June/July 2001 Issue

From the President's Desk

by Richard Greiner

This is my last message as president of the Madison Astronomical Society. I have decided that I must move on to attend to other interests and obligations. I am a strong believer in having many members involved in running a society and especially of giving new and younger members a chance to participate fully in an organization.

I feel we have made considerable progress in several areas this past year. The society is in good shape with increased membership and orderly finances. We have codified our rules in the form of revised by-laws and a great number of members have been able to participate in our activities. My thanks to the officers who have served with me to accomplish many of our goals.

I am particularly pleased that we have improved the facilities at the Yanna Research Station with completion of the privy facilities and the addition of an automated dome to the 10 foot building. The new dome will enable safe and easy viewing from the 10 foot building by all observing members of the society. The work on assembling the dome and placing it on the building was completed with the help of many MAS members. I thank each and every one of them. It demonstrates that great accomplishments can be done with cooperative effort among the members. I sincerely hope that improved viewing opportunities at YRS will entice more members to enjoy viewing the celestial sphere on a regular basis.

I have also pressed forward with ideas to put more science into our activities at YRS. I am especially pleased with the work that Greg Sellek has put into starting our minor planet observation group and using the capabilities of our automated telescope to better advantage than ever before.. This and several other scientific observational activities should bring our society to the forefront among astronomical societies in the state.

It is with some regret that I step down after one short year. I do this for personal reasons. I look forward to watching the society launch new activities at it progresses into its eighth decade.

Sincerely

Dr. R. A. Greiner

President of the MAS
 
 

New Members

MAS welcomes the following new members since April 2001:

Mark Moe

Jeff Paradis

John Quigley

Tom Stevens
 
 

MAS Picnic June 9th

The annual picnic at the Yanna Research Station! 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 will be 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.
 
 

My Vision for Expanded Capabilities at YRS

The basic thrust of this vision is to establish an improved observatory facility which will ultimately be fully automated. By automated control, I mean providing local (in the observatory building) and/or near remote (from the clubhouse) operation of the telescope and our new dome. This level of automation provides manual or computer controlled pointing of the telescope with slaved operation of the dome. Implementing this system involves a GOTO telescope and a dome slaving system. Local and near remote operation are easiest to establish since the operator acts as a local attendant to the facility. That is, the operator opens the building turns on the equipment, uncovers the telescope and so forth. After using the facility the attendant turns it off and secures it.

There are two main reasons for establishing this facility. One is to allow for CCD or film photography to be controlled and monitored from the club house. The second is to allow for observation and scientific evaluation of minor planets and/or photometry or other scientific use from the club house. Operation from the club house is clearly desirable in winter and bug season­our two longest seasons in Wisconsin!

My vision for the MAS is to have a Meade LX200 telescope coupled to the new Pro Dome that has just been installed. I would provide as a part of my donation all of the equipment necessary to assemble this automated system. That includes the telescope and digital dome control. We are about half way to my perceived goal with the recent installation of the new motorized Pro Dome.

The issue, as I see it, is for the MAS members to decide if the MAS wants additional facilities at YRS to establish this modern automated operation. There is a second advantage to establishing a new automated facility. It is that the current LX200 observatory, the Doc G Observatory, will be freed up for more traditional visual work or for imaging.

The equipment I am proposing has been installed in many observatories, is highly tested and very reliable. It is called "Digital Dome Works" from Technical Innovations. The system is designed specifically to work with LX200 instruments and the Pro Dome we now have. It can remotely open the shutter, point the telescope, rotate the dome in synchronism with the telescope, park the telescope and close the shutter at the end of a session. It can be manually operated, computer controlled from the observatory building or remotely operated from the club house using a computer.

My vision is to breathe new life into the AKO (Art Koster Observatory) which has housed the C-11 for many years. The C-11 is a high quality, manually operated telescope which I envision as being retained at YRS for visual observation from its own facility.

