Comet of the Century?, Hispanic Heritage Month, Hubble Goes Deep – REALLY Deep and the Curator of the American Museum of Natural History visits the Rolnick Observatory
by Dan Wright
The Westport Astronomical Society will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport this weekend; October 6th! It’s a FREE event from 10-5pm in honor of latino scientists. There will be a radio station broadcasting live and we’ll be there with our incredible solar telescopes during the day with LOTS of goodies to hand out from NASA and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. C’mon out and meet this great community!
We’re cautiously becoming excited about a newly discovered comet that by some estimates may be one of the brightest comets in a century or two. At the risk of going all out Kohoutek (a highly promoted comet that completely fizzled) on you, Comet ISON C2012 S1 may indeed be a “Dream Comet”. Currently a dim 18th magnitude and diving in from the Oort Cloud now close to Jupiter, it will have a close encounter with Mars, then dive within 725,000 miles of the sun on November 28, 2013 perhaps brightening to -10!
Should it survive that close shave with our star, it flings out past Venus and slides near Earth. Some breathless reports say this may be bright enough to see during the day… Again, we must remind ourselves of Kohoutek’s Law: Under Sell and Over Deliver! Regardless, a bright comet will get not just us but new people excited about astronomy and will drive people to our Dome, and that’s great for everyone.
If things do go to plan, we should be able to start seeing ISON from the Rolnick Observatory next summer. In the meantime, Comet 168P/Hergenrother just brightened rather unexpectedly and is visible at 10th magnitude in the Great Square of Pegasus. You know Bob Meadows will be spending hours with the 25 looking for this dim little sky boomerang!
If you venture to the southern hemisphere in mid March, you may be able to see Comet Pan-STARRS C/2011 L4. This may brighten to +/- 1 and allegedly be a naked eye object at sunset.
The Big Kahuna of Astronomy in the southern hemisphere this year is the total solar eclipse November 13. WAS Board Member David Ives will be heading to Australia and will try to send us some pictures from the event. It’s the rainy season that time of year so we certainly wish David good luck!
Lastly, I wanted to point out the incredible “new” photo 10 years in the making from the Hubble Space Telescope of a tiny, tiny spot in the constellation Fornax. It’s called the eXtreme Deep Field Image and I cannot gush about this enough. I realize that the image just looks like another picture with lots of pretty little galactic smears. However, it’s literally the history of the universe in a single image! This is a picture showing galaxies just 450 million years after the big bang. Some of these galaxies are 13 BILLION years old.
Yeah, it’s cool. It’s very cool.
There’s a bunch of new calendars in stock and are available for purchase NOW! We have a VERY LIMITED selection of these excellent 2013 calendars, edited by Terence Dickinson. Available now to our members for $15 and non-members only $20. Click HERE to see the rest of the calendar images.
We’ve sold quite a few… Get them while you can!
NEXT MEETING: Tuesday October 16, 2012, 8:00pm
“The Cosmic History of Star Formation”
Mordecai-Mark Mac Low
Curator and Curator-in-Charge
Department of Astrophysics
Chair, Division of Physical Sciences
American Museum of Natural History
Once, there were no stars, just hydrogen and helium gas, and dark matter. Once stars did begin to form, there was a huge increase in the star formation rate, which has now fallen back, leaving the modern universe with star formation rates only a tenth of those at the peak. In this talk I tell this story, and also a little of the story of how we are coming to understand this cosmic history.
Astro Web Site Of The Month
by Cal Powell
Seiichi Yoshida’s website at http://www.aerith.net/index.
Thanks to Dan Wright for bringing this site to my attention. 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
Upcoming Events at the Rolnick ObservatoryWestern CT Outdoor Adventurers Meetup Private Star Party: October 19 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! Robert Gendler: January 19, 2013– One of the world’s best astrophotographers returns to chat about making images from the Hubble Legacy Archive Kerstin Perez: February 19, 2013 – Columbia University research physicist currently working on the NuSTAR X-Ray Space Telescope. Or Graur: March 19, 2013 – The Universe is My Lab Jacqueline van Gorkom: April 16, 2013 – Galactic Neighborhoods Matthew Pappas:
For it is obvious to everybody, I think, that this study [of astronomy] compels the soul to look upward and leads it away from things here to higher things. ~Plato
by Bob Meadows
The Connecticut Star Party was September 14 to 16 in Ashford, CT. Friday night was mostly cloudy with thin clouds. Saturday was clear. The keynote speaker was David Ciardi of Cal Tech, who works for NASA searching for exo-planets using the Kepler spacecraft. WAS members attending were Bob Meadows, Dan Wright, Carl Lancaster, Todd Nelson, Adam Yates, Franco Fellah, and Tom and Meryl Zelenak.
Telescope classes on how to operate the 12 inch telescope were postponed because no one signed up. Another class will be scheduled after the new computer and The Sky X are installed. If you are interested in taking the class, please contact Bob Meadows.
Since temperatures have dropped, we put away the mosquito magnet. It seemed to help a lot this year, although it did not eliminate all of the mosquitoes.
10 Bob Meadows Bob Blasko K. Moskovitz *Franco Fellah
17 Mike Bellacosa Ev
24 Karl Procop Quintin Brantley Frank Cirino
31 Bob Meadows Tom Davis David Ives
7 Bob Blasko Bob Tobin Evan Tilley *Dan Wright
14 Bob Meadows Mike Bellacosa K. Moskovitz *Franco Fellah
21 Karl Procop Quintin Brantley Frank Cirino *TBD
28 Tom Davis David Ives
5 Bob Blasko Evan Tilley *Dan Wright
12 Bob Tobin K. Moskovitz *Franco Fellah
19 Mike Bellacosa Frank Cirino *Bob Meadows
26 Karl Procop David Ives
* * * * * *
Phil Harrington’s Binocular Universe Lyre, Lyre
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! Incredible custom gear made for the Star Parties! Show your WAS pride!
* * * * * *
|Board Members at Large:||David Ives
|Web Master:||Adam Yates|