Hundreds see the Venus Transit at the Rolnick Observatory, Astronomy Day Recap and it’s the annual Westport Astronomical Society Summer Solstice Picnic Extraordinaire of Amazing Awesomeness!
by Dan Wright
The Final Transit of Venus in our lifetimes has come and gone and it was about as exciting as it could possibly be at the Rolnick Observatory! After flirting with clouds and sun all day the public started to arrive in droves to see the Transit. Predictably, after all the preparations getting ready to stream the Transit, it began to rain… And then it REALLY rained! At this point, around the beginning of the Transit, about 6pm, there was a live TV crew from News 12 Connecticut, various reporters from local papers and about 200+ public ready to see this incredibly rare event for themselves.
Everyone sardined in the classroom to watch the live stream from NASA in Hawaii and with some minor technical hickups, we had someone else’s wonderful view! Carl Lancaster and Adam Yates were huddled up in the tower ready to stream our own live feed if and when the skies cleared. After missing the first 20 minutes or so someone said they saw a patch of blue and as quickly as the classroom could empty out, EVERYONE was milling around looking for that patch. Fortunately, that patch turned into a hole that turned into a clear view!
After the crowd began to realize the very good chance of not seeing this thing and then to have this gorgeous patch of blue skies open up, it really was an amazing thing! All of a sudden people all yelling they can see it and kids are running all over trying to queue up to share the solar glasses, binoculars and telescopes all our volunteers had provided. Our preparation paid off!
So let me say it again, thank you to everyone that helped with the solar telescopes on Astronomy Day in Westport as well as this crazy Transit of Venus. It was a gas. What a great feeling to see everyone there happily come together like they did and it once again reminded all of us why we spend so many hours volunteering. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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As the sun makes it’s way to the solstice, it’s time to vote! No great changes as no one notified me they wanted to run. Nick LaRocca is stepping down as a board member after serving for many years. Thanks for volunteering all your time Doc! Adam Yates is running in his place. See the attached ballot to make your selections and bring them to the picnic.
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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!
Next Meeting: Tuesday June 19, 6:00pm *** Members Only
PARTY LIKE A DRUID and say goodbye to the last full day of Spring because it’s time for the annual Westport Astronomical Society Summer Solstice Picnic Extraordinaire of Amazing Awesomeness! We’ll break out the patented carbon covered WAS Grill of Mysteryand cook up brats, burgers and a variety of other tasty carcinogens. We supply the meaty protein and sugary fizzy stuff, you supply the rest. After recovering from the food coma, we’ll elect the 2013 Board of Directors.
Our speaker in April, Columbia University’s Dr. Chuck Hailey, currently working on the delayed NASA X-Ray space telescope NuSTAR is scheduled to launch Wednesday June 13… From an airplane! Read about it here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-169
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Big Rolnick Observatory Events:
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
Space flight history was made when Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (better known as SpaceX) became the first private company to manage, build, and launch a spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). This is a significant milestone in reaching NASA’s objective (dubbed the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program) of relegating the routine and repetitive tasks associated with space transport to the private sector. The SpaceX web site at http://www.spacex.com/ describes the reusable Dragon spacecraft as well as the three launch vehicles offered by the company. Most impressive is the proposed Falcon Heavy launch vehicle which will be able to place a payload of 117,000 pounds into low-Earth orbit (LEO).
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
The observatory was open for the transit of Venus on June 5. We had the 12 inch telescope for viewing the sun, the Orion 80mm with a video camera mounted piggyback on the 12 inch, and two Hydrogen alpha solar telescopes on the ground and later on the tower deck. The video was displayed on a monitor in the dome, and streamed to the internet via you-stream. In the classroom we had our video on the digital projector, replaced with NASA TV when we had clouds.
On June 5, we saw the sun early in the afternoon through breaks in the clouds. When the transit began at6:03, it was cloudy, then, it began to rain. The classroom was packed with people watching NASA TV. More people were waiting for a view at the tower. At about7:00the clouds cleared, and everyone got to see the transit. It clouded up again around7:30and remained cloudy until the sun was below the tree line.
We have an intern, Cole Miller, working at the observatory for the summer. Bob and Cole cleaned the mirrors on the 12 inch and made a baffle to block the light from the back of the telescope. They also made a mount for a 6 inch mylar solar filter on the front of the 12 inch, since the glass filter we ordered is not available. Bob and Cole have been working most afternoons, doing maintenance, like mowing, painting the railing around the deck, and cutting back brush
On May 11, Bob Meadows and Dan Wright set up the 10 inch telescope at the Boy Scout Jamboree in Orange. There were about a dozen telescopes. It was organized by the New Havenclub, and several other clubs were present. Of over 2000 scouts, less that 200 took part in the star party.
The meet-up group that was scheduled for May 24 was canceled due to clouds.
On May 25, Dan Wright, Martin Hamar, Franco Fellah, Bob Meadows, Keith Smith and Stuart Smith set up Solar telescopes on Jessup Green in Westport for Astronomy Day. There were news stories and pictures in Westport Today and The Hour.
Bob Meadows, Dan Wright, and Carl Lancaster will be attending the Cherry Springs Star Party in Pennsylvania on June 14 to 17.
13 Bob Blasko Karl Procop Quintin Brantley — Cherry Springs –
20 Mike Bellacosa Nick LaRocca K. Moskovitz *Dan Wright
27 Bob Meadows NilesLathrop 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 Prpcop Quintin Brantley Nick LaRocca *Carl Lancaster
8 Bob Tobin K. Moskovitz Adam Yates *Dan Wright
15 Bob Blasko David Ives Evan Tilley — Stellafane —
22 Mike Bellacosa Karl Procop Frank Cirino *Franco Fellah
29 Bob Meadows Tom Davis Quintin Brantley
Call Bob or make arrangements for someone to cover your shift if you can’t make it. We’re counting on you.
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Other Cool Stuff
We are an all volunteer society that is financially responsible for everything at the Rolnick Observatory, and we are always short on money. Please donate and renew your membership today!
Check out the WAS Wear Store! We’ve got great gear custom made for the Star Parties!
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|Board Members at Large:||David Ives
|Web Master:||Adam Yates|