The Celestial Observer – December, 2012

From the President

Our November monthly meeting featured a discussion dealing with the future of star parties. The results of this discussion will be reported elsewhere in the Observer under the meeting minutes. We will finish out those Star Parties which have already been booked and not schedule any additional Star Parties until a system has been established to ensure that they are done successfully.

Since last month’s meeting we had two successful observing sessions at Veasey Park. Temperatures were pleasant and there were no mosquitoes to contend with. Because of an almost-full moon on October 26, observations centered around Jupiter and it’s transiting moons and a bunch of multiple star systems. The best view was of Iota Cassiopeia. A full observation report is available on nsaac.org.

In the coming months, Orion will become the constellation of choice because of the M42 and 43 nebulae, but also because Orion contains a bunch of double stars of varying separation, including some in the 1-1.3 arc second range, which are good tests for the 4-10 inch scopes that many of us own. The new edition of “Turn Left at Orion” contains a two-page spread of Orion multiple stars. My goal for this winter is to split all of them.

There is a new eyepiece on the block that I wanted to mention. Astro Tech Paradigms are available in several focal lengths and have been getting great reviews on online forums. They are sharp, have good eye relief and an almost 60 degree apparent field, and are only $60 each.

Contact me with questions or comments. Have fun with astronomy.

Clear skies,
Bryan Stone
President

 

NSAAC Welcomes Our New Member:
Janel Eagan from Haverhill

Kevin Hocker,
Membership Director

 

Minutes of the NSAAC Business Meeting,

The November meeting was called to order at 8:15pm. A quorum was present.

A motion to approve the minutes from the October meeting was approved.

No new members were present at the business meeting.

Before the start of the meeting we held a scope clinic and had a guest, Mr. David Demberou, who had an issue with his Orion Apex 90mm Mak goto scope. While checking out the scope we noticed that Orion had supplied David with the wrong voltage power supply so they were unable to help him. David was going to follow up with Orion and ask them to send the correct voltage power supply. David made a donation of $20 to the club.

Also, Fred Jones brought his Orion XT8i so we could take a look at his mount because there seemed to be a lot of resistance in the azimuth movement – which seems to be typical of the Intelliscope mounts. We disassembled the mount to look at the brass bushing and encoder assembly. Everything appeared to be assembled correctly but the more the brass bushing was inserted into the upper mount assembly, the tighter it became. I told Fred that I sprayed a little silicone on mine to improve the azimuth motions. Fred decided he would give Orion a call and see if they had a suggestion.

While we were unable to fully resolve David and Fred’s scope issues they were very grateful for the insights we were able to provide them.

 

Salem State Observatory:
The first night we opened in October we had 1 person show up, mainly due to it being cloudy. We opened again on the 22nd and we had 22 people show up.

Also, as a reminder for those of you who ordered 2013 Astronomy calendars. Kevin has received them, and will bring them to the NSAAC December general meeting for distribution. Please try to bring the correct amount of cash with you if you plan to be at the general meeting, or a check made out to NSAAC. The 2013 RASC calendars and handbooks have not arrived yet. If you don’t plan to make it to a meeting to pick your order up, make arrangements for payment and shipping with Dennis.

Merrimack Observatory:
We were closed on Halloween and had some issues with power outages due to Hurricane Sandy. We did manage to get the observatory opened on the 24th, the sky was right on the edge of being cloudy so we only observed the moon.

In an odd twist a young man who is the President of a newly formed Astronomy club, came out to observe with an entourage female students who seemed as interested in the young man as he was interested in the night sky. Despite the competing interests of the students who turned out that evening a good time, and lunar observing session, was had.

Also, we continue to be in dire need of an additional staff person to run the telescope on Wednesday nights at Merrimack College. Any interested parties should contact Kevin Ackert to learn how to get involved at the Merrimack observatory.

Treasurer’s Report:
Kevin Ackert presented the current state of the club finances and presented a profit and loss report for the fiscal year to date. Although we are operating on a loss for the year, most of that gets balanced out at the end of the year as the dues come in before march 2013.

Star Parties:
We had a healthy conversation and vote regarding the future of NSAAC hosted Star Parties at schools and other public venues. We all agreed that star parties should continue, but only if done properly, and that we had enough public outreach in our club without doing star parties should it become necessary to drop them from the curriculum. We then discussed what was required to conduct star parties properly. All the pieces are in place, except for assurance of the number of telescopes that would be present during a Star Party.

It was agreed that between three and six telescopes are the average amount needed for a Star Party to be conducted properly. Even with 300 people turning out for a Star Party, 6 scopes would hold lines to 50 per line, and it is rare for us to host 300.

