President's Perspective April 2012

It has been a busy couple of months for me, so I haven't had a lot of time to write stuff. My employer, KNPB TV, got a grant to build a new production control room. The challenge with this project was having to install about half a million dollars of new equipment, and rewire both video and audio in the control room, in about a month and a half, while retaining the ability to produce TV shows during the project. Needless to say, I worked 10-12 hours a day, for about 20 days straight getting this project done. (Ask me for a tour sometime if your interested!) As soon as this was done, I was able to spend 9 days in Southern Nevada, at a friend's place taking care of their animals while they took a trip. (More about that, later!) So, now, I am in 'catchup mode'.

This is traditionally the time of the year when ASN 'wakes up' from the long winter. So, observing activities are starting to ramp up for late spring and summer. But eclipsing all of this (all puns intended) is the upcoming annual eclipse of the sun on May 20th. This will be the biggest astronomical event for the ASN since the close approach of Mars in August of 2003. (I still remember the entire Mapes Hotel site filled with people, taking their turn to see Mars!) Plans for this event are coming together quickly, and you are advised to keep checking our website, as well as the Fleischmann Planetarium website for the event: http://www.eclipsereno.unr.edu. There will be information there for people traveling to the area as well.

The events on May 20th will get underway about 5 PM at the MacLean Observatory, 18600 Wedge Parkway, in Reno. This is just off Mt. Rose Highway for those of you who have not yet joined us for our first Friday monthly public star parties there. There will be plenty to do besides look at the sun. There will be some demonstrations by the Desert Research Institute and Nevada Energy. The local Girl Scouts have some activities going on as well. KNPB TV will be bringing 'Sid the Science Kid' for children to meet. After the eclipse, there will be a dinner (see webpage for costs, etc.) for members of the various organizations (including ASN members) who participated in the event. At the dinner, Dean Regas, host of the popular PBS 'Stargazers' series, will be speaking. In any case, we are expecting a big turnout from the general public, a turnout that should eclipse (those puns again!) the 2003 Mars event!

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Category: President

February 2012 President's Perspective

2012 sure has gotten off to an interesting start!

Who would have imagined the kind of weather we have been having, in January? It has made some possibilities for astronomy that otherwise wouldn't have been. I've taken advantage of these possibilities. But it seems every time I get the 'scope…

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Category: President

December 2011 President's Perspective

 

Another year is rapidly heading to a close...but it's not over yet!

This coming Saturday morning, December 10th, there will be a total lunar eclipse very early in the morning. The moon will enter totality at 6:06 AM and exit totality at 6:57 AM. At that point, the moon will only be 2 degrees above the horizon (invisible to much of Reno unless you are lucky enough to be on a mountaintop). Furthermore, sunrise will be only a few minutes away, at 7:09 AM. This should be a very interesting and unusual eclipse, and one very much worth getting up to watch.

The ASN will be working with the Planetarium to interpret this event to the general public. If you can, come out and join us from 5 to 7 AM at the planetarium. Hot drinks will be provided.

If you come out, one thing you will not see is me. Or, planetarium director Dan Ruby. If you look over at KNPB TV's studio building, you might see either or both of us, freezing on the roof. Why is this? It seems that WPBT TV in Miami, the folks that produce 'Star Gazer', will be covering this eclipse from KNPB and webcasting the event. (I think most readers of this column know I an the Assistant Chief Engineer of KNPB TV). Dean Regas and Marlene Hildago will be live in the studio providing commentary and answering viewer questions. You can learn more about it at http://www.stargazersonline.org/webcast/ . While they are talking, Dan Ruby and I will be operating a broadcast grade TV camera on a tracking mount on KNPB's roof, tracking the moon. This should be an interesting engineering exercise and a lot of fun! In preparation, I have figured out the celetial mechanics of this eclipse to the point I can say 'the moon will set over that telephone pole'. It will be interesting to see how close my predictions are.

In any case, the last time that WPBT did this webcast, they got 260,000+ hits. Not bad for an early morning event! We are expecting the same this time. This event is a big test to see how well things will work for the May 20th annular solar eclipse. Hopefully by then, the weather should be a bit warmer!…

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November 2011 President's Perspective

September and October were fun months for the ASN!

September saw us do a rather fun activity we have never really tried before-- a picnic. The date was September 24th, and the place was Wilson Commons. The weather did not cooperate, at least, not at first. There were unforecast thunderstorms…

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President's perspective for September, 2011

Wow, how quickly a year goes by....we are already heading into September!

And what a summer it has been! For me, there was the Feline Conservsation Federation convention in June (where I got the chain mail short many of you have seen me wearing). Then the Golden State Star…

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Category: President