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Armstrong's Footprints on Lunar Surface

General NewsJust over 40 years after Armstrong and Aldrin made the first footprints on the surface of the moon, the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiting Camera (LROC) took the first of several images from lunar orbit showing the astronaut's tracks from its vantage point high above the moon.

The highest resolution image taken on a later orbit of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbital Camera (LROC) The tracks made by Neil Armstrong are seen leading to the 33-foot-wide "Little West" crater, the first crater ever imaged directly by an astronaut. Notice that even the lunchbox-sized television camera is also identified!

As amateur astronomers, virtually everyone in a two-state area who has ever visited one of our AOAS star parties has wondered about the American "flag" planted on the surface of the moon by Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin. Why I had not considered this before did not strike me until after the first of the very latest LROC images had been released for public inspection...why the flag, and not the footprints? After all, the footprints are the living proof that men had actually gone to the moon. They landed in a relatively tiny two-stage lander and then exited the craft to place human footsteps on the moon. To me, at least, this is the defining statement of the entire Apollo era. But what most people wanted to know was, "Where can we see the flag?

I assume it goes with the whole concept of the so-called Space Race. The "race" was merely a rush to build the most effective, accurate, and most rapid delivery system for our nuclear arsenals, both from the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. The ability to place a human on the surface of the Earth's satellite had NOTHING whatsoever to do with science, although the science that American astronauts provided to the professional scientific community had a profound impact on planetary science as well as to other fields of knowledge. With the first American astronauts to travel from Earth to orbit the moon nearly 7 months prior to the manned landing in December 1968, Apollo 8 only barely beat the first Russian moon launch when their gigantic rocket called NOVA blew up in the first full-up launch of the U.S.S.R rocket system according to CIA documents made public decades after the event. The damage done to their launch facilities in the Russian plains was so extensive that for all intents and purposes, their entire "race" was over in one disastrous fell swoop.

While Apollo 8 only orbitted the moon a total of ten times, it solidified for the first time that men from the United States had actually travelled to another world in our solar system. Before this, U.S. rockets had delivered several craft to the moon on various missions from just imaging the moon as the Ranger probes snapped pictures until they raced into full-blown calamity impacting on the surface, to the later Ranger craft which actually soft-landed in the Sea of Storms roughly 1-and-a-half years prior to the landing of Apollo 12 which touched down only a few hundred yards away from the Ranger craft. One of their Apollo 12 mission objectives was to retreive the television camera which had filmed the robotic arm reaching over into the lunar soil and scooping up a small amount of soil for sampling. That TV footage was nearly as historic as the first manned landing, and provided several important reasons for being returned to Earth by astronauts Bean and Conrad a few months after the Apollo 11 mission had completed successfully. But it was the footprints that were the biggest news from this summer's high resolution pictures returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiting Cameras.

Astronaut Pete Conrad at the Ranger landing site about to remove the television camera to return it to NASA scientists.
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Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

General NewsOn September 14, 2012, the cremated remains of NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong were scattered in the Atlantic Ocean according to his final wishes. May the stars shine a little brighter in memory of this modest hero of history.

"That's one small step for (a) man....one giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong, first human to set foot on another world, dies at 82
It is yet another day in history, a sad day. The day is similar to when and where we were the day we perhaps learned that Roosevelt had died, when WWII was finally won, when John F. Kennedy was gunned down, what we were doing when we heard the shuttle Challenger had exploded...

"Where was I when I learned Neil Armstrong had died?" I was at this computer, surfing, when the name popped up in Bing. I'd actually worried at this day arriving since the 40th anniversary of the first landing occurred on July 20, 2009, the night my cat gave birth to a litter of kittens. It is a day when we all are saddened with this historic news.

When they landed I was 14 years old, in the living room with mom and dad on July 20, 1969. Absolutely glued to the television set, I remember so distinctly the words coming on the television screen "Armstrong on Moon". I could barely see any movement on the screen from that first live TV camera, but it was the moon in the background, and Armstrong had just stepped off the landing pad of the LEM and said his immortal words, "That's one small step for (a) man....one giant leap for mankind". Not long afterward I jumped up and ran outside to look up at the moon right at that moment, and I remember feeling goosebumps and jittery, looking up at that cold-hearted orb, and knowing a man, or actually two, were there right then, and the world was forever changed. At least I hoped so.

