Blog Archives

Announcing: SJAA Auction XXXIV

Announcing the thirty fourth annual SJAA Auction!  This year, it will be held on Sunday, 16 March 2014.  The bidding starts at noon; specific times are below.

If you are interested in picking up some used astronomy gear, this is the event for you. Likewise, if you have astronomy gear that you no longer use or want, this is a good way to find it a new home.

Volunteers have developed an online pre-registration form that sellers can use to expedite their registration on the day of the event. Get to it by clicking here: the Auction page.

Timeline:
10:00AM – Registration starts for sellers
11:00AM – People not selling but interested in bidding can arrive to register, get a bidder number
11:30AM – Registration ends
11:30 to noon  – Official viewing time
12:00PM – Bidding begins
4:00PM – approximate time that bidding ends and accounting starts

Note there will be at least one break in the bidding.

As in the past, this is a full on auction.  So the following rules and guidelines will apply.
– Buyers and sellers must stay to end of auction, no cashing out until then.
– This is a cash or check -only event; no credit/debit cards.
– Auction management reserves the right to limit the number of items anyone can put up for selling
– For sellers, you can have a reserve price, but consider an opening bid amount, otherwise, opening bid will most likely be $1.
– There will be a separate form for a detailed item description to be used by the auctioneer.

Updated information will be made available on the auction page at the sjaa.net website.

Regards,
Auction Committee Volunteers
San Jose Astronomical Association

Posted in Anouncements, Articles


Cosmos: Spacetime Odyssey premieres Sunday March 9th !!

Called the successor to Sagan’s Cosmos – Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Comos: Spacetime Odyssey premieres Sunday March 9th.

http://www.cosmosontv.com/

Also – all 13 of the original episodes, which for ten years remained the most widely watched series in PBS history, will be rebroadcast this weekend. The National Geographic Channel will run a marathon from 12pm to 6pm on Saturday, March 8, and from 12pm to 7pm Sunday. That will leave devotees enough time to tuck in dinner before the new show airs at 9pm.

Posted in Anouncements, Blog


Woman Astronomer Leavitt bio’d in Local Play

For your edification and pleasure:

Astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt is portrayed in Mountain View play “Silent Sky” which runs through Feb 7th:

http://www.theatreworks.org/shows/1314-season/silentsky

Astronomy theme and local-arts play – what could be better?

Posted in Anouncements


COMET ISON – VIEW IT NOW!

Here is where to look for comet ISON for Friday Morning November 22. On Wednesday, Thursday ISON will be a bit higher in sky and Saturday a bit lower than shown. So look for it any of these days. The comet is best viewed with a small scope although you should see it with a pair a binoculars as faint blue smudge. Here is a link for a live sky of ISON:

http://lnk.nu/theskylive.com/2uer

01D-Kiwanis

Posted in Anouncements, Blog


The RASC Observer Handbooks Are Here!

The RASC Observer Handbooks Are Here and For Sale at all Houge Park Events
The 2014 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Observers Handbook is the best annual astronomy resource in print.
Even In today’s tech world, amateur astronomers make the most out of any night in the field with just this book, a basic astronomy app and the optics of their choice.

Click Image to Enlarge
OBSHandBook

352 Pages. SJAA Price with no shipping is $25 flat – compare with net! In this paperback book you get

  • The Sky Month by Month;
  • Deep Sky Gems and Deep Sky Object Challenge (45 objects this year)
  • Location of dwarf, minor and major planets;
  • Lunar Occultations;
  • Planetary Occultations;
  • Variable Star Data (observe/learn the way stars vary in brightness);
  • Positions, Transits and Shadow transits of the bright moons of Jupiter and Saturn;
  • The 2014 Opposition of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn…;
  • Comets of 2014: location, brightness, background information;
  • Superb writeup (so says our Michael Packer) on observing the Sun with labeled diagram of sunspot features;
  • Superb articles for 2014 by noted Authors such as David Levy (Amateur Astronomer and Author), Fred Espenak (NASA), Syuichi Nakano (Sumoto Japan, 2014 comets) and “our” Derek Briet (Morgan Hill CA on Planetary Occultations).

SJAA ordered 40 of these books for our 300+ membership. We expect to be sold out by January. Now Available at All Houge Park Events

Posted in Anouncements, Blog


Celebrate Cambrian with SJAA

Celebrate-Cambrian-2013

Heads up to all volunteers, sun worshipers and outreach/communication specialists!  The San Jose Astronomical Association will again, for the fourth year in a row, bring astronomy and science directly to the people.

On Sunday, 25 August 2013, I and a few volunteers will be at the Camden Community Center in San Jose, not far from SJAA basecamp, Houge Park from 11AM to 4PM.  We will have the SJAA’s 100mm h-alpha scope set up, as well as a few others, including an SCT with a white light filter, and we’ll use those to provide views of the sun to passers by while chatting them up about the SJAA and all things astronomy.

If you would like to participate, please contact Rob Jaworski at rob.jaworski at sjaa.net. There are no requirements, no prerequisites, no restrictions.  Just let us know so we can expecct you!

Posted in Anouncements, Blog
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Polar Solar Weekend!

Public Solar Viewing Saturday & Sunday April 6th & 7th:

Sat 11 – 3PM: Cupertino’s Earth Day @ Cupertino Civic Center
CLICK HERE FOR EARTH DAY FLYER
Sun  2 – 4PM : SJAA’s H+Alpha Day @ Houge Park

POLAR FILAMENT ERUPTION: Not every eruption requires a sunspot. On April 1st (no fooling) a magnetic filament snaking some 800,000 km around the sun’s north pole rose up and erupted, hurling part of itself into space. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the event; 7 O’Clock on the solar dial:

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Solar
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SJAA Classifieds Page

Author: Dave Ittner

SJAA is proud to announce a new benefit for it’s members.   We are now providing a listing service to assist you in selling your astro gear.

All you have to do is provide me with a picture (or pictures) of the item, a description (a lot of detail is best), a price you are asking, the terms of the sale (cash only, etc), and how you wish to be contacted.

We will then post this information up on our Member For Sale Listing page (link on the right side of this page).   Please notify me should you want to make changes or remove the item.

And don’t forget to check out the items the club is selling via the links on the right.

Clear skies,
Dave Ittner
sjaamentor@gmail.com

Posted in Anouncements, Blog


Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures

The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures at FOOTHILL COLLEGE are back after a year of remodeling! Sponsored by NASA, The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, SETI and the Foothill Astro. Dept., the public gets to hear from Nobel Laureates and the top researchers of our 11 dimensional universe we now call home. To get on the mailing list for up-coming lectures follow this link:

http://www.foothill.edu/staff/mailingcenter.php#astronomy

www.sjaa.net

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Education & Reference Info


Look Back at 2012

Author: Rob Jaworski

We’re at the start of another cycle around the sun, and this is a good point in time (and space) to look back over the past cycle to see what’s been going on with the San Jose Astronomical Association.

The Quick STARt program (the former Mentoring Program) helps to ease folks into amateur astronomy. You have to admit, astronomy can look exciting from the outside, but once you scratch the surface, it can get seemingly complex in a hurry. But it doesn’t have to be that way if there’s someone to guide you and answer all your seemingly basic questions.  The Quick STARt program really took off in 2012 with the leadership and energy of Dave Ittner.  He has already helped dozens and dozens of people get their feet wet in getting out under dark skies to discover what’s out there, firsthand.  Over the year, Dave has also refined the program , adding not only easy to use Dobsonian telescopes but all the accessories any good observer needs, such as observing chairs, appropriate eyepieces, sky atlases, accessory cases, etc.  The Quick STARt program is available to SJAA members, and you can find more information, including how to contact Dave to sign up, here.

Another program that was conceived just before 2012 but has really taken off is the Solar Observing program. Early in 2012 the club took receipt of a Lunt h-alpha 100mm solar telescope.  Since then, it’s been the star (!) of the party at every daytime event.  The core of the Solar Observing program is the monthly observing sessions at San Jose’s Houge Park.  On the first Sunday of every month, from 2 to 4PM PT, SJAA members set up the club’s Lunt for the public to come view our nearest star. Additionally, members bring their own solar telescopes, such as Coronado PSTs to projection systems, with which to compare views. Of course, sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate and the session is canceled, but in those oftentimes when we do set up, the sun provides an amazing show. In fact, the sun is approaching the solar maximum, which means lots to see on and near the sun.  Michael Packer runs the Solar Observing program and has proven a dedicated sun watcher!  (Remember: NEVER observe the sun without proper eye protection! You can go blind!)

