Pegasus Logo


Volume XXV Number IV

November/December 1997

Meeting Highlights

Thursday Nov. 13

7:30 at the Reading Public Museum - One of our members has been keeping a very wonderful secret! Keith Minnich has been quietly compiling an incredible library of up-to-the-minute slide sets, from the Galileo, Viking & Magellan missions to the latest Hubble Space Telescope photographs! Tonight, in order to demonstrate the awesome variety of these visual aids, Keith has compiled a slide show of Our Universe. Starting with our local neighbors, the Moon and Planets, Keith will take us on an ever-expanding trip through the Cosmos, passing the comet belt, nebula and star clusters in our local arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, and on to distant galaxies at the edge of our known Universe! Keith has offered access to these slides to any member-in-good standing who wishes to present an astronomy program to any community group or school! Come see our universe, which is ours for the asking!

Thursday Dec. 11

7:30 at the Reading Public Museum - A special holiday meeting, jam-packed with important decisions, fun and frivolity! Come vote on the ratification of our new by-laws and the officers for 1998! As always, we will have a potluck smorgasbord, so bring your favorite salad, dessert, snack or entree! Come hungry! (If you can't bring food, come anyway!) And, as has been our tradition of late, the wacky! award ceremony! Those members who have distinguished themselves (or embarrassed us) will be receiving their just desserts. Members are encouraged to create and present their own awards. Please don't miss this evening of fellowship!

Thursday Dec. 25

Deadline: January/February Pegasus

From the President’s Desk by Priscilla Andrews

"State of the Society" Message

After so much thinking & planning over the last three years, it is hard to believe I am writing my last Pegasus as the President of BCAAS.

My personal goals as "helmswoman" of the BCAAS were threefold: 1. To encourage the growth and stature of the society into a more useful and influential organization within the community 2. To provide an open atmosphere within the club to stimulate the talents, (sometimes hidden or unknown), of the members, in order to fulfill our potential as a society, and 3. To establish a stable structure to our society, complete with a more viable treasury.

With the loyal and enthusiastic support of our members, I feel all of these goals have been realized! Consider the following:

I would like to think that at least some of these successes have sprung from my encouragement to be the best we can be.

What more could I have possibly asked of you? Well…There is one thing…I have been dreaming of the day when all of us, every name on that membership mailing list, would stand together in one room. All at the same time. To meet and greet each other, new face to new face, to profess our common interest, and to revel in our success as a society. To dream together of our future plans. To enjoy our company and create a momentous evening of fellowship.

We have a special opportunity to do just that! May I ask to see you, all of you, at our December holiday party. (call it my going away present).

This event promises to be one not to miss! First, the ratification of our revised by-laws, Second, the elections which will decide our future direction. And Third, a fun & carefree after-business evening of relaxation and entertainment, (and did I mention a sumptuous buffet?) Make an ol' girl happy. Come on out!

A Thousand Thanks!

A thousand thanks go to Sandy Prutzman for taking the initiative at her work place, Lucent Technology, to apply for grant money! Lucent particularly liked the fact that we participate in the Reading/Berks Science Fair, and work with the Museum so closely. They liked it so much, in fact, that we have received a $1,000 grant from Lucent Technology to be ear-marked for community & school outreach programs! We've already put some of this windfall to good use, in printing the hundreds of brochures and certificates that we gave out at the Discover Your Museum weekend. Way to go, Sandy!

Upcoming programs

The new President will be happy to know that several programs are already on the docket for 1998! Discover Your Museum Days...Astounding! Neither Mike Feyers, Science Curator at the Reading Public Museum, nor I, could have forecast the incredible community response to this years DYM days, this year held September 27th and 28th. In spite of the major overhauling of the museum building, and the fact that the only entrance to the event was through the back door, Mike estimates that over 2,000 people came to share the displays and programs offered by the museum and its affiliate science clubs!

This year, an expanded version of our interactive family "challenges" attracted over 450 participants, mostly children, who received an "official" BCAAS certificate for successfully completing either the Solar System Challenge or the Constellation Challenge, or both!

