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Volume XXVI Number IIII

July/August 1998

Meeting Highlights

Thursday July 9

7:30 at the Reading Public Museum - We are very fortunate to have Dr. Fred Ringwald of Penn State University present a program entitled "Discs and Outflows Across the Universe". You will not want to miss this presentation of the latest findings by the Hubble Space Telescope about black holes and other exotica.

Thursday August 13

No meeting will take place at the Reading Public Museum.

Saturday August 15

5:00 P.M. at Dave Brown's - Once again, Dave will host our annual picnic down on the farm pig-out. We will have a very abbreviated meeting followed by sampling everybody's exceptional covered dish or dessert. Dave is reported to have sweet corn that is better than last year's crop. I have a hard time believing that and will have to eat several ears of corn to form an opinion. If we are good and it is not storming, we may get a hay ride around the area. Don't miss this incredible family event! (Click here for Directions to Dave’s farm)

Thursday August 27

Deadline: September / October Pegasus

Pegasus is a bimonthly publication of the Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society. Editor/Desktop Publisher: John Dethoff. Regular contributors: Priscilla Andrews, George Babel, Linda Sensenig and Donna Weinsteiger. E-mail submissions may be made to: John Dethoff

Special Events and Star Watches


Friday, July 24 & Saturday, July 25 Stellafane - The 63rd Annual Stellafane Convention will be held in Springfield, Vermont. This is the granddaddy of all star parties and considered "the Woodstock of Astronomy Conventions." It’s origin is deeply rooted in the amateur telescope making movement of the 1930’s and to this day has a strong emphasis on telescope making. Even though it is a long distance, every serious amateur should make this trip to "Mecca" once in his life. Campsites and area motels fill up fast, so contact them as soon as possible. For firsthand information about the event and where to stay, talk to John Dethoff. You can also contact their web site at:

Saturday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m.- The Astronomy enthusiasts of Lancaster County will be having their summer meeting at the North Museum Planetarium of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. The meeting will include a showing of Adler's "Is There Life on Mars?" followed by observing the alignment of a very young crescent moon, Mercury and Regulus. I hear this is a great group of people that we should get to know. If you are interested in giving them a big B.C.A.A.S. showing, contact George Babel at 717-445-7954.

Saturday, September 19th - Please mark your calendar for round seven of MegaMeet to be held at Pulpit Rock ! Rain (cloud) date will be the following Saturday, September 26th. Priscilla’s message machine will be ready with instructions for go or no go at 610-683-6397, starting around midnight on Friday, September, 18th. Gates open at 4:00 pm the afternoon of the event.

Friday - Sunday, October 16-18 West Virginia - Spruce Knob - Once again I feel the need to travel to inky black skies. I'm planning a trip to the Knob for some photography and fabulous viewing. I plan on going October 16 - 18 and camping just below the summit. If you are interested, please contact George Babel at 717-445-7954.

Note: Check the hotline for upcoming club star parties that have yet to be announced.

Indoor Astronomy - Journal

I have a terrible memory. I wish I could blame it on something like a busy lifestyle, too many innovative ideas in my head, or maybe that concussion I endured. But I can't. I've had a terrible memory for as long as…well, as long as I can remember. When I try to recall an event, I usually need something or someone to jog my memory. That brings me to the importance of keeping a journal. I owe this thought to a friend of mine who keeps a journal of all his scuba diving trips. That sparked my interest in starting an astronomy journal. An event listing of my own discoveries. Sure, Saturn was already discovered. But what night did "I" first see it through a telescope? I haven't been into astronomy too long to forget (or at least, have someone remind me of) past nights of discovery. I must include mornings as well.

One morning comes to mind when I was preparing to take some photos of Comet Hale-Bopp. Earlier that week, I had been talking with my family about how incredible the comet looked in the morning from my backyard. So one weekday morning I rose at 4 o'clock and got ready to face the cold outdoors. I was putting my equipment together in the dark of my dining room when a knock on the patio door scared me out of my skin. Who, on earth, is in my backyard at 4 a.m.? It can't be a robber because what intelligent robber would knock? I got the nerve to open the door and found my sister and her husband freezing on the doorstep. "We thought you'd never get out here," they wise cracked. Their reaction to the sight of Hale-Bopp was wonderful to watch. It made me enjoy it even more. We froze and laughed while I counted the seconds my camera shutter was open. I don't want to forget that morning. First, my sister would want the documentation that she was awake and moving at 4a.m. And second, it was an astonishing sight of Hale-Bopp.

I'm not one to keep a diary, though I've tried many times throughout my life. I usually lost interest or didn't take the time to write. An astronomy journal can be different. It can be in a form of a list with dates and findings. Or in paragraph form with stories and emotions felt with a particular discovery. It doesn't take much time to jot down a few thoughts about one night and it really opens your mind to the effects of stargazing for yourself and others. Whatever form you choose to write, just write. The journal itself can be a notebook or one of those blank books you can buy in a book store. If you type faster, how about starting a journal on your computer? Just remember to back-up that file. You don't want to lose these treasured writings. The enjoyment you'll feel when reading your accomplishments years later is worth the effort. And it's never too late to start a journal. Maybe you have a better memory than me and can write about some nights that made an impression on you years ago. Just write and remember.

*Discovery Online is having a star party and Astronomy magazine is one of the sponsors. Outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico many amateur astronomers have gathered for this party. It started June 25 and will continue for 2 weeks. You can search the summer sky, visit their excellent night gallery and enter a photo contest. Professional astronomer Dr. Sten Odenwald will have live Q&A seminars until July 9th. Log on at: Don't forget to check out the past days adventures.

Donna Weinsteiger

Mythology of the Night Sky - Cygnus

Swimming through the river of summer stars is the constellation Cygnus, the swan. The French call the constellation Cygne; the Germans call it Schwan. Perhaps because of the shape of this constellation, many ancient stargazers also saw some kind of bird. Some Greeks called it simply "Bird", while some called it a hen. The Arabians called it The Flying Eagle.

The Romans were the ones to name this constellation Cygnus after the son of Mars. The original naming of this constellation as a bird goes all the way back to the ancient civilization along the Euphrates River, for stone tablets have been dug up that actually show a stellar bird of some kind. It is believed this bird may have been the original of the Arab's Rukh, the Roc, that Sinbad the Sailor knew.

The early Christians (who felt it necessary to rename every single constellation) called it the Cross of Calvary. While the Christian names for all the other constellations are no longer in use, this one survived to the present day. We now refer to Cygnus as the Northern Cross.

If you're getting bored observing the same old deep sky objects, here is a challenge for you. There are 197 stars in Cygnus, as well as NGC 6960 (known in plain English as The Lace-Work Nebula). Of these stars, at least 100 are doubles, triples, or multiples.

Linda Sensenig  





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