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 set up, it suddenly clouds over! Even so, I have managed to get some observing done, despite the 'water vapor nebulae'. And this is certainly better than most Januarys I have experienced since I moved here in 2000.
I also want to mention the Holiday party we held at Tim Burn's house on January 14th. What a good time we all had! There was more food than anyone could eat. There was a lot of fun. And a wonderful white elephant gift exchange (except that there was some very nice stuff in the gift exchange!) Interestingly enough, there were beautiful dark skies at Tim's house, but no one remembered to bring a 'scope. And just like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the skies were clouded over (and a nasty wind had picked up) by the time I got home.
February is the last of three months of 'deep winter' here. But even though we may still be in the deep throes of winter, astronomy activities are heating up! Just looking at the schedule of upcoming events, there is something for (almost) everyone.
There are the usual events. Our Public star parties this month are on Friday, February 3rd (at Redfield Campus Observatory at dusk) and on Friday, February 17th (Sparks Marina park at dusk). There is the member's meeting on Tuesday, February 14th (7 PM at Fleischmann Planeterium on the UNR campus)(I do not know what the topic is yet). The monthly Board of Directors meeting always follows the general meeting, and is open to all members.…
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!…
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…