Blog Archives

Results: Matching Funds For Lick – Sandy Faber Talk

Dear All,

The Thanks goes to you!


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

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!
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!

Posted in Articles, Blog, Programs, Solar

One Huge Beginner Class

Last Friday night, 27 Sept 2013, was another session in the regular series of the SJAA Beginner Astronomy Class.  There is usually a free, public star party happening at the same time, right outside during these classes.

During this session, we were given advance notice that two third grade classes, and their families, would be coming to both the class as well as the star party. These classes came from one of the schools that is part of Rocketship Education, a charter school system operating in less affluent areas of San Jose.

rocketship beginner classWe’re not entirely sure if we did the math beforehand or not, but if we were to take the 30 to 40 third graders, then multiply that by, say, a family of four, we would get… well, one HUGE beginner class!  And that’s exactly what showed up: Attendance estimates were up to 160 people of students, younger siblings, older siblings, moms, dads and even a grandma or two. They showed up not in individual automobiles, but a charter bus.  Yes, that’s right not a yellow school bus, but a full size, dual axle charter bus.  These families were here on a mission, a mission to get some exposure to astronomy science. And that’s exactly what we gave them.

Our regular beginner class instructor, Mark Wagner, became unavailable for personal reasons at the last minute.  That left myself and Greg Claytor, another SJAA board member, to cover for him.  Neither Greg nor I have ever led a beginner class before, but there was no way we could let these families down.  We worked together earlier in the day to develop a game plan. What we came up with was a two-fold plan to first cover the basics of looking through a telescope, and second, what was up in the fall night sky.  rocketship beginner classGreg did a great job of explaining how to approach a telescope, which end to look through and how to make sure that people were able to see something through the eyepiece.  I proceeded to hand out a printout of the September Sky, that I downloaded from the Skymaps site.

After the class was finished, the teacher instructed the families on how to proceed to the telescopes, set up outside.  He split them into two groups, the first would go straight over to the scopes, while the other group would hang out at the playground until about 30 or 45 minutes had passed. He was good enough to recognize that over 150 people lining up at only a dozen (or less! We didn’t know what the turnout would be) telescopes would not make for a pleasant experience.

The call for scopes I had put out the night before was a success. I counted at least thirteen scopes and binoculars lined up at ‘telescope row’. Though there were lines during some points that night, they were manageable and everyone seemed to have a great time.  As I had noted in the call out for scopes, there were plenty of oohs and ahhs from people who had never looked through a telescope before.  And that’s what many of these amateur astronomers like to do: We love to share the beautiful views of the night sky and the wondrous objects they contain. That makes it all worth it.

Big thanks go out to those SJAA Members and Friends who heeded the call. Without them, we would not have been able to make this evening a success.

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports, Programs

Quick STARt Program Experience

On September 6th I attended a 3 hour Quick STARt class taught by Dave Ittner at the Houge Park clubhouse in San Jose.  He covered many fundamental aspects of astronomy that were enlightening as well as essential for a beginner in amateur astronomy.  Topics covered were the 3 type of telescopes used by amateur astronomers as will as the impact of light gathering, magnification, and lenses design to correct color, and much more.  He covered common methods of locating heavenly objects including the use of coordinates and sky hopping using constellations.  Dave describe the various classifications of stars, galaxies, planets, comets and other celestial bodies and the relationship of size, distance, and color.  He explained what we could expect to see with amateur telescopes in terms of detail and how best to view and search for objects in the sky using different magnification of eyepieces.  He also encouraged participants to use their naked eyes and a pair of binoculars for viewing the sky.

We then went outside to view the skies with one of the club’s telescopes and saw some stars and galaxies.  The nigh sky was somewhat obscured by city lights and haze so viewing was less than optimum but for one who has never seen a galaxy that wasn’t a photo it was awe inspiring even if the galaxy was just a small smudge through the eyepiece.  I wish I could view Saturn but I understand it become visible in the sky around 4-5am.

At the end of the telescope viewing participants returned to the clubhouse where they could check out telescopes and library books to take home.

