Tag Archives: Astronomy

Awesome Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Talk On Friday at the Lanesville Community Center

Friday night March 13 at 8 PM GAAC is extraordinarily pleased to host Robert Naeye, former Editor in Chief of Sky & Telescope, the world’s most respected and influential popular astronomy magazine. Robert will be speaking to us about the Cassini mission to Saturn and its moons. In July 2004, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft fired its braking rocket and entered orbit around Saturn. Since then, Cassini has orbited the Ring Planet hundreds of times, and returned hundreds of thousands of images, many of which we will see on the 13th, along with a flood of data about Saturn’s magnetic field, particle environment, and ring composition. This enormous dataset has revolutionized science’s understanding of the Saturnian system. Besides studying Saturn and its rings, Cassini has unveiled its mysterious moons, showing the planet and moons to be a mini-solar system unto itself. In 2005, Cassini deployed the European-built Huygens probe, which parachuted and landed on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, arguably the most Earth-like world in the solar system other than Earth itself. Cassini and Huygens have revealed Titan to be a world of complex meteorology and geology, with lakes and rivers fed by methane rainfall. Perhaps most exciting of all, Cassini has also found jets of water-ice particles laced with organics shooting away from the moon Enceladus, making this small world a potential abode for life. And Cassini images of Iapetus have helped explain how this bizarre moon got its yin-yang appearance, with one side darker than coal and the other as bright as freshly fallen snow. Many GAACsters know well that Bob’s presentations are colorful, informative events, and if you haven’t had the pleasure yet you should definitely make plans to catch this one. March means winter is finally on the way out, and what better way to celebrate than an evening with your friends at GAAC, lots of goodies and a really wonderful presentation delivered by a pro. We’ll have some surprise goodies and some extra chairs set up for this one. See you there! GAAC meets from 8:00 to 10:00 on the second Friday of every month at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan Street in Lanesville. More information on the club is available on our website, http://gaac.us, our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/gaacpage, and our Twitter feed, @gaactweet. There are no dues or fees, and you don’t need a telescope or any special knowledge to have a very enjoyable evening.

Robert Naeye earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University in 1992, and later worked on the editorial staffs of Discover and Astronomy magazine. He served as Editor in Chief of Mercury magazine (published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific) from 2000 to 2003. He worked as a Senior Editor at Sky & Telescope from 2003 to 2007, before moving to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to work as a Senior Science Writer for the Astrophysics Science Division. He returned to Sky & Telescope in June 2008 to serve as Editor in Chief. Robert is the author of two books: Through the Eyes of Hubble: The Birth, Life, and Violent Death of Stars (Kalmbach, 1997) and Signals from Space: The Chandra X-ray Observatory (Turnstone, 2000). He has contributed to two other books, and has won several awards for his writing and outreach activities. blogpic

Astronomy Orgasm: Threesome Tonight!

Holy cow, New England weather is going to give us clear skies tonight as an impressive threesome happens after sunset.

Here’s the deal. There was a supermoon last night but it’s a new moon so no one saw it. It means tonight it is one humongous thin fingernail. But wait, there’s more. Venus will be blazing away just to the left of the fingernail. But here is the cherry on top. Whip out some binoculars and check out Mars just above Venus! You might be able to get all three in wide field birding binocs. But even without binocs it will look pretty cool.

Look to the right of where the sun set and Venus will be blazing. Mars up and sliver of moon to the right.

Look to the right of where the sun set and Venus will be blazing. Mars up and sliver of moon to the right.

 

Photographers Ephemeris shows where you need to be to catch the three setting over City Hall. Is that Joey’s dock?

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Did I really type “sunset hear”? Well to all the grammarians who just started grinding their teeth I say, “lighten up Francis, I’m not going back to change it.”

 

Credits: First shot I made in “StarSafari” astronomy program. Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Approved. The second photo I made using “The Photographers Ephemeris“. Probably GAAC approved too. Both programs worth knowing how to use.

