June/July 2000

A word from the (acting) president

by Neil Simmons

This month we gather to select our board of directors and enjoy a fun-filled day of picnicking at our own Yanna Research Station (for details, see page 3). Most years we have sunshine, but rain is not a complete stranger to our summer social gathering and our clubhouse is rather a blessing in those years. Years ago it was the end of a social season. The elected officials would not take office until near the summer's end in September and no other meetings took place until then. There is a wisdom to this as we all need time to enjoy our observing, but summer is both a time of observing and of construction and as the speed of modern life quickened, the loss of two or three months of meetings became troublesome.

This year we will be nearly wiping clear the slates that hold the names of our board members. Only Tim Ellestad will remain as our Observatory Director. For those who are new, we have been President-less since the resignation of Bob Manske in September after holding the office for so long that nobody's quite sure exactly when he started, but it's been about ten years. The remaining members of the board have made it clear to me that it was their time to stop as well.

I would like to thank those departing board members who have given service to the MAS. Joe Keyes, who has pretty much been the treasurer since I can remember, lists his years of service with double digits. Our Secretary, Bob Shannon, had last year graciously extended his service to 6 years. Dave Weier has been on the board as President, Vice-President, and Member-at-large, again for years ranging into the double digits, has also decided to explore other aspects of his astronomical interests. Mike Puffer, who had returned last year as a board member at large, had previously held the office of Secretary for years along with his wife Paula, is also stepping aside.

I would also like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to anyone interested in being on the board. Only a year's commitment is asked. The dozens of years we have seen lately are a personal preference. New people bring new ideas and new directions for the club. If you are interested, please contact any member of the nominating committee. They are Eric Thiede, John Rummel and Doc Greiner.
 
 

MAS honors four at spring banquet

34 MAS members and their guests attended the spring banquet at CJs. After the usual cocktails and delicious meal, four individuals were recognized and received awards for their contributions to amateur astronomy.

The MAS Astronomy Outreach and Education Award presented to Jim Lattis and Kay Kriewald. This is the second such annual award, given in recognition of outstanding efforts in outreach and education in the Madison area.

Jim Lattis is a very familiar face to most MAS regulars. Jim got his BS and MS degrees in physics from the University of Louisville, and did some of the first research at their then new Moore Observatory. He spent several years teaching and running planetarium shows before deciding to get his Ph.D. in the history of science at the UW Madison, specializing in medieval and early modern astronomy. While working on his degree, he conducted research with the physics department here studying the plasma torus around Jupiter's moon Io. Jim's thesis work centered around the writings of Jesuit astronomer Christoph Clavius, a contemporary and acquaintance of Galileo. Jim contends that one cannot understand Galileo's work unless one understands what his geocentrist contemporaries were really saying. Later published in book form, Jim's research on Clavius helped win him the Rome Prize of the American Academy in Rome, which resulted in a one-year fellowship in Rome in 1994-1995.

During the latter stages of his doctoral work, the UW Space Astronomy Lab and Astronomy Department were getting snowed under with requests for talks, presentations, tours, etc., most of which fell to Jim who did his best to satisfy the demand. There had to be a better way. They rented and remodeled the then-abandoned Park St. Ponderosa Steak House and opened UW Space Place in July of 1990. Jim has been recruiting speakers and thinking up astronomical outreach programs ever since. Additionally, Space Place now does astronomy workshops for teachers, and Jim still occasionally gets to teach his history of astronomy class for the UW Science Department.,

Kay is a graduate of the UW-Madison with a degree in elementary education and an emphasis in science education. After graduating, she worked as a tutor and substitute teacher before starting as Associate Outreach Specialist at Space Place in 1995. At Space Place, Kay's job consists primarily of conducting the workshops for groups (K through 8th grade). While that continues to be a major portion of her work, she also plans and directs the Saturday workshops for children and goes out to schools and does presentations for classes or science nights. She also maintains a mailing list of over 800 names who receive quarterly program guides of upcoming events at Space Place and updates and maintains the website for people to get information about programs.

