The Astronomy Club of Augusta hosted National Astronomy Night (NAN) as part of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center (RPSEC) Earth and Sky Night.  It was a very cloudy evening so we set up telescopes and demonstrations in the gallery.   Thirteen members were in attendance and a total of twenty seven signed our sheet. At the end of the night some 160 people came by and enjoyed our set-ups.


The scopes that were brought to the event were set up inside the lobby area.  John W.  and Jessie set up his solar scope for those who were interested to see how it works.  Stan set up the Genesis scope, Ray his 8” Dobsonian, and Mark R. set up his 8”Cassigrain. Stan and Kenneth also showed Stellarium and Virtual Moon Atlas on their laptops and projected onto a larger screen. Gary set up the projector and screen. David P. and Ervin were on hand to answer questions and help with setup.  Some of the kids were really excited about seeing the different types of scopes that were on display and lots of questions were asked and answered.


Lisa Harkins manned our sign up desk.   John H. directed the setup of several tables down the long end of the gallery.  Beth B. helped place dot to dot constellation posters on the tables for display.  John H., Beth B. , Emma and Tedda  were on hand to answer visitor questions about the constellations and responsible lighting.  It was gratifying that there was considerable interest in the latter.   Elisabeth manned the lunar board at the end of the gallery, and helped visitors learn about the moon and its 12 maria.  Ian helped welcome younger visitors, and then was in charge of scoping out the other demos and the Planetarium show for E&S Night.


All members participated and made a slightly disappointing cloudy evening interesting and fun.


The RPSEC donated to the club four older reflector telescopes 4 and 6”with heavy bases, no eyepieces or filters.  John offered to take them all home with him to evaluate/see if he could get them working or cobble some together to get some going.  If you would like to learn about telescope repair, please email to get John's contact info.

We broke down scopes, laptops, demos and tables at around 9:30-10:00, then talked for a while after that.


Our next meeting will be at RPSEC on May 16, 2014, Friday at 7:00pm.


Respectfully submitted,

Ray Owens

ACA Acting Secretary



The Astronomy Club of Augusta met for its monthly meeting at RPSEC on May 16, 2014 at 7pm. Members began showing up around 6:30 and the meeting began a little after 7. There were a total of 18 people (all members) who attended.


Our President Tedda Howard welcomed everyone to the meeting. She reminded everyone that club member dues were due and could be paid to our Treasurer John White. Everyone seemed to want to take care of this and stepped up to pay. As agreed at our last meeting, a donation bucket was also available for repairs/improvements related to the club LX200, and contributions were thrown in the bucket.


Our schedule of speakers for the evening consisted of 2-minute talks by five members. Gary kept time for us.


Stan Howard – Observing

Stan talked briefly about the GRS on Jupiter. Historic observations as far back as the late 1800s gauged the storm to be as large as 25,500 miles (41,000km) on its long axis. NASA Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flybys of Jupiter in 1979 measured it to be 14,500 miles (23,300km) across. In 1995, a Hubble photo showed the long axis of the spot at an estimated 13,020 miles (21,000km) across. And in a 2009 photo, it was measured at 11,130 miles (17,900km) across. Right now (2014) the measurement is only 10,250 miles across. Scientists predict that the spot is decreasing in size by 580 miles per year and is changing the spot from an oval to a circle. Thanks for the info Stan!


Perry Holcomb – Meteorites

Perry spoke about the 3 types of meteorites.

The first is the Stone (rock) types that are mostly found in NW Africa. These are the largest amount that are found and were once part of the outer crust of planets or asteroids.

The second group is the Iron type of meteorites. These are 93% metal. The rest of the meteor is mostly nickel and trace elements. These are the heaviest.

The third type is the Stoney-Iron type. These are the rarest and most precious to be found for they contain precious metals like diamond, ruby’s, emeralds, and the like.

Perry showed the 3 types he had on display and gave all attendees a piece of meteor to take home. Thanks Perry!


Tedda Howard – Missions to Mars

Tedda referred to the above chart listing the 47 missions to Mars. Different colors on the chart represent the five (5) countries who have sent missions, beginning in the 1960s with the Soviet Union, then the United States (NASA), Russia, Japan in 1998, and European Space Agency in 2003, and recently a Russia/China collaborative effort.

