NKAF


 Northern Skies Observatory




Email observers@nkaf.org to get put on the astronomy club mailing list for info about monthly meetings.

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Join us Saturday, 11/1 for an evening  (7-10pm) of observing under clear skies (fingers crossed) at NSO (336 Bayley-Hazen Rd., Peacham) using our collection of portable telescopes out on the lawn. Observe and discuss with neighbors, amateur astronomers, adults and kids. Please park in the school lot, bring warm clothes and red lights.


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Join us Saturday, 9/27 for an evening  (8-10pm) of observing under clear skies (fingers crossed, the forecast looks promising) at NSO (336 Bayley-Hazen Rd., Peacham) using our collection of portable telescopes out on the lawn. Observe and discuss with neighbors, amateur astronomers, adults and kids. Please park in the school lot, bring warm clothes and red lights.
 
http://earthsky.org/tonight/moon-near-saturn-and-approaching-mars-on-september-27
 
http://earthsky.org/tonight/star-hop-from-pegasus-to-the-andromeda-galaxy
 
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Our newest National Geographic blog post highlights the amazing time we had this summer with students from across Vermont.
 
http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/08/28/nkaf-summer-space-camp-connects-vt-teens-to-the-universe-once-again/
 
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Thank you to everyone that came out to enjoy food and see the Moon on Saturday night. Special thanks to Fire District #1 for grilling, Peacham Elementary School for hosting, and Peacham Library for organizing.
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Join us Saturday, September 6th after 6pm for the Fire District Annual Picnic and International Observe the Moon Night, a worldwide celebration of our nearest neighbor, the Moon! Thank you to our partners at the Peacham Library, Peacham Elementary School, and Peacham Fire District #1.


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Our fundraising concert this year was another success.  Thank you to everyone that supported us by coming out to hear a great night of music.  We owe gratitude to the church, the performers, and everyone that donated to the auction:
We appreciate you all. Our science education work in the community is due to your generosity and belief in our mission.

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This image of M16 "the Eagle Nebula" was taken by Caitlin Vollman during her first ever experience with digital imaging and processing at NSO Space Camp. The same object is imaged below but using alternate post-processing by assigning the RGB channels to different filters.

Photo details: CDK-17 telescope with Apogee Alta UM16 camera, single 240 sec exposure through each filter. Processed with ImageJ. Hubble pallet above (Ha=Red, SII = green, OIII = Blue), and Ha & OIII switched below.


We were honored once again this summer 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.


This still image of the Sun was created by Brandon Gamble by stacking 50 individual frames from a 60-second video for greater detail and contrast using NSO's Lunt 80 mm H-alpha Solar Telescope with a loaned DMK-21 video camera. 
That one little sunspot is about the size of the Earth!
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Join us tonight (8/7, 7PM) at the Peacham Library for NKAF Educator Brad Vietje's astronomy presentation. NSO will be open for tours after.


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Support local science education: 

Join us tonight in Peacham for a special performance by WindRose featuring Mark Breen.



We hope you'll join us for our annual fundraising concert and auction on Saturday, 7/26 at 7pm at the Peacham Congregational Church. WindRose featuring Mark Breen will perform again this year, and we will have a larger silent auction giving everyone a better chance to support our science education work.  Tickets are available through CatamounTIX and their box office. We will host a Star Party back at NSO after the performance.


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We are honored to be featured in the Caledonian Record Summer Guide. Thank you to Leah Carey for the excellent interview and coverage.

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Join us Friday, 7/4 from 1 - 4pm for our annual holiday Open House in Peacham.   

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Join us Saturday night (6/28) after 8pm for our first Star Party of the Summer.  

The forecast looks promising. We'll be observing under clear skies (fingers crossed) using our 17 inch PlaneWave telescope in interactive mode, as well as our collection of portable telescopes out on the lawn. Observe and discuss with neighbors, amateur astronomers, adults and kids. Possible astronomy presentations/discussions in inclement weather if there is interest.

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Join us

Saturday, 6/21, 3:00PM 

for the Barnet Public and 
Davies Memorial Libraries 
Summer Solstice 
Astronomy Event

“Building Community 
t
hrough Astronomy: 
Intergenerational 
STEM Learning” 

at Peacham Elementary School and 
Northern Skies Observatory 


Free and open to the public


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Join us for an Open House/Sun Party at Northern Skies Observatory this Saturday, 6/14 from 1-4pm.  Tour our dome and classroom.  See a demo of our main digital telescope.  Use our Lunt solar telescope to safely view the Sun (weather depending).  We hope to see you there.


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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.

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We had a great time working with families in Newport at the Goodrich Memorial Library astronomy event. They have one of the most beautiful libraries we have been in, and it is gorgeous being a half a block from the lake. Thank you to Carol Nicholson, her family, Leila Nordmann from the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, and the Vermont Community Foundation for their support.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.715543425156271.1073741832.205432542834031&type=1

Students used a special high grade welding goggle filter to safely view the Sun.

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Join us Saturday, 5/31 at 3pm at the Goodrich Memorial Library for family astronomy fun.


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The weather does not look like it wants to cooperate with observation this Friday, 5/30 after 8pm for our next Star Party at NSO.  We hope you can join us for an upcoming event.


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Applications are still being accepted for our summer Space Camp.

Dates: Friday evening 7/18 to                                Wednesday evening 7/23

Ages: 14-18 years old

Cost: $750/student


Deadline: Applications due by 5/30

Email NSO Director Damon Cawley for more information and an application - damon@nkaf.org.

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NKAF extends gratitude and appreciation to Madeleine May Kunin for her thoughtful words on women and families in the work place and to her husband, John Hennessey, for joining us. Additional thank you to everyone who came out and supported the event. Our local work would not be possible without you. Final recognition to St. Johnsbury Academy for hosting us in your impressive space on your beautiful campus.


NKAF is proud to present former Vermont Governor Madeleine May Kunin, on Sunday May 18th, 4:00 - 6:00pm at St. Johnsbury Academy’s Stuart Black Box Theatre in the Morse Center for the Arts. Admission will be by donation. 

She will discuss her new book "The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Families." Autographed copies will be available for purchase. 

Kunin, also a former Ambassador and US Secretary of Education, has a wide range of expertise and experience with education and leadership. The premise of her book is that during the 1960s and 1970s, many doors of opportunity were opened to women, and the number of women in the work force has expanded dramatically since that time. However, many decades later Kunin suggests that women and families have not realized the full promise of the American Dream. Her book discusses her proposed solutions on how to advocate for policies that strengthen families in the United States today. 

For more information email NSO Director Damon Cawley - damon@nkaf.org.


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Check out the new blog post on the National Geographic website highlighting our Space Camp:


Email NSO Director Damon Cawley for more information and an application - damon@nkaf.org.

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The Northern Skies Observers astronomy club is honored to welcome Tom Field via WebEx tonight (4/24) to learn more about spectroscopy. Tom is a Contributing Editor at Sky & Telescope Magazine and the author of the RSpec real-time spectroscopy software. He has made it his goal to spread the word about the exciting world amateur astronomical spectroscopy.



Image: Difference in Star Types (OBAFGKM) are clearly visible in these spectra by Torsten Hansen using a Star Analyser grating, an 8″ SCT, and an Imaging Source video camera

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Applications are now being accepted for our summer Space Camp.

Dates: Friday evening 7/18 to                                Wednesday evening 7/23

Ages: 14-18 years old

Cost: $750/student


Deadlines: Applications due by 5/15 with final decisions by 5/30

Email NSO Director Damon Cawley for more information and an application - damon@nkaf.org.



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Tonight we welcome NKAF docent Bobby Farlice-Rubio and his Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium Astronomy Campers to NSO.

https://sites.google.com/a/nkaf.org/home/home/Fairbanksastronomycampflyer.jpg

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Join us this Saturday, 4/12 at 3pm for family astronomy learning and fun at the Craftsbury Public Library.



Our second blog post is up on the Nat Geo website highlighting our work with the Governor's Institutes.

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/04/03/governors-institutes-of-vt-and-nkaf-team-up-to-deliver-astrophotography-to-vermont-teens/
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.
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We are honored to have our work featured in a new blog on the National Geographic website.

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/03/25/hands-on-stem-learning-northern-skies-observatory/
Click this image of the 2012 Venus Transit observation at NSO to see the first blog post.  Check back for more updates from Peacham in the future.

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Join us

Saturday, 3/22, 3:00PM 

for the Peacham and 
Pope Memorial Libraries 
Spring Equinox 
Astronomy Event

“Building Community 
t
hrough Astronomy: 
Intergenerational 
STEM Learning” 

at Peacham Elementary School and 
Northern Skies Observatory 


Free and open to the public


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https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.674812342562713.1073741831.205432542834031&type=1

NGC2244 in the Rosette Nebula 

Imaged and processed by Chrystal Zajchowski at NSO on 2/22/14 with the Governor's Institutes of VT
Winter Weekend

The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont (http://www.giv.org/) creates prestigious, fun, accelerated learning residencies on college campuses for highly-motivated Vermont teenagers. Any Vermont student can ask his/her school guidance counselor for referral to a Governor’s Institute for an unforgettable experience of extreme learning and extreme fun. NKAF offered the first-ever Governor’s Institute Winter Weekend class on astrophotography from 2/21-2/23 at Goddard College which included a Star Party at NSO.
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Using the recently installed Star Analyser 100 spectroscopic filter on the PlaneWave 17" CDK at the Northern Skies Observatory, images were  taken on January 23, 2014 in order to explore the spectrum of Supernova SN2014J. We are still in the process of developing our understanding of what these images show, as well as our technique with calibrating, taking and interpreting these images, but there are some obvious features to point out.

First, the large dip in the spectrum at 607.1 nm is due to silicon II absorption, and is a marker that this is a Type Ia supernova. Here's why:

The white dwarf star that exploded was primarily composed of oxygen and carbon - the end-products of the hydrogen and helium fusion processes that fueled the star for most of its active life. The original star is not massive enough to create sufficient heat and pressure in its core to enable further fusion, so the internal "fusion-furnace" in the core of the star shuts down and the star shrinks to make a very dense white dwarf (typically the mass of the sun in a volume about the size of the earth, a density of 1 ton per cubic cm), and it slowly cools down over billions of years as it radiates away its energy. 

However, if the white dwarf is part of a binary system, and it steals mass from its companion star rapidly enough, the mass of the white dwarf increases to the point that the temperatures and pressures in the core become large enough to fuse the carbon and oxygen, creating a catastrophic explosion that disrupts the entire star. In this supernova process, large amounts of silicon are produced; we see the signature of the silicon in the spectrum.

But wait - there's more! The wavelength of the silicon II line when measured in a laboratory is 635.5 nm. The spectrum shown gives a value of 607 nm. The shift to a lower wavelength is caused by the explosion debris traveling toward us at high velocities - a blue-shift. The speed of the debris is found by finding the fractional decrease in the wavelength - in this case, the measured wavelength is 4.6% less than the laboratory wavelength. This means that the speed being observed is 4.6% of the speed of light. Therefore, the ejecta are traveling toward us at a speed of 14,000 km/sec! Measurements taken by other observers soon after the supernova was discovered found speeds as high as 20,000 km/sec, fast enough to cross the entire US from New York to Los Angeles in 1/4 sec!
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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.

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M42 - The Orion Nebula 

Imaged at NSO by 
the White Mountain School 
astronomy class on 1/9/14


The Moon

Imaged at NSO by 
the White Mountain School 
astronomy class on 1/9/14

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This amazing mosaic of NGC7000, the North America Nebula, was imaged and processed by NKAF President Bill Vinton.


The North American Nebula (NGC7000) is a very large (roughly 2 degrees - about 4 times the size of  the full moon), diffuse, emission nebula that is located in the constellation Cygnus, The Swan. This nebula is found near Deneb, the tail of the Swan, the brightest star in Cygnus, and one of the "Summer Triangle" of stars which also includes Vega and Altair. The red glow of the nebula is the result of a nearby star (perhaps Deneb) that energizes the hydrogen gas, resulting in the reemission much of the adsorbed energy at the hydrogen alpha wavelength. 

This photomosaic consists of nine images of NGC7000 taken on August 18, 2013 with the Northern Skies Observatory 17" PlaneWave CDK reflector using its Apogee Alta U16M CCD camera. Each image is the result of three separate 300 second exposures, one each through Hydrogen Alpha, Oxygen III and Green filters. Each image was processed with ImageJ, with the final mosaic stitched together using the MosaicJ plug-in.

One challenge in processing this mosaic was to adjust the brightness, contrast and color mix of each of the nine images so that they closely matched. For this first attempt, I elected to emphasize the Hydrogen alpha channel, which brings out the red nebulosity seen in the image. A Google Images search illustrates a wide variety of other filter and processing possibilities. In this case, my choices somewhat obscure the "North America" shape, but the "Gulf of Mexico," with the "Yucatan Peninsula" sticking up into it, is located just to the left of center. The intriguing features seen to left of the "Gulf" are known as "Cygnus's Wall" and is the most active region of new star formation in the nebula.
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Join us for free events at NSO in 2014.


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Check out the latest episode of

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rd3Bhuy8xXQ

'What's UP!?' with Mazie O'Connor! 

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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.

https://sites.google.com/a/nkaf.org/home/home/Fig%202%20-%20Enlarged%20Image%20-%20Labeled.jpg

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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.



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Join us this Saturday (10/12) at 6:30pm at the Peacham Elementary School for International Observe the Moon Night.


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Northern Skies Observatory
9/19/13 article from
The Caledonian Record

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Join us this Fall for free events at NSO.

We will be participating in Peacham Fall Foliage Day and International Observe the Moon Night.  Our Star Parties for the rest of the year will be on the first Friday of each month.


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SPACE CAMP 2013

NKAF was honored to host ten teenagers from across Vermont and as far away as Colorado and Toronto from 8/4 - 9 at Northern Skies Observatory. Check out our Facebook photo gallery to see some of the fun science.


Image of M20 taken and edited by Frances Kaplan during Space Camp '13 at NSO.

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NKAF is thrilled to be featured on 
"The :30" on WCAX.  

Thank you to anchor Kristin Carlson for her excellent interview.  Contact us if you would like a similar tour of NSO.

Click the link below to watch the video. 


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Did you hear about NKAF on Vermont Public Radio (VPR) recently?

Charlotte Albright visited the Observatory and reported on how we're helping students improve their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

Click the VPR link below to read/listen to the story.


Take the tour of Northern Skies Observatory like Charlotte did at one of our Star Parties or Open House/Sun Parties. Dates are listed below in our Events section.

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Thank you to everyone who attended our benefit concert and Open House.

Your continued support keeps our organization running and will sustain our programs into the future.

Special thank you to the artists and sponsors that made the event so amazing:
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 Gallery Photos

The White Mountain School Astrophotography

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.


 NSO in the News


  Events - click each event for more details


Venus Transits the Sun - VIDEO   If you have not seen this, look at it.  It's fun.  Click for the time-compressed video.


All Sky Cam on our Weather Page   See what is going on right now in the sky above the observatory.

www.nkaf.org/weather

 Connect with NKAF

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Visit our weather page for a full featured view of what is going on in our neck of the woods. 

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