Neil was 82, and on FaceBook, his family posted a request that I end with here. Their suggestion is one that is easy to remember, and one the entire species of mankind can perform at almost any time. Just click to view, and then perhaps leave a personal comment on your memories from 1969.
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Changes Ahead For AOAS In 2012

By Dave Grosvold

Jupiter rising over Lake Tamika at Camp Cahinnio
Click image for larger view
Star Party during Astronomy Day at the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center
Click image for larger view
As you may know if you attended the AOAS Holiday Dinner Meeting on December 3rd 2011, AOAS has made several changes that everyone needs to know about:

First, new club officers have been elected and will be taking office in January, 2012. Leonard Lynch has been elected AOAS President, with Charlie McLane being voted in for AOAS Treasurer, and Barb Warner for AOAS Secretary. Dave Grosvold now moves into the AOAS Vice President position.

Second, we have changed our meeting times and locations for next year. In 2012, we will be meeting on the second Friday of each month (to repeat- that’s the SECOND Friday.) Instead of UAFS, our meetings will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center beginning at 7:00 PM. This affords us an opportunity to bring our scopes to the regular AOAS meetings and do some observing afterwards.

On meeting nights, we will be setting up our scopes in the regular location we have been using for the Nature Center Star Parties in the past, it’s just that they won’t be announced publicly, so we don’t have the pressure of catering to the public while observing.

However, we will still have four publicly-announced Star Parties at the Nature Center – three on nights normally reserved for regular meetings (March 9th, June 8th, and September 14th,) and also Astronomy Day on October 20th. On the three public nights, we will not have a meeting, per se, but may have a brief discussion if club business requires it either before or after the regular Star Party.

AOAS will also be holding two or three additional public Star Parties in remote locations – Lake Fort Smith State Park on June 23rd, Cossatot River State Park Natural Area on August 17th (this one is quite a ways away – 114 miles south of Fort Smith,) and it’s probable that we’ll be asked to do another star party for the Girl Scouts at Camp Cahinnio in the fall. Be sure to check the Calendar for dates, times, and possible changes to these as well as the rest of the activity schedule throughout the coming year.

We are looking forward to having another great year for AOAS!
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December 2011 Guest Speaker Announced

The Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society is proud to announce our program for the AOAS Annual Holiday Dinner Meeting for 2011!

Robert Beauford
Craters of the Ozark Plateaus
by Robert Beauford

On Earth, where only 178 confirmed examples are known, meteorite impact craters are rarities. For nearly every other rocky body in the solar system, however, they are the predominant surfacing mechanism, defining both general morphology and surface rock lithology. No other features on the Earth’s surface can provide us with the insights into our solar system that these few locations offer.

Most of what we know about space science comes from some form of remote sensing or remote analysis. Alongside meteorites, terrestrial hypervelocity impact craters are part of an extremely short list of exceptions to this rule. They are places where we can see and touch, right here on earth, examples of the same processes we are viewing ‘out there.’

Twelve meteorite impact craters are located in the southern and south-central United States. Three of these, Decaturville, Crooked Creek, and Weaubleau are located within a 125 mile stretch of terrain in the center of the Ozarks in Missouri. The Decaturville Crater played a significant role in the historical process of recognizing the presence of meteorite impact craters on earth and in distinguishing these craters from similar structures of volcanic origin. NASA studied the location in the late 60s in order to better understand craters on the Moon. The Crooked Creek crater is one of North America’s longest recognized but least studied impacts, and the Weaubleau structure is one of the most recently discovered, and is still undergoing the confirmation process. All three offer researchers a remarkable opportunity to visit extraordinarily well preserved terrestrial analogs for our future studies of off-planet impact sites.

Robert Beauford, is a graduate student in the PhD program of the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and the Co-Editor of Meteorite Magazine, the International Quarterly Magazine for Meteorites and Meteorite Research. Robert's extensive background in meteorite impact research and passion for mineralogy, lapidary, archaeology, and paleontology makes him an interesting individual and a welcome guest. His presentation should be both interesting and very well received.

Remember, this meeting is also the one where we hold our annual Officer Elections, choosing those who will lead us and serve the AOAS membership for the coming year. Positions open for nominations this year are: President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. And, once again, this meeting is preceded by a potluck dinner with a holiday theme. The club is providing the main meat course, so please bring a side dish and/or a dessert, and your favorite non-alcoholic beverages. Dinner starts at 6:30 PM and the main meeting starts at 7:30 PM, December 2 at the Fort Smith Riverpark Event Center - West. Click the link for directions.

