December 2003

ACT, Inc. has been meeting continuously since 1937 and was incorporated in 1986. It is a nonprofit; tax deductible organization dedicated to promoting, to the public, the art of viewing and the scientific aspect of astronomy.


The Astronomy Club of Tulsa Club


Friday, 5 December, 2003 at 7:30 PM


Room M1 inside Keplinger Hall, the Science & Engineering Building at TU

Enter the parking lot on the East Side of Keplinger Hall from Harvard and 5th Street
This will take you directly toward the staircase to enter the building.
Room M1 is the first room on the left.

President’s Message

Craig Davis

Our next meeting will be December 5th. Our guest speaker will be Professor Joel Kimball. Professor Kimball is from ORU and is a member of our club also. He teaches electrical engineering and physics but has a relentless interest in spectroscopy, automated/robotic observation and computer simulation of astrophysical phenomena. With his masters and doctoral work completed at the University of Alabama, Professor Kimball will be speaking about interferometry at our upcoming meeting which I'm quite sure will capture the interest and minds of many. We will meet with Professor Kimball for dinner before the club meeting and any that may wish to come are welcome. It will be at Village Inn at 2745 S. Harvard, from 5-7. We have a reserved area for club members.

Here we are already into the final month of this year and it is amazing as to what all we have enjoyed throughout. The most recent of course was one of the most commonly known and watched meteor showers to all, the Leonids. But this year the Leonids were somewhat of a disappointment to many since it unfortunately had not shown its best. If only we could have a 1966 display once again!

The Mars Watch was unforgettable to so many members of the club as well as all of the people who had attended this great effort. More or less five thousand people attended the Mars Watch and I'm quite sure all of them left with much more of a clearer perspective of the wonders and beauty of our universe. We all know now for absolute sure that "doing the dew" isn't fun at all. The dew was so heavy those two nights you could almost cut it with a knife! With all humor aside, a very sincere thanks is directed to all of the members that worked so hard to make the Mars Watch as rewarding and fun as it ended up being.

Without a doubt the Okie-Tex Star Party was one of its own this year too. Even though many had to endure the relentless weather that bashed them quite well this time around, they still were enticed and rewarded with beautiful dark skies. Perhaps many more of us will be able to go to the next one and enjoy not only the wonderful expanses of beautiful dark skies but the surrounding landscapes that cradle it so well.

The very enjoyable and informative MSRAL Convention that we hosted this year was in and of itself one of its own. All of the Astronomical League representatives as well as all of the people that came to it were very pleased with not only the location but the numerous speakers that were invited to cover a large number of topics that are so interesting to one and all. An enormous thanks is owed to all that were involved in handling the convention from start to finish - Thank You!

As was both said and done at our last club meeting, Nick Pottorf deserves a great deal of thanks and respect for all which he has done for our club over the past thirty years. My personal thanks is directed to Nick once again, looking forward to seeing your smiling face at the upcoming meetings!

The number of club members that mosey on out to our monthly star party may dwindle somewhat in the cold winter months. Not everyone enjoys temps right at, if not even below, the old standard freezing mark. But if you get a wild hair every now and then, toss on the coveralls and double up on sox and come on out! There will always be plenty of coffee, hot chocolate and who knows, fresh donuts may just appear too! The jewels of the winter sky are remarkable! Before we know it, the arrival of the spring and summer will be upon us, yes, it will.

But what sets the entire year into a very nice niche of our memories is that we have had the chance to see and experience such a brilliant and innumerable amount of celestial activity. From here on out to the end of this year we will have many opportunities to enjoy the skies and that which may lie beyond.

