Don Surles brought the meeting to order at 7:15 with 22 members and guests attending.
Martha Gay & Carol Beigel, Greenbelt, MD
Joel Miller, Cheverly, MD
Killens Pond November 16-17 The scheduled all night presentations and Leonid Observations were cancelled because of inclement weather.
Shehan Audubon Sanctuary December 4
An Under the Stars astronomy presentation is scheduled for this dark sky site near Easton MD for Wednesday, Dec. 4. The program starts at 7:00 p.m. with Stargazing activities and ends around 9:00 p.m. with drinking coffee and hot chocolate around a campfire.
Constellation of the Month- Cygnus (SIG-nus)
Presented by Lyle Jones
Cygnus, the Swan, is visible in the Northern Hemisphere from June through October and there is a wealth of objects.
Scanning this region with binoculars reveals field after field of star clusters and groupings.
Mythology Just as he was beginning his life as a great Trojan hero, Cygnus was tragically killed in battle by the famed and clever warrior, Achilles. As Cygnus drew a last breath of life, his father, Poseidon, transformed the young man into a beautiful swan and carried him to the heights of Mount Olympus, home of the gods. Here, Cygnus displayed his grand grace and elegance, inspiring the King of the Gods to change himself into a swan, too. Disguised as the majestic creature, Zeus sped to earth and courted the lovely Leda, who gave birth to their sons, Castor and Pollux. Zeus also took the form of the swan to trick Nemesis, the stern goddess of Divinity from Cygnus' attack. In the starry skies, the great white swan forever flies, with wings outstretched, southward along the Milky Way. Another version of the story is that the swan is Orpheus, who was killed by Achilles at the battle of Troy and placed in the stars near his beloved harp (Lyra). Cygnus, the swan, was not always a swan. Greek legend tells a tragic story of Apollo’s son, Phaeton, who tried to drive Apollo’s chariot across the sky. Apollo warned him not to drive too close to the Earth lest he set it on fire. Phaeton lost control of the wild horses, and to spare the Earth a fiery destruction, Zeus threw a lightning bolt at the young boy, killing him instantly. The horses climbed higher into the sky, scorching a path that became the Milky Way. Phaeton fell into the river Eridanus. Cygnus dove repeatedly into the river to try to retrieve the body of his friend but failed. Zeus was so impressed with Cygnus’ devotion to his Phaeton that he turned him into a swan, enabling him to dive more easily. Cygnus was eventually rewarded for his gallantry by a prominent place in the summer skies within the cloudy path of the Milky Way.
Objects of Interest in Cygnus
M-39. Through binoculars, this open cluster is very impressive. It is large and bright and stands out well from the background having an overall triangular shape. Through a telescope, it loses some of its impact, because of its size and the fact that it is not very concentrated to the center.
M-29. It is one of Messier’s least conspicuous star clusters. This small open cluster is seen through binoculars as a diamond shaped grouping of about 6-8 stars in a nice field. In a telescope, the count increases to about 15 sparsely concentrated stars.
NGC 7000 - The North America Nebula. Best seen with the naked eye as a milky patch just to the east of the bright star Deneb. The "Gulf of Mexico" region stands out particularly well. Try holding an O-III or UHC filter in front of your eyes to increase the contrast.
NGC 6969/6992-5 - The Veil Nebula. This is a large supernova remnant best seen at low power, divided into two major segments. NGC 6969 is the more difficult to see, as the bright star 52 Cygni overwhelms it. NGC 6992-5 lies to the east, and shows a wealth of filamentary etail, especially when using a filter.
NGC 6826- Blinking Planetary The planetary lies 2 1/2 degrees SE of Iota Cygni. A 4 inch scope will show it as a small round bluish green disk.
Le Gentil 3 First dark nebula ever cataloged, in 1755 and published in 1755 by French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil. It can be seen with naked eye or binocular as a dark lane jutting across the Milky Way and Deneb.
Alberio This is a classic double star. Easily split, it shows a beautiful contrast of yellow-orange and blue stars.
Deneb. Its older name is Arided which is completely obsolete. Deneb is the 19th brightest star in the sky. It is the faintest of the three stars in the summer triangle (Vega, Deneb and Altair). Its name comes from AL Dhnal al Dajajah (The hen's trail). Deneb is one of the greatest supergaint stars, equalled only by Rigel. It is 60,000 times more luminous than the sun. Absolute magnitude is -7.1 and is about 1600 light years away. It is the chief source of illumination for North American Nebula.
61 Cygni. 61 Cygni is a double star that is 11.4 light years from us and the 13th closest star system to our sun. The companion star is an orange dwarf which is only 30 seconds from the larger star. This separation makes the pair easy to separate with a small scope.
Cygnus X-1 X-1 is one of the strongest X-ray energy sources known. The source of the energy is less than 100 miles in diameter. Some think it might be a completely collapsed black hole. It lies 0.5 degrees ENE of Eta Cygni.
Radio Astronomy of Cygnus As a bonus, this was an unannounced addenda to the Cygnus program. It was presented by Ron Tatman. It dealt with Cygnus and other radio sources in Cygnus
including the quasars discovered in 1963 as optical components of strong radio sources.
Some of these were red shifted 37%. The strongest and most distant Quasar of course is 3c273 in
Virgo, thought to be powered by a black holes. Those further interested in these areas should
contact Ron Tatman.
Program: Barlows and their Use
Presented by Don Surles with others
In its very basic form, a barlow lens is a negative reducing lens, located between the eyepiece and the objective. To use a metaphor, the barlow makes the eyepiece think that the objective is double its focal length and therefore gives twice the magnifying power.
(Since the magnification is the focal length of the objective divided by the focal length of the eye piece, if you double the apparent focal length you double the magnifying power). The barlow not only increases the magnifying power, but does so without sacrificing eye relief. Eye relief is the distance between the eyeball and eye lens when the observer can clearly see the full field of view.
Thus barlows are necessary when you want higher magnification than you can get with your present telescope and eyepiece combination or when you want better eye relief than is available with your short focal length eyepieces. Here are some examples: you have a telescope with a focal length of 1000mm and your shortest focal length eyepiece is 20mm; then your magnification is 1000 divided by 20 or 50X. With a 2X barlow you can increase the mag to 2 times 50 or 100
power. On the other hand you could buy a 10mm eyepiece and obtain the same magnification – but, your “eye relief” will be much less with the 10mm eyepiece than with the 20mm and the 2X barlow combination. This can be advantageous for those who must use eyeglasses when viewing.
Barlows come in all standard size barrels and powers of 1.5X to 3X and also “variable powers”. There are shorty versions as well as normal length. The shortys are for use in star diagonals but may be used in other scopes. Now, if you are using a telescope that has a star diagonal, you have the option of putting the barlow in front of or behind the star diagonal. Don suggests putting the barlow in front of the diagonal since the barlow will multiply any imperfections in the star diagonal
if it is placed behind it.
For those who dislike barlows, it might be because their optical system just will not support the higher magnifications created by barlows. Remember the rule for scopes and mags – a max of 50-60X per inch of aperture. So, if your image goes caput when using a barlow, do some math...could be you have exceeded your scope’s max mag per inch of aperture or …heaven forbid, your scope’s optical quality may not be up to the highest standards.
Rules for buying barlows: Since this is a multiplier for your optical system, it should be of the highest quality. Typically, an apochromat (3 element) is better than an achromat (2 element). Anti-reflection coatings, baffled tubes, and blackened edges, are a must. Buy the best you can afford.
Finally, what is a Klee? It is just University Optics’ name for a barlow it sells. So, have fun with or without your barlow, now that you know all about them.
From the President’s Desk....
November 17, 2002 Here comes Winter and the beauty of Orion, Canis Major, Gemini, and Taurus. The clear and transparent nights of Winter are much more revealing than their Summer cousins. Dew has given way to frost and the honks of geese have replaced the T-hoe Mosquito’s buzz. Get your scopes ready; find those mukluk boots, the heavy gloves, your thermals; make a list and get the essentials together so that when you arrive at the observing site you will be prepared to enjoy the wonders of Mother Nature’s Winter Sky Show. Bring along a snack and some hot drinks to combat the nighttime cold and to satisfy the munchies. An extra jacket or pair of gloves for a less prepared fellow Star Gazer is also a good idea.
By the time you get this maybe the weather will have improved for stargazing. This weekend we experienced our second major nor’easter of the season. What a mess! My gutters are packed with leaves. Oh, is your rain bucket full? Think what this could have been if the temp was a few degrees lower.
