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Archive for the ‘GTAS Outreach Event’ Category

01/07/2022 – Ephemeris – Help with your telescope tonight

January 7, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, January 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 5:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 11:18 this evening.

Did you or someone in your family get a telescope for Christmas, or have one in a closet or attic because you don’t know how to put it together or how to operate it? Or maybe you are trying to figure out which one to buy. Well, tonight’s your night. The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host a virtual telescope clinic via Zoom starting at 8 pm. Professor Jerry Dobek of Northwestern Michigan College will demonstrate the types of telescopes and how to use them. He and other members may be able to help particular problems by seeing participants telescopes using their webcams or smartphones. This should be interesting, to say the least. Go to gtastro.org for information and a link for the meeting.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Here’s a quick guide to telescopes, how they work, and what’s important in selecting one that I wrote some time ago: Telescope Basics2.pdf

Alternately, when we get back to in-person star parties at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H. Rogers Observatory, we invite folks to bring their telescopes. Members can have a look at them at or near the end of the evening.

12/03/2021 – Ephemeris – Learn about the astronomy of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians

December 3, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, December 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours even, setting at 5:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:03. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:33 tomorrow morning.

This evening yours truly will present one of my annual holiday programs starting at 8 p.m., at the monthly meeting, via Zoom, of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. The talk is a new one: The ancient astronomy of the Egyptians and Babylonians. It’s amazing how these ancient astronomers devised accurate calendars and eclipse predictions and even helped develop our alphabet, through the study of the heavens. If clear, we’ll have a virtual star party starting around 9 pm. Instructions and a link is on gtastro.org by 7 pm. Our binocular comet Leonard is still approaching the Sun in the morning sky. Tomorrow morning it will be a bit less than the width of a fist held at arm’s length above and a bit to the left of the bright star Arcturus in the eastern sky.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Egyptian used the heliacal rising of Sirius as a signal that the flooding of the Nile was imminent, starting their agricultural year. The Greeks called the star Sothis, while the Egyptians themselves called it Sopdet, a goddess, and consort of the god Sah, our Orion. Part of my presentation.

11/05/2021 – Ephemeris – Astronomy meeting tonight via Zoom

November 5, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, November 5th. The Sun will rise at 8:26. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 6:25. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 7:04 this evening.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program, yours truly will present Asteroids in the News. Two new NASA asteroid missions are in the news, the just launched Lucy mission to investigate seven of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids and later this month the launching a planetary defense mission test called DART to attempt to deflect a small asteroid orbiting another. A virtual star party will start around 9 pm, hosted by Dr. Jerry Dobek, astronomy professor at Northwestern Michigan College, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature Jupiter and Saturn, wonders of the autumn sky. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, http://www.gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

10/01/2021 Ephemeris – Learn about exoplanets and have a star party tonight (virtually)

October 1, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, October 1st. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 7:22, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:42. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:49 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program, yours truly will present Finding Exoplanets. Exoplanets are planets found orbiting other stars or rogue planets floating in interstellar space alone. We’ve actually only seen a handful of exoplanets, so most are detected by their effects on their host star. A virtual star party will start around 9 pm, hosted by Dr. Jerry Dobek, astronomy professor at Northwestern Michigan College, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature Jupiter and Saturn, wonders of the northern part of the summer Milky Way. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, http://www.gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Finding Exoplanets title slide

Finding Exoplanets title slide.

09/10/2021 – Ephemeris – Rescheduled virtual Sleeping Bear Dunes/GTAS star party set for tomorrow, Saturday night the 11th

September 10, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, September 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 8:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:17. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 10:05 this evening.

Tomorrow night the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) will host an online star party starting around 9 pm via the Zoom app available for Android smartphones, iPhones and computers. This is rescheduled from last week due to clouds. Instructions for joining are on the society’s website, gtastro.org. Images will be captured live from Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H Rogers Observatory. The images will be pretty much what is seen at the telescope eyepiece, and definitely not Hubble Space Telescope quality, which take weeks or months to process. Visible will be the five-day-old Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and the wonders of the Milky Way.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

During the GTAS board meeting, September 3rd, just before the canceled  star party, it was decided to hold off the decision on in person star parties until spring of 2022. We’ll follow the state of the pandemic in our area over the winter and see where we stand. Star parties at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H. Rogers Observatory could start in March. Star parties at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have in the past started in April.

We may still use imagers on our telescopes to capture celestial objects for display on laptop computers rather than viewing through the eyepiece. The society has two imagers, and the Observatory another. The society’s imagers can be used on society’s and members telescopes. This will solve the problems of having to sanitize telescope eyepieces between observers. At this point, I’m not sure what sanitizing products do to the delicate anti-reflective coatings on eyepieces.

We will also pay more attention to viewing the heavens with the naked eye or binoculars that people may have. Bring your own. Learning the constellations is always the best way to be introduced to astronomy, and the only way, up until 411 years ago. And binoculars are a great first telescope.

