Channel 7 at River Ridge Observatory

posted by Jim Dixon

August 19, 2003

KATV Channel 7 came by River Ridge Observatory this morning for a live broadcast featuring CAAS members and Mars.

Over the last several days, David Reynolds prepared a video tape for Channel 7 that contined footage of CAAS members and well as a Mars “primer”. I haven’t seen all of it but what I saw was a very professional job. Well done, David.

Last night, David, Don Lewis, and I met at the site to get a video camera hooked up to Danny’s scope in the West Observatory. The sky was mostly cloudy so we cooled our heels until about 11 when Mars got above the tree line. We worked on the video for about two hours but, finally, by 1 AM we had Mars on the TV screen. David and I stayed the night and got up at 4 AM to reopen the observatory and reacquire Mars in the video camera. Shortly, the Edwards’s (Kyle, Anastasia, and Preston) arrived with Carl Freyaldenhoven and Don right behind them and Coy Scott not too far behind.

The KATV team, Jason Harper and Casey arrived at 4:30. They quickly set up and then we waited and chatted until our turn. We found that it is not just astronomers that have technical glitches as we lost some or all of our signal in the first two broadcast attempts but finally the third time was the charm. The Mars video was not incredibly clear but it was serviceable. Jason asked me to explain how we were capturing our images and why this particular approach is so special. As the morning progressed, Jason interviewed the members and was particularly impressed with Kyle’s images of the Moon. I didn’t overhear the other other interviews but apparently Don told Jason about the club and invited the public out to the August 30th Star Party at Pinnacle Mountain Star Party.

I’d say that despite poor skies, technical difficulties, and sleep deprivation, it turned out very well. I’d like to repeat what Don said earlier, thanks to everyone who came out and helped.

Summary of Several Old Posts from 2002/2003

Star Party at Wooly Hollow State Park

July 27, 2003

Last night, CAAS joined with the people from the Wooly Hollow State Park to hold this popular star party. Counting the 10 SCT belonging to the park system, there were at least 10 scopes set up. It was difficult to count the crowd (it was dark and they kept moving!) but there seemed to be several dozen visitors. All in all, the star party turned out very successfull and everyone had a good time.

Work Party at River Ridge Observatory

posted by Jim Dixon

July 5, 2003

Fred Stewart, his nephew Andrew, Don Lewis, Wade Van Arsdale and I met today to perform some needed chores. Andrew and I put fresh water seal on the observing deck while Fred made some repairs to the picnic table. Don and Wade mowed the grass. And I spread ant/tick/chigger pellets around the perimeter and the observing area after they had mowed those areas. Fred and Andrew also burned a pile of brush. Thanks to all of the members who came out.

Star Party at Pinnacle Mountain State Park

posted by Jim Dixon

June 29, 2003

Last night, CAAS joined with the people from Pinnacle Mountain State Park and Pam Shiremen from the UALR planetarium to hold a mid-summer star party. Despite the fact that the 28th boasted the latest sunset of the year, which pushed showtime back to about 9 PM, the turnout was good and can only be described as a success. I didn’t count but I’d say there were about 10 scopes and 100 visitors. Due to the late sunset, there was no more than 40 minutes between the first sighting of Jupiter and time to shut down. However, in that time we showed the public Jupiter, 4 moons, various double stars, planetary nebulae, globular clusters, and perhaps more. Unfortunately, it was over all too soon. These things really work out better when it’s not thunderstorming.

National Astronomy Day

posted by Jim Dixon

May 10, 2003

CAAS joined with Pinnacle State Park, the Mablevale East Lab Astronomy class, and the UALR Planetarium for public viewing and astronomy related presentations. Members who attended included Pat Morris, Bill Sanders, Carl Freyaldenhoven, David Reynolds, John Reed, Kathy Farley, new member Jeniffer Milligan, and myself. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. We were able to see the Sun some during the day but the weather got worse as the day proceeded until thunderstorms rolled through. Due the weather, turnout was rather light but we had a good time. The next star party will be held on June 28.

CAAS Meeting Minutes for April

posted by Jim Dixon

April 12, 2003

The minutes to the last regular club meeting have been posted. They can be viewed here.

Work Party at River Ridge Observatory

April 12, 2003

Robert l. Baker, David Matthews, and I (Jim Dixon) did some yard and deck work on the site Saturday. I was about 15 minutes late and Robert & David were hard at it. They worked hard making the yard look better and felled a dead tree and placed it in front of the second entrance to augment the barricade that we have there. I was going to to clean the deck in preparation for re-sealing it but due to a lack of water problem was only able to clean about a third of the deck before running out of water. I want to thank David and Robert for taking the time and expending their sweat to help the site look better. I’d also like to remind everyone that the grass will be growing at the site just like everyone else and any volunteers to take a turn and mow the grass every couple of weeks or so would be greatly appreciated.

Cloud-Out for Parkview Star Party at Pinnacle Mountain State Park

April 4, 2003

Although the sky was almost completely clear at 5, it was almost completely cloudy at 6:30. Carl Freyaldenhoven and I set up ours scopes when a clear patch appeared between us and Jupiter. We showed the planet to a couple of park visitors but put everything away by 7:30 as a thunderstorm approached.

Good Turnout for Parkview Star Party at the River Ridge Observatory

March 22, 2003

Terry Johnson brought a group of students from the Astronomy Club at Parkview High School plus some parents. Several members were there with there scopes. Although the skies weren’t looking too promising at first, things got better and it turned out to be not too bad. A variety of scopes were brought out from refractors to Schmidt-Cassegrains to Dobsonian reflectors. Jupiter and Saturn were on display and the students got to see several of the brighter deep sky objects as well. There was also an Iridium flare to the delight of many.

Star Party March 21 at The River Ridge Observatory

posted by Jim Dixon

March 8, 2003

Terry Johnson would like to bring about 15 students from the Astronomy Club at Parkview High School plus some of their parents. This is a Friday night and we will need some CAAS members to volunteer to attend and set up scopes for the kids. The event will last from dark until about 9:30. If you can volunteer please let Terry and, better yet the list, know so that it can all be coordinated.

Election of New CAAS Vice-President

February 25, 2003

CAAS Vice-President Lenny Bradberry has accepted a job offer in Ft. Worth, Texas and has had to resign his post as Vice-President. Lenny and his wife, Donna, have been CAAS members for several years and they will be missed. The post of CAAS Vice-President is now open for nominations and we will elect a new Vice-President at the March 8th meeting who will fill out the remainder of the term.

Good luck and best wishes to Lenny and Donna.

The Night Sky Protection Act Fails to Pass

February 20, 2003

Click here for a report from Don Lewis.

February 9, 2003

Arkansas General Assembly Representative Ledbetter has proposed a bill to create new restrictions on outdoor lighting. The details of HB 1282 can be viewed here. Enter HB1282 in the “One Bill” box and click submit.

Brush Clearing Party

posted by Jim Dixon

January 18, 2003

Several members went to work today to push back the wilderness encroaching on the River Ridge Observatory from the south. John Reed, Danny Flippo, Fred Stewart, Caleb Stewart, and to a lesser degree myself attended the party. I arrived late and was very impressed by the work the others had accomplished. The brush has been pushed back about 20 feet from the West Observatory to the classroom. Several trees were topped as well. The southern view from the pads and the 6-inch building is much better now. Several other members offered to help but were unable to attend at the time that was finally decided on. I suspect John will find something for them tp do once the renovation begins.

Proposed Renovation of Former “6-Inch Refractor” Building

January 13, 2003

As many of you know, John Reed has been working on ideas to renovate the observatory building next to the deck for use by his 18″ Dobsonian. He has come up with two designs which he would like to let members review and comment. In “Plan A” the building will be cut off at 8′ and a roof like the west building put in place that rolls off to the south instead of the north. “Plan B” shows leaving the existing roof and adding a skirt around the edge which will deflect water. Notice that “B” makes for a much better south. Costs for each design are coming. The plans can be viewed here.

More New Members

posted by Jim Dixon

January 1, 2003

We’ve had two more new members, Fred Stewart and his son Caleb, join CAAS in the last few days. Welcome aboard, Fred and Caleb. Hope to see you at the next meeting, if not sooner.

New Members

posted by Jim Dixon

December 29, 2002

We’ve had two new members, David Matthews and Wade Van Arsdale, join CAAS in the last few days. Welcome aboard, David and Wade. Hope to see you at the next meeting, if not sooner.