Have you made your “wants and needs” known to Santa? Seasoned (meaning more than one Christmas without Naglers under the tree) Star Gazers know it is absolutely necessary to provide Santa with the specs of your “just gotta have its” so that he and his elves know what to deliver.
Apparently Santa does not do a lot of stargazing – heck he’s disadvantaged. He’s only out one night a year and then he has to look at the south end of a reindeer thru the glow of Rudolph’s red nose. Well, at least the nose is red. Someone should insist on a 31mm Nagler and that someone should be willing to share. One thing’s for sure: if someone does get a 31mm Nagler for Christmas and demonstrates anything less than a sharing nature I am sure he or she will be on Santa’s, and
my, $#!% list for next year.
There are still some slots left in the mirror making and prom scope making session to be held Feb 28 – Mar 2, 2003. If you would like to learn mirror making from successful mirror makers or build your own prominence viewing scope and enjoy a nice weekend with some of the best amateur astronomers in the world please give Lyle a call (302-736-9842) and reserve your place. Speaking of Christmas gifts…I am sure Santa could fit a certificate for the Seminar into a Star Gazer’s
stocking. So, the spec is: Mid-Atlantic Mirror Maker’s Seminar #3, Feb 28 – Mar 2, 2003; call Lyle Jones (302-736-9842) to obtain the certificate.
It’s time for us to renew our subscriptions to Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, and to Delmarva Star Gazers. Please see or contact Keith Lohmeyer to renew subscriptions. To renew your membership in Delmarva Star Gazers please send Kathy Sheldon a check – see your newsletter for details.
This past month I was fortunate. I received an email from a young man who credited his growing interest in astronomy to me. Honestly, I don’t remember the young man but it is good to know you have been a positive influence on someone’s life. In addition, some fellow Star Gazers and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to assist a couple of students from Johns Hopkins Masters program in their required observing program. We are truly fortunate when we can purposefully
share our interest in astronomy with others. We should make the effort to share as much as ossible as often as possible. Also, I placed my 17.5” scope at the end of my driveway on Halloween night, just as I have done for several years. I certainly don’t know all the little ghosts, princesses, and space critters that have looked through the old 17.5 over the years but the children
remember “the house with the telescope”. And, folks, you ought to see a little child dressed in Halloween garb standing at the top of a ladder, with a bucket of candy in one hand, and a death grip on the ladder with the other, look into the eyepiece and say, “Wow!”. That is certainly one of those credit card “priceless” moments.
Oh, I almost forgot the Christmas Party. It is December 7, 1:00 – 5:00 PM, in the fellowship hall of First Presbyterian Church, Smyrna, DE, our normal meeting place. All are invited to come and enjoy what Star Gazers do best – eat and talk! Please put the date on your calendar and call Kathy Sheldon for details (302-422-4695).
Till next time – Don…
The Editor’s Quadrant....
The Solar System in December
Mercury- will be too close to the sun during the first part of December but will emerge as an evening star near the end of the month. Venus shines as a morning star for all of December but is at its best in the early part of the month reaching a magnitude of -4.7 and a disk size of 44” Mars- improves as a morning star in December as the Sun rises ever later. Jupiter rises ever earlier in December increasing both in size and magnitude. Saturn also improves in December as it goes into opposition with the Sun. Both Uranus and Neptune are still in Capricornus and Pluto will be going into conjunction with the Sun in December.
Clear Skies!, Frank Sheldon firstname.lastname@example.org
Club Meetings- We meet in the First Presbyterian Church in Smyrna, DE (653-8000) on the first Tuesday of each month from 7-9 PM. From US 13, turn west at Wendy's and go one stoplight on Commerce Street; the church is on the right directly across from the Fire Hall.
Future Meetings...The remaining meeting date for 2002 will
be: December 03. The regular meeting format includes
discussion of club activities, observing highlights and an advertised presentation.
Club Observing... Observing is (usually) scheduled for the Friday
nearest the New Moon to maximize the hours of deepnight
without the moon in the sky. Unless otherwise stated,
the monthly observing site will be at the baseball field in the camping
area at Tuckahoe State Park.
Delmarva Star Gazers Officers for 2002-2003