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This month's talk:
I’m banging this Rant out between power shutdowns.
The issues with the power grid are a mixed blessing. We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, dependent upon our modern amenities. I realize that my forebears lived quite happily in a simpler situation, but when one is used to a certain way of existence, it is not easy to unwind the calendar to an earlier time. The blessing part is that without electricity, the light pollution is diminished, and the stars pop out quite beautifully.
November is upon us and the sun is well and truly moving south. The globular clusters of summer are giving way to open clusters and nebulae.
On Sunday, November 3rd, we will revert to standard time and regain the hour that we lost back in March.
On Wednesday, November 6th, we’ll have our next club meeting, weather and PG&E permitting. We will be viewing a couple of lecture videos that will serve as prefaces for future programs. Both topics are quite interesting, and will provide good information without being too technical.
On Monday the 11th, Mercury will transit the Sun. Mercury will be approximately halfway across the Sun at our local sunrise, and the Transit will be over by about 10:04 AM. A club activity is being fleshed out, so I won’t give any details because I don’t have any. However, the next Mercury transit visible from the U.S. will be in May of 2049.
Stay safe and enjoy the darkness.
Outreach - David Buchla
We have received a grant from the disbursement of the funds of the discontinued Public Education Enrichment Fund, which was a non-profit fund originally for the Imaginarium. Our intention is to use these funds to acquire Orion StarBlast telescopes (or similar) and accessories for the Nevada County library system so that each library might have a telescope available to be checked out. Will keep everyone updated as to progress on purchase of these telescopes. We are pleased to be able to offer this great outreach opportunity to the libraries throughout Nevada County.
I am using this forum to announce that I am not running for the board at the conclusion of this term. I have been on the board since the club's beginning and it is time for me to step down. We need someone for Outreach and editing the newsletter as well as helping with programs. It has been my privilege to serve and I will continue to participate as a general member.
I will be happy to help with a smooth transition.
Astronomy on Tap
NC Astronomer members continue to enjoy the beer and 'blather' at the Ol' Republic Brewery. The beer selection at the Brewery is quite comprehensive, they seem to enjoy naming beers after astronomical topics and the environment is designed for in depth conversations on deeply philisophical questions.
Each month we choose several current topics in Astronomy and share our ignorance.
Astronomy on Tap will meet on
The third Monday of the month at 5pm
Come and join the conversation at
Ol' Republic Brewery below SPD in Nevada City!
Secretary/Treasurer - Paul Bacon
Our Mission is:
'Bringing' Astronomy to the Public'
a BIG Thank You
to all our members who join and make our programs possible!
I will be collecting membership contributions
($20/year for member or family)
at our Monthly Meetings,
If you can't make the meeting, send your check to:
NC Astronomers, %Paul Bacon,
This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network
The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.org to find local clubs, events, and more!
The Messenger Crosses the Sun: Mercury Transit 2019
By David Prosper
Did you know that there are two other objects in our skies that have phases like the Moon? They’re the inner planets, found between Earth and the Sun: Mercury and Venus. You can see their phases if you observe them through a telescope. Like our Moon, you can’t see the planets in their “new” phase, unless they are lined up perfectly between us Earthlings and the Sun. In the case of the Moon, this alignment results in a solar eclipse; in the case of Mercury and Venus, this results in a transit, where the small disc of the planet travels across the face of the Sun. Skywatchers are in for a treat this month, as Mercury transits the Sun the morning of November 11!
You may have seen the transit of Venus in 2012; you may have even watched it through eclipse glasses! However, this time you’ll need a solar telescope to see anything, since eclipse glasses will only reveal the Sun’s blank face. Why is that? Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system, and closer to the Sun (and further away from Earth) during its transit than Venus was in its 2012 transit. This makes Mercury’s disc too small to see without the extra power of a telescope. Make absolutely certain that you view the transit via a telescope equipped with a safe solar filter or projection setup. Do NOT combine binoculars with your eclipse glasses; this will instantly burn a hole through the glasses – and your eyes! While most people don’t have solar telescopes handy, many astronomy clubs do! Look for clubs hosting Mercury transit observing events near you at bit.ly/findnsn (USA) or at bit.ly/awbtransit (worldwide).
What a fun opportunity to see another planet during the day! This transit is expected to last over five hours. Folks on the East Coast will be able to watch the entre transit, weather permitting, from approximately 7:35 am EST until around approximately 1:04 pm EST. Folks located in the middle of North America to the west coast will see the transit already in progress at sunrise. The transit takes hours, so if your weather is cloudy, don’t despair; there will be plenty of time for skies to clear! You can find timing details and charts via eclipse guru Fred Espenak’s website: bit.ly/mercurytransit2019
Mercury’s orbit is small and swift, and so its position in our skies quickly changes; that’s why it was named after the fleet-footed messenger god of Roman mythology. In fact, if you have a clear view of the eastern horizon, you’ll be able to catch Mercury again this month! Look for it before dawn during the last week of November, just above the eastern horizon and below red Mars. Wake up early the morning of November 24th to see Mars, the Moon, and Mercury form a loose triangle right before sunrise.
Discover more about Mercury and the rest of our solar system at nasa.gov
Photo of the May 9, 2016 transit of Mercury. Mercury is the small dot on the center right. Note how tiny it is, even compared to the small sunspot on the center left. Credit: Dave Huntz
This photo from the same 2016 transit event shows Mercury a bit larger, as it should; it was taken at a higher magnification through a large 16 inch telescope! Credit: J. A. Blackwell
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