(cba:news) stars for mid-July

Joe Patterson jop at astro.columbia.edu
Tue Jul 15 09:20:25 EDT 2008

Dear CBAers,

Attached is a letter I got from a new CBAer, John Hodge.  This one means 
a lot to me, because he's an alumnus of a summer camp I ran in the early 
70s, Camp Uraniborg.  A lot of famous scientists came out of that camp 
(Neil Tyson, Rick Binzel, Doug Welch, Steve Kawaler, Tullis Onstott, 
Harriet Dinerstein, Peter Shearer, John Reinitz, among others), but so 
far I've not had the thrill of having one in the CBA!  (Doug Welch is 
borderline, I guess.)  Anyway I was really excited to hear of John's 
success in peddling astronomy to his son, and his son's success... as 
the attachment suggests.

The campaigns on GW Lib and VY Aqr are going well, thanks to the 
Herculean efforts of Bob Rea, and the vigilance of Berto and Greg Bolt.
But we're really hurting at North (and South) American longitudes for 
both of these stars!  Most of that is probably due to the atrocious 
monsoon rains in the southwestern USA... but I hope that other observers 
can pick up the slack.  We can easily break 24-hr aliases with the 
ZA-NZ-AU coverage, but the big missing chunk (all the Atlantic and half 
the Pacific) will hide the weaker satellite signals that are sometimes 
the most interesting.  Anyway, we DEFINITELY want to stay on VY Aqr for 
at least another month... and quite possibly more.  GW Lib is still a 
great target, but we might call it quits by ~Aug 1.

Two new targets I want to promote are:

MN Dra (2023+64).  This seems to be roughly a SU UMa dwarf nova with a 
60 day recurrence cycle (for long maxima)... but with oddities... and 
the truth is, it's VERY POORLY STUDIED.  In view of the oddities it has 
already shown, that's a serious oversight... and let's remedy that! 
Admittedly faint (15.8-19.3), but definitely worth observing even with
photometry of lower accuracy and longer integration times than is our 
norm.  Good for all borealites.

SDSS J2100+00.  See the PASP paper by Tramposch et al. 2005.  Also 
slightly faint (16-19), and with a pretty similar story and likely to be 
a rewarding target for several months of coverage.  There's a chart in 
the PASP paper.

Plus renewed acquaintances with some old friends...

WZ Sge (2006+17).  The granddaddy of all the short-period guys. 
Amazingly, we have never really done a campaign on WZ Sge - and let's do 
one now!  At 15.3 it's a friendlier target... but you *definitely* have 
to figure out what you're going do about the ugly contaminating star 11" 
away.  (That's far enough that you can usually exclude it from the 
photometry... but not if you have problems with image quality or 
telescope drive.)

I'm heading off to Maine in a few hours.  More from there.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	A long over due thank you - and I just sent in my first CBA
data submission!
Date: 	Mon, 14 Jul 2008 01:21:07 -0400
From: 	john hodge <jhodge7ac at bellsouth.net>
To: 	Joe Patterson <jop at astro.columbia.edu>

Dear Joe:

I finally sent in my first CBA data submission today. If I can get the
hang of the reporting format, I hope to start making regular submissions
to the CBA program. I hope that the quality of the data will meet your

On a separate note, you may recall that several years ago, I solicited
several science fair topics from you for my son (John II). He and I owe
you a belated thank you! He will probably drop you a note of thanks soon
too. Based upon the information that you had provided, he acquired
several books on CVs and began reading, asked me for assistance with my
telescope, and he began time series imaging  selected CVs. Ultimately,
he ended up imaging about 10 different CVs. He chose IP Peg to do an in
depth analysis of the light curve which included properties of the white
dwarf, red dwarf, and accretion disk. For his research, he won numerous
prizes (including the third grand prize) at the regional science fair,
South Carolina Junior Academy of Sciences (Best Paper and Presentation
in Physics), he presented his work at the National Junior Science and
Humanities Symposium in Florida, and recently was selected by the
Astronomical League as the 2008 National Young Astronomer Award winner!
I will ask him to send you a copy of his research paper and I have
attached a page out of the Astronomical League's Reflector publication
that recently announced the award.

John recently completed high school and he did quite well, particularly
in math and science. He made 800 on the math SAT and took a bunch of AP
courses. He decided to attend Duke in the fall and intends to study
electrical & computer engineering and physics (double major or
major-minor). He is interested in astrophysics and can also take
astronomy courses at UNC, which is close by. Thank you for the initial
suggestion for his research. He acknowledged your suggestion that he
work on CVs in his many presentations. You'd be interested to also know
that he was a pitcher and outfielder on his public high school's
baseball team.

I also learned a lot about CVs as a result of his two-year project.
During this time I also finished a Certificate in Planetary Geology from
the University of London (while still doing my day job as an
environmental attorney and geologist), was chosen as a NASA - JPL Solar
System Ambassador (volunteer public speaker on planetary science), and
managed regular trips to my observatory (about an hour drive each way).

That's all for now. Many thanks, Joe. I look forward to sending in data
and hope to become a regular contributor. JOHN HODGE

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