From the President...
President's Perspective June 2013
- Created on Monday, 03 June 2013 01:32
- Category: President
It's been a busy past few months! I wish I could say it was all about astronomy, but it wasn't. Much of it had to do with a bill before the Nevada legislature (SB245) that would have banned the ownership of animals like big cats and primates, even for most zoos, wildlife facilities, magicians, etc. in Nevada. If passed, our zoo would have to close within a few years, due to lack of animals. It was a lot of work, but a group of very dedicated and determined animal owners and their supporters (which I am involved with, as a big cat keeper) fought to have this bill killed! Add to this two trips for work, and a work-related project that has taken almost every free weekend I have had since March, and you can see why I have been quiet. But enough of that!
Now, in the 'best-laid plans' department: Most of you know that ASN owns a 20 inch and a 24 inch Dobsonian telescope. The 20 inch, in the care of ASN member Jeff Wolff, is frequently seen at club events. But not the 24 inch. Why? It's big. it's tall. It's heavy! A big ladder is needed to reach the eyepiece at zenith, which makes it less than safe for most public star parties. With a focal length of 3048 mm, you are pushing your luck with any eyepiece smaller than about 20 mm, and it has a rather narrow field of view for a f5 telescope. Thus no one wants to go to the considerable trouble of hauling it to a star party. But I like the 'scope and since it is stored at my place, I have been learning how to use it. And like Jeff, I have been working on improving it, by adding things like digital setting circles. My goal was to have this 'scope ready for the Golden State Star Party, where it can be seriously used and evaluated for a few days to see what it is really capable of.
President's Perspective February 2013
- Created on Sunday, 10 February 2013 18:18
- Category: President
Its been a long time since I wrote a column. December and January were downright crazy, and some of it not in a good way. I spent the first two weeks of January more or less nonfunctional due to two closely spaced illnesses (except for work, of course! It's interesting how the sickness hit mainly on the weekends!). This kept me from being able to participate in a number of club activities, including our Holiday party.
I also found myself 'shading cameras' for a televised basketball game the night of our monthly meeting, something that I had not planned to happen (but it looks like there was a good meeting, anyway).
I have been working on a base for my new observatory, and that project has grown to seemingly take every available resource, especially time. I had planned to do a lot on it in the last week, in actuality I have been unable to do anything. I may have to defer that project to this summer if my schedule gets any more intense.
But I am beginning to get back 'in the groove of things', and have been able to make a couple star parties in the last couple of weeks. That should continue, especially as the weather improves for these activities.
One activity that is really beginning to ramp up is the RECON project. This is a project to observe Kuiper belt objects by measuring star occultations. A couple of people in our club (Dennis Jamison, for one, if I recall) has already tried this. A number of us are going to try another one this evening (February 10th). This should be very interesting, and this will be our first chance to see how well the provided Celestron 11 inch 'scope works, as well as see if our own 'scopes are up to the challenge. The training for this is in early April (4th-7th), in Carson City. Because this is local to us, there are some opportunities for additional ASN members to attend this training. This will be discussed at the February and March meetings.
President's Perspective - December 2012
- Created on Friday, 07 December 2012 03:59
- Category: President
I hope this will be a short President's perspective for a change. A lot is going on in my personal life at the moment (mostly good stuff, for a change), and I am writing this in the wee hours of the night!
In September, we had a most pleasant picnic and star party at Wilson Commons Park in Washoe Valley. We had good weather for a change. The food and the observing were very good as well. I think this is going to become a 'standard event' for the ASN, and it has been suggested we do more of these kinds of events.
October and November turned out to be incredibly busy months for the ASN. It started with the business meeting of that month. At that meeting, a letter was presented to Tony Berendsen, of the UNR Physics Department, indicating our desire to go ahead with re-establishing our relationship with the UNR Physics Department, and hopefully getting a permanent place to meet. (In the meantime though, KNPB has very graciously given us indefinite use of their Community Room for our monthly meeting!)
The ASN also became comfortable with the weekly observing program for the Planetarium, out at the Redfield Campus's MacLean Observatory. At a meeting with Dan Ruby a week ago, it was decided to continue with this program, and a new list of volunteers was issued. This program is starting to pick up some interest, and the logistics have not been nearly as bad as we all thought they would be. The hours have even been adjusted back to 6-8 PM for December and January. This helps most people who are involved, and it won't be nearly as cold as it would be later in the evening. Now, let's hope for some clear skies on Fridays!
President's Perspective October 2012
- Created on Thursday, 04 October 2012 03:44
- Category: President
Wouldn't you know it, fall is upon us already!
After what seemed like an all-too-short summer, we are heading for colder weather. Winter means cold observing, but some of the best skies of the entire year. But before we get completely frozen out, it looks like we are going to have a few more good weeks of weather. And the ASN plans on capitalizing on that good weather (crossing fingers, toes, etc.)!
In any case, one of the biggest challenges to face the ASN in a long time has been, at least for now, 'tamed'. In August, the ASN decided to work with Dan Ruby and his Friday night observing program at the MacLean Observatory. We will continue to meet at KNPB for our monthly meeting until such a time as we have made a permanent decision as to where to meet. (And KNPB for their part, has scheduled us in their community room indefinitely on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, a very nice thing for them to do! So, we can choose to keep using that space as well. In return, it was discussed that perhaps we will man the phones for a live membership night once in a while.)
Although it is off to a slow start, we plan to work with Tony Berensden of the University Physics department in securing a permanent meeting space, probably at Redfield campus. It is next to the observatory and has some very nice classroom-type spaces we could use. If we approach this carefully and work through the politics that are undoubtedly involved, we may end up with this space reserved with few or no strings attached. Once this gets going, I (or whoever the next president is) will form a committee to be our official 'voice' during this process.
President's Perspective August 2012
- Created on Thursday, 02 August 2012 03:18
- Category: President
Ah! The warm days of summer!
It is finally warm enough at night to do 'shirtsleeve star parties'. It has been a while coming this year, and even as recently as three weeks ago, one needed a jacket out at Trapshoot. The cool night are a blessing though, on most nights, as it makes sleeping much more comfortable.
Speaking of Trapshoot, we had a wonderful members-only star party out there on the evening of July 14th. I don't know what it is about that spot, but some of the most memorable astronomy I have ever done has been at this location. July 14th was no exception. Nice dark skies, some better-than-average deep sky conditions and the club's 20 inch 'scope made for a night to remember for a long time. I don't think I have seen the veil nebula-- my favorite deep space object-- any better at any time! I also tried some astrophotos with my new full-frame DSLR. Even shooting with a ridiculously high ISO of 52,000 (and an F 8 aperture), I got some stunning Milky Way photos. This is my first tentative foray into deep space astrophotography, and undoubtedly, not my last.
The big news in the club, though, continues to be working out where the permanent home of the ASN will be. As many of you know, the Planetarium has tightened the rules on use of the meeting spaces in the Planetarium and some other UNR facilities. In addition, we have been asked to volunteer a moderately significant amount of our time in service to the Planetarium and the MacClean Observatory in return for use of these meeting spaces. The commitment that Planetarium Director Dan Ruby is specifically looking for, is to come up with enough volunteers to allow the Planetarium's 'scope at the MacClean Observatory to be manned every Friday evening.