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Saguaro Astronomy
Club, Phoenix, AZ
Volume 38, Issue 8
August 2014
The President’s Corner
While we won't get the chance
to do much observing for at least a
few more weeks, courtesy of our
summer clouds, this is a good time
to catch up on tasks which may
have been put aside when the sky
was clear. You might organize your
notes, repair, modify or upgrade
your equipment, or perhaps start
planning an observing program for
the coming fall and winter. An
activity that I've found worthwhile
involves a review of my past
observing sessions with an eye
toward addressing any annoyances
or other issues which interfere with
my time at a dark site. Given the
distance we have to travel to get
out from under the light dome, and
the relative scarcity of clear nights
(particularly for those of us on a
regular work schedule), putting
some effort and maybe a little bit of
optimizing observing time can be a
very worthwhile investment.
Inside this issue:
* Click Links to jump
If you've got any inventions or
have developed any techniques
which may benefit the rest of us,
why not take a few pictures and put
yourself on the presentation list at
an upcoming meeting. Even little
things, such as the ingenious torque
measurement device that Paul Lind
showed us last year, are worth
sharing. Or, perhaps you have
images or results from a prior
observing project which we haven't
seen yet. That sort of thing is
always welcome as well.
Our next meeting is the 8th. In
our usual room, one would hope,
though the way they've been
tearing into Fleming Hall, it may be
necessary to innovate again. I guess
we'll see when we get there.
Editor Notes/Events 2
& Spaceflight Trivia
(Rick Rotramel)
Last Call-M27, M57, 3
Cepheus & NGC3172
(AJ Crayon)
with Sketchbook (Rick Rotramel)
Call for Observations 7
(AJ Crayon)
(Four ads)
Bits and Pisces:
Mtg. Minutes/July Spkr.
30 & 25 Years Ago in SAC 11
SAC Outreach:
Grand Canyon Star Party
2014, North Rim
-- Mike --
(Tom Polakis/Jennifer Polakis)
(Steve Dodder, Coordinator)
SAC Officers/Chairs 16
(Meeting Location & Occultation Info)
mail to:[email protected]
SAC is on Facebook
SAC Membership Form 17
Quick Calendar
Friday, August 8: SAC General Meeting, 7:30 PM; Speaker, Dr. Ted Dunham,
Astronomer and Deputy Director at Lowell Observatory; Topic: “Exoplanet Transit
Photometry with the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, (SOFIA)”
Tuesday, September 2: SAC ATM/Imaging Meeting, 6:00 PM; @ Paul Lind's Shop
Friday, September 5: SAC General Meeting, 7:30 PM; Speaker, TBA; Topic, TBA
Saturday, September 13: Mt. Graham Field Trip #3 from Discovery Park, Safford,
Arizona; RSVP: Contact Jennifer Polakis, mail to:[email protected]; For more information:
click on the link:,1
Saturday, October 4: Thunderbird Park Fall Starwatch, 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM,
Sunset , 6:09 pm. Moon past 1st Qtr, Visible will be Mars, Saturn, and Neptune.
Header image © Steve Coe
The Milky Way over the pine trees
of Happy Jack in northern Arizona.
© Saguaro Astronomy Club, 2014
Saguaro Skies
Page 2
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Editor Notes
Schedule of Events 2014
Hi Folks,
We are now in the dog days of the
monsoon in the month of August. So sit down
and partake in this month's issue of Saguaro
Last Call returns this month with some fine
objects to put on your observing list. Our SAC
observers take you through their notes (and
sketches) of all of these on AJ's Call for
Observations list for this month.
Read Bits & Pisces for the low down on the
last SAC meeting and of them in the past.
In the SAC Outreach feature, coordinator
Steve Dodder wrote a fine report on the
happenings of this year's Grand Canyon Star
Party, North Rim event. I have included some
fine astro images taken by Jon Webb, a GCSP,
NR volunteer. Also, another volunteer, Chris
Hanrahan contributed several photos from the
group campsite and one of himself at work
showing the majesty of our sun, taken by
another volunteer, Alan Strauss. This photo is
the essence of astronomy outreach.
August 8, 2014
September 5, 2014
October 10, 2014
November 7, 2014
December 6, 2014 (Holiday Party)
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
@ Paul Lind’s workshop, mail to:[email protected]
Mt. Graham Observatory
September 13, 2014
Details: See Page 1 Calendar
SAC Outreach
Thunderbird Park Fall Starwatch
Sat. Oct. 4, 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Sunset , 6:09 pm. Moon past 1st Qtr. Visible will be Mars, Saturn, and Neptune
Rick Rotramel, Editor
SAC Announcements
Spaceflight Trivia
Can you name the mission involved in this
picture below? (See answer on page 7)
SAC Treasurer Dwight Bogan, reminds that your dues
for 2014 is due now. You may use the order form in
this newsletter or bring your dues to the next SAC
Job Opening at Mt. Lemmon!
The Catalina Sky Survey has just posted a new job
opening. I'm betting that a lot of you would qualify for
the job. See the qualifications at:
Get your resumes in as soon as possible!
-Rik Hill
Saguaro Skies
Page 3
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Last Call-M27, M57, Cepheus & NGC3172
By AJ Crayon
For August we spend time of first two objects that
are well known by all of us. Two bright beautiful
planetary nebulae. After that we are off to Ursa Minor
and Cepheus. I hope you enjoy the observations.
20” f5 Dobsonian, 180X, Ken Reeves: Very very
bright, little large, slightly elongated E/W. Fainter in the
middle. Central star seen. Star just to the ESE.
The first two are the famous M27 and M57
planetary nebulae in Vulpecula and Lyra. So here is the
first, M27, the Dumbbell, a well known planetary
nebula. Its 480’X340’ easily qualifies it for very large
and 11th magnitude is sufficient for very bright. It is
also double lobed forming a dumbbell or apple core. I
prefer the more popular dumbbell.
8X50 finder, AJ Crayon:
Small, round and bright.
8" f6, Newtonian, 135X,
AJ Crayon: (This is an observation from early in my
career) Dark patch down center, many stars in area (and
one of my last ones in the 8”)
120X with UHC: 10'X8' in an
easterly position, 9th mag;
elongated like a football, 1/4
of the field of view, A MAGNIFICENT OBJECT!!!
12.5" f4.9 Newtonian, 100x; Rick Rotramel: PN - vL,
B, apple core shaped. Very nice!
14.5" f5.2 Dobsonian, 300X, AJ Crayon: There was
much detail to be seen, the nebula was obvious
elliptical shape with about 12 stars visible across the
face. With the UHC the Dumbbell shape becomes
prominent and agreed to by Rick Tejera.
20” f5 Dobsonian, 180X, Ken Reeves: Very large,
pretty bright, very slight green color. Filter brings out
some detail in the outer part. Brightest part is
elongated NE/SW, faint part is elongated NW/SE. WOW!
9 stars involved including central star.
Next is the relatively nearby M57, another
magnificent planetary nebula. It is considerably smaller
than M27 but is much brighter. Some of its attractions
are the nebulosity in the middle of the ring and the
prospect of seeing the central star.
8" f6, Newtonian at 30X,
AJ Crayon: (This is an observation from early in my career)
Round, faint and in nice region;
175X: Dark center (and one of
my last ones in the 8”) 200X:
Bright streaks in the ring portion to Northwest & Southeast
sides that were noticeable
under completely dark skies!
Central star suspected, very
Now we meander over to Cepheus and Ursa
Minor for some other treats.
NGC188 requires a big jump to the north. It is
rich, large and faint containing 20 stars with brightest
at 12th magnitude and has a magnitude range from
10th to 18th magnitude. This is the nearest galactic
cluster to the north celestial pole.
8" f6, Newtonian at 120X,
AJ Crayon: 20', 80 stars 9th to
14th mag scope limit. This cluster has some nice chains and
dark lanes. The field has 2 stars
7th & 8th mag & 50 others 10th
to the 14th mag scope limit.
14.5" f5.2 Dobsonian
90X, AJ Crayon: Pretty faint,
about 15' in a nebulous glow
with 12 stars, 12th to 14th mag, resolved with averted
vision. This was not such a good night and needs a
better night with more power.
20” f5 Dobsonian, 150X, Ken Reeves: Pretty
large, pretty faint, very rich, and pretty condensed. 4
levels of stars: 2 levels of brighter stars and 2 levels of
background fainter stars. 60 bright stars, about 200
total stars plus some more haze. The haze resolves
occasionally with seeing. Large apertures a must for
this one.
Saguaro Skies
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Last Call-M27, M57, Cepheus & NGC3172
By AJ Crayon, with Sketchbook by Rick Rotramel
Speaking of the NCP, take a look at NGC3172, the
nearest NGC to NCP. It is named Polarissima Borealis. It
is almost 15th magnitude and is a small 1’X0.7’. So it
isn’t much.
small, very faint, a star to
the south, elongated perpendicular to the star 3:1. Slightly
brighter in the middle,
occasional stellar nucleus.
Northern most NGC object, but
not much else. Hard to tell
directions due to location.
Averted vision almost doubles the stellar count. On the
other side of the boundary, to the southwest, there are
fewer stars and are grouped together by a number of
dark areas.
16" f4.4 Newtonian, 90x; Rick Rotramel: OC - L,
fB, pRich, several bright members ring a large,
compressed amount of dimmer stars in the center.
20” f5 Dobsonian, 160X, Ken Reeves: Very large,
pretty bright, triangular shaped, very rich, pretty
condensed. Right angle of triangle is on NW corner. 3
levels of stars. The W side is dominated by a string of
8-9 stars. Several clumps and voids in the middle.
About 120 stars. No color seen in any stars. Very
beautiful cluster.
OK, now we go back into Cepheus for more stuff.
So we next took a look at the very nearby galactic
cluster NGC6939, which contains about 80 stars in an
8’ area. The brightest star is 11.9 magnitude they
range from 11th to 16th magnitude.
Now it is time for NGC6946 a late type barred
spiral galaxy, one of the nearest spirals that has a
good bit of detail. It is almost 9th magnitude and covers
11.2’X9.8’ making it large and bright. No wonder it is
on the 110 Best of the NGC and Herschel 400 lists.
20” f5 Dobsonian,
150X, Ken Reeves: Pretty
25' x 25'
Rick Rotramel, 16” f4.4, 200x
Rick Rotramel, 16” f4.4, 90x
8" f6, Newtonian at 80X, AJ Crayon: This cluster
stars are involved in a bright milky nebulosity. At 115X
there are 50 stars compressed middle, 9'X5' in 90°,
mostly lines of stars. The 5 brightest stars form a
straight line at the west end. At 40X it is pretty large, a
little elongated and faint. The field has a 7 th mag star
10' to the southeast, a dark area 20' to the southeast
and NGC6946 40' to the southeast.
