From: BobRankin@ULSTER.NET
Subject: TOURBUS - 24 Nov 1998 - Outta This World!

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               TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: Astronomy

Attention Stargazers!  Today's TOURBUS post will be about Astronomy.
My brother Tom is an avid (some say rabid) amateur astronomer, and
he's provided some links and commentary for interesting astronomical
sites along the way.  Before we visit Tom's "out of this world" sites
I hope you'll visit our kind sponsors and tell 'em TOURBUS sent you!

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Our first stop along the celestial highway is the "Astronomy Picture
of the Day".  This site features a high quality image with a
description of its significance, written by a professional astronomer
in clear, easy to understand terms.  Recent images (as of this
writing) were of the Leonid Meteor shower.  If you miss one, don't
worry, it's got an extensive index, going back several years.

  Astro Pix - 

Speaking of Meteors, if you missed the Leonids, there may have been
several reasons for this.  One was that the peak of the storm showed
up early, and over the Atlantic Ocean.  The Canary Islands saw the
most of anywhere on Earth, around 2000 per hour!  But this is nothing
compared to 1966, when observers in the Western USA saw over 40 per
SECOND!  So, the old phrase, "wait till next year", may be worth
heeding.  If you'd like to know more about the Leonids, this link
sponsored by NASA:

   The Leonids - 

A more text-based site, fairly new to the web (with a recently changed
address) is "StarTimes".  Every few days, the author scours many other
online news reporting services looking for astronomy news.  Most of
the entries are links to articles in other publications.  Topics
include the space program, and recent findings about the Universe.  A
one stop shopping for Astronomy News!

   StarTimes - 

If you're USENET savvy, (and you should be, if you've been following
my brother Bob's columns), you could try reading sci.astro.amateur.
Here, amateur astronomers from all over the world, some with a wealth
of expertise, hang out, ask questions and discuss diverse astronomy
topics.  Quite a few of the posts deal with purchasing the right
astronomical telescope or the right equipment to go along with it.

There is a recurrent to post to this newsgroup containing a wealth of
information for would-be telescope buyers, entitled "Purchasing
Amateur Telescopes FAQ", by Dennis Bishop, (
This newsgroup is also another source of late breaking news, on
comets, meteor showers, and aurorae.  By the way, there is a nifty
service called Talkway that lets you read newsgroups via a web page,
so even the USENET 'un-savvy' can read them!

   Newsgroup - news:sci.astro.amateur 

   Talkway - 

Since it's almost Christmas time, I inevitably get asked questions
around this time about the star of Bethlehem.  There are all kinds of
explanations for this.  A good reference for this is the link below.
I'll let you form your own conclusion(s).

   Bethlehem Star - 

Finally, if you're interested in joining an Astronomy Club, check out
the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's list of clubs.  It covers
the whole world.  It's at

   Astro Clubs - 

Clubs frequently offer discounts on astronomy related magazines and
other printed material, loaner telescopes, and usually a lot of
practical advise on how to get started in the hobby as Astronomy.
You'll find the club I belong to at:

   Tom's Club - 

Clear skies!  -- Tom Rankin, , or

[ Gee, I was hoping Tom would tell us what John Glenn's e-mail
[ address was while he was in space.  Do the .COM and .GOV domains
[ still apply once you leave Earth's orbit?  Inquiring minds may never
[ know...  --Bob

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