Welcome to Quad Cities Astronomical Society!

Stimulating an interest in the science of astronomy within the Quad Cities, nurturing an ongoing desire by our members to study the cosmos, and to providing members of our community opportunities to experience the
Joy and Beauty of Astronomy.

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The Meridian News

  • Skyward By David H Levy  June, 2021
    Skyward By David H Levy June, 2021
    April 19, 2021

    Skyward By David H Levy June, 2021 A long time ago, while I was writing my biography of Clyde W Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto, I learned from him that he had discovered other objects during his long search at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. He found many asteroids during his time at Lowell Observatory, at least one comet, and, surprisingly enough, one nova. In February 1986, I visited Flagstaff in an effort to locate the nova that he found. It was a painstaking, tedious task but I loved it anyway. Because Clyde had been so careful recording his observations from each photographic plate onto the envelopes surrounding that plate, I had only to read through all the notes from each envelope. On one of the envelopes covering the year 1931, I saw the nova on a plate dated March 23 of that year. He remarked that must be “quite an interesting star to brighten from fainter than fifteenth magnitude in less than a day.” I later found nine other observations of this star while going through old plates at the Harvard College Observatory, and then I reported them all to Brian Marsden, then director of the Central Bureau for […]...

  • Skyward for April 2021 by David H. Levy
    Skyward for April 2021 by David H. Levy
    March 16, 2021

    Skyward for April 2021 by David H. Levy January 6, 2021 Just one day after the Earth passed its closest point to the Sun in its orbit, its perihelion, the American Astronomical Society was having its annual meeting online, the United States Congress was validating the results of the 2020 national election, and Wendee and I were settling in for a civics lesson about the way the United States Government works. The day did not turn out that way. Shortly before noon, on our television set a news ticker appeared. It announced that two buildings in Library of Congress (LC), the James Madison, and quickly afterwards the Adams and Jefferson buildings, were being evacuated. That news sent a chill through me. The LC is one of the finest libraries in the entire world. It contains more than 170 million books, of which more than thirty are books I wrote entirely or at least a foreword. It also includes all of the more than two hundred “Star Trails” columns I wrote for Sky and Telescope magazine between 1988 and 2008, and dozens more I wrote for other magazines and journals. Only the British library, with over 200 million books, is larger […]...

  • Skyward for March 2021. David H. Levy
    Skyward for March 2021. David H. Levy
    February 15, 2021

    Skyward for March 2021. David H. Levy Stars are people too. In last month’s Skyward, I included that four-word phrase, but the first time I used it was actually in an article about the life of the star Betelgeuse, for Astronomy magazine. When I met Richard Berry, the editor at the time, he began by reciting those words: “Stars are people too.” He added that he accepted the article for publication in his magazine after he read those words. (It turns out that wasn’t my only unusual experience with that magazine. A few years later David Eicher, the current editor, and I witnessed a construction crew blowing up a freeway overpass near the magazine’s headquarters in Milwaukee.) As I explained last month, stars live out their lives much as do. They are born in gaseous stellar nurseries, or diffuse nebulae. In our sky two of the most famous nebulae appear are in summer, the Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius, and in winter, the Orion Nebula. The little stars within the nebula vary in brightness, usually by a few tenths of a magnitude, but they can change quite quickly. There are a few others in the Hyades star cluster in Taurus, the […]...

  • A couple more Conjunction pics
    A couple more Conjunction pics
    January 23, 2021

    A couple Jupiter Saturn Conjunction pics taken by George B… Taken at his home in Davenport with his Canon T6i and lens zoomed to 135mm. Then enlarged planets with Canon software. ...

  • Skyward for February 2021
    Skyward for February 2021
    January 19, 2021

    Skyward for February 2021. By David H. Levy. Orion in Winter. As twilight deepens these evenings, Orion is just clearing the eastern horizon. Robert Frost wrote eloquently in his famous poem “The Star Splitter” “You know Orion always comes up sideways, Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains.” Whenever I see Orion rising, which is almost every night from fall to midwinter, I am reminded of how poets like Robert Frost saw the mighty hunter as it entered the sky to take command of winter. Even if you have difficulty finding some constellations, the three stars in a row that form Orion’s belt are a giveaway. And if you have a telescope, as Frost did, the view is even better. Just below the belt lies a fainter set of three stars. Surrounding the middle one is a gigantic cloud of hydrogen gas which is the Great Nebula in Orion. It is one of the richest star forming regions in our whole galaxy. During that first winter I enjoyed watching lots of the fainter stars within the nebula change their brightness over time scales of days, hours, or in one case, minutes. According to Janet Mattei, the late director […]...

  • Skyward for January 2021
    Skyward for January 2021
    December 25, 2020

    Skyward for January 2021.- A Great Conjunction, and the Christmas Star By David H. Levy. Said the night wind to the little lamb: “Do you see what I see? Way up in the sky, little lamb Do you see what I see? A star, a star, dancing in the night With a tail as big as a kite With a tail as big as a kite” Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne, 1962 In the words of this beautiful Christmas carol,written during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, we are reminded of Christmas, the biblical Book of Matthew, and the Star of Bethlehem. Famous as it is, this story appears but once in the Gospel according to Matthew:: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the […]...

  • From frustration to jubilation: A planetary conjunction story
    From frustration to jubilation: A planetary conjunction story
    December 24, 2020

    From frustration to jubilation: A planetary conjunction story By Paul Levesque NASA estimates that, at any given time, about two-thirds of Earth’s surface is covered by clouds. In her 1968 hit tune, “Both Sides Now,” Joni Mitchell sang, “So many things I would have done / But clouds got in my way.” I believe I speak for all amateur astronomers when I say, “NASA, we believe you, and Joni, we hear you.” Clouds have spoiled many a planned astronomy event, and even a somewhat hopeful weather forecast of “Partly Cloudy” has often turned out to mean, “Cloudy at the worst possible time in the worst possible part of the sky.” But it isn’t cloudy all the time, and the frustration we feel when clouds roll in is often followed by the jubilation felt when the sky clears and the observation we were hoping to make pops into sight. Such was my experience with clouds during the December 2020 conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, a true once-in-a-lifetime event which I simply did not want to miss. The conjunction, which built to a climax over time as the planets moved closer together from our vantage point, was scheduled to peak on December […]...

  • Skyward for December 2020 David H. Levy
    Skyward for December 2020 David H. Levy
    November 29, 2020

    Skyward for December 2020 David H. Levy December 17. The night of December 17, 1965 changed my life. That was the night I began a search for comets that this goes on to this day. It represents the second most important decision I have ever made, to begin a visual search for comets and exploding stars that are called novae. The first most important decision, of course, was to marry Wendee. Both decisions made my life what it is today. Usually in Montreal, November, December, and April are the cloudiest months. Therefore I wasn’t counting on a clear sky that evening. After a Friday evening dinner with my family, I walked over to my friend Tom Meyer’s home and we visited for a while. Afterwards, around 11 pm. I took Clipper, our little beagle, for a walk towards the summit of the hill on which we lived. It was during this little stroll with Clipper that things began to change. Towards the west there appeared to be some lightening of cloud cover, and soon after, clearing. Within about 15 minutes large swaths of sky were showing some stars. I couldn’t believe it. I turned toward home, and for a few […]...

  • November Meeting! New Board is coming!
    November 16, 2020

    Deep thoughts during our great November Membership Meeting tonight on Webex. Keep an eye out for big changes to come! Congrats to the new board! President : Dr. Robert Mitchell Vice President : Paul Saeger Secretary : Jason Howell Treasurer : Sam Santiago Director At-Large: Jeff Struve...

  • 2020-11-16 QCAS Meeting
    2020-11-16 QCAS Meeting
    November 15, 2020

    Hi all! We have an important QCAS virtual meeting tomorrow night… please attend! The main event will be our elections, and a talk on QCAS 2021 and Beyond… Check your email for the invite! Clear Skies! Jeff...

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