Clear Skies,
Craig D. Davis



Nick Pottorf

He has had membership in the Astronomy Club of Tulsa dating from the late 50's and over 40 years of service to the Astronomy Club of Tulsa, with the last 30 years as the Club's Treasurer. Nick Pottorf has given everything he can to our club and in return members past and present paid tribute to Nick at our annual dinner meeting. Nick grew up in Eastern Ohio, obtained his B.S. in Physics at Oberlin College and a Masters degree at Cal-Tech. Nick came to Tulsa when he was employed by AMOCO working on a seismic exploration crew. In 1944 he received a Law Degree from the University of Tulsa. He then became the lead Patent Attorney for AMOCO, retiring in 1977. Many members remember Nick's lovely wife Mary and son Frederick and the help and dedication that they gave to the club also. K.C. Lobrecht, Gerry Andries, Tom McDonough and Leo Cundiff were among members present who gave tributes to Nick. Past President Marc Chouinard wrote: "your years of service not only provided a governance for the club to provide resources for members to interact, but built enthusiasm that has made teachers of the sky for a couple of generations. I am grateful for my years serving with you and want you to know how much you have meant to all of us." From Past President Klaus Brasch ... "Please extend my best wishes to Nick. I enjoyed working with Nick in the 1980's when I lived in Tulsa and when we began plans for the Observatory during my terms as Vice President and President. Nick always made sure we had enough money in the kitty to do all those things that we wanted to do without going broke." And from Past President and Treasurer John Land ... "Nick was an artisan with telescope mirrors. Often in the Fall the club would begin with telescope mirror grinding lessons from Nick. He would go through each step letting all of us get our hands dirty with grit if we wanted. At the end of the series the club would hold a raffle to give the mirror away. Anyone owning a Pottorf original surely had a great collectable. Thanks Nick for taking in a novice and guiding me down the paths of starlight." At the end of the tributes Nick was presented with a 2004 Astronomy calendar and a Plaque that stated that he was now an Honorary Board Member for Life. Thanks Nick, you are truly responsible for the success of this club.

Denny Mishler



By David Stine

The Leonids have come and gone for another year and from all indications they are back to a normal level of 10-15/hr. Some of us brave souls viewed this year's shower from the observatory and were treated to some decent Leonids, but nothing spectacular. The highlight of the evening other than KC's cookies was a Taurid Fireball. That one was worth the night. Lighting up the sky at Mg. -3 the greenish fireball was awesome leaving at least a 3 second train that twisted in the atmospheric wind. The total number of Leonids that we did see was a dismal 13. We also saw 6 Taurids including the fireball, and 2 sporadics. The Leonid Storms of the past few years will only be memories for us who saw them, as no other storms are predicted for tens of years ahead and maybe never again. IF we have any new storms they will come from other showers such as the Taurids. In fact there is a good chance that in 2005 the Taurids will produce a Fireball shower similar to what the Leonids did in 1998 but not quite as intense. Time will tell as the meteor astronomer's fine tune their predictions. The next meteor shower for us is just a few weeks away and it is always a very dependable shower year after year, the Geminids. This shower produces about 120 meteors per hour at its peak, which this year will be at 5:40AM December 14th or Sunday morning. The good thing about the Geminids is that you can start seeing the meteors early in the evening as soon as Gemini rises which is around 7:30PM The only problem is that we are only 5 days past a full moon that rises at 9:34PM on Sat. the 13th and doesn't set until 11:19AM the next morning. Last year there were more than normal earth grazers before Gemini rose, so this may also be a good year to look for these earth grazers as soon as it gets dark and before Gemini is up very high. At least the moon will be East of Gemini, and we will be able to view a few moonless hours before Luna rises. Then after, Gemini will have risen high enough so we can view above and to the west. This is on a Saturday night and Sunday morning, so no work to go to the next day. Plan to be at the observatory for this event.

Two comets are causing quite a stir around the comet community right now. Comet 2P Encke in late November was becoming a very interesting object. John Bortle reported that the coma was a huge pale mass of dense mist that in 15x70 binoculars spanned 12 minutes while 10x50's revealed 17 minutes. Both instruments revealed the comets sunward fan. With his 41cm Newtonian and 57x the coma seemed amazingly complex. The fan was open nearly 100 degrees in p.a. Both edges appeared to be linear and quite sharply bound. The trailing northern edge of the fan was distinctly brighter than the rest and one or two other vague fingers of light were suspected within the fan just like a drawing made in 1871, the last time the comet was this close. As John said the comet was down right weird looking. KC Lobrecht also viewed the comet during her trip to the Wichita Mountains and didn't have quiet the same experience with Encke as John did. KC compared it to fog on a lens with a bright center. The comet is now at Mg. 7 and should be fairly easy to locate even in urban lights but remember its Mg. is misleading, as it still is a low light object as its light is spread out similar to M33. The comet should become naked eye range within the next 2 or three weeks. However, it is moving rapidly toward the sun as it heads toward us and won't be able to be viewed much longer. Check out a recent picture at Here are coordinates for five-day intervals in December. Your last chance to view the comet will be between Dec. 7 and the 12th.

