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Oooh, All The NEAT Things Out There!
by Gary Palmer
Ruminations and research on mass and gravity turned up hitherto unknown (to the speaker) facts about Lagrange points in the solar system, artificial gravitational fields, departing galaxies, massive black holes, and stupendous walls and voids. The talk proceeds from inner to outer space. Illustrations are taken from the internet and plots generated in Mathematica, supplemented by a photo or two taken by the speaker.
All are welcome! Bring a friend!
Happy September Stargazers,
We have had a busy summer with the summer party, Starry, Starry Nights, and Plumas-Eureka State Park, plus Astronomy on Tap and normal star parties. It feels as if the summer just blew by and left me spinning in its wake.
We will resume our normal schedule with the meeting on Wednesday, September 5th at 7:00 PM. And, of course, the pre-meeting dinner at Asian Gardens at 5:00PM. Gary Palmer will be the speaker for the intellectual portion of the meeting.
Is anyone else amazed by the rate at which our knowledge is changing? Jupiter just gained a dozen moons. The thin disc of the Milky Way just got larger by 100,000 light years. When I was younger, the edge of the solar system was at Pluto. (I always imagined a sign on Pluto reading “You are now leaving the solar system. Come again soon.”) Voyager 1 has reached interstellar space 41 years and 143 AU after launch. Voyager 2 is still within the heliopause at 118 AU from Earth. It seems that most things that we “knew” are changing as our technology and our understanding get better. I guess that the one thing that you can say is that it’s all a lot bigger than we thought.
See you at the meeting,
Outreach - David Buchla
Starry, Starry, Nights and the Plumas-Eureka star party were our two outreach events for this summer. We had lots of visitors at both events. Starry, Starry, Nights was a night with the moon, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter on display along with a few deep sky objects given that we had to peer around trees and deal with unfavorable light pollution (from lights on the Bourne cottage.) Still our visitors didn’t seem to mind and lots of “Wows” were heard.
Our Plumas-Eureka star party was a four-day event (August 10-13) that coincided with the peak of the Persoid meteor shower. We had some beautiful meteors but since I was manning my 25-inch telescope, I missed a lot. Still my personal impression it was more a meteor drizzle than a shower. Although there were fewer meteors than in the past, there were some very bright ones. The days leading up to the star party had lots of smoke in the air from all the fires in California and I thought it might be a bust but Friday night was beautiful and clear and we had it to ourselves. We had to deal with high haze and smoke on Saturday (our public night). The smoke didn't bother the views of the planets but Mars was disappointing. The 2003 conjunction was far better; the dust storm on Mars this year obscured nearly everything except hints of the polar cap and some dark markings that could not be identified (at least by me). Saturn and Jupiter put on good shows. Although crowds were down from past years, we had lines at all of our scopes until about 10 pm and we were able to give visitors a good show despite the conditions. On Sunday, the weather gods favored us and the smoke cleared for a beautiful view of the Milky Way along with the bright planets and more meteors. I stayed until about 2:30 am to soak up some photons but unlike past years decided to catch some sleep instead of waiting till dawn (old age I guess). Monday night was another clear evening. I would take three out of four good nights any time, so we felt lucky at the end. We plan to be back next year – details to follow.
Upcoming, we have a school outreach event scheduled for September 13th. We could use scopes for this one. Check the members calendar for particulars. Unfortunately, I cannot be there for this as I will be out of town. John is going to be coordinating this one.
Finally, I want to mention that our board was awesome in helping out with the picnic in July - from getting and setting up chairs and tables, getting food, drinks, ice, and contacting members, to helping put it all away. After hosting it, I appreciate more the work Bill and Fran did for ten years of hosting the picnic/potluck. It was fun and we look forward to doing it again.
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 meeting Monthly Meetings,
If you can't make the meeting, send your check to:
NC Astronomers, %Paul Bacon,
This article is provided by NASA Space Place.
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A Trip Through the Milky Way
By Jane Houston Jones and Jessica Stoller-Conrad
The waning days of summer are upon us, and that means the Sun is setting earlier now. These earlier sunsets reveal a starry sky bisected by the Milky Way. Want to see this view of our home galaxy? Head out to your favorite dark sky getaway or to the darkest city park or urban open space you can find.
While you’re out there waiting for a peek at the Milky Way, you’ll also have a great view of the planets in our solar system. Keep an eye out right after sunset and you can catch a look at Venus. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you’ll see Venus’s phase change dramatically during September—from nearly half phase to a larger, thinner crescent.
Jupiter, Saturn and reddish Mars are next in the sky, as they continue their brilliant appearances this month. To see them, look southwest after sunset. If you’re in a dark sky and you look above and below Saturn, you can’t miss the summer Milky Way spanning the sky from southwest to northeast.
You can also use the summer constellations to help you trace a path across the Milky Way. For example, there’s Sagittarius, where stars and some brighter clumps appear as steam from a teapot. Then there is Aquila, where the Eagle’s bright Star Altair combined with Cygnus’s Deneb and Lyra’s Vega mark what’s called the “summer triangle.” The familiar W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia completes the constellation trail through the summer Milky Way. Binoculars will reveal double stars, clusters and nebulae all along the Milky Way.
Between Sept. 12 and 20, watch the Moon pass from near Venus, above Jupiter, to the left of Saturn and finally above Mars!
This month, both Neptune and brighter Uranus can also be spotted with some help from a telescope. To see them, look in the southeastern sky at 1 a.m. or later. If you stay awake, you can also find Mercury just above Earth’s eastern horizon shortly before sunrise. Use the Moon as a guide on Sept. 7 and 8.
Although there are no major meteor showers in September, cometary dust appears in another late summer sight, the morning zodiacal light. Zodiacal light looks like a cone of soft light in the night sky. It is produced when sunlight is scattered by dust in our solar system. Try looking for it in the east right before sunrise on the moonless mornings of Sept. 8 through Sept 23.
You can catch up on all of NASA’s current—and future—missions at www.nasa.gov
This illustration shows how the summer constellations trace a path across the Milky Way. To get the best views, head out to the darkest sky you can find. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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