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Thursday, September 18 2014 @ 08:45 PM CDT

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General News

I've made some updates to the AOAS web site. We now have a member's Photo Gallery! Those of you interested in security and your privacy, please read our new Privacy Policy. The policy spells out everything in detail.

Based on the limited input I received, I will be implementing a classified ad system next. It appears that a discussion forum will be in our future, but I feel that the low comment level thus far has me inclined towards the classified ads first.

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Your New Web Site Turns One (One Month, That Is)

General NewsSo like the Phoenix that arose from the ashes, AOAS.ORG rises to the challenge!

Man, is this fun or what!? I love this new site and I can't say enough about what Dave Grosvold has done to make it not just user friendly, but an evolving entity with a life of it's own. Every single day, something new has been added or modified to make the site better. Please don't ever forget, this is your site! it gets better every time you add something or make a comment to it. It reflects on all of us as an organization, and right now, it's shining as brightly as MARS herself!

There are a couple of things I'd like to see more of, though. I need to see more comments from the membership. When we have a vote or poll on any subject, try to make some kind of comment. It doesn't matter if its a positive or negative comment, indeed, negative comments are sometimes more constructive in the long run than positive ones. Just take the time to speak your mind occasionally.
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Using Your AOAS Logsheets

Backyard AstronomyYou can start to enjoy the satisfaction of keeping and completing your own logbooks today. Here's a quick primer on how to operate the AOAS logsheets!

I'm sure that some of you are getting tired of hearing me ask you to start an observer's logbook. Well, this is the time to start one (cause I'm not going to stop trying to get everybody to start one) with your own downloadable AOAS Logbook for Messiers, Herschel I's and Herschel II's.
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Dust Storms Raging on Mars?

Lunar & PlanetaryALERT ISSUED by the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers July 2, 2003

ALPO issued a dust storm alert on Wednesday July 2 to all Mars section recorders. It seems that dust storms originating in the Hellas Basin region are gathering strength, threatening to become a global event. See the full story in the ALPO Mars Section.

Here you'll find the most recently posted observations by the ALPO recorders, including both sketches and pics/CCDimages. The page opens some 100 or more images from the past few months. Notice in the top (most recent) section that many images are from noted Arkansas Mars recorder P. Clay Sherrod of the Arkansas Skies Observatory.

We will keep a close watch on this site as well as all AOAS Mars observers should be sketching and imaging Mars at EVERY opportunity in case these are the last few days that surface details will be visible if these storms truly do become global. Watch for a gradual "smoothing" of coloration and a decrease of details in surface features which would indicate that Mars closest approach in recorded history will likely be a washout for the day of closest approach on August 27.

Story origianlly submitted by AOAS member Bob Moody.
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Mars Digital Images 2003-07-07

Astro Imaging
Photos İ 2003 Jeff Treshnell
The upcoming Mars opposition inspired me to attempt digital photography using my Orion 127mm Mak with an Orion variable zoom eyepiece set at 7 mm. I used a 2 megapixel Canon A-40 on the morning of July 7. Hand-holding a camera in front of the eyepiece, I snapped about 50 pictures and chose the best out of the bunch.

It is interesting that the Canon A-40 in fully automatic mode had no problems taking images, but my Olympus C4000Z refuses to take even one decent image. I have fiddled with the manual settings for hours with no success. I received an Orion SteadyPix Universal Camera Mount today, and am eager to try "hands-off" imaging. I will post more photos in the near future.
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Logging and Sketching Your Mars Observations

Backyard AstronomyWhen you make your observations of Mars, how much time do you actually spend at the eyepiece? Ten minutes? Five? Two or less? If you're not spending at least ten minutes at the eyepiece, you're not seeing all that you can see!

Those of us who are sketching Mars are typically spending 15 to 30 minutes actually looking at Mars. Longer observing times are more beneficial for being able to see all that can be seen. Here's why:
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Earn An Observing Certificate

Deep SkySo, how many deep sky objects have you seen since becoming an amateur astronomer? There's an easy way to know how many by beginning a quest for one of several observing certificates. The nationwide Astronomical League offers three seperate certificates for deep sky observing, beginning with the Messier Certificate.

Most amateurs who wish to begin work on an observing certificate start with the 110 object Messier List. Charles Messier was a French aristocrat who enjoyed looking for new comets in the mid to late 18th century. At the time, the King of France was offering a reward for the discovery of each new comet by a Frenchman of approximately $200. Although Messier hardly needed the money, he valued more the practice of having a comet named for its discoverer.

Messier would diligently scan the skies with his telescope (believed to be a 6" reflector) looking for "faint fuzzies". Comets typically appear as a faint, fuzzy object that is seen to move through the background stars from night to night. Given that Messier's instrument was greatly inferior to today's typical telescope optics, he regularly came across comet-like objects that never moved. Messier began to record these non-moving objects so that he and others would not waste time suspecting a comet from an object that was listed in what will forever be known as Messier's List.

These objects that form Messier's List are some of the finest deep sky objects available to amateur instruments. They run the gamut of object types from galaxies to star clusters to all types of nebulae. Virtually every chart of the heavens lists these objects with a designation number preceeded by an M, the well known M-objects.
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Mars and photography

Astro Imaging
Photo İ 2003
Kenny Dickerson
Climbed out of bed 4:00 am Friday morning to get a glimpse of Mars and to try out my camera with my new camera mount. Mars is still a little hazy and its brightness makes it difficult to obtain much detail. I will have to make a mask to cut back on the light. I am still very much in the experimental stage with my camera so I take lots of pictures and try to keep it in an order so I can keep up with what works and what doesn't. After taking numerous pictures across a wide range of zoom levels and exposure times, I was only able to obtain any detail on the minimal zoom and exposure settings. I had a few pictures turn out with some detail, but they were faint and very small. I could barely make out the polar cap and what appeared to be a bluish streak. Like I said, I am new to this but I enjoy the challenge and the occasional result of an accomplishment.
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Central Texas Star Party - Aug 29 & 30

General NewsHowdy:

The Austin Astronomical Society is proud to host the Central Texas Star Party for a 13th year. The star party is at the Eagle Eye Observatory in Canyon of the Eagles Park, Lake Buchanan, Texas. August 29th and 30th are the dates.

This party is free to anyone who wishes to attend. You have to pay entrance and other park fees.

Friday Night is known as "astronomers only". This means only astronomers and their friends/family are allowed at the observatory after dark.

There will be an observing challenge to complete during the weekend.
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Slow Time For Comets

Backyard AstronomyCompared to the comets that will grace the skys in the first half of next year, the present time is pretty slow. Comets can be seen now if you look. Comet 2P/Enecke will be back in November/December of this year and could reach magnitudes of 6 to 7.

I have posted the image of Comet C/2002 O7from 6/28/03 on a page for this comet. Its magnitude has increased to magnitude 12(?) and is now located in the western sky after sunset. Comet C/2002 O7 can be picked up in the next week returning to the morning sky. This is one of the comets which will be naked eye, hopefully, next May.

Thanks, Mike Holloway

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