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, Cornell, 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.
WAS Astrophotography with Shannon Calvert
Join Westport Astronomical Society member Shannon Calvert as he chronicles a journey from award-winning professional photographer to clueless, bumbling astrophotographer and the slow climb back to competence. While often struggling with less-than-ideal equipment and conditions, Shannon has managed to capture some worthy images of night sky wonders that defy expectation for light polluted Westport.
This presentation will cover 18 months of practice and progress and explain the techniques required for stellar results. Shannon will describe his workflow for this challenging pursuit as an introduction to a future astrophotography processing workshop that will be offered exclusively for WAS members. Don’t miss this exciting event!
This talk is appropriate for ALL audiences with enough included to also engage advanced members.
Westport Astronomical Society Pre-Winter Solstice Holiday Party!
Bring some sweet goodies to share with your WAS friends as we bring in the Winter Solstice!
We’ll have our usual fun and WAS Board Member Mike Miciukiewicz K1MJM will chat about his recent trip to Puerto Rico with the American Radio Relay League to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria. (It’s a fascinating talk!)
First Night Westport/Weston
It’s First Night again! Before the fireworks, take in the view of 2017’s final night sky and the beautiful Full Long Nights Moon at the Westport Library’s Jesup Green, on the riverbank from 4 – 10 PM with the telescopes from the volunteers at the Westport Astronomical Society!
Jillian Bellovary – “Gravitational Waves: Ripples in Space-Time”
American Museum of Natural History, Queensborough Community College
Gravitational Waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time, and in the past two years, we have begun to detect them! Using LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, scientists have detected several merging black holes and even a gamma ray burst caused by merging neutron stars. For the first time, we can learn about space without using light! In my talk, I will discuss what the heck gravitational waves are and how we build instruments to measure them. I’ll describe the results we have so far, including the unexpected surprise of overmassive black holes. Lastly, I’ll discuss the future of gravitational wave observations, including a huge space observatory that will teach us how the biggest black holes in the universe grow.
Jillian Bellovary is a physics professor at Queensborough Community College and an expert on the cosmic evolution of supermassive black holes. She is also a research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History. She received her Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Washington and has since done postdoctoral work at the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University. Jillian served in the U.S. Peace Corps in The Gambia from 2001-2003. She currently serves on the Committee for the Status of Minorities in Astronomy and strives to increase inclusion and equity in the sciences. In her free time, she plays roller derby.
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” to 100 ft, and beyond… | Gabor Furesz, MIT
One of the most iconic telescopes, the Mt. Wilson 100” reflector, saw it’s first light 100 years ago in November 1917. Today, telescopes of 100 feet in diameter are being planned and constructed. Int his 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 build 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 100 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.
Visual astronomy only works if you can see the sky!
Astronomers, check these links to plan your observing:
• Astronomy conditions
• Current/Future conditions
• Transparency animation
• Seeing animation
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