This class was very interesting and a must for beginners like me who are interested in armature astronomy but know very little.  I highly recommend any beginner enroll in this class.  I understand you must be a member of SJAA in order to enroll but it is otherwise free and well worth attending.

Frank Geefay – new member and new to amateur astronomy.

Posted in Articles, Programs

FixIt Program Report Jan 2013

Author: Ed Wong

Ed Wong’s monthly report from the Telescope FixIt Program January 2013 ed.wong The FixIt program had a very successful and busy session for Jan. 2013. Thanks for those who came out to help, Dave, Phil, Dwayne, Carl (I’m sorry if I missed anybody, short term memory isn’t what it used to be) The Houge Park hall was buzzing with activity from opening to closing.

We had 2 people bring in Newtonian scopes on equatorial mounts. One needed help on learning how to use the goto function and the other one needed help assembling the scope and mount that he had bought from Orion . I helped him assemble the scope and mount and showed him how to use. I did see him bring it out to the Star Party at HP so it’s good to see him using it and helping out at the star parties.

Phil and Dave had a chance to look at the recently donated Meade LX6 SCT and confirmed the declination motor does indeed work – I believe it is the clock driven azimuth motor that does not. This old LX6 will require someone with specialized skills and the luck of obtaining parts that most likely are no longer available to be able to repair it.    Even so, I don’t think it is in the best interest of the club to expend the time and energy to do so. The front collector plate does have a haze which could possible be cleaned but is best left to the buyer to do so. As Dave has said before, what is unique and desirable about this scope is that it is a F6.3. Dave and I did a star test on the scope last Fri. night after the star party and confirmed that visually the scope is good.

We also finished putting the locking hasps on the 2 bookcases that Dave and I put together over the Christmas break. So the SJAA library is ready to go!!!

Posted in Blog, Programs

Loaner Scope & Quick STARt Status Page

Author: Dave Ittner

SJAA offers all of it’s members the opportunity to borrow various types of loaner scopes.   The challenge with any such program is the ability to provide a current listing of scopes and their availability.

I am pleased to say that we have developed a system which will provide 100% transparency.

When you go to the SJAA main website – please select the Advanced Loaner Telescope Program menu under Programs circled below.

Loaner Menu

After clicking on Advanced Loaner Telescope Program menu – it takes you to the Loaner Scope Program status page as seen below:


Above is a screenshot of an embedded Google spreadsheet that is opened up to the Advanced Loaner Scope Status page.  This page will show you the up-to-date status of all of the clubs loaner scopes.   When you send me a request via email for a particular scope I will put your name in the “On Deck” column, when you pick it up the status will change to “Out on loan” and the due date will be noted in the Comments column.  Should the scope be out on loan already, your name will stay in the On Deck column until it becomes available and you pick it up.

Another benefit that the club offers to our new members is the ability to participate in the Quick STARt program.    To see an overview of the program please click on Quick START (QS) Program tab.  After doing so – it brings you to:


Those new SJAA members who have requested (or accepted in invitation) to attend the next session will have their names listed.  If you don’t see your name on this list please send me an email.

The QS Scopes tab lists all of the scopes dedicated to this program and their current status.



Please keep in mind that the scopes above are available to “ALL” members to borrow.   The QS  program participants get 1st priority though.   Please email me if you are interested in checking out a QS program scope and it’s related items as described in this previous post.

We also would love to hear from you on how to make this program better.  Are there any scopes or items you want the club to put into the program?

Thanks for your support.

Dave Ittner

Posted in Blog, Education & Reference Info, Programs

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: 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

Clear skies,
Dave Ittne

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Programs

SJAA Solar Observing Program for Sunday March 4th

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

One of the largest sunspot groups seen in a long while was visible on the Sun today. Below is an image of it coming into view a day earlier – just fantastic for all scopes equipped with a standard solar filter. In solar filtered binoculars it might of looked like two groups but small solar scopes at moderately high power showed tiny sunspots connecting the two larger dark regions. This Sunspot is associated with a large solar flare expected to hit Earth’s Magnetosphere around Friday March 9th.

