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Searching for SJAA Board Candidates

Hello SJAA Members,

Winter is here and along with the long nights comes SJAA Board Member elections! This year we have 6 seats that will be opening up at the end of this year’s term.  Only 3 current board members are running for re-election, so that means we are looking for at least 3 enthusiastic SJAA members to help out. What exactly is expected of an SJAA board member?  Well to be honest, not very much:

  • Serve a 2 year term
  • Attend the monthly board meetings, currently 6pm-8pm at Houge Park on Saturdays nearest the full moon

And that is it!   If you want to be a program director or a member of the executive staff, you are more than welcome to offer to take on the extra responsibility, but board members are not required to do so.

If you are interested, please email me at secretary@sjaa.net.  Remember, the vote will be held at Houge Park on February 11th at 8pm, so make sure to get your name to me before then.  Voting is open to all club members, so even if you aren’t interested in joining the board, come by and make yourself heard!
Posted in Anouncements, General Meeting
Tags: ,

Williams Hill Site Report

williams hillThis is a site report, not so much an observing report. My main goal was to go to check out the surroundings. On July 30-31 2016, I went to Williams Hill Recreation Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to investigate the suitability of the site for purposes of astronomical observing, with the possibility of spending the night.  The area is located about 27 road miles, or 17 miles as the crow flies, south of King City.

My plan was to get there earlier in the day on Saturday with my dirt bike, and then tool around to explore and get to know the area, and settling on a location where I could set up my scope. I would then have dinner, and head to that site to set up, and wait for night to fall. Things went very much according to plan.

on the freeway

One hundred miles of this kind of view.

The ride down 101 was uneventful, though slow going getting out of Santa Clara County due to Gilroy’s annual Garlic Festival. Getting through Prunedale and Salinas was also slow in spots, and much of the afternoon sky was obscured by smoke from the fire near Carmel (prevailing winds were taking the smoke northeast, thankfully away from my destination). It was over a hundred miles on southbound 101, through all the towns we know when we are traveling to dark sky sites: Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield, King City.

dirt road leading to williams hill

About eight miles of white dusty dirt road.

The exit to take is called San Ardo, then a right onto Paris Valley Road. After a little less than two miles of paved farm road, you have to make a sharp left turn onto Lockwood San Ardo Road, at which point, it turns to a fairly well maintained dirt road. Once on the dirt, going was slow. I had a trailer so I took it easy, no more than 25, and in some places, 10 or less toward the top. Nearing the camp, the road is cut into the side of the hill, exposing the Monterey shale formations. It’s a very dry, dusty white ride.

campground_sign_wh-201607

Once you see this sign, you know you’ve made it!

antenna hill

The actual Williams Hill, where all the antenna towers are. It’s four and a half miles past the campground.

I arrived at the campground closer to 4pm, about ninety minutes later than I originally planned. The first order of business was to unhitch the trailer and pull the bike down, getting ready for the first phase, local exploration. The campground is four and a half miles before the end of the road that leads up to the actual Williams Hill, which can also rightly be called Antenna Hill. I made my way to antenna hill via the fairly well maintained dirt road comprised mainly of switchbacks that lead from one hill to the next. At the top of the hill, the antennae live behind a chain link fence, some of the towers more securely enclosed than others, possibly giving away their importance to their owners. At the end of the road, there is a fairly wide area that may be suitable to set up maybe a dozen scopes, but it’s a long way to go past the campground, there are large circles etched into the ground by spinning wheels (ie, donuts), and if anyone were to come up that road at night, you’d be blasted with headlights with little to no cover. Further, the flat area, though wide open at the top of the hill with nice horizons (except for the towers), is not entirely level. Being the top of a hill, it has a mild crown, I thought to myself that this area would do in a pinch, but there very well could be better sites.

litter_wh_201607

Lots and lots and lots of spent shotgun shells littered every turnout.

I kept exploring and found miles of more trails on this BLM land. North of the campground area, ie, north of Lockwood San Ardo Road, there are plenty of possible observing sites with decent horizons and plenty of space for plenty of astronomers’ vehicles and their gear. Many, most or all of them were littered with spent shotgun shells. It was shameful, how the shooters left such a mess. There weren’t too many targets, and thankfully not much broken glass, though a gallon size fire extinguisher appeared to be on the receiving end of a muzzle. After a good hour and a half of exploring, I concluded that the best overall site for observing is only about half mile from the campground, at 35.984279, -121.011742. It’s an open hill good with horizons nearly all the way around, especially to the east. So much so that you can look down and see headlights on highway 101. After dark, there was just a small light dome to the east, Paso Robles, perhaps. (EDIT: I was informed this light dome is not Paso Robles, which is way more to the south, and there is nothing east; this is most likely skyglow.)

