UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE THE WESTPORT OBSERVATORY WILL BE CLOSED for public nights, scout groups, private star parties and our monthly Free Westport Astronomical Society Science Lectures. We will be live streaming and will update you on our Facebook, YouTube and Twitter feeds.
Thanks and see you soon under the bright skies of Westport!
Since 1975, the Westport Astronomical Society has brought the wonders of the night sky to the thousands who have visited the observatory. We’re an all volunteer-run, non-profit organization that’s free and open to the public every Wednesday night from 8-10 pm if the skies are clear. Remember, near the summer solstice it doesn’t get dark until late, so please plan to come after sunset.
The Dome Observatory covers a brand new Celestron EdgeHD purchased in 2019 on top of a Astrophysics 1200 German Equatorial mount with an Explore Scientific 102mm f/7 Essential Apochromatic ED Triplet Refractor piggybacked on top. The lawn regularly hosts the HUGE 25″ Obsession telescope, one of the largest in Connecticut. You can also occasionally find us doing sidewalk astronomy in the community with various 8-10″ Dobsonian telescopes and we really love viewing the sun with the Lunt LS100Tha double stacked solar telescope.
WAS has free monthly meetings with experts at the top of their fields. We feature speakers from the Hayden Planetarium, The American Museum of Natural History, Yale, NYU, UConn, MIT, Wesleyan, Columbia as well as educators from all over the globe who enrich our community with cutting-edge discussions on cosmology, physics, and astronomy. Additionally, there are additional special, private events scheduled throughout the year for our members and supporters.
WAS Elections and Professor Gregory Laughlin, Yale – Oumuamua, Borisov and the discovery of Interstellar Objects
Sadly, we can’t have the Star-B-Q picnic this year but we still need to have an election for the 2020 Board of Directors!
The WAS Grill of Questionable Carbonation will only be used by the spiders and yellow-jackets until 2021, but we have a great (virtual) speaker to fill the void. Also, if you are currently a member in good standing, please download the ballot and email or snail mail it back to us with your choices for the WAS 2020 Board of Directors.
We continue the WAS Virtual Lecture Series in June with Yale’s Gregory Laughlin.
NOTE: This lecture will be live-streamed on our YouTube channel and we will not be opening the observatory. The live stream will begin at 7:50 PM on June 16th and links will be posted as we near the event.
This is our full monthly meeting and the speaker is scheduled to begin around 8:20.
One of the biggest astronomical surprises of the past several years has been the detection of interstellar objects. To date, two such interlopers have been detected passing through our solar system, the mysterious ‘Oumuamua, and the less-mysterious Comet Borisov. In this talk, I’ll give an overview of ‘Oumuamua’s bizarre properties, and will delve into some of the theories surrounding its origin. I’ll also cover the appearance of Comet Borisov, and explain what it has to tell us about the formation of other Solar Systems in the Galaxy.
Greg Laughlin is a Professor of Astronomy at Yale University. His research focuses on the formation, characterization and evolution of planets, both in our own Solar System and Beyond.
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The June Cal’s Corner is TBD
The Bob Meadows Annual Stellafane Report! – CANCELLED
Bob Meadows, Director of the Westport Observatory returns from the 85th Annual Stellafane Convention in Springfield VT with a full report on the latest amateur telescope innovations and all the other things you may have missed.
Bob Meadows catches the stories that fell through the cracks and brings Stellafane full circle.
The Connecticut Star Party – CSP30 – Connecticut’s Premier Star Party! POSTPONED TO 2021
Never been to a star party with large aperture telescopes? Here’s a great opportunity!
For the 30th consecutive year, our friends at the Astronomical Society of New Haven will open online registration later this year for Connecticut’s premier star party CSP30 in one of the darkest locations in the state! This is the sixth year at the beautiful Edmund D. Strang Scout Reservation in Goshen, CT.
Join the WAS Away Team this weekend and take in the cool and beautiful skies of Northwest CT!
WAS Telescope Training Classes Begin
How would you like to control one of the best telescopes in Connecticut? Now you can! Observatory Director Bob Meadows will host a series of classes to show interested WAS members how to operate our new 14″ telescope and observatory dome. In just a few sessions, you’ll learn how to use an instrument that the general public only gets to glimpse once a week. It’s a fun first step toward getting a key that would allow you to stargaze any time.
