AAC Alachua Astronomy Club, Inc. Astronomical League
Astronomical League
Member International
Dark-Sky Association
Monthly Meetings 2002
29°39' N,  82°21' W
Altitude: 50 Meters (more or less)
  Updated Nov. 13, 2002
(Click logo for home page) Founded: September 1987    
UF Ast

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Monthly Club Meetings (Second Tuesday of Month at 7:30 p.m.)


Doyle Conner Building
1911 S.W. 34th Street (at S.W. 20th Avenue)
Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida USA

Click on date to see details

DATE (2002)     GUEST SPEAKER               TITLE OR TOPIC

January* 8 Bill Carter Latitude February 12 Eric McKenzie The Basics of Open Clusters March 12 Charles Broward The Messier Marathon April 09 Jack J. Fox Earth, Moon, Mars and Beyond! May 14 Dr. Steve Thomas Fun with Astrohistory: The People of Parallax June 11 Dr. Francisco Reyes Learning About the Plasma Processes in the Jovian Magnetosphere From the Decametric Radio Emission July 9 Dr. Hank Monkhorst The Future of Fusion Power: Do Not Look at the Stars Aug 13 Ron Irby Astrophotography: The Lessons I've Learned September 10 Ken Brandt The Latest From Mars: 2001 Odyssey and More October 8 Don Loftus & Alicia Kemper Man on the Moon November* 12 Dr. Holger Stoeck Solar Neutrino Observatories: A "New" Kind of Telescopes for Looking at the Sky December 14 None (Holiday Party) Help Celebrate Our 15th Anniversary (date tentative) *The January and meetings will be held in the New Physics Building (Rm. 2205) on the UF campus rather than at the Doyle Conner Building.

Details of 2002 Meetings

Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EST

Speaker: Bill Carter, Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Florida


Title: Latitude

Location: New Physics Building, Rm. 2205 on the UF campus (click for locator maps)

Note Change in Location Note: This meeting is not being held our usual meeting location (Doyle Conner Building) due to a scheduling conflict but in the New Physics Building on the UF campus.

Preview: The remarkable progress made in astronomy after the introduction of the telescope during the 17th century suddenly stalled in the 19th century. Attempts to determine the size of the solar system and distances to the nearest neighboring stars met with failure, and Europe's most renowned astronomers worked feverishly to find the source of the inexplicable scatter in their best observations. Imagine their reactions when an unknown American amateur astronomer announced that he had discovered the source of the problem. Seth Carlo Chandler, Jr., had not even attended University. An actuary, who designed his own instrument and paid less than seven hundred dollars to have it built, succeeded where the Astronomers Royal had failed. To make the whole affair more difficult for the Europeans another American astronomer, Simon Newcomb, quickly reconciled the long standing but flawed theory with Chandler's remarkable observational findings. Chandler and Newcomb proved that American scientists could compete with their European colleagues, heralding the emergence of American science from European dominance.

Dr. Carter and his daughter, Merri Sue Carter, an astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory have written a new book titled Latitude about the discovery of variation of latitude (polar motion) by Seth Carlo Chandler Jr. and its explanation by Simon Newcomb. This was perhaps the first time that American astronomers out did their European colleagues and is a very significant historical happening than most Americans, even amateur astronomers are not aware of.

About the Speaker: Bill Carter is an Adjunct Professor in the Civil Engineering Department, University of Florida, in Gainesville. As a geodetic officer in the US Air Force, and as a research geodesist for twenty years at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bill worked on just about all facets of geodetic astronomy—from the determination of astronomic latitude using the Talcott method, to detecting changes in the orientation of Earth using satellite and lunar laser ranging, as well as Very Long Baseline Interferometry.

Dr. Carter's daughter, Dr. Merri Sue Carter is an astronomer at the US Naval Observatory, where she has worked in the National Earth Orientation Service, studying polar motion and variations in the rate of rotation of Earth for more than ten years. Merri Sue also has a continuing interest in the role of women scientists in the history of the Naval Observatory and other scientific agencies, particularly during the early part of the twentieth century. If you should be in Washington and decide to take a tour of the Naval Observatory you may meet Merri Sue, she enjoys hosting evening tours and sharing her knowledge of the many historical and modern instruments with visitors.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EST

Speaker: Eric McKenzie, 3rd year graduate student, Dept. of Astronomy, Univ. of Florida (eric@astro.ufl.edu)

Title: The Basics of Open Clusters

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: This presentation will be an overview of open star clusters, describing how these pretty collections of stars originate and what their possible fates may be. The methods astronomers use to determine their ages and distances will also be covered, and we'll take a look at their distribution in space.