The campground is wooded with pines, though sparsely, and each of the six sites are far enough apart which provides for privacy. The location is on top of a ridge, so the wind was sailing briskly over the ridge top, making tent assembly a bit difficulty. However, it died down rather abruptly after about 7pm.

The campsite showing fire ring, canopy, picnic table.

The campsite showing fire ring, canopy, picnic table.

There is no water at the campground whatsoever, so any campers or other visitors are well advised to bring plenty of their own. There is a single vault toilet that was fairly (relatively) clean and even stocked with adequate amounts of TP. The sites each had a metal picnic table and a canopy as shelter from the sun, or perhaps the rain, and the sites and much of the rest of the campground were roped off to keep offroaders off the vegetation.

There were other campers, including a fairly large group of young men, in about 6 cars. They were not any problem, we didn’t socialize at all, and the smell of clove cigarettes adorned the air on the road leading away from camp. There was also a later arrival, a guy with his girlfriend, out for a romantic camp getaway in the local hills.

As far as observing, I don’t have much to write about. The hilltop location were I set up was mildly rutted by vehicles turning around when the ground was last wet. The ruts made it slightly challenging to find an adequately flat, level spot for the dob base. It wasn’t dusty there, but rather a bit rocky with small scrub growing low. After it got dark, I sampled Saturn, whose tilt is now so great that seeing the Cassini division is easy, and enjoyed the planets wandering through Scorpius. viewed some objects around Ophiucus but mainly I was happy just taking in the dark sky, with the milky way hanging above like fluffy clouds. A few streaks of light appeared during the night, perhaps a pre-game show for the coming Perseid meteor shower. It was very much plenty dark.

road_looking_down_wh_201607

The view of the road leading up to Williams Hill Recreation Area, from the top, looking east.

I didn’t stay out long since I had to be out of there early. The next morning, I loaded up and took it easy down the hill again, and it was a nicer ride since it wasn’t as hot. Got back to San Jose around 11am.

Would I recommend this place for SJAA members to go observing? Definitely yes. The recommendation would also include that you should plan on staying the night. Though there is no water and no trash service, and it’s a fairly remote location where shooting is allowed, it does have fairly decent cell service, a nice campground, and good horizons at 2200 feet (671 meters).

distant forest fire smoke

Smoke from the fire near Carmel, California.

camp site

Rob’s camp in the sunset.

bug in tent

An overnight visitor, clinging to the ceiling of the tent.

dust_wh-201607

Afternoon wind whipped up a section of thick white dust at the one tight hairpin turn.

Posted in Trip Reports


Swap Meet – Sunday, March 20 2016

Hello SJAA Members and Friends,
Just a reminder that the SJAA Swap Meet is happening this Sunday, March 20, 2016 at the Hall at San Jose’s Houge Park. Here is the announcement that went to the Announce list (which is still being used, we encourage people to join), and here is the Meetup for the event (we encourage RSVPs!).

It’s important to note that the official start time is noon. That’s when the doors will open for business. For those of us who will be selling items, the hall will be available as early as 11am for people to come and set up their wares, for instance, if you have full scopes to bring in and set up for display. We are discouraging any buying and selling to happen during that “setup” hour, just so we stay true to the official opening time of 12 noon.

If you plan to sell items, please be aware that you will be asked to read and sign a form, which have a few guidelines. I’ve included them below so you can review them ahead of time, and it’s not new to you when you arrive.

We’re expecting a fun and sociable event. See you Sunday!

The Suggestions, Guidelines and Rules:

  1. Please read and sign this form before setting up.
  2. You will receive a name tag, please write your name on it and wear it where people can see it.
  3. You should have prices in mind ahead of time for all your items and ideally have the pieces labeled with the price.
  4. It’s a good idea to have a towel or sheet to place over your items in case you need to step away.
  5. Though we don’t expect any nefarious types, SJAA cannot be held responsible for any missing or damaged items
  6. Keep it fair: please refrain from conducting business before the official noon start time, which is when the doors open.
  7. Keep all the business inside the Hall rather than out on the grounds of the park.
  8. Event photos may be taken, in which case your likeness may be captured and posted to the SJAA website or newsletter.
  9. If there are any questions or need assistance, please see any of the volunteers.
  10. This event is run 100% by volunteers. The suggested donation to SJAA is 10% of sales.
  11. Have fun!
Posted in Anouncements, Articles
Tags: ,

Grand Unified SJAA, Feb. 2016

I’ve dubbed our automation effort GUS: Grand Unified SJAA. (This is a continuation from the post in May. If you’re interested in pitching in or just curious, you’re invited to join the Coders group.)