10" f4.7 Newtonian at 50X, Michael Poppre:
Found this while actually looking for the galaxy 6946. I
noted this was a nice small open cluster. It seemed to
have an "anchor star" at one apex giving a funnel like
14.5" f5.2 Dobsonian at 140X, AJ Crayon: Very
nice looking cluster with a line of five bright stars in a
southeasterly position making a southern boundary.
There are about 60 stars, many pretty faint mostly to
the northeast side of boundary. There is a dark lane,
perpendicular to the boundary on the northeast side,
that divides the cluster in a 1/3 - 2/3 grouping. The
larger group, to the north, has many nice stellar
clumps. There are a number of nice looking doubles.
f6, Newtonian at 80X, AJ Crayon: 10'
irregularly round, little brighter middle, 13 th and 14th
mag stars are all over this galaxy like small HII regions.
At 100X very large, round, much brighter middle, face
on spiral with curving arms and dark lanes, the field is
almost framed by two stars on each side. At 120X,
viewed with UHC filter, there was some suspected
brightening around the middle. With the OIII filter
nothing was visible!
10" f4.7 Newtonian at 60X, Michael Poppre:
Stands out from the Milky Way background but more as
a fuzzy patch with a brighter center. I found I couldn't
resolve detail in the arms.
14.5" f5.2 Dobsonian at 140X, AJ Crayon: Very
large face on spiral galaxy with a low surface
brightness; contains a small round suddenly very
bright nucleus with two spiral arms twisting
counter clockwise, one on the east side and the
other on the west side. The open cluster
NGC6939 is in the same low power field of view,
making for some excellent Milky Way scenery.
Page 5
Saguaro Skies
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Last Call-M27, M57, Cepheus & NGC3172
By AJ Crayon, with Sketchbook by Rick Rotramel
NGC6946, AJ Crayon, (continued)
Also at 220X viewed supernova SN2004et, and from
calibration chart, estimated it to be magnitude 13.5.
16" f4.4 Newtonian, 200x; Rick Rotramel: G - L, pB,
face on spiral, arms show very well, eastern arm is
brighter, with a much brighter and nebulous nucleus. A
20” f5 Dobsonian, 160X, Ken Reeves: Very large,
somewhat faint, slightly brighter middle, somewhat
bright non-stellar nucleus. Very definite counterclockwise spiral pattern. Averted vision really shows
the pattern. 7 or 8 stars involved. Very beautiful even if
it is on the faint side.
Inching more northward is NGC7023 that includes
a 7th mag star in a faint complex of nebulosity. It isn’t
that easy to locate because it is 5’ in diameter. An
accurate set of digital setting circles or a good finder
chart would make it easier to see.
8" f6, Newtonian at 80X,
AJ Crayon: 1 bright star in
milky nebulosity. At 100X
irregular figure with 4
bright and 15 faint stars
forming a deformed "J".
14.5" f5.2 Dobsonian at
60X, AJ Crayon: This is a
pretty faint irregular nebulosity that is not easily seen
because a 7th mag star is involved. At 90X and panning around one finds a dark
field, but where's the star cluster? At 140X there is
some clumping to one side.
20” f5 Dobsonian, 80X, Ken Reeves: Supposed to be
an open cluster with this, but all I see is the nebula and
a star. See a bright star with a soft even fairly
featureless glow. One other star nearby, but rest of
area is fairly void. I am assuming the one star lights up
the vicinity of a much large cloud. Does not respond to
the filter, assuming a reflection nebula. Perhaps a little
structure in it. Star the SE with nebulosity lighter that
Nearby is another galactic cluster involved in some
nebulosity NGC7129. Is faint, and involved in faint
nebulosity. I don’t understand why the NGC rates this
cluster exceptional with one exclamation point.
8" f6, Newtonian at 80X, AJ Crayon: 3', 5 stars
involved in milky nebulosity (could be NGC7133?). The
field includes NGC7142, 30' southeast and 50 stars 8 th
to 14th mag.
14.5" f5.2 Dobsonian at 140X, AJ Crayon: Eight
stars 11th to 14th mag, with four in nebulosity. Size is
about 5' and stars in an easterly position.
Rick Rotramel, 16” f4.4, 200x
16" f4.4 Newtonian, 200x; Rick Rotramel: RN pL, fB, around 25 bright stars, with nebulosity
around two bright stars and another with an
isolated nebulous spot forms a triangle of nebulosity
spots in the center.
20” f5 Dobsonian, 180X, Ken Reeves: Pretty
bright, somewhat large, 4 stars involved. Nice even
glow surrounding the stars. Suspect 7133
surrounding a star to the ENE. Nice! Does not
respond to the filter.
Going a little more northward is another galactic
cluster NGC7142. It is a bright 9th magnitude and
considerably large at 4.3’. It contains 100 stars from
11th to 14th magnitude. It is also on the Herschel
400 list.
8" f6, Newtonian, 80X,
AJ Crayon: 10', 30 stars from
12th to 14th mag in a faint
glow. The field includes NGC
7129 30' to the Northwest &
and 50 stars 8th to 14th mag.
