Stockton Astronomical Society
Valley Skies - September 2000 Issue
A couple of weeks ago I revisited the web site of Astronomical Adventures L.L.C., Flagstaff, AZ, to see if it was still in business. Some of you may recall that, in October 1996, Rosemary and I spent a week with Bob Woolley, who runs Astronomical Adventures, combining deep sky observing with daytime geology tours. At the time we both felt the business was a great idea, but probably wouldn't last.
I was delighted to find that we were wrong. Bob’s business is thriving and growing. If you are interested in a week of intensive observing through multiple telescopes (up to 36") under fabulous dark skies, and tours to spectacular Colorado Plateau vistas with a knowledgeable guide — all at very reasonable cost — check out Bob’s web site at
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Many thanks to Jane Houston Jones and Mojo (Morris Jones) for their lively and enthusiastic program about the November 1999 Leonid meteor shower, and particularly for sharing some of the excitement of Jane’s participation on the NASA research flights. What an experience!
OK. It wasn’t like actually being there. But we were able to enjoy vicariously at least a little of the thrill of those NASA flights over Europe and the Middle East, counting the self-immolation of dust motes as they entered the earth’s upper atmosphere.
Thank you Jane and Mojo for driving all the way from San Rafael
to make our August meeting a very special evening .
Notes from Neil ...
Part of the satisfaction I derive from being a club officer is the greater involvement in SAS activities which it entails. Much of the enjoyment is due to the friends with whom I get to share many of the activities.
Roger Stark was with me at the meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in Pasadena in July. We both participated in a two-day workshop on teaching astronomy at elementary and middle school levels and also attended some excellent talks on astronomy. Visiting the Griffith Observatory was a high point.
Steve Scott and I took telescopes to the Davis Sky Show on August 5, a big event sponsored by Astronomy magazine. There were about sixty telescopes there, with hundreds of interested people. Jane Houston Jones and Morris Jones, our August meeting speakers, were set up between Steve and me.
Trevor Atkinson and I joined Glen Youman at Lake Tahoe on August 14 to do an astronomy program, including telescopic viewing, for the Firefighters Kids Camp. The campers are burn victims, sponsored by and cared for by volunteers from firefighters' organizations and hospital staffs and the like.
Christie Abbott and I did a star party for kids at Stockton's Silver Lake Camp on August 17. Camp lighting and moonlight were problems, but the campers seemed to enjoy what we could show them.
Trevor and I have been meeting with Tim Cox and two other staff members from Delta College to select a new planetarium technician to replace Dick Manning, who retired in June.
Other folks with whom I have enjoyed working include the SAS Executive Committee and the regulars who bring telescopes to the Sky Tours and the Highway 4 star parties.
Did you all see the article about our Society in the August 20 Record? I think Howard Lachtman wrote a nice account of who we are and what we do. We are likely to have more visitors now. Let's make a special effort to make them feel welcome.
SAS Observing Program
by Jeff Baldwin,
Observing Program Chairman
The Messier objects this month were listed in last month's Valley Skies as a two-month list. They are the Messiers in Ophiuchus, Scorpius, Serpens, Scutum and Sagittarius. Here they are again:
In Ophiuchus are M10, M12, M14, M107, M19, M62 and M9, all globular clusters. In Serpens is M5, a globular cluster, and M16 (Serpens Caput), an open cluster with diffuse nebula. In Scutum are open clusters M11 and M26. In Scorpius are globular clusters M80 and M4, and open clusters M6 and M7. In Sagittarius are open clusters M18, M21, M23 and M25, globular clusters M22, M28, M54, M55, M69, M70 and M75, nebulae M17, M20, M8, and Milky Way star field M24.
For a complete list of the Messiers and Herschels, and rules for recording observations, contact Jeff Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Certificates are available for members who observe all of the objects in each list.
Davis Sky Show — A Retrospective
The Davis Sky Show, a public astronomy event organized by Astronomy Magazine, took place on the weekend of August 4/5. Jack Sales, of CalIDA, was instrumental in the selection of Davis as the site for the event. The following brief extracts are taken from pre-event publicity and from reports following completion of the two-day program.
