For over 40 years, the Westport Astronomical Society has brought the wonders of the night sky to the thousands who have visited the observatory. We’re an all volunteer-run, non-profit organization that’s free and open to the public every Wednesday night from 8-10 pm if the skies are clear. Remember, near the summer solstice it doesn’t get dark until late, so please plan to come after sunset.
The Dome Observatory covers a 16″ Meade LX200 with an Explore Scientific 102mm f/7 Essential Apochromatic ED Triplet Refractor piggybacked on top. The lawn regularly hosts the HUGE 25″ Obsession telescope, the largest in Connecticut available to the public. You can also occasionally find us doing sidewalk astronomy in the community with various 8-10″ Dobsonian telescopes and we really love viewing the sun with the Lunt LS100Tha double stacked solar telescope.
WAS has free monthly meetings with experts at the top of their fields. We feature speakers from the Hayden Planetarium, The American Museum of Natural History, Yale, NYU, UConn, MIT, Wesleyan, Columbia as well as educators from all over the globe who enrich our community with cutting-edge discussions on cosmology, physics, and astronomy. Additionally, there are additional special, private events scheduled throughout the year for our members and supporters.
Winter Field Day with GBARC and WAS
Kepler’s Hidden Gems | Alex Teachey, Columbia University, NSF Graduate Fellow, Astronomy
In the last two decades, we’ve discovered thousands of planets orbiting nearby stars. But do these planets have moons? And if so, could they be hospitable for life? In this talk, I will discuss the latest developments in the search for exomoons, including our recent observations of an exomoon candidate with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Teachey is a third-year graduate student at Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy. His work focuses on the search for exomoons with the Kepler data and measuring stellar ages using time-domain photometry. He also loves teaching and public outreach. As an undergraduate (BA in Physics, CUNY Hunter College) he worked as a research intern at both the American Museum of Natural History and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, studying giant molecular clouds in the Milky Way with radio, near-infrared and gamma-ray data.
Evolution of the Telescope – from 100 inches to 100 feet, and beyond… | Gabor Furesz, MIT Kavli Institute
NEW DATE NOW MARCH 13!
One of the most iconic telescopes, the Mt. Wilson 100 inch reflector, saw it’s first light 100 years ago in November 1917. Today, telescopes of 100 feet in diameter are being planned and constructed. In this talk we dig into a bit of history first, to see how the 100” came about, what discoveries it gave to science, and how observational astronomy and instrument making moved from Europe to the U.S. for most of the 20th century. Think of the 200” Hale telescope, which was the 4th ‘largest in the world’ in a row built in the States (preceded by the 40” Yerkes, 60” and 100” Mt. Wilson instruments – and amazingly all these we can thank the dedication of one man, George E. Hale.)
However, looking at the recent decades and comparing the scientific productivity of the Keck telescopes vs. the quartet of the European VLT, and especially seeing how the European Extremely Large Telescope is advancing compared to the Giant Magellan and Thirty Meter Telescopes, we seemingly arriving at an era where the old continent takes a lead once again. We look at the advances in technology and science, as well as astro-politics behind this 100th year of astronomical instrumentation. We also look ahead a bit, what does the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and ALMA means, and whether the future is on the ground or in space with the James Webb Telescope. But of course, we cannot close without some elaboration on what is left into the hobby astronomer these days of Giant Telescopes on Earth and in Space.
Furesz will be launching The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) as early as March 20th in Florida, so the talk has been moved back a week to accommodate the anticipated launch schedule.
Professor Mary Putnam, Columbia University
Professor Putman received her B.S. in Astronomy and Physics from University of Wisconsin – Madison and her Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the Australian National University (Mt. Stromlo Observatory). She has received a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Cottrell Scholarship, an NSF CAREER Award, and a Clare Boothe Luce Professorship.
Speaker Announced Soon!
The WAS Annual Summer Solstice Star-B-Q Picnic and Elections
We roll out the WAS Grill of Carbonation for another celebration of the many successful years of the Westport Astronomical Society! Members are invited to join us for a family fun picnic with deliciously grilled goodies ending with our annual WAS Board of Directors election.
Charles Liu, Associate Professor, College of Staten Island and The City University of New York
Charles Liu is an extragalactic observational astronomer. His research focuses on colliding galaxies, starburst galaxies, and the star formation history of the universe; and it also wanders into the realm of quasars and active galactic nuclei. He also has a great love of teaching – informal as well as formal – and he feels a great need to help make the scientific community a better place for all people who wish to be a part of it. He currently serves as faculty director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI, and as Education Officer and Councilor of the American Astronomical Society.
The Annual Bob Meadows Stellafane Report
Bob Meadows returns from the world’s oldest star party – Stellafane. It’s the 83rd Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers on Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont from August 9-12.
Bob sits through all the lectures so you don’t have to, noting all the amazing new innovations from the amateurs during the telescope competition on Breezy Hill.
Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos | Professor Priyamvada Natarajan, Yale
Priyamvada (Priya) Natarajan is a professor in the departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. She is noted for her work in mapping dark matter and dark energy, particularly with her work in gravitational lensing, and in models describing the assembly and accretion histories of supermassive black holes. Recipient of many honors and awards for her research, she is also deeply invested in the public dissemination of science and de-mystifying the scientific process. She authored the award-winning, book Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos published in 2016.
Dr. Natarajan was recently featured in Janna Levin’s PBS special NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse
Speaker Announced Soon!
Speaker Announced Soon!
Speaker Announced Soon!
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