Volume XXV Number 2

March / April 1999

Meeting Highlights

March 1999 7:30 P.M. Reading Public Museum

The program will be the February West Virginia weekend.


April 1999 7:30 P.M. Reading Planterium

The Planetarium will show "In Search of New Worlds." This program will present events, findings and discoveries within our solar system and other recently found solar systems. With the incredible pace of discoveries made in the past few years, I think most club members need this refresher course. This is a very timely program for the club members.


In this issue:

1. Events
Club Observing Sessions
National Young Astronomer Award

5. Auction Adventure
Message from: Rome
Mythology of the night sky

Pegasus is a bimonthly publication of the Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society

Editor/Desktop publisher: Bob Capone, Joanne Reigle.

E-Mail submissions may be made to:


Saturday, March 13 - 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Cornwall Terrace Elementary School

A presentation on astronomy will be given inside with solar observing taking place weather permitting. We will need a few telescopes set up for solar observation.

Friday, April 16 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Nolde Forest Education Center

A presentation on astronomy will be given inside with observing taking place at the painted turtle pond, weather permitting. We will need approximately 6 scopes to be available for public viewing.

Friday, April 23 - Rain Date: Saturday, April 24

Berks County Heritage Center - 7:00 PM to?

Public star party under hopefully good viewing conditions. We will need a good turnout of scopes if Mother Nature cooperates with clear skies.

May - Dark Window

Spruce Knob anyone?


Dark Window - March 10th - March 21st

Do you want to chance a Messier Marathon? Let’s decide if we should anger the Gods of Cloud and Rain at the March meeting.

National Young Astronomer Award

Hi, I’m Ryan. M. Hannahoe. I’m going to try out for the NYAA award (National Young Astronomer Award.) in the following areas,

4. Observing: Telescopes and equipment which the candidate normally uses; Description of your observing log - including dates covered by log, number of observations recorded, number of objects logged, described and/or sketched in the log; Messier, NGC and other deep sky objects logged, described, sketched and/or photographed; Variable star observations, meteor counts, occultation timings, comet searches, supernova searches, sunspot counts and other regular observing programs in which you have participated; Observing awards and honors received; Observing programs or projects organized.

5. Astrophotography/CCD Imaging: Equipment used; publications (title, date, object) in which your Astrophotos or CCD images have appeared; Astrophotography/CCD awards and honors received.

7. Telescope Design: Telescopes and astronomy-related equipment designed, built or modified (Describe your role in developing the equipment and the nature and Purpose of the design or modification); Telescopes making awards and Honors. (I drew up some plans already.)

For number four and five, I require the use of CCD Imaging equipment, etc., (if you know anyone willing to help me out with this, please let me know). For number five, I would like to do the Orion-otherwise, known as M42. For number four, I would like to do Jupiter’s moons, if possible.

Thank You

Ryan M Hannahoe

1056 Mahlon Drive

Leesport PA 19533 (610) 926-6638


The alarm clock ran. I reached out and smacked down the button. The l.e.d. display read 5:15 AM. Wait a minute! This is Saturday Oh yeah, today is the VERNON scope Scientific Instument Auction being held in Owego N.Y at the local Treadway Inn. Better make a move. The preview is at 8:00AM, and the auction begins at 10.

I studied the map the night before, and optimistically reckoned the drive time would be three hours. The kids all had plans for the day. Carol, who is always game for an outing, begged off with the excuse she would have to be taxi driver for the younger kids today. This decision had nothing to do with the 5 AM wake up call, I was assured. After taking care of all the usual morning necessities, I was finally ready, and headed off on this one day adventure alone, a little jealous of the fact everyone else was snug and warm AND sleeping.

I stepped out into the darkness and pouring rain, and pulled the door closed behind me. In the split second the latch caught, I realized my keys were still on the dresser. I rang the door bell in the desperate hope that Carol may have gotten up to go to the bathroom. No such luck. I rang the bell many more times. No one ever hears that bell on the second floor! I stepped off the porch into that rain and darkness, and walked along the side of the house. Standing directly under our bedroom window, which was open about three inches, I proceeded to rap on the siding. I call out in in a loud, hoarse whisper - Carol... Carol... No answer. I repeated these actions a few times, trying hard not to disturb the neighbors (I could just imagine them at the window saying" It’s that weird guy again, always roaming around in the dark. What’s he up to now?") Finally, I heard that wonderful sound....

WHAAATT?! Carol was awake! Thankfully, no neighbors lights or police cruisers were encountered. I get my keys and I’m on my way somewhere around 6:15.

