by Rex Parker, PhD email@example.com
New Season Begins at AAAP’s Washington Crossing Observatory. The late winter surge that Punxsutawney Phil warned about made our preparations for the new season at Washington Crossing a little harder. But we’re ready now — the hardware and software upgrades have come a long way, thanks to Observatory Chairs Dave & Jennifer Skitt and other members. The new Windows-10 PC’s are in place and ready to control the two Paramounts — the sophisticated computer-controlled equatorial mounts now running under “TheSkyX” (Software Bisque’s latest, major upgrade over the previous Sky 6 version). With the recent installation of a Verizon high speed fiber optic internet connection at the observatory, TheSkyX can also be accessed using Teamviewer12 remote software from home PCs.
The Observatory is for all club members. It is our main hub for observing, member gatherings, and public outreach. You don’t need to be an expert, just come out on Friday public nights (Apr-Oct). If you want to become a hands-on observer (or access remotely) and learn more about the celestial sphere, telescope hardware, software, and technical aspects, I urge you to contact me or other Board members, or contact Dave and Jennifer (Observatory committee). We offer specific training for members to become new “Keyolders” who can access the Observatory and its equipment 24/7/365. Also note the members nights coming up (see below).
Telescope equipment at AAAP’s Washington Crossing Observatory now includes:
• Celestron-14 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (14 inch), D = 355 mm, f/11, FL = 3900 mm
• New Stellarview 80 mm right-angle finder scope on the C14.
• Explore Scientific ED127 refractor telescope (5 inch), f/7.5, FL = 950 mm, triplet air spaced apochromatic refractor.
• Mallincam Xterminator, color video camera attached to the ED127 refractor for live video astronomy on the monitors in the observatory
• Hastings-Byrne 6-1/4 inch refractor, f/14.6, FL = 2310 mm. Historic instrument dates to 1871, air-spaced doublet lens. Glass and tube original from 1871.
• Takahashi Mewlon-250, 10 inch Dall-Kirkham reflector telescope, with 2 inch TMB Optical dielectric-diagonal and Feathertouch 2 inch Crayford focuser
• New Televue eyepieces, Panoptic 27 mm and 41 mm, for the Mewlon-250
Seeking AAAP outreach co-chair. AAAP is noted for public outreach – we help people of all stages of learning and interest enhance their study of the universe we live in from an astronomy perspective. We need a member or two to step up and help current Outreach Co-Chair David Letcher in the outreach endeavor. This involves communicating with teachers and other educators, community groups, and scout troop leaders to coordinate astronomy events with club members’ participation. These typically involve observing with telescopes at night at our Observatory or on location at schools, parks, and public facilities. Please contact me or David (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you can help.
AAAP Activities Coming Up
• Night-sky refresher at Planetarium (May 13, 2017). We’re reprising the “night sky refresher” session so that members can improve deep sky skills. The Planetarium’s amazing capabilities will be on display as AAAP member and Planetarium staffer Bill Murray runs the system. Meet on May 13 at 10AM. The Planetarium is located at the NJ State Museum, 205 W State St in Trenton.
• Members night star parties at the Observatory Sat. May 27 & June 24. These nights are reserved for AAAP members (friends and family welcome) at our Observatory on May 27 and June 24. A great opportunity to learn more about observing and telescope equipment, and get to know others in the club.
• Solar eclipse plans (Aug 21, 2017). Several AAAP members are making plans to view the upcoming total solar eclipse in Oregon. If you’re interested in participating contact assistant director Larry Kane. The chosen locale is near the town of Monmouth OR, where one of our members has a family connection, which is in the path of totality running W to E across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. Of course, a clear sky is key, and August weather considerations are favorable at this site. NJ and surrounding states will see only a partial eclipse, far less impressive than totality.