Dec. 2 RA-18 15.72 DEC: +04 21.8

Dec. 7 RA-17 47.29 DEC: -02 36.1

Dec. 12 RA-17 24.19 DEC: -08 30.5

The other comet to watch is C/2002 T7 (Linear). The comet has been brightening and showing some interesting features. This one KC seemed to really enjoy. She said it was a small cone shaped and at the time of her viewing was eclipsing a faint 14th Mg. star. Greg Crinklaw of CometChasing/yahoogroups stated that it was a terrific little comet. It jumped right out at him at 97x appearing as a bright oblong ball surrounded by a fainter fan shape extending from PA100 to PA130. Within the ball lay a bright, non-stellar core. The full fan appeared about 1.8 minutes across. With averted vision a streak could be seen emanating at PA100, stretching about 4 minutes. A similar, but shorter and fainter streak appeared near PA 130. This comet should be relatively easy in a six-inch from a dark site. P. Clay Sherrod reported the comet was seemingly developing fine structure on the SE quadrant of the large and slightly arched coma. The tail is beginning to extend away from the coma at PA117. You can also see a recent photo of this developing comet at http:/ The comet is presently around 10th MG. Here are the coordinates in five-day intervals for December.

Dec. 2 RA 03 02.24 DEC +36 18.1 EST. MG 9.1

Dec. 7 RA 02 40.40 DEC +35 06.6 EST. MG 8.9

Dec. 12 RA 02 19.32 DEC +33 36.7 EST. MG 8.8

Dec. 17 RA 01 59.61 DEC +31 52.6 EST. MG 8.7

Dec. 22 RA 01 41.71 DEC +29 59.9 EST. MG 8.5

Dec. 27 RA 01 25.84 DEC +28 04.1 EST. MG 8.4

This comet will be viewable all of December and the good news it's an all-evening comet high overhead between 8-10PM Good viewing. This one is one to watch as it develops and brightens. I was able to view the comet from my backyard under Tulsa urban skies with my 10-inch Dob Nov. 24th. It was easy to locate and unique as it was moving through an open star cluster NGC 1342. It was nebulous in appearance with a slight extension from the coma. It was interesting to watch as it moved through the cluster for about a 2 hour period I estimated it to be about 10th mg., but that was from Tulsa lighted skies, so in a dark location I am sure I would probably increased my brightness estimation.

Since we are on comets, how would you like to have your name be shot onto the surface of a comet to be there forever? Well you can. In December 2004 NASA plans to send the Deep Impact Space Craft to Comet Tempel 1. When it arrives on July 4, 2005, it will eject an impactor deep into the surface producing a 7-15 story crater. On this impactor will be a protected CD with names of people that would just like to be a part of this event. If you would like to have your name go to this comet go to the site: And follow directions. It's free and fun and you can even print out a certificate to hang on your wall showing that your name is going to Comet Tempel 1. Something to put in your astronomical families Christmas sock this Christmas.

The Sun continues to be very active. Just a few days ago CME's that arrived at earth produced more auroras as far south as Arkansas. There are now three large sunspot groups on the earthward side that are easily visible in telescopes and if you don't have a telescope you can go to the site: and view the latest real time images of these spots and any developing CME's and flares from the Sun's surface.

KC Lobrecht recently went to the Wichita Mountains with a group Vince Moore's scouts. This is one of the reasons why KC was awarded the Amateur Astronomer of the Year because of her time spent helping to develop young people's interest in Astronomy. I just wanted to share with you some of her report from the outing: "Hi everyone, just got in_____We had two excellent observing nights……Really good. The Venture Scouts were great, mature kids. The artic front blew in still remaining clear…… thought the wind would blow the truck over, worse than Okie-Tex. Wind chill in OKC was 15 degrees. My thermometer was about 36 when we bugged out……The District Scout Leaders were really a fine bunch….and appreciated our effort……My leader Vince Moore's son Russell was fun to observe with as well….(I'm assistant leader…..that/s hysterical! Let me give you some perspective… Vince said, it's you and me kid). They got their 125 ETX out, while I was on the fence checking what the sky was going to do and or if I was/wasn/t going to unload again…..One of the Heads was particularly interested. You never stand up someone that's interested in astronomy…… Good trip…..Loved the buffalos and deer fifteen feet away…..near the truck, and in the center of our patch of observing opening. They said it's Elk season, so they were all in hiding…..The prairie dogs were really fun too…..fat little fat peoples dogs….loved the topography almost as much as NM Volcano Capulin area….Rocks are good….lots of people and creature shapes in them…..Remembered the cartoon movie, "Me and My Arrow"…..I think Nielson made that song famous before the movie…..Remember the dog's pointed head? They had rock people in that movie like the Wichita Mtns. The activity was to do rappelling, hiking and astronomy……Viewing Encke wasn't very interesting….I hate those types: of fog on the lens and a bright center point…..There have to be hundreds in the Herschel's, that look like you have condensation there too. Now I loved T7 Linear and found it with the coordinates ………Small cone shaped and it was eclipsing a very faint 14th magnitude star and thought for a moment the comets nucleus was active. Can't tell you how great it is to be around young adults in that caliber of activities…" As KC said there is nothing more rewarding than helping young students learn and see the world of astronomy up close. Keep up the good work KC and all the other members who spend time with others showing the public the world of astronomy.

