President’s Perspective: Feb/Mar 2014 2.0
- Category: Uncategorised
- Created on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 10:40
The ASN is so busy in the second half of February that I’m writing my second President’s Perspective of the month. The Sparks Marina star party is in two days (third Friday of the month); we have a public star party at the UNR Redfield campus observatory every Friday night; next week we have two school star parties (February 25 and 27); and then the one I’m looking forward to the most, our spring Messier Marathon on Saturday March 1st. I hope to see you at some of these events!
I would like to thank everyone who attended the February 11 business meeting at KNPB. Although these meetings can be dull, this one was very helpful to our future. I’m writing here to give you a brief summary and my “perspective”. These are NOT the official minutes, but some important motions were passed and I’d like everyone to know about them. If you didn’t attend the meeting, here are some highlights:
First, we passed a motion that changes the location and type of future meetings for our members.
I want to assure you that as before, members’ meetings will occur on the second Tuesday of EVERY month. An email announcement will be distributed about a week in advance. Here is what’s new:
- In even-numbered months, our members will meet at the normal time and place, KNPB’s Community Room, at 7pm. A technical presentation (about an hour) will be included. Members do not need to remain for the Business (Activity) Meeting that follows.
- In odd-numbered months, the members’ meetings will be informal social gatherings at venues such as Pub-N-Sub or a member’s house with a potluck dinner. Non-astronomical topics could be discussed at these meetings. The times and places will vary and will be included in the email announcement.
- We agreed (though this was not part of the motion) that future presentations should be oriented toward amateur observation and equipment topics. The goal is to make our presentations interesting and helpful without duplicating information readily available on the internet.
- By cutting the number of presentations in half, the workload on our presenters will be reduced to more sustainable and manageable levels. Each presenter would likely give only one presentation per year.
Second, we are planning for a dark-sky members-only star party near the new Moon each month. Andy Dierenga has distributed a list of potential dates. There was some concern that members will have to choose between dark-sky and public star parties if they are too closely spaced. I think we will choose based on what is most appealing to each of us at the time. Most of us joined the ASN in part because we want opportunities to observe with big telescopes under dark skies, so I think it’s important that we include these star parties. Some of these dark-sky parties will be held to the south of Reno, at the Nature Conservancy and Wilson Commons, so we can observe with members in the Carson/Minden area.
Third, our newsletters will be simplified by excluding technical content that is readily available on the internet. The newsletter format is still under discussion, but we are leaning towards a shorter, simpler format that will include reminders of upcoming events and a message from the president on the current status of our activities and plans. Tim Burns has some great ideas for using the ASN website to drive newsletter production by allowing members to sign up to receive news in areas of particular interest to them. This should help address one of the concerns about the current newsletter, that people aren’t interested in reading it.
What's Up Feb-Mar 2014
- Category: Whats Up Tonight
- Created on Sunday, 02 February 2014 04:50
What’s Up February 2014
New no new moon in Feb
First Quarter Feb 6th
Full Feb 14th
Last Quarter Feb 22th
Non this month
Comets (Flying Ice Burgs)
154P/Brewington in Pisces
C2012 S1 (ison) in Camelopardalis
The objects listed below will be visible end of February
M105 Ellip Galaxy Leo RA 10h 47m 49s Dec 12deg 34’ 51” Mag 9.5
M106 Spiral Galaxy Canes Venatici RA 12h 18m 57s Dec 47deg 18’ 25” Mag 8.3
M108 Spiral Galaxy Ursa Major RA 11h 11m 29s Dec 55deg 40’21” Mag 9.9
M109 Spiral Galaxy Ursa Major RA 11h 57m 35s Dec 53deg 22’ 25” Mag 9.8
M110 Ellip Galaxy Andromeda RA 0h 40m 22s Dec 41deg 41’ 6” Mag 7.9
President's Perspective Feb/Mar 2014 1.0
- Category: President
- Created on Tuesday, 04 February 2014 14:25
The year 2014 started for the ASN with a memorable Holiday Party at Tim Burn’s home on January 18. It was well attended, the food and gift exchange were great, and everyone enjoyed the opportunity to socialize.
Your officers hope that 2014 will be a year of greater participation by our members. We want you to have fun with astronomy, and we’re planning activities with that in mind. Some ideas for upcoming events were discussed at a meeting of ASN officers the week after the Holiday Party, at Jeff Wolff’s home. We agreed to put more emphasis on members-only events than public outreach in 2014, and offer new attractions to increase member participation. Here is a taste of what is to come:
- One of our past presidents, Andy Dierenga, is organizing a members-only dark–sky observing session for each month of the year.
- We will hold our Messier Marathon all-nighter at the Scholl residence in Palomino Valley on the night of Saturday, March first. Before sunset there will be a Bar-B-Q and a telescope will be raffled off to a lucky ASN member. The tickets are free but you must be present to win! We hope to see you there for a night of friendship and observing.
- Jim Fahey is organizing an Astronomy Day public outreach event at Sparks Marina on May 10, building on a very successful event in 2013. This year we are reserving shaded space at the Marina picnic area, and we’re going to raffle off another telescope, this time by selling tickets to the public. There will be both solar and night-time observing. We hope the raffle proceeds will offset the cost of the event to the ASN.
- We will also repeat our successful 2013 experience at Lassen Volcanic National Park on August 1st through 3rd. Lassen offers a rare opportunity for first-class dark sky observing in a beautiful natural setting.
- Jim suggested we sell our horse trailer and put the proceeds toward a new, more practical astronomy trailer that can be used to store and transport our large telescopes to event sites such as Lassen, the Golden State Star Party, or Messier Marathons. What a great idea!
- Jim also came up with the idea of a telescope swap meet that could be coordinated with the Planetarium. This would allow the club to find homes for some our donated items that aren’t being used, as well as provide opportunities for members to do the same with their own equipment, or find upgrades and accessories to round out their set of observing gear.
Honorary ASN Member John Dobson Passes Away at 98
- Category: Other Members
- Created on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 22:05
The Sky Above
- Category: Member Articles
- Created on Saturday, 01 June 2013 05:03
So you ‘ re interested in astronomy ( the study of the cosmos) and you’d like to learn more about the night sky. Let’s start by dividing the celestial sphere (the visible universe) into segments or regions. This has already been done for us by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). There is a finite number of eighty-eight regions (constellations) that cover our visible universe from earth. That’s not such a big number and it gets even smaller if you live in the northern hemisphere because there are quite a few constellations that are not visible to us from here. Let us focus on a very important group.
Many people say to me, especially at public star parties that they don’t know any constellations except the BIG DIPPER ( Ursa Major) and ORION. My reply is usually “ Everybody has heard of the ZODIAC and its twelve constellations.”
Now a little ‘science lesson’ to help you locate these celestial bodies. The sun , moon and planets all travel in a specific path or band across the sky. This is called the ecliptical plane or ‘ecliptic’. Cuneiform writings from Mesopotamia circa 2000 B.C. have revealed to us that ancient astronomers gave names to the groupings of stars (constellations) as they watched the sun, moon and planets pass through them each year. The Greeks adopted them from the Babylonians and passed them on to other civilizations. The word ZODIAC is a Greek word meaning a group of animals. Ancient Egypt adopted many, as well as India and China. As time passed these constellations became known as the Zodiac and over time the number of them has varied between twelve and eighteen.
We now have twelve signs of the zodiac. Each one covers 30 degrees of the sky for a total of 360 degrees which completes the ecliptic. Let’s name these famous constellations: Aries ( the ram), Taurus ( the bull), Gemini ( the twins), Cancer ( the crab), Leo ( the lion), Virgo (the virgin), Libra (the scales), Scorpio (the scorpion), Sagittarius (the archer), Capricornus (the sea-goat), Aquarius (the water-pourer), and Pisces (the fish). You may have noticed that I did not start with Aquarius but instead Aries. Technically the zodiac begins where the sun falls on the first day of spring (the vernal equinox) which is in Aries.
When you go outside and see the path the sun cuts across the sky or the path of the moon, look for the constellations we named before and try to see the creatures that ancient astronomers saw many years ago. In my next article I will focus on a few of these constellations revealing more details about them and objects found within their fixed boundaries as well as constellations nearby. I intend to pick ones that are visible between 9 and 10 PM our time.