The Official Publication of the Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association, Inc
©2002 BMAA, Inc
- by Alan Pasicznyk
Try to imagine a birthday cake without the icing, an ice cream sundae without the cherry, or M-104 without a dust lane, and you would pretty much have imagined our annual star-party Stella Della Valley without door prizes! This year Meade Instrument Corp-oration was very generous in supplying us with a complete telescope and tripod for our Grand Prize. Please consider them and all the other donors listed when making your next purchase of any Astronomy related products, as they are indeed good friends of this event.
As for the star party itself, it was well attended with well over 70 people at least. [The final count was 110 attendees. -ed] Friday night was clouded out as the weather bureau had predicted, but Saturday was crisp and clear, and the predicted clouds and thunderstorm just didn't happen. The flea market and guest speakers went on as planned, and after the pizza banquet, emcee Linda van der Spek awarded the door prizes. BMAA member George Reagan, an avid observer and public starwatch volunteer, won the Meade telescope.
The skies Saturday night continued to improve all through the night, with each consecutive hour showing less light pollution and darker sky, so much so that edge on galaxy NGC 891 was visible through my four and a half inch reflector around midnight. I talked to other attendees who remarked that I had gone to bed too early..."You should've seen the sky at 4:00 AM!"
We were all greeted by a nice sunny day Sunday, so that we could dry our camping gear and pack up to go. There was, however, a
Stella Della Valley "first" for me. On Saturday night we were virtually dew free until about 12:30 AM. And it was warm enough
that all you needed that night was a flannel shirt. Sure hope it's that way next year.
And finally, on behalf of SDV co-chairs Ed Radomski, Antoine Pharamond, and Bob Black, our sincerest thanks to all the BMAA members who unselfishly gave their time and effort in running this event and making it a success...
Clear skies, Alan Pasicznyk
SDV Human (and Alien) Resources Coordinator
SDV-XVI Door Prize Donor List
The following vendors / producers of fine astronomical products have donated door prizes for this event. We ask that you consider them first when you are in the market for astronomical products and services.
B. Crist Miniatures
597 Harman Rd.
Halifax, PA 17032
1:12 scale miniature 18" Dobsonian
Bonny Lake Astro Works
Hands on Optics
High Point Scientific
Jim's Mobile Inc.
810 Quail Street Unit E
Lakewood, CO 80215
Celestron Star Pointer
Kalmbach Publishing Co.
Kendrick Astro Instruments
Meade Instruments Corp.
Orion Telescope and Binoculars
6204 Ingham Road
New Hope, PA 18938
Questar miniature model telescope, shirts
Sky Publishing Corp.
Software Bisque, Inc.
Tele Vue Optics, Inc.
University Optics, Inc.
Wednesday, November 6 at 8:00p - BMAA General Meeting at Peace Valley
Wednesday, November 20 at 8:00p - BMAA Business Meeting at Peace Valley
The next BMAA General Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 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
Black Holes: Feeling the Ripples
Astronomers have finally confirmed something they had long suspected: there is a super-massive black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The evidence? A star near the galactic center orbits something unseen at a top speed of 5000 km/s. Only a black hole 2 million times more massive than our Sun could cause the star to move so fast. (See the Oct. 17, 2002, issue of Nature for more info.)
A new space telescope called LISA (short for "Laser Interferometer Space Antenna") aims to find out.
Designed by scientists at NASA and the European Space Agency, LISA doesn't detect ordinary forms of electromagnetic radiation such as light or radio waves. It senses ripples in the fabric of space-time itself - gravitational waves.
Unfortunately, these waves are hard to measure. If a gravitational wave traveled from the black hole at the center of our galaxy and passed through your body, it would stretch and compress you by an amount far less than the width of an atom. LISA, however, will be able to detect such tiny compressions.
With such sensitivity, astronomers might detect gravitational waves from all kinds of cosmic sources. The first, however, will probably be the weightiest: super-massive black holes. Will "feeling" the ripples from such objects finally solve their mystery, or lead to more questions? Only time will tell. Scientists hope to launch the LISA mission in 2011.
* * * * * * *
This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
A membership application for Bucks-Mont Astronomical Association may be found at: