Capitol Skies - Apr / May 1998


Newsletter of the Madison Astronomical Society

In this issue


MAS News Note
by Neil A. Simmons

The news from fellow MAS member Gerry Samolyk is staggering. Professional astronomers everywhere are finding themselves dealing with budget cuts. In growing numbers scientist across the world are turning towards the amateur to supply data for their theory mills. Gerry participated in last year's meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) in Sion, Switzerland, where that topic was hot on everybody's mind. "This just reinforces the importance that amateur astronomers have, and have always had in doing science," relates Gerry, a member of the AAVSO's eclipsing binary committee. "Newton, Galileo, and Copernicus were all employed doing something else when they made their contributions to astronomy." Many members of our club already have a long standing relationship with the AAVSO. A few lucky ones have CCD cameras or access to large telescopes like our own 17 inch reflector in Green County. With such tools they can observe and produce results of quality on the fainter stars that have captured the hearts of the professional astronomers. But even without these enhancements, the observations of amateurs with small and medium sized telescopes are constantly being requested. Members of the AAVSO were called to monitor the nightly business of many cataclysmic variable stars several years ago when the second Astro mission flew aboard the Space Shuttle. This type of variable star has an unpredictable behavior and the Astro mission scientist wanted to watch an outburst, or a sudden brightening of the star, in it's earliest phase. Since moving from one star to another is a laborious process, to improve the odds of success the mission planners called on amateur variable star observers to do the spotting for them, and with great success. Several dozen ground-based amateurs kept watch over a list of stars given to them previously and reported any activity they saw - even reporting inactivity if that were the case. The results were that the scientists were able to catch some of their quarry on the rise, just as they hoped.

This kind of request is routine for it has been used on projects involving many astronomical satellites, including the European Space Agency's "Hipparcos" satellite. In that mission, amateur astronomers' brightness estimates of red long period variables gave the project scientists the ability to gauge the aging of the optics used to determine precisely the position and brightness of millions of the skies brightest stars with unprecedented accuracy. Many amateur variable star observers start out after being in astronomy for awhile. They've become used to the unchanging aspect of the "faint fuzzies" and hunger for some excitement. Some start out early in their careers and contribute just as much as the seasoned veteran. The only requirement is a working pair of eyes and a little patience. There are a number of MAS members who are willing to help, and their names and telephone numbers appear elsewhere in this issue. For those with Internet access, go to the AAVSO home page at www.aavso.org for the latest news and charts on dozens upon dozens of variables. Once you obtain some star charts, you may be continually wishing for clear skies.


A Message from our President
Bob Manske

Dr. Greiner's lead articles in this month's Capitol Skies presents the deliberations of the 16 inch building committee. MAS will receive the report formally at the picnic on June 13th. We thought at one time that we could not save the building, but the weathering damage is less than originally feared. There is a lot of work before us. The facility is a fine remembrance of one MAS' most illustrious members, Art Koster. Informal polls of the membership indicate that there a great deal of interest in using the telescope if we can repair the building and rework the mount and controls to make it easier to operate. Ray Zit has already offered to refurbish the dome and Dick Greiner has offered to rebuild the mount. I will close this paragraph with a sentence which contains a single word. You'll need to supply the missing portions. Funding. In the past year we have moved all of our committee meetings from the observatory to T.J. Whitney's in the winter months. I think we should formalize the schedule in the following way. The observatory committee will winterize at Whitneys' in November, December, January, February, and March. The remaining months we will meet at YRS. Other committees which do not directly relate to the observatory will meet at Whitney's all year round. All of these committees are open to all MAS members. The schedule follows: Observatory Committee - the Saturday following our regular monthly meetings. This is the steering committee for the club. This is where we debate the issues before MAS and develop recommendations for formal approval at the regular monthly meetings. Funding Committee - the fourth Saturday of the month at 1:00 PM at T.J. Whitney's. This committee will present its final report to the club at the September meeting. Youth Membership Committee - the first Saturday of the month at 1:00 PM at Whitney's. It will present its final report to MAS at the next January meeting. I'd also like to suggest that we restart our thematic star parties. But rather than schedule them around the Moon, I think we should have a regular schedule. I propose shifting the observatory committee meeting to later in the day, say 4:00 PM, bringing along a supper, and then having a star party later that evening. One of our members will make a presentation not to exceed 45 minutes, and then later on lead a hands-on demonstration. These star parties would take place during the summer months, when the observatory committee meets at YRS.


