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Well, guys it looks like we are all suffering from Post Traumatic Snow Disorder.

It’s Snowing , Again, in Alabama and it’s really putting a damper on observing. All I can hope for is clear weather for the MidSouth Star Gaze!!


And We Are Back

Sorry we have been away for a bit.. We’re back now so look for updates soon!

While we were away we made a trek to French Camp, Ms to view some fantastic skies with some of the club members.


This is a shot of Scott’s rig in the daylight!


Here’s to you Neil

I heard that Neil Armstrong had passed away on the 25th of August. My friend had sent me a text about his passing.  I stopped, re-reading the message I cursed and looked up at the sky at the rising moon.

I was 16 when Neil and Buzz walked on the moon, a matter of fact they landed on the moon on my birthday . That was the nicest gift I had ever ben given. I sat in awe with the rest of the world that evening as we watched Neil slowly climb down the ladder and put the first footprints of man on the moon. ‘That’s one small step for [a] man one giant leap for mankind”.

Neil became a silent hero for the American people. He was a quite man that shied away from  public life. He never made a big deal about the fact that he was the first man to walk on the moon. He would have rather been teaching and working in beloved areo-space engineering world than to do the public thing. No matter what he will always have the honor of being the first man to step from the earth to the moon.

So on a bright moonlit night lets all look up at the moon and give a wink and say a silent thank you to Neil Armstrong.

RIP Neil

Are you bored? Nothing to do? Check out the updates to the ETX 90RA Greatest Telescope in the World…

Check out the latest additions: How to find things, and 33 things you can do to help you see things in the eyepiece of a telescope.


Fun stuff you can use even if you don’t own an ETX 90RA.



Telescopes, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and a Super Moon

Two adorable little girls look at the Super Moon

Mike, Ed, and I met at the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Shop on Hwy 280 near CR 119 the night of the Super Moon. We set up a couple of scopes, drank some really good coffee, and shared a clear – if bright – sky with about fifty or so folks throughout the evening. Mike had already set up his 8″ Celestron when I arrived at sundown. I set up the Questar 3.5, unfolder a good chair and the two of us walked in the Krispy Kreme to get our first cup of coffee for the evening.

We had a great spot. The shop is about 50 yards off of the main road and there is a sloping grassy area between the parking lot and the traffic. They have one of those 1940’s restored delivery trucks on display with the Krispy Kreme markings and we were right next to it in clear view of the people traveling up and down the main drag. It didn’t take long for folks to startwalking up and asking us if we were there for the “big moon” that had more urban astro gazersbeen talked about on TV for a couple of days.We told them there was more than the moon up that evening and treated them to a storybook thin-crescent Venus, a tiny orange Mars, and the usually stunning Saturn. Most of them had never looked through a telescope and they loved it. I even got a hug from the adorable little girl on the step ladder in the picture. ( Mike was jealous… 🙂 )

We also took in Rasalgethi and Iota Cancri and the folks remarked that they didn’t know stars were different colors.

Long Time No Blog/Telescope Fever

Well, its time we reactivated the blog!

Been long enough.

I am finally finishing the ETX articles and want to print a small section on the fever that one time or another has infected all of us.

This is the opening paragraphs of reason number nine of why I believe the ETX 90RA the Greatest Telescope on Earth. I think it puts things in perspective. What do you think?

“When someone is considering getting a telescope it is usually the result of Telescope Fever.

Telescope Fever is a malady that has only two known cures: the actual purchase of the equipment, or a sobering review of one’s bank statements. In some instances the bank statement review only delays the onset of equipment purchase. Telescope Fever dulls the senses and causes obsessive fixations on usually a single piece of equipment and two questions:

1. What can I see with it?

2. How much does it cost?

(A variation on number one is: How many bells and whistles does it have?)

The person at this point is totally immersed in telescope review sites and flashy magazine articles – usually ignoring the more negative comments because secretly they have already made up their minds. They might wait for a star party and actually look through one of the scopes they are considering, but this is pretty rare and goes against traditional “telescope fever” protocol.

The telescope is purchased and delivered and only then do the symptoms of “telescope fever” begin to subside. The head clears and additional questions begin to surface:

3. How do I put this thing together ( the instructions are usually lacking in one or more areas)

4. How do I operate this thing once I do put it together?( crew-served telescopes are not unheard of)

5. Where am I going to store this thing? (perhaps a large barn?)

6. How am I going to move this thing to a dark site? ( Check the GCVW specs on your tow vehicle)

7. Where’s the rest of it? (Didn’t all those accessories shown in the magazine come with the base package?)

8. Who can I talk to about all of this? ( The factory?…. the high end scopes usually have great factory support, …the others?)

The answer to question No. 8 usally leads to the answers to the other questions. This is where the vendors and users groups comes in.”

Home-Made Solar Filters

In the June meeting there was a question about how to make your own solar filters. I have done this in the past using two materials: RG Solar Film from Thousand Oaks, and Baader AstroSolar Safety Film from Baader Planetarium. The RG gives a much more aesthetic yellow color but does not quite have the contrast that I believe results from using the rather starkly white Baader film. Both give good views of sun spots. No. You will not see prominences in white light. Thousand Oaks can be purchased directly from them at , and the Baader can be purchased from OPT at . The Baader website ( and the Thousand Oaks site above, both give instructions on how to assemble the filters.

Remember! You must either filter, completely cover, or remove you finders when observing the sun. Viewing the sun can be done safely, but you’ve got to be continuously conscious of what you’re viewing.

There are also a number of folks who will sell you one of those wonderful glass filters. Of course there’s always the PST from Coronodo and the Lundt line of solar dedicated scopes if you desire Ha(hydrogen alpha, not ha 🙂  ) .


BAS Meeting 19 April 2011

The monthly meeting for the Birmingham Astronomical Society will be held on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at the Christenberry Planetarium on the Samford University Campus. The meeting starts at 7:00PM.

Our speaker this month will be Dr. Michael Briggs from UAH speaking to us on Gamma Ray Bursts. Click on the Read More link below for a short bio on Dr. Briggs.

Bring your astro goodies you would like to sell/trade as we will again have a Buy/Sell/Trade table set up at the front of the Planetarium.

To get there follow the map link here>>><<<< . Dr. Briggs research focuses on gamma-ray bursts, which are probably the most energetic explosions in the Universe. He has been involved with NASA's Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) since early in his graduate student days, when he helped develop the BATSE Spectroscopy Detectors. Since moving to Alabama shortly after the launch of BATSE and the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), he has focused on data analysis, particularly of the spectra of GRBs. Now that the mission of CGRO has ended, he has resumed working on hardware development as a Co-Investigator for the Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor (GBM) for NASA's GLAST mission. His other research interests include Soft-Gamma Repeaters, gamma-ray instrumentation, and classical statistics and Bayesian inference. History Dr. Briggs has worked for the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) since 1991, first as a NASA Compton GRO Fellow, and currently as a Research Scientist. He is a member of the Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Team of the new National Space Science and Technology Center. The team includes scientists from UAH, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the Universities Space Research Association. His graduate work was done at the University of California, San Diego and his undergraduate degree is from Princeton University.

Quicquid Nitet Notandum

This is one of those neat things amateurs should know. Comes from the Gold Medal that the Royal Astronomical Society has been giving for a very long time. It means: ” Whatever shines should be observed.” Who knows the significance of Charles Babbage…. He is the namesake of the Babbages line of stores…