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




Preview of "Exploring the Night Sky"
by John Griffin


John has been busy preparing to teach the Sierra College class on "Exploring the Night Sky" that Don Machholz taught for many years. The focus on the class is beginning astronomy but John may add something to the presentation that can be food for thought for even seasoned astronomers. The club will give John a chance to bounce his ideas off members and he is seeking feedback and ideas as he previews some of his ideas for the class. Should be a fun time and something for everyone in John's talk.

Bring a friend ... bring the kids!

President’s Rant

Happy 2018 my friends,

Every year it seems as if we have just gotten a good start on the year when it’s time to begin again. I took a little time to reflect on the year, and I think that the high point for amateurs was the solar eclipse in August. Some people will travel anywhere to view an eclipse, but for the rest of us, having an eclipse relatively nearby was a fabulous experience.

2017 also brought many scientific advances.

The extremely fruitful Cassini mission ended in September with the spacecraft diving into and burning up in Saturn’s atmosphere. However, Cassini’s data is still giving surprising new insight.

The New Horizons mission which gave us the first images of Pluto’s surface is on it’s way toward the Kuiper belt and a January 1, 2019 rendezvous with 2014 MU69 (there’s a name that just rolls off the tongue).

And, in January 2017, the LIGO team detected, for the third time, gravitational waves caused by the merger of two black holes.

Thankfully, science continues apace.

At the club meeting on January 3rd, all attending members will be asked to vote on the slate of officers. This is your chance to get me out of here. If anyone would like to serve on the board, there will be a call for nominations from the floor.

Happy new year,


Outreach - David Buchla 

This month we had no new outreach events added to our calendar; Scotten School is still on for March 22. The STEM (or STEAM) expo will be added when I have particulars. I'll send a reminder to all members when there is an upcoming event.


Astronomy on Tap

Members again met in December at the Ol' Republic Brewery in Nevada City.  We enjoyed libations from a fine set of beers on tap, including "Clouds of Jupiter"; "When Pluto was a Planet" sold out in November and was unavailable.  Maybe we can get them to create "Colonizing Mars"; Do you know a good recipe?  Our topic of discussion was "NASA Returns to the Moon?". 

We had a fun time; Consider joining us in Januiary when we will be discussing: 

"Space Aliens!"

Are there 'aliens' camped on the back side of the Moon?  Is that why we abandonded our ventures there after the Apollo Project?  The Pentagon has spent millions tracking UFOs and even Niel de Grass Tyson was on CNN discussing the subject.

We will meet on Wednesday, January 17th at 5pm

Ol' Republic Brewery!

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!

Paul Bacon will be collecting 2018 membership dues

($20/year for member or family)

at our meeting onJanuary 3rd,

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!

Snowy Worlds Beyond Earth
by Linda Hermans-Killiam

There are many places on Earth where it snows, but did you know it snows on other worlds, too? Here are just a few of the places where you might find snow beyond Earth:

The north pole and south pole of Mars have ice caps that grow and shrink with the seasons.  These ice caps are made mainly of water ice—the same kind of ice you’d find on Earth.  However, the snow that falls there is made of carbon dioxide—the same ingredient used to make dry ice here on Earth. Carbon dioxide is in the Martian atmosphere and it freezes and falls to the surface of the planet as snow. In 2017, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took photos of the sand dunes around Mars' north pole. The slopes of these dunes were covered with carbon dioxide snow and ice.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image of carbon dioxide snow covering dunes on Mars.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

A Moon of Jupiter: Io
There are dozens of moons that orbit Jupiter and one of them, called Io, has snowflakes made out of sulfur. In 2001, NASA's Galileo spacecraft detected these sulfur snowflakes just above Io's south pole. The sulfur shoots into space from a volcano on Io's surface.  In space, the sulfur quickly freezes to form snowflakes that fall back down to the surface.

A volcano shooting molten sulfur out from the surface of Io. 
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A Moon of Saturn: Enceladus
Saturn's moon, Enceladus, has geysers that shoot water vapor out into space. There it freezes and falls back to the surface as snow.  Some of the ice also escapes Enceladus to become part of Saturn's rings.  The water vapor comes from a heated ocean which lies beneath the moon’s icy surface. (Jupiter’s moon Europa is also an icy world with a liquid ocean below the frozen surface.) All of this ice and snow make Enceladus one of the brightest objects in our solar system.

Enceladus as viewed from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA

A Moon of Neptune: Triton
Neptune's largest moon is Triton. It has the coldest surface known in our solar system.  Triton's atmosphere is made up mainly of nitrogen. This nitrogen freezes onto its surface covering Triton with ice made of frozen nitrogen. Triton also has geysers like Enceladus, though they are smaller and made of nitrogen rather than water.

The Voyager 2 mission captured this image of Triton.  The black streaks are created by nitrogen geysers.

Farther out in our solar system lies the dwarf planet Pluto. In 2016, scientists on the New Horizons mission discovered a mountain chain on Pluto where the mountains were capped with methane snow and ice.

The snowy Cthulhu (pronounced kuh-THU-lu) mountain range on Pluto.

Beyond Our Solar System
There might even be snow far outside our solar system! Kepler-13Ab is a hot, giant planet 1,730 light years from Earth. It's nine times more massive than Jupiter and it orbits very close to its star. The Hubble Space Telescope detected evidence of titanium oxide—the mineral used in sunscreen—in this planet’s upper atmosphere. On the cooler side of Kepler-13Ab that faces away from its host star, the planet’s strong gravity might cause the titanium oxide to fall down as “snow.”

This is an artist’s illustration of what Kepler-13Ab might look like.
Credit: NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScI)

Want to learn more about weather on other planets? Check out NASA Space Place:

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

NC Astronomers
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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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