If my vision for improvements at YRS is found to be desirable by the MAS members, we will have observation facilities that will be of great benefit to the members. They will be high quality, modern and facilities we can be proud of. We, the MAS, will then have two 12" GOTO telescopes, one in an automated building and one in a roll off building. A 17" Dobsonian for visual work and a C-11 for visual work. Ultimately, the 16" telescope, in the KMO (Koster Memorial Observatory) building will be operational as well. We will then have capabilities of serving our members better and carrying on our outreach activities more effectively.

I am sharing this vision with you with the hope that you will find it forward-looking and good. I hope that this vision will be discussed at the July or August meetings of the MAS. I am prepared to do my part to make it come true.

Sincerely,

R. A. "Doc" Greiner
 
 

Editor's Note:

A bit of background: Some months ago, Doc Greiner made a motion to donate a new Pro-Dome to MAS to replace the aging and ailing dome on the AKO (Art Koster Observatory) building (housing the 11" Celestron). The gift was accepted and Doc assembled a team of volunteer labor to assist in installing it over the past several weeks (see pictures page 6).

At the May meeting, Doc made known his further intentions to generously donate a new Meade 12" LX200 telescope for the building as well, which would work with the dome automation system and enable remote operation and imaging from the clubhouse. When this topic was brought up for discussion, it was apparent that there was considerable concern over the issue of removing the 11" telescope from the building and replacing it with a new telescope. The 11" originally belonged to Art Koster and was sold to MAS at the same time the building was donated, back in the 1980's. Though the original building and dome are gone (replaced in previous renovations), the building had been rededicated as the "Art Koster Observatory" thus preserving the memory and legacy of one of MAS' most active members over 4 decades.

Along with Doc Greiner's account of his desire to furnish the Yanna Research Station with this new facility (previous page), below are the comments of several members stating their concerns about the donation of a new telescope for this building, and some perspectives on the history of the Kosters' contributions to the MAS.


I am deeply distressed by the discussion in the MAS to use the building that Art and I built and donated to the club for a telescope other than the 11" Celestron. The building and the telescopes were a memorial to a man who dedicated 37 years of his life to MAS and astronomy.

Without our past contributions, MAS would not have had either of the buildings nor the telescopes for the past 20 plus years. This was a major sacrifice on our part, we are not wealthy people, but my husband's love of astronomy and his desire to share it, made our gift worth the cost. The club had little money at that point and the future looked dim for having adequate facilities. I believe to negate the value of my husband's dedication to MAS so casually sets a negative precedent for all future donors.

Respectfully,

Mrs. Arthur L. (Doris) Koster


[Many MAS members] never knew Art or have met with his wife Doris, but there are some of us remaining at the MAS who knew and respect the man. Having two observatories on the premises that display his name should give some indication of how deep this respect goes. This respect stems from Art's span of four decades with the MAS, his craftsmanship, his astronomical capabilities and above all his quiet personal warmth. When the observatory was rebuilt it was also rededicated in his name. Both he and Doris have spent an enormous amount of time in service to the MAS. Doris has put together a history of the MAS that was placed at the observatory that includes the works of Walter Scott Houston up to Carl Fosmark, for those who are interested.

Of course we are interested in improving the quality of the observing experience at the MAS. We are concerned, however, with the notion that a difference in opinion means we lack understanding of it. Our concerns are genuine, and we wish to have input into the discussion and direction of the MAS. We hope that an honest face-to-face discussion as equal members of the MAS will replace political maneuverings in the months ahead so we can get on to doing astronomy, which is what the MAS is supposed to be promoting.

Neil Simmons, Joe Keyes and Dave Weier



 
 

Calendar of Events

June 9th - MAS annual picnic at YRS. See directions and blurb on front page

July 13th - MAS regular meeting, Space Place (1605 S. Park St.). Jane Breun will speak on the topic "Historical Mars Oppositions." Main meeting and presentation at 7:30, board meeting and visitor/newcomer roundtable at 7:00.

