Deep River Astronomy Club

Minutes of the February 6 1997 DRACO Meeting

5 Newton Cres.

Members Present:

Richard Richardson, Tony Waker, Sara Carlisle, Kevin Lenton, Warren Scott, Richard Birchal, Tom Alburger, Rose, Ric Surette.

The meeting started with some discussion on the roster for use of the club telescope. Due to the poor observing conditions for the last two months, there has not been a great demand from members to borrow the scope. It was the general consensus of the group that the loan roster would begun later in the year, possibly April. Until then any member wishing to use the telescope can do so on a first come first serve basis.

There seemed to be some confusion on the time and location of best viewing of comet Hale-Bopp. This writer has confirmed that for all of February and early March, Hale-Bopp is visible in the eastern horizon at about magnitude 2, (a naked eye object). Best viewing is from February 4 through February 18 when moonlight will not interfere and the sun well below the horizon.

Hale-Bopp is approximately 20 degrees (3 to 4 binocular fields) above the horizon, just below the summer triangle at about 90 minutes before sunrise. The summer triangle is formed by the three stars, Vega, Deneb, and Altair. Hale-Bopp is still about 2 AU from earth and is estimated to be between 25 and 65 kilometers in diameter.

The expected best viewing of Hale-Bopp will be in early April when it will pass by on its return trip from the sun. During that period it will be visible in the early evening. It was suggested that the astronomy club could host a public night sometime during that period.

Many members had noticed that during the past few weeks, sundogs were frequent. Sundogs are bright spots on either sides of the sun caused by sunrays reflecting of ice crystals in the air. The bright spots are located at 22.5 degrees on either sides of the sun along the horizontal axis.

Richard Birchall presented a star atlas that Harry Adams had prepared and was donating to the club.

There was some concern that the club membership list was not up to date and that some members were not aware of meetings or other club activities.Warren Scott will ensure that the membership lists is current and an effort will be made to notify all members of upcoming events.

In recent news; the Hubble telescope has captured high resolution images of quasars and black holes in the center of galaxies. Scientists now feel that there is some overlap in the makeup/identity of black holes and quasars and one theory suggests that quasars and black holes are the same objects at different stages of evolution. A distribution plot of quasars over time indicated a peak sometime after the big bang. This distribution suggests that earlier quasars have progressed into black holes and newer high density areas have not yet ignited into violent quasars.

One new theory about mass extinctions in our planets history is possibly to due to collisions with dark matter within our galaxy. The include WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles, nuclear) and MACHOs (massive astronomical charged halo objects).

The next meeting will be held on March 6 at the home of Warren Scott at 127 McKee Rd.

Ric Surette

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Updated 17-August-1999