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From the President
By Carter Roberts

Barcroft - Begins Aug 16:
The annual low-oxygen star party at the Barcroft Lab in mid-August is fully booked with a waiting list.

Bort Meadows - Aug 24:
The annual EAS star party for the Crab Cove unit of the Eastbay Regional Park District will be held at Bort Meadows on Friday evening August 24. We are starting at 7:30 p.m. and sunset is at 7:50 p.m. Please bring your telescope and try to get there early. There will be a first quarter (44%) Moon that should be visible from that site until about 10:30 p.m. To reach Bort Meadows from Oakland, go up Redwood Road (like starting up to CSSC) to the crest then continue straight ahead toward Castro Valley. After passing Pinehurst it is about a mile to the sign, turnout, and road to the right. Go through the gate then everyone bringing a telescope should keep to the right at the fork. (Everyone else is directed to the left.)

Davis Star Show - Aug 24 & 25:
A "Festival of Science and Astronomy" in Davis, California with speakers, workshops, trade show, solar viewing, and a star party on Saturday night. Details available at
http://www.DavisStarShow.com

Chinatown StreetFest - Aug 25 & 26:
The Oakland Chinatown StreetFest will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 25th and 26th. We will be helping the Chabot Space & Science Center by showing telescopic views of the Sun and could use more volunteers. Bringing astronomy to the public is a fun and rewarding activity, but beware: it's been known to be highly addictive. Contact Carter Roberts at cwroberts@earthlink.net or check the EAS web site for details www.eastbayastro.org.

Donation opportunity:
Ticket sales cover only a portion of what it costs to operate the Chabot Space & Science Center. We frequently have hundreds of people viewing on a typical Friday or Saturday evening for which there is no charge. I urge EAS members to consider joining me in donating the upcoming tax rebate to CSSC to help cover operations. Be sure to mention that you are an EAS member.

Membership renewals:
The EAS member year runs from Nov 1 to Oct 30. The schedule was set to coincide with the start of Sky & Telescope 60 years ago this November. Those who subscribe to either Sky & Telescope or Astronomy have probably already received a renewal notice from the magazine even though subscriptions are paid through the December issue. You don't need to worry about renewing yet.

 

Poetic Justice
at Old Chabot Observatory

By Lewis Carroll Epstein

I remember Old Chabot Observatory in the final days of World War II and in the early post war years. Dr. Lindsley was the Observatory director. And among the Eastbay Astronomical Society's serious observers, water and canals on Mars was the most debated topic. Objective lens masks were made to alter the diffraction pattern of the 20 inch refractor so as to better enable the detection of the canals. And wire models of Mars were hung from the Campanili at the University of California, Berkeley, and from Glacier Point in Yosemite, to test what could and could not be seen by various observers and telescopes.

But as the post war years rolled on, interest in canals and in the planets waned. Serious astronomers were concerned with astrophysics which meant the stars and galaxies. I remember the day Otto Struve, the Berkeley Astronomy Chairman, called John Westfall, a Berkeley astronomy student, into his office and told him to forget his interest in the moon and planets if he wanted to be an astronomer.
Then 1957 brought Sputnik. NASA tax dollars rekindled astronomers "professional" interest in the moon and planets. Close up observations of the planets pored in, and they seemingly put the final nail into the coffin of the canals on Mars.

Alas, came a Fall day in the year 2000 when the Eastbay Astronomical Society held its last meeting at the Old Chabot Observatory - in the shadow of the old 20 inch refractor dome. That last evening, the topic of the scientific talk was the latest photos from a spacecraft orbiting Mars. And, there on the screen for all to see, were dozens of washout water gully canals on Mars canyon walls.

Sorry, no planet-wide irrigation system, but nevertheless, I heard the ghosts in the now empty 20 inch refractor dome laugh as the slides were projected.


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