Tag Archives: GAAC

Breaking: Last Night’s Aurora Borealis at Old Garden Beach Rockport

Roger Porter got a great shot of the Aurora Borealis last night looking north from Old Garden Beach in Rockport. All you need is a good view of the northern horizon and some sign that an Aurora might happen. Go here to the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Web Site and click on the Ephemerides menu and click Aurora. This will give you the odds as to an aurora happening.

The stubby white line is an airplane caught in the short exposure.

The stubby white line is an airplane caught in the short exposure.

Click here for more cool shots of stuff up in the sky by Roger Porter.

Beautiful Dark Skies Over Gloucester


Halibut Point State Park Observation Tower, photo by Roger Porter of GAAC with the Milky Way on a typical summer night.

 The Boston Globe reported on July 26 that Gloucester has been awarded $240,000.00 to convert streetlights to LEDs; the move is reportedly expected to save the city $130,000.00 annually on its electric bill. This is great news, but only if we’re careful with the type of LEDs that we wind up with.LEDs are by nature rich in blue light. And shining blue light around at night is a terrible idea.The sky is blue in the daytime because blue light from the sun is scattered in the atmosphere most easily. This is, unfortunately, also true at night — the blue light component of streetlights is scattered in the atmosphere and produces sky glow, which blocks out the stars and causes glare. Glare is bad for drivers, and for birds and other living things that need the dark, and for other natural resources, including the night-time sky.

The more blue light, the fewer stars we can see. We could easily lose one of Cape Ann’s great tourist attractions, our rich night skies, in the transition to the wrong LEDs. Most folks never get to see the Milky Way, but we see it all the time; tourists are often quite surprised at the beauty of our night skies. But once the stars are gone, they’re gone. Go to Boston, for example, and look up.

The good news is that in addition to saving money, we can have more environmentally-friendly lighting by being smart about our choice of LEDs. Here’s how: the amount of blue light produced by streetlights is measured by color temperature. 4000k lighting has a lot of blue light mixed in; this is obvious to the eye. 3000k lighting or lower produces a warmer color and is not just more pleasing to the eye, but better for you, for nocturnal wildlife, and much better for our night time skies.

We encourage readers of GMG to write or call the folks who will be involved in choosing our new LED streetlights, and to ask them to choose lower glare, healthier, and more night-sky friendly 3000k lights over blue-light rich 4000k lighting. 

Northern Lights over Lanes Cove by Roger Porter of GAAC

Northern Lights over Lanes Cove by Roger Porter of GAAC

The undersigned GAAC members, active astronomers in the area, sprinkled all over the North Shore and beyond, consider Cape Ann as the best viewing in New England.  At least once a month we drag our telescopes, large and small, to the north east corner of Cape Ann for the incredible dark sky that we have here. GAAC shows the night sky to hundreds and hundreds of folks from here and away every year, and we’ve seen the night sky disappear in too many other locations. Let’s not let this happen to Cape Ann.

Michael Deneen, Boxford
Patrick Amoroso, Boston
Nanette Benoit, Gloucester
Brendan Desmond, Gloucester
Gage Desmond, Gloucester
Rick Eliot, Rockport
Lisa Hahn, Rockport
Kathleen Henneberry, Peabody
Edward Henneberry, Peabody
Andrea Johnston, Salem
Jim Koerth, Rockport
Karen Koerth, Rockport
Stephen Kolaczkowski, Beverly
Elaine Kolaczkowski, Beverly
Michael Kulick, Manchester
Michele Kulick, Manchester
Greg Lipshutz, Newton
Gregory Lippolis, Newton
Francesco Lucente Stabile, Boston
Dick Luecke, Gloucester
Gary Meehan, Danvers
Paul Morrison & RD, Rockport
Mario Motta, Gloucester
Roger Porter, Gloucester
Virginia Renehan, Gloucester
Christie Wight, Manchester
Allen Winter, Salem
Susannah Wolfe.  Gloucester

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

GAAC Introduction to Astronomy Tonight in Lanesville!