14.5" f5.2 Dobsonian,
140X; AJ Crayon: About 30
to 40 pretty faint stars,
scattered over a pretty large
area. The three brightest are on the northeast side
situated in a southeast position. There is a pretty
faint double on the south side and a couple of dark
16" f4.4 Newtonian, Rick Rotramel: OC - L, pF,
irregular scattering of ~50 dim stars and some
Page 6
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Last Call-M27, M57, Cepheus & NGC3172
By AJ Crayon
Page 7
Saguaro Skies
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Call for Observations
By AJ Crayon
For September we will cover various galactic objects in
Aquila, Cygnus and Lacerta. Beginning with the western
most, in Aquila, is the planetary nebula NGC6804 that is
rather faint but has an irregular shape. The next two are the
famous Veil Nebulae, in Cygnus, and are NGC6960 the
western part and NGC6992 the eastern part. The western
part is bright and large and the eastern is faint and very
elongated. We should have no troubles with these two
favorites. Don’t forget to use any nebula filters in your
inventory. Now moving in a northerly direction for our next
object is the galactic cluster NGC6819. It is large, rich and
bright and should be easy to spot. Follow this up with the
nearby lovely cluster NGC6811 and note any outstanding
features. Now we get what could be a real challenge NGC7000 the North American Nebula. Depending on your
optics and observing conditions this can be a real challenge
or a beautiful memorable observation. Let us know your
results. Now moving towards the east we enter Lacerta and
begin with NGC7209 a rather non-descript cluster with 25
stars from 9th magnitude. Next is another open cluster
NGC7243 that has more stars with magnitudes ranging from
magnitude 8.5 on down. Now a real challenge is found with
the planetary nebula IC 5217. It is listed as stellar so a finder
chart seems in order for this one. The last 3 are all open
clusters and we begin with NGC7296 with 20 stars from 10th
magnitude. Next is the interesting IC 1434 which the SAC
database indicates has 6 branches. How many do you count?
Finally there’s NGC7245 with 50 faint stars. How many do
you count?
Now for October we’ll visit Sagitta, Pegasus and
Aquarius. First is Sagitta and an open cluster that probably
isn’t on many observing lists. It is Harvard 20 and since it
isn’t that well known here are the coordinates RA 19 53.1 Dec
+18 21. It is in a rich Milky Way field and doesn’t stand out
well so a finder chart would be helpful. Next is the globular
cluster M71 another favorite and should be easier to find
than the prior object. Moving on to the Great Square of
Pegasus. Before starting here’s a naked eye project. How
many stars can you see in the square? Give us a count on
your observing report. We will start with the globular cluster
M15 but come back to this constellation. The next
constellation is Aquarius and we start with another globular
cluster - M2. Lord Rosse reported seeing a dark area near the
core. Do you? Next is then Saturn Nebula NGC 7009 and
its blue-green disk. What color or color do you see? The low
surface brightness NGC 7293 the Helix follows. Don’t
forget to try your filters on these two. Now back to Pegasus
and the spiral galaxy NGC 7479 which is the brightest in a
group that is part of Arp 13. This one should show a good bit
of detail so spend some time here. Next is another spiral
NGC 7448 that is much smaller and fainter than the prior
galaxy yet should also show some detail. Last of the galaxies
is NGC 7454 an elliptical. It too is rather small and faint.
Our final selection is a rather rare, for Pegasus anyway, open
cluster. It is the scattered NGC 7772 that contains several
faint stars.
Spaceflight Trivia Answer
Major Mission Characteristics
Interplanetary Cruise: May 4, 1989, to August 10, 1990
First Mapping Cycle: September 15, 1990 to May 15, 1991
Orbit Period: 3.25 hours
Orbit Inclination: 86 degrees
Radar Mapping Per Orbit: 37.2 minutes
Planetary Radar Mapping Coverage: 98%
Planetary Gravity Data Coverage: 95%
Extended Mission: September 15, 1991
Cycle 2: Image the south pole region and gaps from Cycle 1
Cycle 3: Fill remaining gaps and collect stereo imagery
Cycle 4: Measure Venus' gravitational field
Cycle 5: Aerobraking to circular orbit and global gravity measurements
Cycle 6: Collect high-resolution gravity data an conduct radio science experiments
Windmill Experiment: Observe behavior of molecules in upper atmosphere.
Termination Experiment: October 11, 1994
Mission Objectives
Obtain near-global radar images of Venus' surface, with resolution equivalent to
optical imaging of 1 km per line pair.
Obtain a near-global topographic map with 50km spatial and 100m vertical
Obtain near-global gravity field data with 700km resolution and 2-3 milligals
Develop an understanding of the geological structure of the planet, including its
density distribution and dynamics.
Key Spacecraft Characteristics
Single radar instrument operates simultaneously (by interleaving) in Synthetic
Aperture Radar (SAR), altimeter, and radiometer modes.
High Gain Antenna (3.7m diameter) is used as both the radar and
telecommunications antenna.
Powered by solar panels with rechargeable batteries.
Three orthogonal electrically powered reaction wheels used for spacecraft pointing
Key Radar Characteristics
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Frequency: 2.385 GHz
Peak Power: 325 W
Pulse Length: 26.5 microsec
PRF: 4400-5800 Hz
Swath Width: 25 km (variable)
Data Acquisition Rate: 806 kbps
Downlink Quantization: 2 bits
Operates in SAR, altimeter, and radiometer modes
SAR Resolution: 150m range/150m azimuth
Altimeter Resolution: 30m
STS-30 Crew
Radiometer Accuracy: 2 degree C
Mission Summary
The Magellan spacecraft, which arrived at Venus in 1990, made the first global
map of the surface of Venus as well as global maps of the planet's gravity field.
