Location: Chemistry/Physics Building, MUN
Time: 8:00 pm
Michael presided over the meeting, although Garry Dymond did finally have the chance to attend at the last minute. The meeting will be "Show and Tell", with members being kept to 15 minutes or less. Seven speakers volunteered and were written in order on the board.
Gary Case announced that next Wednesday there will be a practical astronomy night on "Imaging" in our normal meeting room. The date is May 23rd.
John was our first speaker, and held forth on global warming. His talk was based on the ideas of Dr. Lindzen which appeared in the 21 April 2007 edition of the National Post. One of his major questions concerns the actual magnitude of global warming, given that 70% of the earth is ocean, with very few weather stations. How does one arrive at a meaningful "number" given the wide variety of terrains and atmospheric conditions, and how much meaning are we to assign to a rise in such an average? Finally, there is a bit of a bandwagon effect in the choice to pursue research that is more likely to receive funding.
Chris noted that although he is not a global warming skeptic, Googling "CO2 greatest scandal" is interesting (referring to ice core sources).
The Secretary also noted that New Scientist has an article on the top 25 global warming myths.
All agreed this can get highly contentious and is only peripherally related to astronomy.
Randy showed us a solar projector he bought from from space.com for $50. It has a small scope, a mirror and lens combination, and a screen to display the sun. We were shown some pictures of sunspots taken with the projector.
Other pictures Randy showed were of the moon by a fellow from the business school. In reading material, Sky and Telescope has an article on making a barn door tracker, and Chapters has copies of "Comet Sweeper" by Claire Brock, concerning Caroline Herschel's life.
Tim showed us a $300 Olympus SP310 he got from Ebay for $80. Tim adapted the telephoto threads to allow an eyepiece to be attached. The camera has a manual focus and can do up to 8 minute exposures. Tim created an adapter to hold the shutter down and removed the filter inside the camera to allow more IR light. In addition, he bought an eyepiece IR filter for occasional, more naturalistic pictures. Tim showed us an impressive picture of the Lagoon nebula, stacked from 4x80 second exposures.
Ben showed us a copy of "Alien Life" from the Time-Life series, "Voyage to the Universe".
Ben also reviewed "Infinite Worlds. The Future of Earth." He showed us several concepts of what Titan and Jupiter may look like in the far future.
Robert covered his usual monthly topics, including all the planets, meteor showers, comets, the deep sky, and Vesta.
Robert also showed us some pictures of the Eskimo Nebula, M13, M42, M63, and NGC 4565 (2 minute exposure).
Our province's school system has three science fairs in the Eastern, Central, and Western regions. Fred has been involved in the Eastern Fair for a number of years. The latest Eastern Fair happened in March and we had our Centre RASC Award up for grabs, as in many previous years. There were 200-300 participants and 60 judges. Fred showed some pictures of the fair, including some of our members who were judges. This year's award went to a Junior High project on Coronal Mass Ejections. Fred showed us some pictures of the project and outlined what the student set out to achieve.
There is a little known element of our Society that Fred then set out to illuminate. Fred detailed how the RASC has managed to infiltrate "observers" into all levels of society. Photographic evidence was provided. In a final bit of mystery, Garry Dymond was seen to be worshipping strange cloud formations. At the conclusion of his talk, Fred promptly vanished in a puff of illogic.
Chris showed us his website for a work in progress - the spectroheliograph. We were shown how an arbitrary wavelength of the sun's light can be imaged.
For the Poncet mount, Chris brought in his construction. Chris explained the idea of a Poncet and showed us the elements in his: the stepping motor, ordinary threaded rod, and a section of ring gear. The teeth for the ring gear were started with a dremel and finished in a jig with a hand drill using an identical threaded rod (case hardened) to cut the threads (as David Caruk has done).
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