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Wednesday, December 6th 7:00 pm.
Madelyn Helling Library
Community Room


The Martian by Andy Weir
Discussion lead by Toni Graybill

Toni will share with you her love of science and technology and send you home with your brain popping with ideas and some tools and toys to help you feed that urge to learn and do.  

Toni's talk will mix literary references, ancient and modern, with science, technology, and, most importantly, food.

Bring a friend ... bring the kids!

President’s Rant

Happy Thanksgiving Stargazers,

As I write this, it is just one week after the inaugural gathering of “Astronomy on Tap” at Ol’ Republic Brewery in Nevada City. There were 8 in attendance, and we enjoyed a good pint (or two) and pizza. The subject for discussion was the colonization of Mars. We all agreed that there are significant challenges ahead that must be met before we ever leave Earth. Whether to send humans or not remained an open question.

The discussion at “Astronomy on Tap” and my concurrent reading of The Martian by Andy Weir, in preparation for Toni Graybill’s presentation at the December club meeting, have caused me to re-examine the idea of initially sending humans to Mars.

Hitting a planet many months away and then returning to Earth a year or more later is not trivial. What do you think? Should we send a test mission with robots first? How would we react to losing a crew on another planet? And fundamentally, what is our reason for going to Mars? Is it just “Because it’s there.”? Or is it to colonize “Earth 2” so we don’t have to address climate change here?

I know that every time humans have extended their reach, the gains have been worth the effort.

Enjoy the coming holidays, and I’ll see you at the meeting on December 6th.


Outreach - David Buchla 

We have added Scotten School Science night to our outreach events for Spring. (The photo is from last year's Science night.) It is an early evening event (starting at 5 pm) and scheduled for March 22. The moon is 5 days old, so should be a great view for early evening if we don't have clouds (perish the thought). We will assemble star wheels inside and have a nice display set up with fun stuff for kids. Telescopes will be outside to view the moon. Last year, John had his binoculars set up on his parallelogram mount, which was very popular and we had several nice scopes outside. Help is always appreciated!

At our last board meeting, the board approved purchasing more Star Wheels for outreach events. These are my design printed on a large sheet of paper, made to be cut out by kids and assembled as a short activity. We will use them for the Scotten School Science night and other outreach events as they are popular with kids and teachers. Last year, we helped with about 200 star wheels, so the club is making an impact with kids. ("Your dues money at work!"). Thanks to all members that have helped kids assemble these. 

I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas with family and friends.


Astronomy on Tap

8 members met on Tuesday, November 14th at the Ol' Republic Brewery in Nevada City.  We had our choice of almost a dozen beers on tap, including "When Pluto was a Planet" and "Clouds of Jupiter".  Our topic of discussion was

"Will Sapiens Colonize Mars in the next Decade?"

The viewing of a video did not work (this time) so we enjoyed a discussion of the considerations including:  "Why?", "How Much ($$), "By Whom (Elan, NASA, China or others)", "Would you go?", "What are the dangers?", etc.  We, of course solved many of the other problems facing the world.  But most of all we had a good time.  We shared some pizza as well!

Consider joining us in December, watch for the announcement of the Date!

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 December Meeting,

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

Studying Storms from the Sky
By Teagan Wall

The United States had a rough hurricane season this year. Scientists collect information before and during hurricanes to understand the storms and help people stay safe. However, collecting information during a violent storm is very difficult.

Hurricanes are constantly changing. This means that we need a lot of really precise data about the storm. It’s pretty hard to learn about hurricanes while inside the storm, and instruments on the ground can be broken by high winds and flooding. One solution is to study hurricanes from above. NASA and NOAA can use satellites to keep an eye on storms that are difficult to study on the ground.

In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria was so strong that it knocked out radar before it even hit land. Radar can be used to predict a storm’s path and intensity—and without radar, it is difficult to tell how intense a storm will be. Luckily, scientists were able to use information from a weather satellite called GOES-16, short for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – 16.

The “G” in GOES-16 stands for geostationary. This means that the satellite is always above the same place on the Earth, so during Hurricane Maria, it never lost sight of the storm. GOES-16’s job as a weather satellite hasn’t officially started yet, but it was collecting information and was able to help.

From 22,000 miles above Earth, GOES-16 watched Hurricane Maria, and kept scientists on the ground up to date. Knowing where a storm is—and what it’s doing—can help keep people safe, and get help to the people that need it

Hurricanes can also have a huge impact on the environment—even after they’re gone. To learn about how Hurricane Irma affected the Florida coast, scientists used images from an environmental satellite called Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or Suomi-NPP. One of the instruments on this satellite, called VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite), took pictures of Florida before and after the Hurricane.

Hurricane Irma was so big and powerful, that it moved massive amounts of dirt, water and pollution. The information captured by VIIRS can tell scientists how and where these particles are moving in the water. This can help with recovery efforts, and help us design better ways to prepare for hurricanes in the future.

By using satellites like GOES-16 and Suomi-NPP to observe severe storms, researchers and experts stay up to date in a safe and fast way. The more we know about hurricanes, the more effectively we can protect people and the environment from them in the future.

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

Caption: These images of Florida and the Bahamas were captured by a satellite called Suomi-NPP. The image on the left was taken before Hurricane Irma and the image on the right was taken after the hurricane. The light color along the coast is dirt, sand and garbage brought up by the storm. Image credit: NASA/NOAA

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