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Astro ImagingAs you know this asteroid will make a 4-lunar distance pass on the 29(?) of Sept. I put together a small 2 frame animation of the asteroid taken from Van Buren the first week of Sept. The magnitude at that time was listed at about 12. Thanks, Mike Holloway

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E.T. Phoning Earth?

Deep SkyUPDATE: A false alarm this time, but still a possibility at any time! Read Charley McLane's comment for the official SETI@home response.

An announcement through the SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) program sponsored by the Planetary Society has found what may turn out to be the first signal from another world. A signal from the area between Aries and Pisces and centered at the radio frequency matching that of the Universe’s most abundant element, hydrogen, was reported in New Scientist magazine Thursday, September 2. The report states that the signal was found in the exact same location on three separate occasions when the giant 1000 foot diameter radio telescope at Arecibo in Puerto Rico scanned that portion of the sky. For the signal to have been found on more than one occasion and at that particular frequency is highly unusual. More searches in that area will conducted and if the same results are found on the fourth, fifth, or even sixth time, the scientific will be clamoring for a public announcement that a possible alien signal has been found. Scientists are excited about the possibility that this could really be it, a possible signal from a far-off civilization. If it turns out to be so, how will we proceed with trying to communicate with that civilization? Any signals we send in that direction will take the same amount of time to reach them as their signal took to reach us. If it turns out to be that the signal came from a star 20 or 50 light-years away, then that would mean that our signal would take 20 to 50 years to reach them, then another equal amount of time for us to expect a response back. Millions of people around the world are running a screensaver on their computers which analyze signals received by Aricebo. Anyone can download a copy of this same program known as “SETI@ Home”. Our links section contains an address if our readers would care to join in the search. STAY TUNED! This could be the start of the most exciting thing in human history. Better yet, download SETI@ Home and join in the excitement yourself.
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General NewsThe past two mornings my work schedule has demanded that I come in earlier than normal which in turn requires that I get out for my daily morning run at 5:00am. While the down side of this is obvious, the upside that I stumbled across is that, despite the moon in it's full radiant glory, I get a preliminary view of the upcoming fall and winter skies. I start with Saturn riding shotgun with Venus low in the east. Saturn beginning its ascent while Venus continues it's descent. To the southeast, Orion, with it's nebula treasures, starts the quest up the sky with Sirius trailing not too far behind. Andromeda commands the sky from overhead and the twins start their walk in the northeast and lets not forget the Pleiades as we finish this morning's tour. Along with the astromonical scenery, the cool morning air also contributed a touch of autumn to the experience. I think I will start my run every morning at 5 from now on. Or maybe not. But it has been very enjoyable so far this week.


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Devil's Den Star Party 2004 Was A Huge Success!

General NewsBy Vance Bagwell. (Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas member)
July 22, 2004 3:32 p.m.

The Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society http://www.aoas.org is the primary sponsor of the Arkansas Star Party, held each July at Devil's Den State Park in Northwest Arkansas. The AOAS was formed in 1985 in Ft. Smith, Arkansas and the club’s Coleman Observatory is located 8 miles NW of Van Buren, AR. Located approximately 6 hours from Dallas/Ft. Worth, Devil's Den State Park is nestled in a picturesque valley in northwest Arkansas's Ozarks Mountains. It’s very rugged and covers about 2000 acres. Jackie and I have camped at this fantastic state park twice before during Sept. and Oct. The park has 12 excellent hiking and mountain bike trails. The Devil's Den Trail, one of the most popular trails within the park, features two fracture caves: the Devil's Den and the Devil's Icebox. The park also has fully-furnished cabins. When we learned of this 2-day star party in the events section of Sky and Telescope, we scheduled our week-long camping trip to coincide.

Bob Moody is the current club president of the AOAS and was the contact for this year’s event. Prior to the star party, Bob and I had been shooting emails back and forth. I arranged to donate a Hubble Skygard shield to the park from Outdoor Associates and it arrived a couple days before we arrived. The thing I hate more than a streetlight is a streetlight in dark-sky campground! I brought the Takahashi FSQ and picked up some Kodak slide film. I was going to hopefully have four nights of observing before the star party kicked off. From this state park, there are no noticeable signs of light domes or light pollution.

