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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

2015-Comet-Lovejoy

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


SETI TALK: Philae landing & 1st Results

SETI Colloquium

The Rosetta Lander (PHILAE) mission: landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Tuesday, December 16 2014 – 7:00 pm, PST

Jens Biele
DLR German Aerospace Center

The Rosetta Lander, Philae, landed on 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014. Before this could happen, a landing site had to be selected within just 2 months, based on data from the Rosetta Orbiter instruments and analyses on flight dynamics and illumination profiles. Philae was programmed to perform a First Scientific Sequence, immediately following touch down, and then enter its long term science mode.

The paper will report on the actual landing and the very first results. The landing was successful, though the operational sequences had to be modified ad hoc:  Philae did not anchor upon first touchdown at 15:34:06 UTC but rebounded at least once, finally settling – fully operating all the while – at a place not ideal for long-term science. A wealth of science data has been received. 

Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI.

Posted in Articles


Santa Cruz 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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The Return of Sunspot AR-2192 — Yet
A Santa Cruz Solar Day was 1/2 hour of bliss followed by Vader clouds

It would have been a glorious day had that sun just been around a bit longer but views turned to checking out scopes and talking to folks – with an ocean view in the background however. Here’s proof the sun was briefly out. Thanks Bill Seiler for this photo.
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Full solar disc with a B&W crop to see AR2209
Along with Sunspot AR2192, re-numbered to AR2209 for its second trip around the sun, were two massive prominences – 100,000 by 80,000 miles easy in size. About a dozen folks got views of this stellar solar face before the clouds rolled over. Along with Bill Seiler we had Michael Packer, Jeff Gose and John Pierce. But I have to say it was great to have both clubs viewing together and collectively being able to do outreach for any Californian who walked by from Ocean Shores to North and South Bay. The Bike/Walking path is a great place to set up scopes for passerby’s.
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Posted in Articles


Fall 2014 Swap Happiness

Remember Friday Night Observing This Nov 14 at Houge Park weather permitting. See Calendar
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2014 Swap made many a stargazer happy!

There is something beautiful about a swap meet that beckons back to the day of selling a sheep for wool coats. Shear Poetry Ha Ha Ha! Well OK – anyway folks sold equipment that they no longer need to folks who can’t believe they’re walking home with telescope, eyepiece, tripod, binocular. On the club side of things – SJAA provided pizza and drink – and we got donations. Stellar Cheers, Stellar Gear – Thanks go to all.
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

2014-SWAP-01 More Pics 2014-SWAP-02 2014-SWAP-03 2014-SWAP-04
And don’t forget – Houge Park Star Party  coming up Friday – Mag 7’s
Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


23rd October 2014 Partial Solar Eclipse

RASC_handbookThe Royal Astronomical Society of Canada publishes each year its Observer’s Handbook, which is a wonderful reference of astronomical data and phenomena of the year. Its target time period is mainly relevant for the year of publication, but much of its content is a wealth of information applicable to any time period of the epoch.  The 2014 RASC Handbook noted four eclipses of the year, a total lunar eclipse in mid-April followed by an annular solar eclipse two weeks later (which was visible only in the far southern and eastern hemispheres), then another total lunar eclipse in early October and finally a partial solar eclipse on 23 October. This last solar eclipse was well situated for us observers in the western edge of North America.