The organizers spend hundreds of man hours every year, so to streamline our various processes, we’ve started the task of automating our major operations:

  • Membership — We’ve grown quite a bit in recent years. The SJAA membership is now about 350, so you can imagine the gymnastics needed to juggle that many on a spreadsheet. Our primary options are 1) Simple Machines Forum + Paypal and 2) Tendenci. The board of directors has already been using SMF to conduct club business so it’s a natural fit. We just started looking at an open source membership management package called Tendenci. The plan is to eventually allow all members access to an SJAA specific forum, all under www.sjaa.net.
  • Events — Believe it or not, we hold roughly 150 distinct events every year. Since we mainly run off the lunar cycle and schedule around twilight, it’s not as simple as scheduling a recurring event on the same week of every month at the same time. We’re designing a system that will automatically:
    • generate all recurring events for a calendar year,
    • update our Google calendars,
    • post events on Meetup,
    • send email announcements, and
    • (perhaps sometime in the not too distant future) post to Twitter and Facebook.

    We’re also looking to automate management of the various tasks associated with each of our events.

  • Libary/equipment loaner programs — Most of the work here is bookkeeping, tracking the various assets. Automation will streamline the process and allows online access to the information.
  • Sign-in — In the past year we started using paper sign-in sheets for our events. This allows us to provide documentation to the city of San Jose which grants us free access to the facilities we enjoy at Houge Park. A digital sign-in system will allow us to take a detailed look at who’s coming to our events and help us to better understand how to reach out to our members as well as the general public.

Coders is currently made up of about a dozen people. We’d like to extend our appreciation for all Coders for their participation and help. Special thanks to:

  • Swami Nigam — set up of SMF
  • Thomas Stucky — library/loaner app coding
  • Murali Balasubramaniam — sign-in app coding
  • John Wainwright — hosting Tendenci during our evaluation, expertise in all things SW
  • Guillermo Jimenéz — looking into Tendenci
  • Satish Vellanki — work on club website
  • Teruo Utsumi — event app coding, GUS architecture

We’ll have updates as we hit future milestones. We’re just getting started, but the system might end up looking something like this:

GUS_arch

Posted in Articles


2016 Election Results Are In

Last Saturday night was the annual membership meeting of the SJAA. There was a potluck, awards, and the annual election for about half the seats of the board of directors. Bill O’Neil, Glenn Newell, Rob Jaworski and Dave Ittner were all up for reelection, and we are happy to report all nominees, all of which are incumbents, were reelected to another two year term by the membership. Each candidate received 24 votes in favor and zero against.

Congratulations to all the candidates! The SJAA membership and the broader amateur astronomy community appreciate your service to this important educational institution serving the south bay and beyond!

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, General Meeting


New additions to SJAA library!

This is my long due blog post…but better late than never!
I am excited to announce that thanks to a very generous donation to SJAA library, we now have some more great books in store for members to check out. Here’s the list –

The First Three Minutes
The Red Limit
Black Holes and Warped Spacetime
Galaxies and Quasars
Sundials – Their Theory And Construction
The Milky Way
Space Shots
Comets
Cosmology + 1
Astrophotography II
Astrophotography
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Star Catalog – Part 1 to 4
The Astronomical Almanac – 1990 to 2000
Telescope Optics

As you can tell by the book titles, the central idea is to try to reach out all our readers by keeping variety of books and DVDs in our collection. In addition to these, we also have lots of books suitable for kids and young adults. I would highly encourage you all to check them out!

I would also like to take this opportunity to let our readers know that due to limited space, we have decided to give away most of our magazines collection. If there are any particular issues you are interested in, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at librarian.sjaa@gmail.com. You can find the current collection at SJAA Magazines.

If you have any suggestions/comments about SJAA library program, I can be reached at librarian.sjaa@gmail.com

Happy reading!
Sukhada

Posted in Anouncements, Blog


Recap – Swap Meet 2015

crowded hall

image credit Glenn Newell

The SJAA Swap Meet for 2015 was a resounding success! There were lots of people who came out to browse, buy and sell, with old friends meeting up for the first time in a long while.

