ASTRONOMY CLUB OF TULSA
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, 15 November 2002 at 6:00 PM
Our Annual Dinner Meeting at Furr's Restaurant (41st and Garnett) on Friday, November 15th will begin with dinner cafeteria style at 6pm. We will have the entire banquet area this year at the rear of the restaurant and therefore have twice the room that we had last year when we were pretty crowded. Following dinner we will discuss club and individual member plans for the Leonid meteor shower on Monday night November 18th. With a rare meteor storm expected, we all need to make plans for this thrice in a lifetime experience.
Following the meteor shower discussion club member James Liley will present the "Story of the RMCC Observatory". Using slides, James will take us through the planning and building of the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities Observatory. Just how did this unique relationship between an Astronomy Club and McDonald's develop? How long did it take to build the observatory? How much did it cost? Whether you were there when the observatory was built or like me, joined after, the story of our Observatory will be fun for all. Following the presentation we will hold our annual club elections.
The board recently met and will present the following nominations for club offices with a term of 12 months:
President: Denny Mishler
The board felt that by nominating new active members such as Craig and Jim, the club would be strengthened for the future. As always, we will be glad to take additional nominations at the meeting.
The board also is asking the following members to be Board Members at Large:
November 18th Meteors at RMCC
If the sky is clear on the evening of Monday, November 18th and the morning of Tuesday, November 19th, come to the RMCC Observatory and enjoy the Leonid meteors and a possible storm with the meteor storm most likely before sunrise on Tuesday morning. Bring reclining chairs, blankets and layers of clothing to best enjoy a November meteor shower. This evening is for members and invited guests to observe the meteors from a choice location and to enjoy it with others. We are not inviting the general public as was done a few years ago when upwards of 400 vehicles full of anxious visitors descended on RMCC, clogging the roads and creating a nightmare. We want to keep the area around the observatory building clear of vehicles so that the we can group ourselves for observing the meteors together, while the nearly full moon will limit or eliminate astronomical viewing. Although the moon will interfere with meteor observations for most of the evening, by the time the 4:30 AM peak period rolls around, it will not be as much of a factor as it will be low in the West. But if it is clouded in, everything changes. Your best bet would be to stay home and set an alarm for 3 AM. If it is clear, enjoy the meters from home while your neighbor's dog barks nonstop, or hop in the car and come out to the observatory. The diehards among us will be looking to travel to clear skies as did a group of members last year who traveled to West Texas and observed the Leonid meteors storm at a rate exceeding 1000 per hour. Predicted rates this year are on the order of 1 meteor per second (3600 per hour).
DAVID'S ASTRO CORNER -"The Sky Is Falling"
By David Stine
Some of you may remember the story about Chicken Little claiming that the sky was falling one day. Well if meteor astronomers are correct in their Leonid Meteor Storm predictions, all of us may be claiming the sky is falling. We are just a few days away from what would be the most awesome display of shooting meteors that we will see in our life times.
You may ask, if you are unfamiliar with Leonids or meteors, just what are Leonids and why this year is so special. The Leonids are debris of tiny particles of dust and grains that are given off by each pass of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years the comet makes a return to the Earth and leaves debris of dust that remains in or around the comets orbit. Each year earth passes near or through some of this debris depending on the area of space that the debris is in. How spectacular a storm or shower will be determines which revolution of debris the earth passes through. Most years Earth doesn't pass through a dense area of debris and we only see about 10-20 meteors and hour, but on some occasions like the last few years we have been fortunate enough to pass through dense revolutions. When this happens some parts of the world can witness thousands of meteors an hour during peak times and then a shower becomes a storm. This happened last year when several of us Meteor Chasers traveled to West Texas after Tulsa was clouded out. We saw the greatest meteor storm we had ever witnessed, but this year may even top that event.
Your next question, now that you understand what the Leonid Meteor Storm is, would be why is it called that? The Leonid meteors seem to come from a point in the constellation Leo. This is called a radiant and it is located in the sickle or head of the lion figure that the stars of Leo make. Where will Leo be located in the sky at the time of the storm? The constellation will be rising in the ENE around midnight and be high in the ESE by the predicted peak time. The best place to look is about 40 degrees away from the radiant, but trust me if it is like last year anywhere in the sky you look you will see several meteors a minute.
Now you say you are ready. So how many meteors am I going to see? Let's take a look at the four major meteor astronomer's predictions.