Sunday, July 11th thru Thursday, July 15th – We left Cedar Hill, Texas by mid-morning. I narrowly escaped a huge speed trap on I-75 in McKinney. An officer with his radar gun on the overpass and eight of his friends in waiting below chose the pickup passing us in the lane to our left. We had a flat tire on the pop-up trailer just south of Caddo, OK. Not a good start. We made it into Arkansas safely and negotiated the mountainous switch-back road down into the Den. We were exhausted from setup and called it an early night. I took a long glance upwards before bed and saw the Milky Way through an opening in the trees with frosty Vega shining brilliantly.
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Navigating Our Future

Chart Room
The Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society was formed in early 1985 in Ft Smith, Arkansas. We established our own constitution and preamble based on that of the Astronomical League, spelling out our goals and desires as amateur astronomers. These goals are directly related to what we want to do with where we see ourselves going in the immediate future. As you can see from our preamble, education has been, and always shall be our most important goal.

This installment for our “Chart Room” section will define what we’d like to do to help the schools and their students of our area. We want to help every student understand what astronomy is, but more importantly, we want to illustrate why a complete understanding of science and mathematics is essential to a good education. That in turn is crucial for our country to maintain its technological edge in the 21st Century.

Our American children score as well as or better than children from other parts of the world for achievement test scores up to the fourth grade. Thereafter, test scores for US students begin to falter through the eighth grade level, and continue falling behind their foreign contemporaries all the way through to high school graduation. Our college freshmen are not as well prepared for learning at this level as college freshmen in other countries around the world.

AOAS feels that astronomy has the potential to raise the test scores of American students to higher levels of understanding by encouraging them to see the interdisciplinary connections between astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, geology and mathematics. We feel that that understanding needs to happen early in a child’s education and have some way of continuing to stimulate and enrich our students as they reach the college level. Indeed, there are many benchmark requirements set forth in US Education Reforms which stipulate that a child’s education be supplemented with astronomical concepts as early as the first grade.

We would suggest that even more astronomical concepts be included in the curriculum of our youngest students. Space science and all things astronomical are such exciting and inspirational subjects for young children that they are among the only subjects that can capture and hold a child’s interest longer and more thoroughly than any other single subject. With proper reinforcement of their understanding early on, we would then recommend a much more aggressive campaign to further enrich their understanding with more astronomical knowledge and interdisciplinary concepts for the remainder of their elementary and secondary education.
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Science at Saturn - Cassini Delivers

The Cassini/Huygens spacecraft currently in orbit around Saturn has begun to send back spectacular images along with some early science results. After successfully entering orbit on the evening of June 30/July 1, Cassini has been busily imaging Saturn along with it's beautiful ring system and some of it's moons. The spacecraft skimmed a mere 11,200 miles above the cloud tops of Saturn, less than one-sixth of Saturn's diameter. This Orbital Insertion maneuver brought Cassini to its closest proximity to Saturn of the entire four-year mission.

During this maneuver, Cassini was aimed to pass through a narrow gap in Saturn's Rings known as the Encke Division. (the outermost, thin gap seen here)

While passing through the ring-plane, the craft's main antenna was positioned to absorb the brunt of the impacts of anything that might have been located within that seemingly empty gap. It was hardly empty! During the passage Cassini recorded more than 100,000 impacts in less than 5 minutes from tiny particles ranging in size from those of smoke particles to others perhaps as large as talcum powder. Cassini sustained little damage from this passage through the ring-plane.

Close-up of the Encke Division

While making this historic maneuver Cassini wasn't idle. Its cameras were constantly imaging the area through which it would pass and delivered some truly stunning pictures.
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Cassini/Huygens Science Mission Set to Begin with Orbital Insertion at Saturn this Week

Lunar & PlanetaryBy Bob Moody (AOAS) and Gerrit Penning (ASSABFN)
UPDATE: July 1, 2004 Saturn Orbital Insertion a Success!
For the latest images, go to: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/latest/index.cfm

