Pegasus is a bimonthly publication of the Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society. Editor/Desktop Publisher: John Dethoff. Regular contributors: Priscilla Andrews, Linda Sensenig & Dave Brown. E-mail submissions may be made to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume XXV Number V
Thursday, Sept. 11
7:30 at the Reading Public Museum — Tonight, Barry Johnson, one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council and long-time program chairman of the Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers, will present an en"light"ening program about light pollution: its sources and its cures. With dramatic visual examples of good & bad lighting, Mike Aulenbach, member of LVAAS, will help Barry show us the importance of this "grassroots" movement to reverse the damage that our modern society has done to our dark sky. Our own representative to P.O.L.C., George Babel has contributed to the success of this council.
We will also review the results of our small-group discussions from our July meeting regarding dues and our long-range goals. We will postpone the discussion of By-Laws until our November meeting.
Thursday, October 9
7:30 at the Reading Public Museum — Don't miss this one! We are honored to present Mr. James Mullaney, professional astronomer, lecturer and author. Pick up just about any Sky & Telescope through the last decade, and chances are good that you will see James Mullaney's spirited and poetic essays. He will discuss his forthcoming book about the Finest Deep Sky Objects, and will be giving us an opportunity to contribute to this publication!
If you wish to help Mr. Mullaney's survey on the Finest Deep Sky Objects, just write a list of your Top Ten (or more) favorite objects. (Anything you can see in a telescope beyond our solar system) Go ahead, be subjective. This is one time you can leave the constraints of objective science behind. Mr. Mullaney wants to know which objects may stir your soul or make you go AH! for whatever reason! You will have an opportunity to personally hand your list to this inspiring and dynamic astronomer!
We will be trying something new. Since Mr. Mullaney makes his living as an astronomy lecturer and consultant, we will have a voluntary donation box at the door to cover his expenses. He has been kind to waive his regular $300 professional fee to speak to us, but our normal speaker honorarium does not begin to cover the exciting and most-unusual program he will deliver. I had the privilege of hearing Jim speak to the Amateur Astronomy Enthusiasts of Lancaster, and believe me, you will leave with all sorts of ideas, inspirations, and encouragement.
Thursday, October 30
Deadline: November/December Pegasus
Pegasus is a bimonthly publication of the Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society. Editor/Desktop Publisher: John Dethoff. Regular contributors: Priscilla Andrews and Linda Sensenig. E-mail submissions may be made to: email@example.com
From the President's Desk
by Priscilla Andrews
B.C.A.A.S. Survey Results Are In!
Well, I certainly opened up a bees nest with our Spring Survey! Much enthusiastic buzzing with great ideas as a result! I received 40 surveys representing 46 people, which is a little less than half of our membership. The answers were so overwhelmingly similar, that I assume the other half of you will most likely continue with us and abide by the decisions that will be made as a result of the survey.
As President, my particular areas of interest were the answers to the questions concerning: (1.) The procurement of a permanent observing site (2.) The issue of an increase in dues, and (3.) The establishment of a nominating committee for next year. All three of these questions will determine the success of the future of our club.
An incredible majority of you surveyed enthusiastically supported the idea of a permanent site. The results of our smaller group discussion at our July meeting: to work with an already established park and to procure corporate backing for any incidental expenses. Several members agreed to participate in small committees to pursue these goals.
As for the dues increase, it was one shy of unanimous for a proposal of a $5.00 increase. And lucky!, because this will just barely cover the deficit we have been suffering through the last two fiscal years. Our advances have skyrocketed at a rate light-years ahead of our dues. There was much discussion about a $7.50 increase with a $2.50 reward for paying dues before December 31st. We have had a long-standing problem with membership renewals, mostly because of procrastination. We hope (if this is approved by our membership vote in October) this will be an incentive to let us know in a timely manner that you will be staying with us! It makes bookkeeping, Pegasus mailing, and League dues so much easier when we know who our members are! Besides a very special program in October, we will have the official vote for dues for 1998
The third issue: a nominating committee, has been named! As much as I have been proud to be your President these past three years, it is time for others to take the wheel. This transition can be one of smooth sailing, if we choose wisely and democratically. Hence, the nominating committee will have until the November meeting to "pull the rabbits out of the hat!" We will have presentations of nominees, with an open floor for additional nominations at the November meeting, with our vote for officers at the December holiday party.