direct view
The San Jose Astronomical Association hosted an event at its base camp, San Jose’s Houge Park for this partial solar eclipse. The objective is to allow people to safely view the eclipse, share views with each other and the public, and to simply socialize.  The club’s solar workhorse of a telescope, a 100mm hydrogen alpha scope made by Lunt, was doing its thing. A host of other telescopes were set up by club members and other people, many of which had filters attached for safe viewing, or projection systems installed so that the image could be viewed by many people at once, not unlike viewing the event on a small smartphone screen. Some people even brought out colanders, ie, spaghetti strainers, the holes of which act as numerous pin hole cameras, projecting numerous crescent sun images onto the ground, a white piece of paper, or even a hand.
long focal length imageSpecial solar viewing glasses, which make it safe for people to look directly at the sun, were made available to all attendees.  Kids and adults alike were able to wrap these glasses across their eyes and have a safe, direct view at anytime.  And when we did, we were treated not just to a portion of the moon covering the sun, but there was also an additional treat: An unusually enormous sunspot was clearly visible to the naked eye.  Everyone who knew what they were looking at could easily spot the aberration on the face of the sun.  What made this special is that sunspots are typically much smaller, and not visible without some amount of magnification.  The eclipse today was accentuated by this sunspot, which did not at any time become obscured by the moon’s limb, and whose size is fairly rare.
During the roughly three and a half hours of the event, an estimated seventy five people attended. Some were seasoned amateur astronomers who were ready with their own equipment, while others were families that stumbled across the event and were invited over by friendly volunteers of the SJAA.  Kids and retirees alike viewed the eclipse (and sunspot) in amazement, while everyone enjoyed the mild autumn weather of northern California.
This will be the last solar eclipse that will be visible in California for the next few years. In August of 2017, however, a large swath of North America, in particular the United States, will host a total eclipse come through.  This will be a highly anticipated event, so now is the time to plan for seeing this total eclipse, which should be on everyone’s list of thousand-things-to-do-before-you-die!
Posted in Articles, Blog


iSUN & iMOON Member images

iSUN & iMOON Member Images

Two remarkable pics from iphones submitted by members:

This first one is crazy good for an iphone and 80mm – Dare iSay lunar crazy good:

Photo Credit: Gary Pappani

Gary Pappani-10-2014

This second image is the best iphone shot I’ve seen from the sun in H-alpha held at the eyepiece of a 100mm Lunt – and I’ve seen a lot of them (taken by me) 

Photo Credit: Wolf Witt on October 1st Sunday Solar

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Wolf_Witt-10-2014

Posted in Articles


Partial Solar Eclipse Party

Partial Solar Eclipse Party

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When: The Eclipse Time is Thursday, October 23, 1:30pm – 4:30pm

SJAA will set up Solar Filter Scopes ~12:30pm an hour earlier

Where: Houge Park, San Jose, CA 95124, United States (map)

The moon will cover up to 38% of the sun this afternoon.

SJAA will be there with telescopes to see it.

Join us, it’s free and open to all!

That means kids and you!

Posted in Articles


NASA Ames 1st open house in 17 years

NASA Ames Open House

Saturday October 18

Check our Martian Landscape area, wind tunnels, labs….

Perhaps a SJAA Group Trip? Post us a note below…

More Details here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_26468180/moffett-field-nasa-ames-host-first-open-house?source=rss

 

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog, Education & Reference Info


Grandview Campground – Trip Report – July 2014

The following is an observing and site report submitted by SJAA members Jose Marte and Gary Chock

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(From Gary)
Here’s a report on our visit to Grandview Campground on Tue & Wed July 22-23, 2014.

Grandview Campground is in Inyo National Forest on the way up to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. It is about 8 to 9 hours from the Bay Area depending on your driving pace. It is at 8560′ elevation. There are 26 campsites nicely spaced with trees between offering privacy and shielding from other camper’s lights and campfires. No water, pack your trash. At least 3 vault toilets. At this altitude, the only wildlife problems seem to be squirrels (no bears).
http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/recreation/recarea/?recid=20268

Weather-wise, we were lucky. A monsoonal weather pattern was in place over the Sierras for ~2 weeks and dissipated just before we left the Bay Area. It reformed Sat July 26 after we left.

While Bishop was baking in 105 degrees in the daytime, Grandview was in the 80’s in the daytime and in the 50’s overnight.

IMG_Grandview_Site4_000_NorthTo the left is a photo of the north horizon at campsite 4.

Seeing and transparency was excellent for the nights we observed. Great horizon-to-horizon views of the Milky Way. We easily viewed dark nebula. Barnard’s E near Altair. Also the cloudiness around the Sagittarius Star Cloud was well defined. M31 Andromeda Galaxy was wide and ethereal with M32 and M110 in view.

We met up with some astronomers from Southern California – visual and imagers. They visit regularly, traveling from Orange County and Tehachapi. While we experienced great weather, seeing, and transparency, they mentioned times it got down to 16 degrees. Other times windy.

