Ryukyu Astronomy Club Newsletter
http://www.nexstarsite.com/rac.htm
Volume 3, Issue 5 September/October 2004


Next Club Meetings - October 9th and November 13th
Conference Room B at the Camp Lester Naval Hospital

August and September Meetings
The August 14th outing was to be held at the Alivila Hotel site, but weather did not permit.

The September 11th meeting was held at the Naval Hospital and saw about a half dozen participants, including a new face.  There was to be a presentation on equipment basics, but all the participants were familiar with the topic.  Instead, we discussed collimation issues on Newtonian and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes and chatted a bit.  The weather was bad, so there was no viewing.

Things to See in the Night Sky
October 20th through the 26th is the timeframe of the annual Orionids meteor shower.  Though the Orionids is not an especially strong meteor shower, it is interesting to note that the particles streaking through our atmosphere were shed by Halley's Comet during one of its previous passes through the inner solar system.  For more information, visit http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/meteors/article_1328_1.asp.

Another interesting solar system happening is the nearby pass of asteroid Toutatis.  This near-Earth asteroid will pass 1.5 million kilometers (about 4 times the distance between the Earth and Moon) on September 29th.  Still, it will only be visible in binoculars or a telescope as it will be a faint magnitude 9.  For more information, visit http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/asteroids/article_1336_1.asp.

Other objects well placed for viewing:

  • The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) - The nearest large galaxy, this collection of billions of stars is very much like our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The best views are with large binoculars or a short-tube refractor from a truly dark site.

  • Globular Cluster M2 - A nice, bright globular cluster that is even visible as a fuzzy "star" in most binoculars. 6" and larger scopes will begin to resolve individual stars.

  • The Double Cluster (NGC 869/884) in Perseus - two open clusters so near to each other they fit a single wide-field telescopic view. From a dark site they are equally impressive in binoculars.

  • Albireo - Considered by many to be the most beautiful double star, Albireo is found in the constellation Cygnus. Even small telescopes will clearly show the brighter star to be a golden hue while the second star is a vivid blue. Albireo is not a binary star (two stars orbiting their common center of gravity) but rather is it an optical double formed by chance alignment to our line of sight.

For more objects of interest and the locations of those listed above, download the latest chart from www.skymaps.com or visit www.SkyandTelescope.com and customize the online star chart for Okinawa's general location of 128 degrees East longitude and 26 degrees North latitude.

Equipment Review - Buy Astro Stuff's Astronomy Chair
Reviewed by Mike Swanson

For years I had been stooping at the eyepiece of my various telescopes and living with the literal "pain in the neck".  My conclusion: a chair is the most important piece of equipment you will buy for use with your telescope.  In the last year I have tried a couple of stools and chairs, but they either didn't have enough range in vertical adjustment or they were simply not portable.  A few months ago I built a chair (based on the Denver Observer's Seat at http://members.tripod.com/denverastro/seat.html) but my woodworking skills and tools didn't really allow for a professional job, so I was still looking.

Enter Buy Astro Stuff's Astro Chair.  I heard about it on an Internet discussion group.  Everything I heard was very promising and the price was right.  At $95 (USD) plus shipping, Buy Astro Stuff's chair is significantly lower in price than all other nationally advertised astronomy chairs.  The usual price for such a chair seems to be closer to $150.  I visited their web site (http://www.buyastrostuff.com), clicked the link for "Metal Astro Chair" and decided it was the right stuff.

So I got one.

Buy Astro Stuff had my chair on its way in no time and I received it in less than a week (that's as fast as things can get from Colorado to Okinawa!).  I was a little worried when I got my first look at the package; the military postal gorillas had really done a number on the shipping carton.  I opened it there at the post office just to see if I needed to file a claim.  But my worries were unfounded, the chair was unscathed - it's a really tough customer.

Well, there's not a lot you can say about a chair, but here it is.  It is lightweight - about 10 pounds (4.5kg) - but very strong.  I'm not a heavy guy, but it definitely would hold someone with a healthy appetite.  The legs open sufficiently to provide a stable platform that still fits easily between the legs of a tripod.  It's very portable when stowed.  It folds up into a slim 4 inches (10cm) that can easily fit in your closet or your car trunk.  When folded, a clever design feature locks the seat in an upright position to ease storage and transport.

Most importantly, it's comfortable!  The padded seat adjusts from about 18 inches (46cm) up to 31 inches (80cm).  At the higher elevations the sturdy footrest is a welcome addition.  The height is easily adjustable with one hand and soon you will be adjusting it like a pro.  I now find myself quickly fine-tuning it for maximum comfort each time I move to a new object.

If you don't have an observing chair, you need one.  And Buy Astro Stuff's Astro Chair is as good as they get.  Well, that is until I get that antigravity chair that moves by thought command.

Call for Presentations and Newsletter Articles
We are always looking for volunteers to give presentations at the monthly club meetings.  If you have a topic, contact Mike Swanson at swanson.michael@usa.net

And, we welcome articles for our newsletter.  Perhaps you would like to discuss equipment, black holes or astronomy software.  Contact Mike Swanson with your ideas.

Clear Skies!


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Ryukyu Astronomy Club

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