Interesting incidentals to have emerged from the survey: A preponderance of reflectors (vs. refractors) and of those a majority of Dobsonians in our club; an almost equal influence of newspaper articles, fellow members, and public events to have inspired our members to join; unanimous approval of the subject matter and quality of programming; a surprising number of members toying with the idea of presenting programs and writing for the Pegasus, and some excellent ideas for future programming. A large number of respondents expressed desire for hands-on training/experience using telescopes and finding deep-sky objects. And, the number one most expressed sentiment regarding the "best" qualities of BCAAS, were "fun, friendliness, and camaraderie!" It seems that, in large part, we are happy campers!
Let us continue our great thinking, our great community service, and our great fun! Come to our meetings, support our public programs, write those articles for the Pegasus, volunteer to present your favorite topics, and, above all, pray for clear skies!.
Two Great Events
Nimbus, our great nemesis, was apparently sleeping for our last two club events! The Hawk Mountain public star watch went amazingly well, with 20 members, many accompanied by family and friends, putting on the night show for around 50-75 eager "civilians". The sky was clear as a bell, and, wow! was it ever neat to see a clear sky! Thank you, Tom Boussum for arranging our evening with the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Our picnic was the held at the "chosen land", Dave, Mary, and Dan Brown's farm in Shoemakersville. For a large part of the evening, the 36 in attendance watched a continual light show on this horizon, and then that horizon. Amazingly, not a drop of rain or gust of wind dared tread on our magical picnic!
Highlights were the traditional hayride through Maidencreek Township, and the huge celebration cake and champagne toast for our great successes, including Dan Davidson's winning of the Stellafane awards, our two articles in the Reading Eagle/Times, and our future Astronomy Day at Boscov's. If you missed it, you missed the best food and the most fun ever at a picnic!
Now, if you hear it from the "Viewfinder" team, you will think that they won the water-balloon volleyball game. That is if we were keeping score, and if the rules were fair…
An Astronomy Friend
Sadly. one of our most famous contacts in the professional astronomy field tragically died last month. Eugene Shoemaker, of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy '94 fame, was killed in a car accident in Australia. His famous partner and wife, Carolyn, was injured, but has since recovered.
Carolyn and Eugene were two of the four panel members at the Comet Symposium, held at the end of the famous Comet Crash Week in Washington, D.C. on July 21st, 1994, as the last of the comet fragments plummeted through Jupiter's atmosphere.
Many of us at BCAAS have a special regard for Mr. and Mrs. Shoemaker as he and Carolyn, along with Carl Sagan and David Levy, requested written reports from our observing group when Priscilla reported our findings in person to the panel during the public question-&-answer period after the official (and first) fragment reports were announced at this now famous gathering of planetary scientists, astronomers, and members of the Planetary Society. Priscilla had the distinction of discussing our report format with Mr. Shoemaker via telephone to his office at the U.S. Geological Survey in Arizona. Carolyn was interviewed by the Reading Eagle to confirm our observations for an article which was published in July, 1994.
The following is the official biography issued by NASA.
Douglas Isbell July 19, 1997
Headquarters, Washington, DC
NASA Statement on the
Passing of Gene Shoemaker
Planetary scientist Dr. Eugene ("Gene") Shoemaker, 69, was killed in a two-car accident near Alice Springs, Australia, on the afternoon of July 18. His wife, Carolyn Shoemaker, suffered broken bones, and reportedly is hospitalized in stable condition.
A geologist by training, Shoemaker is best known for discovering, with his wife Carolyn and colleague David Levy, a comet near Jupiter. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was broken up by tidal forces from Jupiter, and its fragments collided with the planet in July 1994. Together, the Shoemakers were the leading discoverers of comets this century.