Wednesday Lunar Eclipse at Dawn Once in a Lifetime!

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, when the sun rises in the east the full moon will be setting in the west. But this time a full lunar eclipse will be taking place.

The countdown:

5:18 AM eclipse starts (moon starts getting red)

6:27 AM total eclipse (moon is red!)

6:47 AM maximum eclipse in Gloucester

Sunrise is at 6:47 AM and the moon sets at :6:52 AM  So you can see there is a pile up with the sun rising, the moon setting and the moon is epic total all at the same time!

So if you are out at the Eastern Point lighthouse before 6:30 AM you can set up to watch the lunar eclipse set over the western harbor while the sun rises behind you in the east behind the lighthouse.

Except it is going to be raining at dawn with a 17 mph wind out of the south making it no so much fun out there. But what if the clouds part?

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That yellow line points to where the sun will be coming up and the dark blue line points to where the moon is setting.

Because the blood red eclipse will be on the horizon the moon will look about as gargantuan as a giant Rubber Duck sitting in Gloucester Harbor. Except we won’t see a thing because it will be raining.

Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Meeting, June 10 2011

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Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Meeting, June 10 2011
The Gloucester Area Astronomy Club meets at 8:00pm on the second  Friday of the month, at St Paul Lutheran Church in Lanesville, on Cape  Ann.
This month, join us and NASA Solar System Ambassador Ted Blank to find  out all about the Cassini mission to Saturn!
The Cassini spacecraft has been returning stunningly beautiful images  and undreamed of new discoveries since it arrived at Saturn in 2004,  and the mission team has just received funding to continue operating  the spacecraft until 2017.  Find out why Cassini started its journey  by being launched in the wrong direction (on purpose!) and what  incredible things we have learned so far about Saturn, its rings and  its moons.  Learn about science instruments on board and the plans for  the risky maneuvers planned during Cassini’s final orbits when it will  pass inside the rings headed for a terminal encounter with Saturn’s  atmosphere.  Kids and adults will find this overview fun and exciting.

Astronomy Photo of the Day

Astronomy Photo of the Day is something I usually try to catch. Stunning photos of galaxies and stuff. Well, APOD has a video for today, May 16 which has a few useful items in it for Gloucester. (Read the paragraph under the video for the non-Gloucester explanation.)

1) At 27 seconds in the setting sun with a green flash. If you have never seen one of these check it out and then the next time you are in Lanes Cove or a decent sunset viewing spot see if you can see the green flash.

2) Clouds as waves crashing into Brace Cove. at one minute and several other places.

3) Star field spinning around the North Star. You don’t have to go to a desert to get this. Go to Halibut Point State Park where the Cape Ann granite shields you from light pollution from Boston and lay on your back. If your cheap point and shoot has the ability to shoot movies in time lapse just fire it up and point it straight up. You will be amazed at the results. A tripod and pointing it at the north star helps but not necessary. You can even capture multiple shooting stars this way.

Click. Then right click and open video in a separate window so you can make it as big as possible. Watch this movie until the sun comes out. Rumor has it the sun may return in June.

Mercury and Venus in the morning

If you happen to be up as astronomical twilight begins at 5:30 AM you can catch Mercury rising before the sunrise at 7:14AM. 6:30AM might be a good time to see it. Finding bright Venus is easy. Then go left and down to find Mercury.

Fun Fact: Joey down in St Croix doesn’t have to go as far left. If he was on the equator Mercury would be straight below Venus.

Things to do this weekend with kids (or without!)

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Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times”

Gloucester Cinema-Movies this     weekend

Cape Ann Art Haven Art Show and Buoy Auction

Cape Ann Museum Last 2 days of free admission for residents!

“A Boy named Torrey and a Little Harmony”

Astronomy Night at Halibut Point State Park

“Oliver” – Rockport Middle School Jan. 29 – Feb.1

Snowflake Festival – Essex Library

Check back for more stuff to do, and of course you really should start Flapping like a Haddock!