Many thanks go out to Sandy & Jack Prutzman, Linda & Clarence Sensenig, Betty Perry, Paul Becker, Dan Davidson, Dave & Dan Brown, Mike Stump, Keith Minnich, Carol Cocozza, and Barry Buchert for keeping Priscilla from losing her mind in the frenzy of the event!

This is one of the most important events that we, as a science society, can offer. First, our challenges reach the children, the future of the science of astronomy! And secondly, we know that the parents who would bring their children to this type of event, are already science-minded, and will value the contributions we are making to their child, hopefully enough to continue to encourage them to study science.

Next year, when the Pegasus calls for volunteers, be one of them! We need all the help we can get!

The Best Laid Plans...

Heritage Center -Not every event can be perfect, no matter how thoroughly we prepare, or how hard we wish! Our second annual fall Heritage Center public star watch was disappointingly a cloud-out! :-(( Long anticipated, the Berks County Parks & Recreation Department were taking calls from eager people starting several weeks ago! As we had no raindate planned, many were disappointed! Next year, let's plan for an alternate day!

Boscov's - Unfortunately, our great heralded Astronomy Day at Boscov’s has been canceled by the chain manager! Seems that November 1st was suddenly chosen as the "cut-off" day for community displays, so that every nook & cranny can be used for holiday merchandise. Apparently, no notice was given the public relations director of Boscov's North, and even less notice was given to BCAAS.

We will be discussing our relationship with Boscov's at the November meeting, and deciding if we wish to continue with our plans for our winter Campus of Courses, sponsored by Boscov's. Many comments were overheard last winter regarding holding our own course this winter. We must decide if the great publicity afforded us by Boscov's could possibly be matched by our own efforts to promote the course. Come to the November meeting with ideas and comments.

Slate of Officers for BCAAS

President: George Babel, Barry Shupp
Vice President: Dave Brown, Bob Capone, Keith Minnich
Treasurer: Linda Sensenig
Secretary: Candi Simmons.

Please note that nominations are still open and should be directed to Candi Simmons. Also, biographical information will be handed out at the next two meetings, to help selection. Thanks!

Subscription Renewal: Astronomy

After most members renewed their subscription to Astronomy Magazine, a notice was received from Kalmbach Publishing that the the price was raised from $20.00 to $24.00. Fortunately, the notice was received before Linda sent the check - so your renewals will not be held up.

However, this means that you now owe the club an additional $4.00. You can either pay Linda the $4.00 at the next meeting, or add $4.00 to your dues renewal.

By-Laws of the Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society

Article I General Purposes

Section l. The purposes of the society are to promote the science of astronomy; to encourage and coordinate the activities of the members; to correlate amateur activities with professional research; and to introduce and educate the public and the members to the splendors of the night sky.

Article II Membership

Section l. Any person with a sincere interest in astronomy may be admitted to membership. A member may be dropped from membership by a 2/3 vote of quorum present after a show of due cause.

Section 2. Membership shall be of five classes: Individual, junior, family, and honorary, and special lifetime. Special Lifetime memberships may be awarded at the discretion of the Board, and with a majority membership vote at a regular monthly meeting, for meritorious contributions, financial and otherwise, to the success and future of the BCAAS.

Section 3. Individual members shall be persons interested in astronomy who are sixteen years of age or older, who shall pay an annual fee of twenty dollars.

Section 4. Junior members shall be persons interested in astronomy under sixteen years of age, who shall pay an annual fee of fifteen dollars.

Section 5. A family membership shall be for more than one member of a family. The family shall pay an annual fee of twenty-five dollars.

Section 6. Honorary members in the club shall have the same privileges as individual members, except that there shall be no payment of dues.

Section 7. Annual dues shall be payable at the January meeting. Pro-rating of dues shall be determined by the Treasurer. If the renewal dues are not received by the end of January, there will be a $2.50 late fee added.

Article III Meetings

Section 1. Regular meetings shall be conducted on the second Thursday of each month for members and their guests.

Section 2. Special meetings may be called at any time by the President, or by the majority vote of the members present at any meeting. Notice of special meetings, stating time, date, place, and purpose thereof, shall be given to each member in good standing not less than ten days before such a meeting.