The team of Esko Lyytinen, Tom Van Flandern and Markku Nissen are probably the premier meteor forecasters since last year. Lyytinen's 2001 predictions were not exactly right but were the most accurate of all forecasts. As I mentioned before that each time Comet Tempel-Tuttle returns to Earth, it sheds debris. Each orbit is just a little different. Each one of these trails of debris is called revolutions. Some trails produce more meteors than others. The trails that we are suppose to pass through are the 4-Rev trail produced from the 1866 pass, the 5-Rev trail (1833), the 6-Rev trail (1799) and the 7-Rev trail (1767). We will be the most interested in the 4-Rev trail. Now that you understand that, back to Lyytinen's predictions. I have actually had communication with Esko through e-mail and this is his latest forecast as of Oct. 31. He predicts that we will pass through the 7-Rev trail at 10:03p.m.CST on Nov. 18. At this peak we should see 3500/hr. Unfortunately the radiant doesn't rise until near midnight so our only hope for this trail would be to see possible earth grazers. These are meteors that come from below the horizon and seem to fly across the sky to the other horizon. They are awesome to see but few and far between. The next opportunity for us will come at 12:36 a.m. Nov. 19 with the 5-Rev trail. The radiant will be very low in the East, but high enough to see some action. Their team is predicting 160/hr. This isn't storm level, but still nearly 3 a minute. Then as the morning progresses activity will begin to pick up until the grand event at 4:40a.m. At this time the Earth will pass through the 4-Rev trail and the meteors will come at us like Chicken Little's sky falling. Lyytinens team is predicting as many as 2600 meteors and hour or 43 per minute or nearly one a second. This peak is predicted to last about 122 minutes. What a spectacle this will be. I said this team was the most accurate in 2001, but let's see what the others are saying.
Dr. Peter Jenniskens
Nov 18 - 9:48p.m.CST 7-Rev Trail 5900/hr Length-38 minutes
Nov 18 - 10:50p.m. 6-Rev Trail 51/hr Length-4.1 hrs.
Nov 18 - 11:59p.m. 5-Rev Trail 28/hr Length-4.8 hrs
Nov 19 - 4:23a.m. 4-Rev Trail 5400/hr Length - 36 minutes
Jeremie Vaubaillion and Francois Colas
Nov 18 - 10:04p.m. 7-Rev Trail 3400/hr Length-2 hrs
Nov 19 - 4:47a.m. 4-Rev Trail 3000/hr Length-3 hrs
The last meteor astronomers I want to talk about actually became famous for their near perfect predictions of the 1999 Fireball storm that hundreds of us saw at the observatory and the 2000 storm over the Mid-East. Last year they were off some, so this meteor predicting still is not a perfect science. Asher and McNaught were the first astronomers to even attempt to predict the number of meteors a shower would produce. I still am a big fan of theirs and I would not be surprised if their predictions are the ones to watch. Robert McNaught and David Asher are predicting at 9:56p.m. on Nov. 18, that Earth will pass through the 7-Rev trail and it will produce a storm of 1000 meteors an hour for approximately 130 minutes. Then at 4:34a.m. on Nov 19 a spectacular downpour of 6000/hr will pour down on us and last about 71 minutes. McNaught and Asher go on to say that since the 4-Rev trail has had no close encounter with the Earth since it formed it should be intact and very dense. There is still an uncertainty in both peaks and could increase predictions by up to a factor of three. McNaught also states it seems reasonable that the 4-Rev encounter could even double the prediction.
If there is room in the newsletter I have included a breakdown of everyone's predictions by time order for you to follow. Remember in between peaks activity will still be possible, but not as heavy, so there will be lax times during the night and morning. The actual normal Leonid shower runs from November 14-21 and there may be surprises and other Rev trails that our experts are not aware of.
This will be a great opportunity to catch a meteor or hundreds of meteors on film. Just take a 35 MM camera on a tripod with 400ASA or higher film; open the shutter for a few minutes and you should have several Leonids on film. I am also planning to try some video also. One warning, which happened to us last year, the display could become so fantastic that you forget to take the pictures.
The only drawback of the night will be a near full moon, which will affect viewing for the early part of the night, but at the 4-Rev peak it will be low in the West away from the radiant.
