The Official Publication of the Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association, Inc
©2002 BMAA, Inc
-by Antoine Pharamond
Well, it's election time again. Members are encouraged to run for any of the four offices, especially when there are vacancies on the board. This year, the office of Vice-President is open, as is the office of Secretary. Below are descrip-0tions of each office's responsibilities as currently stated in our by-laws. I would like to emphasize, however, that these responsibilities, though important, are not what holding those offices is all about. The executive board as a whole is charged with the continuous promotion, growth and improvement of the club. This is a difficult, but extremely reward-ing task. And with all the challenges currently facing the club, there's never been a better time to be at the heart of it all. These challenges include improving the "new member" experience, improving communication and collaboration with regional organizations and "modernizing" the by-laws. And over the next couple of years, BMAA will hopefully be constructing one observatory and developing a site for another.
So I would like everyone to seriously consider running for office. Please feel free to ask questions on the yahoo group, or contact me directly if you prefer.
1) Presides over general membership and board meetings.
2) Keeps meetings running smoothly and follows Robert's Rules.
3) Ensures that all facets of BMAA are being run in an organized and timely manner.
4) Delegates those responsibilities that are necessary to maintain and promote BMAA.
5) Appoints, when necessary, individuals to organize and run various committees as may be required from time to time.
6) Is empowered to disburse funds for the association upon approval of the Board of Officers.
7) Serves on the board the following year as President Ex-officio.
1) Presides over meetings in the absence of the President.
2) Serves as liaison between BMAA, local and national organizations.
3) Coordinates programs, i.e. programs, starwatches, events
1) Records and maintains minutes of all BMAA meetings.
2) Reports on previous meeting's minutes.
3) Coordinates the Constellation.
1) Responsible for all funds.
2) Maintains all association accounts.
3) Maintains accurate records pertaining to association funds.
4) Maintains accurate membership list.
5) Is empowered to disburse funds for the association upon approval of the board.
Antoine Pharamond, President
Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association
Wednesday, August 7 at 8:00p - BMAA General Meeting at Peace Valley
Wednesday, August 21 at 8:00p - BMAA Business Meeting at Peace Valley
The next BMAA General Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 4 at 8:00p
BMAA MESSAGELINE - 215/579-9973
The CONSTELLATION is the official publication of the Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association, Inc, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and exists for the exchange of ideas, news, information and publicity among the BMAA membership, as well as the amateur astronomy community at large. The views expressed are not necessarily those of BMAA, but of the contributors and are edited to fit within the format and confines of the publication. Unsolicited articles relevant to astronomy are welcomed and may be submitted to the Editor.
Reprints of articles, or complete issues of the CONSTELLATION, are available by contacting the Editor at the address listed below, and portions may be reproduced without permission, provided explicit acknowledgement is made and a copy of that publication is sent to the Editor. The contents of this publication, and its format (published hard copy or electronic) are copyright ©2002 BMAA, Inc.
In an effort to transmit the CONSTELLATION electronically to the membership of BMAA, please provide a current e-dress to the Editor. Abbreviated issues are available on the web site, but complete editions will be e-mailed to members in good standing.
Submission deadline for articles is the 15th of the month prior to publication.
WYCOMBE PA 18980-0333
Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association, Inc
2002 Calendar of Events
StarWatch Chairman: Antoine Pharamond, 215/412-9291 firstname.lastname@example.org
Information Line - 215/579-9973
2002 BMAA Officers
President - Antoine Pharamond, email@example.com
Treasurer - Ed Radomski, firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary - Ken Wieland, email@example.com
- by Bob Black
Billy and I packed the car this Saturday and headed for Cherry Springs State Park (CSSP). We departed in the early afternoon with the goal of arriving early enough to set up both the tent and telescope before it got really dark. The trip was a pretty fair simulation of a 'half-day Friday' scenario for others in the Bux-Mont region contemplating a similar trip.
The drive to CSSP is really two drives in one. First there is the four-lane highway component that takes you past Williamsport to Jersey Shore. Then there is the second component on PA-44, which is a narrow road of varying quality. Let me state right up front that if you are driving or towing a camper, you should probably consider some alternative route.
We entered the PA Turnpike at the Quakertown interchange at 2:30p. Holiday traffic was at least as bad, if not worse than any typical Friday afternoon heading north on the Turnpike. We left the Turnpike at the Pocono interchange, heading west on I-80. The only significant construction we encountered began at exit 215, where I-80 narrowed to one lane. About two miles later we exited onto I-180 north.
We arrived on the Southeast side of Williamsport at about 4:50p, and the map suggested that this would be a good place [or last chance] to stop for dinner. There is a strip named 3rd street with numerous restaurants on the east side of Williamsport. Third Street runs visibly parallel to I-180 and may be accessed via the 3rd Street or Faxon exits. There you will find Hoss's Steak House, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and numerous fast food outlets. Elapsed mileage from the Quakertown interchange to this point was 145 miles.
