The Meteor

The Newsletter of the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt

  Aug. 2012

  1. The Meteor is the official publication of the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt, Greenbelt, MD. Articles & other contributions are welcome. 
  2. Membership in the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt is open to anyone interested in astronomy. The Astronomical Society of Greenbelt is a not-for-profit community-based organization with the goal of encouraging public interest in science & education in general, astronomy in particular. More detailed information on our club's activities & organization can be found elsewhere at our website.
  3. The editor of this newsletter, Craig Levin, can be contacted at clevin AT Unless specified otherwise, all items in this newsletter were written by the editor.

Editor's Notes

Summer’s end is near. In the middle of this month, the schools will reopen again, & the Owens with them. We are also looking at the possibility of another club of amateur astronomers in our county-Elizabeth’s new principal at Forest Heights would like to start one in this school year.

I hope that all of you had an interesting summer! Even though Elizabeth & I are still hampered by the accident she had in April, when she wrenched her back, we were still able to do some astro-tourism. When we visited her parents in Ohio shortly after Independence Day, the entire family went the town of Newark near their home, to see the town’s Great Circle, one of the Hopewell culture’s greatest architectural achievements. The mounds at Newark mark the positions of Moonrises & Moonsets throughout the year, and are about 2000 years old. The observations, planning & leadership that must have gone into the mounds at Newark rank with the similar work that went into the great astronomical monuments of the Old World. I am glad that the state of Ohio has tried to save what it can of these great earthworks.

Elected officers for 2011-2012



Email Address


Martha Gay AT


Ray Stevens

stvns.jacht AT


Cleton Henry

Cleton.Henry AT


Sue Bassett

wb3enm AT

Astronomical Events Around Greenbelt in Aug 2012



















Star Party at Northway Field

9 PM















Star Party at Northway Field

8:45 PM


Sidewalk Astronomy at

Roosevelt Center

7 PM





General Meeting at the GCC

7:30 PM


For other astronomical events in the DC area, see: Astronomy in DC

Star Party & Business Meeting Reports

July 14: Star Party: Overcast.

July 15: Officers’ Meeting: Very brief. We will have a Labor Day table. The table’s theme will be Our Star: The Sun

Treasurer’s Report:


$100 from Mark Todd, which will go into our general fund

$50 from B. Alexander, which will go into our observatory fund


$153.50 movie rental (The Dish)

$94 PO box rental

$205 AL membership  

$50 IDA membership

$25 Labor Day table


$9583 observatory fund. Note: We will order an SCT cooler to cool down the telescope for viewing, price undetermined

$2240 general account

ALCor acknowledged receipt of the list of members from the treasurer & forwarded a copy to the AL’s keeper of the roster.

July 16: Reel & Meal Screening of The City Dark: The screening went very well, preceded by a delicious meal provided by the proprietors of the New Deal Cafe. Our panel after the film (David Dunham, Wayne Warren, & the Levins, moderated by Martha Gay) fielded questions from the audience for about half an hour.

July 25: Joint outreach event with GAC at the GSFC Vistors’ Center: The event, promoting the JWST, was for middle school students & their families. One of the projects for the students & their families was the construction of their own simple refractors, & it was good to see so mnay faces looking up. George, Jeff, & other familiar faces joined Elizabeth & I on the grounds at about a quarter to 8, while the Sun was still up. One of our number even set up his Newtonian for solar projection, & we caught a trio of large Sunspots before Sundown. As twilight advanced, the students & their families were able to see the Moon, Saturn, & Mars in about that order, & by the time we packed up at about 10, some telescopes were being trained on fixed stars like Vega & Mizar. For more details, please see George’s contribution to this month’s issue!

July 26: General Meeting: Elizabeth announced that her new principal wants to found an astronomy club. The general feel was that the ASG would be happy to support another PG county astronomy club. Also, Craig mentioned that the GSFC visitors’ center wants to do monthly outreach nights.

Then, the fun-Elizabeth did a dry run of the “foldable solar system”, then a Play-dough solar system activity which she’ll try on the kids, & talked about a “honeymoon tour” of the solar system, in which kids design a brochure of the vacation must-sees of the solar system (for instance, Saturn’s rings, Mimas, the “Death Star” moon, &c.)

July 28: Star Party (from Doug): We had a sucker hole show up just as we were opening.
Ms. Suckow had a wonderful time, will be joining.
We'll take turns bringing her from Metro for meetings and star parties.
A few other guys and a family came and looked at
   the Gibbous Moon

JWST Family Science Night Star Party at NASA/GSFC Visitor's Center Successful

by George Gliba

Thanks to all who attended the NASA/GSFC Visitor's Center JWST Family Science Night Star Party on the evening of July 25th. According to Catherine Kruchten, an informal educator for Paragon TEC, there were 13 families, 40 total participants (21 adults, 19 students). The Star Party attracted an additional 6 participants who came just for the observing, plus the writer and photographer from the Washington Post throughout the evening. There were also 8 telescope operators representing the Goddard Astronomy Club (GAC), and its sister organization the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt (ASG), who brought 9 telescopes

total, and a pair of tripod moiunted binoculars for this event. There was Joe Novotka, Armen Caroglanian, Steve Bilinow, Jeff Guerber, Liz Zubritsky, and myself from the GAC; and Craig & Elizabeth Levin, and Russ Waugh from the ASG present. Forgive me if I missed anyone, but let me know.

It was a perfect night for a star party, being slightly cool with few bugs, and a First Quarter Moon, and the planets Mars and Saturn were up. We were also able to see a weather balloon in the twilight sky with the telescopes just before dark. A few deep sky objects were also seen, as well as the double stars Albireo and Mizar. Mars showed a small disk with little detail, but Saturn and its moon Titan were great in Armen's 6-inch Celestron SCT GoTo. The crowd was enthusiastic, asking many questions, and I passed a fresh NWA XXX unclassified stony meteorite around to a few interested folks. It was a great star party, and Catherine Kruchten wrote us just after this event via email: "Thank you all so much for coming out tonight and doing such a wonderful job with Family Science Night. I cannot thank you all enough for such a fantastic program!"