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Wednesday, October 3rd 7:00 pm.
Madelyn Helling Library
Community Room


 This month we have two speakers....

The Parker Solar Probe

Alan Stahler

VERY introductory astrophotography

Paul Bacon

Before dawn on Wednesday, Oct 3 (the day of our meeting), The Parker Solar Probe will flyby Venus to slow itself down as it falls toward the sun.  We are used to hearing about NASA using 'flybys' of Jupiter to 'sling shot' a satellite to higher speeds.  Come and hear how a Venus 'flyby' is being used to slow down the Parker Probe and why.

Al Stahler will talk about the maneuver and the mission.

Paul Bacon will discuss 'easy' ways to take a picture of the heavens.  If he can get you to take even ONE picture, you will be captivated and 'trapped' for a life time of exploration (and expense?).

All are welcome! Bring a friend!

President’s Rant

Hello NC Astronomers,

We have passed the equinox, and the sun is headed south for the winter. It’s getting dark earlier, which means that we can do our star gazing and still get to bed at a reasonable hour. That seems to be more of a concern with each passing year.

We held a star party for the third grades at Grass Valley Charter School on September 13th. I am always pleased and a little amazed by the focus that the children have. I had many kids glue themselves to my eyepiece as if they were trying to memorize every photon that they captured! There are few adults that take the time that those kids took to just hang out and absorb the view. Perhaps I can learn from them to slow down and appreciate the view.

Our star party at Snowflower RV Resort on September 8th was cancelled by a forest fire. We’ll be in contact with them to see about next year.

Speaking of darkness, (nice segue, huh) I have been recently reminded that a dark sky is an asset not to be taken for granted. Many people don’t see darkness as something to be cultivated and nurtured, but rather as something to be eradicated. My false assumption was that the work of The International Dark Sky Association had made people aware of the need to protect darkness and to practice good lighting design. I also falsely assumed that the advent of energy-saving LED lighting would encourage the installation of new, better-designed lights that would give back some of the darkness that had been lost.

Cue the Law of Unintended Consequences. Many agencies found that they could replace existing lighting at a savings, and then add more lights without raising their power bill. The net result is that the developed world has gotten brighter than it was before.

The bottom line is that we need to continue to work to maintain our dark skies.

Finally, come to the meeting Wednesday, October 3rd, to hear Alan on the Parker Solar Probe, and Paul on beginning astrophotography. And, of course, come for beer and blather on the 17th at Ol’ Republic.

Dark skies,


Outreach - David Buchla

We had a very successful school outreach event on September 13th at Grass Valley Charter School. Unfortunately, I was on the way to Scotland for a quick vacation and to join our son who was there on business. So, although I wasn't there to participate in person, I was there in spirit. John reported it was a very good school star party. I know how well prepared the students always are at GV Charter School.

Because I mentioned Scotland, I tossed in a photo I took of Stirling Castle, my favorite of several we visited. I don't recommend Scotland for astronomy as it seems to be cloudy all the time (at least while we were there.) I was hoping to catch a few stray photons from a distant star, but alas, it was cloudy every night.

Right now, we are open as far as planned future outreach events. The one we were going to have in Bridgeport was cancelled due to a shortage of volunteers on their end.

I will send an email to members if anything comes up.


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. 


Each month we choose several current topics in Astronomy and share our ignorance.

We will meet on

The THIRD wednesday of each 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,                    
10572 Oak St., Grass Valley, CA 95945


Visit to explore space and Earth science! 


This article is distributed by NASA Space Place.

With articles, activities and games NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit to explore space and Earth science!

Observe the Moon

By Jane Houston Jones and Jessica Stoller-Conrad

This year’s International Observe the Moon Night is on Oct. 20. Look for astronomy clubs and science centers in your area inviting you to view the Moon at their star parties that evening! On Oct. 20, the 11-day-old waxing gibbous Moon will rise in the late afternoon and set before dawn. Sunlight will reveal most of the lunar surface and the Moon will be visible all night long. You can observe the Moon’s features whether you’re observing with the unaided e ye, through binoculars or through a telescope. Here are a few of the Moon’s features you might spot on the evening of October 20: Sinus Iridum—Latin for “Bay of Rainbows”—is the little half circle visible on the western side of the Moon near the lunar terminator—the line between light and dark. Another feature, the Jura Mountains, ring the Moon’s western edge. You can see them catch the morning Sun. Just south of the Sinus Iridum you can see a large, flat plain called the Mare Imbrium. This feature is called a mare—Latin for “sea”—because early astronomers mistook it for a sea on Moon’s surface. Because the Moon will be approaching full, the large craters Copernicus and Tycho will also take center stage. Copernicus is 58 miles (93 kilometers) across. Although its impact crater rays—seen as lines leading out from the crater—will be much more visible at Full Moon, you will still be able to see them on October 20. Tycho, on the other hand, lies in a field of craters near the southern edge of the visible surface of the Moon. At 53 miles (85 kilometers) across, it’s a little smaller than Copernicus. However, its massive ray system spans more than 932 miles (1500 kilometers)!

And if you’re very observant on the 20th, you’ll be able to check off all six of the Apollo lunar landing site locations, too! In addition to the Moon, we’ll be able to observe two meteor showers this month: the Orionids and the Southern Taurids. Although both will have low rates of meteors, they’ll be visible in the same part of the sky. The Orionids peak on Oct. 21, but they are active from Oct. 16 to Oct. 30. Start looking at about 10 p.m. and you can continue to look until 5 a.m. With the bright moonlight you may see only five to 10 swift and faint Orionids per hour. If you see a slow, bright meteor, that’s from the Taurid meteor shower. The Taurids radiate from the nearby constellation Taurus, the Bull. Taurids are active from Sept. 10 through Nov. 20, so you may see both a slow Taurid and a fast Orionid piercing your sky this month. You’ll be lucky to see five Taurids per hour on the peak night of Oct. 10. You can also still catch the great lineup of bright planets in October, with Jupiter, Saturn and Mars lining up with the Moon again this month. And early birds can even catch Venus just before dawn! You can find out more about International Observe the Moon Night at

This image shows some of the features you might see if you closely observe the Moon. The stars represent the six Apollo landing sites on the Moon. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University (modified by NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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