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Peeking Through The Clouds

Lunar & Planetary
Photo © 2003 Rick Day
The May 15th Total Lunar Eclipse

From: The Cosmic Citizen ­ Official newsletter of the AOAS - Volume XVIII, Number 3, June / July 2003

The most horrific month for tornadoes in history broke its reign just long enough for some die­hard amateur astronomers and our guests to view a very dark Total Lunar Eclipse on May 15that the Ft Smith Art Center at 423 N. 6th Street downtown.

I must admit, it did not look like we'd be able to see anything as the afternoon of the 15th wore on. The clouds kept building and moving in from the west and the Weather Channel only showed more to come all the way back to western Oklahoma. But at7:45 PM, a glint of sunlight crept out from under a break in the clouds, and I decided to make the trip over, even if it meant a wasted trip.
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Did you know you can have your own AOAS.ORG e-mail address?

General NewsIf you are a dues-paying member of AOAS, then you can have your own AOAS.ORG e-mail address. To get your address, just e-mail the Webmaster with a request to have an e-mail address set up, and we will reply with instructions on how to access your new e-mail address!

Not a dues-paying member? Download our membership application and submit it. Once your membership is established, you'll be able to get your own AOAS.ORG e-mail and more!

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SOHO Antenna Problem

SolarAntenna anomaly may affect SOHO scientific data transmission
ESA PR 42-2003
24-Jun-2003

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft expects to experience a blackout in the transmission of its scientific data during the week of 22 June 2003. This is estimated to last for about two and a half to three weeks.

Engineers are predicting this problem after detecting a malfunction in the pointing mechanism of the satellite's high-gain antenna (HGA), which is used to transmit the large amounts of data from SOHO's scientific observations to Earth.

The SOHO spacecraft is operating as safely as before the problem occurred. Its low gain antenna, which does not need to be pointed in a specific direction (omni-directional), will be used to control the spacecraft and monitor both spacecraft and instrument health and safety.

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New planetarium stars in Baton Rouge, La.

General News
Stargazers are in heaven thanks to the recent opening of the Louisiana Art and Science Museum's Irene W. Pennington Planetarium in Baton Rouge.

The $16 million planetarium is considered one of the most sophisticated multimedia presentation facilities in the country, starring the ExxonMobil Space Theater, a giant 60-foot dome theater bedecked in the light of 15,000 stars. The 143-seat ExxonMobil Theater also features a 70mm film projection system offering larger-than-life films capable of convincing you that you're really aboard a Space Shuttle lift-off or navigating outer space.

The planetarium also offers 5,000 square feet of out-of-this-world exhibits, where you can weigh yourself on the moon, meet Galileo and even touch a fallen star - a meteorite a billion years older than any earth rock.

Irene W. Pennington Planetarium
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Web Site Redux!

General NewsWell, it's been a long time in coming, but we have finally completed our web site overhaul! Our new site is intended to be an interactive one, where registered users can post articles, comments, events, and general to-do about astronomy. Anyone can register on the site. Registration gives you an individual user ID and password - registered users will be able to post stories, articles, photos, and events as they come along, and everyone (even non-registered users) may post their comments.
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Coleman Observatory Opens Full Time

Coleman ObservatoryColeman Observatory has been a work in progress for AOAS since our beginnings in 1985. In 1995, we moved the observatory to its new location some 8 miles NW of Van Buren, AR. Our old 20' diameter dome has yet to be rebuilt, but construction is nearly complete on the new bathroom facility. First things (and most important things) first, right?

But in just a few weeks, by mid July, the observatory will begin 24/7 operation for the first time ever! As president of AOAS, I will be taking up residence at the observatory in a travel trailer owned by fellow member, Joe Roam. I need to do this to be closer to UAFS to continue my studies in journalism this fall and spring.

Please NOTE! The observatory is open full time to our members or the public as an OBSERVING AREA to set up your telescopes. I will cheerfully, willingly, happily set up for viewing with the public with 24 hours notice. Please don't ask me to get up out of bed to observe with NO NOTICE! I have to be fresh for my classes on certain days just as you need to be fresh for your work or classes.
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Astronomy 101

Backyard AstronomyYou do not need a telescope. Some astronomy is best done with the naked eye or binoculars (7X or 10X are fine). Here are some examples: variable star observing, meteor counting, large celestial objects (i.e. planets, Moon, and Beehive Cluster), and last, but definitely not least, comets.
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Mars 2003!

The Red Planet is getting closer day by day... and on August 27, 2003, Mars will be a mere 34,646,418 miles away from Earth - the closest it has been in over 73,000 years. In preparation for the best Mars viewing ever, now would be a great time to reacquaint yourself with our close neighbor.

Stargazers have long been fascinated with Mars because of its reddish color and quick movement through the stars. A Martian day is about 25 hours long, and the passage of its seasons takes 23 Earth months (this is the time it takes Mars to complete its orbit of the Sun). With its elliptical orbit, the distance between Mars and Earth varies at different oppositions. The angular diameter (the size of the disk as it appears from Earth) ranges from as small as 4" (arc seconds) to about 25". The closer we are to Mars, the larger it appears.

Hubble Photo

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Become a card-carrying member of AOAS. Paying dues gives you several advantages over other registered users, including a subscription to the club newsletter, an AOAS.ORG e-mail address, use of club materials, including books and telescopes, and access to the Coleman Observatory facilities. On top of all that, you also qualify for a 20% discount on all books at any Books-A-Million location.

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