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Wednesday, October 4th 7:00 pm.
Madelyn Helling Library
Community Room


Leonhard Euler
Blind Mathematician or
Life Long Astronomer
by Dan St.John

Without dissent Euler is by far the most prolific and influential mathematician in history. But, you may be surprised to learn that he was a life long astronomer from his early years at the St. Petersburg Observatory to his discussions the day he died, on the orbit of the newly discovered planet Uranus. During his life Euler applied his amazing intellect to the most pressing problems of the day. His pioneering work in Astronomy was recognized with six of the twelve prizes he won from the Paris Academy of Sciences.

In this lecture, Dan St. John will discuss the many contributions of Leonhard Euler to the field of Astronomy; reviewing along the way Euler's unparalleled contributions to the field of Mathematics and their effects on an amazing number of disciplines.

Bring a friend ... bring the kids!

President’s Rant

Hello NCA,

I am writing this Rant just after helping at a star party for Grass Valley Charter School 3rd Grade. School star parties are great. Everything is new and exciting to the kids (and to their parents). The students want to know everything that you know right now. Then, when they start to understand, they become very thoughtful. It’s fun for me to watch “the light come on” because that means that we have connected and perhaps sparked an interest in science.

I enjoy being a member of NCA because it connects me to other people in the community who are interested in science and continued learning. But I think that the greater part of NCA is not what we do for and with our members, rather the outreach that we provide for the larger community. As knowledge appears to be falling out of favor, we are a venue for science learning in our area.

On Wednesday Oct. 4th, Dan St. John will tell us about Leonhard Euler the 18th century Swiss mathematician and astronomer. This should be an interesting lecture since the divisions between math, astronomy, and physics have blurred into near non-existence.

Keep looking up,


Outreach - David Buchla

Fall is a great time for astronomy with the earlier sunsets and the still nice evenings before we encounter the cold and frequent dew problems of winter. We had a very nice star party for 48 excited 3rd graders at Grass Valley Charter School on Monday evening (and siblings and parents). We had 5 scopes and some extra help, so the kids didn't have to wait too long before looking in a scope (thanks to our great volunteers!!). Greg Dolkas had his scope connected to a camera/computer, so the kids could see the moon in real time. The crater Theophillis was on the terminator but the central peak was bathed in sunlight from the setting sun, so stood out on all views including the computer screen. Early evening was primarily for the moon and Saturn, which were prominent and beautiful (although seeing was a little soft the kids did not seem to mind). The air currents were due to the jet stream parked over us right now. Even though there are some lights at the school, we were able to pick up some of the brighter show pieces in the sky like M13 and M31. After the moon, I had M81 and M82 in my binoculars - I think in light polluted skies it is amazing to actually see some hints of the spiral arms on M81.One highlight for everyone was a pass of the ISS that was reasonably high in the sky and was visible for several minutes before passing into the earth's shadow. We had a few minutes where the teachers settled the kids down and I gave a short talk. 

We don't at the moment have any other outreach scheduled for now but stay tuned; I will send out an email if we add something. 

Get your eclipse photos together for a presentation in November at our regular November meeting. All members are invited to participate with a 5 to 10-minute block of time (each) to share photos/stories of their eclipse adventures. If you want me to put your photos on a power point set, just email me with the ones you want in your show. To maximize participation, let's keep it to a max of 10 photos so we can put in as many different members as possible. Photos of the area you were and people, etc. are encouraged so it isn't all photos of the eclipse. You don't need to have been at totality to join the fun. Byron showed me some neat partial phase shots he took with clouds - normally clouds are not wanted but in this case he got some very cool shots. Anyway, since I agreed to moderate, let me know if you would be willing to participate - no experience necessary and first timers are wanted! Think about your experience and let everyone know about it. Here is one of my shots of our group at a Teton View B and B in Wyoming with our musicans playing after the eclipse. It was so nice to lay back, listen to the music, and snack on delicious treats provided by the hosts; it doen't get any better than that!


Secretary/Treasurer - Dan St. John


Our Mission is:

'Bringing' Astronomy to the Public'

a BIG Thank You

to all our members who join and make our programs possible!

If you can't make our meeting,

send your check ($20/year for membership benefits) to:

NC Astronomers, %Dan StJohn,                    
12296 Valley View Rd, Nevada City, CA 95959


This article is provided by NASA Space Place. Visit to explore space and Earth science!

Cassini Says Goodbye
by Teagan Wall

On September 15th, the Cassini spacecraft will have its final mission. It will dive into the planet Saturn, gathering information and sending it back to Earth for as long as possible. As it dives, it will burn up in the atmosphere, much like a meteor. Cassini’s original mission was supposed to last four years, but it has now been orbiting Saturn for more than 13 years!

The spacecraft has seen and discovered so many things in that time. In 2010, Cassini saw a massive storm in Saturn’s northern hemisphere. During this storm, scientists learned that Saturn’s atmosphere has water vapor, which rose to the surface. Cassini also looked at the giant storm at Saturn’s north pole. This storm is shaped like a hexagon. NASA used pictures and other data from Cassini to learn how the storm got its six-sided shape. 

Cassini also looked at some of Saturn’s moons, such as Titan and Enceladus. Titan is Saturn’s largest moon. Cassini carried a lander to Titan. The lander, called Huygens, parachuted from Cassini down to the surface of the moon. It turns out, Titan is quite an exciting place! It has seas, rivers, lakes and rain. This means that in some ways, Titan’s landscape looks a bit like Earth. However, its seas and rivers aren’t made of water—they’re made of a chemical called methane.

Cassini also helped us learn that Saturn’s moon Enceladus is covered in ice. Underneath the ice is a giant liquid ocean that covers the whole moon. Tall geysers from this ocean spray out of cracks in the ice and into space, like a giant sneeze. Cassini flew through one of these geysers. We learned that the ocean is made of very salty water, along with some of the chemicals that living things need.

If there is life on Enceladus, NASA scientists don’t want life from Earth getting mixed in. Tiny living things may have hitched a ride on Cassini when it left Earth. If these germs are still alive, and they land on Enceladus, they could grow and spread. We want to protect Enceladus, so that if we find life, we can be sure it didn’t come from Earth. This idea is called planetary protection.

Scientists worry that when Cassini runs out of fuel, it could crash into Titan or Enceladus. So years ago, they came up with a plan to prevent that from happening. Cassini will complete its exploration by diving into Saturn—on purpose. The spacecraft will burn up and become part of the planet it explored. During its final plunge, Cassini will tell us more about Saturn’s atmosphere, and protect the moons at the same time. What an exciting way to say goodbye!

To learn more about Saturn, check out NASA Space Place:

Caption: This image of the hexagonal storm on Saturn’s north pole was taken by Cassini in 2013. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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President John Griffin
Vice President Rick Bernard
Secretary/Treasurer Dan St. John
Paul Bacon
Greg Ouligian

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First Wednesday Of The Month
Madelyn Helling Library
Community Room
980 Helling Way
Nevada City 95959

12296 Valley View Rd
Nevada City CA 95959

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