Prime Focus

The newsletter of the Tri-Valley Stargazers June 1996.
Translated (roughly) from postscript into HTML for your browsing and downloading pleasure.
Eta Carinae, in the Keyhole Nebula of the southern sky, is believed to generate natural laser light. This optical photo reveals two lobes with dust lanes and a central hot region. It may indicate future instability in the star. (NASA photo, HST WFPC2 J. Morse and K. Davidson.)


June general meeting
Club news notes
What's Up in June
Comet Comments
Solar System Awards
Membership application

TVS presents

What: June general meeting
When: June 28 at 7:30 pm
Who: Chuck Vaughn
Where: Unitarian-Universalist Church in Livermore, 1893 N. Vasco Rd.

Internet and the Amateur Astronomer is the title of Chuck Vaughn's presentation at the general meeting on June 28. Chuck is a long-term TVS member, and has held Patron status for most of that time. He has extensive experience posting his nationally acclaimed astrophotographs on the Internet.

Topics to be covered at the general meeting include an exploration of Internet access, astronomy e-mail, and participation in amateur astronomy newsgroups.

A program like this is sure to interest lots of folks outside of our club. Everyone is welcome to attend, and you should feel free to bring friends or colleagues who are not TVS members.

Club plans annual White Mountains trip

by David Rodrigues

Once again this year we will be having our legendary White Mountains trip. It will be from Thursday, August 15 to Monday, August 19. This is the star party to end all star parties! We will be observing in the White Mountains, to the east of Bishop, Calif. from 8,000 to 12,400 feet at one of the darkest sites in the U.S. On Thursday, we will be at Grandview campground at 8,000 feet and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, through special dispensation, we will be at the Barcroft High Altitude Research Facility at 12,400 feet.

Barcroft is half antarctic research station, half Shangra-La with real beds, flush toilets, showers, tools, the highest library and pool table in the lower 48, very good, warm food cooked for you, and an unforgetable view. It is a good guess that this is the "highest" star party in the U.S. If you haven't been, talk to one of the members who has. You even get oxygen in the dining room! The White Mountains are the home of the world's oldest living things, the Bristle Cone Pines. This is also a wonderful excuse to explore the many amazing sights of the beautiful eastern Sierras.

The price this year will be $38 per person per night for the three nights at Barcroft. Grandview is free. I will be accepting checks at the Friday, May 24 meeting and thereafter but spaces go fast so don't delay. Due to tightened Barcroft requirements, full refunds will be available until the Friday, June 28 meeting. After that until the Friday, July 26 meeting full refunds will be given only if we can find a substitute. No refunds can be given after the July 26 meeting. For more informati on, call me at (510) 483-9191.

Send checks payable to:
David Rodrigues
163 3 Graff Ct.
San Leandro, Calif. 94577-3938

Coming soon

General meeting dates:
July 26 Barbeque and summer party
August 23 September 27
October 25 November 22
December 20

Open house at The Dark Site: July 6

Three new members have joined TVS during the last month. Jim Landre, and Richard and Roxanne Wolfe, were all new to our group in May. Please introduce yourself to them at the next general meeting, or at the The Dark Site Pines Open House on July 6.
Financial update
Treasurer Gene Nassar reports that the club is fiscally robust. In mid-May, the checking account balance was $5,381.66. The savings account balance stood at $1,185.81; and the certificate of deposit held $3,021.53. Key deposits for the The Dark Site Sky Shack are included in the CD amount.

The board is currently investigating improvements to our audio-visual presentation capabilities at the general meetings. Any decisions to spend club funds on such equipment or systems will be discussed at future meetings.

Looking for a little summertime reading?
Summertime's long daylit hours provide plenty of time for astronomical reading between scope setup and full darkness. If you lack any exciting or informative astronomy tome, may we suggest the TVS lending library? Librarian Bob Braddy, has a great variety of books, tapes, and videos for astronomers of all ages and experience levels.

Library loans are available to all club memebers in good standing. Materials are loaned from one general meeting to the next, or for a longer period by arrangement with Bob. Please be sure to put your name, the date, and your telephone number on the signout sheet for any library items you borrow.

Oregon Star Party
The ninth annual Oregon Star Party is set for August 15-18 at Indian Trail Spring. This site is located in the Ochoco National Forest, northeast of Bend and Prineville. The observing site sits at about a 5,000-foot elevation, and offers excellent seeing.

Organized activities will include stargazing, astro-imaging, solar viewing with an H-alpha filter, amateur equipment swap meet, vendors' alley, nature hikes and talks by Forest Service staff. Door prizes will be awarded and foor service will be available.