We departed Williamsport at 6:20p and resumed our course on I-180 north. I-180 ends in Williamsport and becomes US-220 south. Oddly enough, the road actually runs east to west. US-220 is a four-lane highway through to Jersey Shore, but parts of it are not limited access. There was at least one traffic light and a number of cross streets. We exited onto PA-44 north about 15 miles west of Williamsport.
PA-44 is a rural road with varying quality depending upon the county you are in at the time. It starts off easily enough, following a river valley and abandoned railroad grade for about twelve miles to the village of Waterville. At this point there is a Y in the road, with PA-44 heading left and PA-414 heading right. There is a fairly dramatic change in the road at this point, as you leave the river valley and start into five miles of narrow, winding uphill climb to the village of Haneyville.
After Haneyville the road widens and improves a bit as you travel across a broad plateau through state forests for 25 miles or more. At several points there are signs indicating elevations above 2100 feet. The worst part of the trip occurs somewhere between the villages of Germania and Carter Camp, where you give back a good bit of that altitude on a narrow and winding two-mile descent. This hill has a 10 MPH speed restriction for trucks, and would be a good reason for anyone towing a camper to consider another route.
After the village of Carter Camp, there is a steady eight-mile climb to CSP at your final elevation of about 2400 feet. The entrance to the observing field is on the left-hand side. If you reach an airport on the right hand side, you have missed the observing field entrance by about 100 feet. Just look for a field full of telescopes.á Or arrival time was 7:52p, with a total of 220 miles from the Quakertown interchange of the PA Turnpike.á The actual drive time from Quakertown (excluding dinner break) was 3:52, including two brief stops along the way.
Part II of this message will describe CSP...
Cherry Springs State Park (CSP) has both camping and day-use sections similar to Hickory Run. The observing field is located in the day use area. A picnic grove with tall trees separates the observing field from PA-44. There are picnic tables, charcoal barbecues, and a pit toilet in this wooded area that backs up onto PA-44. One important thing to note is that there are no trashcans in this day use area; if you carry it in, then you will have to carry it out. This is probably the result of an intentional plan to try to keep the bears and skunks from wandering onto the observing field at night.
The temperature upon our arrival was 68 degrees and falling. This is some ten degrees cooler than it had been in Williamsport only ninety minutes earlier, which should give you some idea of the change in elevation. By 9:00p we were changing into warmer clothes, and by 11:00p it felt chilly even with a flannel shirt and heavy sweatshirt. During the night it was downright cold, even fully clothed in a down sleeping bag. We didn't get an actual temperature reading again until departing the next morning, at which point it was still only 50 degrees. A word to the wise: dress warmly.
The CSP website describes the observing field as 300 x 600 feet, but that is somewhat misleading. The field is actually two rectangular fields of nearly equal size, arranged in a shallow 'V' formation. The orientation of the field closest to the road has one diagonal facing south. This field also looks as if it may be used as a local fairground, as there are some overhead electrical wires you need to be aware of when selecting your site. The long axis of the second field points to the south, but trees block more of the horizon. The second field does offer more protection from the headlights and road noise on PA-44, but this may be irrelevant after midnight. There is some all-night lighting at the airport parking lot across the road that you should be aware of.
At 9:00p we had a walk around the field to get a feel for the type of people and equipment present. Roughly two thirds of the people present had set up in the first field to take advantage of the lower southern horizon. We counted a total of 42 telescopes distributed as follows:
(20) Dobsonian reflectors including about five truss types of > 15 in. aperture
(11) SCT / MCT
(6) Equatorial Newtonians
(5) Refractors including three AP units in the 130-155mm range
The majority of the cars we saw had PA license plates. The two camps to our left were from the Coatesville area. One gentleman we met had come from Michigan with his camper, and had already been there for three nights of a planned five-night stay. He made note of the fact that he had moved his campsite every day in order to modify his best viewing horizon. On this particular night, he was taking advantage of the long diagonal axis of the first field in order to study the Sagittarius region.
At about 10:30p, we were treated to a fireworks display somewhere to the southeast. We couldn't see the actual bursts, but the horizon was lit up like an aurora. That was our first sign of trouble, as it gave a hint of the humidity and the smoke from those Canadian fires. Limiting magnitude at this point was still at about plus 2. The delay between firework flashes and the associated sound was on the order of 45-60 seconds, putting the display about 7-10 miles away as the crow flies. The roads in this area follow the contours of the land and can be considerably longer than they appear on the map. About twenty minutes after the fireworks finale, large numbers of cars began climbing PA-44 towards CSP. The view of those headlights lighting up the haze created another aurora like effect. When the headlights shone through the picnic grove, angling up above the observing field, it reminded you of something out of a Spielberg movie. At this point the extent of the smog from those Canadian fires was apparent, and some people started packing up and leaving.
