Prime Focus

Tri-Valley Stargazers June 1997
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured this explosive coronal mass ejection from a solar storm in April. Supersonic waves rippled the corona, as high-energy gas and radio waves were emitted. (Credit: EIT, the SOHO Consortium, ESA NASA)


June general meeting
TVS on the Web
Club news notes
What's Up in June
Comet Comments
Library survey
White Mountains trip
Membership application

TVS presents

What: High-altitude observing
When: June 20, 1997 Conversation, 7:00 PM Business meeting, 7:30 PM
Who: Dave Cudaback
Where: Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore, 1893 N. Vasco Rd.

By combining his interests in science, mountaineering, and flying, Dr. David D. Cudaback has established an international reputation for his research on the effects of high altitudes on human performance and health.

In his monograph Four-KM Altitude Effects on Performance and Health, he writes, "The optical thickness of the earth's atmosphere, when determined by water vapor, decreases with altitude with a scale height between 1 and 2 km. The partial pressure of oxygen, decreases with altitude with a scale height of 8 km. Those different scale heights make it worth the effort to place telescopes as high as people can tolerate."

Specifically, Dr. Cudaback cites White Mountain, California and Mauna Kea, Hawaii as excellent locations for observing sites higher than 4,000 meters. The varibility of human reactions to such high-altitude observing ranges from mild discomfort to life-threatening illness. In his talk Dr. Cudaback will offer specific suggestions for evaluating your ability to tolerate the stresses of high-altitude observing. This talk is a must for those going to White Mountain in July!

TVS on the Web

by Chuck Grant

Have you checked out the club's Web site recently ( It is a growing resource of information about the club and what's happening.

It is a source of general information about the club, especially useful to prospective members. If someone asks you about the club, be sure to refer him or her to our Web pages. It describes our loaner telescope program, our dark site and observatory, our telescope making workshop, our observing awards program, our library, our general meetings with invited speakers, our board meetings, our newsletter, and more!

It is the place to find the latest updated schedules of events, local star parties, observing expeditions, interesting things to observe (a whole year of Dave Anderson's "What's Up"), and the latest club news. You can print out anything from our Web pages including the newsletters, "What's Ups", awards forms, the TVS calendar, the membership application, ... anything. And it's always the latest.

Get the newsletter faster
The current and past newsletters, Prime Focus , are available on the Web. The newsletter is usually available on the Web at least a week before the printed version gets to you in the mail and this way you will always know exactly were your newsletter is. If you want, we can notify you each month (by e-mail) when the current issue is available on the Web. (Members only, send e-mail to to request this.) You can also elect not to receive the printed version, which saves the club a lot on postage. Let us know!

Be listed in our membership directory
We have a membership directory on-line which contains all the officers and board members, and any regular members who want to be listed. This can include e-mail, phone number, URL (a link to your personel homepage), statement of personal interests, and even a mug shot so others can recognize you at TVS events. Check it out ( or just hit the "Members" link on our homepage) and e-mail us the information you want included in your entry.

Who's going to the Sky Shack?
Members have long expressed interest in having some kind of system where they could find out who else is going out to the Sky Shack to observe on particular nights. We never really had any way that we could manage this information, or even any good ideas on how it might be done. Now, thanks to the wide spread popularity of the internet, and World Wide Web in particular, we have a mechanism.

We have an automatic schedule notification bulletin board system running. Just point your browser at our "Schedule Notification" page ( or hit the "Schedule Notification" link on our homepage) and you will see who is going up and when. You can enter your own anouncement(s) of your trip(s) up to the site. The schedule is sorted by the dates of the trips, and trips scheduled for the past are automatically deleted.

Robotic Solar Observatory, Eyes on the Skies.
Mike Rushford's robotic solar observatory and BBS system have moved. They are now no longer accessable via the old dialup line. They are now accessiblevia the World Wide Web ( or the "Eyes on the Skies " link on our homepage). The telescope can now be controlled from anywhere in the world over the internet for free. It's pretty sunny these days, so you can get out there and do some solar observing without having to get out there. It is the perfect activity while sitting in front of your computer at work and looking busy.

If you have any suggestions for improving the TVS Web pages, let us know.

