Prime Focus

The newsletter of the Tri-Valley Stargazers August 1996.
Translated (roughly) from postscript into HTML for your browsing and downloading pleasure.
M8, the Southern Pinwheel, is an intermediate galaxy, classified between normal and barred spiral. It contains both nebular and stellar populations along its arms. (NASA Image courtesy of David Malin and the Anglo Australian Telescope Board.)


The Dark Site Emergency
Club news notes
What's Up in August
Comet Comments
Starman (the comic strip)
Membership application

TVS presents

What: August general meeting
When: August 23 at 7:00 PM
Who: Simon Clemett, Stanford One of the principal Martian meteorite researchers
Where: Unitarian-Universalist Church in Livermore, 1893 N. Vasco Rd.

Thanks to a last minute scheduling coup by Dave Rodrigues, our August general meeting will focus on a topic straight from today 's headlines. Stanford 's Simon Clemett, one of the principal researchers on the Martian metorite project, will discuss his findings with TVS.

Earlier this month it was revealed by a NASA-sponsored team, that a meteorite, discovered 12 years ago in Antarctica, contains some evidence that primitive life may once have existed on Mars.

The Martian origins of the meteorite were only recognized three years ago. Since that time scientists have been examining carbonite "globules" contained in the rock.

It was the analysis of those "globules" which resulted in the August 7 announcement from NASA. Although the President himself has cautioned that the findings must be "subject to a methodical process of further peer review and validation", the meteorite, designated ALH 84001, should provide some lively discussion at our general meeting.

The Dark Site Emergency!

Club members with keys should already have received a special notice explaining that the Mines Road gate combination has been changed at The Dark Site Ranch. Members who hold a Sky Shack Observatory key will be unable to enter the ranch until they contact a club officer to receive the new combination.

If you hold a key, please remember that you have already agreed to honor the following points in your User Agreement for The Dark Site.

1) Pay $3 per car, per visit, and place this money into the slotted box mounted on the post to the south of the owner's home.

2) Always leave the observing hill gate closed and locked. Leave the Mines Road gate, and any other ranch gates, in the same condition as you found them.

3) Accompany any guest you bring at all times.

4) Alcoholic beverages are forbidden on the observing hill and on the ranch. 5) All fires are prohibited all year long. This includes barbecues and camp stoves.

6) Keys may not be duplicated, transferred or shared.

Please drive slowly, about 5 miles per hour, to prevent dust clouds from forming behind your car. It is important for us to remember that using The Dark Site is a privilege - one that all of us need to protect.

To receive your new combination, call one of the club officers listed in the box below. Have your observing hill key in hand so that your number can be verified. Thank you for helping preserve TVS access to The Dark Site.

Club News Notes

Financial Update

Checking account: $5,030.78 Certificate of deposit: $3,032.25 Money market: $1,189.75

The money market fund is the club's savings account.

Welcome to TVS Our ranks grew by four new memberships earlier this summer. At the next general meeting please help welcome Gregg Nausin, Michael and Vanessa Praus, Allen Klein, and the Richard Thomas family.

In addition, long-distance member and loaner scope owner Conrad Stolarski has renewed his Patron Member status with the club. We particularly appreciate his extra support and the continued use of his telescope.

Latest from the library

Chris Cody took over as club librarian this spring, and we are just getting around to telling you about it now. Many thanks to Bob Braddy, who had hauled our books, tapes, and magazines for more than a year.

Introduce yourself to Chris if you have not yet met him. You'll find him at the library sign-out binder during the break at the August general meeting.

If you are looking for a back issue that was not at a prior meeting call Chris at (707) 749-6550. Let him know what you are looking for.

Planning Meeting

Board members, and all interested general members, are reminded that the planning meeting will be held Monday, August 26, at 7:00 PM Rich and Barbara Green will host the confab at their home at 474 1 Apple Tree Common, Livermore. For directions call them at 510 /449-2190.

Club events, star parties, future speakers, and The Dark Site Sky Shack Observatory will be discuss ed. In addition, topics like the binocular scope program, Project Astro and the AANC can be added to the agenda if there is interest in them.

Club officers are always eager to hear from members with new ideas about activities or poli cies for TVS. Planning meetings are always open to all members, or you may call any officer listed on
and share your thoughts.

Loaner Scope Program Chuck Grant reports that the Unitron refractor donated by Jerry Howland is not already out on loan. Other instruments are available too, and may be rented at the August general meeting.

