Fire vs ISON – More Tower Repairs – WE HAVE A PIER – Last Call on Calendars and the Discovery Museum’s David Mestre talks CubeSat
By Dan Wright
Time to stick a fork in 2013! It’s been a great year and I think we’ve accomplished a heck of a lot. From redoing the sill in the dome to the volunteerism our friends at Five Star Products did on the deck of the tower, all the tree removal around the campus, rebuilding our membership and an incredible line up of outstanding speakers – it was a really great year!
My thanks to our incredible Board of Directors and to all of our volunteers who show up in the steamy heat and unbearable cold to share their love of astronomy with the thousands that visit the Rolnick Observatory every year. It’s their dedication and hard work that keeps me coming back for more.
Please remember we are a tax deductible 501(c)3 organization and if you need a write-off, I ask you to consider safely donating via the PayPal button or a check made out to the Westport Astronomical Society so that we can continue to provide such a unique service to our community.
ISON – What?
What was supposed to be the “Comet of the Century” turned out as most comets turn out – a visual disappointment. Visually that’s true… Some of us looked at ISON before it’s ill fated spin around the star and it wasn’t much to write home about. However, seeing it get smeared into a ground up pile of rubble was pretty amazing and science learned a lot from all the views we had of this poor fella. There will be another comet and the next one may be The One. Probably not but who cares? They are fun to watch and their unpredictability is what makes them such interesting quarry.
After what seemed like an aeon, we now have our custom made pier! Mike Miciukiewicz delivered the hunk of heavy metal a few days ago and is now holding court in the classroom. Now we need to get that 16″ working! It’s had some issues but we hope to have it sorted out by spring when we can see how it all works together. Our fingers are seriously crossed on this endeavour.
Lastly, we bid farewell to our friend and one of the original members of WAS, Charles Scovil who ran the Stamford Observatory for many years. He has moved to Alabama and we’ll miss him and his ever present jug of apple cider.
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NEXT FREE MEETING: Tuesday December 17, 8:00 pm
The WAS Pre-Winter Solstice Holiday Party!
[warning]The weather may be an issue on Tuesday – PLEASE check the WAS web page or your emails for an update![/warning]
David Mestre: Manager of Space Science Education at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium returns for the WAS Holiday Party to update us on Discovery’s upcoming CubeSat program.
Space programs can come in small packages. The Discovery Museum and its partners have embarked on their mission to launch a CubeSat into space. Along the way, we’ve launched actual hardware on suborbital flights from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. David Mestre will be displaying the flight hardware from that launch and talk about how far along we are on our home-grown space program.
Please bring some yummy goodies to share with your friends!
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Astro Web Site Of The Month
by Cal Powell
The Smithsonian Institution is exploring ways to rapidly digitize their holdings. In working with modeling techniques, the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office has posted a 3D model of the Cassiopeia A supernova that you can tour at http://220.127.116.11/tour/seeing-around-remnant-supernova. There are other objects and models that you can tour here at the Smithsonian X 3D site(such as the 1903 Wright flyer), but if you have the latest in hightech gadgetry, you can download and create them on your digital printer!
I’ll end with the annual reminder to track Santa’s progress at http://www.noradsanta.org. Have a safe and happy holiday season!
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:Winter Solstice: December 21 – The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude.
Next Month at the Rolnick Observatory:
Kerstin Perez: NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow returns to WAS to update us on the NuSTAR X-Ray Space Telescope: January 21, 2014
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He dances upright
All the way to the west,
And never once drops
On his forefeet to rest.
I’m a poor underdog,
But to-night I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.
~ Robert Frost 1928
by Bob Meadows
Carl Lancaster replaced the computer in the dome with the new one we had bought for the transit of Venus. He installed The Sky 6 and The Sky X. He also installed a wireless mouse. David Brown and Michael Southam moved the commonly used buttons on The Sky X to the top of the screen, and wrote a procedure for the basic functions.
The USGS replaced the seismometer at WAS with brand new equipment on December 13th. You can view the live Rolnick Observatory graph here:
Here’s a look inside the locked vault on the WAS campus.
On the tower deck above the north end of the stairway, there is a storage area with a plywood door. The door frame near the hinges was attached by one nail, and the door latch was broken. Michael Southam repaired the door frame, re-hung the door, and repaired the latch.
The observatory was open for comet viewing from 4 am to 5 am on Wednesday Nov. 13 and Friday Nov. 15. We also set up a telescope at Knapp’s Landing in Stratford at 4:30 am on Tuesday Nov. 19. In each case, we saw comet Lovejoy and comet ISON, but were unable to see comet Encke.
On November 11, WAS members, Michael Southam, Dan Wright, and Bob Meadows set up and operated solar telescopes at the Discovery Museum. On Friday evening Nov. 15 the same group set up telescopes for viewing before and after an astronomy lecture at the Weston Middle School.
Mike Miciukiewicz finished welding the pier for the 16 inch telescope. He is going to deliver it to the observatory on Thursday December 12. It needs to be painted.
Longtime member and director of the Stamford Observatory, Charles Scovil, has retired. He sold his condo, and is moving to Alabama to live with his son. Bill Bambrick is taking over as president of the Stamford club.
18 Bob Tobin Quintin Brantley Will Munro
25 *** Merry Christmas ***
1 *** Happy New Year ***
8 Bob Blasko Emma Moskovitz Michael Southam
15 Mike Bellacosa Frank Cirino Keith Smith
22 Franco Fellah Evan Tilley Colleen Brandon
29 Tom Davis David Ives Alex Hirsch
5 Bob Tobin David Brown
12 Dan Wright Will Munro
19 Bob Blasko Emma Moskovitz
26 Mike Bellacosa Michael Southam
* 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
November saw some membership activity at the Westport Astronomical Society! We had two renewals: Lou Chavenello and Mike & Anna Vranos. We also had a new family join our club and are happy to welcome Martha Brooks & Tom Donaher to the Westport Astronomical Society.
If you have recently sent in your renewal, but didn’t see it listed here, don’t worry, your name should appear in next month’s Field of View. Be sure to watch your mail–we’ll notify you when your membership is getting close to expiration. If you have questions about your membership or are uncertain if your membership is still active, please contact Adam at email@example.com.
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Phil Harrington’s Binocular Universe: Connect The Dots
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Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) have the ability to monitor dangerous storms in close to real-time. But monitoring the activity of a specific storm has always come with a trade-off: focusing on a single storm means you can’t look at weather in other places. That could change with the launch of the next generation of GOES—the GOES-R series. In this month’s column, learn about these satellites’ new instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, that will make this trade-off a thing of the past.
Read this month’s column to find out!
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Support Science in your Community with a Donation
The Rolnick Observatory is 100% supported by your donations and memberships. We are all unpaid volunteers and completely rely on YOU for financial support. No tax-deductible amount you can give is too small and no amount is too great!
Please donate or become a member today: Individual, Family and Corporate memberships are available.
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2014 Calendars ON SALE NOW!
Purchase the Deep Space Mysteries Wall Calendar Today! We have a VERY LIMITED SUPPLY of this gorgeous 2014 calendar. It’s filled with stunning images of stars, planets, galaxies, and other deep space wonders. A highly informative essay accompanies each inspiring photograph.
For each month, celestial viewing opportunities, historical events, and national holidays are listed. Also includes noted major milestones in astronomy and space, stunning monthly images of deep space objects, key celestial viewing opportunities for each month, and expert suggestions for making the most of a cloudy night. Includes moon phases.
Members $15, non-members $20
Shop the entire Universe’s greatest selection of out of this world WAS Wear!! Show your WAS pride with a 30 day money back guarantee.