The Official Publication of the Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association, Inc


VOL XVII, NO 1/2m                                                   JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2002                                              
Scott Petersen, Editor

©2002 BMAA, Inc

BMAA Observatory Meeting Minutes

Peace Valley Nature Center, Doylestown PA

January 16, 2002

Ed Murray called the meeting to order at 8:04p

Attendance: Bruce Collier, Jim Moyer, Ed Murray, Alan Pasicznyk, Scott Petersen, Antoine Pharamond,

Frank Schubert, Harvey Scribner, Ken Wieland

Topic: BMAA Observatory

Discussion: Jim Moyer recapped the August and November Observatory meetings for all those who did not attend these events.

Harvey Scribner and Alan Pasicznyk reviewed the previous BMAA TVSEC Observatory building plans and the proposed agreement with Bucks County (in 1996, it was estimated that an TVSEC Observatory building would costs between $25,000 and $30,000 - with total site costs at between $78,000 - $85,000).

Jim Moyer reviewed what the Ockanickon Scout Reservation (OSR) would provide to or require for the joint Observatory venture with BMAA (subject to change and final agreement). At this time, these would include: insurance, electricity, security for the building, and a telescope (JMI NGT 12.5 inch) to be housed in the building (provided by the OSR/BetzDearborn Science Center).

OSR would own the building once it's erected, and the land would not be "leased" to BMAA.

Scout programs, primarily during July and August (exclusive of Saturdays), would take precedence over use by BMAA.

BMAA requested (subject to change and final agreement) that besides an observatory building, BMAA would like permission to erect a small separate storage shed to house BMAA properties. BMAA would like erection of/access to bathroom facilities. BMAA would like 24/7/365 access to the observatory, which might require special security/access requirements. BMAA would provide technical assistance to the Science Center's astronomy program, which may include educating the scouts on an informal basis. BMAA would like permission to hold public events, such as starwatches at the site and possibly for other special purposes.

BMAA and OSR/BetzDearborn Science Center to jointly participate in providing funds and fund raising for the Observatory project.

Action/Plan: The BMAA Executive Board and Observatory Committee have decided that the OSR site is an appropriate site for the Observatory and that BMAA should pursue this site over other options. Jim Moyer will bring a topographical/ site plan for the Observatory site and for the surrounding area and will also videotape the observatory site. The site plan and video will be presented to the BMAA membership for their review and input at the BMAA February 2002 General Meeting. If there are no significant objections to the pursuit of an agreement with OSR, the BMAA Executive/ Observatory Committee and pertinent invited members will meet prior to the March, 2002 General Meeting to develop a draft agreement with OSR. Jim Moyer will then present this draft agreement to Bill Mischke (OSR Camp Director) and the Bucks County Boy Scout Council for their review.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:25p

Respectfully Submitted,

Ken Wieland, Secretary


Wednesday, January 2 at 8:00p - BMAA General Meeting at Peace Valley

The next BMAA General Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 6 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.

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WYCOMBE PA 18980-0333
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Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association, Inc

 2002 Calendar of Events


StarWatch Chairman: Antoine Pharamond, 215/412-9291

Information Line - 215/579-9973


 2002 BMAA Officers

President - Ed Murray, 215/493-2843

Vice President - Antoine Pharamond, 215/412-9291

Treasurer - Ed Radomski, 215/822-8312

Secretary - Ken Wieland, 215/362-7228


The Observer

Quite a year for the amateur astronomer......

- by Bernie Kosher

While returning from the December 2001 meeting, Bob Jackson brought up the subject of the year's events in the astro world.

So, having never been averse to stealing ideas, I thought we'd like to think back.

Although we had many lost weekends due to weather, the year had a bit of everything for all.

There were comets reaching near naked eye visibility, Comets Linear A2 in the spring and Wm1 currently. Both actually reached naked eye visibility from dark sky sites. While neither was a Hale-Bopp, both were fine sights for the amateur.

In March there was perhaps the finest aurora since the last solar max in about 1987. At 130AM local time on the 31st the entire sky at latitude 40 North was alit. Unfortunately, many had gone to sleep as the night was rainy until midnight and clouds persisted.

In late October there was a short lived display, followed by the fine November 5th activity seen by many of our club members, and indeed the entire country down to about 35 North. Lots of fine photos were taken by members and others were posted on the web. This may well have been the most observed aurora by the public in many years due to the time of 10 PM local and news media cover-age. Add to that a fine, fairly clear night and the bright aurora itself and all the ingredients were there for an exceptional astro event.

The planet Saturn is presented with the rings almost fully opened, and this is, to me at least, it's finest show. The divisions and subtle intensity gradients are most readily observed.

The planet Jupiter is undergoing an outburst of easily visible spots in the North Temperate belt. These spots are about as dark and obvious as the shadow transits of the Galilean moons. At the time of this writing the shadow of Jupiter is well west of the ball of the planet, and it is possible to watch a satellite come out of eclipse, appear for several minutes, and then disappear behind the limb of the planet. Quite a fascinating sight.

NASA announced we are sending a probe to Pluto. The probe will approach and image several asteroids and an odd comet or two.

There were comet close-ups by some spacecraft, and few failures on Mars landers.

The Iridium flares continue to fascinate.

Perhaps you thought I'd forget the event of the year......the Leonid meteor shower. Predicted about to the minute by space agency personnel, it put on a show not to be forgotten by those who were awake. Rates of over 1000 per hour were reached, possibly as high as 2000 for the East coast of the US. Many of our members also got fine photos of this event. Those who didn't were content to stand in awe of this display of astro junk raining down on us. Oddly enough, the best meteor the writer saw during the observing session was at about 9 PM, before Leo had fully risen. A meteor brighter than the brightest planets ( a fireball) rose from the eastern horizon, went completely overhead to about 45 degrees beyond, and separated into several fragments.

Many of the meteors were bolides, that is, exploding during the flight. Many were obviously greenish, or yellow turning to green during flight. A nice shot f this by Jerry Lodriguss is posted for our enjoyment at his web site. Fantastic.

Who will forget Saturn being occulted by the moon? None of those who watched will forget any time soon. Though the night was hazy and cloudy, the skies opened a bit for us during the event. At emersion in particular the sky was clear enough to allow images to be taken. Club member Brad Miller sent a nice shot to me, and it should now be on our web site. The event occurs again December 28th, but at 3 AM with the moon low in the sky.

We look forward to the Geminids putting on a display at new moon in December.

Was it this year that had the brightest full moon in 300 years? Or was it last?

We had a bright nova in Sagittarius and an outburst of Delta Scorpii, a shell star which may do even more odd things in it's evolution.

Ed Radomski and others can add the solar eclipse in Africa to their list.

Due to the unusually mild and humid fall, there have been many solar and lunar atmospheric phenomena.

The solar maximum was reached and there are signs a second maximum will occur, hopefully bringing some more aurora for the naked eye viewers and some flares and prominence activity for those with H-A filters. Sunspots were and are frequent. While none of these were record setting, several reached fairly easy naked eye visibility.

I'm sure there are things I've failed to mention. Perhaps you can add something for me. All of us who took the opportunity to get outside can add some new observing experiences, some unique, some routine but a memory for the observer.

* * * * * * *

- BMAA member Bernie Kosher provides the monthly 'Observer' column. He can be reached at [ -ed]