We had a wonderfully successful star party on Friday, October 7, in conjunction with "International Observe the Moon Night." Because of weather, the event was held on Friday instead of the official Saturday. About 30 people came to join us to observe the waxing moon and to look at some of the deep sky objects that the moon didn't wash out. A beautifully clear evening allowed us to expose some young 'uns to the joys of astronomy, and some older folks joined in, as well!
Many thanks to the Peacham Library for providing handouts and some refreshments (phases-of-the-moon Oreos, anyone?).
This may be our final star party of the year, but we'll see what the weather looks like in November and keep you posted (it was pretty brutal last year!). Clear skies!
Also go to www.skymaps.com and download their September and October sky maps! Each includes information on interesting objects to observe - well worth the effort for your own observing!
Check these pages around the first week of November to see if we will have a star party then.
We had an incredibly successful week with 25 wonderful high school students during our first Governor's Institute of Vermont Astronomy week-long workshop, held during the week of July 24 - 30. Images taken with NSO were combined with astrophotography, photometry, and spectroscopy tools to map asteroid light curves, look at supernovae spectra, analyze the spectra of Wolf-Rayet stars, and develop the light curves for RR Lyrae-type variable stars. A longer report will be coming soon! Check out our Facebook page for more information!
We had great clear skies on Friday, June 10 and ended up with a small, but enthusiastic collection of astronomers looking at the Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, M13 and a variety of other deep sky objects!
43 galaxies in a single frame imaged by Derek Li of the White Mountain School at NSO on 4/5/16.
Here is a photo of the Blood Moon Super Eclipse on September 27, 2015 taken with NSO by NKAF educator Brad Vietje. As he remarks - "Pretty tough target for a 17" telescope! The partial phases would be better with a DSLR and a 600mm telephoto -- just too bright for the telescope ..."
Check out this time lapse video of the eclipse made by NKAF docent Bill Vinton:
"This video was created by taking a series of 53 stills at about 5 minute intervals through an Olympus E510 DSLR at the prime focus of my 120 mm f/5 refractor in Waterford, VT. Exposures ranged from about 1/2000 sec for the brightest full moon to 2 sec for totality. The images were aligned and rotated, and adjusted for brightness and contrast.
The telescope mount lost its calibration near the middle of totality, and I didn't dare take the time to re-calibrate; thus some of the long-exposure images ended up a bit blurry.
Notice that the angles of the shadow at the start of the eclipse and at the end of the eclipse differ. Most of the motion is due to the moon moving through the shadow of the earth, and the diameter of the earth's shadow is about 4 times larger than the moon. The moon did not pass through the middle of the shadow - if you think of the shadow as a clock face, then the moon entered the shadow at about "2:30" on the face (edge of shadow almost vertical) and left the shadow at about "7:00" on the face (edge of shadow almost horizontal). This off-center trajectory also led to the bright glow around the lower edge of the moon during totality."
Email email@example.com to get put on the astronomy club mailing list for info about monthly meetings.
We were honored during the summer of 2014 to host young science minds from across VT at our Space Camp in Peacham. Director Brad Vietje and camp Chef/Mom Linda Ide did an amazing job keeping everyone's minds and stomachs filled. Field trips this year included the Fairbanks Museum's planetarium, Dartmouth College's Dept of Physics and Astronomy and Shattuck Observatory, and for the first time we traveled to the AMC Highland Center to work with Carthage College professor Doug Arion.
Special thank you to our awesome campers, their families, our field trip hosts and the Green Mountain Retreat Center.
Additional gratitude is due to our financial aid sponsors - the St. Johnsbury Rotary, Chroma Technology, and our generous local donors. We are committed to making opportunities possible despite financial challenges, and your support makes that possible. Thank you.
Brandon Gamble is seen here calibrating a spectrum taken with our Planewave telescope and a Star Analyzer-200 diffraction grating using RSpec software in the NSO control room under red lights late at night during the 2014 Space Camp.
Our newest blog post on the National Geographic website highlights our work hosting family friendly astronomy events at NEK libraries sponsored by the Vermont Community Foundation
Check out the new blog post on the National Geographic website highlighting our Space Camp:
Our second blog post is up on the Nat Geo website highlighting our work with the Governor's Institutes.
Click this image of the Horsehead Nebula imaged and processed by Madeline McIntire
to see our second blog post. Check back for more updates from Peacham in the future.
Supernova 2014J in M82
Imaged at NSO by
NKAF President Bill Vinton and Educator/Board member Brad Vietje on 1/23/14
Astronomers around the world were excited to see the eruption of a Type Ia Supernova in the (relatively) nearby galaxy M82 (11.5 million light years distant), known familiarly as the "Cigar" galaxy because of its unusual appearance. First observed on January 21 by Dr. Steven J. Fossey at the University of London Observatory, the supernova was subsequently found to be evident in previous observations of M82 taken as early as January 15 . On January 23, when the photograph was taken, the supernova had brightened to magnitude 11, rivaling the brightness of the entire galaxy. It is likely that the supernova will continue to brighten over the next few weeks, perhaps to magnitude 8.5, easily visible with binoculars.
A Type Ia supernova occurs when a white dwarf in a binary star system steals enough mass from the companion star to initiate a sudden, massive runaway fusion reaction in its core that disrupts the entire white dwarf. By contrast, a nova explosion, such as the one that happened this summer in the constellation Delphinus, represents a similar, but much less energetic process, because the rate at which the white dwarf accretes mass from its larger companion is smaller, causing only a relatively gradual surface fusion explosion that does not disrupt the entire star. Another type of supernova, termed Type II, occurs when a heavy star at the end of its life undergoes a sudden catastrophic collapse and explosion.
The luminosities of Type Ia supernovae are quite uniform because of the similarity of the white dwarf progenitors that explode. Thus, they serve as reliable "standard candles" that allow accurate determination of distances to far away galaxies. Observations of Type Ia supernovae in distant galaxies led Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Reiss to conclude in 1998 that the expansion rate of the universe is actually increasing. This momentous discovery led to them being awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics.
Imaged at NSO by
the White Mountain School
astronomy class on 1/9/14
Check out the latest episode of
'What's UP!?' with Mazie O'Connor!
Spectral Observations of
Nova Delphini 2013
Over the past two years, docents and students have developed a sophisticated ability to take attractive photographs of astronomic objects using our wonderful telescope. Now, our initial spectroscopic images represent a new phase in the evolution of our ability demonstrating the potential of Northern Skies Observatory for involving students in authentic scientific research. We have much to learn about the techniques for taking, processing and analyzing such images.
Click the link below to see NKAF President Bill Vinton's work using NSO's new spectroscopic filter to image the Nova Delphini 2013.
NKAF Docent Bobby Farlice-Rubio continues to educate VT on "The :30" on WCAX, and recently he mentioned his ongoing work at NSO imaging comet ISON.
Click his photo below for the video.
Northern Skies Observatory
9/19/13 article from
The Caledonian Record
In May 2012 six students from The White Mountain School visited NSO. Here are the results of their work. Click the slide show above to see larger version.
All Sky Cam on our Weather Page See what is going on right now in the sky above the observatory.
Visit our weather page for a full featured view of what is going on in our neck of the woods.
Venus Transits the Sun - VIDEO If you have not seen this, look at it. It's fun. Click for the time-compressed video.