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We Observe - by A. Mallama

Update March 7, 2004

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

March 2004 Edition

Treasury

Bank - $1,688.38, Petty Cash - $44.00, Total - $1,732.38.

1. Paid $16 phone bill.

2. Made $300 land payment to Keith Richards, balance at $8400.

3. Received Form 99 from IRS. Want to know our income from last year and our total assets. Income from last year was $10,300 a large part was from donations for the new observatory. Club estimates our assets are at less than $25,000.

Observatory Director

  1. Dan, Steve, and I checked out the problem with the electricity usage up at the Hill. It seems that there is indeed a small load on one leg of the circuit going up to the Hill. The best explanation at this point is that we may have nicked the insulation on the feed line to the main building with a shovel. This probably occurred when we moved things around to install the electrical supply to the dome this summer. We will have to wait for drier weather to expose the cable and possibly splice in a new piece. This appears to present no safety hazard at the moment and the extra KWH usage is small enough to ignore for the time being.

  2. Wolfram Kiparski and I shoveled the snow off the roof of the warm room and fired up the 16 for a little observing and to check out Wolfram on running the scope. He seemed to get comfortable with the computerized pointing very quickly.

  3. Jim Brownfield and I repaired a wire cable end on the shutter operator for the dome. The attachment point was tightened too much during installation and had cut several strands of the operating cable. A new end loop was formed around a wire rope thimble and a Nicropress fitting was used to close the loop. It helps to have worked with sailboat rigging.

  4. I installed a homemade electronic control and a simple Visual Basic program that permits the dome to be rotated from the warm room PC. This program spins the dome right or left and can also engage the motors for a second or two and then wait for a configurable period of time. This gives an approximate siderial rate of rotation to the dome. We tried it during a night of imaging and it worked rather well.

  5. A 75 ohm video cable was pulled through the duct from the dome into the warm room. This can serve several purposes. At present there is a .0003 Lux video camera with an F/4 lens mounted on the side of the top dovetail plate on the 12 inch scope. Live video from the dome camera can be shown on the warm room PC displaying the orientation of the dome slot and the scope. This permits visualizing where things are without any additional light needed in the dome.

  6. The 12 inch LX200 was given a brief checkout after its reinstallation during a night of imaging by Joe Petrick, Jim Wolford, and myself. The scope is tracking well and Joe's STV had no problems autoguiding it. We will do some further checkout and tweak the polar alignment when we get some more clear sky. 

  7. The one tree interfering view of Polaris from the 12 inch was taken down by Jim Brownfield recently.

  8. Joe Petrick has ordered a new SBIG camera and is going to donate his current Meade Pictor 416 (Blue enhanced KAF402E) camera and filterwheel to the club. We imaged with his old camera that night and with the exception of a sporadic problem with the SCSI driver for MaxIm, everything was working reasonably well. All the imaging work and data acquisition was done across the local area network from the warm room under very comfortable conditions.

Director of Observations

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

Besides Bob' report, we talked some about the upcoming Venus transit.  John Gorka noted on March 28th at around 3AM there will be 3 shadows from its moons on Jupiter's face.

Observations for past month

Bob Modic viewed Comet Linear a few times in February.  This was predicted to get up to 1st or 2nd magnitude in May, but so far it is following behinds predictions. Marty, Joe Petrick, and Jim Wolford did some imaging at the Hill using the 12". A few others took advantage of some rare clear nights and did some general viewing.

Editor:

Getting together material for the next issue, which should be before the next meeting.

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.  

Old Business

  1. Light Pollution - Larry Boros put together an article for Mentor's Chamber of Commerce newsletter called "Smart People - Dumb Lighting". John Gorka reports that a business in Chesterland put up flood lights in violation of the city ordinance. The city contacted the owner and now he keeps the lights off at night.

  2. Steve Fishman, Larry Boros, Vicky Ford, and Dan Galdun had volunteered to teach a group of girls at Mayfield Middle School the basics of Astronomy in preparation for a competition to be held at Cleveland State on February 28th. The group took 2nd place at the competition.

  3. Dan Rothstein, Larry Boros, and Ian Cooper had another meeting with the Geauga Park board on the new installation for the 25" Oberle Telescope. The park district has big plans for the project with cost estimates over $200,000. Besides having a building with a roll-off roof for the telescope, they want to have a warm room for meetings, viewing pads, restrooms, a paved parking lot, etc. They want to use to place for other things besides just the Oberle Telescope, such as having a weather station, seismograhph, solar telescope, hiking trails, etc. No decision has been made as to where to place this at.  When the weather gets better plans are to visit the possible sites that the park owns. They plan to go after grant money and local business to pay for this project. Another meeting is planed for March 22nd at the West Woods park at 7:00PM. Larry handed an Accessory list for the installation and a proposed layout for the roll-off roof observatory and warm room.

  4. Grants - Larry Boros put together a Proposed Mission Statement for the club. The main thing is how to differentiate ourselves from the Geauga Park district since they plan to go after grant money as well. The Proposed statement is:

          The missions of the Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society include:

a. Provide an inclusive and affordable support group for all members of the general public who become interested in learning about the natural wonders of astronomy and about making and using astronomical equipment.
b. Support public and governmental organizations in building and running observations facilities that provide astronomical viewing to the general public.
c. Make available personal expertise and personal and society owned astronomical equipment to events held for public viewing a both private and public sites.
d. Build, maintain, and operate an astronomical observatory comlex that allows members to have hands-on training in using manual and computer controlled telescopes for visual and instrumented observing using film and digital imaging.
e. Contribute to the scientific body of astronomical knowledge in areas including solar events, lunar events, planetary events, asteroids, comets, variable stars, and deep space phenomenon.
f. Support other similar public astronomy organizations.
g. Provide education on improving outdoor light quality while reducing light pollution.

New Business:

  1. Went over calendar - Added two new star parties on June 25th and July 9th. These two parties are at Mentor Headlands beach, parking lots 9 and 10. Setup is at 8:30PM, with the public being there between 9 and 11. A Frontiers of Astronomy program is on Thursday, March 11 at 8 PM at the Natural History Museum. This is on "Looking for Earths: The Race to Find New Solar Systems". Dedication of the new observatory with Keith Richards present will be done at either the May or June CVAS meeting at Indian Hill.

  2. Skip Westphal donated a large Hubble picture of Mars to the club and Rick Trembour had it matted and framed. Plans are to hang this in the warm room at the Hill.

  3. Dan Rothstein plans on doing a night time night survey for the new Oberle telescope that the Geauga Park is putting in on the night of March 19th or 20th.

  4. Dan Rothstein plans on looking into separating our taxes for the land at the hill from Keiths taxes. Should be able to do this. Once this done, we should be able to get a tax exemption for our land.

  5. A new Lake Park liaison for the club will be starting next month.   Thanks to Pete Pucella,
    Lake Count Metropark Naturalist for assisting CVAS these last few years.

  6. Larry Boros handed out a calendar of events sheet.

Visitors:

Had 2 visitors who were checking us out.

 
Special Photos:
October 30, 2003 Aurora