Yes, a STAR PARTY! After a long absence, the Northern Skies Observatory in Peacham, VT will hold its first star party open house of the year on the best evening of either June 10, 11 or 12 (Thur, Fri or Sat) depending on the weather! We will follow current Vermont guidance for outdoor events.
We’re close to the summer solstice, so darkness comes late. We will plan to start things at 9 PM, which is the start of “nautical twilight”, though “astronomical twilight” starts at about 10 PM. As always, dress as if it were about 20 degrees colder than the thermometer says, park in the Peacham School parking lot, keep lights away!
Please check the Northeast Kingdom Astronomy Foundation Facebook page to find out the details of which night we will do (it’s a bit early to even guess right now) and current news! www.facebook.com/nkaf.org/
First Star Party of the Season!
It's been a pretty unsettled, cloudy spring, but it looks as though we might have a clear window for a few hours on Friday, MAY 24. So, we're going to give it a try - but be sure to check Facebook for late-breaking news on the weather. If nothing else, we'll be there to give tours of the facility!
As always, park in the school lot, wear a sweater. We're going to start at around 8:30 PM and see what happens!
Star Party / Open House!
The skies get dark early, so it's an ideal time to have an end-of-the season star party! Come join us at the Northern Skies Observatory on Friday, October 19 starting at 7 PM to help us celebrate International Observe the Moon Night (officially on Saturday, but skies will be better on Friday). Park in the Peacham school lot and walk up to the observatory. Dress warmly! It's autumn and the evenings are chilly!
Northern sky over the NSO Dome
Local photographer David Trono took this wonderful picture of the NSO dome on the evening of August 10, 2018. Notice the Double Cluster in Perseus in the center of the image, the Great Galaxy in Andromeda, Messier 31 in the upper right, and a pre-Perseid meteor at the left! Thank you David!
STAR PARTY - Friday, June 15, 2018
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!
"Silent Sky" by Lauren Gunderson
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.
It's been a long cold winter....
...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!
Entries written by NSO Docents and Educators
Operators of the NSO and teachers in local high school and middle schools.