The mission produced surprising findings about Venus, including a relatively young
planetary surface possibly formed by lava flows from planet-wide volcanic
In October 1994, the Magellan spacecraft intentionally plunged to the surface of
Venus to gather data on the planet's atmosphere before it ceased operations. It
marked the first time an operating planetary spacecraft had been intentionally
Page 8
Saguaro Skies
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MEADE ETX-90EC 90mm Maksutov Telescope
Orion SkyQuest XT8i IntelliScope Dobsonian Telescope
8" f/6 Dobsonian with Intelliscope Object Locator
Includes :
25mm & 10mm Eyepieces
Eyepiece holder
All Cables & manuals
Telescope Cover
Sells for $640.00 new, Asking $450.00 (the price of
the 6" version)
Will Deliver in the PHX area.
Contact Rick Tejera: 623-203-4121 or
Email [email protected]
Includes the following:
#07426 8 x 21mm Erect Image Viewfinder
#07427/#825 8 x 25mm Right Angle Viewfinder
Deluxe Tripod
Meade Ultra Wide Angle 6.7mm multi-coated
Meade Super Plossl 26mm LP multi-coated
Meade 2X telenegative multi-coated
Meade remote controller
#880 Table Tripod for Polar Alignment of the ETX90EC Astro Telescope
Carrying Case
Allen wrenches
Selling on behalf of a friend, Asking $350.00
For all.
Contact Rick Tejera: 623-203-4121
Email: [email protected]
Ads placed here are free to SAC members. SAC is not responsible for the quality of
the advertised items.
If you wish to place an ad here to sell your telescope or astronomy related items,
contact Rick Rotramel at: [email protected]
Page 9
Saguaro Skies
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5mm Orion Stratus 68° Eyepiece
8mm Orion Stratus 68° Eyepiece
$75 each or $130.00 for the pair
Celestron UHC/LPR 2” Filter
Call Michael Poppre at 602-319-7029
Email: [email protected]
Orion Stratus Link:
Celestron UHC/LPR 2” Filter Link:
For Sale – GSO 8” (200mm) F/4 Mirror Refigured by
Swayze Optical
Originally this was for a special project but I decided to move
on due to financial issues. This mirror has not been recoated.
The mirror was tested by Paul Lind in SAC and found to be
smooth and is about 1/21 wave RMS. The mirror was signed
and dated by Swayze.
GSO Mirror New Cost – $230
Swayze Optical Refigure Cost – $200
Asking $360 or best offer. Reduced price: $330 or best offer.
Mirror Specs, click on the link below:
Contact Jim Waters – SAC
Home – (480) 893-0198
Cell – (602) 291.3508
Email - mailto:[email protected]
Ads placed here are free to SAC members. SAC is not responsible for the quality of
the advertised items.
If you wish to place an ad here to sell your telescope or astronomy related items,
contact Rick Rotramel at: [email protected]
Welcome to Starizona! In addition to a complete selection
of astronomical products, we offer free online resources
such as our award-winning Guide to CCD Imaging and
more. We also manufacture unique products such as the
HyperStar imaging system. Our staff consists of
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The HyperStar-equipped Celestron 9.25" telescope (and
its backup) that is now installed on the ISS. The scope
also features a Starizona MicroTouch Autofocuser. With
the Starizona gang: Steve, Scott, Dean, and Donna.
(Steve has since had to move to NY because he was
dressing too much like Scott.)
Call Us: (520) 292-5010
[email protected]
Saguaro Skies
Page 10
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Bits & Pisces
Minutes of the July 11, 2014 SAC General Meeting
By Mikayla Wiles (subbing for Tom Polakis, Secretary)
The meeting was opened by acting President,
Vice-president, and Treasurer, but not Secretary
Tom Polakis.
After the introduction of new members, member
presentations began with Chris Hanrahan. He
gave a recap of the Mount Graham observatory
tour, and talked about the Starlight Festival in Big
Bear City, California.
Gene Lucas added that the nearby RTMC
Astronomy Expo had low attendance, with many
people attending the in-city event.
Tom Polakis showed one image of the
International Space Station transiting the Sun.
Paul Lind followed with a presentation about
unusual telescope mounts.
The main speaker was Dr. David Williams from
the School of Earth and Space Exploration at
ASU. The subject of his presentation was moons
of outer planets. He showed how knowledge
gained from visible-light planetary images is
augmented with different channels showing
various wavelengths of light. Planetary moons
vary from highly active to dead, and Dr. Williams
used his volcanology and geology expertise to
explain active moons. He concluded the
presentation with a discussion of the New
Horizons spacecraft, which is slated to arrive at
Pluto in 2015.
The July SAC
Meeting Speaker
The July 11, 2014 speaker was:
Dr. David A. Williams, Associate Research
Professor, School of Earth and Space
Exploration, Arizona State University
David A. Williams
"100 Worlds and Counting, Exploring the
Moons of the Outer Solar System."
A review of the major discoveries about the
outer planet satellites, and preview next
year’s New Horizon’s flyby of Pluto.
Photo: David Williams ASU Website
Mr. Williams has just had an asteroid named after him. Asteroid
(10461) Dawilliams was discovered on December 6, 1978, by E. Bowell
and A. Warnock at Palomar Observatory. It orbits about 2.42
astronomical units from the Earth in the Main Belt, the vast asteroid
belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Jennifer Polakis, Vice President
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Where we
going today
Mr. Peabody?
