Volume XXXI Issue 5

November/December 2005

In this issue:

1. Presidents message
2. The Beginner's Corner
Treasurer’s Corner
4. Editor's Note
5. Did God Create Evil?
Cherry Springs Phenomenon
7. Mensa Invitational
Up Coming Events

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

Editor/Desktop publisher: Melody Gardner

E-Mail submissions may be made to:

Slate of 2005 Club Officers

Dave Brown—President

Bret Cadmus—Vice President

Barb Geigle—Secretary

Linda $en$enig—Trea$urer

Paul Becker—Hotline Coordinator

Barry Shupp—Public Relations

Mike Bashore—Website Coordinator

Melody Gardner—Yours Truly

President's Message

The dry weather of this autumn has afforded us some of the best observing in recent memory. After suffering with oppressive heat and humidity all summer, September started and continued all month with low humidity and comfortable temperatures, just ideal observing weather.

As October and November are upon us, take any opportunity you can to view Mars. It will be closest to us in early November, closer than it will be for the next 13 years. If you want to see the polar ice, the dark markings ("canals") then this is your best chance for a while! On September 30 at Pulpit Rock observatory, I heard reports that Mars was great, and it will be increasing in size over the next 45 days. We will be having a public watch at Blue Marsh Lake on November 5 to show the public the planet, so join us if you can.

While you are enjoying Mars in the east, take in the sights of Andromeda and Cassiopeia in the same part of the sky. Besides the great galaxy M31, there are several small but interesting others within Andromeda, and it is high enough in the sky to enjoy before the weather turns cold.

If predictions hold true, the "Taurid" meteor shower may be good. Not to be confused with the Leonids, the famed November shower, the Taurids peak on Nov. 12, these will radiate in Picses, near Mars, and early in the month the Moon is new, so conditions are best for a good show.

Keep looking up!

Dave Brown, President

"Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Beginner’s Corner

Perspective – What You See Depends On Where You’re At

By Eric W Knight

Continuing on with how and what we see, perspective plays an important role in our observance of the night time sky. It’s obvious that if your viewpoint is higher than an object, such as a table, you will see the top of it. If you get down below the level of the tabletop, you will see the bottom of the tabletop. So, since we always seem to be looking up at the moon, we should be seeing some or all of its bottom, right? Actually, no. We, at our latitude are actually looking down at the moon, even though we feel we are looking up at it. So, we are seeing part of its top. The folks in the southern hemisphere would be seeing part of the bottom of the moon, and they rightly feel they are looking up at it. For us in the northern hemisphere, if an object is in the southern half of the sky, we are looking down at it. If it is in the northern half, we are looking up at it. If it’s directly overhead, or splits the north/south halves of the sky, we are looking straight out at it.

What about the sun? Since the sun is vastly larger than the earth, should we always be looking up at the sun’s top edge, and down at its center? That’s influenced by both perspective and the tilt of the earth. If there was no tilt to the earth, we, in the northern hemisphere would always be looking down on the center of the sun, and, because of perspective, it would always seem we were also looking down on the top edge of the sun. If a straight line were drawn back from the top edge of the sun toward the earth it would be far above the earth, but we still seem to be looking down on the top edge of the sun, since it seems to be in the southern half of the sky. If you are looking directly at an object, the farther away it gets, the smaller it gets. The top, bottom and side edges seem to shrink toward the center, but the center point does not change. If you have had the opportunity to stand in the middle of a railroad track, you may have seen how the tracks seem to converge to a single point far away in the center of your vision, even though the tracks start out below your eye level and to your left and right. The tracks seem to rise to our eye level, because the horizon is always at our eye level. If you don’t believe that, try looking at the horizon the next time you are at the beach. Try it lying down, standing up, and standing on the life guard’s chair. You will see that the horizon is always at your eye level, no matter where you are at. So it is with the sun. It is far away, and its outer edge appears to have shrunk toward its center. If it was farther away still, it would appear as a single point of light like the other stars. Now here’s the tricky part: If you can’t see the top of an object when it is close and you are looking up at it, you will not be able to see the top when it is far away and you seem to be looking down at it. So, we would not see the top of the sun, even though it looks like we are looking down on it. Of course, the tilt of the earth further complicates what we see and whether we think we are looking up or down at the top of the sun.

Another thing about the sun: It appears to rise in the east every morning. Not really. Except for the small rise caused by the tilt of the earth, the sun’s path is straight across the sky. Mind boggling isn’t it. It certainly looks like it is rising and setting!

The converging railroad track effect is also responsible for the illusion that all the meteors in a meteor shower seem to come from the same point. The meteors in the shower are effectively on parallel paths coming from far away. Like the railroad tracks, the parallel meteor paths converge far away in our sight, making them appear that they all emanate from a single point. This effect can also make a meteor appear to be rising when it is actually falling, or falling when it is actually rising.

The same can be said of the stars. There are stars that appear to be higher or lower than they actually are. Truly, what we see depends on where we are at, or our point of view. If we understand the behavior of what we see as it is affected by perspective, we can understand the difference between what we see, and what is actually happening in the night time sky.

Perspective is a fascinating subject, filled with examples of illusions and views that defy logic. The people who have studied the effects of perspective the most are artists and illustrators, because of how it affects their work. If you want to learn more about the fascinating effects of perspective, the art section of your public library is a good place to start.