About half were mission failures, and most of these were early Soviet Union efforts. Six were successful mission Flybys, including our DAWN mission in Feb 2009. Six were Orbiters, five were landers. Only 3 missions (all NASA) were successful Rovers: Pathfinder, Spirit, and Opportunity, landed Jan 24, 2004 and still working. There were 4 more missions since then. Two new missions are in progress: India’s first: MOM, and NASA’s MAVEN.

Progress means improved understanding and skill. The effort toward progress, improved understanding and skill, includes success and failure. We can try to minimize our failures and maximize our successes.

Thanks Tedda for this summary!


Dave Price – Deep Sky

Dave talked about the three telescopes we have in orbit. Hubble (Visible light, 1990), Spitzer (Infrared, 2003), and Chandra (X-ray, 1999) are doing amazing things for us and are allowing us to see things we never saw before. With the use of x-ray and infra-red technologies we are peering into nebulas and galaxies and are beginning to learn more and more how our universe was formed. Thanks Dave for focusing our attention on methods and discoveries in Deep Space.


Tedda thanked all our speakers.


After Tedda led a quick game of “Name the 12 visible Maria on the near side of the Moon”, John mentioned that the names ending in ‘tis are the ones seen in the young phase (waxing), and the ones ending in ‘ium are the ones seen in the old phase (waning).


John White - Progress on the LX200

It is thought that ~6 capacitors can be replaced on the board at approx. a buck apiece. Daniel W. has agreed to try this for us, and we gave the OK to go ahead. If this doesn’t fix the problem, the next step would be to send it to an evaluator (Yahoo Classic LX200 Club online) at the cost of around $70 to determine what exactly is wrong, and how much it would cost to repair. (It could be up to $700.

In the meantime, John has agreed to sell his Altas Equatorial mount to the club for $500, a very good deal for the club, and Pat has agreed to provide one of the two mounting plates (~$130 each) needed. This mount will not only provide excellent tracking for the LX200, but also for the Televue and any other scope we want to place on it. Everyone expressed their heartfelt appreciation for these contributions. Total cash donations needed: $630.


A donation bucket was started to help out with these repairs to the LX200. By the end of the night, $123.44 was contributed to this cause, plus $20 that was donated at our last meeting to start the ball rolling! Total: $143.44. John agreed to keep a separate record of our donations. Suggestions were made to have the donation bottle at our June meeting, place a notice on our facebook page, and perhaps sponsor some sidewalk astronomy events to raise the balance. This summer will be a good time to get out in the evenings.


John also reported that upon initial evaluation of the scopes that were donated to the club by RPSEC, he only sees minor cleaning and tweaking to be done. Although they did not come with their own eyepieces, we have enough in our box collection that we can use/share for now.


Mark Moffatt presented the Nominating Committee Slate of Officers for our 2014-15 club year:

President-Mark Moffatt

V. President-Kenneth Beard

V. Observing-Stan Howard

Secretary-Ray Owens

Treasurer-John White

Tedda asked for nominations from the floor. As there were none, a motion was made that the slate be accepted by acclamation and raised hands. It was seconded and passed. Congratulations to our new officers. They will start now to prepare for their term beginning on July 1, 2014.

An officers’ meeting will be held May 24, this coming Saturday 6:00PM at NMR-DSO.


Our next Meeting/Event will be held on June 6, Friday 7:00PM at the ACPL = Aiken County Public Library. Please check the ACA website Calendar of Events page for details. We look forward to seeing all our members there to greet a new group interested in Astronomy, and show them something about the night sky.


The meeting was adjourned at 9pm.

Many thanks to Kenneth for the delicious refreshments: tortilla wrapped cut sandwiches, pickles, cookies, and sodas – Yumm!


Afterwards many of us went up to the DuPont Observatory to view Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn through the 16” scope. Thanks Jim. Unfortunately it was rather windy, and not very steady viewing. It was mild temperatures outside and pleasant to look out and around.