"Gene was one of the most renowned planetary scientists in the world, and a valued member of the NASA family since the earliest days of lunar exploration," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. "His work on the history of meteor impacts and the role that they play in the evolution of the Solar System is a fundamental milestone in the history of space science.
"Gene was an extremely articulate man who could explain the wonders of the planets in simple language that anyone could understand and get excited about," Goldin added. "Although he never realized his dream of doing field geology on the surface of the Moon, all future exploration of that rocky world owes a debt to his pioneering spirit. Our warmest thoughts are with his dear wife Carolyn as she recovers from her injuries."
Shoemaker's signature work was his research on the nature and origin of the Barringer Meteor Crater near Winslow, AZ, which helped provide a foundation for cratering research on the Moon and planets. This work led to the establishment of a lunar chronology, allowing the dating of geological features of its surface.
Shoemaker took part in the Ranger lunar robotic missions, was principal investigator for the television experiment on the Surveyor lunar landers (1963-1968), and led the geology field investigations team for the first Apollo lunar landings (1965-1970). In 1961, he organized the Branch of Astrogeology of the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, AZ, and acted as its director from 1961 to 1966. On his retirement from the U.S.G.S. in 1993, Shoemaker became a staff member at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
An early supporter of the idea that an asteroid or comet impact had doomed much of Earth's life (including the dinosaurs) 65 million years ago, Shoemaker chaired key NASA working groups on how best to survey such near-Earth objects in 1981 and 1994. Most recently, he was active in the Clementine mission that imaged the Moon, and was science team leader on the planned Clementine 2 mission. Shoemaker became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1980.
Attention: All those who are on-line!
If your email address changes, please be sure to let Linda Sensenig know so your correct address appears in the directory. If there are any members who recently went on-line, and you want to be included in the e-mail directory, please contact Linda (firstname.lastname@example.org.).
The American Association of Amateur Astronomers, an Astronomical League society, in conjunction with Sky & Telescope magazine, is pleased to announce a new, free service for Astronomical League clubs and their members. S&T's weekly news bulletins "Skyline" and "Sky at a Glance" are now available via e-mail. If you would like these bulletins delivered to your doorstep on a weekly basis, simply send an e-mail to: email@example.com and put the word "join" on the first line of the body of the message."
By Dave Brown
66th Annual Stellafane
Telescope Makers Convention
Stellafane, held in Springfield, Vermont, is the granddaddy of all amateur gatherings. Poor observing weather hampered viewing the dark mountain skies this year, but being there with Dan Davidson, Lloyd Adam, (and yeah, I gotta mention Paul Becker, too) along with their creations made for one special '97 Stellafane.
Unless you've been under a rock lately, you've heard that Dan's completely homemade 6 inch telescope won 3rd place accolades for craftsmanship amid steep competition from entries brought in from all aver the east coast and Canada. Biggest disappointment of the weekend came when the optical competition was canceled due to the weather, when it was clear to me that's Dan's scope had a legitimate shot at winning the gold. The limiting magnification of a 6 inch under excellent seeing is 360 power, and I have seen Saturn in that "Little Scope That Could" tack sharp at 510 X !
Overshadowed by Dan's was Lloyd's binocular chair he created. Albeit not a true astronomy device, his creation eliminates the neck breaking problem of trying to look straight up into the sky by not only holding the binoculars for you, but supporting the observer in all the comforts of your favorite recliner! All that could possibly be added would be a cup holder for your favorite brewski to match the holder for the CD player for your favorite tunes! That chair didn't win awards. but certainly was the most talked about, sat in, and drooled over article of the Stellafane weekend.
The weekend was also enjoyable bumping into all the LVASS, DVAA, and Harrisburg members that were there, even though Dave Mitski of Harrisburg was repeatedly heard spreading nasty rumors about me all weekend. Revenge can be sweet though, as the following Friday night I attended Harrisburg's event "S 4", short for Susquehanna Summer Star Spectacular.