About the Speaker: Eric followed an unusual educational path, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1995 and a Master of Science degree in Astronomy last fall from the Department of Astronomy at UF. He is now working toward his Ph.D. (in astronomy) and is the current coordinator for the University of Florida's "Public Night" astronomy program on Friday evenings.

Note: For a brief introduction to these "jewels of the night," see the Å to ZZ column in the 2000 March issue of the club's newsletter FirstLight. (For a pdf reprint of this article, click here.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EST

Speaker: Charles Broward

Title: The Messier Marathon

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: Charles Messier, who he was, what he did, and why we remember him. And, a bit of what to expect when you look at a Messier object, and a quick description of what a Messier Marathon is about.

The talk will carry over to the club's star party, where we will try and find the M objects that are up at that time of night.

About the Speaker: Charles (Chuck) Broward is our Astronomical League Correspondent (ALCOR), and avid amateur observer and telescope maker. He is also our Astronomical League club coordinator.

Tuesday, April 9, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EDT (Same program originally scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001)

Speaker: Jack J. Fox, Chief, Spaceport Technology Projects Office

E-Mail: jack.fox-1@ksc.nasa.gov

Title: Earth, Moon, Mars and Beyond!

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: A presentation of NASA's past, present and future missions. Includes discussions of Russian MIR space station, International Space Station, Space Shuttle replacement, Hubble Space Telescope, Mars Pathfinder, other current and future interplanetary missions.

About the Speaker: Jack Fox is Manager of Spaceport Technology Projects for Spaceport Engineering and Technology at the Kennedy Space Center. He is responsible for the development of Spaceport technologies involving Range and Weather, Command and Control, Integrated Vehicle Health Management, Exploration Ground Systems, Launch Site Support Systems and Flight Experiments for possible application on the Space Shuttle, future launch vehicles and spacecraft.

Jack received a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1983 in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the Ohio State University. He also received a Master of Science Degree in 1995 in Engineering Management from the University of Central Florida.

Jack at Pad #1 (click to enlarge)
See Jack at Pad 1
Kennedy Spc. Ctr.
Jack began his career with NASA in 1983 as a system engineer in the Space Shuttle Auxiliary Power Unit and Hydraulics (APU/HYD) Section where he performed subsystem test and checkout on Space Shuttle Orbiters and Solid Rocket Boosters. He received an Astronaut Office "Silver Snoopy" award in 1987 for contributions to returning the Shuttle Program to flight status in the post-Challenger era. From 1990 to 1994, Jack served as NASA project engineer on the Orbiters Atlantis and Discovery where he was responsible for assisting in the overall technical integration of test and checkout of all Space Shuttle Orbiter subsystems. Following this, Jack served as payload project engineer for several missions including STS-66 ATLAS/CRISTA SPAS, STS-70 TDRS, STS-71 Spacelab-Mir and STS-72 Japanese Spaceflier Unit (SFU) retrieval. In this position he was responsible for the overall technical integration of payload subsystem test and checkout. He then served as Space Shuttle APU/HYD lead engineer in 1995 followed by a year as lead NASA project engineer for the Orbiter Columbia in 1996 before taking on project management responsibilities. Jack was awarded a NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1999 for Space Shuttle IVHM development.

Jack is a member of the NASA Speakers Bureau through the Public Affairs Office and has made presentations to a variety of civic groups and local schools. He has also conducted recruiting trips to several universities in search of prospective new employees. Jack is actively involved with the surrounding communities making presentation to civic groups and local schools. He enjoys playing golf, spectator sports, collecting baseball cards and antique radios, and is a youth basketball coach. He is also a member of the Florida Chapter of the National Space Club. Jack resides in Orlando, Florida with his wife their two daughters.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EDT

Speaker: Steve Thomas

E-Mail: stephen_thomas@space.com

Title: Fun with Astrohistory: The People of Parallax

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: Where are we? Well, sometime around 600 B.C. Thales of Miletus, an olive oil merchant, decided we (Earth) occupied the center of the universe. It seemed to make sense. Everything, even the Sun, seemed to revolve around the Earth, and so the Earth-centered (geocentric) model of the universe began to take shape. With supporters like Aristotle, Hipparchus, and Ptolemy this quickly became the only accepted model of the Universe, and remained almost unchallenged for eons. Almost, but not completely. Very quietly, Aristarchus of Samos proposed a Sun-centered (heliocentric) alternative. He won-over few converts, although Archimedes ("Eureka!") eventually adopted the heliocentric model shortly before his death. There simply wasn't any evidence to support the heliocentric view. If the Earth did orbit around the Sun, then why didn't the stars change position as the Earth traced its path around the Sun? This was the parallax problem: when viewing stationary distant stars from a moving Earth the stars should appear to move according to the observer on Earth. According to the most accurate measurements of the day, the stars did not show any evidence of parallax. This will be a talk about stellar parallax, and the quest to measure it. I'm going to concentrate on the people and their many ingenious schemes.

