March 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, 21 March, 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.

*Note: If Tulsa Public Schools are closed due to weather, the ACT meeting will also be cancelled.

President’s Message

Denny Mishler

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod, an Educator and Researcher in Earth and Physical Sciences, Astronomy and Archeology will be making his first visit to the Astronomy Club of Tulsa at our March 21st meeting. Now "retired" but continuing private research and outreach programs, Dr. Sherrod has devoted over three decades to the advancement of public knowledge and the appreciation of the pure and applied sciences. "Dr. Clay" as his students called him, holds advanced degrees in Astronomy and Space Science, Archeology, Physics and Anthropology. He has published hundreds of papers and articles for scientific journals and publications. He has also made over 4000 presentations to educational, church, government and civic groups!

His Astronomical Studies began in 1970 with the founding of Arkansas Sky, Inc and the Arkansas Sky Observatory; Sherrod's private, non-profit, educational research program and facilities with three observing locations; Conway, AR, nearby Petit Jean Mountain, and Cascade Mountain in north-central Arkansas. In 2001, the Arkansas Sky Observatories were completely computerized for automated searches and data recording of hundreds of celestial objects nightly. Known as the ASO Sky Patrol, it is not uncommon that by the time dawn has emerged, planetary data such as the morphology changes in Jupiter's clouds, studies of passing Near Earth Objects (NEO's) during the night, and observations of 18 to 20 comets are all neatly recorded and reported to the Astronomical Community throughout the world.

Dr. Sherrod will be speaking to us on "Observing the Tenuous Ghosts of the Skies: COMETS and How to Record Them". This just may be the favorite subject of our Distinguished and Dynamic Interdisciplinarian Educator, so in what is shaping up as the "Year of the Comets: 2003", please join Dr. Sherrod and the Astronomy Club of Tulsa for a night to remember.

Clear skies, Denny Mishler




03-18-03 Tue 06:00 Webelo Pack 285 (15)
03-22-03 Sat 06:00 Owasso Boy Scout Troop 168 (20)
03-28-03 Fri 06:00 Club Star Party
? 03-29-03 Sat 06:00 Back up for 03/28 ?


05-02-03 Fri 07:45 Club Star Party
? 05-03-03 Sat 07:45 Back up for 05/02 ?
05-08-03 Thu 07:45 BA Home School Group 1 (30)
05-15-03 Thu 07:45 BA Home School Group 2 (30)
05-30-03 Fri 07:45 Club Star Party
? 05-31-03 Sat 07:45 Back up for 05/30 ?


08-08-03 Fri 07:45 Tulsa Bicycle Club w/ Ed Kirkman (30)
? 08-09-03 Sat 07:45 Tulsa Bicycle Club w/ Ed Kirkman (30) ?



03-21-03 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall
03-29-03 Sat --:-- Messier Marathon at TUVA