The party is hosted by the Rose City Astronomers and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Advance registration (prior to August 6) is $20 for adults, $5 for those aged 13 to 17 years, and free for those 13 and under.

For registration information write to
The Oregon Star Party
P.O. Box 914 16
Portland, OR 97291.
You may also reach Chuck or Judy Dethloff at (503) 357-6163 (voice), (503) 531-7992 (fax), e-mail them at

Visit our new Web site
Many thanks go to Chuck Grant for his successful efforts in obtaining a complementary Web site for TVS. Our new URL is: Thanks for your patience with all the problems we had with the former service provider on the old Web site. Dave Anderson worked diligently to establish our former site, but the service provider did not live up to his expectations. Chuck's solution, with the free site is a great one!

Future versions of Dave's What's Up column will be posted to the new site, as will club updates and news.

Dave Anderson
(510) 661-4249

Earl Mack
(510) 828-1414

Vice President
Bob Braddy
(510) 855-0964

Gene Nassar
(510) 462-5986

Observatory Director
Chuck Grant
(510) 449-1500

Eyes on the Skies BBS
Mike Rushford
(510) 443-6146

Web Site

Alane Alchorn
(510) 455-9464
(510) 455-9466 fax

Meeting Location
Unitarian Universalist
Church in Livermore
1893 N. Vasco Rd.
3/4 mile north of I-580

Alane Alchorn
Dennis Beckley
George Cameron
Rich Combs
Chuck Grant
Rich Green
Al Smith

Tri-Valley Stargazers
PO Box 2476
Livermore, CA 94551

Membership: 144

What's Up in June

by Dave Anderson

14 Fri Mercury 0.4° north of Moon (occulted in Australia). Mars 4° north of Moon.
Earliest sunrise of the year.
15 Sat New Moon 6:36 PM Excellent weekend for observing.
16 Sun Father's Day.
17 Mon Callisto eclipsed by Jupiter's shadow until 11:02 PM, occulted by planet's disk
11:51 PM to 2:51 AM (18th).
19 Wed Ganymede's shadow transits Jupiter 11:55 PM to 1:19 AM Europa's shadow transits 12:01 to 12:41 AM Io eclipsed 12:15 AM (AM=20th)
20 Thu Summer Solstice 7:24 PM
21 Fri Star Party at Glacier Point, Yosemite.
22 Sat Star Party at Glacier Point, Yosemite.
Universe '96 (Astronomical Society of the Pacific). Westin Hotel, Santa Clara. Star Party at Fremont Peak Observatory.
23 Sun Universe '96. Westin Hotel, Santa Clara.
Mercury 1.6° north of Venus. Mars and Aldebaran nearby.
First Quarter Moon 10:23 PM
27 Thu Latest sunset of the year.
28 Fri Tri-Valley Stargazers meeting 7:30 PM PDT. Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore,
1893 N. Vasco Road, Livermore. (3/ 4 mile north of I-580 ).

1 Mon TVS Planning Meeting 7:00 PM Location TBD.
Jupiter 5° south of Moon. Later Neptune is 4°, then Uranus 5° south of Moon.
2 Tue Comet 22P/ Kopff at perihelion (mag. 8.7).
4 Thu Independence Day.
Jupiter at opposition (mag. -2.7).
5 Fri Earth at aphelion (farthest from Sun: 152,099,00 0 km).
Io occulted, then eclipsed, by Jupiter 10:28 PM to 12:46 AM Europa occulted, then eclipsed, 11:47 PM to 2:42 AM (AM=6th).
7 Sun Saturn 3° south of Moon. (Rise after midnight.)
Last Quarter Moon 11:55 AM PDT.
Ganymede occulted, then eclipsed, by Jupiter 9:28 PM to 12:59 AM (8th).
11 Thu Moon in Hyades.
12 Fri Venus 0.4° south of Moon; occulted in Eurasia. Mars 5° north of Moon.
Callisto's shadow transits Jupiter 9:30 PM to 12:31 AM, preceded by satellite (egress 10:25 PM). Io occulted 12:12 AM to 2:40 AM (AM=13th).
13 Sat Excellent weekend for observing.
Star Party at Sycamore Grove Park (Livermore Park District) 8:00 PM (Wetmore Rd. entrance near Holmes St.).
Io transits Jupiter 9:27 to 11:42 PM, followed by shadow 9:41 to 11:57 PM
14 Sun Europa transits Jupiter until 11:15 PM, followed by shadow 9:00 to 11:47 PM
15 Mon New Moon 9:15 AM

Some Summertime Deep-Sky Objects

M3 A fine globular cluster in Canes Venatici.
M5 One of the best globular clusters, in Serpens (Caput).
M13 The Great Hercules Cluster! Look for the mag. 12 galaxy NGC 6207 in the same field.
M92 Another fine globular cluster in Hercules, often overlooked.
M4 & M80 Two globular clusters near Antares in Scorpius.
M6 & M7 Two fine open clusters near the stinger of Scorpius.
M8, M20 & M17 The Lagoon, Trifid, and Swan Nebulae in Sagittarius!