About the Speaker: Steve Thomas is the star party coordinator for AAC and has been a club member for almost two years. While he enjoys reading about the history of astronomy, he is not a historian. He's not even an astronomer.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EDT

Speaker: Dr. Francisco Reyes, Associate Scientist & Director of UF Radio Observatory, Department of Astronomy, University of Florida

E-Mail: reyes@astro.ufl.edu

Title: Learning About the Plasma Processes in the Jovian Magnetosphere From the Decametric Radio Emission

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: The decametric radio emission is believed to be generated by the electron cyclotron maser mechanism at rather high Jovian latitudes and at distances close to the planet. The emission controlled by the satellite Io originates above the foot of an active Io flux tube at a distance at which the emitted frequency is slightly higher than the local electron cyclotron frequency. Studies of the decametric emission have provided and continue providing information for the determination of the thickness and opening angle of the cone of emission and the location and extension of the sources of emission.

Studies of S-bursts are revealing details of the emission process. Studies of the frequency drift rates of S-bursts at different frequencies have revealed that electrons accelerated by the electro dynamical interaction of Io and the magnetic field are reflected in the magnetic field before they reach the Jovian ionosphere, making possible to estimate their velocity and therefore their energy. Studies of the microstructure of S-bursts are revealing details on how the cyclotron maser mechanism seems to operate. Measurement and modeling of the modulation lanes present in the dynamic spectra are providing a nice tool for the determination of the location of the Io and Non Io related sources.

I will make a brief review of the latest results from the Galileo spacecraft and comment on the recent detection of a periodic pulsating source of X-ray emission by the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

About the Speaker: Dr. Francisco Reyes is Associate Scientist and Director of the UF Radio Observatory. He specializes on low frequency radio and planetary radio astronomy, low frequency studies of pulsars, radio astronomical instrumentation, and computer controlled astronomical instrumentation.

Tuesday, July 9, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EDT

Speaker: Dr. Hendrik J. Monkhorst, Professor of Physics, Dept. of Physics, University of Florida

E-Mail: henk@ufl.edu

Title: The Future of Fusion Power: Do Not Look at the Stars

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: About seventy years ago, nuclear fusion was recognized as the energy source of the stars. Our Sun "burns" hydrogen into deuterium, and deuterium into helium. Heavier elements are mostly synthesized in super novae. Fusion produces about a million times more energy than burning fossil fuels.

Ever since this discovery scientists have tried to achieve fusion for power production. Quite literally, they have attempted to re-create the conditions at the center of stars: high temperature and density, and with hydrogen isotopes.

Stars create these conditions simply by their size: gravitational sef-attraction leads to compression, thus also heating at their cores. This perfectly spherical self-confinement gives a stable, steady fusion reactor for billions of years.

This confinement can not be used on Earth. Two options have been pursued instead: bombardment of tiny deuterium pellets with intense, short-pulse laser beams, and pressuring high-temperature plasmas with magnetic fields. These options operate in very different density, temperature, density and confinement time regimes. However, they have a crucial feature in common: externally applied rather than self-confinement. It causes a myriad of instabilities that have turned out to be very difficult to control or avoid. The promise of fusion power with these approaches is very far into the future.

We have taken a different tack. Injecting intense, energetic ion beams into a cylindrical chamber with a magnetic field creates a rotating plasma. The rotation speed, thus electric current will be high, giving rise to a strong self-magnetic-field. It causes self-confinement and stability, and can give high density and long confinement times. Now we can use fusion reactions such as protons+boron nuclei that do not produce energetic neutrons. We call it the Colliding Beam Fusion Reactor. I will explain how it will work. The story is a far cry from star power.

About the Speaker: Dr. Hendrik J. Monkhorst got his Ph.D. degree from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. In 1968 he came to the University of Utah, and began work on the behavior of electrons in solids. In 1979 Dr. Monkhorst came to the University of Florida. His research interest shifted to the electrons in molecules. Among others, he worked on the theory for experiments to determine the mass of neutrinos, a candidate for dark matter in the Universe. Dr. Monkhorst also worked on a route to controlled fusion called muon catalyzed fusion. It uses short-lived muon particles inside cold, liquid hydrogen isotopes. This was the real cold fusion. He found that you can not get practical fusion power with it. But it got him hooked to the quest for fusion power. Since 1994 Dr. Monkhorst has worked a lot on colliding beam fusion, and it looks very promising.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EDT

Speaker: Ron Irby

E-Mail: rmirby2@yahoo.com

Title: Astrophotography: The Lessons I've Learned

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: The subject of the talk will be methods available to the amateur astrophotography, from its simplest forms to the very complex.

