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Ending of Sky & Telescope Magazine Subscription Service

Dear SJAA Member,

The San Jose Astronomical Association (SJAA) has been in existence for 60 years now. For many of those years, the club has offered its members the benefit of subscribing to Sky & Telescope magazine when they join or renew their membership. Due to the significant growth of the club, and issues beyond our control, we have determined that the club can no longer continue this service.

We are facing a number of challenges that directly affect our ability to offer this service. For example:
– Long lead times – the process is very manual which also involves sending a letter via US Mail to the publisher on the east coast.
– Renewal offers – the publisher begins sending renewal notices soon after receiving the subscription, which can be confusing to the subscriber.
– Better offers – many times, the renewal offers are a better deal for the subscriber than the rates the SJAA can offer.
– Manual process – processing the subscriptions is a manual process, which takes quite a bit of valuable volunteer time, especially when there are hiccups in the process.
– Not a fundraiser – the SJAA usually loses a little bit of money with each subscription, which not only makes this service not a fundraiser, but a slight drain on resources.

Many of our members have reported that it is actually better to subscribe/renew directly with S&T as they receive a lower price and significantly faster service. One outside service that offers a deeper discount is via the Astronomy Society of the Pacific. You can subscribe to S&T, Astronomy Magazine, and StarDate Magazine from this page:

Another publication that out members are finding of great interest is Astronomy Technology Today. This magazine focuses on astronomy equipment, gear and technology, more so than S&T or Astronomy magazines. ATT offers a discount to SJAA members.
Please email Ed Wong, the Membership Coordinator, at for the discount code.

The many downsides listed above, along with the available alternatives, have helped us make the decision to suspend offering the S&T subscription service. For those of you who have taken advantage of this service over the years, we regret not being able to continue, but we are confident you can get a better variety, better service, and at a better price, by going with the alternatives mentioned above.

Our club relies on volunteers who generously donate their time in support of all club activities, and the board thanks all of them for the most valuable contributions they can make, which is their time.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support.


Dave Ittner

Posted in Articles

Seeing Double – Double stars that is!

Double star observing is fun, easy and best of all, it can be done under less than ideal conditions of light pollution, moon light and even telescope size.  Below is a fun list (with a challenge or two) to get you started.  Make it even more fun and hone your observing skills by drawing what you see in a simple double star observing log.  Just note the name of the double star system, the constellation, coordinates, the conditions, date, time, telescope used and within a small circle, place two dots on what you see through your telescope (or even binoculars).

One form that you can use is found at:

alpha1, alpha2 Capricorni (alpha1, magnitudes 4.2 and 9.2, separation 45.4 arcseconds; alpha2, mags 3.6 and 9.3, sep 154.6”) The magnitude 4.2 (alpha1) and 3.6 (alpha2) stars form a naked eye pair separated by 376”.  A 3-inch scope will capture their 9th magnitude companions.
20h 18m 10.5s
-12° 28′ 49″

gamma Delphini (mags 4.5 and 5.5, sep 9.6”) The Dolphin’s “snout.” One of the finest double stars for small-aperture telescopes. Can you detect the pair’s subtle yellow and blue colors? If you would like a bit of a challenge, can you find n the same field, ¼ degree to the southwest, is the delicate little pair Struve 2725 (mags 7.6 and 8.4, sep 5.8”)
20h 47m 05.1s
+16° 09′ 16″

61 Cygni (mags 5.2 and 6.0, sep 30.5”) This binary pair is historically important as the first star whose distance was accurately determined (Bessel – 1838). Both stars appear golden yellow.
21h 07m 20.1s
+38° 46′ 59″