I will keep in mind Grandview for a revisit, planning on keeping things flexible and check the weather a lot. Hopefully synchronizing excellent weather, seeing, and transparency. Here are convenient links for checking.
http://cleardarksky.com/c/GrandVCAkey.html?1
http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?textField1=37.3333&textField2=-118.1889#.U9qQ42Nhu6I
http://mammothweather.com/
http://bishopweather.com/

There are two observations I enjoyed that exemplified to me the excellent dark skies we had at Grandview Campground.

Viewing M7 Ptolemy’s Cluster with my 20×80 binoculars, the stars of this splendid open cluster were brilliant points in a dark field that seemed to be suspended in three dimensions. The binocular-mind integration effect seemed to connect the star-vertices with faint blue filaments. Stunning.

Viewing M13 The Great Hercules Cluster with my 10″ Dob, the stars of this spectacular globular cluster were fine pinpoints in a velvety dark field. My mind connected these points, arranging them in three dimensions as facets of a diamond. Wondrous.

(From Jose)
I joined Gary Chock for a visit to The Grandview Campground (GV) in the Inyo-White Mountains, nearby Big Pines in California. Gary’s comments regarding the seeing/transparency darkness accurately describes just how terrific conditions were for observing. I’ve only been involved in the hobby for just over a year, but the couple of nights we camped were easily the best sessions I have experienced.

I’m an observational astronomer using a 14″ Orion Dobsonain telescope. I don’t use computer guided tools just a Telrad, 9×50 finder, and usually paper finder charts. Basically, I was able to find everything that I intended to see. The only limiting factor was the fact that I needed to sleep and plus my inexperience at being in a premium dark site. It is hard deciding what to look for when everything seems possible to find. My enthusiasm probably caused me to waste some time and energy because I found myself swooping from one side of the sky to the other, feasting on eye-candy, rather than honing in on a particular location.

To describe the conditions I will elaborate on one object. Just about every astronomy book points out the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, as being “bright” and “spectacular”. To me this has been a source of frustration, and even a minor disappointment, since it is invisible from my driveway in San Jose. At our local, semi-dark sites (Mendoza Ranch or RCDO) M51 is readily available and appears to be a low-contrast, lop-sided figure-eight. It is brighter and larger but still a “faint fuzzy” without detail. At the Grandview, however, (~165x) I could see its spiraling arms and I didn’t really need to use averted vision! Very cool and yes, spectacular. In fact, and this could be from the delirium of lack of sleep, I thought I saw M51, naked-eye, as a fuzzy, dim star.

This trip was actually my second time to the White Mountains. Last August, during the Perseids, I spent a night at the Patriach Grove, one of the areas where the amazing Bristle Cone Pines grow. (FYI camping is not allowed at the Patriarch Grove.) It is just a few miles away from the Grandview Campground but at 11,000 feet. Again, observing conditions were fantastic, but I didn’t bring enough warm clothing and spent most of the night, uncomfortably cold in my car.

If you intend to go the Inyo-White Mountains be prepared for extreme cold and heat. But also be prepared for extreme natural beauty. Even if you encounter the misfortune of a cloudy night, you will still be in one of the most spectacular landscapes on earth. The view of the Eastern Sierra peaks, rising upwards of 10,000 feet from Owens Valley is absolutely magnificent. Aside from the great astronomy, there is fantastic hiking, birding, fishing, geology, and even archeology to experience in the Eastern Sierras. It is only about eight hours away from San Jose and plus you’ll have the pleasure of driving through the backcounty of Yosemite National Park and seeing Mono Lake. Furthermore, this area is vast. Finding a campsite or lodging is very easy compared to Yosemite.

Editor’s Note: Documenting your visits to dark sky sites or any other astronomy related place is a good way to help you remember your visit, as well as help you develop your observing skills.  Just as writing and rewriting your class notes in college in itself helped you study and master the material, writing and keeping notes of trips helps you become a better visual observer.  Please consider submitting any site notes or observing reports to the SJAA for posting on the blog or for publishing in the newsletter, The Ephemeris. You’ll be glad you did!

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports, Trip Reports


Perseids – Fear Not the Moon – start now

Fear Not the Moon, Perseids Always a Great Show so look for it this weak starting now.