About the Speaker: Ron Irby is an active member of the AAC and an expert and avid (astro)photographer. His collection of astro-gadgets includes CCDs and astrocameras. When he is not capturing photons from the sky, he is capturing them from some nature or sport event!

Tuesday, September 10, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EDT

Speaker: Ken Brandt, AAC School Liaison Officer

E-Mail: schools@floridastars.org

Title: The Latest From Mars: 2001 Odyssey and More

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: This talk will include the instruments and their functions, JPL's future plans for Mars exploration, and some of the more fascinating Themis images. There will also be a Mars trivia contest, with prizes for successful contestants. Everyone will leave the meeting with at least one commemorative souvenir of the presentation.

About the Speaker: Ken Brandt is the School Liaison Officer of the Alachua Astronomy Club, Inc. His interests run from teaching up to planets and stars.

Tuesday, October 8, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EDT

Speaker: Don Loftus and Alicia Kemper

E-Mail: dloftus@coe.ufl.edu and awkemper@aol.com

Title: Man on the Moon

Location: Doyle Conner Building, 1911 S.W. 34 Street, Gainesville, FL

Preview: Don and Alicia will cover lunar morphology as it relates to the Moon mission, events leading up to Apollo and the lunar missions themselves.

The object of the presentation is to put you on the Moon ... well, at least for an hour anyway. This PowerPoint presentation will include many NASA stills, movie clips, charts and graphics. You will learn to locate the regional landing sites for important missions through your binoculars and telescopes.

About the Speakers: Don Loftus is an avid observer and long time member of the AAC. Alicia Kemper is an eager popularizer of astronomy and our former School Liaison for the AAC.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002, 7:30 p.m. EST

Speaker: Dr. Holger Stoeck

E-Mail: holger@phys.ufl.edu

Title: Solar Neutrino Observatories: A "New" Kind of Telescopes for Looking at the Sky

Location: New Physics Building, Rm. 2205 on the UF campus (click for locator maps)

Note Change in Location Note: This meeting is not being held our usual meeting location (Doyle Conner Building) due to a scheduling conflict but in the New Physics Building on the UF campus.

Preview: When most people look into the sky with a telescope, they are hunting for planets, stars, and other visible objects. When a particle physicist looks into the sky with his "telescope" it's to hunt for an elusive particle called a neutrino.

Why are neutrinos the new hot particle?

Cosmologists are interested in neutrinos since they might have an important role in the evolution of the universe. Particle physicists are interested in neutrinos because they may hold a key to unlock the mystery of dark matter.

Astronomers are interested in neutrinos, partly because neutrinos are an important ingredient in the way energy is produced and removed from the sun and partly because in the most violent explosions known as supernovae, where neutrinos carry off the largest share of the exploding star's energy.

To hunt neutrinos a new kind of "telescope" is needed. The talk will give an introduction to the currently used Solar Neutrino Observatories and their detection technique. Also some ground shaking results will be presented.

About the Speaker: Dr. Stoeck is an AAC member and a researcher at the Physics Department at the University of Florida. He specializes in experimental high energy physics with particular emphasis in the search for new meson resonances and exotic matter. His web page is: http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~holger

Saturday, December 14, 2002, 6:00 p.m. EST (dinner served at 6:30 p.m.)

Speaker: None but lots of fun!

Title: "Holiday Party" and Celebration of AAC's 15th Birthday!

Location: Home of Mark Barnett, 3111 NW 18 Place, Gainesville, Florida, (352) 373-2244

Maps : 640x512 [ColB/W],  800x640 [ColorB/W],  1024x768 [ColorB/W]

Preview: AAC will hold its annual December holiday party — a potluck dinner. (There will be no regular Tuesday meeting in December.) Club will buy drinks and paper products. (There will be a food sign up sheet at our October and November meetings — see below.)

Food to Bring If you miss signing up at the October or November meetings, please respond to Mark Barnett at treasurer@floridastars.org and indicate what food dish you will bring:

Last year we celebrated our 14th anniversary. This year we celebrate our club's 15th anniversary. Good food, games, our traditional astro slide quiz, lots of prizes, sci fi space music, and an astro video!

Begins approximately at sunset. Lasts till whenever.

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