The Astronomy Club of Augusta hosted Telescopes on the Lawn for the SC State Star Party on April 05, 2014, Saturday 7-10:00PM at the RPSEC. Thirteen (13) members were present, including two new members.  Sixty-two people attended the free planetarium shows and observed on the lawn with us. 


Early in the evening we reviewed and named different cloud patterns.  We layed on towels to look at the moon, Jupiter, and some bright stars.  We set up four scopes during the evening:  Stan brought the Televue and the 8"Meade.  Mark Mo set up his reflector.  And Emma received some help to get her small Celestron set up and focused, and also talked with most of us to get some background information about beginning astronomy.   


We focused in on the terminator and Theophilus, Cyrillus, and Catharina craters.  Between the clouds, we also caught glimpses of Jupiter, its bands, and its moons.  Then Lalit reminded us that the ISS would be coming over.  Despite some naysayers, we did see it flitting behind the clouds, and brightening again as it crossed the sky.  Stan put a laser on it, so everyone confirmed it versus a plane in the distance.  It was rather exciting to see this through the clouds.



The temperature was pleasant and we enjoyed a relaxed evening talking about astronomy.  Kenneth says: "We find peace of mind if we are able to plant a seed, inspire a desire."


Respectfully submitted,

Tedda Howard


Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:01 a.m., Aiken Standard

Column: Urge science education

South Carolina is moving in the right direction by encouraging our children to read classics and non-fiction books.

Twelve members of the Astronomy Club of Augusta recently spent a week at the Winter Star Party in Key West. People from all over the world come here to see the southern constellations. I purchased Chasing Venus, by Amanda Wulf, and a group of nine enjoyed about one hour sessions each day reading this fascinating true story aloud.

In 1716, Edmond Halley, knowing that he would be dead by 1761, wrote a ten page essay recommending that future astronomers should organize themselves around the world to measure the time it would take for Venus to transit (travel between the Earth and) the Sun. He surmised that accurate times would improve navigation, and more importantly provide an accurate estimation of the size of our solar system. It was important that astronomers prepare and be ready, as Venus only transits every 120 years, and then twice, eight years apart. We were privileged to see it in 2004, and again on June 5, 2012 with many others at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at USC Aiken.

This true story of the Transit of Venus comes to life for us all. The history is eye-opening. Scientists are reminded of the details preceding, the knowledge needed at hand when the moment of discovery arrives, and the importance of accurate reporting. Reading this book broadens our understanding of the world, how it works, and what it takes to make significant contributions.

I hope all teachers will embrace this opportunity to use inspiring non-fiction to motivate our children to soak in, explore, retain and organize as much information and as many concepts as they can, so that they will be ready to tackle the real calculations for accomplishment and service to mankind.

The Astronomy Club of Augusta will host Dr. Clayton Heller and his program on “The Quest for Longitude” at our next meeting on April 11, Friday 7 p.m. at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, USC Aiken. The public is invited.

The Astronomy Club is also hosting Observing on the Lawn for National Astronomy Night, May 10, Sat.7-10:30 p.m., at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center. Please check our website calendar of events page for details and directions. Also visit www.angelfire.com/ga/astronomyclubaugusta for more information.

Tedda Howard
President, Astronomy Club of Augusta

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The Astronomy Club of Augusta met on April 11, 2014, Friday 7:00PM at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center. Attendance: 14.

Our president Tedda welcomed everyone and reminded us of our website to stay up to date on the goings on of the club.

Kenneth, VP Programs, introduced our speaker. Dr. Clayton Heller is Chair of the Physics Department at Georgia Southern University and spoke at our club meeting last year about Interstellar Travel. Tonight he talked about the Quest for Longitude. There is a very long history of developing various interests and needs to pinpoint our location on Earth, and then figuring out how to do it. He explained how the term “knots” (as in speed on water) came to be, how early ship captains would create fake maps to steer pirates away, and how early astronomers would help with mapping out stars to help navigate. He talked about the major players, including Newton, Halley and Harrison in the 1700s, and about the influence of the development of world trade and support of national leaders, and how this eventually led to the development of chronometers and time clocks, and now to our modern GPS systems. He concluded by inviting the club to Statesboro, former capital of GA, to tour the planetarium and campus. It was a very interesting and informative talk. Kenneth presented Professor Heller a framed Certificate of Appreciation. Stan videoed the program.