A program that is entirely new for 2012 was the Fix It session, sometimes called the Tune Up or the Telescope Fix It program.  This is a real simple service the SJAA offers to members of the community, though it’s priceless.  The Fix It session provides a place for people to come with their telescope or other astronomy gear problems.  Every first Sunday of the month, from 2 to 4PM (coinciding with the Solar Observing sessions), several SJAA members make themselves available at Houge Park for people to come with their scopes to get help with their gear. It can be any type of issue, such as broken scopes whose owners need advice, help with collimation, or even a quick session on how to use it. Weather doesn’t slow this program down, so even if it’s windy, cold and rainy outside, Fix It day goes on.  Big thanks to go Ed Wong and Phil Chambers for being the gear experts who faithfully make themselves available at Fix It day!

Another new program that debuted in 2012 is the Astro Imaging Special Interest Group (SIG).  This was spearheaded by Harsh Kaushikkar and has a mission of bringing together people who have an interest in astronomy imaging, or put more simply, taking pictures of the night sky.  The Imaging SIG meets roughly every other month at Houge Park to discuss topics about imaging, as well as in the field, usually at Rancho Cañada del Oro (more on that site later). The SIG is open to people with absolutely no experience but want to learn what it’s all about, but experienced imagers are also more than welcome, indeed, encouraged to participate.  The best way to get involved is to review the postings on the SJAA AstroImaging mail list in Google Groups. Here’s the link.

The SJAA has been working with the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (sometimes called simply the OSA) to make one of their sites available to astronomers.  The OSA’s Rancho Cañada del Oro (sometimes called RCDO, or Rancho) site is made available more and more with the dedicated work of SJAA members Chris Kelly and Dave Ittner. Both are also docents with the OSA, which really makes the partnership between the two organizations that much more cohesive.  If you are interested in experiencing a fairly dark site that’s not too far from home, consider coming out to Rancho when it’s announced it will be open. Located just south of Calero County Park, between San Jose and Morgan Hill, Rancho gets surprisingly dark for being so close to an urban area.  Keep an eye out on the SJAA Announce mail list for notifications of when it will be available.

There were many more accomplishments during the year for the SJAA, and this post could go on and on about them. But before we get too long winded, let me make a few, more brief acknowledgments.

  • Teruo Itsumi developed and hosted the first Messier Half Marathon at Henry Coe State Park in October
  • SJAA members gathered to view the Venus Transit, the annular eclipse, and the last shuttle flyby.
  • The SJAA again participated in two community events, the Cambrian Festival and the Almaden Art and Wine Festival.
  • The City of San Jose provided a grant of $500 to the SJAA to help offset the cost of insurance for the school star party program.
  • Jim Van Nuland continues to be the heart and soul of the school star party program.
  • The telescope loaner program was revamped, with its inventory cleaned up. And the auction was a success, in which the club divested itself of many older scopes from the loaner program bringing in some much needed funds to help with the revamp of the loaner program.
  • The general meetings now have a social time beforehand, allowing members to mingle.
  • The SJAA produced a video of one of the monthly talks, which was broadcast on cable TV.
  • The website was overhauled, and looking great.
  • The club newsletter continues to be consistently produced every month, in large part due to Paul Kohlmiller’s effort, and the montly column my Akkana Peck.
  • And membership has increased by 10%!

There is more, indeed, but these many items are the highlights. The board and the active volunteers have plans to make 2013 just as active, lively and fun. I hope that if you haven’t been getting involved, you will consider doing it soon!  Come to Houge Park, or contact any of the board members to participate!

Happy New Orbit!
Rob Jaworski

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


Items for sale

Author: Dave Ittner

SJAA has accumulated a lot of scopes and accessories over the years.   We now have too many items and too little room so it’s time to offer them up for sale.

I found it best to break them out into one of three categories – Telescopes, Eyepieces, or Misc Items and put them on their own separate page here on this blog. The links to these pages can be found to the right of this post.

These items are offered up as is and on a first come first serve basis.  Should an item not yet be priced it will be shown as $TBD.   Feel free to offer a price for us to review and then either accept or counter.

I would be glad to answer any questions you have and or show you the item of interest by setting up a time to meet at Houge Park.

Please check back periodically as we have many more items to list (will be added to the bottom of each post).

