From the Director





by Rex Parker, Phd

Speakers for Astronomy

Our guest speaker at the October 8 meeting will be John Church, PhD. John is a former Director and longtime member of AAAP. See Ira’s article below for information about this presentation. Have you considered giving a 10-minute member talk following the intermission at an upcoming meeting? This is a great way for members to get to know each other and share experiences in the club – tales of recent astronomy life, perhaps a book or travel review, observing tips, a new telescope, slides optional. Please contact me or Program Chair Ira Polans to get onto the schedule for an upcoming meeting.

Saturday Night Fever

The AI running the weather program didn’t do us any favors on Sat, Sept 28, and we cancelled the Gravity Hill Star Party. However we really want to develop a tradition of member Saturday nights with telescopes. The potential benefit of this came out in the recent member survey, where 62 of 80 responders said they own a telescope but only 37 use it once in a while or more often. Becoming more skilled with telescopes is important to 67 yet only 38 are able to take advantage of using the AAAP Observatory more than once a year.

We encourage members to set up telescopes on clear nights at the west end of the soccer fields at Washington Crossing State Park. This secure location has wide views of the sky and is easily accessed off Rte 579/Bear Tavern Rd on the way to the Observatory and through much of the year no gate opening is needed. After soccer seasons ends in November the front gate at Bear Tavern Rd may be locked, but AAAP KeyHolders can open the lock.

To start out, let’s initiate Saturday night telescope sessions with members as follows (beginning October 19):

  • Send an e-mail to me by noon on Saturdays
  • Include “telescope” in your e-mail subject line
  • In your note, mention the time, expected duration, and what telescope you’d bring
  • I’ll broadcast an e-mail note to the membership that day

Big Improvements in Video Astronomy

Plans are underway to mount the club’s ZWO-ASI294 color CMOS camera onto the Celestron-14. This would replace the function of the Ultrastar color CCD camera currently on the 5-inch refractor and allow eyepiece use with the refractor to give a wide/rich-field view alongside the C-14. Importantly, the smaller, lighter, and easier to use Ultrastar would become available for members to use in outreach.

The ZWO is a technological marvel which illustrates why CMOS sensor technology is displacing the CCD in astronomy applications. This month we acquired the hardware needed for the ZWO camera to be mated to the Celestron-14, a Meade model 647 2” flip mirror assembly allowing users to flip back and forth between eyepiece glass and camera video. A focal reducer was added to widen the field of view. The picture below, from a work session at the Observatory with Tom Swords and David and Jennifer Skitt, shows the setup we hope to install after the current public Friday night season is over.

Configuration of the ZWO-294 camera on the C-14 with Meade flip mirror (see text).

This entry was posted in October 2019, Sidereal Times and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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