by Rex Parker, Director
NEAF Impressionism. Energized from attending the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), I returned to Princeton contemplating our roles on the stage of science, exploration, and community. The “World’s Largest Astronomy & Space Expo” was conceived and produced for the past 20 years by members of the Rockland (NY) Astronomy Club. It has grown remarkably with 120 exhibitors participating this year. Advances in technology, telescope instrumentation, and knowledge were evident in every direction. Talks on stage at the “Celestron Theatre” were inspiring and wide-ranging. Young speakers confirmed the importance of mentoring by local astronomy clubs and spoke glowingly of that first (and second!) telescope and their growing interest in science and math as they head to college. 2006 Nobel physics laureate John Mather gave an exciting preview of the James Webb Space Telescope, future successor to Hubble, where he is a senior project scientist.
On display throughout NEAF were telescopes large and small, precision equatorial and portable alt-az type mounts, camera systems using the latest CCD and CMOS sensors, cool gadgets, devices, inventions, innovative software and techniques for displaying astro images. The AAAP was an active participant in acquiring some of this new technology in the form of new high sensitivity astro cameras soon to be ready for member use at the Observatory. NEAF was all about depicting the visual impression of the moment, especially in terms of the shifting effect of light and color – the very definition of impressionism!
Jupiter the Star of Show on Member Night at Observatory, Sat. May 12 (rain date May 19). The new moon is May 15, so this get-together for members and family/friends 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 (opposition) the week before. Below is a photo of Jupiter taken in Sept 2010, showing movement of the Great Red Spot in two images taken less than 1 hour apart tin time. In May 2018 Jupiter will be very bright reaching magnitude -2.5, and large approaching 45 arc-sec diameter (this is huge by planetary observing standards!). Come out and learn more about observing and telescope equipment, get to know others in the club, and see if you can detect the Great Red Spot on May 12.