Saturday, October 17, 2015

Upcoming events, guest night recap, and some links

Yesterday evening was our last official observatory guest night of the season, but there are a couple of other upcoming events that we'll be participating in:

This coming Monday 19 October, we'll be hosting a satellite event for the 2015 White House Astronomy Night at the Montgomery College Planetarium on the Takoma Park / Silver Spring campus. Details are here. Dr. Harold Williams and I will be there with students from MC's Engineering and Science Adventure Club and the MC Stargazers.

On Saturday 14 November we will be bringing a couple of our telescopes to the Croydon Creek Nature Center for a star party. To register, go to events (menu on the right-hand side of the screen), and then scroll through the dates until you get to 14 November.

Here is a recap of what we observed last night:

Through the 14-inch scope

  • Albireo (double star in Cygnus)
  • M57 (planetary nebula in Lyra)
  • M31 (Andromeda Galaxy)
  • NCG 6826 (The "blinking planetary" in Cygnus)

Through the 8-inch scope

  • Waxing crescent Moon
  • M13 (Hercules globular cluster)
  • Epsilon Lyrae (a multiple star system in Lyra)

Last night I recommended several astronomical links to different folks. First, here's the link to the planetarium software package Stellarium. Stellarium is free and operates on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I've used it on all three platforms without issue. There is a mobile version ($2.49, last time I checked) as well.

I also use the website Heavens Above for astronomical and satellite data.

Finally, the US Naval Observatory's Data Services page is a fantastic resource and one I use frequently.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October / November 2015 Starmap

The latest starmap is here: MCAO October / November Starmap.

November brings us the Leonids Meteor Shower. The shower peaks between 17 and 18 November and is best observed during the wee hours of the morning. It will likely be quite chilly, therefore I suggest making a thermos of hot chocolate as part of your meteor shower watching plans.

Our last observatory guest night of the season is this Friday 16 October, but if you can't get enough of us, next week we'll be hosting a satellite event for the 2015 White House Astronomy Night. On Monday 19 October we'll have a star party at the Montgomery College Planetarium on the Takoma Park / Silver Spring campus. Details are here. Dr. Harold Williams and I will be there with students from MC's Engineering and Science Adventure Club and the MC Stargazers. I hope to see you.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Observatory Night Friday 2-Oct-2015 is canceled

The weather forecast is particularly bad for tomorrow night, therefore the observatory night is canceled.

If it's cloudy, we can't see anything through our telescopes, and if there is heavy rain, I am unable to take guests upstairs to see the observatory. I also have concerns about visitors and student volunteers driving to MC in potentially unsafe conditions. I know I can't control the weather, but I am truly sorry not to be able to open the observatory this Friday.

I hope everyone has a nice (and safe) weekend, despite the rain.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A clear evening for this past observatory night

It's been awhile, but we had clear skies this past Friday. We observed the following objects:

Through the 14-inch scope

  • Albireo (double star in Cygnus)
  • M13 (Hercules globular cluster)
  • M57 (planetary nebula in Lyra)
  • M31 (Andromeda Galaxy)

Through the 8-inch scope

  • Saturn
  • Waxing crescent Moon

Binoculars

Many thanks to Kim and Ryan for operating the 8-inch telescope and binoculars, respectively, and thanks also to the MC Stargazer club members. These events would not be possible without the time and talent of Montgomery College students.

The next two events are full, but we've added a wait list to the Eventbrite ticket reservations. If you are on the wait list, you will be notified by email if a slot opens up.

The MC Stargazer's club is planning to do some daytime solar observing events on the Rockville campus this coming October. I will post information when we have the details.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September / October 2015 Starmap

The latest starmap is here: MCAO September / October Starmap.

There are several notable celestial happenings this September and October, including a total lunar eclipse (27 September), the Orionids meteor shower (21/22 October), and a lovely grouping of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter (early morning 28 October).

The figure above is a screenshot from Stellarium showing the conjunction of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. The conjunction will be visible from Rockville before sunrise on 28 October.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fall 2015 Observatory Night Schedule

We have dates for the Fall 2015 Observatory Guest Nights (yay!). Reservations can be made on the Eventbrite website. Please note the earlier time- all of the events begin at 8 PM.

Fall 2015 Guest Night Schedule:

Friday 4 September 2015 : 8 PM - 9 PM
Friday 18 September 2015 : 8 PM - 9 PM
Friday 2 October 2015 : 8 PM - 9 PM
Friday 16 October 2015 : 8 PM - 9 PM

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Finally a clear evening!

Clear skies last night allowed us to observe the following objects:

Through the 14-inch scope

  • Jupiter
  • M13 (globular cluster in Hercules)
  • Alcor (double star in Ursa Major)
  • M81 (galaxy in Ursa Major, 12 million light-years distant!)

Through the 8-inch scope

  • Venus
  • Castor (double star in Gemini)

Binoculars

  • M44 (Beehive Cluster, an open cluster in Cancer)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May / June 2015 Starmap

The latest starmap is here: MCAO May / June Starmap.

And here is a link to the presentation I gave at May 1 observatory night. (It was about lunar phases.)

Quick pic of Saturn (9 May 2015) with Canon EOS mounted to 14-inch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Summer 2015 Observatory Schedule

We have the dates pinned down for the Summer 2015 Observatory Guest Nights (yay!). Reservations can be made on the Eventbrite website.

Summer Guest Night Schedule:

Friday 1 May 2015 : 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Friday 15 May 2015 : 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Friday 5 June 2015 : 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Friday 19 June 2015 : 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Friday 17 July 2015 : 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM

ALSO, the observatory will be open for Rockville Science Day this Sunday 26 April 2015 from noon to 5 PM for solar observing (weather permitting).