Come and enjoy some warm holiday fellowship, fare, and fun with us!
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General NewsAn Astro Safari has been organized to Namibia starting on the 30th April 2011, finishing 9th May 2011.
The trip is astronomy-biased with side trips to Namibia's wild life reserves.
The astronomy portion will be led by Mr. Andy Bender, a German astronomer (http://www.astropic.de,)
while the safaris are to be run by experienced safari guides.

The flyer, and indeed the entire trip, will be in the English language.

For further information, please click on the following link to send an e-mail:
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Preservation of the Horn Antenna

General News

Dear Members of the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society

      I am writing every Astronomy Club and Astronomical Society that I can, individually, to ask for your assistance in saving the Bell Labs Horn Antenna from ruin. I am not selling anything nor am I asking for money. This is not SPAM nor is it an automated email. If you are like me, you are not an activist at heart but just want to enjoy the science of astronomy with friends and associates.  To do this we are, as Sir Isaac Newton put it so succinctly, “Standing on the shoulders of giants”. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were not the tallest of those giants but they did make a revolutionary discovery when they used the Horn Antenna to discover the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation left from the Big Bang creation of the universe. Penzias and Wilson were awarded Nobel Prizes and went on to have successful careers.  The Horn Antenna underwent a much different fate. It was soon surpassed by newer technology and abandoned. In 1989 it was awarded the status of a National Historic Landmark and you would have thought that having that status would have provided it with the care and maintenance it required and deserved. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The National Park System has no power to force the owners and caretakers of National Historic Landmarks to provide any care at all. Because of this, it was easy for Alcatel-Lucent Technologies, the company that took over Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey, to simply ignore their civic obligation. A personal visit to the site revealed to me that they had done just that. I ask that you look at the web site that I have created, www.hornantennatoday.com and to recommend it to the members of your Astronomical organization.

     Once you have seen what has become of that once great technological marvel I hope that you will feel the sadness and anger that I feel. If you do, I ask that you email Paul Ross, Director of Corporate Communications for Alcatel-Lucent Bell Lab at, Paul.Ross@alcatel-Lucent.com and urge that the Horn Antenna be donated to either the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia or The Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

     Please let me know that you have done this so that, once they know that I am not alone in this quest, I can contact them again and try to lead them to the proper decision.

     Any help that you provide will be very helpful and appreciated more than you will ever know. Sometimes I feel like Don Quixote on his lone quest.

     I thank you for your time and cooperation.

Cordially yours,

Allan Cook, Amateur Astronomer


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Ares 1-X to Fly October 27

General NewsAmerica’s next step into space is about to enter the testing stage. The Ares1-X test flight vehicle has been assembled, and transported to the newly renovated launch complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center. From whence once rose the mighty Saturn V toward man’s first steps onto another world, now stands the beginning of what may take man back to the Moon, and possibly on to Mars.

The new Ares 1-X stands ready for its first flight tests on October 27. At 342 feet tall, it almost reaches the record height of the Saturn V’s 363 feet.
How cool is it that the first test launch of the NASA’s new Constellation Program is about to take place this month? If all goes as planned, October 27 will be the day that the first stage of the new rocket configuration will take flight. The upper stage will be unmanned and unused, except for several hundred sensors designed to “feel” how well things are going with the solid rocket first stage. The four-segment first stage is technology that is well tested since it is designed and built by the same company that has provided twin solid-rocket boosters for every shuttle launch for the last 25 years.

How this first launch will go. The primary reasons for this test is to qualify the booster, the parachute that will recover it after it's fuel is spent, and the entire lower half of the rocket. The top half of the rocket, loaded with sensors, will fall back into the ocean never reaching a speed sufficient to obtain orbit.
The launch will test the lower portions of the rocket and how well it works to put the top section high enough into space to allow the upper stage engines to send it the rest of the way into orbit. It will look like a normal liftoff and roll-and-pitch program, but as the solid rocket booster's energy drops below 40,000lb of thrust, the separation will take place and the upper half of the rocket will coast on until it falls back into the ocean some 125 nautical miles downrange. The recovery of the lower stage will depend on the parachute operating properly. Tests of the parachute earlier this summer worked perfectly to a level equivalent that of a 250,000lb load limit. The expected 110lb/sq ft stress of the parachute material was met, so the lower stage should parachute back to Earth safely.

Where the Apollo/Saturn program used 3 stages altogether to place the manned Command Module (CM) in orbit around the Moon and back to Earth, that was obviously a very wasteful endeavor. ALL of the rocket EXCEPT for the CM was never used again.....its sole purpose was to boost the CM to the Moon and back, and land the Lunar Module and power it back to the lunar orbiting CM, then jettisoning the remainder of the LM and allowing it to fall back to the Moon's surface to calibrate seismic measuring devices on the lunar surface.