While we had hoped to offer a report of the observing conditions at CSP, it just wasn't to be on this trip. What we can say is that the Ring Nebula was the brightest we had ever seen, in spite of the poor conditions. Looking at Ursa Major and towards the origin of the smoke, we could not resolve Mizar and Alcor with the naked eye at 11:30p. The dew was so heavy that the pages on our star charts were actually wet. At that point we decided to call it a night.
We can report a very high level of observing etiquette on the field at all times. There was some music before dark, but the volume wasn't offensive. There were no running and screaming children, but one large group was pretty loud up until about 1:00a. That probably would have been different if the skies had been better. There were no white lights on the field at any time. People who did elect to pack up and leave did so with the help of walking guides and red flashlights. The field was absolutely quiet until 7:00a, when numerous weary bodies started emerging from their tents.
In summary, we may have been disappointed, but we were far from discouraged. Were it not for the planned club party at Tohickon on 13 July, we would probably give CSP another go this weekend. Odds are that we will head back up there the weekend of August 9-10. Please don't hesitate to drop us a line if there is anything else you would like to know about Cherry Springs.
* * * * * * *
Billy and I went up to CSSP again this Friday. Why? Because it is there. There is just so much good press surrounding this site that we had to see it for ourselves. This time we were not to be disappointed, so here is the part of the CSSP trip report we had wanted to deliver to you all last week. This is an abbreviated report, as there was just too much too see.
19:50 - Arrival. There were about half as may people on the field as the prior weekend. We are not certain if this has to do with being just past the new moon (doubtful), lack of a four day weekend holiday, or lack of a club attending en masse. High cloud-cover and long con trails from jets look troubling.
21:15 - All set up and waiting. The skies are still bright enough to read a book. Meeting and greeting neighbors, we discovered the same neighbor from Coatesville, another from Royersford, two from Harrisburg, and one from Pittsburg. All had driven in that day. The same two guys with the big AP refractors were in attendance again. It turns out that they are from Maine.
21:30 - Crescent Moon and Venus showing well. Transparency improving. Winds shift to out of the South. The field is actually getting warmer, but still in the estimated neighborhood of 55F.
21:45 - Constellations visible. Sagittarius not exactly where we had expected, but still well placed for observation. Beautiful views of the crescent moon.
22:15 - Still twilight, but very dark. The Milky Way is starting to reveal itself. We see an obvious bright spot above Sagittarius. Could it be... Yes! The Lagoon Nebula (M8) is naked eye visible before the end of twilight. Not only is it visible, but it is pretty darned obvious. We easily found it in the refractor just by sighting along the tube. Things are looking pretty good at this point.
22:30 - Good and Dark. Both M7 and M8 are beyond obvious to the naked eye. The Milky Way is obvious from Cygnus to Sagittarius. The divisions in the Trifid Nebula are obvious in the refractor at 25X. Now we point the 10" SCT toward M13. Wow! It is nearly twice as big as what we saw from Tohickon last month. The Ring? It's more like a fluorescent circle light than a smoke ring; the background sky is just that much darker. Billy starts doing the Messier list by the number via the LX-200.
Midnight - The Veil. While we do not own an O-III filter, we thought it might be fun to have a look for the Veil. We found it using the TV-102 and 35mm Panoptic, but went next door to ask more experienced neighbors to confirm the sighting. Suddenly we were being treated to views through other scopes that showed the level of detail you see in the photos. The next thing you know, the neighbors were bringing over a 40mm eyepiece and O-III filter to try out our refractor. An hour later they were trying to find some obscure 12th magnitude Galaxy with the TV-102, but we were treated to a wealth of objects along the way.
01:00 - Prime Time. The Milky Way is now visible from one horizon to the other. M31 is well placed for observation at about 30 degrees above the ENE horizon, and easily naked eye visible. We have never felt such a strong need for a wider true field prior to this, but the extent of Andromeda was beyond our available FOV. M110 just added to the effect. The view through our 102mm refractor was close to what you see in the photos. It should be incredible with a big dob from this site.
01:30 - Continuing. The double cluster in Perseus is a naked eye object. Actually it is a blatantly obvious naked eye object. The bottom of the teapot is getting hard to discern. We pack it up within the next hour for a few hours of shut-eye. It was quiet on the field by 3:00a.
The next morning, we departed by 7:35, and had a relaxed breakfast down in Williamsport. We arrived back in Harleysville by 12:50p, with about 235 elapsed miles on the ticker. In summary, this is a trip well worth taking. We'll do it again, and again and...
* * * * * * *
- Bob Black is a newer member of BMAA and is taking an active role in the operation of the club. [ -ed]
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