Ed Burke is working on a module for our website that will allow actual sign-ups to be done on a calendar for star parties. It should be finished before the end of 2012. We have three Star Parties in the month of November for which we are already committed. For these star parties we will depend upon the email listserv for volunteers. Members who would like to volunteer to provide a scope for a star party should write to starparty@nsaac.org or post to the general list (nsaac@nsaac.org). Also, if you would like to be on the Star Party mailing list let Kevin Ackert know and he will add your email to the starparty@nsaac.org distribution list.

Showing objects to kids in your telescope is not hard. We all coordinate before they come out as to what we will show. Most members participating in a Star Party for the first time are surprised at how enjoyable it is to share the night sky with youngsters. Please consider giving it a try. The future of NSAAC star parties depends on our volunteers.

Cashman School Star Party
On November 9 we held a star party for the fourth graders at the Cashman Elementary School in Amesbury, MA. I was delighted upon arrival at the school to see full cut-off lighting installed outside the school! Although the lights were all on, they were not adverse one bit. In fact, we could see the Milky Way and the skies in Amesbury were quite impressively dark.

The school had employed the MOS Planetarium for entertainment, so we did not do a presentation. On had with telescopes were Brewster LaMacchia, Leor Zolman, Ted Blank, Jim Bastable and Patrick Amoroso. The number of scopes, clear skies, and full cut-off lighting allowed us to show a variety of objects to the enthusiastic group.

Sanborn School Star Party
This star party was a tough call on November 15th as a bank of clouds was predicted to move in around show time, but their cloud date of Monday the 19th showed even worse predictions. It turns out that Monday was beautifully clear, and we did the show under the cover of clouds to three large groups of 4th graders and their parents. Although we has support from Bryan Stone, Kevin Hocker, Melvin Graham, and myself, we only set up one telescope as a cloud obscured Jupiter was the only observable object. At times we couldn’t even see the moons of the King of Planets, but the kids were excited and enjoyed the view nonetheless.

Thank you to all who supported these star parties. We have another one in Andover at the Bancroft School on November 29th with cloud date of December 5th.

Kevin Ackert
New Business:

Young Astronomer Program
The 2013 YAP mailings to the schools (about 100) will be done during the Christmas vacation week. If you have a school in mind that you would like to make sure is included in the mailing you may send me the name, address, and principals name and I’ll see that they receive it. Teachers, students and parents will also be able to download the entry forms starting in January.

The contest is open to all fourth through eighth graders. Contestants from everywhere are welcome to participate but must be willing to pickup their telescope in Groveland, MA. Sponsorship by the teacher or parent if home schooled is required.

We do not yet have a YAP budget approved, but we can proceed with the program without a budget as it only affects who many prizes we award. I’ll have a proposed budge for discussion at the December meeting and we’ll try to vote on it at the January meeting.

Kevin Ackert

 

Getting to Veasey Memorial Park
From Interstate 95 north, take the Route 133 west (54B) exit, and follow it into Georgetown Center.  Go straight through the light, now on Route 97N.  Go about 1.5 miles and take a left onto Salem Street (Tea Garden Restaurant at this intersection).  Stay on Salem Street and turn left onto Washington Street. VMP is down a bit on the right.

Directions to all of the NSAAC observing sites are available on our web site’s “About” page at:
http://nsaac.org/about-the-club/

E-Mail Listserve
If you have email access and are an NSAAC member in good standing, you may want to subscribe to the email notification system that Lew Gramer established for the Club in 1996. This is a “members only” system that places you in contact with other members for late breaking news concerning spontaneous observing activities, outings, tech talk, etc. You can subscribe by emailing your request to the address below.  Your message should look like this:

To: majordomo at nsaac.org
Subject: Email list (you can put anything here)
Body: subscribe NSAAC Full-Name <email-address>

To remove yourself from the email list, or to temporarily suspend delivery from the list or access your other options, please use our “Subscriber Settings” Web page:
http://lists.nsaac.org/mailman/listinfo/nsaac#subscribers

Contact Information
For more information about the club and its activities, contact Kevin Hocker,  Membership Director, email: membership at nsaac.org or Bryan Stone, President, e-mail president at nsaac.org.

Our club web site is: http://www.nsaac.org.

The Celestial Observer is edited by Ed Burke. Feedback, and member contributions are welcome. Contact: newsletter at nsaac.org.

Suggestions regarding the content of the NSAAC web site are always welcome; Please email webmaster at nsaac.org with your ideas.

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