Regards,
Dave Ittner

Posted in Anouncements, Blog


Lecture On The Sun

Dan Lubin
SETI Institute

Throughout the past century, while greenhouse gas (GHG) abundances have been steadily increasing and influencing Earth’s climate, the Sun has remained relatively bright and quiescent. Solar cycles have been steadily active, with instantaneous sunspot numbers at solar maximum exceeding 100 in every cycle since 1893 (Cycle 13). The climate warming we have experienced since the beginning of the modern industrial era cannot be attributed to the Sun. However, the recent minimum between Cycles 23 and 24, and NASA predictions of a substantially lower sunspot number at the 2013 solar maximum, suggest that the Sun’s recent bright and quiescent period may be ending. Both autocorrelation studies of recent solar cycles, and studies of solar analogs in nearby field stars, suggest a >40% chance of the Sun entering a new Maunder Minimum sometime in the Twenty First Century. During the historical Maunder Minimum (1645-1715), meteorological data from Europe and proxy records from global oceans indicate a substantially cooler climate, attributable to decreased solar irradiance. In our lifetime, we may therefore see a period of solar dimming in conjunction with increasing GHG abundances. A new Maunder Minimum would not entirely offset the projected GHG-induced warming (the GHG radiative forcing is at least three times larger than best estimates of the solar irradiance decrease). Instead, the complex interactions between radiative balance and atmospheric dynamics yield unusual regional patterns of pronounced warming versus cooling. This seminar will address the physical basis of climate change in the context of both GHG and solar variability, and will also extend the discussion to the influence of stellar variability upon habitable zones.

Posted in Anouncements, Blog


October Sun 1x Visible Sunspots

OCTOBER 1st
Visible Sunspots over next couple of days!

Observe The Sun SafelyNever 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

Sunspot or active region AR 1582 is a 1x spot. And so is AR 1579 which is just barely visible. Is it to the right or left? 🙂

Over next couple of days one will still need good eyes and a good solar filter to see these (and welding glass wont cut it). Solar glasses are good, Solar Cards better.

Malika Carter: Sunspot image with her eyepiece projection system. Click photo to enlarge.
AR1579+1582

For those of you who have H-alpha scopes: Good prominences at limb particularly at ~5 O’clock refactor view – prominence drapes over the photosphere creating a sinuous filament.

Clear Magnitude -26.73 skies Michael Packer

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Solar


Quick STARt get’s an upgrade

SJAA is proud to announce an upgrade to their innovative Quick STARt (QS) program.   The QS program is for new members with little to no experience in the hobby.  It is designed to provide some basic instruction about the night sky and how to use one of the loaner scopes.

For more information about the program and to check to see if you are on the invite list, please go to: http://stage.sjaa.net/advanced-loaner-telescope-program/ and then click on the Quick STARt (QS) tab.

Below is a nice picture of the items now provided in this program.  (click on picture to enlarge it)

Scope and Chair

Scope and chair

The recently approved upgrade consists of the following new equipment:

  • An Observers Chair.  An adjustable height chair that folds down flat for easy transport.
  • A new large accessory case with pluck foam. (replaces smaller case)
  • A new 32mm Orion Plossl eyepiece.
  • A new 8mm AstroTech Paradigm eyepiece.  (replaces Orion 10mm eyepiece)
  • A new Moon filter.
  • A new 9 LED red flashlight.  (replaces Orion mini led flashlight)
  • A Bright Star Atlas.

Existing items still in the package are:

  • an Orion XT6 or XT8 scope
  • a 25mm Orion Plossl eyepiece.
  • a 2X Barlow lens.
  • a Discover the Stars book (introduction to the hobby)
  • a Planisphere
  • a Moon Map

Here is a closer look at the accessory case:  (click on picture to enlarge it)

Accessories and start guide

Accessories and star guide

The Quick STARt sessions are made available to all newly approved SJAA members.  These sessions are by invite only.   To request an invite please email SJAAmentor@gmail.com

Clear skies,
Dave Ittne

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Programs


1x sunspot group for Fri June 15th

Observe The Sun SafelyNever 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

There’s been a nice 1X power sunspot group visible the last coupe days. It doesn’t look quite round and that’s because there are indeed two large spots in proximity. Below this (scope view) there is a chance to see a new sunspot group still forming. Yesterday the 5 sunspot specs were darkening  – today they’re more obvious. All this should prove good viewing tomorrow. BTW Excellent h-flares south of that. One, a broken toroide or slinky, arcing several degrees along the sun’s limb.

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Solar


New Solar Observing Program

As mentioned in the blog post looking back at 2011, the Board of the San Jose Astronomical Association, after long and thoughtful discussion, decided to move forward with the idea of initiating the SJAA Solar Observing Program.

The cornerstone of this program is the club’s acquisition of a telescope that is suitable for viewing the sun in a rich and meaningful way, as well as a mount that is up to the task of handling public events.  We recently took delivery of a Lunt Visual Package and conducted the first solar observing session yesterday, 5 Feb 2012 on the grounds of San Jose’s Houge Park.