Also at the banquet, Bob Manske and David Darling received certificates of recognition for outstanding contributions to the MAS and/or amateur astronomy. This award is given on an as-needed basis when the Society feels that formal recognition is due one of its own for outstanding contributions to the science of amateur astronomy. The award was accepted on Bob and David's behalf by Paula Puffer, since the two recipients were unable to attend. The following is based on Paula's comments at the banquet:

Dave Darling has been a member of the MAS since the late 80's. While most of us are cursing the Moon, Dave is passionate about it. He is a past president of the American Lunar Society and is currently the Lunar Transient Phenomena (LTP) coordinator for the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO). He has been responsible for organizing a network of observers for LTP. Along with Dave Weier, Winnifred Cameron and Bob Manske, Dave has co-published in the Journal of ALPO a study of the results of LTP observations during the Clementine Mission. He has spoken several times to the membership regarding lunar issues.

Bob Manske joined the MAS in the mid 80's and served the MAS as its President for a nearly a decade. During that time the MAS increased its public outreach and, consequently, its membership. During his watch, there were frequent Astronomy Fairs and public viewing events. We celebrated the 60th anniversary of the MAS with an ambitious 3-day event for the public. We hosted a ground-breaking Astronomical League Convention breaking away from the talk format to one of workshops. The president of the Astronomical League, Jim Fox, did not think that would work, but he was so wrong! It did work--WELL. Imagine the thrill of having Don Parker and Jack Newton here! Bob and the Board also worked to develop a plan for the MAS setting long-range goals for the organization which were, essentially, met. But for all his passion and enthusiasm for the MAS, Bob's greatest passion is for the science of amateur astronomy and as such, he is a member of the strong science core of the club. He can do his observing anywhere, whether it is in a Waunakee alley or hooked up to a cable in the boonies. He is a patient teacher. I remember when he tried to teach me how to do variables. He calmly showed me how to make my estimate, which is buried somewhere in the AAVSO records. Afterward, with a twinkle in his eye, he said, "See how easy that was!" He always says that: See how easy it is to do an occultation! See how easy it is to do a graze! See how easy it is to star hop! He has cared about and given greatly to the MAS.
 
 

Calendar:

June 10 Space Place Family Workshop, 10:00 am, 1605 S. Park St.

June 10 MAS Annual Picnic, see article below.

June 13 Space Place guest speaker: Prof. Jill Banfield, UW-Madison Geology Dept., 7:00 pm at Space Place, 1605 S. Park St. Dr. Banfield will speak about her work on subterranean micro-organisms and the implications for the search for life elsewhere in the universe.

June 24 Space Place Family Workshop, 10:00 am, 1605 S. Park St.

June 27 Space Place, Eyes on the Skies (Jim Lattis) 7:00 pm, 1605 S. Park St.

July 8 Space Place Family Workshop, 10:00 am, 1605 S. Park St.

July 11 Space Place guest speaker: Jim Lakore & Jim Lattis, "Time in Astronomy: The Concept and the Technology," 7:00 pm at Space Place, 1605 S. Park St.

July 14 MAS monthly meeting. 7:00 board meeting and beginner's clinic. 7:30, main presentation: Dr. R.A. Griener, "The Role of CCD Cameras in Amateur Astronomy" At Space Place, 1605 S. Park St.

July 22 Saturday Family Workshop at Space Place CANCELED. (see us at the Vilas Zoo instead)

July 25 Space Place, Eyes on the Skies (Jim Lattis) 7:00 pm, 1605 S. Park St.
 
 

Deep Sky Notebook: Hercules

By Tom Brissette

The big guy is high in the sky during June and July, and there is more than the just the Great Globular within his borders.