In all, 5 Sunspot Groups were seen with over 30 individual spots! Let Solar Observing begin folks! Several of these groups were easily seen in an eyepiece projection system

Photo-0081Eyepiece Projection System (Thanks Malika)

Hydrogen Alpha Views in the club’s New H-Alpha scope showed the usual spiked prominences all around the Sun’s limb with one Earth-sized plasma ejection at 4 O’clock in scopes field of view.

Clip_4aSolar Observers and SJAA 100m H-Alpha Scope

Log you own Sunspot Number (Part 1 of 2)

Scientists track solar cycles by counting sunspots – cool planet-sized areas on the Sun where intense magnetic loops poke through the star’s visible surface.

Counting sunspots is not as straightforward as it sounds. Suppose you looked at the Sun through a pair of (properly filtered) low power binoculars – you might be able to see two or three large spots. An observer peering through a high-powered telescope might see 10 or 20. A powerful space-based observatory could see even more – say, 50 to 100. Which is the correct sunspot number?

There are two official sunspot numbers in common use. The first, the daily “Boulder Sunspot Number,” is computed by the NOAA SpaceEnvironment Center using a formula devised by Rudolph Wolf in 1848:

R  =  k (10g+s),

where R is the sunspot number; g is the number of sunspot groups on the solar disk; s is the total number of individual spots in all the groups; and k is a variable scaling factor (usually <1) that accounts for observing conditions and the type of telescope (binoculars, space telescopes, etc.). Scientists combine data from lots of observatories — each with its own k factor — to arrive at a daily value.

pFor example, looking through Ed’s refractor during this months program I saw 5 groups and about 30 individual sunpots. This give a sunspot number of:

R = k (10 x 5 + 30) = 80 if k = 1

The NOAA Solar Spot Number for March 4 was 70. I got the number of groups right but spots that I thought were individual were likely resolved in a larger aperture scope to be connected ie one and the same.

The other official sunspot number in common use is called Wolf number. It’s also known as the International sunspot number, relative sunspot number, or Zürich number. We’ll explore this numbering scheme and the k value in Part 2 but if you want to do some researching on you own check out this pdf.

Posted in Blog, Programs, 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

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>

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
San Jose Astronomical Association

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Programs

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Now that the year has come to a close and another has already begun its limited engagement, on behalf of the SJAA, I would like to take a look back at the year now done and recap the accomplishments of the club.

In January, our loaner program took a much needed revamp as we took receipt of seven new Orion Dobs, all of the XT Classic variety, ranging from a six inch to a ten inch model.  Once those scopes were assembled and made available for loan, they were all quickly snatched up by members eager to give them a try. They all have been out on continuous loan since.  I’d like to give a big Thank You to Dr. Lee Hoglan for continuing to run our valuable loaner program and ensuring that these new units are available to our members.

In the fall, the board took up the discussion again about the club acquiring a solar scope, with an intention of creating a Solar Observing program.  A solar scope committee was formed, and after thoughtful deliberation, the decision was made to put in an order for a 100mm Lunt Visual Package.  This telescope will be the keystone of the new Solar Observing Program, which is being spearheaded by SJAA member Michael Packer.  More information will soon be on the Announce mail list, but let me give a preview by saying that the solar scope will be set up for public viewing on a roughly monthly basis at a regular location, most likely at our base of operations, Houge Park.  We will also bring it to outreach events such as art and wine festivals and other community events to further our educational mission.

Speaking of Michael Packer, he is not only a member of the club, but he is now the newest member of the SJAA Board of Directors.  At the December board meeting, Michael joined the board in a special vote to fill a vacancy left by departing board member Gordon Reade.

