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This month's talk: Collimation Can Be Fun!
Collimation strikes fear in the bravest amateur! Hopefully, this talk will calm the fear and address many setup issues besides just turning on a laser, from aligning the telescopes focuser, centering and center marking the secondary and primary mirrors, a brief secondary offset discussion, Cheshire collimators, Crosshair collimators, to collimating the laser collimator, artificial star collimation, live star collimation, and webcam collimation. We will invite everyone to try hands on laser collimation with a 16” Dobsonian, great fun for newcomers and even the experienced telescope user. A bonus idea, why use three when two will do?
Hope to see you all there, fun is the operative word!
Hello Astronomers and science lovers,
The weather finally seems to be ready to let us do some star-gazing. I will have to be retrained; it’s been too long since I have been out.
To help us get ready for a season of stars, our speaker this month will be our own Lonnie Robinson talking about collimation. The difference between a blur and a sharp image may be just a slight tweak of the mirrors to bring everything into alignment. I offered him my SCT as a teaching aid, but he wisely opted for his Newtonian to speed things along. Come and learn, even if you aren’t a telescope owner, you can appreciate how little mis-alignment it takes to degrade an image.
Speaking of images, (nice segue, huh?), one of the more impressive things in the astro-news lately is the image of the M87 black hole event horizon that was taken using the eponymous Event Horizon Telescope, an Earth-sized radio interferometer comprised of 8 radio telescope arrays spread across the globe and synchronized by atomic clocks. They collected petabytes of data which couldn’t be transmitted over the internet, rather, all the hard drives were flown to a central point and then processed by a super-computer to finally produce the image that has been circulating since the announcement. Every discovery gives us another bit of knowledge about our universe.
Our summer picnic that has become a tradition with the club will be on July 27th at the Buchlas. Save the date; details to come.
I hope to see you at the meeting.
Clear skies (finally),
Outreach - David Buchla
The dates and times for our children's outreach programs are on the calendar now. You may want to add them to your calendar in case you can help out. The first outreach is at 1 pm at Madelyn Helling library on July 18th. The second one is at the Bear River branch at 10 am on July 20th. The last one is at 1 pm at the Grass Valley library. We plan to do star wheels at each event, and, assuming clear skies, will look through my H-alpha solar scope; an alternate activity is to do a solar system model for the inner planets at 1,000,000 miles to the foot. This one requires a lot of space, so we may only get to Earth on our voyage. As always, volunteers are welcome if you can help.
Our other big outreach is our Plumas-Eureka star party, which is scheduled for August 1, 2, and 3rd. This is our 5th year there (or 6th? - I lost track) and it is very popular with park visitors. We set up in a defunct ski resort parking lot and have some of the best dark skies in CA. I hope to have a couple of "free" campsites again this year. Stay tuned for more info, which I will share when I have it.
Astronomy on Tap
NC Astronomer members continue to enjoy the beer and 'blather' at the Ol' Republic Brewery. The beer selection at the Brewery is quite comprehensive, they seem to enjoy naming beers after astronomical topics and the environment is designed for in depth conversations on deeply philisophical questions.
Each month we choose several current topics in Astronomy and share our ignorance.
Astronomy on Tap will meet on
The third Monday of the 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,
This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network
The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.org to find local clubs, events, and more!
Watching the Late Spring Skies
By David Prosper
Late spring brings warmer nights, making it more comfortable to observe a good showing of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. Skywatchers can also look for the delicate Coma Star Cluster, and spot the Moon on the anniversary of Apollo 10’s “test run” prior to the Moon landing in 1969.
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower should make a good showing this year, peaking the morning of May 6. This meteor shower has an unusual “soft peak,” meaning that many meteors can be spotted several days before and after the 6th; many may find it convenient to schedule meteor watching for the weekend, a night or two before the peak. You may be able to spot a couple dozen meteors an hour from areas with clear dark skies. Meteors can appear in any part of the sky and you don’t need any special equipment to view them; just find an area away from lights, lie down on a comfy lawn chair or blanket, relax, and patiently look up. These brief bright streaks are caused by Earth moving through the stream of fine dust particles left by the passage of Comet Halley. While we have to wait another 43 years for the famous comet grace our skies once more, we are treated to this beautiful cosmic postcard every year.
While you’re up meteor watching, try to find a delightful naked eye star cluster: the Coma Star Cluster (aka Melotte 111) in the small constellation of Coma Berenices. It can be spotted after sunset in the east and for almost the entire night during the month of May. Look for it inside the area of the sky roughly framed between the constellations of Leo, Boötes, and Ursa Major. The cluster’s sparkly members are also known as “Berenice’s Hair” in honor of Egyptian Queen Berenices II’s sacrifice of her lovely tresses. Binoculars will bring out even more stars in this large young cluster.
May marks the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Module’s test run by the Apollo 10 mission! On May 22, 1969, NASA astronauts Thomas Safford and Eugene Cernan piloted the Lunar Module - nicknamed “Snoopy” - on a test descent towards the lunar surface. Undocking from “Charlie Brown” - the Command Module, piloted by John Young – they descended to 47,400 feet above the surface of the Moon before returning safely to the orbiting Command Module. Their success paved the way for the first humans to land on the Moon later that year with Apollo 11. Look for the Moon on the morning of May 22, before or after dawn, and contemplate what it must have felt like to hover mere miles above the lunar surface. You’ll also see the bright giant planets Saturn and Jupiter on either side of the Moon before sunrise. When will humans travel to those distant worlds?
You can catch up on all of NASA’s current and future missions at nasa.gov
Try to spot the Coma Star Cluster! Image created with assistance from Stellarium
Binocular Telescope for Sale
Our friend and club member Bruce Sayre passed away and his binocular telescopes are for sale. You can find descriptions for his 22-inch binocular telescope here:
http://www.brucesayre.net/#Description-22, and his 14-inch binocular telescope here:
Keep in mind that these telescopes respectively have two 22-inch mirrors and two 14-inch mirrors. Multiple telescopes could be made from these sets, or the binoculars can be used as they are. Club member, Bill Thomas, created these mirrors.
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