We took a refreshment break and enjoyed John W.’s 27th ACA anniversary cake and ice cream. It was BIG and delicious. (If you missed it, no worries, there will be more at the summer picnic.) In fact, John made nice mention of some of the founding and early members, and how they were involved in the club. We are fortunate that they wrote up histories of those early days, and we have put them in our archives for us to view. We hope they will come back and join us at our annual Perseid Picnic in August, tell us again how it was "back then", observe with us, and support the club as we take on the future.

Club business:
Tedda spoke about the draft calendar for 2014-15 that she and Kenneth put together. It was emailed to all members as an attachment last week. Please review it and send any comments to Kenneth or Tedda. Kenneth volunteered to bring refreshments to the May meeting.

Mark Moffatt spoke for the Nominating committee. He said he sent out an email to all members, and would like to get more reply emails or call responses. So far we have volunteers to be Secretary, Ray Owens, and Treasurer, John White. Jim Price nominated Tedda Howard for President again, but after four years, she respectfully declined. Stan Howard was nominated and agreed to serve as VP Observing. Kenneth Beard was nominated and agreed to serve as VP Programs. Mark Moffatt offered to serve as President. No others were nominated at this meeting, but you are encouraged to call Mark, Mike or Wes to make a nomination. The Nominating Committee will present their slate of officers for 2014-15 at our meeting on May 16. Nominations will also be taken from the floor. The nominee/s for President and other officers will have an opportunity to tell about their vision for the club and their qualifications to lead and serve. Then we will vote.

Tedda reminded us that if everyone volunteers, we can spread the effort, enjoy the fellowship, learn in the process, and accomplish much more than any one person expects.

John showed us a Meade Saturn 60mm (2.4”) refractor that he recently received. He made some repairs and is looking for some additional parts to make it functional, mostly as a light weight lunar scope.
John also summarized our progress with the newly acquired alt-azimuth Meade 12” LX200. He and Stan were able to get an 18 volt battery connected and a first leg working. He removed and sent the controller computer board to his son (and member) Dan, who has experience in this area, for an inspection. Another contact says it would cost $70 to inspect it, and $700 to repair it. Changes to equatorial would run thousands. Stan recommended patience before spending, as we still have other options. He also suggested the possibility of fund raising events if needed, and everyone seemed to think this might be a good idea, using our facebook and other event venues.
The indoor meeting was adjourned.

Although it was cloudy earlier in the day/evening, it was clear when we went outside ~9:30PM. Some of us enjoyed observing the moon and Jupiter with the club Televue and Mike McC’s ball reflector. Bright Aristarchus was near the Terminator and we had a clear view of its steep slopes, along with Crater Herodotus, Rimae Agricola, and the clear line of Montes surrounding the Plains of Agricola.

Our next meeting will be at the RPSEC on May 16, 2014. Be sure to come to the next star gaze on April 26, 2014, Saturday. Please check the Calendar of Events page, and come early so we can prepare for National Astronomy Night on May 10.

Respectfully submitted,

Ray Owens
ACA Acting Secretary

John relayed Dan’s report on the Meade 12” LX200 controller computer board. Dan found some rust, probably from humidity, and cleaned it off with alcohol. He also replaced the rusty round plug. He connected it to an 18volt battery and it seemed to light up and work quite well. John’s chest is puffed out with pride in his son! Dan used nail polish to seal the board and minimize the effects of humidity in the future. He will bring it to NMR-DSO next weekend/Saturday to test it out on the LX200. If it works, we will have saved ourselves considerable time and money. Thank you John and Dan.

20140414 LunEclipAMNHAugChron.gif

Lunar Eclipse to turn moon Red on April 15, early Tuesday morning

Send your observing comments and we will list them here.

