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



Gravity and LIGO

by Barry Mingst

Sierra College


Barry (Sierra College Professor) will present information on Gravity Waves and their relationship to Super Nova, Neutron Stars and Black Holes. Starting in 2015, with upgrades to two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories (LIGO), 5 separate observations of Gravity Waves have been detected 'simultaneously' at each of these LIGO Observatories in the United States. 

What are gravity waves and what is their relationship to Neutron Stars and Black Holes.  Barry will help us understand this exciting topic in 21st Century Gravity Science.

Bring a friend ... bring the kids!

President’s Rant

Happy tenth anniversary NC Astronomers!

That’s right. Ten years ago, we held our first meeting. How time flies when you’re just living your life. We will be celebrating a bit at the meeting on the 7th.

We had a good, rambling discussion of radio bursts at ‘Astronomy on Tap’ on the 21st. If you enjoy good conversation and good beer, (no particular order), then I encourage you to join us at Ol’ Republic for the next gathering. TBA.

As I write this epic, I see on my Observer’s Calendar that there are a few interesting occurrences in March. Beginning on the 5th, the Zodiacal light is supposed to be visible in the west after evening twilight for the following 2 weeks. Of course, now that we are having winter, seeing anything will be questionable. But we’ll keep a happy thought.

On March 11th, we mess up the clock again with daylight “saving” time. On the 15th, Mercury will be at its greatest elongation, 18 deg. east of the sun. This will be the best evening apparition of the year. Then on the 20th, we have the spring equinox. The sun moves north of the equator, and the nights get shorter more quickly.

Come to the meeting on the 7th to hear Barry Mingst on gravity waves, LIGO, neutron stars, and black holes. These are definitely hot topics right now. Einstein’s theories predicted them, and our technology has finally advanced enough to be able to observe them. Oh, and have a slice of anniversary cake also.


See you at the meeting,


Outreach - David Buchla 

Hard to believe that March is upon us. We had a request from the library for a "moon viewing" but unfortunately, I had to turn it down as it conflicted with Scotten School Science Night, which is March 22. I need to verify time, but if it is like past years, we can get into the Multipurpose Room at 4 pm and kids arrive at 5 pm. We can use help inside and out -. We printed 250 star wheels for our outreach programs and plan to have them at Scotten School, Outside we will need a few scopes to view the moon.

STEAM is April 7 from 9 am to 3 pm at the fairgrounds. With both events, if you can help kids cut out star wheels or help with setup, it would be appreciated. 



Astronomy on Tap

NC Astronomer members continue to enjoy the beer  and 'blather' at the Ol' Republic Brewery.  Their beer selection is quite comprehensive and they seem to enjoy naming beers after astronomical topics. 

Our discussions in March will begin with the topic 

"How the North Koreans 'distort the night sky'

as they 'promote' their missle launches"

  Related image

To prepare for this discussion, please follow this link to look for the brief PBS reference to North Korea altering the night sky (for what purpose)?

Wednesday, March 21st at 5pm

Ol' Republic Brewery!


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 2018 membership contributions

($20/year for member or family)

at our meeting on March 7th,

If you can't make the meeting, send your check to:

          NC Astronomers, %Paul Bacon,                    
10572 Oak St., Grass Valley, CA 95945


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

What Is the Ionosphere?

By Linda Hermans-Killiam

High above Earth is a very active part of our upper atmosphere called the ionosphere. The ionosphere gets its name from ions—tiny charged particles that blow around in this layer of the atmosphere.

How did all those ions get there? They were made by energy from the Sun!

Everything in the universe that takes up space is made up of matter, and matter is made of tiny particles called atoms. At the ionosphere, atoms from the Earth’s atmosphere meet up with energy from the Sun. This energy, called radiation, strips away parts of the atom. What’s left is a positively or negatively charged atom, called an ion.

The ionosphere is filled with ions. These particles move about in a giant wind. However, conditions in the ionosphere change all the time. Earth’s seasons and weather can cause changes in the ionosphere, as well as radiation and particles from the Sun—called space weather.

These changes in the ionosphere can cause problems for humans. For example, they can interfere with radio signals between Earth and satellites. This could make it difficult to use many of the tools we take for granted here on Earth, such as GPS. Radio signals also allow us to communicate with astronauts on board the International Space Station, which orbits Earth within the ionosphere. Learning more about this region of our atmosphere may help us improve forecasts about when these radio signals could be distorted and help keep humans safe.

In 2018, NASA has plans to launch two missions that will work together to study the ionosphere. NASA's GOLD (Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk) mission launched in January 2018. GOLD will orbit 22,000 miles above Earth. From way up there, it will be able to create a map of the ionosphere over the Americas every half hour. It will measure the temperature and makeup of gases in the ionosphere. GOLD will also study bubbles of charged gas that are known to cause communication problems.

A second NASA mission, called ICON, short for Ionospheric Connection Explorer, will launch later in 2018. It will be placed in an orbit just 350 miles above Earth—through the ionosphere. This means it will have a close-up view of the upper atmosphere to pair with GOLD’s wider view. ICON will study the forces that shape this part of the upper atmosphere.  

Both missions will study how the ionosphere is affected by Earth and space weather. Together, they will give us better observations of this part of our atmosphere than we have ever had before.      

To learn more about the ionosphere, check out NASA Space Place:

This illustration shows the layers of Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s GOLD and ICON missions will work together to study the ionosphere, a region of charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Changes in the ionosphere can interfere with the radio waves used to communicate with satellites and astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS). Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Duberstein (modified)


Click to Contact
President John Griffin
Vice President Rick Bernard
Secretary/Treasurer Paul Bacon
Outreach Coordinator David Buchla
At Large Greg Ouligian
At Large Dan St. John

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

10572 Oak St.
Grass Valley, CA 95945

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