Archive for May, 2011

Darling Hill Is OPEN Tonight (May 30, Memorial Day)

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

Pardon the late announcement, but Ryan Goodson and Dan Williams have completed upgrading the focuser on the 16″ Cave Scope tonight, report excellent results, and are currently at the Hill for some Memorial Night observing. All are welcome.

SAS Astronomical Chronicle For May 2011

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Greetings fellow astrophile!

The SAS Astronomical Chronicle for May 2011 is now posted (a bit close to the edge of May due to the April/May double-viewing overlap). Note that next week is our next Public Viewing session and we are hosting a lecture at White Branch Library on June 4 at 3:00 p.m. Stay tuned to the website next Friday and Saturday for weather updates.


Darling Hill Observatory Will OPEN Tonight, May 21 (Saturday) – But Watch The Skies

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

The warning to watch the skies has less to do with current events on the internets and more to do with the prediction of clear but not-too-transparent conditions. If it becomes cloudy enough to obscure stars we will not be opening, but we will otherwise be at the hill for observing. The Moon will not rise above our Eastern horizon until 1 a.m., providing plenty of nighttime observing of Saturn and some later Scorpius and Sagittarius Messier viewing.

The observatory will be official open around 8:20 p.m. but members will be at the hill beforehand. There are no ISS fly-overs tonight and two Iridium flare predictions, listed below from heavens-above.com. We hope you can join us!

Date Local

Distance to
flare centre
Intensity at
flare centre
21 May 23:14:21 -1 28° 245° (WSW) 60.0 km (E) -7 Iridium 53
22 May 02:32:41 -0 25° 300° (WNW) 69.6 km (E) -7 Iridium 21

Fall Object Planning Post – Comet Elenin (C/2010 X1)

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

From the linked article at www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-135…auid=8291526:

“This comet may not put on a great show. Just as certainly, it will not cause any disruptions here on Earth. But there is a cause to marvel,” said Yeomans. “This intrepid little traveler will offer astronomers a chance to study a relatively young comet that came here from well beyond our solar system’s planetary region. After a short while, it will be headed back out again, and we will not see or hear from Elenin for thousands of years. That’s pretty cool.”

The path of Comet Elenin, from NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Interim Secretary and longtime Board Member Mike Brady sent along the following link about Comet Elenin (C/2010 X1) recently to help us begin to plan our fall observing sessions. There have been a half-dozen-or-so comets observed through the eyepieces of the 16″ Cave at Darling Hill in the past three years, a few difficult to find from Constellation guides alone and a few nearly impossible without a piece of paper with the slight fraction of the comet’s elliptical path marked out.

By some accounts, Elenin will be a bit of a struggle for Darling Hill, but at least one blog post reports it may be a pleasant object for morning observing (and who’s going to doubt Astro Bob given how good Barlow Bob and Barefoot Bob do for the SAS?). Check out Astro Bob’s post on Elenin at astrobob.areavoices.com/2010/12/28/bright-comet-prospect-for-2011/.

Depending on which websites you read, Elenin will either collide violently with Earth or pass by quietly. Given the differences in the scientific quality of those pages stating both possibilities, I suspect I’ll not plan on cancelling the November 2011 Public Viewing session at this point.

And furthermore(!), if you’re looking for a bit more information about what 2011 brings in terms of Comet hunting, the PDF linked at www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~jds/preds11.pdf provides a nice summary to begin a little google searching before dragging your scopes out.

Nick Risinger’s Photopic Sky Survey, skysurvey.org

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Greetings fellow astrophile!

Our own Prof. John McMahon sent along a link to what may go down as the most impressive effort by an amateur astronomer this year (and probably well into last year). Seattle-ite Nick Risinger toured the world with six synchronized astrophotography cameras to take 37,000 exposures over 60,000 miles of travel to produce one amazing image now hosted and fully interactive at his website skysurvey.org.

Nick Risinger hard at play in Colorado. From skysurvey.org.

While the site does speak for itself, a few news sources have taken to task this astronomical feat. Links are provided below.



The direct link to the interactive image is media.skysurvey.org/interactive360/index.html. It is large and takes some time to load depending on your connection. That said, it’s your galaxy. You wouldn’t want it loading too fast.