Ryukyu Astronomy Club Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 2 April 2002

Next Club Meeting - April 13th
Conference Room B at the Camp Lester Naval Hospital

March Meeting
The March general meeting of the Ryukyu Astronomy Club was held the 9th of March, 2002 in the Navy Hospital's Conference Center. Seven members attended. Tommy McGee gave a preview of the club web site. The web site is now online at The site includes a schedule of all meetings for the year, a map to the meeting place (Hospital Conference Center), copies of the newsletter, articles written by members and more. Mike Swanson gave a presentation on equipment basics.

Members discussed potential dark(er) sites for observing and it was decided we would give the Awase Meadows Golf Course a try. Since that time, Ron Locker and Tommy McGee scouted the site and it does look promising. Unfortunately weather has prevented us from trying out the site and a trip to the site for the 16th cancelled due to rain.

After the meeting, Mike Swanson set up his scopes in the abandoned section of Camp Lester, near the Chatan Town Hall. Seeing was pretty good, but transparency was terrible with a haze scattering light and washing out any of the fainter objects. The group concentrated on Jupiter and several open clusters and chatted their way through a couple of pleasant hours.

Things to See This Month
The last few months have been highlighted by many of the sky's best open star clusters. This is due to the fact that the Milky Way (our view of the galaxy we live in) dominated the sky. When we are looking through our galaxy's plane, we mostly see things in our general area of the universe. And that means groups of nearby (relatively speaking) stars and nebulae.

Well, the Milky Way is low in the sky this month, so now our night sky is pointed in a direction outside of our galaxy. While there are still star clusters to be seen, when we are looking beyond our galaxy, what we see are other galaxies. Four of the best for moderate-sized scopes are in prime position in April: M81, M82, M51 and M94. These galaxies are very far from us, so they are quite faint. Dark skies are required to see more than just a faint smudge in the eyepiece. Consider the fact that each of these galaxies is a 'city' of billions of stars. How many of those stars harbor a habitable planet?

Also well placed a little later in the evening is the best globular star cluster for observers in the Northern hemisphere - M13. Located in the constellation Hercules, any telescope, and even binoculars, can pick it out on a dark night. A 6" or larger scope can start to resolve the individuals starts in this group of more than 100,000 stars.

For more objects of interest and the locations of those listed above, download the latest chart from

Observation Technique
While buying a larger telescope is one way to see more difficult astronomical objects, improving your observing technique plays a big role. Experienced observers can always see more in the eyepiece than a newcomer. Here are some pointers:

As you gain experience, you will notice that even your first looks at an object yield greater detail than your painstaking efforts as a beginner. The most important thing is to have fun and learn as you observe. Develop your observation technique and you will develop astronomy into a life-long interest.

Solicitation for Meeting Presentations and Newsletter Articles
We intend for this club to be very member oriented. To make it so, we need your suggestions (ya, you, sitting there staring at the monitor!) for presentations, newsletter articles and club activities. Please send your suggestions to the Organizing Committee. Thank you!

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