I didn’t plan to attend this auction, it was a last minute, spur of the moment thing. I didn’t pre-order the catalog. So it was important to be there in time to inspect the goods.I pressed the accelerator a little harder. About 50 minutes later, I reached the Northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Not much traffic, but a lot of rain up to this point I cheated a little on the 65 MPH speed limit, and picked up Rt.81 North into New York and through Binghamton. The rain had stopped by this time, but was still cloudy. The autumn leaves up here were beautiful, very near their peak.

I finally pulled into the Owego Treadway Inn at about 9:30, found the large room where the auction would be held. Registration and the purchase of the $15 catalog took just a few minutes. I estimated about 200 people were there. Twenty minutes remained to inspect these treasures. The catalog contained 375 lots. Many of the objects were antiques and collectibles,as well as many newer objects.

At a few minutes past 10 AM, the auction began with an introduction by Don V. Yeier, owner of Vernonscope & Co. Gary Hand, a notable trader in all Astonomical hardware, made an impressive auction runner, displaying and demonstrating the equipment.

All sorts of objects were offered up. A beautiful 5" Alvin Clarke refractor on an equatorial mount sold for a mere $7000. A book entitled "A Guide to the Constellations" published in 1935 sold for $10. And that’s how it went. A roller coaster ride of items selling for several thousand dollars, then forty or fifty dollars. Binoculars, newer, older, big and small. Eyepieces, micrometers, books, complete scopes. Drawings, observational logs and correspondence by notable Astronomers. All manner of things Astronomical and Scientific were offered up, and the bidding was brisk. Who would have thought that a collection of catalogs of Astronomical equipment from the 50’s and 60’s would sell for $200? Cameras, Sextants, Surveyors levels, Drawings of Mars by Percival Lowell, everything was here.

This was an amazing collection of of Scientific equipment, antiques and collectibles. The last item up for bid was a full thickness pyrex mirror and matching diagonal. It sold for $450!!! I had recently purchased a Meade 8" SCT, so I had promised Carol I would not return home with additional Astronomical stuff, so I drove to the auction in my compact car. Next year, I will be taking the van!

Note - the auction took place on October 10, 1998. If anyone would care to see the catalog, let me know and I will get it to you. I am planning to go to the next auction, if anyone else is interested.

Dave Cocozza

Message from: Rome

I received the following version of the Y2K bug from Bruce Engstrom, my astronomical pen pal (now that we’re both on-line, I perhaps should say "E-mail pal").

Linda Sensenig

Dear Cassius,

Are you still working on the Y zero K problem? This change from BC to AD is giving us a lot of headaches and we haven’t much time left. I don’t know how people will cope with working the wrong way around. Having been working happily downwards forever, now we have to start thinking upwards. You would think that someone would have thought of it earlier and not left it to us to sort out at the last minute.

I spoke to Caesar the other evening. He was livid that Julius hadn’t done something about it when he was sorting out the calendar. He said he could see why Brutus turned nasty. We called in the consulting astrologers, but they simply said that continuing downwards using minus BC won’t work. As usual, the consultants charged a fortune for doing nothing useful. As for myself, I just can’t see the sand in an hourglass flowing upwards.

We have heard that there are 3 wise guys in the east working on the problem, but unfortunately they won’t arrive till it’s all over. Some say the world will cease to exist at the moment of transition. Anyway we are continuing to work on this blaster Y zero K problem and I will send you a parchment if anything further developes.



Along the Milky Way belt that blazes across the night sky you will find a number of well-known constellations that are some of the easiest for beginners to locate. And then you have Monoceros, the Unicorn. If you get Sky & Telescope, pull out the centerfold star chart and look to the south and you will find that this little-known constellation is actually rather large. It lies between the two Dogs, Orion, and the Hydra, with the celestial equator passing through it lengthwise from the Belt of Orion.

The main reason the Unicorn is so obscure (and it still seems to me odd how a constellation this large can be "obscure") is because there are no first magnitude stars to draw your attention to it. There aren’t even any second magnitude stars. In fact, none of it’s stars have even been given a name other than the usual Greek lettering.

According to one star catalog, this constellation contains 66 naked eye stars. Another catalog lists 112 naked eye stars! These catalogs were obviously compiled by ancient sailors from the middle of the ocean, 1,000 miles from the nearest light! The next time a BCAAS star party is not clouded out, it might be interesting to see how many naked eye stars we can see in Monoceros. However, while this constellation may be nothing much to look at with the naked eye, telescopically it does contain a number of star clusters.

Linda Sensenig

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