Wow, what a night is in store for us if the weather is clear. If the skies are cloudy, make plans to head for clear skies. You need to give yourself at least 4-6 hours before peak time to get to a clear location . I am sure everyone will be watching the radar and if we have to, Meteor Chasers will be heading for clear skies. You can contact me at 810-2243 for traveling plans if the weather looks iffy. If we have great weather like in 1999 and 2000 the observatory will be open and we will have the grandest Leonid Meteor Storm event we will ever see. We may all be "Chicken Littles" claiming the sky is falling . One last thought before I close, this will probably be your last chance to see the Leonids produce a storm as after this year it will be decades and maybe never before another Leonid Meteor Storm. The reason is that Earth in its orbit will not pass through any dense trails because the trails would have been disturbed by other solar system objects pushing their trails away from our orbit. So this is it for us, don't miss out.
That's it from my corner this month, may we all have a great Leonid Meteor Storm.
SUMMARY OF 2002 LEONID STORM PREDICTIONS
REV-7 9:48p.m. 5900/hr Jenniskens
9:56p.m. 1000/hr McNaught/Asher
10:03p.m. 3500/hr Lyytinen/Flandern/Nissenen
10:04p.m. 3400/hr Vaubaillon/Colas
by John Land
* * * I will not be able to make the Nov 15 meeting. Jim Miller will be handling all the transactions.
Club Membership: Adults $25 and Students $15 per year. Most of our club members will need to get their club dues in by December 2002. You can check your mailing label to see when your club dues expire. Avoid the cash crunch at Christmas time and renew early. Renewal forms are available on the Internet site also.
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 and Astronomy is $29 for 1 year or $55 for 2 years.
Contact John Land for questions on Memberships or Magazine renewals. Note: Sending your check to the club mailbox may delay processing. If you need prompt action contact John.
Your 2003 Astronomy Wall calendars have been ordered and should be in this week. You may pick yours up at the Nov. 15 meeting.
Taking ORDERS for the 2003 Canadian Astronomical Handbooks Group Price $ 9 Each Just let us know if you want one by the Nov 15. This is THE BEST printed resource for Astronomy events for the entire 2003 year. You can pay at the Nov 15 meeting http://www.rasc.ca/handbook/order.html
2003 Texas Star Party for April 27 to May 4, Registration requests must be postmark by Nov 19, 2002 - - They are having a lottery to fill the 700 places. "Sad that Stars are so rare we have to trample over each other to see them. Wonder what Galileo would think of this." www.texasstarparty.org
Annual Club Reports as of Nov 4, 2002 John Land - Membership Chairman
Club Membership has remainder strong this year
Current Membership 136 - 122 Regular and 14 Student We 51 new members join in 2002 - 43 regular and 8 students
In Jan 2002 we had 136 members - with 51 memberships that have expired. Some of the expired memberships resulted from cleaning up old club records from past years.
By John Land and Nick Pottorf
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
By Gerry Andries
Tentatively scheduled dates below are bracketed with question marks. The number of persons expected is in parenthesis.
EVENTS AT RMCC OBSERVATORY:
11-08-02 Fri 04:45 Tulsa GS Troop 428 (20)
11-09-02 Sat 04:45 Home School (6)
? 11-09-02 Sat 04:45 Back up for 11/08 ?
11-12-02 Tue 06:00 Owasso CS Pack 836 (20)
11-16-02 Sat 06:00 Bristow Church (30)
11-18-02 Mon 08:00 Leonid Meteor Storm all night
12-06-02 Fri 04:45 Club Star Party
12-07-02 Sat 04:30 Bixby Brown/Grey Elem Sch (20)
12-08-02 Sun 04:30 Holy Family School 7th gr (18)
02-03-03 Mon 06:15 BA Home School (30)
EVENTS AWAY FROM OBSERVATORY
11-11-02 Mon 06:00 BA High S (at Spring Creek Elem)
11-13-02 Wed 06:00 Hoover Elem (at Hoover School)
11-15-02 Fri 06:00 Annual Club Dinner Meet (at Furrs, 41st & Garnett)
12-13-02 Fri 07:30 Regular Meeting at TU Keplinger Hall
2002 Calendar of events
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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
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Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS
President: Dennis Mishler
Vice President: Teresa Kincannon
Treasurer: Nick Pottorf
Assistant Treasurer: John Land
RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries
Observing Chairman: David Stine
Web Master: Tom McDonough
New Membership: Dennis Mishler
Newsletter: Richie Shroff