Volume XXVI Number 5

September/October 2000

Upcoming Highlights


September 14, 2000 7:30P.M.- Reading Public Museum

Larry Citro will attempt to teach us about COD photography. I hope we pass!


October 12 , 2000 7:30P.M.- Reading Public Museum

Bob Gent, V.P. of the Astronomical League will visit with us to talk about the League, and perhaps light pollution. He will also present to Ryan his award from the Horkheimer competition where he finished second’ And maybe a few surprises.

BCAAS members:

We will be participating in Discover Your Museum Day Sunday October 8 starting at 12:00 Noon. Several scopes will be needed for solar observing and display in front of the Museum. Astronomy games will be played in the Planetarium lobby 12-2 PM. This will be an opportunity to display light pollution, and other astronomy info as well as sell our telescope raffle tickets.

See you there! BLS

In this issue:

1. Presidents Message
Condolences to Larry Citro
For Sale
Guest Speaker
5. Youth in Astronomy
Surplus Optics Bonanza
Magazine renewal
Mythology of the night sky
A Layman’s Guide to Stellar Evolution

Pegasus is a bimonthly publication of the Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society

Editor/Desktop publisher: Bob and Joanne Capone

E-Mail submissions may be made to:

President’s message

Well here we are looking at September already! What a wonderful Summer,and Spring. All of our star watches this year have been rained (or clouded) out. We did pull off one or two for Dave down at French Creek for the campers. Our reputation for scheduling rain is so good most Berks farmers have thrown away their almanacs and simply check BCAAS’ starwatch schedule. For the Fourth of July, I had several friends beg me not to schedule a starwatch so they could have a dry cookout. The few remaining Indian rainmakers have folded up shop and gone into telemarketing because they can’t compete with us! It was so rainy this Summer that a few adventurous fish were seen paling around with BCAAS members because they knew they’d never be far from water! Basically, the Summer was awash, or is that laundry?

WELL, we have many interesting programs for you this Fall - don’t miss them! Our Fall Heritage Center starwatch"isn’t" scheduled for Oct. 6, so we’ll see how that goes. We need to push sales of our raffle tickets since we lost sales due to cancelled events. Speaking of raining and pouring, did you see the bobcat barbecue in the Meadowlands? All this talk of rain is making me thirsty, I was already thirsty, now I’ve got to p.


Condolences to Larry Citro

I just wanted to alert our members who might be close to Larry (or who might not get a Reading newspaper) that Larry Citro’s father passed away. our thoughts and prayers go out to him.



LIKE NEW - INCLUDES: Accessory Case, Quick Point, Soft Padded Scope Case, Hard Case for Travel, Remote Hand Control, Field Tripod, Table Top Fork Mount, 5 Mead Plossls 3000 Eyepieces - 9.5, 16, 25, 40 and Barlow Lens ALL FOR $995.

If interested please contact: Ollie Koehler 610-678-8110

Guest Speaker:

Mr. Robert L. Gent VP of the Astronomical League will be coming to speak. We are going to open this to other Astronomy clubs, the public and Local Government. He will be coming to speak on the League and Light Pollution. I contacted Congressman Holden, Mike O’pake, Dante Santoni, about this program. This is expected to be the largest BCAAS meeting ever!

Also Lloyd Adam won first, and I won second for the Mason Dixon Telescope competition. Always in Astronomy, Ryan Hannahoe


Youth in Astronomy:

Dear Fellow Amateur and Professional Astronomers,

Hello, My name is Ryan Hannahoe you might have never heard of me, but I’m the Astronomical League’s Youth Activities Chairman. What my job is to Promote Youth in Astronomy. I will be speaking next year at ALCON200I Convention. There will be two section of my presentation at ALCON200I. One will be on Youth Today, and the other will be on Then and Now.

If you would like to be featured in my presentation at ALCON200I, called Youth in Astronomy, please submit your entry. All entries must be due February 1st 2001. Please answer the following questions in paragraph form, and mail photo’s of yourself (in the field of Astronomy), to:

Ryan Hannahoe
1056 Mahlon Drive
Leesport, Pa. 19533

1.) Who do you admire in astronomy?

2.) Would you like to build a telescope?