Sacramento Bee Aug 4 publicity:
When you walk out your front door this summer do you see thousands of glittering stars on a black velvet sky? If you only count dozens of stars through a haze of city light, Astronomy Magazine's first Sky Show, scheduled Friday and Saturday at the Veteran's Memorial Center in Davis, might change your perspective.
"We're going to be showing deep space objects, things that you would never know were there if you didn't look through a telescope. ... It's a real eye-opener," says Walt Heiges, president of the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society.
But this view is increasingly washed out by stray light from cities, prompting more and more cities and counties to require fixtures that keep light on the ground and out of the skies. Every county in Arizona has lighting ordinances to control "light pollution, " and today, the residents of Tucson -- a city slightly larger than Sacramento -- can still enjoy a view of the Milky Way.
Two years ago, Davis adopted one of the strictest lighting ordinances in California. So this weekend, astronomers are bringing their best telescopes to Davis' "dark sky," where they will reveal the textured planets and intricate star clusters that lie within thousands of glittering points.
"This is a very rare opportunity for people to look through some very sophisticated equipment," says Patricia Kurtz, the Davis Sky Show coordinator.
Pat Kurtz Report:
Those of you who participated in the Davis event already know what a success it was. It exceeded my wildest dreams, truly.
While I wandered the telescope field with 2,000 other people, I was touched by the dedication to public outreach that each and every telescope operator exuded. Your enthusiasm and willingness to share the beauties and wonders of the night sky with others is the main ingredient that made the Davis event extraordinary.
Davis Enterprise Report:
More than 400 people came Friday night to hear UC Berkeley professor Alex Filippenko, who has been described as the "next Carl Sagan," give his talk on "Einstein's Greatest Blunder: The Case for Cosmic Anti-gravity" out under the stars.
Jack Sales' Report:
When is a Star Party not a Star Party? When it is the Astronomy Magazine Davis Sky Show!
The list of speakers was wonderful. Attendance was outstanding for an event that just finally solidified weeks (days) ago - on July 11 or 12th it was nearly off; on the 13th it was on and on the 14th Dan Kaelher of Astronomy was recruiting vendors at ASP Universe 2000. When we returned from ASP Universe 2000, we were working hard to get club attendance up and last minute preparations (completed).
This all came together because "It was just going to happen!" and it could not be stopped. People had been talking for some time about an event in N. Calif.; Davis passed the Lighting Ordinance; Kris Koenig and I teamed up. Astronomy Magazine had hired Patricia Kurtz to put on a number of SKY SHOWs; we talked to Dan Kaelher & convinced him to have it in N. Calif.. the city council established a Visitors Bureau (a key component) and hired a staff of one - Kym Calvert (we had no idea about this until ASP). Kris stopped by the Astronomy Magazine Office and they set a date. On Monday after ASP, Bev & I went to Davis to check the facility (for Patricia) and we meet Kym. The facility available was absolutely perfect and Kym was a real fire cracker. The astronomy clubs came together, Astronomy Magazine brought out about 5 or 6 of the staff to support Patty, and the Davis Sky Show 2000 is history.
It all paid off — I am sure we had 1500 to 2000 attend. We had people attend from Reno, Redding, San Francisco, Stockton and beyond.
(At the star party) Bev mentioned that she could see the Milky Way. "No, it's too bright here - Oh! Yes I can. Look!" ... and there it was, very faint, but from that location you really can see the Milky Way.
[Neil Lark was there Saturday night. He was set up in the lunar/planetary section, focused mostly on the Moon, so wasn't looking for faint objects. He said he didn't notice the Milky Way, but the sky was much darker than here in Stockton.]
Kym and other members of the City have asked to have the event return next year.
[It appears likely that Astronomy Magazine will make this an annual event. Congratulations to the City of Davis for making a serious effort to minimize light pollution and bring back the stars. ...Ed.]
Copyrighted © 2000 by Stockton Astronomical Society
Lasted Updated: 11/8/2000