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We Observe - by A. Mallama

Update April 8, 2002

The Valley SkyWatcher Magazine
A Publication of the Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society

P.O. Box 11 Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022

April 2002 Edition

All members of CVAS and the OTAA are encouraged to contribute ideas, articles, images and observation reports for possible inclusion in future issues of this monthly update and in the quarterly editions of The Valley SkyWatcher.

April Meeting Summary:

This is the final meeting at Pen Glen for this season. Until October all
meetings will be at IHO.


General Fund: $3,385

Petty Cash:           $15

A donation to CVAS in the amount of $500 was made on behave of Transcon Builders by Jeff Rzepka with the stipulation that it be used towards the land purchase. Thank you Jeff! 

Land Fund: CLOSED (All funds for the land purchase will go into the general fund and payments on
the land contract will be taken from that fund).

Observatory Director:
Marty was not at the meeting but reports are that all is well at IHO. The 16 inch scope is now fully a goto scope and is fully controllable from the ECU program on the computer. A tracking error during long, guided exposures of .0477% appears to be the result of imperfections in the primary drive gear.

One word of caution; the field can be extremely soggy at this time of year and caution should be exercised when driving beyond the parking lot. Remember that the area to the west of the pines is Keith’s property and we should be careful not to damage it. The area to the east of the pines should be avoided at all costs when the ground is wet as this area gets the wettest and soggiest and several members have gotten stuck there in the past.


Venus is easily visible now, low in the WNW evening sky and as early as ½ hour before Sunset.

Mercury is also visible before sunset. Look for it below and to the right of Venus.

Mars joins them both in the western sky making an appearance about 25 degrees above the horizon.

Saturn joins this trio, making its appearance 35 degrees above the western horizon. Saturn is casting a shadow across the rings now, giving the planet a distinct three dimensional appearance.

Jupiter is now the brightest object in the sky, except of course for the moon. Looki for Jupiter high in the southwest. Good times for viewing the Red Spot are on April 8th at 9:12 PM and April 10th at 10:51 PM. 

A bright comet (Ikeya-Zhang) is currently traversing the northwestern sky. It has been reported to be as bright as 3rd magnitude. Look for the comet near the Andromeda Galaxy and later in the constellation Cassiopeia. This comet last made an appearance in the skies in the year 1661 and was referred to as the “Great Comet of 1661”.

Another meteor shower will peak on April 22nd. The Lyrid shower is not likely to approach the levels
which the Leonids sis this year but could reach a peak of 20 to 30 per hour.

Comet Ikeya-Zhang was observed by several of our members during the last month. Steve Kainec
reported sighting it on April 6th and it was also seen by several members at the Messier Marathon at IHO before the clouds rolled in.

Larry Boros and Dan Rothstein both had similar reports on the planet Jupiter. They reported the planet as having a bright appearance and lacking color.

Take a look at Scorpio. The center star of the trio forming the familiar head of the Scorpion (Delta) is
noticeably brighter than it has been in some time. This variable star has experienced a recent
brightening which has increased it’s magnitude from around 2.3 to as high as 1.6, according to some observers, and it now rivals nearby Antares in brightness.

For Bob’s complete observations report please visit the Monthly Sky Calendar on our website.

Old Business:

Larry followed up on his contact with First Energy regarding using “full cut-off lighting” as their default
new and replacement lighting fixtures for street lighting. He was told by a First Energy rep that Mentor
had advised them to restrict the changes to “new” installations only. A mentor official stated that this is NOT their policy and they will contact First Energy to advise them that all new and replacement lights must meet the full cut-off standard.

New equipment for IHO was again discussed. Serious and extremely generous offers to purchase a  new scope and donations towards purchase of a dome to house it were made. The committee formed at last month’s meeting will meet in a working session with these members during April and are expected to come back with a serious plan of action for the membership to consider at the May meeting. 

Dan Rothstein reminded the group of the need to repair the ceiling in the warm room at IHO. He expects to require a budget of about $120 for panels in 4 x 8 sheets for this project.

The only items on the calendar for April are the rescheduled Punderson date on April 12th and the Natural History Museum Astronomy Day on April 20th.

New Business:

No new business  was discussed at the meeting.

Special Photos:
October 30, 2003 Aurora