3.) Do you desire a career in astronomy/science?

4.) What do you do in your astronomy club?

5.) What was your first telescope?

6.) What is a good science fair project?

7.) How can astronomy help me get into a better college?

8.) Can I help my club with Astronomy?

9.) What first got you interested in Astronomy?

10.) Where is your favorite observing site?

11.) How can I fight light pollution in my community?

12.) What if I discover a comet or nova?

13.) What Astronomical League observing clubs are best for teens?

14.) My club is not affiliated with the AL? What do I do?

15.) What does Astronomy do for you?

16.) What first got you interested in Astronomy?

17.) What in Astronomy do you find "fun"?

18.) How can a teenager make a difference in Astronomy today?

19.) List some things that you have done in Astronomy in the past year.

Please note:

These entries will be used for ALCON and the promotion of Youth in Astronomy. Also the Astronomical League, and or Ryan Hannahoe is not responsible if your entry is not in the presentation and by sending me your entry I can use your photos and entry for promotional use. This presentation will be presented to other clubs, organizations, school, etc. Your participation will be greatly appreciated!

Always in Astronomy,

Ryan Hannahoe

Youth Activities Chairman & ALCON200I Webmaster for the Astronomical League

Surplus Optics Bonanza

A couple of months ago some of you may remember reading an article h the Sunday Reading Eagle on the Surplus Shed. Paul Becker and I recently paid a visit to the company to see what the place had to offer. We were not let down. Hundreds if not thousands of lenses of all types, sizes and quantities abound from dozens of shelves. I kn~, quite a f~v people from the dub have been to some of the more prominent star parties such as Stellafane and the like; take what you see there from a typk~al optics swap table and multiply by a thousand. Is it pyrex minor blanks you want, or maybe prisms, or hcm about eyepieces, binocubis, cases, telescopes, aenal cameras, axi cameras, military gun cameras, spectrophotometere, tank penscopes, borescopes, microscopes; the list goes on and on.

All of the merchandise is either used or surplus in good condition. If you ever thought about experimenting with grinding your own minor you can pick up a 4.25" pyrex mirror blank for about $4.00 although other sizes both smaller ( much) and larger are plentiful and of reasonable quality to work with. Don’t feel like grinding your own, then linished coated and uncoated mriora are there also. Some minors have mnor chips or very light scratches but all are very use-able with a pnce you just can’t argue with. Want to try your hand at buikling a llnderscope or small telescope? Lenses of every type are plentiful and very inexpensive.

Most of the riventory is ga~iemment surplus. You know, why order ten when you can have ten thousand. But the govemmenVs cNer-zeaious appetite for war optics and equipment that were never used are filtering in to our hands at hundreds and in some cases thousands of dolars otT what the skiff cost new. Granted, alot of the stuff the average observer will most Iikely never use (Iike a Fakohiki T-1 I aerial mapping camera for $275.00, orignally $14,396.19), but if you want to get an inexpensive start to tinkering with your own optical projects, the place is really worth the visit

You can visit the warehouse online at or pay them a visit in person every Saturday from 8am to 4:30pm at 2142 Maidencreek Road, Maidencreek, Pa. Phone numbers are 610-926-9226 or 1-877-7surplus.

Dan Davidson



It is that time of the year again when you need to renew your subscription to Astronomy and/or Sky and Telescope. If you are new to the dub, you need to know that if you subscribe to either or both of these publications through BCAAS, you get a substantial discount It appears that the subscription for Sky & Telescope will remain at $29.95. At least that is what was written on my renewal notice. In the past, it was pointless to ask Kalmbach about the subscription amount for Astronomy, because they never know this early. So I’ll do as was done in the past Use the $29.00 subscription amount and if it goes up, Ill collect the balance at a later date. If you are already receMng one of these publications without the discount, you can either wait until the subscription is due to expire and then renew it through the dub, or you can renew it now and your subscription


Don’t let this constellation "get your goat!" It is drawn as a goat with its tail ending in the figure of a fish! So, is Capricom a goat who has gone fishing, or a fish spitting out a goat? Or is it evolution’s missing link between fish and goat? Greek and Roman literature has many names for this constellation such as the Sea Goat, Neptune’s Offspring, Ocean Storm and the Rain-bringing One. (Do you think that maybe BCAAS was born under the sign of the Rain-bringing One?) In the days of Plato, it was commonly believed that when you die, your soul ascends to heaven through the stars of Capricom, whence it was called The Gate of the Gods. Of course, if you were naughty instead of nice, your soul descended into Hades through the stars of Cancer.