The Ares 1 rocket will only "waste" the upper stage of the rocket with its J-2X engines, which are based on the Shuttle engine design and considered to be safe. By reusing the solid-fuel booster stage and the new 6-man rated Command Module, we'll see savings with every flight. Another safety factor with the new Command and Service Modules is that instead of using Hydrogen fuel cells in the Service Module, that dangerous method of creating water, electricity, and so much of what was needed in the Apollo missions, the Orion Command and Service Module will utilize solar panels to generate the power needed to operate the systems on board, and carry the water and oxygen with them.

If the Tuesday, October 27th launch date is met, we'll see this first crucial step in the change-over from the Space Shuttle as our main Earth to orbit vehicle. We will see at least 2 or 3 more test flights between now and 2012-2013 when the Constellation Program has its first manned flights, as the final 6 Shuttle flights bring that era to its inevitable end. It's a new day with this upcoming launch, and I, for one, am really excited to see it begin.
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40 Years after Apollo 11, LRO May See the Flag

General NewsUPDATE: OCT 8, 2009 - LCROSS to impact moon's southern polar region early Friday morning!!! Check out the bottom area of this article for what information I wrote about this event, and also go to this APOD site with info/image/link to NASA-TV. In case our weather craps out again, see it live as it happens either on NASA-TV or on other sites covering it. Just search around for "LCROSS Moon Impact" if you don't get NASA-TV. We'll probably see more rain locally......CRAPOLA!

UPDATE: August 27....New images of five of the six manned lunar landing sites are now in. CLICK HERE to see the new images.

We are nearing the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 this July 20. With the launch of NASA's LRO/ LCROSS Mission on June 18, 2009, we may finally be able to see the flags left behind at the six lunar landing sites from low lunar orbit.
Here are the FIRST images, but more and much clearer photos are on their way in coming days/weeks. The Apollo 11 descent stage is casting a small shadow in the very center of this image. The flag was set up fairly close to this site, and I am suspecting that the launch of the ascent stage of Apollo 11 knocked the flag over at least at this site.
For that half of the American public that remembers seeing Armstrong's first footstep on the moon that Sunday evening in 1969, we'll see upcoming TV programs about the historic event and relive those moments from long ago. For the other half of the country, here is your chance to see history again as a NASA spacecraft orbiting the moon from about 55 miles above the surface will finally have the highest resolution cameras ever to orbit our satellite to take pictures of the landing sites of the Apollo missions. Not even Hubble Space Telescope has ever had this capability, and for everyone who has ever asked our AOAS members, "Can you see the flag on the moon?" we will soon be able to say yes, but not with my telescope.

I well remember seeing those historic television images from the moon as Neil Armstrong stepped upon the moon's surface on Sunday evening, July 20, 1969 around 9:00pm. I was 14 and I went outside and looked up at the moon just seconds after his historic first step because I wanted to see if the moon looked different once a man was actually standing on it, so I missed his famous words "That was one small step for a man...." But I also recall going in-and-out the back door several times looking up at that partially lit moon, and I tried as hard as I could to imagine what Earth would look like to Neil and Buzz from up there. It was a short contemplation, however, since I decided to get back to the TV screen to see more of the broadcast from the surface of the moon.

Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist Dr. Harrison Schmidt photographed by astronaut Gene Cernan with the American flag seeming to point at Earth as it was deployed on the final moon mission in December 1972.
The world had changed forever after that night, and I cherish those memories. Since becoming a true amateur astronomer when we started this club in January 1985, I've heard, "Can you see the flag on the moon?" more times than I could ever estimate......thousands of times, easily. And every time, I've had to say "No, I'm sorry, but no Earth telescope can see those flags." The words changed a little after Hubble launched in 1990, but not even the mighty eye in sky could do anything about seeing those tiny little flags either.

But with the launch this last week of NASA's Lunar Reconassaince Orbiter mission, that will finally change. LRO will image the surface of the moon with a resolution of something just under one meter, powerful enough to see those flags. It is trying to scout for new landing sites for our future Ares mission moon landings, and it will also seek out hidden deposits of water ice in perpetually shadowed craters at the north and south lunar poles. A suite of different instruments will seek out water by other means as well. There may be water ice in more places than first thought, hiding just under the surface where only highly sophisticated scientific instruments might detect it. LRO may just be able to detect these deposits of water ice.