Also speaking of outreach activities, we have been trying to raise the visibility of the SJAA in the local San Jose and south bay community.  In 2010, we manned a booth at the Celebrate Cambrian festival, an event put on by the City of San Jose to bring residents closer to local business and community organizations.  In 2011, we did it again at the same event, with an estimated 700 people stopping by to take a peek at the sun through a properly fitted solar filtered telescope.  We had so much interest that this past September, for the first time and on very short notice, we were provided with a chance to have a booth at the Almaden Art and Wine Festival in San Jose. A call was put out to the SJAA members, and a very generous handful of individuals stepped up to work a couple of hours at the booth, again, providing information about the SJAA and nice late summer views of the sun.

This year, the SJAA has developed a Mentoring Program to help members who are new to astronomy get into the hobby.  Dave Ittner is driving the effort and making himself available as the charter mentor, and is looking for people who are interested in being mentored as well as more experienced people who can play the mentor role.  More information will be forthcoming to both the Announce mail list as well as the website about the Mentor Program, but if you can’t wait, please contact Dave directly.

On another outreach front, the SJAA is working with the Santa Clara County Open Space District to support their Starry Nights program.  The program is the brainchild of SJAA member Chris Kelly, a docent at the Open Space District, and involves providing the public a chance to view the night sky from a relatively dark site in the south bay area, the District’s Rancho Cañada del Oro preserve.  Beyond Chris, the SJAA has been represented there at least three times throughout the course of the year, and we are working on making this site available, under certain conditions, to the SJAA.  If you are not familiar with the Open Space District, please visit their website and plan a trip to their preserves, and be sure to keep a watch for the next Starry Nights event at Rancho Cañada del Oro.

What also needs mentioning is the school star party program.  Almost every weeknight of the school year, dedicated volunteers with the SJAA, led by long time member and two time Gregory Award winner Jim Van Nuland, are out at a local south bay area schools, showing the night sky with a variety of telescopes.  What keeps them going are the Oohs and Aahhs coming from the students, teachers and parents as they see, for the first time, Saturn’s rings or the craters of Earth’s moon or the Galilean satellites of Jupiter.

The Dr. A. B. Gregory Award is the formal SJAA recognition of a member of the local amateur astronomy community who has demonstrated “Outstanding Contributions of Time and Effort to Others in Amateur Astronomy”.  In 2011, the award was presented to Rick Morales, a long time ranger at Fremont Peak State Park who was instrumental in helping to establish the Fremont Peak Observatory. A very well deserved congratulations to Rick!

Finally, the club has continued to support its mission to provide educational opportunities to the public by organizing and hosting beginner astronomy classes and monthly speakers.  We have had a fantastic line up of speakers come throughout the year; the list of past speakers and their topics can be found at this link. We have a good pipeline of speakers for 2012 already, and leading the pack at January’s General Meeting, which is coming this Saturday, 7 January, is the very engaging and entertaining Dr. Alex Filippenko.  This is a lecture not to be missed, and I expect we will have a full house!

Of course, the SJAA will continue its tradition of hosting Friday night public star parties at Houge Park.  The 2012 calendar (not available) has been developed and is available for review, which includes not just our Friday night events but the General Meetings, our annual auction and swap meet, and all of our regular events.

Be sure that you are signed up for the SJAA Announce mail list, or at least check the website regularly for upcoming events.  Looking back at 2011 makes it obvious that the SJAA is a vibrant and engaged organization that meets its educational mission in a variety of ways.  And there are more ways and other ideas too!  If you have an inkling to get involved and be an active part of the SJAA, we would love to help you get started! Don’t hesitate to contact me, Rob Jaworski, or any member of the board.  Or, drop by any of the SJAA Board meetings, which are held at the same location and about 90 minutes before the start of the monthly General Meetings.

Have a great 2012, and we look forward to seeing you in the dark!

Posted in Articles, Blog, Programs

Solar Viewing

Author: Rob Jaworski

As a local, community based astronomy club, the San Jose Astronomical Association mainly focuses on night time activities. After all, this is when the stars are out and viewing celestial objects is best.

There are, however, opportunities to conduct astronomical viewing during the day.  Some people challenge themselves by trying to view brighter planets during the day.  Or they see if they can view or even photograph the International Space Station against a blue daytime sky.  But there is one huge object that sometimes doesn’t get its due when it comes to amateur astronomy, that being our own star that powers us all, the Sun.

