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Astronaut Gordon Cooper, Jr. Dies

General News
Gordon Cooper Jr., the astronaut who piloted the sixth and last flight of the Mercury program and later commanded Gemini 5, died earlier today at his home in Ventura, Calif. He was 77 years old.

"As one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Gordon Cooper was one of the faces of America's fledgling space program. He truly portrayed the right stuff, and he helped gain the backing and enthusiasm of the American public, so critical for the spirit of exploration. My thoughts and prayers are with Gordon's family during this difficult time," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

The youngest of the original seven astronauts, Cooper's flight in his Faith 7 capsule stretched the capabilities of the Mercury spacecraft to the limits. The mission, May 15 and 16, 1963, lasted more than 34 hours and 22 orbits. That was more than three times the longest U.S. human space flight until that time, and far exceeded the initial design capability of the capsule. During his flight, Cooper also became the first astronaut to sleep in space.

Check out the full story at: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/features/cooper_obit.html

Image Left: Cooper in the "white room," waiting for test activities to resume in preparation for his Mercury launch in May of 1963. Photo credit: NASA.
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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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Zooming In On Our Weather

General NewsUse the weather satellites as the local meteorlogists do. Make your monitor, monitor your weather.

We as amateur astronomers watch the weather above us as carefully as our local weathermen. After all, our hobby depends on how clear the skies are. Use the site listed here to pull up an image from the GOES weather satellite and the instructions in the rest of the story to make your own decisions about whether to set up tonight, or NOT!

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Amateur Astronomers For Hire

General NewsWednesday, March 03, 2004

WASHINGTON - Amateur astronomers could receive awards of $3,000 for discovering and tracking near-Earth asteroids under legislation approved by the House Wednesday.

"Given the vast number of asteroids and comets that inhabits Earth's neighborhood, greater efforts for tracking and monitoring these objects are critical," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., sponsor of the legislation that passed 404-1.
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AOAS Honors Dr. Larson

General News
AOAS Honors Dr. Chuck Larson With Honorary Lifetime Membership Award

Dr. Chuck Larson was honored by AOAS with only our second ever, Honorary Lifetime Member Award at our December 19, 2003 meeting at Creekmore Park. Dr. Larson serves AOAS as our Education Director, and has held this position for nearly 8 years since first joining our club. He now joins our first honoree, Jay Hilgartner, whom we honored with a Lifetime Membership Award in 1994.

We made Jay Hilgartner an Honorary Lifetime Member while he was still employed as Chief Meteorologist for local television station KFSM-TV5 in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Jay was instrumental in TV5's purchase and distribution of some 12,000 solar eclipse viewing glasses for the May 10, 1994 annular eclipse.
The path of annularity passed close to the Ft Smith area, and from there the moon eclipsed approximately 94% of the Sun's face. TV5 distributed more than 8,500 of the eclipse glasses free to area schools throughout their viewing area, and sold the remainder of the glasses to the general public at $1/pair. About two weeks after the eclipse, Jay presented AOAS with a check for nearly $2,900 which was the money they raised from the sale of eclipse glasses, and was the single largest donation to AOAS until now.
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Build Your Own Calendar With AOAS!

General News
Astronomy calendars are a way for those who love the science of astronomy to let others in their lives know about their passion. Whether it's for your home or office, an attractive calendar of spectacular astronomical subjects is your statement of affinity for the universe.

We've gathered a few dozen of the most spectacular images from Hubble Space Telescope to use with your own software to produce the most beautiful astronomy calendar you can imagine. Maybe you'd like a calendar of just planetary nebulae, or just galaxies, or maybe one of each. Or you might wish to mix it up with the best of each of the major classes of objects, even adding Hubble images of Mars and Saturn.

It is entirely up to you. The images from Hubble Space Telescope are public domain images, meaning they already belong to you, the public. Enjoy this selection of images and have fun with building your very own astronomy calendars. But remember these images will use considerable amounts of ink if used at their full size. Size them to your desires but be thoughtful of how much ink you'll use to produce your own calendar.

Click here to go directly to these photos, have fun, and good luck.
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What Would 'Ya Like To Say?

General NewsAre you an amateur astronomer, or someone who's interested in amateur astronomy? We'd like to know what you think or would like to ask about!

We at AOAS are extremely proud of our little club and probably most proud of our web site. It's a highly interactive site where ANYONE can post replies to nearly all our stories, discussions or other items. You can even test out your writing abilities by submitting your own story.

Been doing some observing lately? Write us a story about your experiances. Been reading about some of the new and exciting research and findings about astronomy lately? Write us a story or start a discussion topic on it. We want to hear from anyone and everyone who has an interest in astronomy.

C'mon, don't be shy, CONTRIBUTE!
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General News
Did anyone else put the aurora from the 20th of November on film or chip? I did manage to get a couple of images. Would like to see some of the other members shots.
Mike H.

Click the image at left for a larger view.
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AOAS Founding Member Dale Hall Receives First "David Gibbs Achievement Award"

General News
From left: Joe Roam, Dale Hall, Bob Moody
On Friday evening,October 17, 2003 Dale Hall became the first AOAS member to receive the Society's very first award. Dale is a founding member of AOAS and has served as Public Relations officer since the club formed on January 15, 1985.

The "David Gibbs Achievement Award" also honors one of our own past members, who passed away suddenly in 1999. David Gibbs was another outstanding member of the Society. David had an uncanny way of seeing things from other points of view, which always kept us "on track" in our executive committee meetings, and when we made decisions concerning the club and our activities. He was our "rock," which kept us anchored to reality. This award will be our eternal recognition of his support and dedication to AOAS.

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