Respectfully submitted,

Ray Owens

ACA Acting Secretary

20140524ACAROMin - Officers' Meeting

Current and new 2014-15 officers met on May 24, 2014, Sat. at 6pm at NMR to discuss the upcoming calendar and to create a smooth transition for the new officers. The following were present: Stan and Tedda Howard, Kenneth Beard, John White, Mark Moffatt, and Ray Owens. The new officers are:

President – Mark Moffatt

V.P. Observing – Stan Howard

V.P. Programs – Kenneth Beard

Treasurer – John White

Secretary – Ray Owens

The meeting began with an excellent dinner presented by our hosts Stan and Tedda. Good conversation and good food set the tone for a lengthy meeting on various items including events that are on the calendar for 2014/2015.

1. John agreed to send Tedda the up-to-date list of 2014-15 paid members. Tedda will email attach the detailed list of 2013-14 members and the new list of paid 2014-15 members to all the officers. Ray was asked to print the list of new members for John so that he can check for membership dues and contacts, due to recent problems with his computer.

2. The LX200 was discussed again. Dan will be picking up the scope to take it home and repair/replace the capacitors. If this doesn’t work, then we will consider what is involved in arranging for an evaluation ($70) of the scope by a more professional team to determine the exact problems and approximate costs to repair.

3. Our Treasurer gave us a report on the current balances: After next deposit our balance in the bank will be $2091.43. In addition, donations for the LX200 have reached $173.44. John agreed to keep a separate accounting of the LX200 donations, though they will be kept in the same bank account.

4. Ray will begin sending the minutes to Mark for review. Mark will edit and send them to Tedda, who will enter them on our website. Tedda will continue to monitor our Website and update the Calendar of Events page.

5. The upcoming picnic in August in conjunction with the Perseid Meteor Shower was also discussed. Mark is going to see if an alternate site is available at the ORA ball field, which we used some years ago , and will let the members know and will coordinate. We discussed having this as a founders day, and if the alternate site is available inviting the public to attend.

6. Mark will ask for volunteers at the August picnic for Observe the Moon Night.

7. Mark expressed a desire to form a committee for those who may be interested in observing and identifying the “Astronauts List of Navigating Stars”, and that upon completion an award will be presented. Ray volunteered to stir up interest in the Lunar Award program offered by the Astronomical League.

8. There will be no meeting on Oct. 24, and a club star gaze will be held on Oct. 25 at NMR-DSO.

9. It was discussed that the Christmas party could be held at NMR instead of Bobby’s, and that as time got closer Ray would help coordinate. Everyone could bring a covered dish, John could bring his BBQ along with cooking on the grill here at NMR-DSO, and gift exchanging tradition would continue.

10. The Jan. 2015 meeting will once again host Astronomy Jeopardy. It looks like, because of the participation and fun everyone has had, this will continue as an annual event.

11. The meeting in May could be used for members to talk about their favorite thing they observed during the year.

12. There was discussion about Birthdays and Refreshments and how the two could work together. It was suggested that anyone with a birthday during the month could bring refreshments to the meeting. More discussion on this needs to happen before final decisions are made. Kenneth agreed to confirm refreshment hosts for all meetings.

13. All Star Gazes at NMR-DSO come with “rain or shine”. Movies can be watched, models can be built, and just overall fellowship can be had for all sorts of Astronomy related topics.

14. Ray brought up the possibility of only officers to meet more often to stay focused on the calendar, any committee’s progress, and any areas that need help. Tedda suggested that group emails whenever possible may save travel time.


After two hours of discussions the meeting came to an end.

Our next meeting will be on June 6, 2014, Fri. at 7pm. The meeting will be held at the Aiken County Public Library. See our website Calendar of Events page for directions and details. The main library closes at 6PM, so ACA members are encouraged to come early to this new venue, so that we can talk with library patrons and encourage them to stay for our program.

By the way, the dessert was delicious, Tedda!

Respectfully submitted,

Ray Owens

Appointed Acting 2013-14 Secretary, impatient for July to serve as officially elected 2014-15 Secretary!







Yesterday I made another visit to the ACPL and added fliers, big posters of the Milky Way, Mars, Saturn, telescope, Responsible Lighting, etc. around the building and especially in the meeting room. Michael Swan, the library director, expects a good crowd. Some patrons overheard us talking about the program and confirmed they would come.


The new 2014-15 Calendar of Events dates are now posted at the bottom of our Calendar of Events page. Please check it out. Send comments to Mark Moffatt, 2014-15 ACA President.


Tedda Howard

ACA President

2014-15 Web Editor