The history of astrology also has some very interesting beliefs about these stars. They were called, for instance, the House of Saturn because it was believed that the planet Saturn was CREATED in Capricorn! The almanac of 1386 has this to say about anyone born under this sign: ‘Whoso is borne in Capcorn schal be ryche and wel lufyd". (Yes, they really did talk like that back then.) Now I’m no expert in Medieval English, but I suspect "ryche" means rich, so this is a pretty appealing 14th Century horoscope!

Capricorn is the second most inconspicuous constellation in the Zodiac, meaning that when you die, your soul might have a hard time finding the Gate of the Gods. Fortunately, the most inconspicuous constellation in the Zodiac is Cancer, so your soul would have an even harder time finding the gate to Hades.

Linda Sensenig

A Layman’s Guide to Stellar Evolution:

This article is part of a series dealing with stellar evolution. The articles are written by a layman to convey that understanding to others. To that extent, errors and omissions should be excused. The series will cover the formation of stars, their energy production, assemblages, and their deaths. For comments, please contact the author.

Article 7, Red Giants and Supergiants

A Main Sequence (M-S) star evolves off the M-S when it exhausts the Hydrogen fuel in it’s core. Stars with masses less than our sun have not yet run out of Hydrogen. The universe is not old enough since these stars formed and they have not existed long enough to have used up their fuel. However, more massive stars and particularly very massive stars have used up their Hydrogen and thus have evolved off the M-S.

When a star no longer has enough Hydrogen in it’s core to sustain hydrogen fusion, it’s energy production slows. With less energy output, gravity is no longer balanced, and the star’s core (note, core, not the entire star) begins to collapse. As the core collapses it heats and if the star is massive enough it will heat to about 100 million degrees, the point that the fusion of Helium into heavier elements such as carbon begins in the core of the star. Both Hydrogen fusion in a shell around the core and Helium fusion in the core are now producing energy. When Helium fusion and Hydrogen shell fusion starts, the sudden extra energy output of the core, actually expands the outer envelope of the star. The star’s outer layers grow tremendously in size and simultaneously appear to cool in temperature. Because the star is now so large, it’s brightness is increased although it appears redder or cooler in color. A star with the mass of our sun that has begun Helium fusion in it’s core, now appears as a Red Giant in the H-R diagram (see diagram below. )

The Helium fusion stage does not last near as long as the Hydrogen fusion, simply because there is not that much Helium fuel. The star stays a Red Giant for only a few million years, e.g.typically only one tenth of it’s time on the M-S, before it evolves further as it exhausts it’s supply of Helium.

In stars 10 times as massive as our sun, the Helium burning phase is evident as a Supergiant star. And in stars 30 to 50 times as massive as our sun, the core of the star establishes successive shells of fusion reactions, fusing higher mass elements, like Carbon, Neon, Oxygen, Silicon, all the way up to Iron. Each of these reactions has diminishing returns since each successive processes has less fuel available, the reactions generate less energy, and their durations are also successively shorter lived. The duration of the Silicon conversion into Iron occurs within only a few days interval. These massive stars evolve into Supergiants (not labeled on the above diagram but located above Red Giants in H-R diagram.)

The population density of Red Giants and Supergiants is much less than M-S stars due to the short time period that large stars spend in this particular phase of their evolution and also due to the small numbers of extremely massive stars that form initially. Additionally, only stars as massive as the sun or larger evolve into the giant phases of evolution and typically most stars that form are actually less massive than the sun.

We have seen that as a star exhausts it’s Hydrogen fuel, it will swell into a giant phase as it starts fusing Helium and possibly other fuels. This is the beginning of the death throes of a now rapidly evolving star. In the next phase of stellar evolution we will see what happens when the star has totally run out of fusion sources.

Ron Kunkle

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