Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society


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We Observe - by A. Mallama

Update June 16, 2002

The Valley SkyWatcher Magazine
A Publication of the Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society
P.O. Box 11 Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022

June 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.

June Meeting Summary:

New Members in June:

Chuck Story

Eric Sydell

Krys Gesen

Welcome to CVAS!


General Fund: $4,086

Petty Cash:     $     52

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:

The observatory was without power for the June meeting. Upon investigating it was found that someone had cut through the power conduit, where Keith had tapped into it to provide power at his lake, in an apparent mowing accident. Attempts to contact Keith before the meeting proved futile but Larry left messages and Marty hopes to have repairs completed before next weekends OTAA convention at IHO.

The 16” scope is now minus the large aluminum brake plate. Marty removed it as it is no longer required with the new stepper motors in place. In addition Marty has improved the scopes tracking ability, reduced the noise levels and installed limit switches to prevent the scope being driven into obstacles. The power failure prevented testing of the most recent changes but Marty will do the tests as soon as power is restored.


Three planets remain visible in our night skies.

Venus is visible at sunset approximately 20 degrees above the WNW horizon with an apparent size of 13 to 15 arc-seconds.

 Jupiter is a nearby companion with a separation from Venus of only about 2.5 degrees. By months end, however, Jupiter will be setting before the Sun and disappear from our nightly skies.

Mars is also low in the west at sunset. It is currently only 4 degrees above the horizon at sunset and will also disappear from the night skies by months end.

For the intrepid planet hunter, Pluto is visible in good conditions and with adequate equipment at magnitude 13.8 in the constellation Ophiuchus. Finder charts for all the planets are available at S&T’s website. 

Comet Ikeya-Zhang is reduced in apparent magnitude to 10 and is currently visible in the constellation Serpens. On the nights of June 27th and 28th it will pass within 1 degree of M5. Several members reported sightings of the comet in the last month and Bob Modic was able to observe two distinct tails with a 5” refractor.

Larry reported that at the Nassau star party conditions were good enough to point out several galaxies in the Virgo cluster for the guests.

Dan Rothstein and Steve Fishman are currently making their observations under the starry New Mexico skies. Last report had them suffering in 95-degree heat. 

On the local meteorological front, Bob Modic reported a measured May rainfall at his residence of 5 ½ inches. That is not a record for May but certainly reinforces that we have had few good observing opportunities this year.

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

Old Business:

The OTAA convention is June 8th. Items that need to be finished before then are the restoration of power to the observatory, cutting of the grass and painting of the railing. The gates will open between 5 and 6 with guests expected to arrive at 6:30 to 7 PM. Larry will contact members via email this week for volunteers to provide refreshments and for setup.

Parking improvements for IHO were discussed. Among the needs are an 8” culvert pipe and at least several truck loads of gravel to fill in north and of current parking area and to provide a new connection to the driveway farther to the north of the current one. Estimates ranged as high as $2000 for the supplies and an excavator to do the work. A motion was made and seconded to approve $1500 for the work and Bob will contact the excavator to schedule the work.

Currently on the schedule are the Astronomy Night at IHO on the 15th of June and another star party at Nassau for the 14th or 15th. This is a possible conflict and we may need to have extra volunteers to adequately staff both events.

Also in June, the MDA has scheduled us to make a presentation at Camp Cheerful for youngsters attending summer camp on the 19th of June. Volunteers with small scopes suitable for seated children to be able to use should contact Bob Modic.

A Hiram scout troop has tentatively scheduled a star party to be held at a scout’s house for August 17th. Further contact is needed to firm up this date.

Discussion was also held on the donation by Jeff Rzepka of a Meade telescope for the IHO observatory. Originally it was thought that the dome being donated by another member could be used for the new scope however it has been learned that the 10” scope being donated with the dome must be used together, as a package. Larry Boros designed and cost estimated a roll-off structure to house the new Meade but Jeff let it be known that this was not acceptable. After much discussion it was decided to have the current committee continue its efforts at finding funding for an acceptable structure, such as a “Home Dome”. Total cost for the dome and support structure is estimated to be $8000. Jim Brownfield is working on writing a grant application to cover some or all of this expense. A white elephant sale was also suggested as a fund raising tool and donations will be accepted by the club for such a sale in the near future.

New Business:

No new business was discussed at the meeting. 

Special Photos:
October 30, 2003 Aurora