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Read more at: http://www.universetoday.com/113776/fear-not-the-moon-perseids-always-a-great-show/

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


1st Sunday August 3rd 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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We are *finally* past solar max. So is the Sun dead quiet? Not Quite!
Is Summer over as soon as the days get shorter? Nope – the sunshine hums along. It’s even more the case with the solar cycle. Sol Min is 5.5 years away! The sunspot count on the 1st Sunday of August was 158 (NOAA). Plus we had one spectacular prominence which stood out from the others and changed its shape over the course of the party (below are a few pics). Please do note though – as the sun does quiet down – the chance of seeing an active day on the 1st Sunday of every month will wane. So we now have a back-up date of the 2d Sunday for solar viewing. We’ll keep you tuned in through announcements!
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE
2014-08-02Wh9 IMG_4973Ha9Above is how the sun looked over the weekend in standard and H-alpha filters. Thanks to Robert Duvall.
 
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Again, please make a mental note. As the sun does quiet down the chance of seeing an active day on the 1st Sunday of every month will be lower. So we now have a back-up date of the 2d Sunday. We’ll keep you posted for the stellar views!
Posted in Articles, Blog, Solar


SJAA Yosemite Trip Report

Yosemite Trip A Success

We were concerned about the fire and clouds but the reality was we showed Saturn, Iridium Flares, the host of significant objects inside and outside our galaxy to folks from Europe, Africa, Oceania, the Americas and Asia.

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE

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Credit M. Packer

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Credit M. Packer

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Credit J. Jones

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Credit: G. Chock

One highlight of the weekend was an Iridium Flare passing over during pre-star party talk. Morris Jones asked “what’s the difference between astrologers and astronomers?” Answer: “Astronomers predictions come true” Where-in Morris told audience to look up for the flare and score – the satellite passed overhead to the delight and applause of audience.

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Credit M. Packer

Thanks to our SJAA volunteers. Left to Right: Morris Jones, Philip Lieu, Don Lieu, Jane Houston Jones, Jim Van Nuland, Terry Kahl, Gary Mitchell, Kenichi Miura, Paul Mancuso, Michael Packer,  Jose Marte, Greg Bradburn, Gary Chock, Rus Belikov

Other highlights of the weekend: scope views of climbers on Halfdome, M55 in a large dob, Swan and Veil (nice view Terry and Gary). Saturn of course – it rings but also it’s moons. M6, M7 and lots of planetary nebulae  in Aquila (thanks Rus). Also several shooting stars both nights along with the Crème de la crème – Pleiades “un-occulted” or rising over Half Dome in the wee hours. Below are some pics of the weekend.

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Credit M. Packer


 

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Credit G. Chock

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Credit G. Chock

Morris snapped this shot of a grouse that stopped by:

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Credit M. Jones

Posted in Articles, Blog, Trip Reports


Happy Fourth All

I took this pic at shoreline park and it reminded me too much of the crab nebula so here it is:

 

4th-12

 

Posted in Articles


In Memory to Dr. Armstrong

Write up by Mark Wagner
In Memory
Dr. Robert F. Armstrong
July 22, 1938 – June 17, 2014
Los Gatos, California 

The SJAA and amateur astronomy have lost a dear friend with the passing of Dr. Robert Armstrong.  It was an unexpected and sad loss for all who knew him, and the many who benefited from his quiet generosity.

Robert was known to many simply as Dr. A.  He had a keen love for astronomy, regularly taking his 20″ telescope to Fremont Peak, was a fixture each year at the CalStar dark sky star party, and traveled the world to experience numerous  total solar eclipses.  He served on the SJAA Board of Directors for many years, handling the officer duties of Treasurer.  Always gentle, kind and positive, he embodied the club as an open and welcoming organization, supporting and promoting new ideas for making amateur astronomy more accessible to the public, and members of the SJAA.

Professionally, Dr. Armstrong was an infectious diseases specialist, practicing in Los Gatos.  Several members of the SJAA, and their families, owe their lives and those of their family members to Dr. A’s expertise and advice.  All who knew him saw his deep caring for people, in how he connected on a very personal and human level.

Dr. A. had a fine, quiet, and playful sense of humor, and a great understanding of human nature.  Never heard raising his voice in anger, he was one of those people, who are really few, who could always be counted on.  Robert set a great example for all.