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

Object Name---Constellation---RA / Dec---Size---Magnitude---Uranometria Chart #

gc M13 Her 16h 41m 42s +36deg 27' 36" Size: 21' Mag: 5.8 Ura 114 Distance: 25,000 l.y. Diameter: 145 l.y.

16" f/19: The Great Globular, of course, observed with the club's 16" Cassegrain at 172x. Simply spectacular! Large core, dense and resolved, elongated slightly E-W. Prominent short dense outlier chains on north and south sides; 3 major ones on the south, with the eastern one the longest. North chains shorter, more numerous and denser. All N and S chains bend slightly to the west, giving a spider like appearance to the cluster. Short chains on east and west sides bend to the N and S; east side sparser, few stars. Also, 30' to the NE is galaxy NGC 6207; it's an elongated oval and was easily visible in my 8" dob at 98x.

gc M92 Her 17h 17m 7s +43deg 08' 12" Size: 14' Mag: 6.5 Ura 81 Distance: 28,000 l.y. Diameter: 90 l.y.

8" f/6: The forgotten globular in Hercules; a little smaller and fainter than M13, but still a very nice globular and a good sight. 165x 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 NGC 6229 Her 16h 46m 42s +47deg 31' 42" Size: 4.2' Mag: 9.4 Ura 200

8" f/6: A third globular in Hercules! A very small globular, but easily seen at 52x, though not very bright; next to pair of bright stars. 116x shows faint hazy halo with small, brighter granular core. No stars resolved.

pn NGC 6210 Her 16h 44m 29s +23deg 48' 00" Size: 16.2" Mag: 9.3 Ura 156

8" f/6: Visible at 52x as a very bright, almost star like object. 254x shows a compact, round smooth disk; strong pale-blue color, brighter center, diffuse edge.

pn NGC 6058 Her 16h 04m 26s +40deg 40' 59" Size: 23" Mag: 13.3 Ura 79

8" f/6: Visible at 55x as a fuzzy mag 13 star. 116x shows a very small, faint diffuse disk with prominent central star, though star is faint too.

pn IC 4593 Her 16h 11m 44s +12deg 04' 17" Size: 13" Mag: 10.9 Ura 200

8" f/6: Star like at low power; 254x shows a near-stellar, pale blue, bright disk; very faint outer halo. 17" f/4.5: 190x shows central star; larger disk, outer halo fades suddenly.

gx NGC 6146 Her 16h 25m 10s +40deg 53' 34" Size: 1.5'x0.9' Mag: 13.5 Class: E Ura 80

11" f/4.5: Very faintly visible at 54x; 120x shows a tiny, very faint patch 1' west of a mag 13.8 star. Halo is is slightly elongated E-W and very faint; stellar core of similar mag to nearby star.

gx NGC 6160 Her 16h 27m 40s +40deg 55' 33" Size: 2.0'x1.5' Mag: 14.2 Class: E Ura 80

11" f/4.5: Located about 30' east from 6146, just SE of a tight triangle of one mag 13 and two mag 14 stars. Also very faintly visible at 54x; slightly smaller than 6146. Slightly elongated halo NE-SW, extremely faint, no brighter core seen. Averted vision shows two mag 14 stars in NE end of halo.

Deep Sky Challenge

No challenge for this issue, unless someone wants to try something I haven't done yet: observe a disk for pn PK 51 +9.1 (it's listed at Humason 2-1 in Luginbuhl and Skiff's Observing Handbook). It's in Hercules too, at 18h 49m 47s +20deg 50' 39"; Ura 160. It's mag 12.2 but only 2.6" in size, so it's going to be a tough one!
 
 

June Picnic Details

June MAS picnic, June 10th. Come whenever you'd like to socialize and fraternize. Grills will be lit at 4:00, we'll eat at 4:30 or 5:00, and officer elections at 6:00 sharp. Burgers, brats and buns will be provided. Please bring a dish to pass, your own drinks, silverware, plates etc. Please be sensitive to YRS' lack of trash disposal facilities. Whatever you bring in, be prepared to take out.