August 10th - MAS regular meeting, Space Place (1605 S. Park St.). AJ Carver will will talk about his experience at the Advanced Astronomy Camp at the University of Arizona. Main meeting and presentation at 7:30, board meeting and visitor/newcomer roundtable at 7:00.
 
 

Telescopic Scholarship and Young Astronomer Awards Presented

At the May meeting, Geoff Holt of the Madison School District planetarium was awarded the MAS Outreach and Education Award. Geoff has been the planetarium director for the MMSD for 7 years and an educator for much longer.

Ben Hastil, a 13 year old from Brooklyn, WI was awarded the 2001 Telescopic scholarship. Ben will have one full year to use the 8-inch Dobsonian telescope, eyepieces, and astronomy library that are part of the scholarship. Look for more information from Ben in future issues as he keeps up posted about how he's using and enjoying the scope.
 
 

MAS "Forum"

Question: MAS just awarded its second annual "Telescope Scholarship" this month to a deserving young astronomer. What were the influences in YOUR life that led you to amateur astronomy?

Bill Jollie replies:

1. My dad. He had a pair of binoculars and a summer cottage at a dark sky sight (a cottage in the then dark hinterland west of Pensacola Florida, on the gulf, looking south with no lights between us and a pretty dim Venezuela). He knew just enough about the sky to pique our interest, since both my brother and I (independently as we lived at opposite ends of the country and without consultation) acquired very good binoculars and then small telescopes and then big telescopes...

2. Omnivorous reading. As a callow youth I read a "fictional biography" of Kepler (in other words, it tried to fill in the dry nuggets and sparse detail of this incredible mathematician's life with educated guesses about how he thought ­ and what his acquaintances thought about him.). What a guy! I was hooked, and have never stopped reading the history of science (astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, evolution and paleontology).

3. My junior science teacher. I was in honors physics at the time, and conflicted between learning about girls and applying a more orthodox slide rule (yes, we used slide rules) to Newton's calculus and Bohr's equations. Mr. Behrend was not astronomy driven ­ he was going for the subatomic ­ but he was such a brilliant lecturer and so enamored with Newton that the Cambridge seer's work on celestial mechanics and optics lit an unquenchable fire to see what he had seen.

4. The birth of my son. The early experiences noted above occurred in the mid sixties, and stoked a binocular habit, very occasionally enlivened with a visit to a planetarium or an observatory, until 1992. Sam's arrival forced my love of the outdoors and the spare time to enjoy it to shrink into the dark hours close to home when he was (fitfully) sleeping. I gradually realized that astronomy would get me out and deeply connected with nature from the dark but otherwise unremarkable backyard in Heartland Wisconsin. I could no longer indulge in backpacking trips of two and three weeks. I drove to Eagle Optics in Madison to acquire a Celestron Dob, and slipped all the way down the slippery, stellar slope.

Eric Theide replies:

My parents were probably the people most responsible for my astronomical interests (though they may have regretted it later). My dad had taught celestial navigation in WWII, so he knew a little about the sky. I remember him showing me a bright star in the sky sometime in the '50's and telling me that it was Mars. He also did certain other things like letting me stay up late one wintry night (I've been trying to figure out exactly which one) to watch a lunar eclipse, and taking me out to Pine Bluff Observatory when they had a public open house to celebrate their opening (1958?). I think he may also have taken me to the planetarium at Sterling Hall once or twice, though I don't remember for sure. My mother (and her mother) were also an influence. In 1957 my mother showed me comet Arend-Roland, which was then a wonderful sight in the evening twilight. That was the first comet I ever saw, and the last until Ikeya-Seki in 1965. My grandmother used to watch Echo and other satellites from her backyard in Manitowoc, and once we watched a total lunar eclipse (summer 1964?) from a motel balcony in Ohio on our way back from a family vacation to the East Coast. (my dad had also shown me the tumbling rocket booster of the first Sputnik several years earlier).

