Here comes the Venus Transit, Astronomy Day, Supernovas Erupt in the WAS Classroom and an old asteroid has a very new name!
by Dan Wright
It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a clear Wednesday Night for the public but there’s enough on our plates this month!
The next few weeks are arguably going to be some of the busiest in the history of WAS! Bob Meadows and I started the lunacy with our friends from the Astronomical Society of New Haven who had organized a star party on Friday May 11 for 3000 Boy Scouts under perfectly clear skies at ConnJam for the CT Yankee Council Boy Scout Jamboree in Orange CT. There were around 15 telescopes set up for a very receptive crowd of kids.
We host another Meetup Group on Friday May 25 starting at 8:00pm hosting 60 people on the campus of the Observatory. These raise a lot of donated money for the Rolnick Observatory and are a great group of people. We’ll really need your help and your telescopes on this one! Please email me if you can help.
The following day on May 26 we celebrate International Astronomy Day with solar telescopes set up again (and maybe the last time?) on the river path near the Westport Library at 20 Jesup Road in Westport from 11-3 pm. We’ll invite everyone to come back to the observatory later that evening at 8:30pm to check out the Moon, Saturn and the rest of the sky and again, would appreciate any help you can provide.
But the big event is the Final Transit of Venus on June 5. If the weather holds, we could get rocked by the public for this one! We just had a mention in the newstimes.com with a teaser and if the media continues to feed on this it could be as big as the Mars event. However, with the transit, it’s a very small window starting at 6:08pm and stopping at sunset. Carl Lancaster has donated a ton of time and material to the event and a test drive of the equipment with Adam Yates over the weekend proved it may even work! We plan on letting the public see the event live from the tower and via a stream on the internet. Your Board of Directors have had this in the planning stages for months but events like this require your support, so please help us staff the grounds!
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We’re extremely proud of our friend and longtime WAS member Charles Scovil, Curator of The Stamford Observatory who has been honored by having an asteroid named after him. The official designation is: Asteroid 4939 Scovil. This honor is in recognition of his many years of work at Stamford Observatory studying and charting Variable Stars (stars that change in brightness), and in creating two atlases of the heavens, and in raising public awareness of the heavens through public open house nights and classes.The asteroid is a member of the main belt of such small rocky bodies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It comes close enough to Earth to be photographed only every few years and was discovered on such a pass by an astronomer in Chile back in 1986.
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As members, we can’t thank you enough for your support! We do humbly ask that if it’s time for you to renew your membership, please do so. We’ll be clearing and purging our old membership list soon and we do ask you to continue to support the Rolnick Observatory. WAS is an all volunteer 501(c)3 that is only supported by memberships and donations. All memberships ARE NOW DUE IN MAY; please renew today!
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Our Next Meeting is Tuesday May 15, 8:00pm
Mark Swanson, Professor of Physics at the University of Connecticut at Stamford swings by the Rolnick Observatory to talk about one of nature’s biggest, nastiest explosions: The Supernova!
Supernovas may be one of the most destructive events in the universe but they’re also one of the primary reasons we’re around today to talk about them.
Because of an illness, our original May speaker, Yale research scientist David L. Rabinowitz will return September 18.
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It’s just about election time again which means we have grillin’, chillin’ and electin’ at our meeting/picnic next month! Ballots will be emailed before the annual afternoon picnic on June 19
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Big Rolnick Observatory Events:
WAS Meetup – May 25
WAS celebrates International Astronomy Day: May 26
The Transit of Venus: June 5
WAS Annual Picnic and Elections: June 19
Dr. Michael Inglis: July 17
The Perseid Meteor Shower: August 11
Bob Meadows Annual Stellafane Report: August 21
David L. Rabinowitz: September 18 – Yale research scientist. ”Searching the sky for exploding stars, black holes and distant planetesimals “:
Mordecai-Mark Mac Low: October 16 – Curator of the American Museum of Natural History, Department of Physics
Phil Harrington: November 16 – Founding member of WAS, contributing editor to Astronomy Magazine and author of many books including the recently published ultimate observing list for amateurs: Cosmic Challenge
David Mestre: December 18 – Director of Space Science Education at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium drops in for the annual WAS Holiday Party!Winter Solstice: December 21
Robert Gendler: January 19, 2013 – One of the world’s best astrophotographers returns to chat about making images from the Hubble Legacy Archive
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ASTROWEB SITE OF THE MONTH
by Cal Powell
“There’s gold in them there asteroids!” A company recently renamed Planetary Resources, Inc. (http://www.
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.
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by Bob Meadows
A Coronado Hydrogen alpha 60mm solar telescope was purchased from Martin Hamar at well below the market price. An extra computer monitor was purchased from Carl Lancaster, which will be used to view video of the Venus transit.
Due to delays on construction of the Pier for the 16 inch telescope, the 12 inch telescope will be used for the transit of Venus on June 5. Carl Lancaster made a bracket to mount the Orion 80mm telescope with a solar filter and video camera on the 12 inch telescope. Carl also assembled a new computer to process the video images and put them on the internet.
The solar filter that was ordered for the 14 inch telescope was back-ordered, so we canceled the order, and ordered it directly from the manufacturer. We are now getting a 6 inch off axis filter rather than a full aperture filter. The filter has still not been shipped. Our backup is to use a mylar filter or the old glass solar filter.
On June 5, for the transit of Venus, we plan to have the 12 inch telescope for viewing, the Orion 80mm with a video camera mounted piggyback on the 12 inch, and two Hydrogen alpha solar telescopes on the tower deck. The video will be displayed on a monitor, and streamed to the internet via you-tube.
At the Northeast Astronomy Forum on April 28, Bob Meadows bought a 2 inch moon filter and a 1.25 inch moon filter for the 25 inch telescope.
2 Bob Meadows | Bob Tobin | Quintin Brantley
9 Tom Davis | Nick LaRocca | Evan Tilley | *Franco Fellah
16 Bob Blasko | Karl Procop | K. Moskovitz | *Dan Wright
23 Mike Bellacosa | Frank Cirino | Adam Yates | *Carl Lancaster
30 Bob Meadows | David Ives | Niles Lathrop
6 Tom Davis | Bob Tobin | Evan Tilley | *Franco Fellah
13 Bob Blasko | Karl Procop | Quintin Brantley — Cherry Springs –
20 Mike Bellacosa | Nick LaRocca | K. Moskovitz | *Dan Wright
27 Bob Meadows | Niles Lathrop | Adam Yates
4 *** Closed for July 4 ***
11 Bob Tobin | Frank Cirino | David Ives | *Franco Fellah
18 Bob Blasko | Tom Davis | Evan Tilley | *Dan Wright
25 Karl Procop | Quintin Brantley | Nick LaRocca | *Carl Lancaster
Call Bob or make arrangements for someone to cover your shift if you can’t make it. We’re counting on you.