As Neil has indicated in his president's column on page one, this picnic will represent something of a watershed for the society. In less than a one year period, we will have a nearly complete turnover in the leadership of MAS. Needless to say, the selection of new officers and board members is of critical importance to the future of this organization. If you have a desire to contribute to the continued vitality of this group, please come and participate. Whether your possible contributions are painting and lawn mowing, or maintaining astronomical equipment and serving on the board, please come and participate in MAS' future, starting at the June picnic.
 
 

Report on NCRAL 2000

by R. A. Greiner

The annual meeting of the North Central Region of the Astronomical League was held on May 5 and 6 in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

I arrived in La Crosse on Saturday afternoon and registered for the meeting at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. That evening we had a presentation in the planetarium at the University given by Robert Allen, president of the La Crosse Astronomical Society. The presentation of about an hour was a very interesting review of the history of the universe. Later in the evening there was a star party on the roof of the Physics building where a half dozen telescopes had been set up. The night was warm and clear so we got views of many objects and very fine views of a tiny slice of the moon which was only one day old.

Thirty seven of the North Central Astronomy clubs were represented at the meeting.

The next day was a full day of papers in the morning, a short meeting of the NCRAL after lunch and several more papers in the afternoon. The papers are listed below. All were interesting and well received. In the evening there was a banquet, a guest speaker who talked about and showed examples of ultra light mirror technology. A 20" mirror made of carbon fibers which weighed only 3 pounds was passed around.

Numerous door prizes were given out. I gave an invited paper in the afternoon and had a generally great time.

Speakers and topics:

· Making Galaxies ­ Dr. Eric Wilcots ­ University of Wisconsin Madison Department

· The Earth's Climate ­ Dr. Frank Barmore ­ University of Wisconsin LaCrosse

· The Role of CCD Cameras in Amateur Astronomy ­ Dr. R. A. Greiner­retired

· The Construction of a Mobile Observatory ­ Paul Castle ­ Wehr Astronomical Society

· The Lost Legend of Carl Elias ­ Greg Gonia ­ Rock Island Astronomy Club

· Ultra Light Optics ­ Dr. Peter Chen ­ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

This was my first meeting of the Astronomical League. I meet a lot of wonderful, enthusiastic, amateur astronomers and hope to join the Astronomical League very soon so I can attend future meetings. Next year NCRAL will be held in Green Bay.

An abstract of my presentation to NCRAL follows. The entire text can be found on my astronomical web site at

http://www.mailbag.com/users/ragreiner

The Role of CCD Cameras in Amateur Astronomy -- Dr. R. A. Greiner

This presentation will include specific discussion of mid and advanced level CCD equipment commonly used by amateur astronomers for digital imaging. Both the camera equipment and the control software will be discussed. The specifications of the equipment required to accomplish specific guiding and imaging goals will be emphasized. Current available hardware and software and how they interrelate are of concern and will be detailed. The presentation will include discussion of complete setups, from camera to telescope to software, which need to be coordinated to successfully accomplish specific imaging goals. Speculation on the state of the current art and the future of digital imaging will be presented.

Book Reviews

by John Rummel

Deep Sky Wonders: Walter Scott Houston and Stephen James O'Meara. Adapted from Houston's columns in Sky & Telescope magazine, selections and commentary by O'Meara, 1999 Sky Publishing Corporation.

Walter Scott "Scotty" Houston is a name most amateur astronomers know well. Author of the Sky & Telescope Deep Sky Wonders column from 1946 until his death in December of 1993. He was an avid amateur astronomer to the end of his long life. Houston's last column appeared in Sky & Telescope in July 1994 issue, and since that time, amateurs have had to scour back issues to excavate Houston's gold mine of observational knowledge.

Enter Stephen James O'Meara. O'Meara has been on the staff of Sky & Telescope magazine since the late 70's, and was editor of Houston's column from 1990 until his death.