Deep Sky Notebook by Tom Brissette

Welcome to my second deep sky column! This is now officially a regular feature, heh heh. [if kept to 2 pages. Ed.] Anyway, summer is here, and with it the Milky Way arcing high in the sky (along with hordes of hungry mosquitoes). I have a lot of stuff to describe in this issue. First, though, I do want to mention a news update: I recently bought a Celestron 11" dobsonian. This will become my new base scope for my observations, as well as for determining difficulty ratings for the objects I describe in the column. That won't happen for a while, though, since I have a large backlog of 8" observations, and will continue to use those. But all my observations from now on will be done mainly with with the 11", so it might be hard at times to determine what is easy to see in a smaller scope. But, the observations will correspond well to those done with the 11" and 12" at the Yanna Research Station. By the way, it is Very nice to have an 11" scope of your own. Now on to the deep sky stuff for this issue. But first, a note on what you'll see here, or rather, what you'll NOT see here. I will not be including what I call "The Big Four": the Hercules Globular (M13), the Ring Nebula (M57), the Lagoon Nebula (M8), and the Dumbbell Nebula (M27). These have been observed to death, so it's time to give them a rest. Actually, I will be including a Messier object in Hercules and Lyra--just not the ones you'd expect. You'll also notice a large number of globular clusters; these are my favorite objects, and since I can't include everything in this issue, I concentrated on Ophiuchus and Scorpius--two constellations with an abundance of globulars. Sagittarius will just have to wait.

Abbreviations:

gx: galaxy en: emission nebula vs: variable star ds: double star
oc: open cluster rn: reflection nebula pn: planetary nebula snr: supernova remnant
gc: globular cluster

ep: eyepiece sb: surface brightness av: averted vision mag: magnitude
con: concentrated st nuc: stellar nucleus mod: moderately irr: irregular

Ratings:
(+) : Visible in 8x50 finder;
(E) : Easy, plainly visible in 8" scope at low power;
(H) : Hard, either not visible at all in 8" scope, or barely visible at high power;
(C) : Challenge! Not visible at all in 11"-12" scope; use the big ones

Object name, Constellation---Rating---RA/Dec----Uranometria chart #

gc M92 Her (+)
17h 17m +43deg 08'
Ura 81 8" f/6:
The forgotten globular in Hercules; a little smaller and fainter than M13, but still a very nice globular. 7.4mm ep shows a large dense outer core, fully resolved; small bright round inner core very granular hazy. A scattering of outliers forming few chains, mostly to the north and south.
gc M56 Lyr (+)
19h 16m +30deg 11'
Ura 118 8" f/6
Even more overlooked than M92 is M56 in Lyra, home of the mighty Ring Nebula. This is a small globular, but a nice sight. 7.4mm ep shows a large, round, dense core with some faint stars resolved, but mostly very granular. A scattering of outliers, forming no chains, not extending very far. 17" f/4.5: 10.5mm ep shows it more fully resolved, making it a very nice sight; inner region still hazy--core is dense. No real outlier chains appear; a scattering of faint stars forming a halo, with a right one near the core.
gc M5 Ser (+)
15h 18m +02deg 05'
Ura 244 8" f/6
Big, bright, great globular. Large, round, mod. Dense core resolved with inner region granular. Many outliers forming several chains, especially to east and south. Some outliers extend far away from core. 17" f/4.5: Very impressive sight; core is fully resolved, though very inner part is very dense. Several bright outlier chains curving from E and S sides; very bright chain extending from SW; fainter, sparser straight chains extend from W.
pn NGC 6058 Her (E)
16h 04m +40deg 41'
Ura 79 8" f/6
Visible in 22mm as a fuzzy mag 13 star. 10.5mm ep shows a very small, faint diffuse disk with prominent central star, though star is faint.
pn NGC 6210 Her (E)
16h 44m +23deg 48'
Ura 156 8" f/6
Visible in 23mm ep as a very bright, almost star-like object. 4.8mm ep shows a compact, round smooth disk;strong pale-blue color, brighter center, diffuse edge.
pn IC 4593 Her (E)
16h 11m +12deg 04'
Ura 200 8" f/6
Star-like at low power; 4.8mm ep shows near-stellar, pale blue, bright disk; very faint outer halo. 17" f/4.5: 0.5mm ep shows central star; larger disk, outer halo fades suddenly.
gc NGC 6229 Her (E)
16h 31m +47deg 31'
Ura 200 8" f/6
Very samll globular, but easily seen in 23mm ep, though not very bright; next to pair of bright stars. 10.5mm ep shows faint hazy halo with small, brighter granular core. No stars resolved.
gx NGC 6070 Ser (H)
16h 09m +00deg 42'
Ura 245 8" f/6
Barely visible with AV in 12.5mm ep as an extremely faint, very low SB ill-defined oval patch. 17" F/4.5: Visible with direct vision in 12.5mm ep, AV shows elong. oval, with possible brighter core. Very low SB.
gc M12 Oph (+)
16h 47m -01deg 56'
Ura 246 8" f/6
Mod-large, bright globular. 10.5mm ep shows strongly con, dense core, slight oval shape; partially resolved, inner region is a very granular haze. A few short outlier chains; three brighter stars form triangle, base centered on core, pointing E.
gc M10 Oph (+)
16h 57m -04deg 06'
Ura 247 8" f/6
Large, bright companion to M12, lies 3.3 degrees SE. 10.5mm ep shows round, mod con core, mostly resolved, though rather dense. Many long outlier chains.
gc M107 Oph (E)
16h 32m -13deg 03'
Ura 291 8" f/6
Small globular, 10.5mm ep shows a compact, very granular round patch in center of a kite-shaped pattern of stars (all around mag 7). AV shows a tiny halo of faint outliers. 17" f/4.5: 12.5mm ep resolves a few core stars; core is dense, still mostly very granular. Outlier halo more extensive, but still small.
gx NGC 6384 Oph (H)
17h 32m +07deg 03'
Ura 203 Class: Sb 8" f/6
Just barely visible in 23mm ep using AV. 12.5mm ep and AV shows a rather small, faint, very diffuse oval patch of even brightness, very low SB. 17" f/4.5: Easier to see, 12.5mm ep shows a faint diffuse halo with a large, brighter core.
pn NGC 6572 Oph (E)
18h 12m +06deg 51'
Ura 204 8" f/6
Appears as a blue mag 9 star in 22mm ep. 4.8mm ep shows a bright, blue, Uranus-size disk, slightly oval, even brightness, diffuse edge. Central star not seen.
gc NGC 6144 Sco (H)
16h 27m -26deg 01'
Ura 336 8" f/6
 

