About: Matt Neilssen

Recent Posts by Matt Neilssen

Nov 16

November Meeting! New Board is coming!

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

Oct 21

Mercury to be Transiting the Rising Sun on the Morning of November 11th!

As the Sun rises on Veteran’s Day the planet Mercury will be making it’s way directly between our star and ourselves. The result is that the itsy bitsy silhouette of the fastest planet will be visible on the disc of the Sun. As always with any astronomical event that involves looking directly at the Sun, you need to have a proper filter to block the intense light if you wanna see this for yourself. Also, Mercury is so teeny tiny that you’re going to need a telescope that can be covered with that proper filter in order to check this one out.   Good thing our sister club the Popular Astronomy Club has you covered. They will be hosting a Mercury Transit Viewing from their regular site in the parking lot of Niabi Zoo starting at sunrise (6:45am) until the end of the transit at 12:35pm. These folks will have scopes set up properly for safe view of this rare event. Be sure to join them on the 11th this year otherwise you’ll be waiting until November 13th of 2032 for your next chance!   About the image: The featured image for this post is of the last transit of […]

Jul 28

An unexpectedly successful night at Sherman Park

Last night John Baker, Paul Saeger, Candi Neilssen and I decided to ignore the mixed forecasts from various weather apps heading out to Sherman Park for what would have been the QCAS July Public Open House at Jens-Wendt Observatory if not for the event being officially canceled. (more about that at the end) We were joined by Heather and Tony from the QC Astronomy Facebook Group, our Web Host Jason Howell and two of his children, as well as a couple from Calamus who saw the cancellation posting but decided to come anyway. All who joined enjoyed a cool dry night with a relaxing breeze and more importantly a clear dark sky! Two of our non-member guests brought their own beginner scopes. Paul set up and confirmed the club’s NexStar 8SE is back in working order. (Thanks Byron Davies!) John Baker showed off the 16″ scope in the dome. I manned the 20″ in the roll-off. I can’t speak for what all objects were observed in each scope by all those who attended but I can say that in the 20″ we had good views of Jupiter, the Lagoon Nebula (M8), the Ring Nebula (M57), Alberio, and Antares. Antares was […]

Mar 30

Monthly Observing Lists Now Featured on QCAstro.org!

Thanks to QCAS member and PAC President Al Sheidler our website will now feature monthly customized monthly observing lists featuring targets of interest in the constellations visible from the QC Area. You can find these lists by clicking “Astronomy Stuff” in the main menu at the top of the site. Or you can click this link since you’re here already!

Jan 10

Blood Moon January 20th

In a few days we will have a nice treat to view from here in the Quad Cities. Beginning at 8:35pm the Full Moon will begin to move through the shadow cast by the Earth ultimately resulting in a Total Lunar Eclipse. A Total Lunar Eclipse are typically refered to as a Blood Moon due to the dark red or coppery appearance of the Moon whilst within the deepest part of the Earth’s shadow which is called the Umbra.   The above diagram from NASA gives you an idea of what’s actually happening. When the Moon enters the Penumbra, a dimming of the Moon’s surface can be observed as the edge of the shadow advances. This point is called Penumbra first contact and begins the Partial phase of the eclipse. If the Moon were to pass only through the Penumbra of the Earth this would be a partial eclipse and nothing more. But this month the Moon will make it into the deeper Umbra of the Earths shadow. Then the deeper portion of the shadow begins to cross the surface it is called (you guessed it) Umbral first contact and this begins the Total phase of the eclipse. When the […]

Jan 7

A rare clear night for a January New Moon!

Not too often does January have crystal clear nights here in the Quad Cities. Even more rare to get two back to back during the New Moon! A friend of mine has started to take an interest in Amateur Astronomy so I felt this was the perfect opportunity to let him see what it’s like to use some real gear. The first night went really well. After he arrived just before 11pm we were able to setup, polar align, 3-Star align fairly easily such that by midnight shots were being taken and a great time was had. Rather than taking the entire rig down when he left, I covered the mount, crossed my fingers, and hoped for another clear night despite a poor forecast.Night two I got home around 8:30pm to be greeted outdoors by a high haze. Undeterred, I was soon taking test lights of M42 that were blowing my mind! I spent that entire night with a bottle of Woodford Reserve to keep me warm whilst falling back in love with backyard astrophotography. 

Aug 13

Perseid Meteor Shower at PVJHS 2018

Excellent event tonight! Thank you to all the Quad City Astronomical Society members that showed up to help! I haven’t counted the signatures in the book, but I’m estimating between 200 and 300 guests attended tonight’s event. I think that’s a record breaker! Folks started arriving around 7:30 PM and like last year, we started packing up shortly after midnight. Along with a few dozen meteors, guests saw the planets Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, and quite a few satellites. Some saw a presentation on spectroscopy, discussed the Perseid event and saw the constellations in Stellarium on a large screen along with a number of DSO pics, and watched the sky via a live AllSky Cam! Great job to all the members, and thank you to all our guests! We’ll do this again next August. Make sure you plan ahead! Clear skies! Jeff

Mar 14

Iowa Naturalists visit the QCAS Jens-Wendt Observatory.

On March 14th, 2018, the QCAS will host a tour of their Jens Wendt Observatory to the Iowa Association of Naturalists. This will be an open house style event for the Naturalists. If all goes according to plan, guests will be arriving at the observatory, located at Sherman Park about 6 PM on March 14th. They are planning a soup supper up at the house, all who are helping out with the observatory are welcome to join. There will be 2-3 varieties of soup including a vegetarian option and fresh baked bread. Reservations are appreciated. They are also planning an evening hike and a social campfire with music if the weather is nice. QCAS members are invited for it all. This will also allow people to filter over to the observatory so there is less need of a line at the scope. We hope that attendees can see some of the planets and maybe easier to see/find nebulae. Guests never forget their first view through a big telescope! If it is clouded over, we can tour the facility anyway. March 1st is the early registration deadline so we should have a pretty good idea of attendance for this trip by […]

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