CAAS Monthly Meeting Minutes

Submitted by Jim Dixon

August 9, 2003


Don Lewis called the August 9th meeting to order at 7:00. There were 13 members and guests present. Former member Steve Block joined us.

Old business:

  • Earlier in the day, a work pary consiting of Kyle & Preston Edwards, Robert L. Baker, and Don Lewis mowed and weed-ate the grounds.
  • The July 26th Wooly Hollow Star Party was considered a success. A large number of members attended and a larger number of vistors.

New Business:

  • On August 30th, there will be a star party will be held at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. As this is just days after Mars’ closest approach, that may translate into a large turnout.
  • Changes to the East Observatory were discussed. The plans discussed earlier in the year turned out to be more expensive than expected. We discussed placing the 8″ Meade on the tall pier and then building a smaller elevated deck around the pier. Regardless of what we decide to do, a certain amount of repair needs to be made to that building or we could lose it.

The sky was mostly clear although the gibbousl Moon was up and the attendees retired to the observing area to see what they could see.

Rainy Night at Pinnacle Mountain State Park Star/Mars Party

posted by Jim Dixon

August 31, 2003

Well, it wasn’t so much the clouds as the rain and lightning. We had a surprisingly good turnout considering the weather, I’m guessing at least 200 visitors. Pam from the UALR planetariium gave a Mars oriented presentation. In fact, she gave it twice due to the size of the crowd. The room had seats for about 80 and there were about 70 people the second time around. Plus a number of people left before the presentations when the park interpretor announced that there would be no live viewing. After Pam left, Don Lewis told the crowd about CAAS and then John Reed and David Reynolds presented some of the images of Mars that we’ve taken.

There was some talk of rescheduling the event. No doubt we would lose some of the crowd but stay tuned.

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.