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


VOL XVII, NO 3w                                                   MARCH 2002                                              
Scott Petersen, Editor

©2002 BMAA, Inc

Remember Your Friends

Well it's already March, and Spring is literally right around the corner. With Spring comes more clement observing weather (hopefully!), thoughts turn to Summer, star parties, and of course new astro equipment.

With this in mind, please remember the following patrons who have donated various door prizes for our annual Astronomy convention Stella Della Valley, which was held last October.

Clear Skies,

Alan Pasicznyk


- 14 Mm. Ultra Wide Angle Series 400 Eyepiece - One Year Subscription to ASTRONOMY


- 40 Mm. Plossl - Sky Atlas 2000


- Aluminum Accessory Case - Starry Night Pro

- Folding Star Chart


JIM'S MOBILE INC. - Hat and Shirt

- $35.00 Gift Certificate


Wednesday, March 6 at 8:00p - BMAA General Meeting at Peace Valley

The next BMAA General Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3 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
TEL: 215/598-8447
FAX: 215/598-8446


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

A visit to Florida

- by Bernie Kosher

The week of Feb 11 thru the 15th found Brad Miller and I guests of Alan Rodriquez, formerly president of the BMAA, in Chiefland, Florida. Weather prospects were not good, with the forecast showing cloudy conditions for most of the week. And indeed the forecasters were correct. We had about the same conditions as the Winter Star Party in the Keys.

For the bit of good observing we did get in, the most impressive to me was the stability of the air. The planets stood still, with very little shimmy for many minutes at a time. Alan tells me this was not even that good for his location. To compare, I found his seeing as good most of the time as I find it here for rare seconds. The white spot encroaching on the Great Red Spot was pretty easy at 160X through my 4.5" refractor. Saturn's rings were steady enough to show some intensity gradients most of the time, a condition rarely seen here.

His location just 20 miles from the Gulf and overlooking flat scrubland and parts of the southern extremity of the Okeefenokee swamp aid in keeping the airflow stable.

For a period of time Jupiter apparently had six moons, all about 6th magnitude, as it was passing just a few arcminutes from a pair of stars. The effect was interesting, but of course, just a coincidence.

Alan's observatory is an 18' x 24' roll off, easily rolled by one person once one got the hang of it. The obstruction to the south is minimal with any scope on a German type equatorial, but a Dob type would lose quite a bit of horizon. However, the open ground around the observatory allows one to set up outside also.

Each of the surrounding plots is owned by an amateur. I believe Alan stated there are 18 lots, each five acres. The trees are low pines and do not interfere noticeably with the view. Since the other owners are amateurs, light pollution is basically non-existent, but there are some distant lights on a tower and from a horse lover's field. From some reason the guy thinks horses need bright lights 24-7.

There were about 15 tents of other visitors set up in their "open" area, a considerable field maintained by the owners for star party visitors to set up.

Brad and I enjoyed Alan's hospitality as guests in his 'bunkhouse', actually a small home with all the amenities one could ask in a house of this size. Access to a warm bed after observing is a treat. The visitors' area has a shower facility and a roofed sitting area, so is far better than just a campsite for those enjoying the stay.

In the city of Chiefland, about 10 miles away, are stores and restaurants enough to stock just about anything needed, including 1-hour photo service.

Not far are some sites of interest, which we visited. Unfortunately, we got plenty of sleep at night so we had time for these trips.

Manatee Springs was a hit, with a fast flowing spring feeding a tributary of the Suwanee River. We got some photos of the Manatees from a pier on the river itself. We also visited a park with several lakes, where the photo opportunities were endless. Several eagles and ospreys flew around the lake, along with some alligators in the shallows sunning themselves.

On the trip back from there we found a swampy area literally crawling with gators, some perhaps ten feet or more, and not more than twenty feet or so from the concrete wall we stood on. Turtles were frolicking ( I guess that's the correct way to phrase it) not 5 feet from an alligator which more or less ignored the goings on. Unusual timing for us to catch this shot (available on web version).

I wish I could add more astro info, but the clouds got us. It was enjoyable to see Scorpius in the morning sky well clear of the horizon. The Omega Centauri globular made the trip worth while in itself, rising about 13 degrees above the horizon and clearly visible to the naked eye as a hazy patch.

Alan is at latitude 29 degrees 20 minutes, so we gained about 11 degrees compared to here.

Brad was hoping to try out some shots with his Takahashi astrograph, but the skies only cooperated for short periods. He took off on vacation and I have not seen if any of his photos came out.

The shot of Alan's observatory (next page) shows the sliding roof and house building, both of about the same floor size. The inside of the observing area (on left, in photo) was easily adequate for the three of us, including Alan's two permanently mounted scopes, my refractor and Brad's setup.

Since the drive to Chiefland is about 10 hours shorter than the WSP, I only complained a little bit about the time on the road. I blamed the clouds on Alan, who insists it is very rare for a cloudy weather to persist more than a day or so at this time of year.

* * * * * * *

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




- photo by Bernie Kosher

Image 1. Turtles and alligator




.- photo by Bernie Kosher

Image 2. Alan Rodriguez' observatory and home, Chiefland FL.