Remember that September 26 is a total lunar eclipse, and you will want to be very familiar with operation of a borrowed scope if you plan to use one that evening.

Additionally, scopes are available for use at the Glacier Point star parties. Any member who rents a scope and uses it at any public star party during the month it is borrowed will automatically receive a full refund of the $15 rental amount.

You may meet with Chuck at the August general meeting, or call him in advance at (510) 449-1500.

Coming soon

General meeting dates:
September 27 October 25 November 22 December 20

Star parties:

August 30-Sept. 2 Glacier Point Dusk Yosemite Public star party and viewing

September 21 Sycamore Grove 8:00 pm Livermore Planets and the solar system

Yosemite Star Party Labor Day weekend,

TVS members are invited to gather at Glacier Point in Yosemite Park. In exchange for providing public star parties and scope viewing, members will be granted complimentary park entrance and camping.

Rich and Barbara Green are organizing potluck assignments to cover the evenings before viewing begins. If you wish to be part of this event, call them by Sunday, August 25. Tell them how many people you will be bringing, and which nights you will be attending. Call them at 510 /449-2190 to make reservations.

President Dave Anderson (510) 661-4249

Secretary Earl Mack (510) 828-1414

Vice President Bob Braddy (510) 855-0964

Treasurer Gene Nassar (510) 462-7843

Observatory Director Chuck Grant (510) 449-1500

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

Web Site

Editor 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

P.O. Box 2476 Livermore, CA 94551

Membership: 163

What's Up in August

> from Dave Anderson and other sources

August 15 Thu White Mountain Star Party. (Grandview campground tonight).
Europa's shadow transits Jupiter 8:36 to 11:24 PM; satellite transit ends 9:32. 16 Fri White Mountain Star Party. (Barcroft High-Altitude Research Facility).
Mercury 0.3° north of Moon; occulted in South America. 17 Sat White Mountain Star Party.
Good weekend for observing: no Moon after 10 PM 18 Sun White Mountain Star Party.
19 Mon Ganymede reappears from occultation by Jupiter 8:55 PM,
eclipsed by planet's shadow 9:47 PM to 1:00 AM Io transits 12:46 to 3:01 AM (AM=20th). 20 Tue Venus at greatest western elongation (46° ) in morning sky.
Io occulted, then eclipsed, by Jupiter 9:54 PM to 1:11 AM (21s t). 21 Wed Mercury at greatest eastern elongation (27° ) in evening sky. Unfavorable apparition for northern la titudes.
First Quarter Moon 8:36 PM Moon occults Theta Librae (mag. 4.3): disappearance at dark limb 9:56 PM Io transits Jupiter until 9:28 PM; shadow transits until 10:30 PM 22 Thu Europa transits Jupiter 9:09 to 11:55 PM; shadow transit begins 11:12 PM
23 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). Callisto eclipsed by Jupiter 8:15 to 11:43 PM 24 Sat Jupiter 5° south of Moon.
25 Sun AANC Meeting 1:00 PM Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley.
Neptune 5°, later Uranus 5° south of Moon. 26 Mon TVS Planning Meeting 7:00 PM Loca tion TBD.
Ganymede occulted by Jupiter 9:22 PM to 12:31 AM (27th). 27 Tue Comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) (mag. 4.5) near globular cluster M14 (mag. 7.6).
28 Wed Full Moon 10:52 AM
Io transits Jupiter 9:03 to 11:18 PM; shadow transits 10:10 PM to 12:25 AM 29 Thu Io reappears from eclipse by Jupiter 9:34 PM Europa transits 11:33 PM to 2:20 AM;
shadow transits 1:47 to 4:35 AM (AM=30th). 30 Fri Star Party at Glacier Point, Yosemite.
Saturn 3° south of Moon. 31 Sat Star Party at Glacier Point, Yosemite.

September 1 Sun Star Party at Glacier Point, Yosemite.
Dawn conjunction of Venus and Mars in the East, begins a si x-day seri es of conjunctions with the planets 3 degrees or closer. Dusk conjunction of Jupiter and Globular Cluster M22, near Sagittarius. 2 Mon Dawn Mars and Venus together in the East below Castor and Pollux.
4 Wed Last quarter moon.
9 Mon Alignment of Castor, Pollux, Mars, Venus, waning cresent moon and Procyon.
12 Thu New moon at 4:07 PM PDT.
14 Sat Young moon near Spica, 30 minutes after sunset, between west and southwest.
18-21 W-Sat Waxing moon moves through Scorpius and Sagittarius, on the 20th it is near Jupiter at dusk.
21 Sat 1.5 hours after sunset, use binoculars or a scope to locate Mars
in the midst of the Beehive Cluster, in the east. 26 Thu TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE; 6:12 PM enters umbra; 7:19 PM total eclipse begins; 7:54 PM
deepest eclipse; 8:29 PM total eclipse ends; 9:36 PM leaves umbra.

