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NAAPO (North American
AstroPhysical Observatory)

"NAAPO News"
Volume 2 Number 8
(January 28, 1987)

NAAPO Coordinator -- Philip E. Barnhart
Editorial Intern -- Beth Helwig
Both at: Department of Physics/Astronomy, Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio 43081

[Note from Jerry Ehman, Webpage Editor: The hardcopy, from which this electronic version was obtained, was of poor quality for the bottom left edge of page two. Readable text was not reproduced in many spots. I was able to guess the text for some lines but not for other lines. Only one article was affected; the uncertain or missing text is indicated in a red font.]


A welcome return to the 17 January working session was Gene Mikesell with his repaired foot. Gene is getting around well and back at the job of building things at the radobs. He is working outdoors when the weather is warm and in the shop when the icy winds blow. No one has made the demand that he drive into Columbus to go to work on the campus, so he continues to put his time in for us at the observatory.

Welcome back, Gene! We need your helping hands.


There is the possibility of a quantity transfer of electronic components from a couple of sources. The only holdup now is a place to store the material until we can dispose of it. We could use the amount of space one would find in a double garage.

Anyone who has a bit of storage space we can use, let us know. We will stuff it around where ever we can. We will let everyone know what is available so that we can get rid of it in a hurry.

late breaking news

These items crossed my desk just before press time:

The smoke alarm was triggered in the focus room the night of 25/26 January by a source of smoke that is at the present time unknown. The fire department responded (witnout the keys issued for this eventuality – "normal!" says Dixon). Gene Mikesell responded as well, with keys, and reduced to a power down condition till further examination clears up the problem. We will report further developments.

Susan Leach appeared on the 26 January Today Show as one of the four finalists in the national Teacher of the Year recognition program. Susan is a NAAPO Trustee. Good show, Susan.

The January issue of CURRENT, the publication of the American Electric Power Service Corporation, features a cover story on Big Ear and the AEP employees volunteering to work with NAAPO. It is a well illustrated, restrained article that makes NAAPO look pretty good. That is as it should be.

We have requested additional copies and will have some for those who really want a look at one. Give Barnhart a call at (614) 898 1516.

AEP Photos

Photo 1
AEP photo 1
Caption: On the cover: Three AEP employees are helping this giant radio telescope listen to the heavens. Read about their search for extraterrestrial intelligence beginning on page 8.

Photo 2
AEP photo 2
Caption: Saum, Engel, Leichner and Barnhart stand in front of the collecting horn antenna.

[Credit:] Reprinted from CURRENT Vol. 21, No. l, Jan. 1987

Published for the American Electric Power Service Corp.


A project to obtain copies of the news articles relating to the radio observatory over the past several years is nearing completion at NAAPO Headquarters at Otterbein College. Organization of the files and copying have been carried out by Tami Griffin, a technical assistant in the Physics/Astronomy Department.

The newly organized file will be returned to Bob Dixon's file from which the random pieces were borrowed. This should render the file a bit more accessible for the times when particular information is sought. The file occupies a bit over two cubic feet of space.


Susan Leach has volunteered her eighth grade class to reconstruct the three display cases in Dreese Labs that present the radio observatory story. We are already gathering pictures and items to be included in the displays. Themes for the three cases are being developed. Actual construction will follow classroom meetings with the class.


We have entered NAAPO's Big Ear into annual Summer Tour Guide published each [(year) (???: missing word(s))] by Astronomy Magazine. Dick Helwig agreed to coordinate the reservations and lead the tours at the observatory. [(Anything) (???: missing word(s))] will be scheduled by appointment [???: unreadable word(s)] there will not generally be many people [???bering: unreadable word(s)] in at random.

The tour guide will be published in the June issue of Astronomy Magazine.


A reporter/feature writer from American Electric Power Corp. spent an afternoon visiting the radio observatory and NAAPO headquarters in order to write an article featuring the AEP employees who are volunteering their time to NAAPO.

Continuing education students Mike Saum and Carl Engle are the featured volunteers. None of us have seen the article yet se we continue to hold our breaths to see if she was soaking up the information sent her way in great quantities. She joined with Bob Dixon for lunch so had the voice of the real expert to distill.

It is our hope to have an article good enough to share with the friends of NAAPO in a future newsletter.


Through an amazing stroke of bureaucratic maneuvering Marc Abel managed to have himself removed from the NASA project payroll for a few months to become an Upper Arlington High School Intern appointed to the Radio Observatory project for 10 to 15 hours a week. He will get high school credit for the experience and at the same time save the NASA project over $900. Marc was really thinking.

It will be appropriate to assign to him tasks that are different from the routine programming he has done so well for the past years. He will certainly be able to help with other tasks from report/proposal writing, PR work and general work out in the field. Any one who has a job for Marc to try, just let him knew. He is eligible.


Following the suggestion a few weeks back that Dick Helwig head up an education branch of NAAPO for the purpose of carrying the message to schools and club groups we now have a proposal from Dick for a variety of things that can be done. It looks like there is much to look forward to and we should see a number of good outcomes from the program.

One of the important suggestions Dick has made is the production a video tape program to provide to the local schools and libraries a look at the instruments and people involved with NAAPO and let them know how they may become involved in the educational program of the institution. We have already had an offer from the Otterbein video production classes to assist in making professional quality productions of this type.

Suggestions of services this part of our project can provide (at all possible levels) will be welcomed and seriously considered.


Classes are well under way. I have a very peculiar attitude toward the learning of and about science. There is a general misunderstanding of the nature of science among the general college student. I judge that over 95% of all the students I contact were never informed that the nature of scientific proof consists of FALSIFICATION of scientific theory. As a result, I find it is almost more than a ten week job to fill them in on the "facts of science."

One way I accomplish this is to offer an individual conference to every student in the class to discuss the questions they miss on the midterm exams. With 107 students in the class this requires nearly full time during the school day between the scheduled exams. This is why I have had to take to completing the writing for the NAAPOnews in little bits and pieces in between student interviews.

I have been trying hard to develop some interest in volunteers to take on the writing and the office management. So far, there is interest, but not many have been willing to put their effort where their interest is. I hope to have some help before the year is out.

Direct activity from this office will seem scarce for the next twenty or so weeks. We are still trying to get the proposals cranked out. I will report more on that next issue.


On January 13, Phil Barnhart spoke to the Westerville Sertoma Club at its initial meeting of the new year. The topic was Big Ear and the opportunities it presents if we can keep the interest alive in supporting it. Response was generally very good. The club will most likely not donate enough to the project to see us through the year.

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