O'Meara began the compilation by working with photocopies of the nearly 550 individual columns spanning Houston's career. He sorted, organized, and collated each of the works and produced a chapter for each month of the year, into which he inserted Houston's colorful prose, descriptive history, and observational commentary. O'Meara begins each section with some light annotation, but most of the words in this book are Houston's, and as a collection, they gel beautifully into a seasonal observer's guide that could almost challenge Burnham's for the sheer elegance and depth of feeling that emanates from the pages (alas, it is not nearly as comprehensive as Burnham's 3 volume classic Celestial Handbook).

Upon receiving the book, I quickly turned my attention to a few of my favorite deep sky objects and marveled at the timelessness of Houston's descriptive prose. Before I knew it I had been reading for over an hour and could have spent several more lost in the beauty of Houston's finely knit web of description, quotes from other authorities, and interaction with his readers. An example from his description of M35, a bright open star cluster in Gemini:

[with a 10 inch telescope]... the view was too beautiful to describe with mere words. Bright stars were scattered with cosmic recklessness across the field, and it was difficult to establish where the cluster's edges dissolved into the stellar background. There were dozens of curving star chains. Everywhere I looked I could see between the stars into the black depths of infinity. (pp 54-55)
O'Meara's compilation of Houston's material has quickly taken its place as one of my favorite "anytime I have a few minutes" books. It is also a valuable resource for planning observing sessions. Its organization by month lends itself well to selecting some prime targets for easy observing, with a generous dose of difficult challenges for the more adventurous. This book is destined to be an instant classic, both to seasoned amateurs and the new generation that is growing up without Houston's monthly column.

Starlight Nights: Leslie Peltier with a foreword by David Levy, a new edition of this long out-of-print classic. 1999 Sky Publishing Corporation.

"A hymn to the sky" -Levy

To me, no book more beautifully captures the spirit of amateur astronomy than Peltier's Starlight Nights. I first read this book several years ago and still remember marveling at Peltier's intensely personal autobiography. In writing of his childhood in Delphos, Ohio, he spares few details of life on the early 1900's farm, and we wait spellbound with him after he orders his first telescope with money saved from picking thousands of quarts of strawberries. We breathlessly observe the partial eclipse of 1918 (the teenaged Leslie lacked the funds to travel the 500 miles necessary to see totality in the US's first total eclipse of the century), and are swept away again that very night as he was one of the first to note the spectacular Nova Aquila as it rose to a stunning -1.4 mag.

Peltier's descriptions of his experiences are as elegant as they are simple. His deep respect and admiration for nature is woven into every page, not only for things astronomical, but terrestrial as well, for he was a naturalist of varied interests.

This reissue comes with a new foreword by David Levy, as well as several rare photographs (on the cover and back, as well as a few in the foreword) of Peltier, his early telescopes and homes. If you are familiar with this book, take this opportunity to read it again. If you've never read it before, set aside a long evening - you won't put it down after you start.
 
 

A Snowy and a Starry Night 2000

by Bill Jollie

Tom and Joan Pelnar of New Berlin combine the love of astronomy with the enthusiasm and organizational energy of schoolteachers. The result this April was Starry Night 2000, planned as a two night, one day observing and educational examination of our heavens.

The Pelnars hosted the event in Westfield Wisconsin, a small community about one hour north of Madison. Indefatigable work with community leaders ignited that small town spirit for which Wisconsin is known. Sponsors included the Wild Goose Pub and Grill, Virch's True Value Hardware, the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, and the Westfield Library. What kind of work has to occur to put on an event like this? Approvals and permits are only the end result of a long process that educates, involves, and finally motivates the city and county leaders to take a chance and try something new. The Marquette County fairgrounds opened its facility, including restrooms, an auditorium, storage shed for equipment, parking lot, and other facilities. Equally important, the county turned off the lights in the parking lot and surrounding areas, and fairgrounds managers identified other important electrical and building systems. You have really sold them when they turn over the keys and you don't even pay county taxes! The library donated a common room, power for telescopes and a perfect solar observational spot, right in the middle of the sidewalk approach to the main doors.