© Peabody and Sherman, 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' Pictures
The WABAC Machine!
30 Years Ago in SAC
25 Years Ago in SAC
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SAC Outreach:
Grand Canyon Star Party 2014
North Rim
By Steve Dodder, Coordinator
The Milky Way over the Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Point at the North Rim Photo by Jon Webb
We arrived at the North Rim on Friday, June 20 th to wonderful blue skies, crisp air and lots of excitement for this year’s event.
We stopped by the Admin. building and found our Ranger, Robin Tellis there still. She gave us a couple bags of buttons she and a
volunteer had made, one with our volunteer names and one that said, “Trainee” for distribution to kids that asked good questions
and so on. It was very nice. There were new personnel at the camp kiosk, but they already knew who we were and had put the
camping tags up for us. Another change was, the camp host was also the person manning the kiosk. John was cordial and after
telling me that I probably already knew all the rules, proceeded to read them to me anyway. We set up camp, had dinner and went
to sleep around 10 pm, anticipating a long day and week ahead.
Saturday June 21, 2014 came early. We set about setting up the canopy, moving the picnic table, getting water and so on.
Check-in time is 11:00 am, so when we left camp at 10:15 to set up the telescope on the veranda, we figured we had plenty of
time before the camp volunteers began to arrive. Not so! At 10:45 Chris Hanrahan, my soon-to-become official second in
command, comes onto the veranda saying I needed to get back to camp and make sure everyone gets situated ok, as some
thought they wouldn’t fit in the assigned spots and other concerns. It turns out that 6 of them had met up in Jacob Lake, camped
together overnight and caravaned in on Saturday morning. They all arrived at once and it was a traffic jam. Non hostile, no road
rage, but a traffic jam nonetheless. We scurried back to camp to help direct traffic, (and change just about my entire carefully
thought-out plan ;-) ), when one or two others arrived. This year’s crop included Chris Hanrahan, Mike Wiles and family, Alan
Strauss, Jerry Farrar, from Tucson, Mitch and Lori Prause, and Lynn Blackburn. Tim and Tammy Straub arrived a few minutes later,
with Darrel Galloway rounding out the troupe around noon. Several folks had brought wives and family, too, so it was a full
campground for us.
We got everyone settled in the campground and moved on to setting up on the veranda. It promised to be a tight fit this year,
we’re attracting a lot of big glass. The smallest scope was Jerry’s 4” refractor, but it was mounted tandem with a C 9.25 SCT. A
TEK 140 and later Tim’s C6 were pretty much dwarfed by all the C11’s and 15”, 16” and 20” Dobs. It got pretty cozy and a couple
adjustments had to be made later in the week to make everyone fit. I’ll be looking into better arrangements for the future. I’m
thinking some form of setup grid to make sure we don’t whack visitors in other lines.
So, by sunset we had some pretty substantial clouds and it didn’t look good. Alan Strauss, Director of the Mt. Lemmon Sky
Center gave the talk titled, “Asteroids, Comets and Meteors, Oh My.” It covered the differences between meteoroids and comets
and was well received. It was the early talk, so we had plenty of time to ponder the clouds when we came out. Most volunteers
had either Mars or Saturn through the clouds, I found Spica with the 20”. I did show some folks Mars at ~210X. We could see the
polar cap and the Valles Marineris region.
As is usually the case at the rim, I looked up suddenly and the sky was actually clear, just as twilight was ending. Great! On to
my regular targets for the night. I showed M5, M104, M4, M107, M12, the whale galaxy, (NGC 4631) and the Stargate. My tally for
the evening was 240 - a great start. Clouds came back around 10:30 and most of the visitors were gone. I hung around for a bit,
then packed it in. Walking out of the lodge toward the parking lot, I noticed, of course, the skies had cleared up again. Oh well, we
usually quit a bit early on opening night anyway, given the length of most of them.
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Grand Canyon Star Party 2014 North Rim
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The telescopes on the North Rim Lodge Veranda at the Grand Canyon awaiting the stars. Photo by Steve Dodder
Sunday June 22, 2014 awoke beautiful, as only the north rim does. Birds singing, ravens croaking a welcome, crisp, clean air,
impossibly blue sky. The meeting at noon went very well, with a suggestion to move the time maybe later, so folks can get out
early hiking or sightseeing or solar work. News went around about a potluck lunch at 2:00, so it seems a good time to move the
meeting to. So, here on in, we’ll have the potluck at 2:00 and the meeting around 3:00, or as people finish eating.
Jerry Farrar gave an excellent talk on globular clusters for the 1 hour presentation. Maybe just a tad technical, but most in the
audience stayed with him anyway. I had replaced the secondary mirror collimating plate on the 20” before the party. Previously, it
had 4 screws to adjust the secondary tilt, now it has 3. After the talk and a quick star test, collimation was still pretty close to
perfect. Just a tiny adjustment of the primary and it was spot on. It would hold this alignment for the next 3 days, a new record.
The seeing was very good, so I tried something new, as well as M5, M3 and others. The Whale Galaxy, NGC 4631 has a
companion, NGC 4627, but just to the south is the Hockey Stick galaxy, NGC 4656. It’s very faint, but under dark skies with good
seeing it should show up in a wide field view along with the Whale and The Pup. I put the 40mm Orion Optiluxe in and presto! All 3
galaxies showed up nicely. Lots of ooh’s and aah’s from the visitors. The view reminds me of a faint Leo Triplet, M65, M66 and NGC
3628. Finished up the night with 223 views and closing in on midnight. It’s amazing how fast the night goes by when you’re having
fun! I poked around looking for another new target I had in mind, M64, but it had set behind the lodge roofline. Last on the field for
the first of 3 nights.
