My AAVSO Scrapbook

A card from Carolyn, and the last item in the scrapbook. The other side of the card was a picture of the Gemini VIII spacecraft. Those of you who remember that flight, remember the terrorising moment when they made the very first attempt to dock with another spacecraft. A thruster failed and begin spinning them faster and faster. They may have been near blackout by the time Armstrong got the craft under control. Those events seem a long ways away now...

Another form letter from Ma...

Probably my first communication from the AAVSO and Ma

Another card from ma...

A card from ma...

A very nice letter from ma.

Reporting hints from headquarters.

I think this is a page one from a VVs as that page usually carried news from and about observers. I gotta wonder if any of these people are still with the AAVSO?

There's been so much discussion of the cartoon in the correspondance I guess I have to post it. Besides, it's my only claim to fame in the astronomical world. Haha. As you can see, I'm not much of an artist. But they say this was posted on the BB at the Cambridge Observatory. So there! (Sticks out tongue).

Still more from Carolyn. She tended, I think, to pull at her hair on cloudy nights.

A playbill Carolyn sent - presumably annotated by her. I think she said this was the first performance of Don's Pied Piper of Hamlin. They must have been excited and busy.

Whoops! This was the missive where Carolyn mentioned Dave Custer.

Another letter from Carolyn. This David she refers to was relation of some kind and I ran across him at a remote Air Force radar site in Alaska. (Cape Newenham AFS). Talk about a small world...

Carolyn's piano tuning business card. Just one of the many things she was prolific at.

This letter Carolyn is, among other things, complaining about my prolific writing. (grin) I was so enthused in the early days. Long before the AAVSO I learned my math aptitude was not going to allow me to become an astronomer, so doing real science in the field had me incredibly excited.

Lo! Been so many years since I looked at this scrapbook, even I don't remember lots of this stuff. Apparently I loaned Carolyn my copy of Dune. I must have been using my folk's address during a move, as my deceased mom got the book. Carolyn had included a note and mom added to it on the back side. What a pleasent surprise.

More from Carolyn. It seems strange in rereading these that she is no longer with us in Lima enjoying the stars.

Another letter from Carolyn Hurless wherein she recounts some of her comical errors.

John Dalton inside the observatory at the business end of his 6in f15 refractor.

A better view of Dalton's incredible obsevatory, with the notes from the backside.

The mount John Dalton was working on, and the notes on the reverse side. Clearly, John was a craftsman. I just did a web search and am saddened to discover that he died Jan of this year. Obituary

John Dalton at his organ, and remarks he made on the backside of the photo.

Mr. Yelin, a high school student, said I wrote one heck of a letter. As you can see from the missive below, he wrote a mean letter also.

Sad to say, I remember nothing about this person except the name - which I may have gotten wrong also. But Kim Patacek(sp) sent a very interesting letter. The solar mission he aludes to was my idea for a manned mission to the sun with the astronauts operating behind a highly polished reflective surface - a mirror if you would. It was to be a quick drop in and a quick drop out. Feasible? I don't have a clue. (grin). The "why" is an even bigger question. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. If anyone has any info about Kim, it would be interesting to read it.

Not really AAVSO oriented, but I bet most AAVSOers are avid sci fi fans. I had submitted a story to Analog, for which Ben Bova sent me a nice rejection slip. (The idea wasn't strong enough - grin). Ben was a good editor, and the submission led to a series of interesting exchanges thru snail mail. I believe this is the only surviving one - but there may be another tucked away in the scarp book.

In addition to being a top-notch observer, there's no telling how valuable Carolyn was to the AAVSO in her encouragement to new and old members alike - as witnessed in this letter. The cartoon went thru a couple of name changes then settled down to be the Lima Lurker. Carolyn was from Lima, and I loved to pick on her. Walter Scott Houston is no longer with us, so I guess it is okay to reveal the secret identity of "Seratna" now. I mean, I've been burning to tell for 45 years. (grin).

A couple drawings of his observatory, John sent. I assume this may have been prior to building it.

As I was constantly fretting over the accuracy of my estimates, Carolyn sent me this rough graph of where Paul Sventek and I were falling. As you can see I had something of a "Wow!" miss there. Paul, who hung aroung headquarters at times, told me I wouldn't believe the scatter on the estimates. Oh well, that's what averaging is for (grin).

A very looong letter from John Dalton, a most prolific writer. John must have a had a bit of money to play with as his observatory was two stories high. Also, at the time he wrote this, he was working on a refractor of more then 8inchs.

A card from VSOer and comet hunter, John Bortle. The prize for being the first to identify the mystery field was a Science Fiction Book Club copy of one of Burrough's Mars novels. I've forgotten which one now.

One of two articles for the commercial rags on astronomy. In this case, however, I believe Modern Astronomy folded before the piece saw light of day.

Little brother, Wayne, showed an interest in the stars for a short while, then he discovered girls and that was the end of that. His letters always had a little cartoon. He would get very good at cartooning, but not commercially. He's had some funny stuff out on web pages.