Club News Notes

A belated welcome
The last few newsletters have been so full that we have neglected to welcome new members as we should. The following families and individuals are new to TVS since the beginning of the year: Randy Thalacker, Allen and Joan Rush, Martin Lades, Rob Berry, James Montgomery, Brad Johnson, Karl Churchill, Michael Brasher, Robert and Laurie Nafzinger, and Robert Fickling III. If we have forgotten to welcome anyone else, the newsletter editor may be publicly chastised at the next general meeting.

Meeting dates

General meeting nights are now the third Friday of each month: June 20, July 18, August 15, September 19, October 17, November 21, and the holiday potluck on December 19.

Star parties
Jim McIntire is holding campsites at Camp Shelly for TVS members on June 27-29. The club will present public star parties Friday and Saturday nights. Contact Jim at (209) 836-3836 to reserve your spot.

Observatory director Chuck Grant has three more Sky Shack open houses on his schedule for the year. They are set for: July 26 (same day as the Del Valle star party), August 23 (same weekend as the Yosemite trip), and September 20 (one day after the general meeting). Caravans will depart from Mines Road/Tesla at 7:00 PM before each open house.

The first Saturday of every month, through September, the club will assist LARPD with public star parties at Sycamore Grove, Livermore. Remaining dates are: June 7, July 5, August 2, and September 6. Plan to set up before 8:30 PM

The White Mountain annual star party is set for July 3 through 6. See Dave Rodrigues' article regarding arrangements for this terrific trip.

Awards program update
Congratulations to Dennis Beckley, who has earned the Messier Objects award for sighting all 110. Dennis' notes were beautifully detailed, and he even made a trip to the Texas Star Party to capture all these objects.

Club president Dave Anderson has added a new awards category, the Caldwell Objects, to the program. Observers must record the first (northernmost) 80 objects from Patrick Moore's Caldwell Catalog of 109 deep-sky objects. Sir Moore's list was published in Sky and Telescope December 1995. This issue is available in the club's library.

Debbie Dyke earned an Honourable Mention award at the Riverside Telescope Making Conference on May 25. She becomes the second TVS telescope workshop participant to win this coveted honor for a "well-built first telescope". Workshop leader Rich Combs assisted Debbie with the design and production of her scope. TVS congratulates you both!

Thank you notes
Letters of appreciation have been received from Lydiksen Elementary School in Pleasanton, and the Girl Scouts of Napa and Sonoma Counties. Many thanks to Rich Green, Chuck Grant, Dave Anderson, and Bill Marqardt who presented these star parties.

Attention job hunters
Lumicon, internationally known for its innovations in astronomy, announced that a full-time position is currently open. Interested parties should send a resume to:
Lumicon, Jack Marling,
P.O. Box 495,
Livermore, CA 94551.
No phone calls.

President Dave Anderson (510) 661-4249
Secretary Bill Burnap (510 ) 449-4552
Vice President Chuck Grant (510) 449-1500
Treasurer Gene Nassar (510) 462-7843
Observatory Director Chuck Grant (510) 449-1500
Librarian Chris Cody (707) 747-6550
Eyes on the Skies Mike Rushford
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
Membership: 164
Alane Alchorn, Dennis Beckley, Rich Combs, Rich Green, Russ Kirk, Dave Rodrigues, Debbie Scherrer, Al Smith, Dave Sworin, Jim Zumstein

