The Celestial Observer – October, 2012

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From the President

A public health situation has put a hold on some of our club’s activities.  Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile Virus have been reported  in our area, and after seeking the advice of my colleagues who specialize in infectious diseases, the board has made the decision to postpone star parties until after the frost.

However, all is not lost.  Because of the continuing efforts of dedicated club members, our observatories at Salem State College and Merrimack College are fully operational.  Dennis had seven guests at Salem State on Monday, September 10th, and on Wednesday, September 12, I stopped by Merrimack on the way home from work and found that Fred had a similar number who saw Mars, Saturn, and some deep sky objects.

Last weekend, Jupiter was near the moon and I did some sidewalk astronomy in my apartment complex.

We had our monthly business meeting last Friday.  I hope we get a better turnout next month.

With summer turning to fall, things should improve, with fewer mosquitoes and earlier darkness.  In the meantime, I encourage you to visit our observatories and also maybe do some armchair astronomy.

If you have questions or comments email me: president at

Clear skies,
Bryan Stone,

Minutes of the NSAAC Business Meeting, September 7th, 2012

President Stone called the September Business Meeting of the NSAAC to order at 8:11 PM.  There were 3 members present plus 5 Board members.   There was not a quorum.  Meeting was information only.

Secretary:  No report

Treasurer: Kevin gave a brief treasurer’s report.

Membership: Kevin Ackert announced that we have 104 paid members in good standing of which 17 are family and 2 are honorary. Kevin has sent out the notice to members who did not renew that they will be removed from the listserver privileges.

Early Meeting Announcements: Open forum on the agenda after New Business

Committee Reports:

Merrimack College Observatory

Merrimack College: Merrimack is in trouble as Jeff Hayes, one of the volunteers at Merrimack, is resigning from the staff and therefore they need a replacement for operating the telescope. Anyone is interested in helping out at the observatory Kevin Ackert. Bill Drown was opened the last Wednesday of August with about 30 visitors.

Salem State: Salem is now open. Dome is now fixed and the telescope is working fine. Salem state college observatory will be officially opened on Monday September 10th.

News, Correspondence, and Upcoming Activities:

Star Party Committee: Star parties for the months of September and October have been cancelled.

Telescope Clinic: No activity.

Old business: Secretary Hobbs has discussed the tree in Veasey with the liaison Dorna Caskie and she indicated that they would prefer to remove the tree to a different location and if that cannot be done then they would consider cutting it down.  She indicated that they were very pleased with the clubs effort at the work day and said that that fulfills the club obligation for the year; but wondered if on a nice fall day if we might help finish staining the building.  I told her that some members might participate.  No date was mentioned

She did indicate that the management was happy with the one day work and the rent of $100 for the year.

The club still would like to find other volunteers to do star party presentations.  If anyone is interested please contact John Hobbs.

RASC 2013 Handbook

New Business: Dennis Gudzevich talked about the calendars and the RASC handbooks.  If you haven’t ordered yet please contact Dennis via the listserver if interested in purchasing calendars or a handbook.  Mentioned café express as an option for purchasing club hats, shirts, etc.  They are expensive but no minimum orders.  The GAAC astronomy club is using this service

Ted Blank has been asked to give a talk about giving star party talks at the September business meeting.

A virtual Board Meeting will be Monday September 17.

Meeting adjourned at 8:38 PM

Respectfully submitted,
John Hobbs, Secretary NSAAC 


Star Party News

Star party season is starting up as school season begins.  Unfortunately because of the increased threat of Triple E and West Nile Virus in the area, the Board of Directors have decide to cancel all star parties until the first hard frost or the end of October.  This includes viewing at Veasey, but members are free to choose to do so if they wish; no formal club events.

Fred Sammartino did successfully host a Star Party at the Wenham Public Library for about 25 adults and children.  Scopes were provided by Bill Drown, John Gall, Leor Zolman , and John Hobbs.

For a list of upcoming star parties, see this month’s minutes.

The Star Party Committee would like to thank all the members who have supported our star party effort and look forward to your continued participation in the coming months.

John Hobbs,
Star Party Coordinator


Astronomy Q&A

Member Question: I have an 8 inch f/6 Dob and am ready for better eyepieces.  What should I buy?

Answer (Bryan Stone): This is a great question since the answer would apply to 6 inch f/8 and 10 inch f/5 Dobs as well.  I have an XT8 and I have also used just about every type and focal length of eyepiece in my scope at one time or another.

The 25mm sirius plossl that comes with the scope is a decent quality eyepiece with comfy eye relief and fine for outreach. Use it for a low power/finder eyepiece for now and get a better one after you take care of medium and high power.

When I got better eyepieces, the first priority was to get a medium power eyepiece of premium quality that had a 1.8-2.2mm exit pupil that could also be barlowed for a high power option. I got the TV 11mm Nagler T6 and this eyepiece spends a lot of time in the focuser natively at 109x with a pristine three quarter degree field and barlowed for about 200x. Granted Naglers are expensive but at that time there was no ES option. The 11mm ES N2 82 is VERY nice but not quite as nice as the Nagler. Few could tell the difference most nights.

Explorer Scientific 11mm Eyepiece

So I suggest to you a minimalist approach of the 11mm ES and a good 2x Barlow. There is no gap between the low power eyepiece and the 11mm 82 because an 11mm eyepiece with an 82 degree field shows the same amount of sky as an 18mm plossl.

I have used many low power finder eyepieces in the XT8 and have come to the conclusion that if you have really dark skies and are very young, the gold standard is the 35mm Panoptic, and if not, the 27mm Panoptic. These are big bucks of course.

Less expensive alternatives would be compromises in some way, but look for a used Meade 28mm 68 degree which is pretty similar optically to the ES 28mm 68.

Less expensive than that but still nice would be the 2 inch Sterling plossls, the 30 or the 40mm.

You only need one 2-inch eyepiece with a 1200mm focal length scope and its purpose is to show more sky than can be seen with the widest 1.25 inch options which would be a 32mm Plossl or a 30-35mm Ultrascopic. If you want to stay with 1.25 inches these would be the way to go btw.

My 2 incher is a 30mm GSO SV which has its faults, but I can usually borrow something better from a club member because I’m the president of the club.

Any questions?

Bryan Stone
President, NSAAC
Affectionately know as “Al Nagler’s Nephew”

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