GAACGloucester Area Astronomy Club, “Intro to Amateur Astronomy,” is tonight, Friday night, March 15 at 8:00PM, at the Lanesville Community Center

GAAC will feature presentations on the rewards of the hobby, what the different types of telescopes are, how they work, how to buy one, how much to spend, what to look at, you name it. Everything you need to know to get started, or to up your game. Bring your questions! The public is warmly invited; as always, there are no dues or fees, and presentations are geared toward the general public.

The Lanesville Community Center is located at 8 Vulcan Street, Gloucester, MA.

If they let Rubber Duck take a peek, they’ll let you too!


GAAC: Gloucester Area Astronomy Club cancelled tonight

GAACGloucester Area Astronomy Club, “Intro to Amateur Astronomy,” is moving to next Friday night, March 15 at 8:00PM, at the Lanesville Community Center as usual. We’ll have the same great program we were expecting tonight. 

I’ll post next Thursday as a reminder as this Introduction is not to be missed.

Big GAAC meeting this Friday, 8:00 PM at the Lanesville Community Center


Friday night’s GAAC meeting has been cancelled on account of really really bad weather. Ted Blank’s great talk has been rescheduled to July 12.


At the February 8th meeting of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club, GAAC favorite Ted Blank will speak to us about the Curiosity Mars rover! The Curiosity rover and the Mars Science Laboratory it carries are the most expensive, most complex instruments ever sent to the surface of another planet. In addition to great pictures, Curiosity is now returning cutting-edge science data for the first time. Join NASA Solar System Ambassador Ted Blank for an in-depth look at the news and photos “just in from Mars”! GAAC meets on the second Friday of every month at the Lanesville Community Center, at 8:00 pm. There are no dues or fees, and everyone is welcome. You can learn more about us at http://gaac.us or on our Facebook page, at http://facebook.com/gaacpage

Breaking News: Sky will be Dark over Cape Ann Tonight!!

Well duh, you say, the sun goes down followed by dark pretty much every night. But if you look at that clear blue sky over your head right now with a breeze that will die to a gentle puff from the north by morning and the crescent moon does not rise until 2:54AM that means it might be really really dark. So go look at the stars tonight*. (*see end of post for update!)

If you go down to Good Harbor Beach on the bridge end and look to the twin towers on Thacher the 11% waning crescent moon will rise at 2:54 AM and maybe a half hour later it will look like this (from earthsky.org)

Just replace those buildings with the lighthouse towers.

Next week I will be posting about an amazing local organization that has no dues, no overhead, but plenty of great members who all share a love of stuff up in the sky. The Gloucester Area Astronomy Club or GAAC (like the sound a cat makes getting rid of a hairball oh now you’ll remember). GAAC has a website, a Facebook Page, and a Tweeting Twitter account to stay up to date on their telescope meet ups on Halibut Point or their telescope parties (one just last week) at Bearskin Neck (best line, a tourist kid upon looking at Saturn’s rings “Is that real or is that painted on?”)

These dudes and dudettes know their sky. I learned more in an hour on Bearskin than I did earning my Boy Scout Astronomy Merit Badge. In twenty minutes, Saturn, Mars, binary stars, two galaxies in one eyepiece, M13 (a pantload of stars) and a half dozen more of those things Mister Messier thought were pretty cool to look at. (Actually they annoyed him as he looked for comets but that’s another story.)

GAAC members meet at St Paul Lutheran Church in Lanesville, at 8:00 pm on the second Friday of every month.

EXTRA EXTRA Even More Breaking News: GAAC will be setting up for the sunset at 8:22PM TONIGHT in the field across from the parking lot at Halibut Point. Spray on bug spray before you come, a red flashlight if you have one and don’t trip over tripods. You’ll see cool stuff not of this world and Rubber Duck will be there.  Astronomical twilight is 10:38PM