Treasurer’s Corner
 by Linda $en$enig, who makes cents of our dollars


It is time to renew subscriptions for sky & Telescope and Astronomy. The cost of Sky & Telescope has remained at $32.90 - at least as of now. However, after years of remaining at the same cost, Astronomy magazine has increased to $34.00. If you are not now taking advantage of these discounts, let me explain that as a member of BCAAS, you are entitled to a discount on the subscription of these two publications. If you already are subscribing, you may extend your subscription. This does not need to be done now. You can do this at any time during the year.

Linda Sensenig - Treasurer

Editor’s Note:

As you all know, there was no September/October issue of the Pegasus due to lack of content. I would like to thank the members that have and do send me articles and other submissions. As it seems to be the pattern with anyone who has done this job before, the stream of content has dwindled. I encourage anyone, especially new members, to send me anything they would like printed. I only edit for grammar and spelling, so your ideas will remain your own and you will be credited for them appropriately.

Please don’t hold back or we may be forced to move to a quarterly publication in order to have enough to fill 8 pages. Your questions, comments and materials are welcome. My e- mail is and I hope to hear from you soon!


Did God Create Evil?

Submitted by Dave Brown

The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists?

A student bravely replied, "Yes, He did!" God created everything?" the professor asked. "Yes, sir," the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil."

The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question, professor?" "Of course," replied the professor. The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?" "What kind of questions is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question. The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody and every object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have too little heat.

The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?" The professor responded, "Of course it does." The student replied, "Once again you are wrong, sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact, we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."

Finally the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?" Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil." To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love, that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down. The young man's name was Albert Einstein.

This article was taken from "The FISHWRAPPER" Vol. 10 Issue 15, Lancaster County Edition of August 5, 2005.

The Cherry Springs Phenomenon

My annual trek to the Black Forest star party in Potter County would not have happened if not for fellow member Rick Carpenter. He called me back in early July and asked if I had registered yet for the event, and summer being as busy as ever on the farm, I had not thought to do it . So Rick and side kick Lora Beth, (no, he doesn't kick her in the side) registered me with their names. I shall be forever grateful!

Traveling together, our two vehicles arrived early enough to set up camp and relax with a nice meal before darkness set in. We were fortunate enough to camp right next to new BCAAS members Mark and Janine Galiyano, along with their ONE MONTH old son, Mark Jr. We quickly realized how much fun this was going to be with Rick and Lora's massive Astrophysics refractor, my big Dobsonion, and Mark's two Meade SCT's with laptop and digital camera attached. Needless to say, NOTHING in the sky was going to escape us!!

With close to 500 people and maybe 300 scopes there, we were content Friday night to soak up the glorious Milky Way with our own instruments. When you observe from Berks County, finding faint nebula and star clusters requires good star charts and a keen eye. From CSSP, you can throw the charts away and just look up and point to the Lagoon, Trifid, M22, Eagle, Swan, North America, cause they are all naked eye!

Quenching our thirst of the brightest well known objects Friday night opened the door for us to go after the REAL faint fuzzies on Saturday night. The transparency of the sky was superb as early on I viewed the ENTIRE unbroken loop of the Veil Nebula, something I have never been able to do. All 5 members of Stephens Quintet were seen, as well as NGC 4133 nearby. Rick was slewing from one faint NGC galaxy to another, and as we all enjoyed them, Mark was imaging some incredible wide field views of the Milky Way.

By 11 pm., we grabbed some coffee and tea, and went cruising the field. We caught up with Ron Kunkel who was participating in showing the general public the sky. Only those who wished to share their time with non amateurs were given a little solar powered light so they could be distinguished from the rest of the crowd.

Making our way to the far side of the field led us to spend some time peering through Al Nagler'sgrandson's hand made 4 inch reflector. With one of Al's famed "Naglers" in the eyepiece holder we got a great view of Andromeda, with Al commenting that his grandson is a "chip off the old block" Who were we to argue! Right along side him was John Vogt's 32 inch F 4 dobsonion, with fully wireless control drives in both axis. Viewing a small globular cluster, I forget the number; it appeared like M13 in that scope.

After returning to our own scopes, we cheerily observed anything we could think of and laughing at each others stories until 3:30 am, when the people in the tent next to us complained we were keeping them awake! Gee, SORRY, I guess we'll have to observe in the daytime!

The memories made that weekend will remain with us for a long time. It is clearly evident that once a year is not often enough to enjoy both great skies and great friend together at the same time. I thereby propose that our club plan a spring and fall visit to Cherry Springs, carpooling and camping together and sharing that marvelous sky together. Look for upcoming details on next spring's trip to the Promised Land.

Dave Brown


 -- The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners. Read them carefully. Each is an artificial word with only one letter altered to form a real word. Some are terrifically innovative:

1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

4. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

5. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray -painted very, very high.

6. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

7. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

8. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

9 Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

10 Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

11. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

12. Glibido: All talk and no action.

13. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

14. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

15. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

16. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

17. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an a@#hole.

18. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting some.


Thursday, November 10th- 7:30pm, Monthly club meeting at the Reading Planetarium. Tonight’s program is Dr. Ruth Daly.

Thursday, December 8th - 7:30pm, Annual BCAAS Christmas party and election of officers. Please bring something to share and your party attitude!


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