The energy that Tom and Joan displayed also extended to their content and organization in the event. Wall displays of our planets and moons, solar system, galaxy, and universe; a 10 inch Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain; other telescopes and binoculars; a solar observatory; a presentation on science fact and fiction; and Milky Way and Mars bars were just a few of the contributions the Pelnars made. Gerry Stroud gave an extensive overview of America's history in space, supported by his impressive rocket and spacecraft model collection. Bill Jollie offered a slide presentation of the mythology, composition, structure, and exploration of Jupiter and Saturn.

Alas, the contributions of other astronomers from the Madison and Milwaukee societies were stranded in the snowdrifts of a typical (and typically poorly timed) Wisconsin spring snowstorm. The roads on Friday, April 7 were impassable by afternoon, and overcast skies, blowing snow and wind-chill combined with the heavy snowfall to force cancellation of Friday evening's program. The program elements noted above were offered at the library on Saturday April 8, National Astronomy Day, to a small group of twelve or so, who were surprised that any of us had made it north to Westfield! Saturday's clear skies offered excellent morning and afternoon views of sunspots, faculae, and hints of granulation across the solar disk through the Pelnar's solar observing system.

Word of the revived event spread, and Saturday evening's program drew a larger audience of 30 or so: a substantial portion of the town's population. The skies cooperated until 10:00PM. Before the clouds rolled in the group got early evening views of Jupiter and its satellites, Saturn, and Mars through an Astro-Physics Star 12ED. Despite their proximity to the horizon, the setting gas giants showed enough stability at 146 power to demonstrate Jupiter's belts and zones, with the Cassini division in Saturn plainly visible. The night observing run also included several deep sky objects. M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy) and M32 were captured in their final spring descent to the west. Open Clusters M52 and M45 (the Pleiades), M42 and 43 (the Orion Nebulae), M1 (the Crab Nebula), M35, and Galaxies M96, M81, and M82 were acquired to provide an overview of the magnificent and varied jewels that yield to even casual night observation. The evening group especially seemed to enjoy the trapezium and tendrils of nebulosity within the Orion Nebula at 85 power. A slice of the new moon on its way to first quarter burned through the gathering clouds as a finale.

Determination, the Pelnar's energy, Gerry Stroud's commitment and the town of Westfield's enthusiasm kept this inaugural event alive in the teeth of an unseasonable blizzard. With clear dark skies, excellent fairgrounds, easy access, friendly hotel and restaurant proprietors, and curious, polite children and adults, Westfield exhibits all the ingredients to support an astronomy event of the highest order. Let's hope that Starry Night 2000 is the start of an annual event - perhaps organized around the weekend of National Astronomy Day - and that the town and the Pelnars cooperate next year to host version 2001.
 
 
 UW Physicist Robert Morse addresses MAS banquet

At the MAS spring Banquet, Robert Morse of the UW physics department gave us a glimpse of how some physicists do astronomy.

An important goal of astronomy is to help us understand how, when, and under what conditions our Universe was created. When we try looking back in time to the very edges of the universe for clues however, we find the far-away universe is clouded by remnant radiation left over from the Big-Bang, effectively blocking many high energy sources from being detected at all. Neutrinos are the only artifacts of these events that are not absorbed by intervening material. They can get through anything. This very property makes them frustratingly difficult to observe because they go right through the detectors too.

Dr. Morse and his associates have developed new ways to get around these limitations of Nature. Neutrinos are only detectable when they interact with other particles and produce a muon. The AMANDA detector (Antarctic Muon and Nutrino Detector Array) is 1500m under the ice of the south pole. The detectors actually search for the light "bow wave" created by the muon. The photo-multipliers in the detectors can time the passing of an individual photon on the scale of a nanosecond (about the time a photon takes to travel one foot). With this sensitivity, the detectors can accurately reconstruct the direction of the bow shock, and thus the direction of the muon, and thus backward to the direction of the neutrino.

