SSAS to Observe Leonid Meteor Shower!

As discussed in our November meeting, several hardy people from SSAS plan to observe the Leonid Meteor shower from Camp Squanto at the Miles Standish State Park.

The expected peak of the storm (for us) is the morning of Sunday, November 18th, around 5:00 in the morning. Our observation team will meet at 4:30pm on the 17th at the Totem Pole (See directions, Page 4) at Miles Standish.

Estimated peak activity predictions range from 800 to 4200 meteors per hour...!

According to website Space.com (http://www.space.com), experts predict peak activity to range from 800 to 4200 meteors per hour as viewed from sites in North and Central America.

The Leonids are caused by the intersection of the orbits of Earth and Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which circles the Sun every 33.2 years. Based on the proximity of the comet to the Earth, we occasionally pass through a "fresh" stream of dust left by the comet. Those particles that are captured by Earth's gravity and pulled into the atmosphere burn up and put on a show for us.

The SSAS team will leave the Totem Pole promptly at 4:30, so please plan to be there early (or bring a GPS!).

Regular Observing at Centennial Field

As noted elsewhere and on our website, http://ssastros.org), the 17th of November is a regular observing night for the SSAS. Those who do not plan to be involved in the all-nighter plan th meet as normal at Centennial Field in Norwell, across from the Norwell Council on Aging.

Things to Do and See!

There are a number of interesting and amusing places to see on the internet that relate to what we talked about in November's meeting.

Again, I must highlight Space.com (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/leonids_2001.html) for their coverage of the Leonids. Good info is also available on the Astronomy Magazine (http://www.astronomy.comO and S&T (http://www.skyandtelescope.com) sites. (More, Page 3)

November Minutes


Twenty in attendance.


New moon is November 15th.


The Leonid Meteor shower will be peaking on the morning of November 17th. The Society will be meeting at Miles Standish Park at the entrance by the totem pole at 4-4:30. The group will be leaving at 4:30 sharp so if you need to assistance in getting to the Camp Sqaunto section of the park please meet us. There will also be a group observing from Centennial Park in Norwell. As usual they will meet at dusk.


A Moon occultation of Saturn will take place on November 30th  A group will be meeting at Plymouth Intermediate school at 7:00 PM to observe this relatively rare phenomenon. If you would like to  participate and need more details call Bill Luzader at 1-508-830-4470 or e-mail him at bluzader@plymouth.ma.us.


Annual Elections are coming up officially in December. If anyone would like to serve as an officer, please notify the club Secretary, Sean Moroney. Preliminary nominations were held at November’s meeting. Current nominations are:



President:Tenny Doble (Incumbent)

Vice President: Louis Gentile  (I)

Treasurer: Chuck McCarthy  (I)

Secretary: Sean Moroney  (I)



Diane Tavares

Bill Luzader

Paul Grueter

Andy Anderson

Anne Balboni (I)

Bob Sorenson (I)


There will also be an SSAS officers’ meeting coming up soon. These meetings are open to the entire membership if any would like to attend. Club bylaws will be discussed at the next meeting and those with insight into the matter are invited to attend the officers’ meeting.


One of the club’s goals is to increase younger membership. In the spirit of expanding public outreach programs, a proposal to sponsor a contest a offering a telescope as a grand prize that would be offered to local students for the best astronomy essay  All agreed that this was good idea.  SSAS president Tenny Doble cited a recent article in Sky and Telescope where a successful contest of this nature was featured.


The Problem of Light Pollution was discussed at the meeting and a sub committee to be chaired by SSAS Member Bill Luzader. If anyone is interested in learning more or assisting in this effort please contact Bill at 1-508-830-4470 or e-mail him at bluzader@plymouth.ma.us. You may also want check out the International Dark Sky Association website at http://www.darksky.org.



SSAS Member Andy Anderson  shared information about astronomy software explaining that the new Sky 4 was very powerful and had plug-ins available for several brands and models of GOTO telescopes.