04-11-03 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall


05-16-03 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall


06-20-03 Fri & Sat MRSAL Convention at TU

Gerry Andries





By David Stine

Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a comet hunter. This man would spend hours looking for comets and hoping to discover one. He was very persistent but would get very perturbed when he would come across a fuzzy object that resembled a comet. He would then have to wait for several minutes to see if the fuzzy object would move. After many valuable minutes of waiting and seeing no movement, he then knew that this was not a comet. Comets move after a few minutes and deep sky objects remain fixed. This really irritated him and wasted valuable comet searching time. After doing this several times, it finally dawned on him that if he were to catalogue these fixed objects then when he ran across them in his searches he would know they weren't comets and he could continue his searching. And the rest is history. The man's name was Charles Messier and these fuzzy objects that he catalogued by number became known as Messier objects. What was an irritation to Mr. Messier, these objects became some of the most famous galaxies, star clusters, and nebulas in the heavens to everyone else. There are 110 of them. Amateur astronomers strive to view all 110 objects during their life. If they manage to accomplish this feat they are awarded with a Messier Certificate of Achievement from the Astronomical League. This feat may take several months, years and for some decades to accomplish. Amateur astronomers began wondering what was the possibility of being able to view all 110 objects in one night. In 1976 Tom Hoffelder, who I communicate with by e-mail weekly and is also a very avid comet observer with the latest observation of Comet Y1 being his 97th, and Tom Reiland then from Pittsburgh PA, determined that it might be possible. In 1977 they tried it and Tom Hoffelder observed 101 on March 25-26, and Tom Reiland 103 on April 11-12. The Messier Marathon had begun. The first person to log all 110 objects was Gerry Rattley, March 1985. These amateur astronomers were the pioneers of what now is called a Messier Marathon. It was determined from these early attempts that the late spring dates in March were the best times to attempt a marathon. Tom Hoffelder lived in Norman, OK for a while and helped the Oklahoma City club with their beginning marathons. Toms best attempt at observing all 110 came during that time in 1988 where he found 109. In 1992, Ron and Maura Wood of the TUVA Observatory near Council Hill, Oklahoma began a yearly Messier Marathon. During this initial marathon, I was able to locate 98 objects. Ron decided to make a plaque and whoever found the most M-Objects each year at the marathon, their name would be placed on the plaque. Since I was the first to do the task it was named the David Stine Award. Since then several others from the club have since been added including 1993-Marc Chouinard, 1994-Cancelled due to weather, 1995-James Liley, 1996-James Liley, 1997-Scott Parker, 1998-Me again. The unfortunate accident that Ron incurred resulted in the marathon being cancelled in 1999 and 2000 and weather cancelled it in 2001-2002. I don't think anyone has been able to locate all 110 at Ron's marathons, but James Liley found over 100. Once again it is time to try again and Ron is preparing for this years marathon on March 29. It should be a fun and exciting time for all those that attend and there will be special surprises as always. The site is easy to find and the skies are very dark. Bring lots of snacks and warm clothing and a sleeping bag or tent in case you don't last the entire night. Come early and view the observatory and adjoining building which houses a meteorite from the Sikote-Alin fall in 1947. You will also get a chance to look through BART, their 24" scope. BART stands for "Big Astronomical Reflecting Telescope." At the time of this writing they were planning on the possibility of having some kind of informational seminar dealing with an astronomical topic for the early afternoon arrivals. If I have got your interest up now here are some tips if you decide to take the challenge,

1. Start as soon as it is dark enough to observe anything. The hardest objects are M77, M74, M33, and M110 as these set before it really gets dark.

2. Don't spend a lot of time on each, locate the object, log it, and on to the next one.

3. Do a little pre-planning and set up a schedule of when a certain object will be viewable, and then stay on schedule. I will have a schedule to follow with objects and time frames at the marathon for anyone who wants one.

4. Start with the objects that are beginning to set and work your way east.

5. The last few objects before the Sun comes up are just about as difficult as the early objects so be sure and be ready for these, they include M69, 70, 54, 55, 75, 15, 2, 72, 73 and the hardest of all M30 which you will have to locate in the early light of dawn. These objects rise between 4-5a.m. so you don't have a lot of time to find them before the sky gets too bright.

6. Breaks are important, when you get ahead of schedule take a break, drink some coffee. Maura makes great coffee.

7. Dress warmly as March temperatures can run you inside quickly.

Now if you think you are ready, here are directions to get to the site.

A. From the Broken Arrow Expressway going east, exit at 81st St. which is also highway 51(last exit before the Muskogee turnpike starts.)

B. Go about nine miles to Coweta. Watch for Wal-Mart on the left, go under the railroad bridge and through downtown Coweta on highway 72.

C. Continue on 72 through Haskell, Boynton, and Council Hill. (Watch speed traps through these little towns).

D. About 3 and half miles after you go through Council Hill, 72 ends. Watch for signs that say this and "Junction 266". To the right is 266 west to Henryetta and straight a-head is 266 to Checotah.

E. At this junction turn left (East) onto a county road.

F. Go ¼ mile to a stop sign, past a white church. Continue two miles east to another stop sign and a white two-story house on your left.

G. Turn north or left and go ½ mile north to a silver and red gate on your left (West).

H. There is a black mailbox and white Muskogee Phoenix box at the entrance of the site. Turn in and you are at TUVA ready for an exciting night of marathoning.

I. Option: You can also bypass Coweta by going south on Memorial through Bixby, make the big curve to the East and go through Leonard to Haskell and follow the directions starting at C.

If you want to you can also meet me in the Homeland parking lot at 91st/Memorial at 2 p.m. and follow me there. I will wait until 2:15p.m. and then leave, so don't be late. Please call me or e-mail me at if you plan to meet me prior to marathon day. Ron said if weather looks iffy or you get lost call him at 918-474-3275 for any last minute information. You can also reach me on my cell at 810-2243 on the day of the marathon.