My folks also bought me a 60-mm dept. store refractor in the early 60's. I didn't look at too much with it other than the moon, the sun (it had one of those highly risky eyepiece solar filters...but it never cracked and so I lived to see other things, and still have that filter and still use it as a naked eye solar viewer), and the people in a large apartment building a long ways away.

About the mid 60's, I met Wynn Wacker, who was another inmate of West High, who was already knowledgeable about the sky. I think this got me to drag out the old scope and I recall the thrill of seeing Saturn for the first time with it in August of '65. I still have that scope, or at least the cannabalized parts of it. From here on it was all uphill (or downhill), In 1967, coincident with our entering the UW, Dr. Osterbrock of the UW Astronomy Dept. allowed us virtually unlimited use of the 15-inch Clark refractor at Washburn Obs. (my dad being a powerful UW administrator at the time may have had something to do with this, though I don't think he pulled any strings directly). That was indeed a thrill, to have access to something like that at age 18. We did a lot with that instrument: Jupiter observing for ALPO, occultations for the US Naval Obs., etc. It was probably the most astronomically productive period of my life.
 
 

Sky-Gazing From the Flight Deck

By Neil Robinson

Have you ever looked UP your solar shadow?

Have you ever seen the sun RISE in the WEST?

These and other skywatching splendors can be seen from the vantage point of an aircraft and perhaps from no other perspective. I began to notice these and other strange effects after I began flying in the early '70s. The sight of things astronomical and meteorological which I couldn't immediately explain drove me to explore these areas of science more thoroughly.

Perhaps the first skywonder which I, like most people, noticed was the glory. A glory is a 360 degree rainbow and is visible surrounding the aircraft's shadow when looking directly down-sun into a cloud or fogbank from an aircraft which is flying in clear sunshine above the moisture. A corollary of the glory is the 'ground glory.' Ground glory? Yup. Look straight down-sun any fine clear day from an airplane and you will see the sunlight reflecting back very intensely from the area just around the airplane's shadow. This is caused by the fact that everything reflects light more intensely when the angle of reflection is close to 180 degrees but particularly things like car windows, interstate road signs and fresh reflective road paint (the same effect on interplanetary dust causes the Gegen-schein). This also explains why the truly full moon is so much brighter than a merely almost full moon.

As I gained access to aircraft which offered better climb performance than do low-powered trainers, I began to engage in the sport of racing the sunset. The idea is to wait until just after local sunset and then, just as the sun disappears below the horizon, take off and climb the aircraft at its best rate of climb speed and watch as the sun reappears from behind the western horizon. This works fine for a little while, but as the apparent horizon (where your line of sight meets the limb of the planet), extends out with altitude gain, the rate of vertical velocity necessary to perpetuate the illusion of making the sun rise in the west quickly catches and then outstrips the climb performance of all but the most aggressively powerful aircraft. The sun then does its normal disappearing act, albeit somewhat more slowly than usual if you are still climbing or are heading west toward the setting sun. (Flying into the sunset offers the careful observer an opportunity to draw out and savor the phenomenon of the 'green flash'). A similar technique of descending rapidly toward the earth's shadow short of a just rising sun can temporarily simulate a sun setting in the east.

