From the President...

President's Perspective February 2013

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.

And now looking ahead: In just a bit under a month, our annual members' observing schedule begins. This now begins with the spring Messier Marathon/all-nighter event. These events are a lot of fun, whether you are 'marathoning', or just using the extended observing session to look for new things. We usually have our 20 inch 'scope out, as well as a wide selection of members' 'scopes available for observing.

Also in March, there is a (hopefully) bright comet, called Pan-STARRS, that should be visible right around sunset in mid-march. At this time, we are not planning to have any activities in association with this comet, but this could change. We are looking at something more substantive for comet ISON, which should grace our morning skies in late November and December. A committee has been formed to work out a plan. Stay tuned for news on this comet!

The weekly observing at the Redfield Campus MacLean Observatory continues to go well. Reports are that people are starting to show up, and on Fridays other than the first Friday. I have not been able to be out there as much as I like, but that is changing, too. These are a lot of fun, and not nearly as 'formal' as originally advertised.

Jim Fahey has also continued to enjoy success with his third-Friday star parties at Sparks Marina. Some people have wondered if this program is in conflict with what we do at Redfield each Friday. The answer is, it really isn't. These observing campaigns reach out to different groups of people. The Sparks Marina star party is really for the casual person who may not have been planning on doing any stargazing. The Redfield program is more geared to groups, college students, etc. as well as more motivated casual observers who make a special trip out to Redfield to observe.

It's not too early to plan for the Golden State Star Party. The dates are July 6th through July 10th. This has always been a favorite event for ASN members, and we have historically been well represented there. It is a good idea to get your reservation now, as the cost (currently $60) goes up March 30th. There also seems to be some interest in doing either the Tonopah star party or the Great Basin Astronomy Festival (both in September).

The ASN is also considering hosting a similar type of star party to those mentioned above, but it is still in the 'idea' stage. We would do this at some Nevada dark sky site, yet to be determined. I expect this project to grow well beyond our expectations, as word of it gets out.

The bottom line: keep watching the website. Although it will be quieter than 2012, I suspect that you will find that we have a busy year planned!

Until next time, keep looking down (into your eyepiece)!
Tim Stoffel

Category: President