Tri-Valley Stargazers

P.O. Box 2467
Livermore, CA 94551

What's Up in June

by Dave Anderson June Europa transits Jupiter until 2:14 AM
6 Fri Venus 6° north of Moon. Look shortly after sunset (8:27 PM).
7 Sat Star party at Sycamore Grove Park (Livermore Park District) 8:00 PM (Wetmore Rd. entrance near Holmes St.).
Excellent weekend for observing: No Moon after 10:30 PM
8 Sun Beta Lyrae at minimum 12:43 AM Eclipsing binary drops from mag. 3.4 to 4.3 in about 3 days. (Period is currently 12.93 846 days. There is a secondary minimum of mag. 3.8.) Compare Gamma Lyrae: mag. 3.24.
Io's shadow transits Jupiter 2:24 AM, followed by Io 3:36 AM
9 Mon Io reappears from occultation by Jupiter 3:13 AM
10 Tue Ganymede reappears from occultation by Jupiter 2:07 AM
12 Thu First Quarter Moon 9:51 PM
13 Fri Mars 0.3° north of Moon (occulted in Africa).
Callisto's shadow transits Jupiter until 4:09 AM
14 Sat Europa's shadow transits Jupiter until 2:23 AM Europa transit begins 1:49 AM
15 Sun Father's Day.
16 Mon Io eclipsed by Jupiter 1:37 AM
17 Tue Asteroid 15 Eunomia (mag 9.2) at opposition.
Io's shadow transits Jupiter until 1:03 AM
Io transits until 2:10 AM
Ganymede reappears from eclipse 1:15 AM, occulted 2:08 AM
20 Fri Tri-Valley Stargazers meeting 7:30 PM Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore, 1893 N. Vasco Road, Livermore. (3/4 mile north of I-580).
Full Moon 12:09 PM
21 Sat Summer Solstice 1:20 AM
Beta Lyrae at minimum 11:14 PM
Europa's shadow transits Jupiter 1:06 AM
23 Mon TVS Planning Meeting 7:00 PM Round Table Pizza, 1540 First St., Livermore (in Orchard Supply/Longs/Safeway shopping center).
Venus 5° south of Pollux.
Europa occulted by Jupiter until 1:18 AM
24 Tue Jupiter 4° south of Moon.
Soyuz TM-26 launch scheduled. (Russian Mir docking mission.)
Io's shadow transits Jupiter 12:4 0 to 2:57 AM
Io transits 1:40 AM
Ganymede eclipsed by Jupiter's shadow 1:36 AM
25 Wed Galileo flyby of Callisto (416 km).
Io occulted by Jupiter until 1:16 AM
27 Fri Star Party at Camp Shelly, Lake Tahoe.
Last Quarter Moon 5:42 AM
NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) spacecraft flyby of asteroid 253 Mathilde (1200 km).
28 Sat Star Party at Camp Shelly, Lake Tahoe.
Saturn 0.2° south of Moon (occulted in Florida).
30 Mon Callisto transits Jupiter 1:17 AM
Europa occulted until 3:40 AM

1 Tue Io's shadow transits Jupiter 2:34 AM, followed by Io 3:27 AM PDT.
Io eclipsed by Jupiter's shadow 11:53 PM, reappears from occultation 3:03 AM
2 Wed Io shadow transits Jupiter until 11:20 PM
Io transits until 12:12 AM
3 Thu White Mountain Star Party. (Grandview campground tonight).
Planetfest'97 begins, Pasadena. (Contact Cindy Jalife, The Planetary Society, 818-7 93-5100, for information.)
4 Fri White Mountain Star Party. (Barcroft High-Altitude Research Facility).
Independence Day.
New Moon 11:40 AM
Excellent weekend for observing.
Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars.
Earth at aphelion (farthest from Sun: 1.017 AU = 152,104 km).
Comet 2P/Encke 0.1901 AU from Earth.
5 Sat Star party at Sycamore Grove Park (Livermore Park District) 8:00 PM (Wetmore Rd. entrance near Holmes St.).
White Mountain Star Party.
6 Sun White Mountain Star Party.

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!
M11 The Wild Duck Cluster in Scutum! Perhaps the richest of all galactic (open) clusters.
M57 The Ring Nebula, a famous planetary nebula in Lyra.
M27 The Dumbbell Nebula, a superb planetary in Vulpecula!
NGC6960/ 92/9 5 The Veil Nebula in Cygnus. A large supernova remnant. (Best with an OIII filter).
NGC7000 The North America Nebula. Fine in binoculars under dark skies.

Comet Comments

by Don Machholtz


C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp)
Date (00UT) R.A.(2000) Dec El Sky Mag
06-06 06h03.2m +07° 59' 22° E 2.5
06-11 06h11.5m +05° 58' 22° E 2.7
06-16 06h19.4m +04° 00' 22° E 2.9
06-21 06h27.0m +02° 06' 22° E 3.2
06-26 06h34.0m +00° 14' 23° E 3.4
07-01 06h41.3m -01° 37' 25° M 3.6
07-06 06h54.6m -03° 27' 26° M 3.8

81P/Wild 2
Date (00UT) R.A.(2000) Dec El Sky Mag
06-06 10h42.3m +11° 43' 82° E 10.8
06-11 10h55.0m +10° 27' 81° E 10.9
06-16 11h07.7m +09° 09' 80° E 11.0
06-21 11h20.3m +07° 50' 78° E 11.2
06-26 11h32.9m +06° 29' 77° E 11.3
07-01 11h45.4m +05° 07' 75° E 11.4
07-06 11h57.8m +03° 45' 74° E 11.5
Comet Hale-Bopp is now visible in the southern hemisphere after putting on a fine show that will be studied for years. Periodic Comet Wild 2 remains in our evening sky. Periodic Comet Encke is close to the sun now, but in late June it emerges into the southern sky. I'll provide those positions next month.

Two faint comets were recently discovered by Joe Montani at Kitt Peak. Found on plates taken April 9 and April 12, Comets C/1997 G1 (Montani) and C/1997 G2 (Montani) will remain faint. Meanwhile, Jean Mueller has made her twelfth photographic comet find, this as part of the Second Palomar Sky Survey. Comet C/1997 J1 (Mueller) has reached perihelion (2.3 AU) and is now dimming.

Orbital Elements
Object: Hale-Bopp P/Wild 2
Peri. Date: 1997 04 01.13800 1997 05 06.62789
Peri. Dist (AU): 0.9141405 AU 1.5826156 AU
Arg/Peri (2000): 130.58915 deg. 041.77000 deg.
Asc. Node (2000): 282.47069 deg. 136.15458 deg.
Incl (2000): 089.4 2943 deg. 003.24276 deg.
Eccen: 0.9951172 0.5402220
Orbital Period: ~2500 years 6.39 years
Ref: MPC 29568 MPC 28272
Epoch: 1997 06 01 1997 04 22
Absol. Mag/"n": -1.0/4.0 7.0/6.0

Survey of Library Needs

In order to make the TVS library useful and attractive to members, we would like your input on our holdings. Additionally, we would like your input on future acquisitions. Please take a few minutes to complete the following
survey. Please place it in the survey box or give it to Chris Cody at the monthly meeting or mail it to us.
Circle your selections.

1. Number of times you have used the library in the last six months >5 4 3 2 1 0

2. Do you use the library's: (5=Frequently 0=Never)
Books 5 4 3 2 1 0
Magazines 5 4 3 2 1 0
Videos 5 4 3 2 1 0
Audio Tapes 5 4 3 2 1 0
Computer programs 5 4 3 2 1 0

3. Types of resources desired: (5=Strongly 0=Not at all)
General 5 4 3 2 1 0
Textbooks 5 4 3 2 1 0
History 5 4 3 2 1 0
Biography 5 4 3 2 1 0
Specialty areas (other)5 4 3 2 1 0
Solar System 5 4 3 2 1 0
Space exploration 5 4 3 2 1 0
Deep sky 5 4 3 2 1 0
History 5 4 3 2 1 0
Other 5 4 3 2 1 0
Books on tape 5 4 3 2 1 0
Observation aides 5 4 3 2 1 0
Computer Programs
Planetarium 5 4 3 2 1 0
Ephemeris 5 4 3 2 1 0
Solar system 5 4 3 2 1 0
Other 5 4 3 2 1 0
Please list others: ________________________________________________

4. Would an on-line catalog be useful to you? 5 4 3 2 1 0

5. Have you contacted the library web page? Y N

6. How valuable to you is the: (5=Very 0=Not at all)
Periodical page 5 4 3 2 1 0
Reference page 5 4 3 2 1 0
Interlibrary loan page 5 4 3 2 1 0
What sections would you like to see on the library web page? ___________

7. Is the collection easy to search Y N

8. Do you have a CD ROM on your computer? Yb N

What is your interest in CD ROM images? 5 4 3 2 1 0

What is your interest in CD ROM programs? 5 4 3 2 1 0

Mail to Chris Cody, TVS Library, P.O. Box 142, Benecia, CA 94510-0142; or bring to the next general meeting you attend.


Once again this year I will be organizing the legendary White Mountains trip. It will be from Thursday, July 3 to Sunday, July 6. 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 University of California, 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 unforgettable view. It is a good guess that this is the "highest" and most unusual star party in the U.S. You'll never forget your view of the Milky Way from Barcroft. 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.

The price this year for room and board will be $40 per person per night for the three nights at Barcroft plus a $5 per person handling fee. One person for three nights would then be $125 for example. Two nights for one person would be $85. Grandview is free. I am now accepting checks in the mail. Spaces go fast so don't delay. Due to tightened Barcroft requirements, full refunds will be available until Wednesday, June 18. After that, full refunds will be given only if we can find a substitute. No refunds can be given after June 30. For more information, call me at (510) 483-9191.

The Tri-Valley Stargazers Membership Application

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