Another sunset spectacle is 'THE EDGE OF NIGHT.' When flying eastbound at sunset and above the 'mixed' layer of atmospheric moisture and dust (typically between 5,000 and 15,000 feet of altitude) and in clear (cloud free) skies, the onset of night is heralded by the rising off the horizon of the earth's shadow. As the sun disappears below the horizon behind you (this happens much more quickly than normal, especially at airliner speeds) the eastern horizon ahead of the aircraft grows a 'dark belt' over itself. This dark belt follows the curvature of the horizon (if you are high enough to percieve it, generally at or above 33,000 feet) and grows rapidly thicker over time. If you follow it around to the sides, looking either north or south, you see it gradually taper down to a point where it meets the horizon. The interesting thing here is that the shadow line is perfectly straight but the horizon curves down visibly away from it as your eye tracks away from the point of contact with the horizon and back toward the east. This is the best visual depiction I have seen of the horizon's curvature. The sky above it also takes on the hues of the sunset behind you (pink, orange, red, violet) and the dark belt simultaneously begins to show the first stars of the newborn night. If you are lucky enough at such a moment to see an oncoming aircraft at a higher altitude, especially one leading a contrail (H2O in the exhaust trail condensing in the cold air {it's always cold up there}) you will be treated to the sight of the aircraft, initially visible mainly by its navigation and anti-collision lights, become silhouetted against the light upper portion of the sky and if you are at very high latitudes, you could see it fly INTO the actual sunlight as it catches up with the sun. (The speed of the sunset varies from 1038 mph at the equator to 0 mph at the pole, therefore an airliner with a typical westbound ground speed of 500mph would achieve solar stasis at a latitude of about 60 degrees, roughly Seward, Alaska or Oslo, Norway; and catch up to the sunset [sunrise?] at even higher latitudes {there's that sun rising in the west again!}. You can also catch up to the earth's terminator {shadow line} with a slower airplane, you just have to be at a high enough latitude. Somehow, reversing this technique [fleeing away from a sunrise at high latitude] to make the sun set in the east just doesn't seem to have the same panache because you have to present your backside to the sun {but it works just as well}).

Another sunset sensation is the scene often presented while westbound on a very clear evening of a string of contrails from several aircraft preceding yours down the airway stretching out so far ahead that they appear to, and actually do, curve down over the horizon. The line of sight from 35,000 feet to the horizon is about 180 miles; therefore, from one aircraft at Flight Level 350 to another one on the far horizon at '3-5-0' is about 360miles. The earth's surface curves 5.4 degrees in that distance and therefore, so does the line of the contrails which remain roughly horizontal to the earth's surface.

The other end of the night also offers some visual treats. One winter morning 6 years ago, we departed out of Boston Logan at "O'Dark Thirty" westbound and the sun rose behind us above the Atlantic Ocean just as we leveled off at FL350 over central Massachusetts. There was a thin cirrus overcast just above us at about 370 and the sun, rising above the horizon behind us from 2.7 degrees below our level, cast our shadow UP onto the overcast above us.

An eastbound experience occurred the next summer when, having departed Anchorage, AK. at a still very bright 8PM (local), we espied, while level at FL410 over Watson Lake, Yukon a layer of thin, wispy grey clouds ahead to our left and trailing away in a gradual curve to the northeast. I recognized that they were WAY above us because of their very slow relative motion. After staring idly at this sight for 5 minutes or so, it suddenly hit me. "What ARE those 'clouds'?" You see, at 41,000 feet, we were 7,000 feet ABOVE the tropopause (which our flight plan specified was at 34,000 feet that evening at that location) and therefore we should have been above all atmospheric moisture. (The tropopause is the boundary between the troposphere of lower, moisture bearing atmosphere and the stratosphere of upper, utterly DRY air). So, what WERE those 'clouds'? I sure didn't know and neither did my partner, the captain. I DID notice, however, that that line of 'clouds' was exactly where a gangbusters aurora borealis became visible later in the evening. That did it. When I got home from that trip, I dug out my old meteorology textbooks and began the hunt. The best guess I came up with is that these were noctilucent clouds which are not actually clouds of water vapor at all, but rather conglomerations of fine dust particles at an altitude of about 50 MILES, possibly of meteoric origin. The concurrence of these clouds with the subsequent appearance of the aurora leads me to speculate that the noctilucent clouds I saw were dust particles which were trapped in a ring around the pole by the earth's magnetic lines of flux diving down toward the planet in the region of the north pole. I only saw this that one time.

Speaking of aurorae, there's no better place from which to hunt them than an airplane. The combination of being above 75% of the atmosphere and having a horizon which is actually 2-3 degrees BELOW level makes for a great vantage point from which to watch the show. (A northern destination like, say Saskatoon helps alot,too). But I've seen aurorae as far south as Kentucky, straight overhead.