Not too hard to see once located, lies 1 degree NE of globular M4, though very diffuse and faint. 12.5mm ep shows no brighter core, just a small round granular haze with a few resolved stars. Mag 12 star on W edge.

gc NGC 6441 Sco (E)
17h 50m -37deg 03'
Ura 377 8" f/6
Easy to see when found, but lies at -37 deg declination, next to G Sco, a mag 3.2 orange star. 12.5mm ep shows a tiny but well-defined globular, with a large bright unresolved core with a thin, granular halo.
oc NGC 6709 Aql (E)
18h 51m +10deg 20'
Ura 205 8" f/6
 

Faintly visible in finder; compact, fairly bright cluster. 12.5mm ep shows overall shape is roughly triangular, body is split in two parts with a curving dark lane in between; a string of stars is in middle of lane. E part is elong N-S, has a bright pair of stars. W part is irr shaped, has a bright orange star. Overall, mod rich in stars, mod dense. Mostly empty dark halo surrounds cluster, contains possible outliers.

oc Berk 79 Aql (H)
18h 45m -01deg 12'
Ura 250 8" f/6
12.5mm ep shows a slightly arced, short string of faint stars. 16" f/19: 45mm ep shows four brighter stars, some very faint ones possibly forming a closed group. 7

drdurand.gif (49965 bytes) Left: At the May meeting of the MAS, Dr. Bernice Durand, UW Madison Physics Department, demonstrates space curvature with the assistance of MAS members (from left to right) Wynn Wacker, Neil Simmons, Dave Weier, and Ed Sheaff. Each of the latter hanging onto their corner of space while Dr. Durand is about to create a warp with a large rock. Which, amazingly, did not end up on the floor.


photo coutesy Tim Ellistead


 

The MAS annual Spring banquet was held on April 17 at CJ's East.


A good time was had looking at Eclipse Slides and cheering awardees as well as smart commentary from the attendees themselves.

all photos by Tim Ellistead

Ray Zit MAS president Bob Manske presents an award to Ray Zit, MAS treasurer, in recognition of years of service to the Society and his on-going efforts in maintaining observatory property at the Yanna Research Station. MAS board member Tom Jacobs displays his well deserved award from the MAS for outstanding donations of time and expertise to the Society. His wife Jane obviously agrees.
Doc Greiner R. A. "Doc" Greiner receives an MAS Certificate of Appreciation for the donation of the Meade 12" LX200 and roll-off building to house it as well as other support. Dick is a member of the MAS board of directors and editor of the Newsletter.

A fourth award was presented to Mark Bauernfeind for his efforts as the Observatory Director over the past two years and the rebuilding of the AKO building housing the 11" Celestron. Mark was not able to be at the meeting.

Wynn, Angela, Eric & Curt Left to right:  Members Wynn Wacker, Angela Spindler, Eric Thiede, and Curt Meyer at the Spring banquet.
Lisa and Jeff Peronto and Dick Goddard Left to right:  MAS banquet attendees Lisa Peronto, Jeff Peronto and Dick Goddard enjoy a little pre-dinner conversation. (with refreshments)
Gil and Alana Lubke Member and CCD imager Gil Lubcke and his wife Alana in the spirit of the evening at the MAS banquet in May.
Tom and Jane Jacobs Jane Jacobs congratulates her husband Tom on his certificate of appreciation.

 

 


The Observation Committee

Observatory Committee at Yanna Research Station Observatory Committee takes up the serious business of what to do about repairing the 16" building. This building houses the 16" Art Koster telescope which we feel is essential to our observing program. The building has experienced some wetness and rot over the years and is in need of repairs. These issues are discussed with enthusiasm by (left to right) Dick Greiner, Alan Henn, Bruce Brinkerhoff, Tom Brissette, Wynn Wacker (standing) Dave Weier and Dick Goddard, all regulars at observatory committee meetings. Recommendations will go to the MAS membership at the summer picnic meeting of the Society on June 13 at YRS for action.
All members of the MAS are members of this committee and are encouraged to attend   and share their ideas.



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