Before I close, I would like to dedicate this month's article to Rod Gallagher's wife Vicki who recently passed on to the stars. I'm sure all the members would like to express our deepest sympathy to Rod and his family and will always remember the good times when Vicki would come with Rod to the observatory and the many camping trips to observe that many of you experienced with them. Our hearts and thoughts go with the Gallagher family.

UPDATE: Sky and Telescope has released an outstanding soft back magazine type work called Beautiful Universe. It has beautiful pictures of astronomical objects and has several pages of pictures of the recent Mars opposition. It is now available at all bookstores and I saw copies of it in Wal-Mart. It's a great Christmas gift for the astronomer and at $9.95 a bargain. has just put out the top ten pictures for SOHO of the Sun. They are awesome and can be viewed at

Many astronomy clubs have their own best objects list. I would like to develop the Tulsa Astronomy Club Deep Sky Favorites List with your help. I am sure that everyone has favorite deep sky objects that they have come across, so if you would please e-mail me a list of your favorite objects. I will put them all in a list that can be developed into an observing list that can be placed on the website with information on each object and photo. We can even offer a nice observing certificate for all who locate our favorites. You can e-mail me your favorites at < David Stine e-mail >

I also have just finished the new observing challenge for Winter/Spring. You must complete the list by April 1 to receive a certificate. Brad Young, KC Lobrecht and Rod Gallagher were the only ones to complete the Summer challenge so lets get our winter gear out and observe. Here is the list. Later I will have descriptions and more information with a log for reporting your observations.

1. 6 Iota Triangulum - Double star

2. Almach (Gamma Andromeda) - Double Star

3. NGC 1365-The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy

4. Van den Bergh 23-Reflection Nebula of Alcyone, brightest star in Pleiades

5. Tempels Nebula NGC1435 - Reflection nebula in Merope of Pleiades

6. M1- Crab nebula

7. M37 (NGC 2099) - Open star cluster

8. NGC 1499 - California Nebula in Perseus

9. Trapezium (41 Theta Orionis) Must see at least the 4 main stars

10. Fish Mouth - Dark patch lying between M42 and M43

11. Triple Nebula (NGC 1973, 1975, 1977) 3 Separate emission reflection nebula in Orion.

12. 8 Epsilon Monocerotis - Triple Star system

13. Rosette Nebula NGC2237 and Star Cluster NGC2244

14. NGC 2264 - Christmas Tree Star Cluster

15. NGC 2362(30 Tau Canis Majoris) Open star cluster

16. NGC 2440 - Planetary Nebula in Canis Majoris

17. NGC 2438 - Planetary Nebula in M46

18. NGC 2360 - The Spilt Table Salt star cluster in Canis Major

19. WASAT (55 Delta Geminorum) White star with red dwarf companion

20. NGC 2392 (Eskimo Nebula) in Gemini

21. M67 (NGC 2682) One of the oldest open star clusters

22. R Leonis - Red Giant in Leo

23. Leonid Galaxy Group-M65, M66, and NGC 3628

24. M81-82 - Finest pair of galaxies in Ursa Majoris

25. M60, M59, NGC4647 - Virgo Galaxy group

26. The Siamese Twins (NGC 4567 and 4568) Attached galaxies in Virgo

27. 3C273-Brightest Know Quasar

28. M104 (NGC 4549 - Sombrero Galaxy in Virgo

29. NGC 4361 - Planetary Nebula in Corvus

30. NGC 4038-39 - Ring Tail Galaxy - Interacting galaxies

31. Must observe one comet or asteroid

32. Must observe one night of meteors (at least 3 hrs.) and log each

33. Must observe 3 planets

34. Must observe one iridium flare and log it

35. Must observe ISS pass or other satellite and log it.

There is a book called "A Guide to Backyard Astronomy" which has charts and facts about each of the above that is available at Borders for $4.95. It is an excellent book especially for the money that you will go back to again and again when observing. Later I will have the list with descriptions, location coordinates. All of the objects are within most telescopes and some are binocular objects. Lets see who can be the first to complete the list.


Astroland Tidbits

by John Land

2004 Royal Canadian Observers Handbooks - Handbooks have been ordered and hopefully will be in for the Dec 5th meeting. The initial order request got lost somewhere but I resubmitted the order by phone and hope to have them in by Dec 5th.