He also mentioned the mirrored binocular setup that was written up in Sky and Telescope. Member John Flores mentioned that he has mirrors  available for anyone interested in making such a mount. Contact John if  interested.

10 Commandments of Amateur Astronomers

Contributed by Richard Anderson

From the s.a.a newsgroup, via the Starry Night discussion group:

1.Thou shalt have no white light before thee, behind thee, or to the
side of thee whilst sharing the night sky with thy fellow stargazers.

2. Thou shalt not love thy telescope more than thy spouse or thy children; as much as, maybe, but not more.


3.Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's telescope, unless it
exceeds in aperture or electronics twice that of thy wildest dreams.


4.Thou shalt not read "Astronomy" or "Sky & Telescope" on
company time, for thine employer makes it possible to continue thine astronomical hobby.


5.Thou shalt have at least two telescopes so as to keep thy
spouse interested when the same accompanies thee under the night sky or on eclipse expeditions to strange lands where exotic wild animals doth roam freely.


6.Thou shalt not allow either thy sons or thy daughters to get
married during the Holy Days of Starfest.


7.Thou shalt not reveal to thy spouse the true cost of thy
telescope collection; only the individual components, and that shall be done with great infrequency.

8.Thou shalt not buy thy spouse any lenses, filters, dew shields, maps, charts, or any other necessities for Christmas,
anniversaries, or birthdays unless thy spouse needs them for their
own telescope.


9.Thou shalt not deceive thy spouse into thinking that ye are
taking them for a romantic Saturday night drive when indeed thou art heading for a dark sky site.

10.Thou shalt not store thy telescope in thy living room, dining room, or bedroom, lest thou be sleeping with it full time. (More, Page 4)


11.Verily, observe not through thy neighbor's AP or Tak, lest thee be utterly consumed by the lust of apo-fever, and thy brain and
thy bank account shall shrivel and wither like branches in a flame...

12.Verily, observe not through thy neighbor's Dob of Goliath,
lest thee be lain bare to the fires of aperture-fever, and thy sanity,
thy sacroiliac and thy life savings be crushed as ye grapes of wrath.


Skip's Q&A

Why is the sky blue? (Answer on Page 4)

A: Nitrogen reflects only blue light

B: Oxygen absorbs other colors of light

C: A reflection of the oceans' color

D: K-Mart must have something to do with it.

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

(More Interesting Sites, from Page 1) Also discussed somewhat heavily was Dark Sky Legislation, and how we may affect it, both corporately and individually. The International Dark Sky Association (http://www.darksky.org) has several resources.

Of course, the Leonid Meteor Shower was a hot topic for discussion. The American Metor Society's website is at http://amsmeteors.org.   Again, a dark sky image map is available at http://proxima.astro.virginia.edu/ida/darksky/darksy_map.html. The map is larger than my 800x600 screen, so I had to scroll this map of the USA right. I clicked (More, page 4)

Interesting Sites, from Page 3)(with remarkable accuracy, if I do say so myself) in Weymouth, and found that my limiting magnitude is about 3.4. The closest dark sky site is (only!) about 59 miles away... in the ocean. It's outside Cape Cod Bay about equidistant from Gloucester and Provincetown, 1.5x distance east of Scituate. 


Well, I'd like to visit the moon,

Fly a rocketship high in the air.

Yes, I'd like the visit the moon,

But I don't think I'd like to live there.

Though I'd like to look down on the Earth from above,

I would miss all the places and people I love.

So although I might like it for one afternoon,

I don't want to live on the moon.

-Ernie, from Sesame Street



Skip's Answer:


B: Oxygen absorbs most frequencies (colors) of light from the Sun. In fact, the answer C: is backwards. Water is, essentially, colorless, but the oceans appear blue mostly because they are reflecting the color of the sky.


Directions to the Totem Pole

Meeting place for Miles Standish


The totem pole is within the Rest Area at Exit 5 in Plymouth (Long Pond Road). Take Route 3 South to Exit 5 and turn into the Rest Area.