by Rex Parker, Director
New Tech for AAAP. “Electronic Assisted Astronomy” (EAA) has reached new levels of performance capability, enabling one to see the deep sky like never before in small and medium sized telescopes even in skyglow-compromised areas. The new generation of cameras based on the latest Sony CCD sensors have better resolution, sensitivity, and speed, with less size and power requirements compared to a few years ago when we acquired the Mallincam at Washington Crossing Observatory. At the upcoming Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) show in Rockland NY this month (April 21-22, ), AAAP hopes to be a buyer of this new technology. Last week the Board considered several options and recommended acquiring 2 new cameras (within the $2K approved for this project) while delaying on the proposed iOptron AZ Pro mount and new refractor telescope. One new camera will replace the existing Mallincam video on the 5” refractor at the Observatory, and the second camera will support outreach and member use in the field. Until the new mount and telescope and laptop PC are obtained, Keyholders can use the new camera with their own telescope/mount in the field for outreach and other observing activities. We would be grateful if a member can donate to the club a used laptop PC (Win7 or higher) to support this project.
Help Us Design a Plaque to Remember Gene Ramsey. We’re seeking a volunteer with art and graphics design skills to help design a plaque to memorialize Gene Ramsey. It would be placed at our Washington Crossing Observatory where Gene contributed so much of his energy, knowledge, skill, and good will. Gene passed away last year after many years in AAAP and his spirit lives on with our current Keyholders and members who are dedicated to astronomy observing and outreach.
Update on Saul. Here’s some good news… we’d heard about member and expert observer Saul Moroz and his battle with cancer. Saul has been a contributor to AAAP for as long as I can remember. He recently underwent advanced robotic surgery for esophageal cancer at St Barnabus Medical Center. He’s come through the ordeal with flying colors and is now working through rehab and feeling well. He hopes to return to action at AAAP soon, and sends his greetings!
AAAP Activities Coming Up
- Member Night at the Observatory, Sat. May 12 (rain date May 19). The new moon is May 15 so this will be a good opportunity to see the deep sky as well as planets. Sunset will be at 8:09 pm and Jupiter rises in the SE by mid-evening May 15. It will be one of the best weeks of the year to observe Jupiter, which reaches its closest point to earth (at opposition) the week before. Jupiter will be very bright at magnitude -2.5 and large at ~45 arc-sec in diameter (huge by planetary observing standards!). Come out and learn more about observing and telescope equipment and get to know others in the club on May 12.
- Observatory Public Nights. Once again we offer public nights each Friday night weather permitting, beginning April 6 and continuing through Oct 26. Thanks to all the Keyholders, and to Dave and Jen Skitt for organizing this season’s Keyholder teams supporting this important part of AAAP public outreach. Of course members are welcome on these nights too.
Telescope equipment at the AAAP Observatory now includes:
Paramount-ME #1 (robotic equatorial mount)
- 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. Soon to be replaced with a new CCD camera, stay tuned!
Paramount-ME #2 (robotic equatorial mount)
- Hastings-Byrne 6-1/4 inch refractor, f/14.6, FL = 2310 mm. The historic instrument dates to 1879-80, including the air-spaced doublet lens and the original glass and the tube.
- 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