2004 Astronomy Calendars are in - We have several extra at a price of $7.00 each. I have reserved those that were prepaid and will bring them to the meeting. If you prepaid and cannot make the Dec 5 meeting please contact John Land

10% Discount on Sky & Telescope products - If you are a Sky & Telescope subscriber you simply have to give them your subscription number and information on the shipping label to qualify for the 10% discount. See details in their catalog or online. I have preordered a couple of extra copies of the new children's book "There Once was a Sky Full of Stars" You can preview it at the meeting. This would make an excellent gift to a library or school near you.

Welcome to our new members: Colleen Brooks; Mat Cleveland; Cloyd Cravens; Zach Garrett; Mike Maloney; David Sargent; Joshua Wells; Joesph Woltz

TIME for MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS and MAGAZINE RENEWALS - See information below about sending in your renewals or bring them to the Friday Dec 5th meeting.

ON LINE REGISTRATION - We now have an automated on line registration form on the website for new AND renewal memberships plus magazine subscriptions. You simply type in your information and hit send to submit the information. You can then print a copy of the form and mail in your check. At this time we do not have an option for credit card payment but may explore that at a later time.

EMAIL NEWSLETTER vs. POSTAL PRINTED NEWSLETTER In order to save postage and printing expenses and keep annual club dues low, The 100 plus members who have email will receive notice when each month's newsletter is posted on the web. If you prefer to also receive a printed postal newsletter make a request at membership e-mail Email subscribers I will begin sending out notices on expiring memberships so you can stay current.

Magazine Subscriptions: You can get substantial discounts for Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazine by ordering thorough the Astronomy Club. If your magazines are coming up for renewal, try to save the mailing label or renewal form you get in the mail. Do NOT mail renewals back to the magazine! To get the club discount you must go through the club group rate. Sky & Telescope is $33 / yr Astronomy is $29 for 1 year or $55 for 2 years. If you cannot attend the TU meetings mail your orders with check to Astronomy Club of Tulsa to the address below.

Club Memberships and Renewals: If you see errors or make any changes in your address or E-mail please keep us informed. Contact John Land membership e-mail or by mail to the address below. You may make Renewals and changes at any club meeting or mail a check to

Astronomy Club of Tulsa
25209 E 62nd St
Broken Arrow, OK 74014

Note: Sending your check to the club mailbox may delay processing several weeks. Club memberships are $25 per year for adults and $15 per year for students. Online registration automated form is found at or you may pick up a membership form at any of our club events. You may forward questions to the club by email membership e-mail or call our message line at 918-688-MARS ( 6277 ) Please leave a clear message with your name, phone number, your question - along with address or email Please make email subject lines address your question.

Address corrections: Every month we get several newsletters returned due to faulty addresses. Check your address label to see if it needs changes and send us an address change if you move. Also on your mailing address label you will see the month that your membership dues expire. Email subscribers I will begin sending out notices on expiring memberships.

Email Addresses - Sign UP to get the latest Astro Alerts from David Stine and other events that take place during the month. If you have not been receiving these we do not have a valid email address for you. If you would like to added to our email list send us your NAME - and Email address with subject - Astronomy Club email list to membership e-mail



Tentatively scheduled dates below are bracketed with question marks. The number of persons expected is in parenthesis.



04 Thu 04:45 Girl Scout Troop 254 (15)

06 Sat 04:30 Girl Scout Troop 896 (15)

13 Sat 04:30 Boy Scout Troop 945 (35)

19 Fri 04:45 Club Star Party

?20 Sat 04:45 Back up for 12/19 ?

Gerry Andries
Observatory Group Director




Club Memberships

Astronomy Club of Tulsa Membership Application / Renewal Form

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Address: ___________________________________________________

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E-mail address - print clearly 

Check Lines below for YES

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Please check all that apply:

___ New Membership ($25) ___ Student Membership ($15)

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also includes 10% discount on most Sky & Tel products

___ Astronomy Subscription ($29) / year ($55) / two years

* Magazine rates may change / prices available with membership only.

Please bring this application along with a check for the total amount made out to the Astronomy Club of Tulsa to the next meeting or mail the payment and application to:

Astronomy Club of Tulsa / 25209 E. 62nd St / Broken Arrow, OK 74014

For questions contact John Land

How did you hear of the Astronomy Club of Tulsa? ___________________________________________________________

How long have you been interested or active in astronomy? ___________

Do you have a telescope? _______ Type __________________________

Have you been a member of other astronomy clubs? ____

Where / when ________________________________________________


What astronomy club activities would you like to participate in?



Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS

President: Craig Davis

Vice President: Ruth Simmons

Treasurer: John Land

Secretary: Jim Miller

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

RMCC Facility Manager: Craig Davis

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Tom McDonough

New Membership: Dennis Mishler

Newsletter: Richie Shroff