A post this week by alerted readers to a huge sunspot that recently developed.  The alert noted that “[o]ne of the biggest sunspot groups in many years has just emerged over the sun’s eastern limb.  The sunspot’s magnetic canopy is crackling with M-class (medium-sized) solar flares and seems poised to launch even stronger X-class eruptions. The sunspot, named AR1339, is not yet directly facing Earth but it will be turning toward our planet in the days ahead.”  After a long time with little solar activity, it seems that the Sun is starting to wake up again, and sun spots and prominences will again be regular events viewable from the surface of the earth by amateur astronomers.

Lately, the SJAA Board of Directors has been discussing acquiring a solar telescope for the club’s use.  While it would not be slated as part of the Loaner Program fleet of telescopes, it would be available for club use during events such as school star parties, swap meets, auctions and other events.  The board has a committee made up of Rich N. and Robert A. that is reviewing the options of solar scopes currently on the market.  As always, the board welcomes input from SJAA members, so if you have suggestions, ideas or questions related to our solar scope acquisition effort, please reach out and contact the board in general or any individual member.  Here’s where to do that:
Contact Us
It’s your club, so we hope to hear from you!

Now that the sun is starting to show some activity, the SJAA aims to bring our closest stellar neighbor into our focal plane, in addition to the fabulous sights of the night time sky.

See you in the dark (and maybe sunlight)!
Rob Jaworski
Secretary, San Jose Astronomical Association

Posted in Blog, Education & Reference Info, Programs, Solar

SkyTools Offer from SJAA

Author: Rob Jaworski

Hello SJAA members and friends,

The San Jose Astronomical Association is a non profit 510(c)3 educational organization, bringing the science and wonderment of the science of astronomy and the night sky to the public.  We encourage people to go out at night to observe firsthand the many amazing features that are visible and readily available from not just dark locations, away from the city lights, but also many from our own back yards.

It’s not uncommon for people to use a set of tools when they go out at night, from the basic gear such as binoculars and telescopes, to sky charts, red lights, green lasers and even astronomy software.  The SJAA is proud of the loaner program that has been operating for many, many years.
Advanced Loaner Telescope Program
It’s a great way for beginners to try out and become familiar with telescopes, or to try something new.

Observing software is also very useful to help plan observing sessions and make the most of your time.  To that end, the SJAA will be coordinating a group purchase of SkyTools 3, “a complete suite of software tools designed specifically for astronomical observing.”  Learn more about it here:
And be sure to watch the demo, here:

The SJAA will be accepting orders for SkyTools 3, either the Standard or the Professional edition, between now and end of September.  The cost will be either $50.78 for standard or $90.79 for pro version.  To take advantage of this opportunity, please send a check made payable to “SJAA” and send it to:

San Jose Astronomical Association
P.O. Box 28243
San Jose, CA 95159-8243

Please be sure to write SkyTools in the memo line of your check.

This offer will be limited to 25 orders and made available only to SJAA members.  If we do not reach that level of orders, checks will either be returned or destroyed.  If you are not a member of the SJAA, this is a perfect opportunity and reason to join!  Memberships start at only $20 (tax deductible) annually and you can send the membership application and fee in the same envelope.  Forms are available on the last page of the print version of the Ephemeris, our monthly newsletter, and you can find it here:
SJAA Newsletter Ephemeris

Remember, orders will be accepted up to September 30, 2011 and you must be a current SJAA member.  The software will be distributed at a general meeting or other public event after we receive the shipment.

Thanks, and let me know of any questions.

See you in the dark,
Rob Jaworski
Secretary, San Jose Astronomical Association

Posted in Blog, Education & Reference Info, Programs

Public Star Party and Astronomy Class Friday, 24 June 2011

Rob Jaworski

Hello SJAA Members and Friends,

Happy Summer Solstice!  The San Jose Astronomical Association will be holding a public star party this Friday, June 24 at Houge Park from about 9:30PM to midnight.

Saturn and showy objects of the summer sky will be featured.