Though the event was scheduled to start at 11AM, there were people showing up even before then, setting up their wares, and others who came early to snag the good deals on pieces and parts of astronomy gear they needed. It was quite evident that this event was long anticipated. And just as it started early, it also ended early. Advertised to shut down at 4pm, the swap meet really began winding down at about 2pm, with people having socialized enough, sorting through the gear plenty enough times, and feeling satisfied that everything, and everyone, who was going to show up had already done so. The hall was cleaned out and cleaned up by 2:30.

Throughout the year, the SJAA receives donations of astronomy gear, usually sets of full telescope rigs with all the accessories. These donations are evaluated to determine if there is a place for it in a club program, such as the loaner telescope program. If there is no suitable place for it, then it’s value on the secondary market is determined, and finally gets listed for sale at either the annual swap meeting or auction. At this year’s swap meet, the club was able to find new homes for quite a number of gently and otherwise used scopes and accessories. Including direct sales and donations of sales proceeds from participants, the SJAA netted about $2300 at the end of the day.

The club very much appreciates all donations, and the board of directors also very much appreciates the time and effort of the volunteers that make these events happen, including the prep work of receiving donations, evaluating them, and finally finding them new homes. The community of amateur astronomy enthusiasts makes it all work.

We look forward to the next swap meet and seeing faces that sometimes become less and less frequent in the hall at Houge or on the hills in the dark of a new moon. We hope we can continue to encourage people to get out, to observe, and to keep this wonderful community and hobby going.

If you attended the swap meet and have any feedback for the organizers, please use the Feedback link on the sjaa website. Even if you didn’t attend but want to share an idea or any thoughts, please send it via the same means.

Posted in Recap


16 Degrees South

Australia - A Year of Edits

I just got back from a holiday in northern Australia.  Though it wasn’t an astronomical vacation at all (brought no scopes or astronomical meaningful binocs), I did get a chance to look up at a far more southern sky than I’m used to seeing.

The trip was a family vacation to tropical northern Queensland, specifically, Port Douglas and Cairns, so we were mostly between 16.5 and 17 degrees south latitude, definitely in the tropics, but not all that far south.

The first thing that I noticed was how high Scorpius is at that latitude.  It’s practically overhead, along with the teapot, with the Milky Way running pretty much between the two.  While shielding my view from the bright and numerous resort lights, the sky was still noticeably dark, which allowed the Milky Way to be so visible. What also stood out was a splotch of fuzz between the scorpion tail and the teapot spout, which is known as the open star cluster M7.  It was very bright, very noticeable with the naked eye.

After I got over my fascination of how high these summer, er, winter constellations were, I turned my focus to the unknown area just below Scorpius (would that be south or Scorpius, or maybe south west?).  It was entirely unfamiliar, and I knew that was a completely new area of the sky that I’ve never seen before.  That was a really cool feeling, knowing that I was looking at something I’ve never seen before, something I can’t see from home because it’s over and beyond my familiar horizon.

Checking the southern hemisphere sky map (thanks for sending it, Ed!), I realized that it was mostly Centaurus that occupied that space.  This constellation, according to Wikipedia, is visible only up to about 25 degrees north. Its two brightest stars, alpha (yes, *that* Alpha Centauri), and beta, which, btw, are unmistakably bright, point directly to Crux, the southern cross.  Crux is recognizable as a cross, and the “fifth” star of the cross that’s depicted in Australia’s national flag, though readily apparent in the sky, isn’t all that noteworthy. I would opine that it could easily have been left out of their flag and ensigns. I have to go with New Zealand (and a few others) on this one.

Southern Cross

The other constellations I identified were the southern crown (Corona Australis) and Triangulum Australe.

After doing a couple of brief (ten or fifteen minute) naked eye observation sessions over a few days, I wanted to see if there was anyone local that I could meet up with to get a better tour, possibly a telescopic one, of the views from sixteen degrees south.  Turns out that there is an astronomy group in Cairns, but unfortunately, emails to their listed address went unanswered while I was there.

Of course I wish that I had brought some gear and prepared better for this visit to the south, but I have to remind myself that I went in knowing that this was not going to be an astronomy focused trip.  The scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, visiting the rainforest as far north as Cape Tribulation, and avoiding the pademelons, wallabies and kangaroos on the road at dusk kept me busy.  It’s a really interesting area of Australia to visit, where the rainforest meets the reef, as they say, and the lack of astronomy during this visit only gives me an excuse to go there again, perhaps further south, so that the Magellanic Clouds can also be bagged!

Posted in Articles, Blog, Trip Reports


Ending of Sky & Telescope Magazine Subscription Service

Dear SJAA Member,

The San Jose Astronomical Association (SJAA) has been in existence for 60 years now. For many of those years, the club has offered its members the benefit of subscribing to Sky & Telescope magazine when they join or renew their membership. Due to the significant growth of the club, and issues beyond our control, we have determined that the club can no longer continue this service.

