Supernova’s, Globular Clusters and One Ring to Rule Them All!
It sure is great to be getting some use out of the 25 now that it’s all upgraded and running so smoothly. And just in time too… You may have heard that what’s believed to be a Type-II supernova just blew its guts all over M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy! It’s really on the edge of what you can visually see from Westport at magnitude 14.5 but with averted vision it pops right out.
All of our telescopes have been performing superbly and we had (for Westport) some spectacular seeing last Thursday and Friday nights. If you haven’t looked through the telescopes recently on a crystal clear night, we urge you to come down and check out the summer’s serving of galaxies, globs and nebula. Of course, Saturn is the real show stopper.
Some of my favorites so far this spring are NGC 4565, the interwoven knots of NGC 6992 & 6960 (Veil Nebula) as well as the depth and density of M3. I could go on… I’ve been out a lot already!
As you may have heard, we’re trying to streamline membership. Everyone will now come up annually in May. If you are due now, soon or past due, please send your dues to the Treasurer today. Thanks!
Annual WAS Picnic and Election June 21st!
Celebrate the Summer Solstice with your Westport Astronomical Society friends. It’s our annual picnic/potluck grilling extravaganza at 6:30 pm on June 21st! We’ll do the grilling and supply the burgers, buns and weenies as well as the refreshments. You supply whatever else you’d like to share with your WAS buddies. It’s also election time and we need to vote on new board members as well as a new president. A ballot has been attached to this email if you are unable to attend, please email or snail mail it back to us with your check marks or written in selections. Vote early and vote often!
We should have speakers scheduled for the rest of the year and we’ll update you as soon as the list firms up. Cal’s Corner will return in July!
Astroweb Sites of the Month
If you are looking for a world-class satellite tracking web site, take a look at Chip Sufitchi’s site at http://www.n2yo.com. Chip’s Real Time Satellite Tracking site allows you to select any satellite from an extensive database and follow it over a continuously updating map. In addition to the orbital elements of your satellite, the page has satellite news items and links to other satellite resources.
Also, the Build Your Own Solar System! page on the University of Maryland’s Astronomy Workshop site can provide hours of entertainment to young and old alike. You can design a solar system with up to four planets by selecting parameters such as planet distances, sizes, and orbital eccentricities, and even star type. An animated orrery will appear and, if you make good choices, your new solar system will be stable with at least one planet that can support life. Go to http://janus.astro.umd.edu/orbits/ssbuildframe.html and try your hand at celestial construction.
Please send e-mail on your own personal web pages, or astronomy links that you find interesting or noteworthy to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Astronomy day was May 7th. WAS members Martin Hamar, Dan Wright, and Bob Meadows set up two solar telescopes on Jessup Green in Westport form 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon. Several other WAS members also helped out. We showed the public views of sunspots between the clouds. There was an article, picture and video on the Westport News web site. Saturday evening was completely clear, and we held a star party at the observatory with about 20 public.
At the Northeast Astronomy Forum in Suffern, NY, we talked to a representative of Meade about collimation of the 16 inch telescope. We need to look at the secondary through a pinhole and adjust it until the primary is concentric. Then do fine adjustment with a star test. A laser collimator can be used to record the collimated position, so it can be replicated to re-collimate.
On June 3, Martin Hamer used a 4-laser collimation tool to collimate the 16 inch telescope. It shines parallel beams into the front of the telescope and the reflected beams are measured to make the adjustments to the secondary. We have not yet done a visual test of the collimated scope.
The 25 inch telescope is now working with Go-To and tracking. Carl Lancaster made a ground board for operation on grass. The first one was too thin, so it was springy. He made another one out of thicker plywood, and it works much better. To avoid dragging by the wheels, we need to remove the handles for motorized operation. Carl converted the handles from 4 knob-handled screws to aluminum channels with drop in pins. The new system is fast and easy to use. Thank you Carl for all the work you did to get the new Go-To system working.
Several WAS members planned to take the 25 inch telescope to the Cherry Springs Star Party in north central Pennsylvania May 26-30. We didn’t go because the weather forecast was clouds and rain for at least 3 of the 4 nights, and mostly cloudy the other night. Our next scheduled road trips with the 25 will be Stellafane followed by the Almost Heaven Star Party in West Virginia and lastly, the Connecticut Star Party.
The Rolnick Observatory now opens only on Wednesdays from 8-10 pm. Thursdays will be our rain dates so if Wednesday is a mess, we’ll open Thursday! If there is any doubt about the weather, make sure to check the Twitter or Facebook feeds on our website to see if we’ll open. We will make a decision by 6pm each night.
8 Bob Meadows Nick LaRocca
9 Bob Tobin Quintin Brantley
15 Bob Blasko David Ives
16 Bob Blasko Frank Cirino
22 Dan Wright K. Moskovitz *Bob Meadows
23 Dan Wright Quintin Brantley *Bob Meadows
29 Carl Lancaster Bob Meadows *Franco Fellah
30 Carl Lancaster Bob Meadows *Franco Fellah
6 Mike Bellacosa Tom Davis
7 Karl Procop Bob Tobin
13 Bob Blasko David Ives
14 Bob Blasko Frank Cirino
20 Dan Wright Nick LaRocca *Carl Lancaster
21 Dan Wright Quintin Brantley *Carl Lancaster
27 Franco Fellah K. Moskovitz ** loading for Stellafane **
28 Franco Fellah Rob Lavin ** Stellafane **
3 Mike Bellacosa David Ives
4 Mike Bellacosa Karl Procop
10 Tom Davis Bob Meadows
11 Bob Tobin Quintin Brantley
17 Bob Blasko K. Moskovitz *Franco Fellah
18 Bob Blasko Bob Meadows *Franco Fellah
24 Dan Wright David Ives ** loading for W. Va.**
25 Karl Prokop Rob Lavin ** Almost Heaven**
31 Mike Bellacosa Nick LaRocca ** Almost Heaven**
Please call Bob with some notice if you can’t make your shift. We’re counting on you.
Bookmark http://www.was-ct.org/ for semi-regular updates and now you can follow the Rolnick Observatory on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on our speakers and current sky events!
We are an all volunteer society that is financially responsible for everything at the Rolnick Observatory, and we are always short on money. Remember, there are lots of ways to help support WAS other than cash donations. Recently we teamed up with North American Power, a deregulated energy supplier in Connecticut that has significantly lower rates than all of the utilities, now with rates of just .0895 kWh. Many of our members, including the Rolnick Observatory, are now NAP customers. North American Power will donate $10 to WAS for every home or business that signs up. You’ll save a bunch off your UI or CL&P rates by switching now. The only way to get WAS the donation is to call Dan Wright at (203) 424-0001 if you’d like to lower your bill and help WAS out at the same time.
You can also help WAS by shopping at the WAS Amazon Store. We get a small percentage of the sale and every penny counts. If you want us to add something to the list, we can do that easily. You can also buy some cool gear at the WAS Wear Store that’s great for the Star Parties! Buy early and buy often!
President: Bob Meadows
Treasurer: Franco Fellah
Secretary: Nick LaRocca
Board Members at Large: Dan Wright, David Ives, Karl Prokop, Anthony Maida
Web Masters: Adam Yates / Carl Lancaster