The Meteor

The Newsletter of the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt

  Oct. 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

There’s a nip in the air, & the Scorpion and the teapot (OK, the Archer) are disappearing to the West. Our meeting site is the Owens. No doubt about it, autumn is here, & with it, our annual elections. As an officer, you have the chance to help the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt to go from good to great, as the saying goes. Our society has a lot going for it-a great observatory, an understanding community, friendly neighbor societies like the NCA, & our friendship with the Owens Science Center, which has the largest planetarium dome in the state. Let’s see how we can take advantage of these resources.

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 Oct. 2012














Star Party @Northway






Lecture at GSFC

outreach opportunity-

see below



Planetarium Show











Star Party @Northway



Sidewalk Astronomy

@Roosevelt Center






ASG General Meeting @Owens








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

Star Party & Business Meeting Reports

9/8: Star Party: Clouded out.

9/10: Officers’ Meeting: Attended by Martha, Cleton, Sue, Craig, & Elizabeth.

Our next speaker will be a meteoricist, Mike Hankey.

October-South Sea Skies presentation by Craig, who was unable to present it in May-will contact people at the Owens to arrange dome time. Sue-not November.  

Labor Day was pretty good, though-about 6-7 names of possible new members.

Sue will scan the insurance policy & email the PDFs to the officers. Sue also found a wireless security system-easy to install.

9/20: General Meeting: Report from George:

Mike Hankey talks about Meteors & Meteorites September 20th - by G.W. Gliba

The operations manager of the American Meteor Society (AMS), Mike Hankey, gave an excellent talk on Meteors & Meteorites to members of the ASG and guests.  He talked about how he has rebuilt the AMS website, and how he will continue to make it more usesful to AMS members and researchers. In
particular the enhancement of the fireball Doppler radar reports, and the new meteor observation application tool. There will also be a provision for observers to add their older meteor reports, and as users, they will also be able to add a personal AMS member biography to the website.

He also spoke about collecting meteorites, and gave a brief introduction about the types of meteorites, He talked about his meteorite hunting experiences, and how he recently helped find a wonderful partly crusted 18 gram Sutter's Mill meteorite, that fell on Earth Day (April 22nd) this year, which he showed
off to the attendees. Several other nicely crusted specimens of unclassified NWA XXX meteorites, as well as two examples of recent Falls from Battle Mountain, Nevada, [and] Breja, Mauritania, were also on display on a table in the H.B. Owens Planetarium, where the talk took place. The talk was followed by a
lengthy bull session, and Mike then gave everyone who attended the meeting, a free NWA 869 meteorite.

9/22: Star Party: Nothing but rapidly opening & closing sucker holes. Martha, Kevin, Craig & Elizabeth Levin, & Elizabeth Suckow were all at the observatory last night, but it was “Guess which piece of a constellation that is” more than anything else.

An Opportunity for Outreach

We have been invited to bring our telescopes to the GSFC visitors’ center to provide a star party after a lecture by Dr. Jim Garvin, GSFC’s chief scientist, A New Mars Rising: What we have learned about Mars since 2000 and the quest for signs of past life!“. The lecture starts at seven, & we are welcome to attend. We’ve been asked to start setting up at about eight, so that we’ll be ready when Dr. Garvin’s lecture ends at half-past eight. Further details, including a link to register (tickets are free), can be found at: 

Farewell to Dr. Jaylee Mead & Satellites, Stars and Meteors in West Virginia

By G.W. Gliba

We have lost another of the great pioneers of the Space Age, and a dear friend, Jaylee Mead. She was one of the first women scientists hired by NASA back when Goddard Space Flight Center opened in 1959. She was also one of the founding members of the Goddard Astronomy Club, when it formed in 1961. I was lucky to have a nice talk with her about this when she gave her last talk at Goddard last year. She told me in her very enthusiastic voice that was the trademark of her great character, that back in the early days of Goddard: "Astronomy was considered a big deal, even though there was not much official astronomy going on as yet at NASA." The GAC was a reflection of this. I was able to also thank her for the grant for the City of Greenbelt Observatory at that time. She was a patron of the performing arts, and a champion to the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt (ASG), giving us a matching grant with husband Gil for the City of Greenbelt Observatory, which was dedicated in 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy. Montgomery College had donated an observatory dome and 14-inch SCT telescope to the ASG in March, 2001. With the help of the City of Greenbelt, and this much needed grant from the Mead Family Foundation, the City of Greenbelt Observatory has become a reality. The ASG was spawned by members of the GAC in 1992, which Jaylee was a founding member of. So, it is probably fair to say that in more ways than one she has helped foster growth in amateur astronomy in the Greenbelt area in a big way. She was a giant among our citizens, and a lover of the performing arts, music, science, and Nature.

Lynne and I were able to have a nice, partly cloudy night at our cabin in West Virginia on September 15/16. Early in the evening when it was clear, we got some good views of the Milky Way in our lounge chairs. We both saw the Double Cluster with the 3.15-inch F/12.5 Zhumell refractor. Later, I got a good look at Jupiter with that scope, which showed a nice image of Jupiter, with two equatorial belts clearly visible. While laying in my lounge chair and sweeping with 12x63 binoculars along the Milky Way and other parts of the Sky, I saw the Double Cluster again, Herschel's Garnet Star, the Cygnus Loop, M27, M71, the Coat Hanger, numerous star clouds, and dark Barnard nebulae.

I saw several nice satellites early in the evening, and a few nice sporadic meteors. My thoughts were about Jaylee, and I had planned on thinking about her, when I saw my first first-magnitude meteor, but instead I saw a nice slow moving satellite in a high orbit, glinting off our yellow star still setting high up, in Cygnus when it was all clear, and I thought that this was a more appropriate object to personally dedicate to the memory of Jaylee. The apparition of that high glinting satellite didn't last long, but it was as bright as the brightest star in that part of the heavens briefly. Really nice, but gone too soon, bound to Earth - but close to Space, like the life of Dr. Jaylee Mead. Farewell, I thought.

I was able to get an hour of formal meteor observing between sucker holes. From 7 to 8 UT, I was able to see 15 meteors. They were mostly sporadic meteors, but the nicest meteor was a nice 0 magnitide early Orionid seen at 7:20 UT. Two Southern Taurids, a September Perseid, and one September Lyncid were also seen, along with 10 sporadics. The most beautiful meteor was a 2nd magnitude blue-green colored sporadic meteor with a 3 second train seen at 7:23 UT. There were no owls or other critters heard, except for the numerous field crickets and tree frogs bringing music to the late summer night at Mountain Meadows, West Virginia.