Stan & Tedda: It was raining.
Ray: Beautiful
You: ______

20140419ACATHMin Saturday evening

Kenneth came by after an afternoon at the SC Astronomer's Meeting in Columbia. He heard some of the talks, saw some of the posters, talked to some of the professors from around the state and to their graduate students. He took his poster but now wishes he had asked them to announce his interest to get speakers for our programs for next year. In any case, he got some names and contacts. He saw our friend and speaker, Monique Aller. Clayton Heller told Kenneth at our last meeting, that she had accepted a position with his group as Associate Professor at GA State. We are happy to hear this good news for her.
After the meeting, they all went over to the State Museum, and enjoyed a tour of the new astronomy section, to be completed some time this summer.

John and Dan came by later. We all sat around for a while reviewing the status of the LX200, especially the controller computer board, as mentioned above (20140413). Then we went outside to try it out. It worked briefly, but then it had trouble again. Dan, Stan, and John feel that the problem may now be in the main computer board. Dan could not see any problem, so we will have to consider how we will get this checked out in more detail.




The Astronomy Club of Augusta met for its monthly star gaze on April 26 at NMR-DSO.

A total of 15 people attended: Ten 10 members, three 3 new members that night, and one 1 guest.


Members began showing up around 6:30PM. A short meeting was held to discuss a few items of interest before we began setting up our scopes.


1. On May 10 we are hosting National Astronomy Day/Night at RPSEC from 7:00pm -10:30pm. Volunteers are needed to participate in setting up and manning scopes and other projects. Lisa volunteered to be our registrar. She could use some help. From 7-9PM, when it is still light outside, Stan and John will have indirect solar scopes for observing and discussing the sun. We also plan to focus on the moon: Mark will help lead our discussion of its phase, terminator, position, ecliptic, maria, craters , and other features. We will distinguish types of telescopes, all of which we will have available: Newtonian and Dobsonian reflectors, Refractor, and Schmidt-Cassegrain. We will talk about responsible lighting, and have some brochures available. Tedda will bring Dot-to-dot constellation pictures to show people, and then later point them out in the sky. Kenneth will have his laptop with Stellarium and Virtual Moon Atlas running and is available to help out when/where needed. Ervin, Pat, Elisabeth and Ian will help too.

Ray has agreed to bring his reflector scope with dobsonian mount and show Jupiter and the 4 Galilean moons. Dave P. will bring his 12” scope with fork mount. He will show off Saturn in Libra, and also help point out various stars and other planets in the sky. We would welcome a lot more help to double up on these topics, and also to cover other topics. Please volunteer.


2. John filled us in on the progress of the LX200. Dan cleaned it up and appeared to have found the problem and fixed it. But when we hooked it up to try it, a fuse blew. John discussed two options: 1. replacing the electronics or 2. Placing the tube on an equatorial mount with goto. Tedda will try to gather the details in writing for these options, with pros and cons, for further discussion. We also discussed methods for raising the money to pay for getting this valuable scope running.

Soup and crackers along with dessert enticed a few to hang around and eat, but others went out to begin setting up scopes. Several scopes were set up including: 8” Newtonian reflector (Stan), 8Dobsonian reflector (Ray), LX200 (David), 8” Celestron Edge (Pat), Genesis refractor (Stan). Mark was taking pictures on his Canon T-3 Rebel. David also took photos with his __________. Everyone had a great time. Beautiful skies prevailed.


M-3 was spectacular and even the Orion Nebula showed off before it set in the west. The Beehive cluster was there in all its glory. Mars, Jupiter and its moons, and even Saturn with Titan were great views in all the scopes. Stan presented a sky walk-through with our guest John H. Everyone started packing up

around 11:30PM. Thank you Stan & Tedda for the refreshments and hosting the event.


Our next outreach event will be on May 10 for National Astronomy Night (NAN) at the RPSEC as discussed above. Our next meeting will be on May 16 at RPSEC. Please check our ACA website, Calendar of Events page for details.


Respectfully submitted,

Ray Owens, Acting ACA Secretary