We are facing a number of challenges that directly affect our ability to offer this service. For example:
– Long lead times – the process is very manual which also involves sending a letter via US Mail to the publisher on the east coast.
– Renewal offers – the publisher begins sending renewal notices soon after receiving the subscription, which can be confusing to the subscriber.
– Better offers – many times, the renewal offers are a better deal for the subscriber than the rates the SJAA can offer.
– Manual process – processing the subscriptions is a manual process, which takes quite a bit of valuable volunteer time, especially when there are hiccups in the process.
– Not a fundraiser – the SJAA usually loses a little bit of money with each subscription, which not only makes this service not a fundraiser, but a slight drain on resources.

Many of our members have reported that it is actually better to subscribe/renew directly with S&T as they receive a lower price and significantly faster service. One outside service that offers a deeper discount is via the Astronomy Society of the Pacific. You can subscribe to S&T, Astronomy Magazine, and StarDate Magazine from this page:
http://www.astrosociety.org/magazine/

Another publication that out members are finding of great interest is Astronomy Technology Today. This magazine focuses on astronomy equipment, gear and technology, more so than S&T or Astronomy magazines. ATT offers a discount to SJAA members.
https://www.astronomytechnologytoday.com/
Please email Ed Wong, the Membership Coordinator, at sjaamemberships@gmail.com for the discount code.

The many downsides listed above, along with the available alternatives, have helped us make the decision to suspend offering the S&T subscription service. For those of you who have taken advantage of this service over the years, we regret not being able to continue, but we are confident you can get a better variety, better service, and at a better price, by going with the alternatives mentioned above.

Our club relies on volunteers who generously donate their time in support of all club activities, and the board thanks all of them for the most valuable contributions they can make, which is their time.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support.

Regards,

Dave Ittner
President
SJAA

Posted in Articles


SJAA Coders

CodeIgniter Code III

The SJAA is in the process of automating various aspects of club operations. Examples include subscribing (and unsubscribing) to email lists, renewing memberships, maintaining event calendars, creating and adapting an auction system, and lots more. We are forming a team whose mission will be to identify these needs, prioritize them, projectize them, and tackle them. These are essentially software development, implementation and integration projects.

A kickoff meeting has been scheduled to get this started.

Event: SJAA Coders Inaugural Meeting
Place: Houge Park, Bldg 1, San Jose, Calif
Date: Sunday May 17 2015
Time: 2-4pm

We’re looking for people with various skills including:

  • WordPress (to help with the sjaa.net website)
  • Python
  • Django
  • PyQt/PySide, Kivy
  • SQL
  • Apache
  • testing
  • technical writing

Our annual spring auction is our biggest single fundraiser of the year, and hence it’s very important to the club. It can get intense, so we’re looking to automate the bookkeeping and item/bidder/seller tracking. During this kickoff meeting, we’ll demo a prototype of a python-based auction manager that’s in the works. We’ll throw in a wrinkle into the demo to make things interesting, so bring your laptops/tablets!

Those who want to acquire new skills are also welcome. If you’re interested please join us at our inaugural meeting and/or join the new SJAA Coders Google group.

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


Busy Day at Houge Park Hall 5/3

The Houge Park Hall was buzzing with activity today with several programs going on at the sametime. The SJAA Fixit Program, SJAA Library and SJAA Advanced Loaner program were all open today to serve our members and public. We had people coming for help with telescope collimation questions, eyepiece and lens cell questions. We also did collimation procedures on some scope being returned for the Advanced Loaner Program. We had people stopping by to check out scopes for the Advance Loaner Program too. Our wonderful Librarian Sukhada Palav was busy checking and cataloging books and evaluating future books for the Library.

We also had a bonus activity going on too. Question? How many astronomers does it take to setup a really big telescope? Answer: 4

Rob Jaworski, Phil Chambers, Teruo Utsumi and Vini Carter were busy assembling the 20 inch Obsession Telescope that was graciously donated to the club by our dear friend Dr. Robert Armstrong and his family. The intent was to learn how to setup the telescope so we can share some views with it with the public and club members soon. Looks like with the braintrust of the fabulous four they had it assemble and figured out in no time. Thanks for the effort guys. Can’t wait for the views to be seen. I documented the big event with photos

Enjoy,

Ed Wong

IMG_0869IMG_0868  IMG_0864      IMG_0871 IMG_0872IMG_0873 IMG_2330IMG_2331

Posted in Articles


2015 Astronomy Day Campbell Park

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
xx
2015 Astronomy Day At Campbell Park
Sunspot count 79 (NOAA) C-Class Flare Observed Live in H-Alpha @ 11:30AM

We were so very lucky to see the Sun between the clouds at the get go as were 3 public bystanders. One long stringy (35 Earth Diameters!) C-Class H-Alpha flare was seen stringing out from the solar disc from AR-2324. We Stayed until 3PM sharing views with about 60 people walking or biking the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Happy Astronomy Day, stellar cheers and enjoy the below pics.

CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

AR-2324

C-Class Flare Observed. This Gif was taken a day earlier so flare is just inside the solar disc.

SJ00A-Day2015

Sunspots for Today. This Image was taken a day earlier. Today’s Sunspot count was 79 NOAA

Entire Solar Disc in H-Alpha, note Prominences and Filaments. Credit Wolf W.

Image taken today in H-Alpha courtesy of SpaceWeather.com

SJ02A-Day2015

Susan O’Neil Teaching On Our Sun’s Atmospheres

 

SJ04A-Day2015

Wolf and his Scope (Far left), Bill O’Neil, Michael Packer and his scopes (Far right)

 

 

SJ03A-Day2015

Bill O at SJAA’s 100mm H-Alpha Scope

Posted in Articles


SJAA 2015 Earth Day

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
xx
Cupertino’s Earth Day Was A Stellar Success Despite Some Cloud Layer
At the end of the day SJAA’s 5 scopes shared the power of the sun with 100’s of Earth Day patrons. We handed out a couple dozen info sheets and signed lots of Eco-Passports (Fill-in cards that get kids and adults to visit an learn). Enjoy the pics below.

04EarthDay15

SJAA at 2015 Earth Day City of Cupertino.

01EarthDay15

Simply said our Sun drives life on Earth.

02EarthDay15

Bill at Club’s scope. We had several prominences all in the 2-3 earth diameters range.

03EarthDay15

Terry at her H-Alpha. Lot of girls stopped by today.

05EarthDay15

Bill’s 10-inch Dob saw more sunspots than estimated by NOAA. Terrific faculae today.

06EarthDay15

Walking around Earth Day and the art of connection.

07EarthDay15

Santa Clara Audubon’s Booth

08EarthDay15

Malika sharing info on Sunspots

09EarthDay15

Thanks to are volunteers who brought a smile and awe to all!

Thanks for looking and save the date for Astronomy Day at Campbell park Saturday April 25. See the details at our Meetup.com site. Bring yourself or a solar scope and enjoy a day in a park. 
Posted in Articles


April 2015 Lunar Eclipse Shots

Member April 2015 Eclipse Shots

Members, send us one or two of you lunar eclipse photos (max size 720×1280) to
m.dot packer at yahoo dot com and we’ll post here. People shots welcome!

“look for oranges, reds, greys and turquoise

The source of the turquoise is ozone. During a lunar eclipse, most of the light illuminating the Moon passes through the stratosphere, and is reddened (can look orange) by scattering. However, light passing through the upper stratosphere penetrates the ozone layer, which absorbs red light and actually makes the passing light ray bluer” This can be seen as a turquoise fringe around the red.

 

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE

IMG_4163_crop_sjaa

Marilyn Perry, Canon T3i, f/5, 0.6 sec, ISO800, 200mm

Christopher-Calubaquib Nikon D7000, 300mm

Christopher Calubaquib San Jose Nikon D7000, 300mm

Posted in Articles


SJAA 35th Spring Auction Results!

35th Annual Spring Auction

    It was “good to see friends from other clubs like Tri-Valley, Mid Peninsula, etc.” – SJAA’s Bill O’Neil 

2015-Auction-Crowd

2015 Auction. Credit for all photos goes to Ed Wong unless otherwise stated. Thanks Ed. 

CLICK ANY IMAGE IN BLOG TO ENLARGE

A Little History

Clip

Computer Auction Organizer JVN over a decade ago. Credit Dan Wright.

 

Kevin Medlock started off the auction with a little history. The San Jose Astronomical Association’s First Auction was held 35 years ago at a Red Cross building in Los Gatos. The Red Cross is no longer there but the building still is. And there was a large crowd anticipating this first auction. But back then there was no computer or pizza to make the day go easier.  In later years when SJAA did finally have an IBM computer to keep track of buys and sells for 100’s of items it was still a slow process. Jim Van Nuland recalls one seller who brought in over a 100 items(!) and then accidentally put one on the auction block at a low price. He had to buy it back by out-bidding everyone else.