Chow time at the campground.
Photos (3) by Chris Hanrahan
Monday June 23, 2014. One for a talk by one of our self-lodgers, Eric Hoag was to join us today. He’d volunteered to give a
talk titled “Newbie: Sorting through the clutter.” He touched base with us at the campground, got his shirt and info on when and
where to show up and setup. Eric is rather new to the hobby, and completely new to the GCSP, so he was in for a ride. I had him
setup in front of me so he could ask questions and get target help if needed. Eric’s talk was great, actually! He described very well
the importance of contacting and joining a local club, attending star parties, asking questions and going slow. It was jam-packed
with great advice and went over really well. Afterwards, he set up on Saturn and pretty much stayed there. Later on, I showed him
how to find M51 and a couple other DSO’s, globulars I think. Anyway, he was pretty wound up. I love to see that “lit on fire” look in
people’s eyes, whether they be visitors or volunteers!
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Grand Canyon Star Party 2014 North Rim
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The Milky Way rising over the Grand Canyon, from the Veranda at the North Rim Photo by Jon Webb
My night went really well, too, thanks for asking. I showed the usual suspects, plus managed to find M64, mentioned before.
There’s an easy star close by to hop from, so that worked out great. I was practicing moving away from and back to it when a
gentleman from Germany stopped by. He said he hadn‘t seen anything yet, and had never seen anything through a telescope
before. BWAAAHAHAH! A victim! I started with Mars, coaching him on how to see things that are tricky. On to Saturn, rings, moons
and so on. On to double stars Cor Caroli and Alcor and Mizar. Over to M5, M3, M4 and M80, giving a description of globular cluster
evolution paths as they pass through the disk of the Milky Way. Off to the Sombrero Galaxy, the Whale, M51, NGC 4565. Back to
the Stargate, over to M23, M8 and M17, all the while describing the physics of what he’s seeing. He says he’d come with a friend,
a computer scientist, but his friend doesn’t understand English. He joins us fairly early on, beckoned by the expressions of
amazement. Translations were provided, to the best of his ability, and the meanings seemed to carry through. I mentioned I’d
worked in the video game industry long ago, making the hardware for Space Invaders, Pacman, Tron and Galaxian. The computer
scientist asked if he should bow. I told him it wasn’t necessary, but he did anyway. We all got a good laugh. I ended the night well
after 12:30 with a count of 322. The numbers were trending upwards over last year. A good thing.
Tuesday June 24, 2014. Jon Webb suggested a bunch of get together for breakfast this morning. Fourteen of us showed up,
Jon, Chris Hanrahan, Jerry and Kathy Farrar, Darrel Galloway, Mike, Toni, Mikayla and Emily Wiles, Alan, Beth and Ian Strauss, plus
Rosie and I. It was a lot of fun, swapping stories and learning about those new to the star party. Too bad the staff didn‘t put us all
as at one table.
After breakfast, Rosie and I set up the solar scope at the visitor center. Alan had brought some materials from NASA and the
Solar Dynamics Observatory to hand out. We stayed for 2 hours and showed 99 views, telling dozens more about the star party
that night. It’s kind of been a while since we’ve set up with something to actually see on the Sun. The guys on the veranda have
H-Alpha, so they’ve got a better shot, even if the sunspots are quiet. It was nice to have some actual sunspots up for a change.
Tuesday was about the best night so far. Brilliantly clear all day, not too
much wind, fantastic. Lori Prause’s talk was, “An Excellent Adventure Around
the Solar System.” The title was really the only similarity it had to the movie,
especially the “Excellent” part. She did her usual thorough job of bringing
everything to a level of understanding for the kids.
After the talk, the visitors seemed to slowly file in. I found M64 and the
black eye stood out like a sunspot. It looked fantastic, and the visitors had
no problem seeing it. Later on, after the usual suspects, a small group of
visitors hung around for the “master tour,” which is basically what I showed
the German gentleman the night before. It had pretty much the same result.
I showed them a couple dozen objects and they stayed up late, soaking it all
in. I love nights like this! Packed up after 12:30 with a count of 228.
Wednesday June 25, 2014. This was our trip to see the guys at Kaibab
Lodge. We figured to do some sight-seeing up around the lodge for a change.
We’d heard about a “secret spot” where the view is tremendous. We drove
up toward Kaibab and turned left on a forest road. Drove around for a bit and
found a fire tower amid the trees. We headed around and around, looking for
Chris Hanrahan with a solar observer. Photo: Alan Strauss
a road to the rim. Didn’t find one, but did find some amazing scenery. Stands
of aspen trees and sumac along with pines and brush. It was really beautiful. We decided to head back toward the lodge. But the
secret spot was east of the main road. I guess I misunderstood where to go because we missed a turn and wound up way back in
the woods somewhere. It became something of an adventure getting back to the road, and wound up doing some minor undercarriage damage to the truck. Nothing huge, and a fix was done to be actually repaired when we returned.