09/03/2021 – Ephemeris – Tonight: Virtual Star Party via Zoom with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

September 3, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, September 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 8:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:09. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 4:01 tomorrow morning.

Tonight the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will host an online star party this evening starting around 9 pm via the Zoom app available for Android smartphones, iPhones and computers. Instructions for joining are on the society’s website, gtastro.org. Images will be captured live, if it’s clear, from Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H Rogers Observatory. The images will be pretty much what is seen at the telescope eyepiece, and definitely not Hubble Space Telescope quality, which take weeks to process. Visible will be the Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and wonders of the Milky Way, some really neat star clusters, and nebulae, that is clouds of gas and dust in the Milky Way.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Also, the planets Venus, Saturn and Jupiter will be visible during the session.

This post is going out at Midnight the night before, and the forecast is for clouds. It is possible that we will reschedule for Friday the 10th. If so, I’ll have a post about it then.

08/13/2021 – Ephemeris – Rescheduled virtual star party tonight

August 13, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, August 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 8:51, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:44. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 11:36 this evening.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will try again to hold a virtual star party starting at 9:30 pm tonight via the Zoom app on the Internet. We were clouded out last Friday night. Jerry Dobek, professor of astronomy at Northwestern Michigan College, will host the event with the 16-inch telescope at the College’s Observatory and an imager, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It should feature a look at Venus and the crescent Moon to start. Saturn and Jupiter will be up by then, but they’re quite low in the sky. We might take another look at them later on when their images are steadier. The wonders of the Milky Way are all available. Instructions and a link can be found on the society’s website, www.gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Southern Milky Way from Traverse City

The southern Milky Way from Aquila to Sagittarius taken from my backyard with light pollution from businesses on US 31 in Chums Corners and Grawn south of me.  I live about 7 miles west of the NMC Observatory. These bright lights are to its southwest and farther away. Click on the image to enlarge it.

08/06/2021 – Ephemeris – Virtual Star Party tonight if it’s clear in Traverse City

August 6, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, August 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 9:01, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:36. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 5:11 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will hold a virtual star party starting at 10 pm tonight via the Zoom app on the Internet. Jerry Dobek, professor of astronomy at Northwestern Michigan College, will host the event with the 16-inch telescope and an imager, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It should feature a look at Venus to start. Saturn and Jupiter will be up by then, but they’re quite low in the sky. We might take another look at them later on when their images are steadier. The wonders of the Milky Way are all available, clouds willing: nebulae where stars are forming, nebulae caused by dying stars, and all kinds of star clusters. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, www.gtastro.org.

Addendum

The Southern Milky Way from Traverse City

The Milky Way from Aquila to Sagittarius taken from my backyard with light pollution south of me. The summer southern Milky Way is the reason I love the dark nights of August and September. It’s the best time of year for a star party. I’m 7 miles west of Northwestern Michigan College’s Joseph H. Rogers Observatory, from which the images for tonight’s star party will be captured.

07/02/2021 – Ephemeris – Virtual star party to be held tonight

July 2, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, July 2nd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 9:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:02. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:14 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society hold a virtual star party starting at 10 pm tonight via Zoom app on the Internet. Jerry Dobek, professor of astronomy at Northwestern Michigan College, will host the event with the 16-inch telescope and an imager, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It should feature a look at Venus to start. There will be other objects visible in the darkening twilight, such as binary stars and a dramatic pair with contrasting colors. As it gets darker, we might spot clusters of stars including the Great Hercules Globular Cluster, a veritable popcorn ball of stars. Also, bright clouds of gas expelled by dying stars. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, www.gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4). They may be different for your location.

06/04/2021 – Ephemeris – Zoom astronomy meeting and possible star party tonight

June 4, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, June 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 9:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:49 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program Jerry Dobek, professor of astronomy at Northwestern Michigan College will present an illustrated talk on astroimaging. The pandemic has inspired Dr. Dobek to find a solution. It turned out to be a relatively inexpensive imager for the telescope. The virtual star party will start around 9 pm, hosted by Dobek, with his imager, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature a look at Venus to start, possibly before sunset. There will be other objects visible in the twilight such as binary stars and a pair with differing colors. Instructions to join the meeting and a link can be found on the society’s website, www.gtastro.org.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Here are some images that Professor Dobek has produced during the GTAS virtual Zoom star parties that I screen captured and minimally enhanced:

M46 with planetary nebula

The planetary nebula that is probably within star cluster M 46 in the constellation Puppis. Created from a screen grab from an image by Jerry Dobek January 8, 2021 during the GTAS virtual star party. The image was enhanced to reduce the background and increase contrast by Bob Moler

Globular Star Cluster M 3.

Globular star cluster M 3. Image captured by Jerry Dobek. Enhanced using GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) by Bob Moler.

M 82

Irregular galaxy M 82 is very strange. Image created by Jerry Dobek and enhanced using GIMP.