Minor Enhancements to the River Ridge Observatory

posted by Jim Dixon

December 21, 2002

A few weeks ago, Danny Flippo added a power outlet and a wedge for Meade SCTs to the middle pier on the deck. Now I’ve added a power outlet and a wedge for Celestron SCTs to the pier next to the class room. The third pier already had power and is setup for use with German Equatorial mounts. So, all three piers now have power and available for use by any CAAS member whose scope can sit on top of them. Of course, we’ve still got the powered and unpowerd pads available for member use. It is my understanding that the two wedges belong to Thomas. Thank you for their use, Thomas.

Status Report for West End Observatory

posted by Jim Dixon

December 6, 2002

Danny Flippo has offered to place his 8″ SCT on the society’s AP mount in the West End Observatory for the use of observatory status members. That was done last night and below is a first light image of the Orion Nebula (M42 & M43). This is a composite image from 5 1 minute exposures using Danny’s CoolPix 995 and a 30 mm eyepiece. Click on the image to enlarge. The 8″ Newtonian that was on the AP mount may find a home on it’s original portable German equatorial mount or perhaps we’ll build a Dobsonian mount for it. No decision has been made. Very nice, Danny.

Carver Magnet School Star Party

posted by Jim Dixon

December 3, 2002

The Carver Star Party was rained out for a second time. I am assuming it will be rescheduled.

Status Report for West End Observatory

posted by Jim Dixon

December 2, 2002

Danny Flippo and John Reed, with a little help from me, have collimated the 8″ Newt in the West End Observatory (or whatever it’s real name is). Danny has also worked on the polar alignment which was already not too bad considering that what had been done was done in the daylight. Below are some images John took of Saturn and the club scope with his Nikon 950 CoolPix. Click on the images to enlarge.

Status Report for West End Observatory

posted by Jim Dixon

November 24, 2002

I’ve finished the initial renovation of Bruce McMath’s old 8″ Celestron Newtonian and attached it to the Astro-Physics mount in the observatory at the western end of the property. After cleaning up the mirrors, I decided that the optics might not need recoating as discussed in the board meeting. One of the mounting rings has gone missing so new rings were built from plywood. Not as pretty as machined aluminum but they will be serviceable. The optics still need to be collimated, the guide scope needs to be attached, and the mount may need polar alignment BUT this scope is close to ready for use!

CAAS Elections

posted by Jim Dixon

November 10, 2002

New officers will be elected at the next regular CAAS meeting on December 14. If you are ready to serve, please step up and throw your hat in the ring.

Carver Magnet School Star Party

November 5, 2002

In a surprising turn of events, the Carver Magnet School Star Party at the River Ridge Observatory was cancelled due to wet conditions. The outing has been rescheduled for December 3. The other Carver group outing has not been rescheduled.

Public Star Party at Pinnacle State Park

posted by Jim Dixon

November 2, 2002

The turnout was surprisingly good considering the lousy weather and the competing Razorback game. John Reed warmed up the crowd with slides from the Okie-Tex Star Party. Then Pam from the UALR Planetarium gave a presentation on the solar system.

CAAS Monthly Meeting Minutes

Submitted by Carina Reeves

September 8, 2001

 

Carina Reeves, President opened meeting.

Treasurers Report was not available.

OLD BUSINESS: .
Bunk project is to continue.
Yahoo Group has been set up. Dean recommended members start using this for
CAAS communications.

NEW BUSINESS:

Next Pinnacle Mountain Star Part is scheduled for Sept. 15th.

Dean has committed to a Cub Scout group on Oct. 20 at the Damacus Scout Camp.

Contact Dean if you can help. Will discuss at Oct. meeting.

Carver Magnet School Star Parties are scheduled for:
Nov. 6 with rain date on Nov. 8
Nov. 13 with rain date on Nov. 15

Home School group at 4-H Center in Ferndale Nov. 26, 27 & 29. We will
discuss details to cover these groups at Oct/Nov meeting.

Dean presented the program on BAD astronomy in movies and TV. It
took an hour to go through his list, but he had pages and pages more to share
with those interested.

Being no further business, meeting adjourned.

______________________________________________________________________
_

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

CAAS Meeting October 13 at 7 PM
Dark Sky Nights October 19 and 20
Cub Scout Group at Damascus Camp October 20
Carver Magnet School Star Party November 6 Raindate 8
November 13 Raindate 15
Home School Star Party-Ferndale November 26, 27, 29
Pinnacle Mnt. Star Party November 30 (Moon Walk)6 PM
(Must have reservations)