Mid week, I e-mailed their president, warning him that I would come on Friday evening, and informing him of Mitski's shenanigans. He returned my mail with news that on the airport runway that S4 is held, for a $10 fee I could have the chance to drop water balloons on Mitski as he is staked to the field! Tempting as that was, there was no need, for Friday night was very clear and transparent and the big Dob and I gave them the best views of the "M" objects that most ever had, and stunning them with NGC 6888, the Crescent Nebula in Cygnus. With a surface brightness of mag 14, it's not for the faint of heart or small of scope! No rantings of Mitski could mar the reputation of the Starsplitter or me for the remainder of the weekend!
I encourage you to consider a trip to one of these events, it's a great way to meet other folks in the hobby and look through a scope you may be dreaming of in the future.
Sorry, my scope is spoken for, so keep dreaming. Till later…Dave
Star Party Notes:
Great times can be had by any amateur astronomer regardless of the weather if you attend one (or in my case all) of the organized star parties in the area.
Mason Dixon star watch outside of York, PA is in it's 7th year of gathering a warm group of people together. This year, although held the first week of June, the weather was more like March, with rain and 40 degrees temperature, (Where's El Nino when you need it!) But a little foul weather was easily tolerated anticipating the appearance of John Dobson.
The man whose name is synonymous with easy-to-use telescope mounts gave an enrapturing lecture Saturday night on his theories of why and how the universe evolved. Of course, being in his 80's and having spent most of that time traveling through different thought processes than everyone else, he quickly and decisively sliced up all the ideas of the many scientists from the Goddard Space Flight Center in attendance, and threw them all in the trash! He has structured convincing theories from Einstein's formulas, (that he says everyone else misinterpreted) and presents them in terms that any layman can understand. My son Dan was glued to his words for the entire 3 hours, and repeatedly said his ideas were "soo cool!"
Take whatever chance you get to hear Mr. Dobson speak — it will give you food for thought for a long time to come!
Our Trip to Visit
by Candi Simmons
This past spring, Kevin & I joined LAS. It wasn't that we didn't like the company that we were keeping. It is just that our cabin on White Deer Lake is located across the way from their Observatory. We figured that if we joined, we just might manage to get to an observing event, since all of BCAAS's are clouded out.
While on vacation, we discovered that they were due for a monthly meeting. We figured it would be worth it for us to visit (spy) and find out a bit more about their club. We were invited to observe with them the first evening that we met.
They are a great bunch of people and were friendly and warm during our visit. While their group has about the same number of members as ours, they do seem to have a slightly smaller turnout at meetings. However, they exhibit the same sense of friendliness, enthusiasm and slightly bent humor that seems so common in our group. The thing that makes the LAS group so potentially interesting is their club structure. While the group is completely independent, even of the Astronomical League, they have affiliated themselves with Keystone Junior College. The college owns the observing area at White Deer Lake. The college built a dome and housed a telescope in it. In addition, they have a very nice education facility, with computer, phone and all the amenities, like potties and water coolers. LAS also has a free standing "roll off roof " observing building. The college provides the utilities, insurance and general upkeep. In return, LAS members help with grounds keeping and offer their services for public and college star events.
While we were struggling to hold our Hale Bopp events, jumping from venue to venue, they had a session every Wednesday evening, with 70% being clear. They had approximately 150 to 200 viewers for each of those evenings. There is definitely something to be said for the club having a permanent facility.
Several years ago, Kevin & I invited BCAAS members to our cabin, for a day of fun and a visit to LAS's facility. We were, as usual, rained out. However, we have since talked to Vice President John Sabia and have discussed the possibility of holding a joint star watch, with a program as a back up in case of rain. Perhaps now, as we consider our options, would be a good time to pursue this event. I promise that I'll be good and make the phone call, if someone comes up with a program for the evening.