Another tasty sight to look for are meteors. Seeing meteor showers usually requires flying waaay over on the back side of the clock. Meteor showers usually don't hit their stride till the part of the earth you're located over is exposed to the direction in which the planet is moving; that happens at midnight local standard time. This is one of the very few compensations for those who have to fly the 'redeye' flights from the west coast to points east. I used to hate flying all-nighters until I developed my astronomical curiosity into a passion (which the 'opportunity' of flying redeyes helped to stimulate). Spotting random 'fireballs' is good sport any time of night, and frequently a particularly spectacular one will incite a conversation on an ATC radio frequency which might otherwise be populated with mostly boredom. I once saw one go overhead while near Rochester, NY which left an ionized luminous trail which stayed visible for almost a minute, and incidentally had a perceptible relative motion indicating that it was a comparatively close 20 miles or so above us.

The best views I have ever had of the Zodiacal light have been from the flight deck. This phenomenon is difficult to see from the ground because of its massive faintness. It appears as a tall 'cone' of light pointing up at an angle from the horizon along the ecliptic (the sun's apparent path through the cosmos) perhaps 1/3 of the way to the zenith. The Gegenschein or counterglow is even more challenging and requires having a pretty good idea of where to look in the first place (try straight down-sun, ie. toward the ecliptic and away from the direction from which the sun is shining at the other side of the earth). Flying over good dark sky areas like Montana or Nevada and turning the cockpit lights down to the absolute minimum necessary to actually read the instruments allows the eye to get properly dark adjusted and brings out all sorts of faint fuzzies, eg. M42, the great Orion nebula.

One thing that airplanes are really not very good for is instrumental viewing. The windows of an aircraft (even the front ones) distort the image enough to make focusing an optical instrument like a monocular difficult, if not impossible. It's the best place to be for naked eye astronomy, but that's as far as it goes. You'd have as good a chance of spotting the Gallilean moons of Jupiter with the naked eye as with binoculars. This works out nicely because you want your pilot to have something to keep him/her self alert and interested on that redeye from LA to Detroit, but not so preoccupied that they forget to fly the airplane. In point of fact, I think that astro-awareness improves piloting quality by contributing to overall "Situational Awareness". It's nice to be able to just look up at the night sky and know instantly which way you are pointed.

You might think that this inability to use optical instruments makes for poor planet watching. Nothing could be further from the truth. The low horizon, dark sky and relative lack of atmospheric interference make spotting the planets easy and tracking them from one night to the next a fine spectator sport. Venus is always a good show, especially in conjunction with a crescent moon, and even Mercury is easy to spot in a twilit sky. All 5 naked eye planets are good targets to chase. Satellites are also easy to spot in a very clear sky, but determining exactly which way they are traveling can be complex given the relatively fast motion of the viewing platform. I occasionally hear other pilots asking Air Traffic Control whether that bright "star" in the west is the International Space Station. Since most air traffic controllers are not any more likely than the general population to be astro-literate (and besides, they don't have windows in the ATC centers) they typically don't get a meaningful response. From the descriptions of the apparitions in question, they are usually looking at Venus; IT doesn't move very fast. The few times I have seen the ISS, there was NO DOUBT that it was the ISS. It's the only thing in the sky which is that bright and which moves that quickly (it covers the sky from one horizon to the next in 6 minutes or less).

So, how is the garden variety airline passenger supposed to use the airborne experience as an astro-opportunity? It's not as hard as you might fear. The biggest problem is the location and angle of the windows; low down and vertical, tantamount to a crick in the neck. The next biggest challenge is the interior light pollution. Good star-gazing from an airplane requires suppressed lighting. After the cabin service is complete, the Flight Attendants (FA's) are usually only too willing to entertain requests to turn down the lights. (Seemingly) dozing passengers rank as good news in the opinion of most FA's, this also explains why most airline pilots (even the astro-cognoscenti) usually do not make PA announcements about astronomical sights. In addition, don't hesitate to switch off lights in nearby seatrows which are unoccupied, wasted light costs extra fuel in airplanes, too. If all else fails, use that emergency briefing card you have been ignoring so studiously to shield your window from interior reflections. It also helps if you have a rough idea of which direction the aircraft is pointed and which side of the airplane you are sitting on. Pilots try very hard to fly a straight line from points A to B to save fuel; so if you are on a flight from Minneapolis to Vancouver, you can have confidence that left is NOT north; look for that aurora out the RIGHT side of the airplane.