The weather has been great, but there might be some increasing cloudiness, but it should not deter us!  Keep an eye on it here:…

ALSO: We will hold a beginners astronomy class that same night, starting at 8:30PM.  The topic will be about gear: Eyepieces, filters, finders and accessories. Perfect timing, to help you get ready for GSSP next week!

Bring your friends, family and neighbors, it’s fun and it’s free!

Directions to Houge Park are on the website, we set up near the tennis courts.
Coordinates: 37.2575,-121.9423

See you in the dark!
Rob Jaworski
San Jose Astronomical Association

twitter: sj_astronomy

Posted in Blog, Education & Reference Info, Observing Reports, Programs

Lecturers, Speakers and Guests

Author: Rob Jaworski

The San Jose Astronomical Association has a long history of inviting guest speakers to come and give astronomy themed talks at the monthly general meetings.  The list of guest speakers have ranged from fellow SJAA members discussing their experiences with certain aspects of amateur astronomy to NASA research scientists working on never-been-done-or-seen before work.  We keep a table of the lecturers that we have had the honor of hosting over the past several years.  You can see just from the titles of the talks the wide range of areas that we bring to the membership.I would like to talk this opportunity to recognize the amazing amount of behind the scenes work that goes on to bring these speakers to the meetings, month after month.  For several years, longtime club member Dave Smith worked tirelessly to source, track down, make contact, schedule and coordinate an entire host of speakers.  We really do appreciate his efforts in making the monthly meetings and speaker series really top notch.Several months ago, Dave decided he needed a break and so handed the reins over to the SJAA board of directors.  Though we have been able to keep the program going with the same high caliber of speakers, it’s time that we asked for some help.Going forward, we’d like to open this up to everyone.  Here’s how we envision it working.

Anyone, and I mean that literally, can contact a potential speaker to determine their interest in giving a presentation to the SJAA. But there cannot be a commitment made on behalf of SJAA before first getting approval from the president and vice president (Mark Wagner and Greg Claytor).

On the SJAA’s Google Calendar Mark will maintain the General Meeting schedule, which anyone will be able to peruse, containing confirmed speakers. This will allow us all to see what dates are open.

Our goal is be to have firm speaker commitments for six months minimum, more if possible.

If there are any interesting individuals you’d like to see come and speak at the SJAA, please feel free to reach out to them!  If you need any help or support, or just have questions, please feel free to contact me, Rob Jaworski (rob. jaworski@sjaa. net ) or any of the SJAA board members .

On behalf of the SJAA board and the entire member community, Thank You!

Rob Jaworski
San Jose Astronomical Association

Posted in Blog, Programs

New Loaner Telescopes Are Going Out

Author: Rob Jaworski

I am happy to report that of the seven new Orion telescopes that the SJAA acquired at the end of last year, we now have five of them out on loan.  This was a long time coming, and I would like to thank not only the Board members for supporting and putting in time, but also other members who helped assemble and tune the scopes.As a reminder, at the end of 2010, the SJAA found itself in a situation where we had to spend a certain amount of money by the end of the year.  We decided that it was high time to invest into new, updated equipment.  We created a list of scopes, all Dobsonian reflectors in the XT line from Orion , that met the spending criteria we had, and then placed the order.  We not only purchased the scopes, but we assembled complete starter kits, including sky maps, Barlows, red LED lights, books and other accessories to make observing sessions as enjoyable as possible for budding new amateur astronomers.If you are interested in taking advantage of this excellent program, please review the loaner program page for details.  It is also important to know is that you need to be an approved member of the club, so please be sure that your membership is up to date. If you are unsure of your status, please contact me (Rob Jaworski), as I am the membership chair (you can email me at (rob. jaworski@sjaa. net ).  If you would like to join the SJAA , it’s quick, easy and inexpensive.Again, let me recognize all the effort that went into the loaner program revamp, and I hope that the people who are borrowing them are enjoying them!See you in the dark!

Rob Jaworski
San Jose Astronomical Association

Posted in Blog, Programs