Aside from the Messier objects, at this time of the year you can also see Southern Hemisphere objects, Omega Star Cluster, the 2nd brightest star Canopus and the Centarus Galaxy low in the south. Comet 2002 Y1 Juels-Holvorcem might be naked eye by this time and visible low in the NE after 4 a.m. and Comet 2001 RX14 should be well placed above Leos back all night. This comet has been showing a beautiful curved wide tail through telescopes. And there is always Jupiter and Saturn in the evening and bright Mars in the morning. If you haven't seen Mars lately you are in for a surprise. It's not the dim little dot in the sky you have been used to. And there is always a chance for an iridium flare and pass over of the ISS or HST. So there will be a lot for everyone to view beside the Messier objects.

Messier Marathons are being held throughout the United States on the same evening TUVA's will be and are listed along with results from past years marathons at the website You can find out more about the marathons at this site. This site also has a form that you can use to log your marathon. You can also find out more about the TUVA Observatory at

Hope to see everyone there. That's it from my corner this month.


Astroland Tidbits

by John Land

Plans are coming along well for the MidStates Astronomical League convention here in Tulsa on Friday June 20 to Sunday June 22. We have a great line of guest speakers already signed up you'll not want to miss. Several vendors have already agreed to support our event by sending some great door prizes. Enclosed in your newsletter you will find an information flyer and registration form. Feel free to make copies and give them to your friends. Be sure to keep a copy of the registration form so you can PLAN TO SIGN UP EARLY! We would like our Tulsa people to sign up by the May 16 meeting or earlier. Craig Davis, our vice president, will be handling the registration forms. At this writing we haven't worked out all the bugs for the online registration. Keep an eye on our convention website at You can also reach the MSRAL web page from our club page.

You'll want to arrive early for this months meeting. Both Jupiter and Saturn are easily visible and hopefully someone will have a telescope or two handy for viewing. The sky around Jupiter is really getting crowded. In early March my students were doing some planet data searches on the Internet. On March 4 Jupiter had 40 moons by March 5 it had jumped to 47 then on Friday the 7th it was up to 48. As of today the number is up to 52. We have enough trouble with the Lunatics on Earth with just ONE MOON. Sure wouldn't want to live on Jupiter. For the latest Jupiter moon count, go to: The Jupiter Satellite Page by Scott Sheppard

Speaking of the Moon, at our last meeting Wes Johnson shared with us his memories of Dr. Leon Stuart's pictures of an impact on the moon made from Tulsa in Nov. 1953. Recent information is again casting doubts about the connection between Dr. Stuart's observation and its link to a bright crater found by the Clementine satellite. "John E. Westfall (Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers) has discovered that the bright blip seen by Clementine also appears in a series of telescopic plates taken decades before Stuart snapped his controversial exposure. In particular, Westfall notes, the feature is "pretty obvious" in photographs made with Mount Wilson's 100-inch Hooker telescope in 1919. It also turned up on plates taken in 1937 with the 36-inch refractor at Lick Observatory and in others acquired with Catalina Observatory's 61-inch reflector in 1966." For all the details see Lunar Flash Fizzles

My personal opinion is that Dr. Stuart did witness an impact but perhaps this crater is not the one.

Our membership chairman, John Land, is keeping our membership records on a computer spreadsheet. If you see errors or make any changes in your address or E-mail please keep us informed.

Contact John Land < John Land e-mail > or Phone

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 Membership: Adults $25 and Students $15 per year.

Check your mailing label to see when your club dues expire.

Renewal forms are available on the club Internet site.

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.

Sky & Telescope is $30 / yr

Astronomy is $29 for 1 year or $55 for 2 years.



Club Memberships

Astronomy Club of Tulsa Membership Application / Renewal Form

Name: ________________________ Phone: ( ) ____ _______

Address: ___________________________________________________

City / State / Zip____________________/____________/_____________


E-mail address - print clearly 

Check Lines below for YES

____ I would prefer to receive E-mail notification when club newsletter is posted to the web.

____ I choose to receive my newsletter by E-mail ONLY instead of postal mail. (Usually 3 or 4 days earlier * Must have web access )

____ Notify me by E-mail of late breaking Astronomy Events

Please check all that apply:

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

___ Membership Renewal ($25) ___ Student Member Renewal ($15)

___ Sky & Telescope Subscription ($30) / year

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: Dennis Mishler

Vice President: Craig Davis

Treasurer: Nick Pottorf

Assistant Treasurer: John Land

Secretary: Jim Miller

RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries

Observing Chairman: David Stine

Web Master: Tom McDonough

New Membership: Craig Davis

Newsletter: Richie Shroff