Upfront Thanks

35 years later, SJAA has better computers but generations of new volunteer Board members and “better” software still can make the day a lot of work for our organizers. A special thanks to the SJAA Board, our Auctioneer Kevin Medlock and snack organizer Marianne Damon. You guys made it real, fun, made it real fun!

2015-Auction-AuctMech

Seated left to right: Dave Ittner, Rob Jaworski and Teruo Utsumi

2015-Auction-Auctioneer

Kevin Medlock

2015-Auction-Food

Snacks provided by Marianne Damon

  Results

This year we had 156 items for auction. SJAA sold $3,749 worth of stuff and Sellers sold $4,887. Congratulations to both Buyers and Sellers. Below are a few pics of the day.

 

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Credit M. Packer

Below Left: Lee talking to private bidder from Russia.

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 Thanks to all of you for joining  – see you in the field and at next auction!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Articles


First Sunday March 1 Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
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Solar Sunday: In Honor of Leonard Nimoy
Sunspot count 54 (SDIC) C-Class Flare Observed Live in H-Alpha

We talked about Leonard Nimoy at today’s Solar Sunday. There is no doubt that Star Trek is part of the amateur astronomy mind set. The common element of wanting to seek out and explore our universe, and of course imaging life out there is intriguing. And we amateurs get to explore and imagine with our telescopes. Just as appealing – is imagining Gene Roddenberry’s future – where there is no discrimination between a community of planets. Spock’s character brought that universe to life and Leonard Nemoy’s sensibility to the character endeared the minds of a staggering and still growing fan base that started 50 years ago. Many thanks Leonard for ensuring these ideals live long and prosper.

CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

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Leonard Nimoy 1931 – 2015

3-1-15Solar-Srivastava Sanjaya

Sanjay’s daughter, below, iphoned this pic.

Sunday Solar had about 15 visitors today with many of them observing and talking about the sun for an hour or more. We counted 53 sunspots, 11 filaments (prominences), and limb prominences at moderately high power.  Below are some of the dedicated patrons!

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Terry K’s grab and go H-Alpha with new Eyepiece:3-1-15Solar 04

Below is Malika C. with her 66mm refractor and eyepiece projection system. An image of the sun is projected onto high quality rear projection HDTV screen material.
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Malika

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Carl R pointing out Sunspots


 
For those of use who observed after 3PM in H-Alpha, we got to see plage (chomospheric brightening) around AR-2290 rise and brighten into a conical flare. The event lasted about 20 minutes. AR-2290 was located perfectly near the solar limb. We had begun to noticed that the plage seamed elevated 1-2 Earth diameters above the photosphere. We then noticed it formed a conical shape, brightening, and extending vertically to a height of 5 Earth diameters. AR-2290 has created about a half dozen C-Class flares over the last couple of days (link). This flare below was recorded just hours before our observations:
2290D  Below Wolf W. showing H-Alpha views with his 100mm Lunt.
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Below (Left) Bob W. at his 80mm Standard Filtered scope. Thanks to Bob – we were able to see the Sunspot AR 2290 at the edge of the solar rim with aid of his green and variable polarizing filters.
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And above is an image of the sun Bob W. took. Another truly stellar day. Live Long and Prosper and Mag. -26.74 skies!

 

Posted in Articles, Blog, Solar


Heads Up for GSSP

2015 Golden State Star Party (GSSP)

Wednesday, July 15
To Sunday, July 19 (4 nights)

GSSP

GSSP is an imagers haven

The biggest and darkest skies you’re likely to encounter are there, about 6 hours drive from the south bay. Lots of great amenities, friendly people, wonderful gracious and open locals in an interesting and little-visited part of the state.

Last year’s obsidian hunting outing, led by Bob Czerwinski, was a fun highlight for me. I’d like to do it again. Lava Beds and Mount Lassen nearby are great day trips, as are the many hot springs in the area.

I really encourage checking it out and making the effort to attend. It is MUCH easier to be there than the uninitiated think.

Early (and less expensive) registration is on through March. Check it out: http://www.goldenstatestarparty.org
Dark skies beckon!

Regards,
The Astronomy Connection (TAC) Team and SJAA

GSSP-Group2009b

Posted in Articles


SJAA Annual Meeting + Potluck = Stellar

SJAA Annual Meeting and Potluck

CLICK ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE

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Elections were held, food served, and a few members were recognized for making SJAA shine. Greg Claytor did an outstanding job of noting all that our clubs does – and his son took the above picture of SJAA members in attendance. The Elected Board members for open seats in 2015 were Teruo Utsumi, Ed Wong, Lee Hoglan and Michael Packer. The Board has one seat open. If you wish to nominate yourself or another member please contact any board member.

Below are the folks who were awarded for their SJAA efforts. Each recipient also got a bonafied astronomy cup that shows the constellations when it’s heated up with coffee, tea, coco, broth… you get the idea.

07-SJAA-2015AnnualTeri Rogoway given the SJAA Recognition Award by Greg Claytor for helping SJAA secure dark sky observing sites, late at night, and outside city lights. Much thanks Teri.

05-SJAA-2015AnnualGary Chock has showed up and shared the night sky at just about every dark sky event SJAA hosted last year – Wow – Thanks Gary!

06-SJAA-2015AnnualSukhada Palav has taken it upon herself to stock an Astronomy Library with books and magazines that both kids and adults can enjoy/utilize. Last year the Library really came to life! Thanks Sukhada.

04-SJAA-2015AnnualGreg Claytor and Teruo Utsumi receive awards on behalf of Marianne Damon and Tom Piller (not pictured). In addition to her outreach, Marianne was the reason every SJAA meeting had coffee and snacks last year. SJAA recognized Tom Piller for his outreach last year his editorship of the SJAA Ephemeris News Letter. Thanks to you both! Below is a pic of three recipients in attendance – you might call these mug shots – seeing as they are holding their cups!

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We also retroactively handed out constellation mugs to SJAA’s last year award recipients:

03-SJAA-2015AnnualLeft to Right: Jim Van Newland, Teri Kahl, Paul Mancuso, Bill O’Neil, Carl Reisinger

Below are a few more pics of the evening. Thanks to all of you for making SJAA a fun place to reach for the stars. And great food btw!08-SJAA-2015Annual09-SJAA-2015Annual10-SJAA-2015Annual

Posted in Articles, Blog, General Meeting


SJAA 3rd Year Solar Party

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
xx
SJAA’s 3rd Year Solar Anniversary A Big Hit

Today with a Sunspot Count of 193 (NOAA) and one huge massive H-Alpha flare, SJAA shared some stellar views with the public along the Los Gatos Creek Trail at Campbell Park.  

CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

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 Above Left Today’s Sunspots and Active Regions And Above Right Malika Carter Setting Up Her Eyepiece Projection System

003-3dyear-solarJustin Gallegos stopped by and snapped this iphone 4s image of today’s massive H-Alpha Flare. Thanks for sending our way! And below are more pics of today’s event. All in all, we had about 60 folks stop by.

004-3dyear-solarAbove Bill at Clubs H-Alpha

009-3dyear-solarKevin Lahey explaining the twisting of solar magnetic field at is 12″ Dob. A lot of bikers put the breaks on to take a view.

008-3dyear-solarMark McCarthy’s scope was a big hit

005-3dyear-solarVeteran SJAA member and solar observer Terry Kahl at her grab and go Coronado H-Alpha. This scope revolutionized Solar Observing from an obscure hobby to popular astronomy

006-3dyear-solarWolf Witt explaining Solar Fusion. He brought out a 100mm Lunt H-Alpha.

007-3dyear-solarBill O’Neil with a Mother And Daughter who stopped by.

010-3dyear-solarSolar Chair 3 Years Running Michael Packer

It is hard to believe SJAA and I have done Solar Astronomy for 3 Years. Every type of H-Alpha Flair observed – even ones yet classified, along with the biggest sunspot in 24 years, a transit of Venus no soul will see again in their lifetime and a rare California Anular Eclipse. We have a Transit Of Mercury to Look forward to along with a Partial Eclipse which is a Total Eclipse of the Sun from Oregon to South Carolina.

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Packer

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Articles


Send us your pics! Comet LOVEJOY

Send Pics of Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) To
mDOTpackerATyahooDOTcom – We’ll Post Below

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Isaak Cruz, Canon T5i 16/30s images on Astrotrac Mount, 200mm f/2.8

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ricky Pan, Cupertino, Olympus OM-D E-M5 60s ISO 800 221mm f/6.3

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Marilyn Perry, Sunnyvale, Tue 01/0615 9:20PM, Canon T3i, 8s ISO 800 200mm f/3.2.

 

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Michael Packer, Los Gatos, Wed 01/07/15, Nikon D300s 4s ISO 2500 480mm f/6.3

With a pair a binoculars look for Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). Folks with good skies can just make it out naked eye.  In binoculars some folks have said it looks like greenish cotton ball. See below for its path in the sky:

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

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Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog