by Jim Fisher
Work day. John Reed, Allen Lee, Linda and Lance Sorrows and Kathy and Jim Fisher arrived early to do landscape and bathroom maintenance on the observatory property. Lance installed a new toilet – donated by the Fishers – in the smaller restroom and repaired the sink and vanity. With a little more sprucing this restroom should provide the ladies with a nice rest room. John, Allen and Linda mowed the entire observing field and Jim trimmed around the observing pads and observatory buildings and cut back the vegetation that overgrown around the deck in front of Jim Dixon's observatory. John's back and power washer were both on the fritz, therefore the deck surfaces were not cleaned. However, John was able to scrap the top of the picnic table. Pot luck. Linda and Sandy Morris feed hungry workers and early meeting arrivers with outstanding soup and chili. Carol Togni brought a yummy coconut topped brownie desert. Others brought drinks and snacks and fun was had by all during the dinner hour. Meeting. The formal meeting was called to order by President John Reed at 7 p.m. In attendance were Pat and Sandy Morris, Carol and Rocky Togni, Linda and Lance Sorrows and granddaughter Casey, Caroliana and Don Ferren, Kathy and Jim Fisher, Jason Wallawine, Ernie Shields, and Allen Stroman. Old business: John recapped the Burger Burn Star Party which was held the weekend of September 27 near Nashville, Arkansas and hosted by the Red River Astronomy Club. Attending from CAAS included John, Jim and Kathy, Linda, Lance, and Casey, Jason, Don Lewis and old friend Thomas Baskins. John reported that the weather and skies were outstanding and the burgers were as tasty as ever. John and Pat speculated that the previously scheduled star party at Woolly Hollow S.P. on November 1st was now off due to the recent departure of the naturalist who was trying to organize the event from the park staff. New business: Jim Fisher gave an update on the efforts to start an Arkansas Section for the International Dark-Sky Association. Jim said that the IDA-Arkansas Section "Kick-off" meeting held in conjunction with the Burger Burn Star Party was a success. Jim said that he had been elected Section Leader by the meeting's attendees. In addition, CAAS members Wade van Arsdale was elected Vice-Section Chair, Linda Sorrows was elected Secretary and Jason Wallawine received the nod as the Central Arkansas Representative. Jim said the application requesting formal recognition as an IDA section would be filed this week. Program: Jim gave a fun and informative program on space toys and collectables and he had many of his favorite pieces on hand. Jim said he began collecting toys 8 years ago and has purchased most of his toys at yard sales. He said he concentrates his collection on toys from the "Star Wars" movies and one with pure astronomy and space themes. He had on hand the oldest versions of Star Wars action figures of Darth Vader, C-3PO and Yoda. He said that when the original "Star Wars" movie premiere they producers had not planned to market toys and due the unexpected popularity of the movie at the 1977 Christmas season they sold an empty box with a promise the toys would be available in early 1978. Other highlights included a gold plated reproduction from the July 21, 1969 St. Louis Globe-Democrat announcing in a banner headline "Man walks on Moon." Jim said NASA collectables are hot items especially if they relate to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. He recommended everyone visit the website collectspace.com for more information about NASA collectibles. John Reed got a kick out of a French model which accurately displays the positions of the planets in their orbits. Jim also displayed a planisphere "bowl" from the 1980's with the path of the last pass of Halley' Comet, and an "antique" Edmund Scientifics 3" Newtonian Reflector, which was a popular telescope for serious young astronomers in the late 50's/early 60's. The white tube has the constellations painted on it and the optics are in good shape for its age. Jim said he normally would not buy a telescope at yard sale, but the uniqueness and $5 price tag made this hard to pass up. Finally Jim showed off a miniature model of a refractor carved out rosewood by artist Barry Crist, a Christmas gift from Jim's wife Kathy. Jim said Mr. Crist's models, which include all types of telescopes, can be seen and purchased on the SmartAstronomy web page. Observing. After the meeting was adjourned everyone hit the observing field for views of a bright waxing gibbous moon and Jupiter.