But from the photographic cameras on LRO, we can finally expect to see the descent stages of the Lunar Modules that were left behind at the landing sites, along with the Lunar Rovers that still sit idle at the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 sites, and all six flags and possibly even an instrument or two of the experiments that were also left on the moon.

See the descent stages now at this web site, and check back often as the higher resolution images come in. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/multimedia/lroimages/apollosites.html

Part deux....

LRO shares the ride on the Centaur rocket with the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). LRO will be released from the spacecraft shortly after they are sent towards their lunar destination. The LCROSS will stay with the Centaur rocket and after their first lunar flyby on the 5th day after launch, that very precise maneuver will place them into a slow, looping orbit around the Earth which will provide for a way for scientists to guide them into a trajectory to actually intercept the moon so that the LCROSS and the Centaur will both smash into the lunar surface and throw up giant clouds of dusty debris this August or September. LCROSS and the Centaur upper stage will crash into the moon, and with the Centaur hitting first, the LCROSS will first fly through the cloud of debris thrown up by the rocket's impact and send back sensory telemetry data immediately to ground stations on Earth. The LCROSS itself will then crash into the moon several miles from the rocket's impact crater and create its own smaller cloud of debris, and both clouds of dust will be seen coming up into the sunlight to be studied by special instruments fitted to telescopes on the ground stations at four separate sites in Arizona, New Mexico, and in Hawaii.

There is a SMALL CHANCE that amateur astronomers will be able to see the dust clouds thrown up by the two impacting spacecraft with telescopes of 10" to 12" diameter. Much depends on where the impacts will be allowed to take place, what phase the moon is in at the time of impact, many things will determine whether we'll have that slight chance of actually SEEING the impacts and the dust clouds they produce.

We'll be hearing more about this mission, the chances of it seeing any hints of water ice, and whether or not we're likely to see the impacts and debris clouds as time goes on. The launch was later than the articles about the event in the current issues of Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines, so those articles aren't accurate now. Stay tuned to the LRO and LCROSS websites to be truly up-to-the-minute on just what we might expect to see.
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AOAS 2009 Observing Season Underway

General NewsAOAS opened our 2009 season of observing events with the first public night at Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center on February 13, 2009. The following weekend, we hosted the Mt Magazine Area Council Girl Scouts with a night at the Nature Center once again. Our first two events were unimpeded by clouds so all we can do now is hope that the remaining events for 2009 will be as good as the first two were.
AOAS member Mike Baker in the background shows a group of Girl Scouts and their chaperons Venus and some deep-sky objects during a night under the stars on February 20, 2009.

The clouds were quickly thinning all afternoon on February 13 as members Chuck Larson, Mike Baker, Leonard Lynch and myself headed towards Barling and the Janet Huckabee Nature Center. While everyone but myself was there in time to setup in good light, I at least did get my 8" Dob aligned well enough to give good views of Venus and several deep-sky targets including the Great Nebula in Orion, M-42, and the open cluster M-41 in Canis Major. Venus is getting bigger every week and thinner and thinner as well. Its quickly headed for a conjunction with the Sun in late March when it'll pass between Earth and our star and switch back to being the Morning Star once again.

Venus in crescent phase through my 8" f/6 Dobsonian and a 9mm TMB Planetary eyepiece taken with my Canon Powershot A10 at full zoom and on automatic. My first ever attempt at shooting Venus and I'm impressed how well it turned out.
I recently bought a set of three TMB Optical Planetary eyepieces and tried them out for the first time during these first two outings. I must say that this is the first time in 25 years of observing that I have EVER said anything in support of an eyepiece of a mere 4mm, but Venus in the 8" Dob with the 4mm at 300X was as clear as I could expect and I'm sure that it was only the atmosphere that gave the slightest fuzziness to the illuminated side of the crescent. If you ever come to one of our outings when I'm there, ask me to put in one of the TMB Planetary eyepieces and see for yourself. I'll be VERY proud to show you how well they work!!!

We had probably 35 to 40 visitors from the general public on Friday February 13, and the Girl Scouts along with their mothers and chaperons were probably slightly more in number, perhaps 45 to 50. On both nights we were able to see the planet Saturn as it rose above the eastern horizon and very deep in earth's atmospheric haze. The haze was extreme but if you stared directly at the planet for more than 10 seconds, you could make out the nearly edge-on rings which made it look very much like a tennis ball with a nail struck through it.