Section 3. At any meeting of the members, 2/3 of the membership present shall be a quorum for all purposes except the removal of an officer.

Section 4. Each member over the age of 14 shall be entitled to one vote for each question being decided. Questions shall be decided by a majority of the vote of a quorum.

Article IV Officers

Section 1. The officers of this club shall consist of a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. All candidates shall be selected from the regular membership in good standing.

Section 2. The officers of the club shall be elected for a term of one year. Any officer shall be eligible to succeed himself / herself.

Section 3. An election committee shall be established by the Board of Directors each year at the August meeting and shall solicit nominations for the four electable offices during the months of September and October. A slate of officers will be presented at the November meeting. Elections will occur in December. Voting will be by secret ballot.

Section 4. Officers may be removed from office by a 2/3 majority vote of membership.

Article V Duties of Officers

Section 1. President: The President shall preside at all meetings, call special Meetings if required, temporarily fill vacancies, appoint committees not otherwise provided for, as well as perform all other duties normally required by the office of president.

Section 2. Vice-President. The Vice President shall preside in the absence, or ability, of the President. If the Vice President is unable to preside, any of the other officers could preside instead.

Section 3. Secretary. The Secretary shall keep the minutes of the meeting.

Section 4. Treasurer. The Treasurer shall keep an accurate account of all financial transactions of the organization; receive money from members, account for and bank receipts properly, keep the books in order, and maintain an up-to-date roster of members. The Treasurer shall also coordinate the subscription service

Article VI Board of Directors

Section 1. A Board of Directors will be established. These directors shall meet at times other than the regular meeting and shall discuss relevant club business and shall note and make decisions concerning club business. Major decisions will be voted upon by the membership at a regular meeting.

Section 2. The Board will consist of the four elected officers; President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. These officers will preside over the Board and will perform their functions as at a regular meeting. The Board will also consist of all heads of committees.

Section 3. The established directors of committees are as follows:

Section 4. Other committees should be established by the Board to further club functions. The Chairperson of these committees will also be a member of the Board.

Section 5. The Board meetings will be open to the general membership.

Article VII Amendments

Section 1. These by-laws may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the members present at any regular meeting provided that the proposed amendment was printed in a bulletin or notice and sent to the members one month prior to the meeting at which the action is to be taken.

The following mail was received from the publisher of The Journal for Planning and Care:

"I am interested in stories from amateur astronomers on cross generational ties. You are welcome to send your stories to me about how astronomy has helped build a relationship among parents, grandparents and children. Also building of extended families. A copy can be sent to you at your request. I can be contacted at:
The Journal for Planning & Care (JPC)
East Cottage Associates
279 River Street - Suite 403
Troy, NY 12180
Phone: 518-270-9154

signed J. Cassidy."

New Dues Approved - Pay Early & Save!

Our vote at the October general meeting resulted in a one-shy-of-unanimous approval of increasing our yearly dues by $5.00. Further discussion of the proposed idea to increase the dues $7.50 with a $2.50 "discount" for paying before January 31st revealed that many of our members were uneasy with that wording. It was felt to be a "left-handed" way of saying a $5.00 dues increase. The new wording, "$5.00 increase in yearly dues, with a $2.50 late-fee if not paid before January 31st" was approved by a large majority.

Therefore, our new dues for 1998 are: Individual membership - $20.00, with Family memberships - $25.00 and Junior memberships - $15.00. We hope all of our members will be comfortable with this modest increase. We also hope that everyone will not procrastinate when he/she receives the new dues statement with the January Pegasus! Our hope is to encourage timely payment, not to discourage renewing membership.

But, because our by-laws must be ratified by the general membership in order for the new dues increase to take effect, anyone paying before our December vote for ratification of the by-laws can renew for 1998 under our current dues structure of Individual - $15.00, and Family - $20.00 and Junior - $10.00. If you joined during the course of last year, and wish to pay before our December by-law vote, call Linda Sensenig at 610-375-9062 or email her here, and she will tell you your pro-rated dues total.

Pay early and save!

