President's Perspective - December 2012

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!

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President's Perspective October 2012

President's Perspective October 2012

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…

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President's Perspective August 2012

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.…

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President's perspective June 2012

I want to keep this really short right now, as I am traveling for both vacation and a conference I am attending (and a lion outside is calling me for some love and attention!).

The solar eclipse event was fabulous! Thanks to all of you who attended this event, and I hope you enjoyed it. Although there were some cloud issues, we had about two minutes of annularity visible. We weren't the only ones unlucky. In talking to others, I know of only one other person who saw the whole thing.

I am guessing there were right around 500 people present at Redfield Campus to see this event. And wow! What an array of viewing devices. One thing I did learn from this event is that optical aids (other then viewing glasses) can make a definite difference in enjoying an event like this. (That said, a total eclipse is probably better without optical aid.)

I have some stunning pictures of the eclipse, taken with my film camera. I will post these as soon as I can get the images scanned in.

The folks from Stargazers were also very happy with how everything turned out. They came back for the Venus transit, but went down to Las Vegas yesterday due to a bad weather forecast in Reno.

I hope that the Venus transit viewing somehow works out for the members, however they plan to view it. Here in Bowling Green,  Kentucky, the local University has organized an event similar to our annular eclipse event. My friends here and I have blocked out the early evening to view this event (If we don't have clouds, too!).…

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President's Perspective May 2012

Its finally here! The event we have all been waiting for, the annular solar eclipse!

By now, I am sure all of you know that we will be having an annular solar eclipse, very visible in Reno, on Sunday, May 20th. The ASN has partnered with the Planetarium, KNPB TV, the Nevada Historical Society, and a couple of other groups to host an 'official viewing' at the MaClean Observatory in UNR's Redfield Campus. Although there are some members-only activities, this event is generally open to the public. And the latest estimates peg more than 1,000 people showing up at this venue to see the eclipse!

Before delving into the details as known, I want to emphasize safe viewing of the eclipse. I am reasonably sure that everyone here knows you cannot directly look at the sun without a proper viewing aid. Doing so would risk permanently damaging your eyesight. This is the number 1 point we all need to drive home to people wishing to view the eclipse.

Viewing aids for solar observing generally fall into three classes-- 1.) Optical filters that allow direct observation of the sun, 2.) Projection devices that project an image of the sun onto a viewing screen of some sort, and 3.) Telescopes properly equipped with solar filters. Let's look at these methods a little more closely.

Number 1, Optical filters that allow direct observation of the sun. The solar glasses we are handing out are an example of this kind of device. These are the easiest way to view the sun, and they give an image limited only by the visual acuity of the user. But they have to be manufactured, and that takes time and money. They also give a small image of the sun. But that said, this is how the vast majority if the public will see this eclipse. Solar viewers are available from Jim Fahey, the Planetarium, Sierra Safari Zoo, and several other places. I carry some around pretty much all the time now, and sell a few here and there. Other officers are doing this as well, and indeed, every ASN member should avail themselves of a few to sell to family, friends, etc. The ASN price for these has been $2 each, or 5 for $5, (Hint, come to Tuesday night's meeting!)…

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