Star Party Successful
by Candi Simmons
Dave Brown's impromptu club Star Party actually managed to coincide with a "home" weekend for Kevin & me. After we spent an entire day grinding and sweating in our garden, we were ready for some fun! From past experience, we know that there is no better place to go for fun than a BCAAS event. We packed the kids, the scope, the snacks and drinks, and headed out for French Creek about 7:45. We were, of course — as befits my Pa. German ancestry — the first ones there. It didn't take us long to settle in. The kids ran off to play and we set up. The scope was collimated and the Telrad was actually aligned. The kids came back, ate most of the food and then departed again, while I actually looked at star charts. Yes, gang, I have a goal. It is my desire to learn more constellations than John Dethoff. I set out to memorize those that I thought we mighty see. We had some hazy patches, but by the time Mike Bashore rolled in, things were looking pretty good.
The moon was gorgeous. It is not true that we held Mike down and did not let him work on his lunar certificate. In truth, Mike forgot his paper! It was odd for a group of hard core dark sky people to gawk at the moon, doing a chorus of oohs and aahs, but we did. The terminator was creased and pockmarked with impacts sites. Their vivid impression serves as a reminder of how fragile the thread of life is here, and how easily a minuscule part of space could destroy everything we cherish. It was possible the most beautiful and sobering moment of the evening.
It didn't take long for us to lighten up again. Dave Brown, George Babel and several other people that I had trouble identifying in the dark rolled in and set up their gear. I identified Lloyd Adam, by the cougar call and the fact that he had brought his toy along for my children.
Now, I have a confession to make. I actually spent a lot of time at the scope. I studied the star charts, and then worked on memorizing constellations. I did visit Dave's scope several times, but I really was a very good girl. I managed to find NGC 6543, in Draco, after a long period of frustration. I found the Dumbell, (no, I don't mean Kevin! I mean the nebula!) myself with only the chart. For a change, Dave didn't have to show me where it was. I worked diligently from chart to sky to scope, looking into the heavens. There was a sprinkling of meteors and satellites, to keep viewing lively. I passed Dave's quiz, recognizing the Omega nebula, by sight. In fact, I was pretty engrossed.
It was almost heaven. It was peaceful, and cool. The moon glare cut down on the most serious deep sky stuff, but there was lots to see. When we finally get to go out like that, it is a gift from God. We had clear skies, good friends and the heavens. I don't think one could ask for more.
BCAAS Own Creative Geniuses
Ever since the time of Galileo, Sky Watchers have been fabricating instruments with which to view the heavens. Although crude by today's standards, the first telescopes were considered marvels of their time. Unfortunately the materials used to construct these instruments were not readily available.
Today however, it's quite a different story. Manufacturers offer telescopes in a wide array of shapes and sizes not to mention various stages of assembly. For the amateur astronomer part of the lure of stargazing comes from crafting a telescope with one's own hand.
Two such amateur astronomers, BCAAS's own, are Dan Davidson and Lloyd Adam. Both are avid stargazers and deep sky connoisseurs who have created their own instruments.
Dan's instrument is a six inch reflector draped in Pearl White and cradled in Mahogany stained birch plywood. The tube is fully baffled and lined with crushed velvet. Balance is achieved by loosening a lock knob and sliding the tube front or back to compensate for the heavier eyepieces. Focusing is quick and easy thanks to the JMI Mini Crayford focuser, and the Ebony Star bearings provide silky smooth motion in both alzimuth and azimuth direction. A focal length of f/9.2 makes this Dobsonian mounted beauty an excellent performer on planets as well as a great lunar scope. Dan put three years of work into his project and now proudly adds to his credit, a third place award in craftsmanship and another third place in mechanical design from the Stellafane star party in Vermont. Dan estimates the cost of construction to be around $350. Future plans include a sixteen inch reflector.
For Lloyd it was a different approach for a common item. By mounting a pair of 14x70 binoculars to a movable altzimuth arm coupled to a rigid pipe frame, which also serves as a seat and rides atop a 36" wood base, he created the ultimate binocular chair. Fully adjustable in just about every way, this chair is very user friendly as well as comfortable. A slight push with the foot sends you spinning in any direction and the swing arm (on which the binocs are mounted) pulls down for viewing or up and out of the way for those meteor moments. Add on's include, a Kendrick Dew Remover for the binoculars and a portable cassette player for that total stellar experience. Lloyd says the chair was both fun and challenging to build and took about two years to create. The total cost was difficult to approximate due to several failures along the way, but did not exceed $300. Future plans include a six inch dob for his son, Christopher.
In all, both instruments are a true testament to just some of the local talent possessed by our club. Nice work guys!
Still Clustered After All These Years…
A Newsnote in the September issue of Sky and Telescope has revealed the rather shy and reticent open cluster, Berkeley 17, in Auriga, as an old stellar conglomerate. Much older than the Baby Boom Generation (of which I'm a fringe member), it is in fact 10 to 13 billion years old. This makes the Berkely 17 cluster a Big Bang Baby star cluster, kin to the globular cluster generation, and perhaps predating Mama Milky Way herself.
My observing log (which doesn't go back quite that far) gives this description of Berkeley 17 as viewed with an 8 inch reflector under urban skies: "30' in diameter, twenty-five stars, 10th magnitude and fainter in 'U' shape open to the southwest. Residing in the center of the 'U' is a concentration of stars, including a magnitude 10 and 12 double at 15" separation, P.A. 90°. Cluster is not well detached from the field. 68X"
Not a striking cluster of showpiece visual impact, but never the less it has its attractions worth seeking out at 05h 20.6m; +30°36'. Maturity, after all, has its own alluring aspects of grace and distinguished beauty. In star clusters, telescopes, and sky watchers…
the fringed, frayed, and getting gray, Randy Poole
Through A Child's Eye
By Tom Boussum
Ah, to be able to view the world through the eyes of a child again! Now that I have just passed the 21st anniversary of my 39th birthday I have something I would like to share with you.
Ever since the last Hawk Mountain Star Watch, at which I introduced my granddaughter, Ashley Liptok, to the wonderful world of amateur astronomy, she had been anticipating the 1997 event. From late spring through summer of this year she asked me, "Pop-Pop, when will we go to the mountain to see the stars?"
Finally, with about two weeks to go and the event having a position in finite time for her, her questions began to get more insistent. Six year olds are not known for their patience, and to a little one time seems to pass V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y, indeed. Ashley is no exception to that rule.
Ashley remembered Dave Brown's big Dob from the previous Star Watch and asked me if Dave would be bringing his "big telescope" to the Star Watch. I assured her that Dave would "probably" be there.
When sunset turned to night and Dave had not yet arrived, she was disappointed. I told her that it was possible that Dave had other things to do, but that was definitely not what she wanted to hear. The little girl was disconsolate. She wanted to look through Dave's scope.
At some time I must have mentioned about the trailer that Dave uses to haul his telescope, because suddenly Ashley exclaimed, "Pop-Pop, here comes Dave! I can see the trailer!" I looked in the direction of the road and saw she was right.
Then she (patiently?) awaited setup and colimation procedures and finally got her chance at the eyepiece. Dave had the ring nebula centered in the telescope. As Ashley ascended the ladder he told her that she would be looking at something that looked like a "crushed marshmallow."
After Ashley's look at the ring nebula, she told me how Dave described it. Later that evening, as Cygnus dragged the arm of the Milky Way overhead, I pointed out the galaxy's pattern tracing from north to south through the sky. I also informed her that we are a part of that feature and told her a little bit about the relationship of planets, stars, and galaxies.
When Ashley got home Saturday night she explained her experiences to my daughter, Chris, telling her, "I saw a crushed marshmallow and the candy bar."
I am aware of many of the attractions that astronomy has, but I never really considered it as a hobby for someone with a sweet tooth.
