electronic controller. However the controller was unable to direct any action by the scope. John said that several hours on the phone led him to believe that he might be able to identify burned out components, which might be replaced. Otherwise, he proceeded to remove the computer card so that he could show it to his son, Dan, with electronics experience. Stan took some photos of the double circuit board, but the lighting was not very good in the garage, and he would like to take better photos with better lighting, so that we can send the photos off to some specialists for repair, or use it for getting a replacement circuit board or controller.

The Sparks Meade LX200 was made in about 1992 and has an alt athimuth fork arm. It requires an 18volt power source to run the scope mechanisms (drive, computer, handheld controller> and move the scope. John has learned that to have our current circuit board evaluated would cost ~$70. A complete electronics replacement would cost ~$700+.

It seems prudent to continue to explore possibilities for this telescope. It has a wide view, 12" and a nice mirror. However it is too big for reasonable manual positioning, and the electronics seem to be expensive. If we can find a match via the internet, online parts dealers, or even I Wannta type inquiries, we may be lucky. We are fortunate to have a member-owned LX200 available to the club already. Dave has already been helpful in making comparisons with both scopes.

Respectfully submitted,
Tedda Howard