Comet Comments, June 1996


C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp)
DATE (00UT) R.A. (2000) DEC El. Sky Mag
06-11 19h19.3m -13° 50' 150° M 6.7
06-16 19h13.8m -13° 21' 155° M 6.6
06-21 19h07.8m -12° 52' 161° M 6.5
06-26 19h01.5m -12° 23' 165° M 6.4
07-01 18h54.7m -11° 53' 168° M 6.3
07-06 18h47.7m -11° 23' 168° E 6.2
07-11 18h40.5m -10° 54' 165° E 6.1

22P/ Kopff
DATE (00UT) R.A. (2000) DEC El. Sky Mag
06-11 19h14.6m -16° 14' 152° M 7.4
06-16 19h17.2m -16° 33' 156° M 7.1
06-21 19h19.2m -16° 58' 160° M 7.0
06-26 19h20.7m -17° 28' 165° M 7.0
07-01 19h21.7m -18° 03' 169° M 6.9
07-06 19h22.3m -18° 41' 174° M 6.9
07-11 19h22.7m -19° 22' 167° E 6.9

29P/ Schwassmann-Wachmann 1
DATE (00UT) R.A. (2000) DEC El. Sky Mag
06-11 10h23.1m +04° 52' 75° E 12?
06-16 10h25.0m +04° 42' 71° E 12?
06-21 10h27.0m +04° 31' 67° E 12?
06-26 10h29.3m +04° 18' 63° E 12?
07-01 10h31.7m +04° 05' 59° E 12?
07-06 10h34.2m +03° 50' 55° E 12?
07-11 10h36.8m +03° 35' 51° E 12?

by Don Machholz
Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) and Periodic Comet Kopff are within a few degrees of each other in the southern morning Milky Way. Both should be visible in binoculars. Much fainter is Periodic Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 1, which often shines at magnitude 16. It has recently outburst, attaining magnitude 11. Try to get out to see it before it fades. You'll find it in the evening sky, south of Regulus.

Orbital Elements
Object Hale-Bopp Kopff S-W 1
Peri. Date 1997 04 01.14561 1996 07 02.19980 1989 09 09.63574 Peri.
Dist (AU) 0.9140971 AU 1.5795617 AU 5.7484583 AU
Arg/Peri (2000): 130.59227 deg. 162.83487 deg. 046.24130 deg.
Asc. Node (2000): 282.47087 deg. 120.91329 deg. 312.82689 deg.
Incl (2000) 089.42807 deg. 004.72143 deg. 009.38499 deg.
Eccen: 0.9950784 0.5440739 0.0440579
Orbital Period: 3000 yrs. 6.45 yrs. 14.75 yrs.
Ref: MPC 26879 (3-26) MPC 22032 (1991) MPC 23105 (1994)

An Observer's Guide to Comet Hale-Bopp

When and where to see it, and what to look for
by Don Macholz

An 84-page guide describing comets and Comet Hale-Bopp in particular, this book provides observing hints, suggests special projects, and uses 60 maps to help anyone find the comet on any night through 1998. Only $12.00 + $2.0 0 S&H. (CA residents add $0.87 sales tax.
Foreign Orders add $4.00) MakeWood Products, P.O. Box 1716,
Colfax, CA 95713. (916) 346-8963. Visa/Mastercard

Star party programs
July 13 Sycamore Grove 8:00 pm Livermore "Stars and the night sky"

July 19-21 Camp Shelly Dusk South Lake Tahoe Public star party and viewing

August 10 Sycamore Grove 8:00 pm Livermore "Meteors and Comets"

Aug. 30 - Sep. 2 Glacier Point Dusk Yosemite Public star party and viewing

TVS Awards program adds solar system

Club president Dave Anderson has compiled a Solar System Observation Award Program. It has opportunities for both binocular and telescope observers. An original of the observation checklist, with its assigned points for objects seen, will be placed in the library. Please make a photocopy of this master and return the original to the library binder.

TVS Membership Application Since November 1, 1996 we estimate that this page has been downloaded about times.

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