Summer Steam, Tower Repairs, Stellafane Preparation, Membership Reports and WAS Welcomes Andrew Kessler
By Dan Wright
Happy aphelion! We may be 3 million miles further away from our star than in December but it’s been a warm, steamy start to July! Summer is our time to get a lot of work done around the Rolnick Observatory and our projects are moving ahead, full steam…
First, we need to send out another massive thank you to Eve Burhenne and the company she works for in Fairfield, Five Star Products, a company that makes non-shrink cement and epoxy-based construction solutions. Chris Piekos from Five Star took a look at some of the water drainage issues we have on the tower and Five Star is going to donate their time and efforts to fix our issues. This is a HUGE thing for us and should keep the tower’s structure nice and dry for years to come.
Eve’s daughter Clare and Phoebe O’Brien have volunteered to spend some precious days of their High School summer vacation to take care of various other things around the Rolnick Observatory. If you can volunteer your expertise, please email us and we’ll get you on a work committee. There’s always something that needs fixing and Bob Meadows can’t do it all!
The sill of the observatory dome is our next big summer project and we’re currently taking estimates to get this fixed. It’s been rotted out for the better part of a decade and it’s in dire need of a fix. This project, and the replacement of some of the doors in the tower will cost WAS thousands of dollars but it’s one of the things The Town asked us to fix as part of our lease’s list of capital improvements and it needs to get done. Please consider putting a little something extra in the donation box to help us with this huge expense.
Membership Director Adam Yates will now give us a monthly update on new members and renewals. Over the last few years WAS memberships have dropped below 100 and to have a healthy society, we need to get memberships back to 100+. If you’re not a member now, or need to renew, please continue to support science in your community. We’re an all volunteer 501(c)3 not for profit organization and we count on you to keep our dome open.
Lastly, one of our favorite summer activities are Star Parties and the first one of the year for us is Stellafane. I go on about this every year but it’s where amateur astronomy really took root in the world and it’s close by in Springfield VT. The skies (for New England) are pretty good and using a large aperture telescope in a dark sky location is what sold me on amateur astronomy in the first place. But even when Stellafane becomes Aquafane or Stellarain, it’s still a very special place. On Saturday morning, August 10th the annual Telescope Competition kicks off on Breezy Hill and this, for me, is the heart of Stellafane. To see the incredible creativity, engineering and design work that “amateurs” create in their garages, basements and workshops is awe inspiring. I urge you to make the pilgrimage. This year is no different, as our own Carl Lancaster has an incredibly innovative new telescope design he hopes to enter this year… If he gets it done in time!
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My “New” Telescope
by Carl Lancaster
Below you can see my new telescope to replace my existing 18 inch horseshoe mounted telescope, it is intended to be 1/2 the weight of the current scope (no more than 150lbs) and be a simple dobsonian mount. However, I am replacing the truss system with what is called an articulated mast. Similar in concept to origami or a Hoberman structure, the idea is to speed up the assembly/breakdown time of the scope to ease transportability. This type of mast has been used by NASA on the STS-99 radar topography mission and more recently the launch of the NuStar X-Ray telescope.
The telescope will have the Stellarcat drive system similar to the one on the 25 inch scope and be driven by an iPad. There’s still an incredible amount of work to do but the goal is to complete the telescope in time for the Stellafane competition in August.
This video will give you an idea of how the truss design will work:
NEXT FREE MEETING: Tuesday July 16, 8:00 pm
Andrew Kessler: Author of Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission
The Phoenix Mars mission was the first man-made probe ever sent to the Martian arctic. They wanted to find out how climate change can turn a warm, wet planet (read: Earth) into a cold, barren desert (read: Mars). Some might call it a trivial pursuit, but it’s probably the most impressive feat we humans can achieve, and it took the culmination of nearly the entirety of human knowledge to do it. Kessler was on hand during the building of Phoenix and he makes his first visit to the Rolnick Observatory.
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Astro Web Site Of The Month
by Cal Powell
Summer is a season for blockbuster movie entertainment and astronomy is well-represented at the Cosmic Cinema at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics. The English-language web site at http://www.mpa-garching.mpg.de/~museum/museum/index_e.html presents an all-star lineup of the most interesting and violent events in the universe. Donʹt forget your red/green glasses so that you can enjoy the 3D “short subjects” that comprise the last entry on the page.
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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Upcoming Events at the Rolnick Observatory
Next Month:August 20 – The Bob Meadows Annual Stellafane Report – Intrepid Rolnick Observatory Director Bob Meadows’ annual rundown of the incredible one of a kind telescopes and homemade astronomical equipment from the Stellafane Convention.
Soon:Stellafane – August 8 – 11 (WAS on the road with the 25 Obsession) Connecticut Star Party (CSP) – September 6 – 8 (WAS on the road with the 25 Obsession) Caleb Scharf, Director of Astrobiology, Columbia University: September 17 David Pogue: October 15 – Weekly tech writer for the New York Times, monthly columnist for Scientific American, host of PBS’s Nova Science Now (premiering October 10th). David is a Westport resident and makes his first public visit to the Rolnick Observatory!
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by Bob Meadows
We received an update on the pier for the 16 inch Meade telescope from Mike Miciukiewicz. All the parts are cut and temporarily assembled. He just needs to prep it for welding and make the welds.
Clare Burhenne’s mother, Eve, works for Five Star Products, who make materials for repairing concrete. Eve and an expert from the company came to the observatory Tuesday June 25, and looked at the water problem with the tower. There is steel around the edge of the concrete slab on the tower. When it rains, water is seeping between the steel and the concrete. They are going to send out a crew to clean the seam between the concrete slab and the steel, then fill it with epoxy caulk, free of charge.
The sill under the dome, between the concrete slab and the 2×6’s, was made of untreated plywood, and over the years has completely rotted away. During their inspection last Winter, the town asked us to repair it. We are getting estimates from carpenters, and soon, we will be selecting one of them to do the job.
10 Bob Tobin Evan Tilley *Dan Wright
17 Bob Meadows Tom Davis
24 Bob Blasko Frank Cirino *Bob Meadows
31 Mike Bellacosa David Ives *Franco Fellah
7 Bob Tobin Quintin Brantley ** Packing for Stellafane **
14 Tom Davis Evan Tilley
21 Bob Blasko Dan Wright
28 Mike Bellacosa Frank Cirino *Dan Wright
4 Bob Tobin David Ives *Franko Fellah
11 Tom Davis Quintin Brantley *Bob Meadows
18 Bob Blasko Evan Tilley
25 Mike Bellacosa Frank Cirino *Dan Wright
* On the 25 Obsession
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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by Adam Yates
Our members are the most important asset for the life of our organization. For the first time ever, we’re making use of membership-tracking software, which allows us to communicate proactively with people before their memberships expire and to welcome new members as they sign up.
While we had two memberships expire in June, we’re very happy to report that we had six renewals–Keith & Stuart Smith, Larry Robinson, Frank Rubino, Philip Stevens, George McDonald, and Kathie & Mark Moskovitz. If you sent in a renewal towards the end of June and don’t see your name here, don’t worry, it was most likely counted in July and will be included in next month’s Field of View.
Keep your eyes on the mail–we’ll send you a renewal notice about a month before your membership is set to expire so that you have plenty of time to renew, and an expiration notice the month after your membership expires as a reminder. If you have questions about your membership, please email Adam Yates at email@example.com. Stay tuned for new developments in our membership services in the future!
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Phil Harrington’s Binocular Universe: The Eagle Has Landed
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We are an all volunteer society that is financially responsible for everything at the Rolnick Observatory, and we can always use your help. Please donate and renew your membership today!
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