Mythology of the Night Sky - Aquarius
By Linda Sensenig
As a constellation of the Zodiac, Aquarius is one of the most ancient constellations. All the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia associated this grouping of stars with water, as did the early Arabians. When the medieval Christians decided to Christianize the constellations, they even associated the constellation with water. Some called the constellation John the Baptist, while some called it Naaman in the Jordan River (Naaman was a Syrian army officer who Elisha cured of leprosy by asking him to bathe in the Jordan — don't laugh, it worked!) Even the early Anglo-Saxons called it the Water-pourer; not long after them, the English translator John of Trevisa, described it as such:
"The Sygne Aquarius is the butlere of the goddes and yevyth them a water-potte." (I know it looks weird, but that's how they wrote English 700 years ago!)
I particularly like the Babylonian view of this constellation. They associated it with their eleventh month, called Shabatu (meaning, Curse of Water) because the sun entered this constellation in January/February which happened to be the rainy season. However in some Babylonian writings, it is implied that even the more-ancient Akkadians associated this constellation with the annual flooding of the Nile, 15,000 years ago! When I called this constellation ancient, I wasn't kidding!
It's interesting to note that in the same part of the sky, you can find Cetus, Delphinus, Eridanus, Hydra and Pisces — all constellations that portray either water or water creatures. The ancient people saw Eridani the River, and frolicking in this river were fish, dolphin and sea monsters, with a boy (Aquarius) kneeling on the shore filling his water jar! When we look at that part of the sky, we insist on only seeing stars!
Special Events and Star Watches
Saturday - Sunday, September 27 & 28th. - Discover Your Museum Days! This was such a successful venture last year that the Museum requested us to hold-over to Sunday! This year we're planning to be there for the entire two-day event, when the Museum opens its doors to everybody, with exhibits from all the local science and hobby clubs, special gallery exhibits, games and challenges for kids, young and old. Our Solar System Challenge was a hit. Whole families played the game to line up the planets in correct order from the sun. BCAAS awarded over 85 certificates of completion, and many asked to come and play the game again! Priscilla will be heading up Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and needs five volunteers, as well as someone to head up Sunday's activities, 12 noon until 5 p.m. She plans to add a Constellation Challenge to our booth, so we will be very, very busy. "It was the most rewarding event I've ever done as a BCAAS member," says Priscilla.
Friday - Sunday, October 3, 4, 5 - Stella-Della Valley, Camp Onas, Ottsville, PA - This will be the eleventh annual star weekend sponsored by the Bucks - Mont Astronomical Association. It is held at a very good dark sky location in upper Bucks County, northeast of Philadelphia. It features observing with all kinds of telescopes, presentations & seminars, astronomical flea market / swap meet, feature speaker (Sat. eve), door prizes, tent / RV camping, bathroom facilities (hot water), indoor accommodations and meals. For more information call (215) 579-9973.
October 9th - Opposition of Saturn - Saturn's best position for our earthly observations. It will be visible from sunset until sunrise the next morning! A great opportunity for our astrophotographers to grab the golden rings!
Saturday, October 25th at dusk - Heritage Center - Our second annual fall observing session with the public at the Heritage Center, off of North Rt. 183. The Berks County Department of Parks & Recreation will be advertising this, in addition to the write-up in their yearly activity booklet which was distributed to hundreds of Berks Countians earlier in the year. Last year we met the most interested and enthusiastic people of all of our public star watches. The director of activities said she is getting calls from people already! Be there with your scopes & binoculars, or, just be there! This one is really fun.
Saturday, November 8th - Boscov's Astronomy Day (raindate November 9th, Sunday) We were asked if we would "mind" (are you kidding?) Boscov's sponsoring a store-wide event, with newspaper advertising, posters etc., and…an outside food tent near our telescope garden. You know…Moon Dogs, Celestial Burgers, etc., with the proceeds going to BCAAS! Much must be discussed and planned. Be sure to reserve this date on your calendar for "The Big One!"
Pegasus is a bimonthly publication of the Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society. Editor/Desktop Publisher: John Dethoff. Regular contributors: Priscilla Andrews, Linda Sensenig & Dave Brown. E-mail submissions may be made to: firstname.lastname@example.org