Jan 19

Skyward for February 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 […]

Dec 25

Skyward for January 2021

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 […]

Dec 24

From frustration to jubilation: A planetary conjunction story

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 […]

Nov 29

Skyward for December 2020 David H. Levy

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 […]

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

Nov 15

2020-11-16 QCAS Meeting

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

Oct 28

2020-10-27 APP Session 3

Another great APP meeting last night… learned how to deal with light pollution, color correction, and make a mosaic… all pretty cool and simple. Can’t wait for the next meeting… Monday before election! This has gone so well, and the 11 attendees have gotten so much out of it that we are putting together a 5th session with Mabula… great training, great examples, great documentation, great sample data to work with… plus a substantial discount if ya buy the software! Clear Skies! Jeff

Oct 26

Skyward for November 2020 By David H. Levy

Skyward for November 2020 By David H. Levy Hello, Bennu! Not long ago OSIRIS-REx, a spacecraft sponsored by the University of Arizona and flown by NASA gently touched the surface of asteroid No. 101955, an asteroid named Bennu, tried to grab some material, and then quickly took off again. It was the first try, but it was a huge success! The craft gathered more than twice what was expected—so much that some small pieces of material started to leak out. Of course, if all the sample leaked out, then there was no sample. But that won’t happen. NASA plans to transfer the material to a safe storage container earlier than expected, and then the sample will be safe. The mission, run jointly by NASA and the University of Arizona, cost the U.S. taxpayers about eight hundred million dollars, plus about 185 million for the launch aboard an Atlas V rocket. The Osiris-Rex is an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. Asteroid Bennu is an interesting choice. Bennu was the name for an Egyptian mythological bird associated with creation, the Sun, and rebirth. But much as the name might inspire us to look back at the early […]

Oct 17

2020-10-16 QCAS Menke Family Nite

Fun nite last nite… except for the weather, preventing the viewing/imaging part of things, everything went well! In attendance, Ken, Rusty, Rolando, Jason and family, Paul L, Robert, Jim, Sam, Alan, Cecil, Matt, and myself… Everyone arrived on time, I had the pizza there at 6:30… the Legion divided and packaged it up by person, so there was no need for rehandling… the pizza was really pretty good IMHO! After eating I took everyone on an expedition around the observation field and explained where each new building was hoped to be erected and what the building was for and what it would house. We also talked about the additional pads we want to add as well as power and internet access. As a bit of comrade continued, Robert installed a new red back-lit keyboard and USB hub on the Menke Dome Computer… and we assembled the new RACI Finder Scope on the 14″ SCT. Rusty brought a Crawford Focuser that we were hoping would fit the 14″ SCT but it wouldnt… so if you are in the market for one… contact him or me. Too bad it was so cloudy, but hey, such is an astronomers life! 2 other bits […]

Oct 7

Important Member Info!

Hi all! I have 3 bits of important info that you’ll want to act on… 1. MEMBERSHIP DUES Renewals can be sent to us any time between now and January 1st. Renewal is $20 and $10 per each additional family member 16 yrs or older that also wants to be a member. I attached a form in an email sent to you that you can print out, fill in, and return with payment. Send payment and the form, or hand written info to: Quad Cities Astronomical Society P.O. Box 3706  Davenport, Iowa  52808-3706 2.OFFICER NOMINATIONS Jim Rutenbeck will be emailing out information on how nominations and voting will happen this year. Its important that you provide your input! Please watch for his email and respond as quickly as possible! 3. OCTOBER SOCIETY MEETING In place of our November Dinner Meeting, we will be having a family outing on the evening of Friday, October 16th at Menke Observatory. We moved the normal meeting date in October from Monday to Friday for this meeting so that staying up a bit late won’t interfere with the next days work. Please bring your immediate family for a bit of astronomy and pizza! We will […]

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