Recollections: First Light

Shortly after Sylvia and I were married in 1966, I had to take a business trip to Moorehead City, NC. When I returned home she informed me about a great auction that the Boyertown Jaycees held while I was away. I made a mental note and attended the shindig the following year.

The auction was held on a parking lot about one block from our apartment on Philadelphia Avenue in Boyertown. The day of the event dawned clear and beautiful. Sylvia was then seven months pregnant with our son, Tom, and we were specifically looking for things to enhance the lives of a growing family.

When we got to the parking lot there was a three inch Newtonian reflector lying there in pieces. I told Sylvia, "I'm taking that along home with us." I had wanted a telescope since junior high school days, but never could quite swing the purchase of one. This looked like the scope of my future.

After we bought a baby carriage, a Speed Queen wringer washer, and a few other things, the telescope finally came up for bidding. I started the bid at $0.50. One other bidder was along for the ride until he got to $3.75 at which point he bailed out. The bid increment has been $0.25, so I took the scope away for the (princely?) sum of $4.

When I got to the apartment and had time to sort out the pieces, I found that the scope had a German equatorial mount, a slide-tube eyepiece, no finder and was, by my calculation, an f/11 3" Newtonian. I could not wait for the sun to set that afternoon.

Our landlord had given us permission to use a portion of the roof for whatever. So shortly after sunset I carried my new acquisition to the roof and set it up. Relative to my use of the telescope "first light" was the evening star of that night, Venus. Without a finder I had to sight along the tube and quickly, but carefully, move my eye up to the eyepiece. I rather quickly determined that the first thing I had to do was get a decent finder scope installed on my telescope.

As the night grew darker, I moved to different, and for the most part unknown, parts of the sky doing my "ooohs" and "aaahs" as each new object came into view. It wasn't until about 4 a.m. that the "Boussum Observatory" shut down, and I put the telescope away.

During the next few months, I purchased books about astronomy and began to learn something about the things I was seeing. During that time I saw the Pleiades through the telescope for the first time and did my "ooohs" and "aaahs" all over again. In my opinion there is nothing quite as beautiful as the Pleiades within the grasp of a small telescope. They look like diamonds set on black velvet (my description).

After about two months of use, Sylvia and I drove down to Edmund Scientific in Barrington, NJ to purchase a finder. At that time I also bought a standard 1-1/4" eyepiece holder with a zoom eyepiece that I have used with the telescope ever since.

But nothing else I have ever done in astronomy could match the moment when I first observed Venus, the "first light" of my humble little 3" Newtonian. The "Goddess of Love" was my first sight through a real astronomical telescope, and I was just so happy to be able to see her reflected in my mirror.

Good seeing,
Tom Boussum

P.S. Check out the following Stardate website. The URL is

Mythology of the Night Sky - Delphinus
By Linda Sensenig

Leaping out of the celestial waterworld (see last month's story) this month is Delphinus, the Dolphin. It is now one of the smallest constellations, however it originally may have included the stars that now form the constellation Equuleus, the Horse. Most astronomical literature refers to this grouping of stars as a dolphin — or a similar marine creature. In Greece it was also called the Sacred Fish. The creature being of as much religious significance to the Greeks as the fish was afterwards among the early Christians. (You and I both know that a dolphin is not a fish anymore than a whale is a fish, but the ancient Greeks didn't know that — if it lived in the water, it had to be a fish.)

The Roman Ovid personified the constellation as Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea, because the dolphin induced her to become the wife of Neptune, and for this service, was raised from the seas to be the glory of the stars. The Hindus even called these stars The Porpoise.

The Arabs had to be different (at least some of them). The Arabic name for this constellation means the Riding Camel. Of course, living in the desert, they saw precious few dolphins. (Oddly enough, the Arabian astronomers, who also never saw a dolphin, still called the constellation Dolphin. There must be a good story behind that somewhere.) The early Christian sects of Melkite and Nestorian considered this constellation to be the Cross of Jesus transferred to the skies after his crucifixion.

You can locate Delphinus east of Aquila on the edge of the Milky Way.

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:





Home Page Club Calendar Pegasus Planets
Links Minutes Members Mythology