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We Observe - by A. Mallama

Update March 5, 2002

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

P.O. Box 11 Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022

March 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.

March Meeting Summary:

New members at the March meeting:

Harold Schultz

We also had two visitors


Bills paid this month:           Phone:    $13.50

Bills to be paid in March:   Mortgage: $300

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 reports that he has made further modifications to the 16” scope. Thanks to modifications to the drive mechanism, the operation of the scope is much quieter.  The controller is currently off of the scope but Marty hopes to have it back in operation before the Messier marathon March 15 and 16. If he obtains the proper coordinates list he will program the scope to seek out the Messier objects with a single press of a paddle button, which should simplify the search for those attending the marathon at IHO.

Marty also reported a trial of software to do auto-focus of any scope equipped with an electronic focuser.   The software, “Ascom”, will interface between any imaging software and the focus controller and fully autotamte the focus process. Marty and Joe have field tested the software and are very impressed by it.  Once a focuser has been added to the 16 inch scope at IHO this software will be added to further simplify the use of that scope.

Dan Rothstein has been busy clearing brush in the new parking lot at IHO. All members are encouraged to try to find time to go to the hill at anytime and pitch in with the clearing and burning process. Firewood stock remains abundant, so help yourself to some firewood while you are there.


John Soltis announced that he is moving to Barberton, Ohio but expects to be able to continue as newsletter editor.  He also requested a volunteer to assist him with reports from our various CVAS events since his work schedule does not permit him to attend most events. John Gorka immediately stepped forward to volunteer, look for his event reports here and in the quarterly newsletter soon.


Venus is visible for a brief period roughly 20 to 30 minutes after sunset. Mars continues to decrease in apparent size but remains visible about 45 degrees above the Southwest horizon.

Saturn and Jupiter continue their march across the southern sky this month and are also visible shortly after sunset.

A hyper-nova was discovered in M74 but it has already dimmed to almost magnitude 14. Look for it in M74  before it sets at about 8 PM.

The Hubble Space Telescope and Space Shuttle should be observable in our southern skies during the servicing mission to Hubble.

Joe Petrick reports getting some nice images of Jupiter this month and several members reported a fireball sighting on Monday, two weeks ago, at about 8 PM.

Observing at the Rookery event was mostly clouded out but a brief 30 minute window of about 30 percent clearing allowed those in attendance to get views of both Jupiter and Saturn.

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

Old Business:

Larry will be talking to a First Energy representative in an effort to determine if they are following through on their commitment to full cut-off lighting fixtures on all new installations.

John Gorka reported that the Willowick city council was receptive to his presentation regarding lighting regulations.  He will also be making a similar presentation in Eastlake soon and will meet Friday with Cleveland councilman Mike Polensek.

New Business:

Upcoming dates on our calendar are the Messier marathon March 14/15 at IHO and Astronomy Day at the Natural History Museum on April 20th , Larry will investigate the possibility of a joint
venture between the museum, Nassau Observatory and CVAS for a future date. 

The city of Newbury is planning an observing party for either April 5th or the 12th and would need assistance from any of our membership willing to attend. Times would be 7 PM on the 5th or 8 PM on the 12th and be held at Punderson State Park.

Discussion of the purchase or building of a new ladder to access the 16” scope resulted in a committee being formed to investigate pricing and construction options for this purchase. The committee consisting of Dan Rothstein,  Bob Modic, Marty Niemi and Rick Shaw is to report on their findings and make recommendations based on functionality around the scope at the first meeting of the year at IHO in May.

Larry reported acquiring a listing of 127 neighbors of IHO in preparation for our “Neighbor’s Night” event.  A committee (Marty, John and Larry) will prepare a mailing and make other arrangements for the event.

Rick Shaw developed a CVAS public information flyer, which he will print up and have ready for future events and information desks at places such as the Natural History Museum. He had samples
prepared for the meeting and it was universally praised. As soon as he gets feedback on any
corrections or additions he will print a batch.

A new astronomical society is forming in the city of Aurora, as reported by Rick Shaw. The group is planning to build an observatory on donated grounds in the Aurora area.

Joe Petrick suggested that CVAS purchase a modern “goto” style telescope as a replacement for the Stokes 16 inch scope at IHO. Spirited discussion followed and yet another committee was formed to investigate all the possibilities to include, but not limited to, purchasing a new scope, financing and grant possibilities, building a separate observatory building and power needs for such a project. The Committee consists of Larry, Joe and Bob.

YIKES! A three committee meeting!


Special Photos:
October 30, 2003 Aurora