Struve 2816 and Struve 2819 Cephei (Struve 2816, mags 5.6, 7.7, and 7.8, sep 11.7” and 19.9”; Struve 2819, mags 7.5 and 8.5, sep 12.4”) A triple star and double star in the same low-power field. This is a very interesting and wonderful sight.
21h 39m 13.0s
+57° 31′ 54″

epsilon Pegasi (mags 2.4 and 8.4, sep 142.5”) An optical, or line-of-sight, double. What makes this pair so interesting is the apparent pendulum-like motion of the fainter star when the telescope is gently rocked in a direction perpendicular to a line connecting the two stars.
21h 44m 38.6s
+09° 54′ 56″

zeta aquarii (mags 4.3 and 4.5, sep 2.2”) A beautiful twin binary that is slowly widening from a minimum separation of 1.7” in 1977. Use at least 100X for a comfortable split.
22h 29m 18.6s
+00° 01′ 35″

sigma Cassiopeiae (mags 5.0 and 7.1, sep 3.0”) A tough “split” for small scopes, because of the two-magnitude difference in magnitude of the component stars. Just one degree north is the remarkably rich open star cluster NGC 7789.
23h 59m 27.3s
+55° 48′ 18″

eta Cassiopeiae (mags 3.4 and 7.5, sep 13.0”) What makes this slow-moving binary pair (period = 480 years) noteworthy is its color scheme – yellow for the primary star, red for the companion. Marginally visible in small instruments, the colors really stand out in a 6-inch scope.  It is a favorite.
00h 49m 37.8s
+57° 51′ 50″

alpha Ursae Minoris (mags 2.0 and 9.0, sep 18.4”) Polaris, the North Star. This is a classic light test for the common 60mm refractor. The 9th magnitude companion is hard to spot in the glare of the bright primary star. Easy in a 6-inch scope; shows yellow and blue colors.
02h 41m 24.8s
+89° 18′ 23″

gamma Arietis (mags 4.8 and 4.8, sep 7.8”) A grand “twin” pair, both white. Their telescopic appearance look like a pair of glowing eyes.
01h 54m 01.9s
+19° 20′ 29″


Authored by Stacy Jo McDermott.


Stacy Jo McDermott is an amateur astronomer living in Oakland, CA surrounded by street lights.  She’s been enjoying the hobby of astronomy since 1999.  Double stars have been providing the bulk of the party at the eye piece.  Questions and suggestions on turning off street lights can be sent to


Posted in Blog, Education & Reference Info
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Rancho’s Fireball

Last night (Sunday 9/8) I opened up Rancho Canada del Oro so folks can do some observing under semi dark moonless skies.   We had perfect weather – warm and no wind.  The lot filled up by 8:30 as we had 15 scopes set up.   There were a couple of families that came out and set up their scopes to show their kids the night sky.   Rancho continues to attract beginners as folks find out that all of us are very receptive and helpful.   Everyone comments on how nice it is to see the band of the Milky Way.

One of the highlights last night was the huge blue-green fireball that streaked across the sky around 11:30 pm.  It looked like it had a NE to SW path that took it just above Capricorn.  One person commented that it probably was space debris of some type since it was moving so slow.

A number of folks made comments throughout the night that they were seeing some nice meteor streaks.  I saw 4 good ones and a few brief flashes.   To my knowledge the next major meteor shower is the Draconids with a peak scheduled to happen October 7th-8th.

We finally wrapped up around Midnight.   Overall it was a darn good turnout for a Sunday night!

A big thanks to all who showed up – a lot of new friends were made and all had a good time.

Clear skies,

Dave Ittner

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports

Coyote Lake County Park

Hi folks,

Last night I joined Ed W, Bharath K, and Nham N out at Coyote Lake.  Those guys were doing some imaging while I was playing around with some recently purchased used equipment (Orion Deluxe 100mm Refractor and a William Optics EZ Touch Alt Az head and tripod).   We all set up at the end of the road down by the dam.   It was a very nice night – no wind, temperature was just right. 

But what is interesting is that the light by the boat ramp continues to be off.   So this appears to be a potential spot to start using again.   Ed did get a phone # for the main office to call.   He hopes to get the story on the light. 
It is my suggestion to start using Coyote Lake on nights that Rancho is not open.   Please set up at the boat ramp paved lot and let us know about your experience.
Here are the directions:
Take 101 South
Take the Masten Ave exit and turn left going back up and over the freeway
Turn Right onto Center Ave
Turn Left onto Rucker Ave
Turn Right onto New Ave
Turn Left onto Roop Road
stay on Roop Road for many miles as it twists and winds up into the hills
then Turn left onto Coyote Lake Road and follow it to the Ranger station, pull in on the right to the pay booth.
Pay $6 and then continue on to the Boat Ramp or to the Dam.
Dave Ittner
Posted in Articles, Blog, Trip Reports