President’s Message August 2022

August already, eh? Seems like the weeks fly by anymore. Is that an “age thing?” I told myself
that I wouldn’t be like my parents as far as retirement goes. I think they were busier after they
retired! I figured I wouldn’t do that. Well, I was wrong. How did I ever teach classes? Some of
you know that I have a post-retirement job in radio. I’m not looking to move up any seniority
ladder at WDWS/WKIO but that happens when people leave. Now I’m doing the 6pm to midnight shift Monday through Thursday on Classic Hits 107.9 FM (yes, that’s a shameless plug) plus
Saturday afternoons. I try to work in some astronomy when I can! They let me write and record a weekly “Eye on the Sky” segment that is put into the rotation on both AM and FM. This
past week I publicized our Middle Fork Starwatch and our open house this week.
I hope you can make it to our August meeting as we will have proposals on the floor regarding
solar power at the Prairie Winds Observatory. One is from Sangamon Solar with them doing the
work for us. The second is us doing the work ourselves. My personal thanks to Scott Glick, Gary
Hampel, Mike Lockwood and Sarah Lyon for their work on this! They constituted an ad hoc
committee to toss around the possibilities. Great job, team! I hope we can vote on this at the
August meeting.
I mentioned that large comet called C/2017 K2 that reached its closest point to the Earth last
month. This comet broke a record for activity far from the Sun. This thing may have rivaled Hale
-Bopp but it was just so far away from us. I went to the observatory solo one night near perigee
just to see what I could find. The comet was in the south-central part of Ophiuchus and I had
finder charts with me. I could just barely see it in binoculars but it was tough. I opened the roof
and fired up the 22-inch truss-tube Dob. I started at the star Saik (Zeta Ophiuhi) and starhopped northward. I’ll be darned if the comet was there! I thought it was fainter than predicted and I didn’t see a tail. I fully realize we live in a “go-to world” but it was cool to find it on my
own. Perihelion for the comet is in December. There’s a finder chart for the comet on page #8
of this issue. Note how it’ll pass by the Helix Nebula. Let us know if you see it!
We have a couple of events before our August meeting, both on the same day. We try to run
our Market at the Square events on the same days as our open houses so we can publicize the
observing. And people do come out at night! The issue I raised at the July meeting was that of
volunteers. We have a lot of the same people working the events. I’m grateful for them and
their dedication, but we need a few more people to step up. Even if it’s just handing out fliers.
Why not stop by! That’s this Saturday, August 6!
We had a great time at the Middle Fork though the skies didn’t quite cooperate. Thanks for
Jennifer Wick for arranging it and to all who visited—roughly 80 people! Amazing turn-out! We
eventually did get to see the summer show objects: Mizar/Alcor, Albireo, M57, M11, M13, M31,
Double Cluster, and even caught a glimpse of Saturn through
holes in the clouds. Saturn was certainly a crowd-pleaser! People couldn’t believe they were seeing rings, even though the image wasn’t the best due to the clouds. I hope to see you at the
open house this Saturday!
Clear Skies,

Leave a Reply