Both Saturn as a "nail-in-the-ball" and Venus as a "tiny crescent moon" will be available for everyone who has the opportunity to view them over the next several weeks to couple of months. After April 1, the crescent of Venus will have switched over to the morning skies, but Saturn is well placed for viewing all summer long as it goes through its current edge-on apparition. Take every opportunity to view Saturn that comes your way in 2009, since this will be the last time we'll see the Ring World appear this way until the next time we see them go edge-on in about 13-14 years. You'll always remember seeing this unusual and somewhat rare look of Saturn while you have the chance. Don't miss it!

Our next AOAS public observing event at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center will be held on Friday evening, June 12, from dusk until?
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New Directions for AOAS

General NewsAt the 23rd annual traditional dinner/meeting of AOAS held on December 5, 2009, elections were held to select a new club president. After 6 consecutive years as President and another year as VP immediately before that, I stepped down as AOAS president in order to concentrate on running Coleman Observatory and starting some serious observing programs. We have some new equipment to utilize in several different configurations on our Celestron CGE mount, swapping between the original 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain tube assembly and up to 5 or 6 other optical tube assemblies, and even a capability for using tandem, or side-by-side telescope tubes for doing visual observing two-at-a-time, or more commonly for using one as a dedicated guide scope and the other for imaging the universe. These capabilities will give us new and exciting ways to utilize Coleman Observatory.
"Six in a row is enough! Would somebody else like my job?"

And so, at the Christmas dinner/meeting, our webmaster, David Grosvold, volunteered to be your new President of AOAS. When there are no members actively seeking election to the position, a member can volunteer to be appointed to an elected position upon approval of a quorum of the Executive Committee. A quorum was present and the appointment was made. Our own Director of Education, Dr. Chuck Larson, was also appointed to the voluntary position of Vice-President of AOAS. Between the two of these exceptional choices for the top two jobs in the club, we have a lot of new ideas beginning to come about for our goals and direction in 2009.

Dave Grosvold literally hit the ground running. At the dinner/meeting, he accepted the responsibilities and challenges of being AOAS President with open arms. He outlined many new ideas for what he thought we should do and where we should grow for this next year.
On May 11, 1998, Dr Chuck Larson (right) presented Dave Grosvold with the Phi Delta Kappa International Certificate of Recognition to AOAS for Distinguished Service by a Group Outside Education for having been in contact with at least 60,000 area people up to that date. Now almost 11 years later, these are your President and Vice-President of AOAS for 2009.
Basically, we're turning inwards once again. "We want to do things as a club, as a bunch of friends again", Dave says. "We want to scale-back on the number of public outreach efforts we'll do for 2009, but not neglect our traditional role as an active outreach club." We have at least five nights scheduled for public observing at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center for 2009, which are set for February 13, June 12, August 14, September 11 and November 13. These will each be nights during the dark of the moon, but we will also hold our Astronomy Day 2009 on Saturday, October 24, one night before 1st Qtr moon when the low angle of light across the lunar surface reveals depth to the craters and heights of mountain peaks. This is the time when the moon looks best to me, and the public always marvels at that as well.

So, we enter a new year with a new captain at the helm.....I FINALLY conned someone else into taking over as President! I say conned, but David Grosvold has been here before. He served as head of AOAS for a year back in the early '90's so he knows a little about what's coming and what's expected. But this time, things are a little different. This time, he'll be helping guide us through another moving of Coleman Observatory. We must abandon the property up here 8 miles NW of Van Buren and look for a new home by the end of January, and we're actively looking for a new location. I'll try to give you all the details of this situation in another story about Coleman Observatory, our first move from the top of Midland Peak near Sugar Loaf Lake south of Ft Smith to our present location, and the reasons we're looking for a new home once again. WE NEED YOUR HELP! We will need the help of our members with the move itself since we'll be clearing off the property as we move, and we're in dire need of a new and appropriate place to go before we start the process of recovery and re-establishment of a new site. As soon as we can, we must locate the right place. That's the key...we MUST find the best place we can find, and rebuild everything with the idea that this is the LAST time we'll ever move Coleman Observatory again. We must find ourselves a permanent place to move where we'll be able to stay forever more. We've been together for 24 years as of January 15, 2009, and we're a well established organization in this area with somewhere over 100,000 people that we've come into direct contact with in those 24 years of public outreach. We want to be able to find a location where we will STILL BE in 24 more years from now. By then an entirely new club will exist, hopefully carrying on what we've invested so much time to establish, and furthering the numbers of people we've helped to experience even a small piece of the universe that we are a part of, carrying us past the mark of 1,000,000 people reached, and beyond! We really are headed in a new direction.

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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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