With the SJAA, his dreams were for the club to have a first rate solar telescope, and to acquire land at a dark site so amateur astronomers could have a place of their own to enjoy their hobby.  He recently helped guide the club in acquiring a wonderful solar telescope which now is used monthly for public viewing.  It is an appropriate legacy he leaves the SJAA, as none shined so brightly as Dr. A, at the SJAA.

Dr. Armstrong will long be missed by the SJAA, his friends, and those whose lives he touched.

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


LOTS of new books in our library, exclusively for the kids!!!

Hello there, 

Thanks to a generous donation from one of our board members, Ed Wong…SJAA Library now has 14 awesome books for the little ones! BIG thanks, Ed!!! 

Here are the books that we recently added to our collection – 

  1. Find the Constellations
  2. Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations
  3. The Everything Kids’ Astronomy Book
  4. Glow-in-the-Dark Constellations
  5. The Kids Book of the Night Sky
  6. Exploring the Night Sky: The Equinox Astronomy Guide for Beginners
  7. There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System
  8. Once Upon a Starry Night: A Book of Constellations
  9. Telescope Power: Fantastic Activities & Easy Projects for Young Astronomers
  10. The Moon Book
  11. National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space
  12. National Geographic Readers: Planets
  13. Faraway Worlds
  14. Night Sky Atlas

All of these books are very kid-friendly, with lots of fun pictures and easy explanations. Stop by the book cabinet to check these out, next time you are Houge Park for one of our events! I hope our budding astronomers group will enjoy reading these books!!! 

For more information on SJAA Library, please check out – https://www.sjaa.net/sjaa-library/

If you have any questions or comments, I can be reached at librarian.sjaa@gmail.com. 

Sukhada

Posted in Articles


Reset the Net

Posted in Articles


Summer Exploratory Trip to the Pinnacles

This a report on exploratory trip to the Pinnacles last night 5/31

Last night me and (Dave I, Tom P, Gary C, Guna P, Lee H, Teruo U, Manoj K, Bharath K,) from the SJAA met down at the Pinnacles for a summer exploritory to see how viable viewing from the Pinnacles camp grounds would be. As we arrived, the campsites we had were on opposite sides of an access road. The campsites were large enough to fit all of us in one of the sites. So we decided to setup tents and gear in one of the campsites and park half of the other cars in the opposite site since there was a parking limit per site. As we were setting up it was obvious to the campers on both sides of us that we were not going to the regular campers. Needless to say the big Dobs and Big Binoculars got the attention of those around us which gave us a good opportunity to talk about the club and invite people to our website and HP. Of course the other campers wanted to have some views through our scopes too.

I guess I should list who brought what

Dave I – 17.5 inch Dobstuff Dob
Lee H – 25x150mm battle ship binoculars
Ed W- Oberwerk 28x110mm binoculars
Tom P – Televue NP101 & Astrotech AT72 refractors
Gary C- Astrotech AT72 refractor & Celestron 20×80 binoculars
Teruo U – 18 inch Obsession Dob
Manoj – 16 inch Hubble Optics Dob & 8inch? Dobstuff Dob
Guna P – Explore Scientific ED102
Bharath K – Orion ED80
Nhan N – Orion ED80

So the night started off viewing the Moon and Jupiter. I was able to spot Jupiter with the my binos during the just before sunset followed by Dave finding it with his Dob. We were able to see the bands on it and the sun was still up!!! The crowd gathered around to see views offered of the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn just as the sun had set. As a bonus we were able to see the Moon occult a bright star next to it (SAO 96786)

By 11pm some of the crowd started to dwindle down and I was able to get my first SQM reading of 20.56 (RCDO is about 20.50) There was still a lot of lights on from the nearby campers and the restrooms.

By around 1am the campers had gone to bed and the lights were out. Second SQM reading of 21.77!!! the Milky Way was blazing across the sky. If you have never viewed the Milky Way under dark skies it truly is a sight that is to behold. With my binos panning for the M8 – Lagoon Nebula through M24 -Sagittarius Star cloud to M11 – Wild Duck cluster it’s amazing how many stars are visible with the dark dust lanes in between them.

Other nice things viewed during the evening were: the Markarian Chain, M83, M104, The Leo Triplet, M31, M51, M64, M13, M92, M95, M96, M81, M82, M97, M105, M106, M108, M109. Bonus objects were the NG7000 – North American Nebula and Eastern & Western Veil Nebulas looked fantastic in the binos.