I had mentioned somewhere my intention to attempt construction of a pair of binoculars using two identical 2.4 inch refractors. Comet hunter, John Bortle, dissuaded me of that in the letter below - along with those infernal "shipping out" orders. I do believe John finally found his comet. Estimating variable stars went hand-in-hand with comet hunting, as you'd grow familiar with the charts in time, and anything new would catch your attention.

A letter from "not dead yet" Paul L. Sventek. I guess his AAVSOing is dead, as someone mentioned here he had not made an estimate in 20 years. I found Paul some years back on the internet. This was after Carolyn's death and he informed me about the asteroid that had been named in her honor. I haven't talked to him since. I believe he was in Texas at the time, working for the Weather Bureau - his first love. He referenced the Baker Nunn and Starliner because I had told him we had a Space Track station on Edwards AFB with those two items. I have a very sad story about that. At the time my telescope was a 2.4in refractor - purchased from Sears, I think. When I heard about the Space Track station being on base I salviated to the extreme. Lo and behold, when I gave them a call the NCOIC that answered was a fellow I knew from a previous station. I asked him if there was any chance of spending a couple nights a week on the 12inch Starliner. He said sure, and that his guys needed some training on how to use it, and invited me right over to look at everything. So we made a quick deal right there. I couldn't believe what I found. I think I almost got sick. The room with the telescope and Baker Nunn camera was very small. The 1Lt in charge wanted the Starliner to be stored in an upright position in a corner. However, this interferred with opening and closing the roof. So, this officer took a saw and cut off the end of the Starliner - just above the eyepiece/diagonal setup. I lowered the telescope and looked down the tube - there was no cover over the end. I could see the mirror was scratched and still covered with debris. There was even something like a 2 inch piece of metal or wood laying on it. I sighed, said my goodbyes, and never went back. It was just too grim.

Pat Mahnkey sent this to me prior to sending it to Carolyn for VVs. Just to test it out I guess. (grin)

Patrick Mahnkey was a dear fellow and prolific letter writer. He introduces himself in the missive below. I, unfortunately, upset him when I failed to get out a box of telescope parts for his class as promised. Work, shipping out, and a bit of laziness were contributing reasons. And yes, I still feel bad about that.

I bet he was as happy as everyone else when the word processor and home printers appeared on the scene. Not everyone, I guess. Science Fiction writer Isaac Asimov used an old manual Underwood typewriter to his dying day, or so I understand. But Isaac, who often wrote about flying between the stars, was afraid to get in an airplane. I guess that made him a conservatist of sorts. (grin). I had to do a bit of work to make this ledgible also.

Not exactly AAVSO related, but a clipping I found in the scrapebook.

A few names of people you know, or remember.

This may be out of chronological order, but we'll end up getting them that way anyhow. Just taking them as they are in the scrap book. I had to do a bit of tinkering with this one to make it legible. It's a letter from Carolyn, still laughing over the cartoon. Haha.

If you've been unable to get a peek at the background picture on this page, it's a blueprint of VMon. This is what they used when I started. Before I was done they had switched to black stars on white. I preferred the blueprints as they didn't mess with night vision so bad on the little lightbox I had built. That box, about 14x10 contained a 12v bulb, a transformer to cut 110v down to 12v, and an old radio volume control in series with the bulb to control the brightness. The top of the box was covered with a thin, white, plastic sheet to diffuse the light. I'd set my chart on it and away I'd go.

Like most intelligent people, Carolyn had wide-ranging interests, as attested to by this newspaper clipping she sent me.

I still remember the glow when I received Ma's letter of acceptance into the AAVSO. (Sorry, but back then Margaret W. Mayal was called "ma" by everyone. It was solely a term of affection). I was, frankly, pleasantly surprised when I dug out the old scrapbook, and discovered I still had it.

(This site may appear a bit out of whack, but out of consideration for the readers, because I shall be adding to this slowly rather then putting it all together at once, new entries will be put to the top so the old ones need not be waded thru to get to them. Hence, my introduction, such as it is, will be at the end. Crazy, huh?).

I was not much of a variable star observer. My totals were low, and my stay with the AAVSO was less then 10 years. Being in the Air Force contributed to some of this. And my equipment was not the greatest. I begin with a cheapie 2.4 inch refractor and binoculars. I had an Edmunds 4.25 inch reflector when my career ended. However, it was a very enjoyable pasttime all the way. I think I managed to upset some people only 4 times during my career. (grin)

I looked up the site hoping to get a copy of this cover for VVs, and lo! The archieves team had it and was glad to share! This cover was one of the times I upset a few people. A handful of stuffed shirts found it a little scandelous that I would depict Carolyn Hurless with so much skin. But Carolyn loved it, even though I'm no artist at all. (I took a slide of my wife then traced it to the paper. I never would have been able to draw a human figure).