Muons are also created by ordinary cosmic rays, which continually bombard the surface from every direction. The actual ratio of "noise" muons to "signal" muons is over 10,000,000 to 1. Bad muons are so plentiful that most of the project time is spent analyzing the background to get down to the incredibly rare real hits. If you conceive of AMANDA as a telescope, it is pointed through the Earth to survey the northern hemisphere sky, effectively using the earth itself as a giant cosmic-ray filter.

The astronomical resolving power (ability to localize a source on the celestial sphere) is about a degree, which is pretty good by neutrino standards. One goal of the group is to work with other astronomers to determine what type of astronomical objects may be responsible for these high energy neutrino emissions.

Dr. Morse's talk was engaging and thought provoking. MAS members, never bashful, peppered him with questions throughout the presentation, and were appreciative of his time spent with us.
 
 

Editor's Corner

by John Rummel

This issue marks the beginning of my second year editing the Capitol Skies newsletter, and I'd like to thank the membership and officers of the society for the continuing privilege of serving in this capacity. Several items in this issue deserve your attention. First, the annual summer picnic is coming up June 10th and I'd like to encourage all members to attend. If you've never been to Yanna Research Station, the picnic is a great opportunity to see what's available to observing members. It's also a great time to meet other members and share informal conversation and camaraderie. See the article on page 3 for information on the officer elections to be held at the picnic and for directions to YRS.

This issue contains highlights of the spring banquet, another installment of Tom Brissette's Deep Sky column, a few book reviews, a piece by Bill Jollie on the Starry Night 2000, held recently in Westfield, Wisconsin, and Doc Greiner's account of the North Central Region's Astronomical League conference. Doc will be presenting an encore version of his NCRAL talk on CCD astronomy at the MAS July meeting.

Some things for members to think about over the next few months: the back page of this newsletter contains a resource list made up of MAS members (and in a few cases, former members) who have agreed to act as contacts for members in various areas of expertise. This list has not been revised in several years, and is badly in need of an update. We have many new members with considerable expertise in a variety of areas and I'd like to see this list revised in time for the August newsletter. If you would like to have your name appear there as a contact for an area of interest or expertise, please contact me with that information. You do not need to be an expert to be listed. We're a society of amateurs, so an interest and some experience are sufficient. Note that we currently have no contact person regarding the use of computers in astronomy, no contacts on the history of the hobby or history of astronomy, nobody devoted to solar observing, and no contact for community outreach. If you'd like to share your expertise in these or other areas, please contact me with this information.

And finally, MAS would like to warmly welcome several new members: Matthew Smith, Matt Mills and Bob Willett. Also, congratulations and welcome to A.J. Carver, the recipient of MAS' first annual telescope scholarship. You'll get a chance to hear more about A.J. in the next issue of Captial Skies. Welcome aboard!

Clear skies and mosquito-free nights to all.
 
 

YRS Privy Update

by Mary Ellestad

The Madison Astronomical Society Privy Project is finally on its way to completion! Details were presented to the MAS Board and membership at the May meeting. It was voted to proceed with the project, to allocate additional funds for vinyl siding on the building and to award the construction portion to the best of three bids. The following week, I met with Verona Excavating at Yanna in order to create the site plan needed for the permits from Green County. The tank will probably be ordered by the end of May. If all goes as hoped for, at the least the walls will be in place by our June 10th picnic.

This project would not have been possible without generous contributions from many MAS members. Your total contributions to date of over $2300. along with the MAS matching funds, will provide about what we need. My thanks again to everyone who has sent their checks to Joe Keyes. A few pledges have not been sent in and I hope these will be added to our total soon.

See you at the picnic!
 
 
 Right, an actual photo of a privy design idea considered and rejected by the MAS board. Come to the June picnic to see the final plans for the new privy.

 

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