Comet Comments


C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) (2000) DATE R.A. Dec. El. Sky Mag 08-15 17h53.8 m -07 ° 44' 124 ° E 5.5
08-20 17h48.7 m -07 ° 21' 118 ° E 5.5
08-25 17h44.2 m -07 ° 01' 113 ° E 5.4
08-30 17h40.3 m -06 ° 41' 107 ° E 5.4
09-04 17h37.0 m -06 ° 23' 102 ° E 5.3
09-09 17h34.4 m -06 ° 06' 96 ° E 5.3

22P/ Kopff (2000) DATE R.A. Dec. El. Sky Mag 08-15 19h34.2 m -23 ° 30' 149 ° E 7.8
08-20 19h38.2 m -23 ° 49' 145 ° E 8.0
08-25 19h42.9 m -24 ° 02' 141 ° E 8.2
08-30 19h48.3 m -24 ° 10' 138 ° E 8.4
09-04 19h54.2 m -24 ° 13' 134 ° E 8.6
09-09 20h00.7 m -24 ° 11' 131 ° E 8.9

C/1996 N1 (Brewington) (2000) DATE R.A. Dec. El. Sky Mag 08-15 13h41.8 m +39 ° 49' 59 ° E 9.4
08-20 13h58.8 m +43 ° 04' 60 ° E 9.5
08-25 14h16.9 m +46 ° 04' 62 ° E 9.7
08-30 14h36.5 m +48 ° 49' 64 ° E 9.9
09-04 14h58.1 m +51 ° 18' 67 ° E 10.0
09-09 15h22.1 m +53 ° 30' 70 ° E 10.2

By Don Machholz "Comet C/1996 N1 (Brewington): Howard Brewington discovered this, his fifth comet, on the evening of July 3 from his home in Cloudcroft, New Mexico.

Using his 8" reflector, which is mounted on top of his 16" reflector, he visually swept up this comet some 702 search hours (and nearly four years) after his fourth find. This is the longest that Brewington has searched for a comet, his previous four finds took a total of 725 hours.

An early orbit calculation shows the comet to be approaching a perihelion distance of 0.92 AU on Aug. 3. Comet Brewington should remain in our evening sky for the next two months, moving north and dimming slowly.

Comet Hale-Bopp and Periodic Comet Kopff remain in the summer Milky Way. Comet Hale-Bopp continues to brighten as expected, which is good news to cometeers everywhere.

Orbital Elements
Object Hale-Bopp Kopff Brewington
Peri. Date 1997 04 01.14561 1996 07 02.19980 1996 08 03.418
Peri. Dist (AU) 0.9140971 AU 1.5795617 AU 0.92309 AU
Arg/Peri (2000): 130.59227 deg. 162.83487 deg. 44.120 deg.
Asc. Node (2000): 282.47 087 deg. 120.91 329 deg. 235.11 9 deg.
Incl (2000) 89.42807 deg. 4.72143 deg. 51.672 deg.
Eccen: 0.9950784 0.5440739 1.0
Orbital Period: 3000 yrs. 6.45 yrs. Long period?

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 descri bing 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 + $2.00 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.

Some Summertime Deep-Sky Objects

M5 One of the best globular clusters, in Serpens (Caput).
M13 The Great Hercules Cluster! Look for the mag. 12 galaxy NGC 620 7 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.
M22 Another great globular cluster, in Sagittarius.
M8, M20 & M17 The Lagoon, Trifid, and Swan Nebulae in Sagittarius!
M11 The Wild Duck Cluster in Scutum! Perhaps the richest of all open clusters.
M57 The Ring Nebula, a famous planetary nebula in Lyra.
M27 The Dumbbell Nebula, a superb planetary in Vulpecula!
NGC6960/92/95 The Veil Nebula in Cygnus. A large supernova remnant. (Try an OIII filter).
NGC7000 The North America Nebula near Deneb. Fine in binoculars under dark skies.
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