From the Director






by Rex Parker, PhD, Director

May your mid-summer night dreams include starry vistas and glimpses of the great arc of the Milky Way Galaxy across the splendid constellations from Cygnus to Sagittarius!  On July 12, we witnessed another supermoon with spectacular reddish beams gleaming through the clouds.  This happens when a full moon coincides with perigee, the closest approach on the elliptical lunar orbit.  By odd chance of orbital mechanics, this summer brings three supermoons (July 12, Aug. 10, Sept. 9).  The July supermoon had an angular diameter ~33.5 arcmin (the range is 29.3 to 34.1 arcmin).   Despite its beauty, we often think of the moon as the deep sky nemesis.  The waning gibbous moon will be only a minor pest for the upcoming Perseid meteor shower, especially if you go out after midnight on Aug 10-13.   Are you making celestial observing a part of your family vacation or weekend getaway up north?  Pack binoculars, or better a small (or large) telescope to go deeper than you can here in the mid-Atlantic.

Change is in the wind for the upcoming season of AAAP meetings and events.  One key change is an earlier start for the monthly meetings at Peyton Hall – meetings will begin at 7:30 pm, keeping to the second Tuesday of the month as always.  Astronomers know sleep deprivation all too well.  Hopefully this better fits your home and professional schedules, and will make our meetings a little more enjoyable.  Additional changes for the meetings and enhancements of other club activities will be announced in the next Sidereal Times issue – stayed tuned.

A field trip to Mt Lemmon Observatory near Tucson Arizona was proposed last spring.  The focus would be visual use of the splendid 32-inch Schulman RC telescope. Considering weather, lunar conditions and costs, I am proposing one or two nights on the mountain Friday Oct. 24 and/or Saturday Oct. 25.  New moon is Oct 23.  If you are able to stay through the next week, the Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo in Tucson is the following weekend (see their website).  We may be able to get a tour of Steward Mirror Lab at U. of A.  Other Tucson adventures could be exploring the desert and possibly a drive out to Kitt Peak.  Costs would include flights (into Phoenix or Tucson), possibly sharing a rental car, meals, rooms at a hotel while off the mountain and the Mt Lemmon astronomy costs.  The Mt Lemmon “Astronomer Night” cost per night would be $1200 for a group of 4; for each addition person add $200 (so 6 people would be $1600, 8 people would be $2000 per night) including lodging on site.  We would have a professional telescope guide all night.  The option for one or two nights depends on what you want, but we need a minimum of 4 people (maximum 8) to make this happen.  See the Univ. of Arizona Mt Lemmon SkyCenter website (below) for more info.  Please send me a note by August 15 ( if you seriously want to participate, and indicate if you would commit to one or two nights.


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