Copyright 2001, Neil A. Robinson
 
 

From the Observatory Director

The Nice Weather is Here!

Spring has sprung at the Yanna Research Station. Everyone is anticipating a good season of observing and getting together again at the observatory. Speaking as the chief custodian of YRS, I hope that everyone is blessed with clear skies and ample time to come and enjoy our wonderful facility.

Recently, myself along with Neil Robinson, Greg Sellek, and Tom Hall made a status inventory of the observatory. The assessment centered on a condition appraisal of our telescopes but it also included a status evaluation of the buildings and shelters at YRS. A report document of this assessment is available on the MAS website under "News." Those unable to access the website may get a copy of this document by contacting me directly.

The observatory is in pretty good shape for the onset of pleasant weather. The 12 inch "Doc Greiner" observatory is in good operational condition and ready for both visual use as well as the remote-controlled, computerized, CCD camera applications that have been on-going through the Winter. The Art Koster Observatory, our 11- inch telescope will be back in service in the very near future under the new Pro Dome. Many thanks to Doc Greiner for this generous gift which solves the repair dilemma that we battled with the old, cantankerous dome. The 17.5 inch Dobsonian scope in the Walter Scott Houston Memorial Observatory is ready and waiting. The deteriorating condition of the mirror suggests that by Fall we may likely send it out for re-silvering but the scope is presently serviceable. The 16-inch Koster Memorial Observatory is out of service pending dome repairs and scope collimation. Requests for insurance definitions and quotes are currently awaiting answers and the MAS will make final repair decisions based upon these findings. The telescope pads and power pylons are in good working order. The lawn has been mowed and the weeds have been whacked.

As will always be the case, however, the YRS is in need of some TLC (tender loving care). Most of this can be provided by MAS member volunteers. We will be requesting volunteers for some modest but necessary painting and landscaping chores. The work will be easy and it will help keep our observatory sound and operational for years to come. These projects will be announced at coming meetings.

One more thing - the next time you are at YRS please take a few shovels-full of dirt from the leftover pile near the privy and spread it around in the ruts made by the back-hoe last year. A shovel, spade, and spading fork are in the tool shed.

Have a nice summer of astronomy, everyone!

Tim Ellestad

Top: Bill Jollie and John Rummel, first mowing crew of the spring!

Middle: Installing the partially assembled dome-halves on the AKO.

Bottom: LeeRoy Yanna and grandson watching the work in progress.

Top: Dick Goddard and Tom Jacobs tighten bolts on dome base.

Middle: Final placement of the dome on the building.

Bottom: The site boss and master builder, Doc Greiner.

(photos by Tim Ellestad)
 
 

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee has succeeded only in filling the following positions on the slate of candidates for the officers of the club election at the June meeting;

President: Greg Sellek

Vice President: Wynn Wacker

Secretary: OPEN

Newsletter Editor: OPEN

Treasurer: Mary Ellestad

Observatory Director: Tim Ellestad

At Large Board Members: Dan Strome, Tom Jacobs

The need to find candidates for secretary and newsletter editor (though this is not a voting position) is obvious and pressing. Note also that nearly all the filled positions on the slate are currently serving officers who have agreed to serve in their positions for at least one more year. I appeal to all members who can afford the small amount of time involved to step forward and volunteer to fill one of the OPEN positions. This is YOUR club, it is what YOU make of it, no more and no less.

Neil Robinson, Greg Sellek, Eric Thiede

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