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.