Star Parties, A Telescope Maker, Meteor Showers, Earthquakes and an updated website!
The summer is moving along quickly but it’s no time to slow down yet! The annual Perseid Meteor Shower was a bust this year even with clear skies. The full moon washed out all but the brightest meteors and reports show that even during the most active times it was only half of what’s considered a “normal” Perseid shower. Oh well, next year it’s a last quarter moon and should be a lot better!
We’ve been trying to do a star party at the Rolnick Observatory once a month for members, family and friends and we’ll try to do that again this coming weekend if we don’t get rained out. I’ll send out some emails if we can pull off a good night. Right now it will be either Friday night the 19th or Saturday the 20th after sunset. Again, we want some pretty good weather if we’re hauling out all of the gear but if the weekend shapes up, we’d love to see you! There’s a very nice comet as well as Pluto, Vesta, Jupiter and other summer goodies to our South.
There’s been quite a few changes at the Rolnick Observatory’s campus and online. First, the guys from the New England Seismic Network, located in Weston Massachusetts have installed a vault at the observatory that hosts 2 instruments. One is a seismometer that measures global earthquakes and the other is an accelerometer that measures big, local ones. We’re still having some issues with our internet connection at WAS but you can see the drums updated every 5 minutes HERE. If you step back a day or so you can see we picked up a 5.6 magnitude earthquake in Mexico. There’s historical drums that have recorded the devastating 9.0 earthquake in Honshu Japan as well as the Haiti quakes and more. While big earthquakes are rare in New England, small ones happen often and there’s a nice write up about them on NESN’s site HERE. While they were at WAS they poured a great new telescope pad in the middle of our yard for the 25 Obsession.
Something that’s been needing some big TLC for a very long time is our web site. Thanks to web master Adam Yates we’ve done a serious upgrade to the public’s first impressions of the Observatory. Adam has put together a very crisp and clean looking site using the free software WordPress. It’s easy to edit (I can do it from my phone…) and we think it gives us a very professional look. We still have quite a few things we want to update but it’s pretty much ready for Prime Time now. What do you think? http://www.was-ct.org/
Bob and I are on the road at the end of the month to try out a new star party. We’ve heard such great things about the Almost Heaven Star Party that I convinced Bob to load up the 25 in the Meadows Mystery Machine and take Spruce Knob West Virginia for a spin. What makes this long drive worth the gas is that the site is the darkest location on the east coast! It’s about 4,300 feet up and not too far from the Green Bank Radio Telescope and if it doesn’t rain on us, we should have some great stories that only massive apertures and super dark skies provide!
* * * * * *
Our Next Meeting: Tuesday August 16th at 8:00pm
WAS Welcomes Rob Teeter!
Telescope manufacturer and avid star party goer, Rob Teeter, has built several dozen custom made Truss Dobsonians since opening “Teeter’s Telescopes, LLC” in 2002. Each scope is unique, and each one with a story. Rob recounts his most interesting telescope making adventures while he walks the audience through the virtues of what makes a great telescope, from advanced cooling techniques to the latest in construction materials. Rob’s website can be found at www.teeterstelescopes.com
* * * * * *
ASTROWEB SITE OF THE MONTH
Image Processing for Astrophotography is a partnership (Warren Keller and Peter Proulx) that provides astronomy image processing instruction for astrophotographers of all skill levels. They offer tutorials on image capture and Adobe Photoshop processing and will even provide customized one-on-one guidance. Labeled “Your Online Resource for Visual Learning,” the web site at http://www.ip4ap.com/ has a number of free tutorials as well as links that will be of interest to astrophotographers.
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.
Public nights are now on Wednesdays only.
We took the 25 inch telescope to Stellafane in Springfield, VT, July 28-31. The keynote speaker was Kuiper Belt expert Dr. Jane Luu. Stellafane was attended by WAS members and former members Bob Meadows, Carl Lancaster, Martin Hamar, Fred Bump, Carl Nilson, Tom Davis, Todd Nelson, Nate Nelson, Dan Ritts, and Tom Little.
Bob Meadows and Dan Wright will be taking the 25 inch telescope to the Almost Heaven Star Party in Spruce Knob, West Virginia, August 26-30.
Bob Meadows painted the front beams and rear door frame of the trailer, and installed the new bracket and spare tire.
A Mosquito Magnet was purchased for the observing Field. It was installed July 13. It takes 2 to 4 weeks to be fully effective.
A seismometer was installed in an in-ground vault behind the benches. It was installed by Boston College for the USGS as part of a New England network. One chamber contains a sensitive seismometer, and a second one contains accelerometers for sensing big movements. They also poured a pad for the 25 inch telescope in the observing field. Carl Lancaster made a 4 foot octagonal form for the pad, and Bob Meadows installed the form and leveled the concrete.
Bob Meadows was interviewed by Amelie Wilson of Channel 12 for the Education Notebook show which was broadcast on Cablevision on July 23 and 24.
Check the Twitter/Facebook Feeds on the website that evening if there’s any doubt about the weather. It will be updated by 6:00 pm every Wednesday.
17 Bob Blasko K. Moskovitz *Franco Fellah
24 Bob Tobin David Ives *Dan Wright
31 Mike Bellacosa Nick LaRocca *Bob Meadows
7 Karl Procop Frank Cirino
14 Tom Davis K. Moskovitz
21 Bob Blasko David Ives *Franco Fellah
28 Mike Bellacosa Bob Tobin *Carl Lancaster
5 Karl Procop Frankl Cirino *Bob Meadows
12 Tom Davis Nick LaRocca
19 Bob Blasko K. Moskovitz *Dan Wright
26 Mike Bellacosa David Ives *Carl Lancaster
Please call Bob if you can’t make your shift. We’re counting on you.
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 .0899 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.
You can also buy some cool Fall gear at the WAS Wear Store that’s great for the Star Parties!