Jul 18

July 19 Club Meeting and August 7th Meteor Shower Party

Hi all! We will again be holding our annual Meteor Shower Party at the Pleasant Valley Junior High School this year! The event starts after sunset on Saturday, August 7th… come a bit early to set up your lawn chairs for a wonderful evening under the stars… we hope! Club members sometimes bring telescopes and binoculars for viewing, but these are not required for enjoying the meteor shower… so guests, lawn chairs and non-alchoholic beverages are sufficient! Of course if we are clouded or rained out, the event will be canceled… We will be selling raffle tickets for a nice, new, intro level telescope at the event… $2 per ticket… three for $5… need not be present to win! The scope is an Orion Starblast 4.5 Astro Reflector, and has all the accessories needed to get you off and running! To prepare you for the event, you are also welcome to join us at our virtual club meeting on Monday, July 19th at 7PM… we will be giving a presentation on space rocks and Meteor showers and then a few more details specifically about the August Perseid Meteor Shower! Questions, as are guests, are always welcome! Here is the link […]

Jul 18

Skyward for September 2021. By David Levy

Skyward for September 2021. By David Levy Rebirth of an Observatory. “How would you like to go to prison?” was one of the first things that Frank Lopez asked me. My stunned expression prompted Frank to clarify: “The Federal prison off Wilmot Road has an astronomy club.” That was enough: we enjoyed two wonderful evenings down there, and even showed Orion to the group using one of my favorite telescopes. I dealt with Frank once again in the last few months, as our Jarnac Observatory’s Shaar house, the major observatory building in my back yard, threatened to collapse earlier this year. The Shaar name is from the Hebrew word for “gate” or “opening” and I use the name because the structure resembles a miniature version of our Shaar Hashomayim synagogue in Montreal. The observatory is as much a temple for me as the Shaar was. Frank brings a lifetime of experience to the observatories he builds and repairs. He came up with a plan that would restore my building with a brand new sliding roof. Working occasionally with assistants but mostly alone, the construction took several months, virtually all last winter and spring. (Actually my sliding roof is the entire […]

Jul 8

Virtual Public Meeting Sat, July 10… 8pm

Well, it looks like our Public Nite is going to be weathered out again… But hey, let’s do a virtual one anyway! A perfect time to ask intro level questions about the hobby… what scopes would be best for you… where to buy them… what you can expect to do with them after you get them… accessories… good ones… better ones… why it gets cloudy when you get yours! Zoom in this coming Saturday… 8PMish: https://zoom.us/j/92166254560?pwd=UHBPZEpoQk05MmI5RExsWnFBazIydz09 Jeff

Jun 13

June 12th at the Menke

Pretty nice turnout for tonites event. At the observatory we had  Jeff S, Steve S, Robert M, Byron D, Ken B, Rusty C, Mike D, and a few guests. Joining by Zoom we had Ron M, and Cecil W. The guests and club members wandering into the dome were shown Venus, Mars, the Moon, Albireo, M13, M92, M57 – Ring Nebula, M81, M82, M27 – Dumbell Nebulae, and NGC 7543 – Cats Eye Nebulae. After the guests left we found quite a few of the many Virgo galaxies… we topped off the evening with M51 – the Whirlpool Galaxy. The Zoom portion of the meeting was a bit boring, so for next time we can try to add a live view scope and camera on top of the 14″ SCT so virtual attendees can watch us work on Stellarium and talk to us and then view what we are looking at thru the piggy back rig. We keep getting better! Thanks to all that attended, and club attendees, please do a reply to all letting us know how things worked for you! Clear Skies! Jeff

Jun 6

The move has begun!

Wow! Nice work guys… the below is from Mike: Hi Guys , John B and myself, Mike D, had a fantastic day at the Menke roll off. Jim R marked the holes in the 4″x6” steel beams yesterday. I brought it home with me last night and drilled all 8 holes this morning. Then since John B was out there I decided to bring the steel out today, couldn’t believe all the holes lined up the first time. Jim R can mark holes to be drilled any time for me, unbelievable first time fit 🙂! Now all we need is Steve V to come out and align and fine tune for polar alignment and any other fine tuning. The black protective box clears, could take a small portion of the black rubber pad away and give a little more room. I would keep the mount as low as it can go and yet the black box clear the floor or even cut a quarter to maybe a half inch off the bottom and lower the top for mounting bolts as low as they can go. More solid the shorter the all thread bolts are. Made really good progress today ! […]

Jun 6

Craigs test from last night

Craigs test from last night on his Astro rig. No filters yet… using ES 80mm triplet-Orion Atlas mount- ZWO Asiair control hub-Asi533mc camera-with guide camera.—118 G.-60s 35 lights-20 darks-20 flats-100 bias (APP stack- affinity prossess)

Jun 4

Publuc Open at Menke

Hi all! This Saturday, June 5th, we will be holding our first Public Open House since COVID reared it’s ugly head! The event will be held at Menke Observatory in Dixon, Iowa from sunset to 10:00 PM at which time amateur astronomers can conclude their Show-N-Tell, and pursue their own astronomical endeavors! The public… friends and family… acquaintances and strangers… in-laws and out-laws… as well as astronomy club members are all welcome! For those that cant make it, we will broadcast a screen share of what our control computer is doing guiding the scope through a planetarium program, and periodically show pics of what the scope is pointing at… we’ll have an open mic so you can hear our chat, and we’ll have an open speaker, so we can hear your questions! Here’s the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/97201136464?pwd=T1IxaTdjZXVtMVV1dWlKZDcrNlE0dz09 Since we haven’t had many club activities, please show your support by attending! Much appreciated!!! Clear Skies! Jeff

May 24

Skyward for June 2021 By David Levy

Skyward for June 2021 By David Levy Faint fuzzies. The night before last, a comet named Palomar (actually known as C (for comet)/ 2020 T2 Palomar) was gliding near one of the most beautiful clusters of stars in the entire sky. It was parading about at about magnitude 11, which means that for my oldish eyes, it would be too faint to see. In fact, just a few weeks ago I spotted a second comet, named ATLAS. That comet, at ninth magnitude, was so diffuse that I barely spotted it. So I was not going to try for this other comet. However, this other comet was named Palomar after one of my favorite observatories! The mighty 200-inch telescope was opened in 1948, just a couple of weeks before I was born, and the big telescope has been sighting stars for more than 70 years. In 1994, I was allowed to sit in the prime focus cage, that beautiful place where light from what the telescope is seeing comes to a perfect focus. So sighting a comet with that hallowed name would be special. The comet was discovered by Dmitry A. Duev on images taken using Palomar’s Oschin Schmidt telescope last […]

Apr 19

Skyward By David H Levy May, 2021

Skyward By David H Levy May, 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 […]

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