After a journey of seven years through the solar system, the Cassini spacecraft with its on-board Huygens probe, is set to arrive at Saturn this Wednesday/Thursday with a firing of the main engine for just over 100 minutes to slow it’s 50,000 mph speed by 1,300 mph to attain orbital insertion around the Ringed Planet. A slowing of it’s inertial speed will occur in stages to bring it into position for its scientific mission to study Saturn and its attendant moons, along with the release of the Huygens probe set for December 25, 2004. The Huygens probe will enter the thick atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon Titan behind a sophisticated heat shield at a speed of nearly 44,000 mph in mid-January, 2005. After enduring temperatures of over 21,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the probe will release its main parachute at 900 mph at an altitude of about 110 miles above Titan’s surface, and then eject the protective heat shield. A separate drogue parachute will deploy at 85 miles altitude and carry the sophisticated probe down to the surface. The probe will take up to 1,100 pictures as it descends through the otherworldly atmosphere.
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Basics of Astronomy Classes at Coleman Observatory

Education OutreachFollowing my highly successful Basics of Astronomy class at the Van Buren Center for Art and Education in June, we will offer another 5 week course for anyone still interested in learning some of the most basic skills needed to begin the facsinating hobby of Amateur Astronomy.

This class will begin on Saturday, July 24th and run through Saturday, August 21st. Class will begin at 6pm each evening and run two hours until 8pm each week. We will observe from the observatory grounds each clear night after class, or on other available nights as the weather or scheduling permits.

Learn to identify at least ten constellations, how stars are born and die, the scale of our solar system as it compares to our Milky Way Galaxy, and the scale of the universe as compared to the Milky Way. Learn to use binoculars, small telescopes or even the unaided eyes to see all that you can from the darkened skies NW of Van Buren at Coleman Observatory.

These classes will be offered for $10 per person, or $20 per family (2 or more). Astronomy is one of the greatest family hobbies available and many fathers, mothers, sons and daughters have taken the time to learn together as a family unit. Dust off that small telescope in the closet, or bring your binoculars and learn how to see dozens of celestial objects with whatever you have, or even without any optical aid.

Call (479) 474-4740 (this # no longer in service) to register for the class, and each class size taught here at Coleman will be limited to 15 people. We'll use videotapes, DVD's, CD-ROM's and the Internet to learn more than you ever thought you could know about the wonderful hobby of Amateur Astronomy.
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AOAS and the Night Sky Network – One Small Part of a POWERFUL Team

Education OutreachThe Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society is proud to be among the founding member societies of the Night Sky Network, a collaborative effort between NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), which is administered and coordinated by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP). The Night Sky Network's purpose is in "Astronomy clubs bringing the wonders of the universe to the public" and that's exactly what we strive to do.

Materials and supplies are provided through monies from the government agencies to the ASP, which in turn organizes and refines these materials into meaningful learning activities and presentations for local astronomy clubs around the US to use at public and private outings under the stars and in classrooms. To date, the program has logged well over 250 events reaching more than 26,000 people in its first 6 months of operation.

Member societies are found in nearly every state in the union as well as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. More clubs are signing up for the next round of admissions. A club must prove its commitment to Education and Public Outreach to qualify. This map details where a member society may be located near you. AOAS is proud to be one of 5 founding member societies in the state of Arkansas.

Amateur astronomers around the world understand the desires of the general public to know and learn more about our universe. Knowledgeable amateurs are the conduit between the professional community and the public, helping to reinforce common understandings while dispelling myths and untruths. Night Sky Network provides amateurs with new ideas and materials to assist in their efforts to educate the populace to a higher level of understanding about astronomy.
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Coleman Observatory's New Facility

Coleman Observatory

Mobile home purchase to be Coleman Observatory's future meeting/classroom, library, office, control room, caretakers quarters, and members home-away-from-home.

June 14, 2004 brings a new day to what we will achieve and offer here at Coleman Observatory. Joe Roam's purchase of a 12' X 50' 1970 model mobile home for a mere $2000 was one of the most worthwhile purchases we've made to date. Soon, the electric will be run and an air conditioner unit installed (already on-hand) along with a refrigerator, and a washer-dryer (also on-hand), plus my extra-large double-recliner sofa will be a fine start to what we'll soon have for the members to come and enjoy. A little paint, some fix-ups here-and-there, and we'll soon have a very nice place to hold meetings on our off-months from Creekmore Park. That means we'll be going back to monthly meetings with even numbered months meeting in Ft Smith at Creekmore and odd-numbered months meeting at Coleman Observatory.

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