Our newest board member, Michael Packer, is running the solar program.  His plan is to have a solar day at Houge Park on the first Sunday of every month.  The exact dates of the solar program will be made available once they are assembled, so please keep an eye out for the schedule on the SJAA’s website.

Here is Michael’s report from the first solar day:

The 1st Solar Program was a success especially for those who stayed through Superbowl kick-off time, when the clouds opened up.  About 20 people strolled by and many stayed the distance. In addition to SJAA’s new H-alpha solar scope, we had solar-filter-equipped scopes and binoculars set up to safely view the sun along with a beautiful eyepiece projection system.

Before 3:30pm we were able to observe, through the cloud layer, 3 Sunspot groups (1 complex) plus several faculae. 3:30 onwards we could bump the magnification up to 100x and see prominences all around the sun with the largest on the opposite side to the sunspot region. The 100mm aperture views of these emissions in H-alpha was just spectacular.

SJAA Solar Programs will now be held on the 1st Sunday of every month 2:00-4:00 PM. The next program is March 4th. As with this 1st program, we will hand out material on how to observe, sketch and record sunspot activity. You can also visit The Astronomical League webpage at www.astroleague.org/al/obsclubs/sunspot/sunsptcl.html

Virtually all commercial scopes can be equipped with a solar filter to safely view the Sun as it approaches Solar Maximum over the next several years. Drop by our program to see for yourself. You don’t need a H-alpha scope to follow this progression. However H-alpha observing allows one too see the solar flares and plasma eruptions that in size, dwarf the Earth. And SJAA now has a H-alpha scope for all of us to see these events!

Congratulations to the membership of the SJAA, as well as the public in general, for the addition of this valuable new program!

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Programs


SJAA’s Mentoring Program

I mentioned it in a previous post, but now I’d like to formally announce the San Jose Astronomical Association’s new Mentoring Program – An Introduction to Observational Astronomy.   This program, available to SJAA members, has a prime objective of pairing up people new to the hobby with others who have experience to share and can make themselves available to help get the new folks up to speed in a safe and personal environment.

This program covers the following areas:

  • how the night sky works,
  • the types of objects you can see,
  • the types of scopes available to use,
  • how how to find objects,
  • and many additional topics.

Taking place monthly, the mentoring program provides a crash course designed to get you up to speed in two nights.  The first night, held at San Jose’s Houge Park on a Friday night, is a hands on personal tour of the gear and the tools so that you know what you’re doing. The second night, held at a local, semi dark site, will be spent under the stars, getting some hands on experience practicing chart reading and star hopping skills.  You’ll be there with someone to guide you and let you ask those seemingly stupid questions (disclaimer: there’s no such thing).  After the two nights, you should be self sufficient to take it from there, though of course, as an alum, you will always have someone to turn to with questions.

Like I mentioned, this program is available to SJAA members (basic annual membership is only $20), and the SJAA also has a fantastic telescope loaning program in the event you don’t have your own scope yet because you don’t where to start.  It’s the perfect combination and a heck of a deal!

Dave Ittner is the brains and the brawn behind this program. He’s also the main mentor who’s sharing his skills.  Members are encouraged to participate, as either a mentee (someone who could use the personal guidance) or a mentor (if you would like to reap the rewards of giving newbies an initial, confidence building boost). For additional information or to join the program please contact Dave Ittner at sjaamentor <at> gmail.com.

Speaking for the SJAA, I am proud to share this new and valuable program to help achieve the organization’s mission of educating the public in science and astronomy.

Rob Jaworski
Secretary
San Jose Astronomical Association

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Programs


SJAA Blog

Author: Rob Jaworski

This is our welcome blog post, from the San Jose Astronomical Association.  We have our various email lists and website, but I thought we were still missing some vital components to a true Web 2.0 presence for the club.

Here, you can subscribe to this blog where I plan to post write ups about some of our events, such as our public star parties, beginner astronomy classes and speaker events.  You can keep track of upcoming events, too.

Please feel free to post comments and suggestions.  We are really interested in hearing what our membership thinks where the club should be going, what it should be focusing on, and this could be a very good way to start and continue the conversation!

Look forward to posting more here soon.  In the meantime, clear skies, and I’ll see you in the dark!

Rob Jaworski
San Jose Astronomical Association

Posted in Anouncements, Blog