The Northeast Kingdom Astronomy Foundation is pleased to announce its first STAR PARTY and open house of the new season, on Friday, June 15 at the Northern Skies Observatory, 336 Bayley-Hazen Road, Peacham, VT!
It doesn't really get dark until quite late, but early on we'll have a thin crescent moon, Venus will be up and the "star" of the early evening will be Jupiter! As dusk falls, we'll be able to observe some of the brighter, late spring deep sky objects!
We'll start observing at 8:30 PM and go until we run out of steam!
As always, dress for temperatures about 20 degrees cooler than the thermometer says, bring some bug spray (use carefully around optics!), leave your flashlight at home (unless covered with red plastic!) and park in the Peacham school parking lot.
As always, there is no cost, but we'll gratefully accept donations - if you are able, we suggest $5 per person or $10 for a family.
Check our Facebook page for late-breaking weather information!
We hope to see you there!
A couple of weekends ago I went to Lost Nation Theater in Montpelier to see their new production - "Silent Sky". One of my former students landed a role so I went mainly to see her...
...and I was transported by this play and this production. As a drama director, I have seen a LOT of plays, and this was easily one of the most exciting, joyous, inspirational, moving, life-affirming plays I have ever seen.
The play revolves around the life of Henrietta Leavitt, who, in the early 1900's, discovered the period-luminosity relationship for Cepheid variables, which enabled us, for the first time to really determine the scale and size of the universe. Yeah, I know, I'm a physics/astronomy nut - but there were so many things here - the struggle and joy of scientific discovery; the struggle of women to be taken seriously as scientists; the struggle to balance family life with a devotion to one's profession... There is so much to think about, as I am still.
The production has come to an end, but if another group mounts a production near you, go see it! I don't think you'll be disappointed!
Susan Baxter, an editor at TelescopeWatch.com, reached out to NKAF, noticing the similarities in our mission. She graciously prepared this summary of upcoming astronomical events and the graphic image below - it's a wonderful resource for keeping track of events in the heavens!
2018 Astronomical Events Every Stargazer Has To Witness
Last January 31, 2018, a lot of stargazers, stargazing enthusiasts, and ordinary people were waiting for the Super Blue Blood Moon. It was a rare astronomical phenomenon that combined a blue moon, a supermoon, and a total lunar eclipse. Images have shown a big full moon, beaming a bloody-like crimson orb. If you weren’t able to witness it, you still have a chance to see it again because the next Super Blue Blood Moon will be in 2037.
Another rare celestial event, which happened last March 7, was the planetary linear alignment of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon. Shining brightly in the middle of the alignment is the Antares; it’s the core star of the constellation Scorpius. That would have been a breathtaking sight to look through a telescope.
On March 15, you could have seen a highly visible Mercury as it moved along the greatest elongations. But not to worry. You still have many chances to get a glimpse of the celestial body on April 29, July 12, August 26, November 6, and December 15.
Ten days after the spotlight of Mercury was the return of the Sky Palace or the Tiangong-1. It was launched in 2011 as the first prototype space station of China, traveling the deep space to gather spatial information. Apparently, it ended its official journey in March 2016 and was expected to return the Earth’s atmosphere on March 25, appearing as a cluster of fiery projectiles in the night skies.
Unfortunately, those astronomical events have already happened, except for Mercury’s high visibility. Every stargazer could have ticked them off their “celestial” bucket list. However, the year is still young; there are still so many heavenly phenomena to be excited about, and Telescopic Watch was keen enough to create an infographic for those must-see events. You can check it out here.
...but we're about to start our spring and summer observing parties! Keep posted on upcoming events!
During this winter, we've been running the robotic telescope via the Skynet interface, testing its capabilities and doing some wonderful imaging. During the long, dark nights of winter it's ideal for taking long time-series images. In particular, my students and I been able to grab several very good exoplanet transits, some of exoplanets that have not been observed in a while. Some of the data we have gathered seems to differ significantly from the published values - we'll be able to add to the body of knowledge about some of these! Keep posted for our final results!
Brad Vietje has continued to work closely with AAVSO and gather photometric data for recent supernova and nova events - with credit given on the AAVSO website to Brad and NSO! Congratulations!
If you weren't able to get to our Star Party last week, the weather is looking pretty good for Friday evening, October 27 for "International Observe the Moon Night." NKAF, in collaboration with the Peacham Library, will be hosting this event at the Northern Skies Observatory behind the Peacham School! (The official IOMN date is Saturday, but the weather is looking better on Friday).
We'll start looking at the moon at 6:30 PM, and if there's interest, we'll keep on going! The Library will be hosting activities for younger folks (phases-of-the-moon Oreos, anyone?)
We hope to see you there!
As always, despite the best intentions, weather conditions change. Be sure to check the website and/or Facebook for late notices! (WV)
The skies are going to be clear and dark, so we're going to take the opportunity to look at the mid-Autumn skies on Friday, October 20, starting at 7:30 PM at NSO. This may be the last star party of the season, so please join us!
(International Observe the Moon Night is the following weekend, but the weather is not looking great for the next week.)
The newly revitalized astronomy club will gather at 7 PM at NSO! If you're interested, come join us!
The skies look clear! So join NKAF at the Northern Skies Observatory at 8 PM on Monday, September 25. Remember to bring a warm coat and park down in the school lot. Check here for late news!
Also, for anyone interested in starting an astronomy club - there will be an organizational meeting at 7 PM on Monday, September 25, before the star party! For people of all ages and levels of experience - the only requirement is that you have an interest in astronomy! We'll talk about possible activities, trips, speakers and more! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
A recent YouTube post by John Blackwell alerted me to some processing techniques for bringing out the detail in the corona. Since I don't have Photoshop, I played around a bit in ImageJ and Pixelmator, using a slightly different technique, and came up with a pretty pleasing result, with lots of striation and the prominences visible. In addition, I adjusted my sequence image, using the processed totality image and adjusting the path through the sky... Lots of fun!
To go along with the sequence that enlarged the sun 3 times more than normal (shown below), this one enlarges the sun four times normal. Along the lines of the previous comments, many would aver that the sun in this image "looks right" compared to its path, especially when compared to the picture that shows the sun at its actual size.
Indeed, when people are asked to imagine placing their little fingers, held at arm's length, next to the moon in the sky, they typically guess that the moon (about the same apparent size as the sun, hence the ability to cause total eclipses!) is twice as big as the little finger, and even larger if the moon is near the horizon. In fact, the moon is about 1/2 the size of the little finger (try it! My mind rebels at this, too!). The guessed apparent size is four times the actual apparent size. Thus, we tend to prefer images with larger-than-life suns.
Board member Dan Zucker writes: