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.

Upcoming Events

The Meridian News

  • Skyward for February 2022 by David Levy
    Skyward for February 2022 by David Levy
    January 14, 2022

    Skyward for February 2022 David Levy Go Webb! We all got a special and thoroughly delightful present early on Christmas morning. Although I did not set my alarm, Wendee did get up around 5 am. I turned on our television set, and what I saw 15 minutes later was the most thrilling space view since 1969, when Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon. It was the spectacular, flawless launch of the James Webb Space telescope, The start of a mission so perfect and smooth that if Webb could speak, it would have told us that it did not feel any motion whatsoever as it soared away. Even the countdown was unique; it was in French: “Dix, neuf, huit…” I did notice a possible hiccup. About ten minutes later, the metal covers designed to protect the telescope during launch fell away while the vehicle was still in powered flight. But a second later, I understood that this was not a hiccup; it was supposed to fall away. The telescope was already out of Earth’s atmosphere, and with no air to bother it, the protective cover was no longer needed. As lovely as this experience was for me, the launch was […]...

  • WSSO – 12/30/2021
    WSSO – 12/30/2021
    December 27, 2021

    Well, with a little bit of luck… short of doing some documentation, training and the open house… and the weather holding… I’ll be at the Wilton School Systems Observatory from 2PM until 10PMish doing the final touches on Thursday. The plan is to get there before dark and make sure everything is working and in place… then see if I can get the some sort of picture taken with the camera. This is to ensure that the camera is working and will come to focus so that I can perform the next step…Modeling. Modeling is used for 2 things… the first is to allow a precise Polar Alignment to be made to the physical mount. The modeling finds a number of stars and stores them and then the application determines how far off the mount is from perfectly aiming at the Celestial Equator… you then use the adjustment bolts on the mount and pier to tweak it as directed by the application… then you repeat this process. An accurate Polar Alignment is needed to ensure that an object stays perfectly in center of the the field of view for extended periods of time… when you take a picture, and the […]...

  • WSSO – Update 12/22/2021
    WSSO – Update 12/22/2021
    December 22, 2021

    Hi all! Before heading into the STEM room I went into the observatory to check to make sure that things were safe in the observatory to remote in from the STEM room. While U was in there I did go ahead and do 1 Windows update followed by a restart. I also put the filter wheel back in the cabinet as I was able to determine what all of the filters were except for the one in slot 8… In the STEM room I performed all of the various tasks and made mental notes of miscellaneous issues that occurred… We’ll probably want to consider getting the large monitor behind the instructors desk hooked up to the computer for screen sharing… and maybe consider a wired mouse for that PC… oh, and a shortcut for Tight VNC Viewer if possible… and the classroom pc still goes to sleep while in use… all nit-picky stuff, but may prove to make things look slicker when we do the public open… by the way, how’s that going? Any public notices yet? So for mentally noted issues, I ran into an issue with the mount starting… I’d never seen that before, but maybe, since I […]...

  • WSSO – Update 12/15/2021
    WSSO – Update 12/15/2021
    December 16, 2021

    Hi all! Lots if miscellaneous stuff today! I climbed a ladder to get to the weather station on the roof of the observatory and took close up pics of that Boltwood system… even tho it rained, the App shows dry which is fine as it is really windy so Dry is accurate… BUT… much of the time the wind speed is showing around 5mph when its more like 25+mph… I emailed Defraction Limited on this… More Windows updates – one showed paused for some reason, and I’m not sure that one updated. It says no more updates after a restart, so I guess we are good.   I updated MountWizard4 to v 2.1.6, recreated the roof driver dropping error and sent the logs to Michael at MW4. I’m taking the filter wheel home to try to figure out what filter is in which slot. The TightVNC Viewer icon doesnt stay on the desktop of the STEM room instructors PC… can that be made to happen? Also, if you are in full screen mode, what is the best way to close the viewer so you can log off of the STEM room computer? I checked the FoV of the ZWO 290MC, and […]...

  • Skyward for January 2022 By David Levy
    Skyward for January 2022 By David Levy
    December 15, 2021

    Skyward for January 2022 By David Levy Imagination and the Astronomical League. “A Dragon Lives forever, but not so girls and boys.” Three quarters of a century ago, during the Second World War, the famous Harvard astronomer Harlow Shapley, along with Charles Federer, founding editor of Sky and Telescope Magazine, launched an association of astronomy clubs across the United States. It is called the Astronomical League, and it thrives to this day with more than 100 astronomy clubs. Unlike the national Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the League is designed to be a more loosely structured organization. According to Carroll Iorg, its current president, one of its most critical and central goals is to inspire the next generation to enjoy the night sky. If that goal should fail. The possibility exists that there may be no Astronomy for future generations. As part of this vital goal, the Junior Astronomical League, a new subset of the Astronomical League, is now meeting every second Sunday over zoom. But there is something more. My next book will be devoted to those young stargazers. It actually began as a typewritten saga I wrote in 1958 when I was ten years old, and of all […]...

  • WSSO – Update 12/07/2021
    December 7, 2021

    Hi all! Kind of a fun day today! I brought 2 Quad Cities Astronomical Society club members out with me today to let them see the process, and ask for comments and insight… they were pretty impressed overall.  🙂 After confirming that the ATIK camera I was going to set up was monochrome, and not being sure of what filters are set up in the filter wheel… and deciding that training to image and use the filter wheel might not be the best way to start training… and that as cold as it is, EAA (Electronically Assisted Astronomy), where you use a camera to show a near live image on a computer monitor may be the best way to start… I set up the ZWO ASI290MC color camera on the scope. I believe that the software for this camera may be easier to learn, and also may provide a bit more instant gratification… Ill need to see how well it works! Next, I opened and ran all of the software from inside the observatory to make sure that there were no unforseen problems… all seemed well. I found more Windows updates,so did those and then did a PC restart. Rather […]...

  • WSSO – Update 12/01/2021
    December 1, 2021

    Hi again, Kind of a hodgepodge day today… a lot of fidgeting around with stuff… I had a nice breakfast with Grant… probably the nicest part of the day… then was pleasantly surprised when I got to the observatory to find that Justin did an excellent job rearranging things… thanks Justin! Logging into the computer, there were no new Windows updates, so I proceeded to hooking up the camera… I then decided that being set up this way would be a great time to balance the scope and accessories on the mount. The balance routine on the mount is excellent… a few iterations, and it is now good to go! I then decided not to mess with the focuser after manually running it all of the way in and out of focus, it seemed to work, so I decided against pulling things apart. The roof driver seemed to work fine until the end of the day at which time I set logging to trace, duplicated the issue and sent the log to MountWizard4… A new bug kinda cropped up… the mount would disassociate with the planetarium program… arg! Like the issue with the roof driver, its a simple thing to […]...

  • WSSO Update – 11/23/2021
    November 23, 2021

    Hi all! A fun day in Wilton today… it started with my finding that red rope lights were placed in the observatory! I wrapped mine up and set the new ones in their stead… much nicer than mine, and can be turned on and off via computer… perfect! I then met with Justin and we talked some techie stuff and what his vision was of how the observatory could best be utilized. We took a stroll thru the school where he introduced most of the faculty that will be indoctrinated into observatory life… I also met the school Principles, Vice Principles, and Superintendent… pretty cool, and lots of support! Justin and I went into the STEM room and talked about their work stations and again some techie stuff and what the vision could be… we also discussed a possible open house to be held on January 8th… this would be a public event where we would try to involve the Quad Cities Astronomical Society, the Popular Astronomy Club, and Cedar Amateur Astronomers… this really had just been touched on briefly between Justin and I… we’ll see! Back at the observatory I adjusted focuser knobs, and although a bit better, still […]...

  • Skyward  December 2021  By David H. Levy
    Skyward December 2021 By David H. Levy
    November 20, 2021

    Skyward December 2021 By David H. Levy Daffy Duck Agreed, this seems like an awfully daffy title for an astronomy article. But there is method to the madness, and there is a story. During the late summer of 2019 there was a star party in southeast Arizona that featured a dark sky and five perfect back-to-back nights as I spent hour after hour hunting for comets, I came across the sprawling North America Nebula in the northern sky constellation of Cygnus the swan. But this time something different appeared. It was a strange structure, the outline of a dark nebula bordered by a slightly brighter cloud. The whole feature was rather subtle, so that sometimes it was there, and then it faded so that sometimes it wasn’t. I spent some time trying to determine a name for it. It looked like the head of a duck. I couldn’t call it the wild duck nebula, as there is a cluster with that name and Donald Duck is a bit confusing. So how about calling it the Daffy Duck nebula? Thus, the structure is named after Daffy Duck. It is No. 403 in my catalog of interesting things found during my more […]...

  • WSSO – Update 11/16/2021
    WSSO – Update 11/16/2021
    November 16, 2021

    Today I brought one of the astronomy club members out to the observatory in order for him to double check my train of thought on procedures and also to help me troubleshoot the electronic focuser. The electronic focuser seems to be working fine and the trouble seems to be some type of binding in the mechanics… it seems that part of the problem may be that the focuser knob was not set onto the shaft properly, and although fixing that would be simple, we couldn’t find the right size allen wrench. We noticed that the electronic focuser worked fine when it wasn’t engaged the mechanical focuser. We then tried turning the course focus knob and found it was pretty tight… this could be from the scope not being used for long periods of time and the lubricant hardening. We manual ran the focuser all the way in and out a number of times and that seemed to help alot. We also noticed that there was some sort of ‘catch’ every few turns of the knob… this is how we found that the course focus knob was a bit loose and this was due to the set screw holding it onto […]...

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