* This class is offered only for current members of the Westport Astronomical Society and you must be a member for at least one year to receive a key. If you’re not yet a member yet and would like to take the class, please become one by going HERE.
All dates are dependent on decent weather with additional classes to be scheduled if needed. Class size is limited to 8 per evening, so first registered, first trained. You must RSVP and invitations will go out in early September.
If you complete 3 classes and show mastery of the telescope, and have been a member for over a year, you will pass the course The course includes opening and closing procedures, the observatory grounds checklist, what to do when things go wrong and using the program The Sky X to operate the telescope. All keyholders are expected to volunteer for telescope duty on our public nights. Please, serious inquiries only.
International Observe the Moon Night
International Observe the Moon Night is a worldwide celebration of lunar science and exploration, celestial observation, and our cultural and personal connections to the Moon. One day each year, everyone on Earth is invited to observe, learn about, and celebrate the Moon together – you’re invited to come to the observatory and see the moon (and other stuff) through many of our telescopes.
This year the event occurs in September, when the Moon is just past first quarter – a great phase for evening observing. Furthermore, the best lunar observing is typically along the Moon’s terminator (the line between night and day) where shadows are the longest, rather than at full Moon.
If the skies are clear, we’ll open the dome and use the observatory telescopes, to look at features on the 10 day old, 79% illuminated waxing gibbous moon.
The giant satellite has been Earth’s constant companion for an estimated 4.5 billion years and viewed by every human that’s ever walked the Earth. It’s one of the solar systems’ most remarkable objects and is quite likely a major reason that life even exists on our planet. The Moon is an incredible body that has fascinated and puzzled our ancestors from the very first time we looked up.
Don’t know your Mare from a Mons? Can’t tell a Sinus from a Vallis? A Crater from an Oceanus? Saturday night is the night to find out! We’ll be pointing out the Apollo landing sites as well as craters, the “oceans” of the Moon and features like the Straight Wall.
Professor Ronald L Mallett, UConn – The Real Science of Time Travel
This non-technical lecture examines the real scientific possibility of time travel based on Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity. The theoretical and experimental results of Einstein’s theories span the entire range of our understanding of the universe ranging from black holes, wormholes, and cosmic strings to results in the Large Hadron Collider. My current research is based on a breakthrough I made based on a little-known aspect of Einstein’s general theory of relativity that not only matter but light can warp space and time. By solving Einstein’s gravitational field equations I was able to show that a circulating beam of laser light can cause a twisting of space and time that leads to the possibility of time travel to the past. The lecture also discusses paradoxes of time travel. I also discuss my personal motivation resulting from a family tragedy that led to my lifelong research into the possibility of traveling through time.
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Prof. Ronald L. Mallett received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the Pennsylvania State University. He worked for United Technologies from 1973-5, and in 1975 joined the physics faculty at the University of Connecticut in Storrs where he is currently Professor Emeritus and Research Professor of Physics.
Prof. Mallett has published numerous papers on black holes and cosmology in professional journals. His breakthrough research on time travel has been featured extensively in the media around the world, including print media such as the New Scientist, the Boston Globe, the Hartford Courant, Rolling Stone magazine, The Wall Street Journal and broadcast media such as NPR’s This American Life, Austria’s Science Busters, the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the Science Channel, NBC CT news and CNN.
Prof. Mallett has appeared in a feature-length documentary “How to Build a Time Machine” which won Best Documentary at the 2017 New York City Sci-Fi Film Festival. The documentary is now available on Amazon prime.
Prof. Mallett’s published memoir “Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality” has been translated into Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. The memoir is currently in discussion become a major Hollywood motion picture.
WAS Pre-Winter Solstice Holiday Party
Bring some sweet goodies to share with your WAS friends as we bring in the Winter Solstice! We’ll have our usual fun and probably have an interesting speaker.
Joshua Tan, LaGuardia Community College CUNY
Visual astronomy only works if you can see the sky!
Astronomers, check these links to plan your observing:
• WAS on Weather Underground • Hourly astronomy conditions
• Current/Future conditions
• Transparency animation
• Seeing animation
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