Tag Archives: Gloucester Area Astronomy Club

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

A very special meeting of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club April 12


The Gloucester Area Astronomy Club is delighted to have Dr. Mario Motta as our speaker for the April 12 GAAC meeting. Mario will address the serious threats to our dark skies (and our health!) here on Cape Ann and elsewhere.

Dr. Motta will discuss the human health issues caused by light pollution, and will outline important reasons for good lighting practices, which include energy savings, better seeing at night, and a variety of important environmental problems. This will be a fun and informative meeting on an issue that is critical to us all.

Mario has worked on light pollution issues since 1990, was instrumental in getting a light pollution policy adopted by Gloucester, and is working for similar legislation statewide. He is a founding member of NELPAG (new England Light Pollution advisory group), is on the IDA board, and has gotten both the Massachusetts Medical Society and the AMA to adopt light pollution measures for health reasons. He is on the AMA Council of Science and Public Health, and led a 2 year effort on a compilation of light pollution’s health issues that was adopted by the AMA as policy in 2012.

GAAC meets on the second Friday of every month at the Lanesville Community Center at 8:00pm. There is no cost. We’re on the web at http://gaac.us and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gaacpage

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

Gloucester Area Astronomy Club To Meet July 8th


Gloucester Area Astronomy Club speaker and public stargazing at Halibut Point State Park, Friday, July 8 @ 8:00pm
This month’s presentation, at the visitor center: Sky & Telescope Editor-in-Chief Robert Naeye on The Origin of Everything, or How Things Got to Be the Way They Are Right Now.
How did we get from Point A (the Big Bang) to Point B (a complex civilization on a complex planet)?  Join the members of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club as Sky & Telescope editor Robert Naeye presents a whirlwind illustrated trip through this amazing scientific story. He will trace the critical transitions that led to our current existence, from the origin of the first stars and galaxies through the formation of the solar system, to the origin and evolution of life on Earth, to the emergence of intelligent beings capable of understanding where they came from.
Weather permitting, the club will have its telescopes set up for public stargazing after the talk. All are welcome.

Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Meeting, June 10 2011


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.

Things To Do- Gloucester Area Astronomy Club at Bearskin Neck Friday Night May 27th

Weather permitting, members of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club will be set up at Bearskin Neck in Rockport this coming Friday evening (5/27) from 8:00 to 10:00. The public is invited to come on out for views of the moon, Saturn and other celestial sights. Hope to see you there! Directions: http://bit.ly/hSWkzA


Gloucester Area Astronomy Club February Program february 11th

Joey, would it be possible to get our February program listed on your website? We’re having a guest speaker who will be giving a presentation on variable stars. We think it will be of interest to local folks.

Many thanks,
Michael Deneen
Chair, GAAC


At the  February 11 meeting of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club, Matthew Templeton, AAVSO, will discuss the observing of variable stars.
Variable stars are stars that change in their apparent brightness over time. By tracking their changes, we can apply known physical laws derived here on Earth to understand the physical properties of distant stars and what makes them behave the way they do. Much of the work of observing variable stars over the past two centuries has been done by observers just like you.
Variable star observing is something that almost anyone can do, no matter what kind of equipment you have.  In this persentation we will discuss what variable stars are and why we observe them, and which variable stars you yourself can start observing both for your own enjoyment and to participate in scientific research.
The Gloucester Area Astronomy Club ( http://www.gaac.us ) meets on the second Friday of each month, at St. Paul Lutheran church in Lanesville.

Goings-on on Bearskin Neck From John & Ann Marie Kershaw

John & Ann Marie Kershaw write-

We strolled down Bearskin Neck this evening a short while after sunset, with the first stars coming out, & found the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club in session. In the little circle at the far end they had set up an impressive array of optical equipment & were offering a look at the heavens to all who came by.

It was a dream of ours since childhood to look through a real telescope, and so tonight we did! They showed us a double star (Vega?), part of the Summer Triangle of stars.

The club members we talked to were most friendly & helpful, & so we said “Are you on Good Morning Gloucester yet?” They said “No”, so we said “Look ’em up & you should be on”. We were given their card, which says:
postmaster@gaac.us and: http://www.gaac.us

So here was yet another fine group of people doing what they know best to do on Cape Ann.

GMG knows & presents so much good info that we may well have missed your coverage, but anyway, we thought they deserved another plug for their open friendly hospitality under the stars.

Blessings & Peace from
John & Ann Marie Kershaw