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Grand Canyon Star Party 2014 North Rim
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The Milky Way over the forest. Photo by Jon Webb
After dinner at Kaibab, we set up the 8” SCT, “Tina” in the field. I wasn’t sure how long we’d stay, because it’d be nice to take
it easy for a day, but we ended up staying until around 11:00 when most of the visitors had left. I ended up with 108 views,
including some for the proprietors of the country store across the street. We’d been inviting them since we started doing Kaibab
and they finally made it over. It was great!
On the way back at about midnight, we happened upon a couple people waving a flashlight at us. Turned out to be 3 hikers
who’d got separated from their group and were lost. They’d been wandering around in the dark looking for the lodge. Well, we
bundled them in the back of the truck and took them in. What else would we do?
Thursday June 26, 2014. Cloudy. Totally. All day. Went to the veranda to show the Sun, but showed the canyon through
binoculars instead. Alan gave another talk, but about the Sun and SDO. When we went into the auditorium it was completely
cloudy. When we came out, it was clear. I thought I was dreaming, but there it was. I had to do a little tweek on the 20”
collimation, but it wasn’t a big deal. The seeing was pretty bad anyway, but the guests didn’t notice. My end of the veranda
seemed really slow, I only had 61 views the whole night. Visitors were gone by 10:30 when it clouded up again. I had some nice
conversations and so on, so it wasn’t too bad, but the sky was pretty awful.
Friday June 27, 2014. We got up to do the Sun this morning. Setup by 10:00 am at the visitor center. We had 95 views and
met lots of nice folks, as usual. I had a nice talk with Darrel Galloway after lunch. We talked about all kinds of stuff, but the subject
of the star party was particularly rewarding. It seems we agree on just about everything as far as direction and ideas and such.
Very nice.
The night time session had Jon Webb giving a talk on the Curiosity Probe, currently on Mars. Full house. Very well received. No
kidding. Too bad it was only a half hour. The night was, once again, fantastic. Lots of great oohs and aaahs and questions. I got the
chance to show some of the Milky Way objects, usually obscured by trees from my position on the veranda. M23, M22, M17, M57
etc. I guess that’s the best thing about holding this event so late in June-some of the really great eye candy is up. I found a double
globular cluster in Sagittarius, NGC 6522 and 6528, but they weren’t really that great for the public, so I enjoyed them myself.
Wrapped it up around midnight with 186. One more night to go.
Saturday June 28, 2014 we showed the Sun again at the visitor center. We had 70 views in 2 hours and finished handing out
all the stuff from SDO. For the final talk of the week, Mike Wiles revamped his talk on the scale of the universe. I liked the changes
a lot, as did the entire auditorium. What a great talk! Polished, amusing, engaging, and informative. And accurate. The questions
afterward were really good and Mike handled it like a trooper. Excellent! The night’s session went of very well, too. Skies
cooperated, and visitors were everywhere. I’d told them it was the last night and we’d hoped to break it up early, but 11:00 came
and went and I found myself the only one showing the sky. I had a nice group going around the sky, but I had to ask them to go.
They understood of course, but it spelled the end of another year.
Our numbers were absolutely great, nearly doubling our total from last year - 13,310. We met hundreds of wonderful folks
from all over the world and set a spark in many of them. The thank you notes keep rolling in from total strangers to those we know
and are interested in next year, too. Another wonderful week under the stars! Thanks to all the volunteers. I couldn’t possibly do it
without you.
Steve Dodder, GCSP,NR Coordinator
Steve & Rosita Dodder with the 20” in their corner of the veranda
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2014 SAC Officers and Contacts
Occultation Info
Board Members
Mike Collins (mail to:[email protected])
Vice-President Jennifer Polakis (mail to:[email protected])
Dwight Bogan (mail to:[email protected])
Tom Polakis (mail to:[email protected])
Kevin Kozel (mail to:[email protected])
Wayne Thomas has
asteroid occultation info
for the greater Phoenix
Non-board Positions
Novice Leader Steve Dodder (mail to:[email protected])
Rick Rotramel (mail to:[email protected])
Peter Argenziano (mail to:[email protected])
Public Events
Jack Jones (mail to:[email protected])
ATM Group
Paul Lind (mail to:[email protected])
Al Stiewing (mail to:[email protected])
Deep Sky
AJ Crayon (mail to:[email protected])
Rick Rotramel (mail to:[email protected])
Gene Lucas has Lunar
Total and Graze
Occultation info:
Meeting Location: Grand Canyon University is
located at 3300 W. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ We meet
in Fleming Hall, Room 105, 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Mail to:[email protected]
[email protected]
Ads placed here are free to SAC
members. SAC is not responsible
for the quality of the advertised
If you wish to place an ad here to
sell your telescope or astronomy
Rotramel at: [email protected]
Your Ad Here
Contacting This Issue’s Authors
If you wish to write to an author in this month’s issue, complaining
that they don’t know what they are talking about or that they utterly
dazzled you with their wordsmith skills, contact them by sending
your message to the editor of Saguaro Skies, Rick Rotramel, at:
[email protected]
I will then forward your questions, comments or carping to the
author who may (or may not) reply.
Saguaro Skies Staff
Editor: Rick Rotramel
Photographer: Susan Trask
2013-2014 Contributors: Bob Christ, Mike
Collins, AJ Crayon, Steve Dodder, Richard
Harshaw, Kevin Kozel, Jimmy Ray, Rick
Rotramel, SAC Astro-Imagers & Observers,
Darrell Spencer and Rick Tejera.
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Saguaro Skies