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.
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…
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.…
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.…
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!).…