By 2:30am it was getting cold and most of us were starting to pack up for the night. Overall it was a good night. We learned things about the site that will help us for future trips, for some of the guys that went it was the first time they viewed under dark skies, we were able to give some publicity for the club.

-Ed

Posted in Articles


Results: Matching Funds For Lick – Sandy Faber Talk

Dear All,

The Thanks goes to you!

LickLick

Lick received $1582 in donations from Sandy Faber’s Talk

Based on this preliminary number, SJAA will write a check to Lick for at least $3082. We had a few IOUs and we hope to see those funds come in to ensure we max out. So please send to our address below.

From support of our Solar , Quick STARTt and Advance Loaner program, Library and now the support the Lick Observatory, SJAA is freakin’ proud to be apart of this community.

Check out this page in a week or bit more for final update. Thanks again all and thank you Sandy.

Clear Skies,

San Jose Astronomical Association

San Jose Astronomical Association
PO Box 28243
San Jose, CA 95159-8243

(ps Bob Fles please send your email ATTN membership to sjaa.mail@gmail.com)

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog, General Meeting, Programs


Astronomy Day at MKL Library

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.
Astronomy Day A Visual Rock Concert!
CLICK ANY PIC IN THIS BLOG TO ENLARGE
1-2014-AstroDayWith A Sunspot number of 123 (NOAA) and several active regions, notably AR2055, 2056 and 2057, El Sol was a plasma rock on a roll during National Astronomy Day 2014.
2014-05-10Wh9 SunSpotcloseup 2014-05-10-3860Ha9
Photo credit Robert Duvall – Thanks Robert!
Click the May 10th Sun images above to enlarge. The H-Alpha Flares – solar prominences – were also putting on a great show. All in all we shared astronomy with about 75 patrons of the library and SJSU Campus.

Enjoy the below pics and much thanks to MLK Library support from Ashour Benjamin, Reed Duong, and Deborah Estreicher. You guys Rocked! And to SJAA Volunteers Marion Barker, Paul Colby, Terry Kahl, Kevin Lahey, Bill ONeil, Michael Packer, and Teruo Utsumi – you all jammed!

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Posted in Articles, Blog, Programs, Solar


My Favorite Things, Vol. 1.3 – Trek/There’s More

Star Trek

It’s amazing what this 60s TV show did. It lit up the imagination of the public and inspired the generations since to pursue science and engineering. NASA recently presented an award to William Shatner. He narrated this short Space Shuttle history video.

 

Electromagnetic Spectrum Blindness

Sometimes there’s more than “What you see is what you get.”

For the past 400 years we’ve had great improvements in telescopes. Just a look at a few images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope will convince anybody that’s true. And with that you might not even think to ask: “Is there’s more?”

Imagine being colorblind and able to see only green. You’d be able to read this blog (unless someone was really mean and set your computer to display any color but green), drive a car, and do any number of other things, but still…. Then if you gained full vision, you couldn’t help but see all the things you couldn’t perceive before.

Until the advent of electronics in recent decades, we were in a manner of speaking electromagnetic (EM) spectrum blind — we could see what’s in the sky through only a tiny part of the EM spectrum. Notice in the diagram below how narrow the range of visible light is compared to the entire spectrum and how much the atmosphere blocks.

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[source: Wikipedia]

We’ve had radio telescopes for decades and in just the last 10 to 20 years we’ve started to get good images in the infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma-ray. In other words we can “see” just about everything else now. Now try to imagine the excitement astronomers experienced as they were first able to observe in each of these new EM regions.

Different EM regions give different clues. Like any good detective (Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, anyone?), astronomers are putting these different clues together.

One nice example of this is shown in a recent S&T article about a specific supernova. The first frame shows radio, then infrared, then visible, then X-ray, and finally all four. (Obviously, except for visible, the images are shown in a false color since we can’t directly see them.) Each shows the same region of space but different aspects of the supernova. Read the article for details.

This type of multispectral imaging has become more prevalent over the past several years, and this trend will only continue to grow.

So what happens now that we’ve been cured of EMSB? (What an acronym!) Does this mean there are no other means to observe the universe? I’ll let you think about it until next month. You’ll see!

Till next time, Clear Skies!

Posted in Articles, My Favorite Things