From the President...

President's perspective for June, 2011

Greeting, fellow ASN members!

Sorry I have been rather quiet around here. There are some periods of the year when my job seems to dominate, and April and May have certainly been in that category. But now, we are moving into summer. And just like it is the case for many animals (especially those with young), summer is a more carefree season for both work and astronomy.

The big story so far this year seems to be the weather. Cloudy (water vapor nebulae!), cold, windy, even snow as recently as May 29th. As I write this, the outdoor temperature (on June 3 at 12:30 AM) is hovering just above freezing. This kind of weather does not for good astronomy make. Lets us hope that as we get into June, that our 'carefree' weather will finally come!

'Weather or not', there is plenty of astronomy-related things to do in June. On Friday, June 3, we will get a chance to check out our new observing digs on the University of Nevada-Reno's Redfield Campus. There is some nice facilities there for telescope users, including some permanent piers. These have power and internet connectivity available for the many of you who use computers with their 'scopes. If you have not come out to any of our first Friday star parties, you ought to consider doing so. Getting to the Redfield Campus is easy. Just take the Mount Rose Highway to Wedge Parkway, and turn south (left for most of you) and drive into the campus.

On Saturday night, June 4th, we have our first 'members-only' star party out at the Trap Shoot site. This is our best dark sky site, and the moon is only a couple days old. BTW, 'members-only' is kind of a misnomer. If you have a friend who would like to learn more about astronomy, bring them along. They simply need to understand that this will be a dark sky event (no flashlights), and that they need to dress warm. They will get a chance to see things that you might not see at a public star party, like lots of 'faint fuzzies', and astrophotography.

On Thursday, June 8th, we have a school star party at Glenshire Elementary School in Truckee. We have another school group, the 'Project 33 Cadets', on Saturday, June 10th out in Cold Springs. School star parties are among the easiest and most fun of all our public outreach events. A viewing of Saturn, or a bright star cluster, or a beautiful nebula can spark a child's interest in astronomy, as well as science in general. For those who have never tried a public star party before, these are a good way to to get started. It is unlikely that you are going to have a child ask a 'simple' question like “what is the Chandrasekhar limit?” Really hard questions are rarely asked, even at adult-oritented public star parties.

Our monthly meeting is on Tuesday, June 14th. 7 PM, at the Fleischmann Planetarium. We are trying real hard to make our monthly meetings have some content that appeals to astronomers of all experience levels. I do know we will have another interesting astronomy video at this month's meeting, but I do not know what the topic is yet. For those of you that are interested, the club business meeting immediately follows the general meeting (and helps ensure the general meeting doesn't run too long!) I know most people don't care for the 'moved and seconded' stuff, but the business meetings are always open to all members.

June 17th is our 'third Friday of the month' public star party out at Sparks Marina. We haven't been able to do too many of these yet, due to the weather. But it is a nice site, and there are usually a lot of people out there. With the 'carefree days' of summer coming on (or so we hope!), this should grow to be quite a popular party. This event is organized every month by Jim Fahey.

The big event for June begins on June, 29th, the Golden State Star Party. This is probably the best star party in our area, and is for 'serious astronomy'. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun if all you have is a modest 'scope (or no 'scope at all). Besides being to try out a lot of different 'scopes (and see some serious astrophotography setups, etc.), there are lectures, vendors and good food to be had. (How many star parties can you go to and come home with a side of beef?) As of this writing (June 3rd), there are still 95 spots available, but these will fill up fast as the date approaches. You can check out the GSSP website at http://www.goldenstatestarparty.org/ . A group travel effort is being organized for this star party.

That's it for June. As busy as June will be, July looks like it will be just as busy. July culminates in the Great Basin Star Party, as very different kind of star party than the Golden State Star Party. But in the meantime, like Jack Horkheimer always said, 'keep looking up'! 

Category: President