Monthly Archives: October 2013

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New Moon Telescopes Hosting A Star Party This Weekend – Friday, November 1st – Their New 27″ Dobsonian Will Be On Display!

UPDATE: Due to the weather forecasts for CNY this weekend, this event has been changed to Sunday, November 3 at 6:30 p.m. Keep track of the announcement bar at right for more updates!

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

Amateur astronomers and the general public alike will have an opportunity this weekend to take in the celestial sights through one of the largest scopes of its kind in New York. New Moon Telescopes (NMT), a builder of custom Dobsonian-style telescopes, will be holding a session this weekend at the North Sportsman’s Club in West Monroe, NY. NMT has rapidly made a name for itself within the amateur astronomy community for its novel scope designs and high-end workmanship, having most recently been featured as the cover story in the trade magazine Astronomy Technology Today. The official NMT press release for this first public outing of their flagship 27″ telescope is reprinted below.

NOTE: We’ll be forwarding along Ryan Goodson’s official weather call on Friday (then Saturday or Sunday as necessary) here at

New Moon Telescopes,

28 October 2013 – For immediate release:

Central New York is home to a small business dedicated to building some of the largest telescopes available to amateur astronomers anywhere in the world. New Moon Telescopes (NMT,, located in West Monroe, NY, builds portable Newtonian-style Dobsonian reflector telescopes, many of which are far larger than those used at local universities! NMT cordially invites the public to come out and enjoy the views of the Night Sky through a recently completed behemoth 27″ Dobsonian scope – the largest portable optical telescope in NY – as well as several smaller NMTs operated by CNY customers.

Dobsonian telescopes are commonly referred to as “light buckets,” using their large primary mirrors to collect as much light from distant objects as possible. The bigger the primary mirror, the more starlight gathered and the brighter and more distant you can see. The difference in the brightness of distant objects between Dobsonians and familiar retail store telescopes is literally night-and-day. Those who have attended public viewing sessions with the Syracuse Astronomical Society or CNY Observers have, until now, had their views maxed-out at 16″ primary mirrors. The new NMT 27″ telescope gathers over two and a half times the amount of light! With a scope this size, we can take in unprecedented views of nearby nebulae and galaxies. Of great excitement to local amateur astronomers, this massive telescope will allow us to see galaxies over a billion light years away from CNY skies! And if you have any interest in “nearby” newborn baby stars, the Great Orion Nebula will be nicely placed in our late autumn sky. The view of this nebula through a scope of this size is nothing short of spectacular!

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We invite you to come out and see the celestial sights through a New Moon Telescope Friday, November 1st at the North Sportsman’s Club (, 1708 County Route 37N, West Monroe, NY 13167). This event is FREE and open to the public. Since we all know how fickle CNY weather can be, we will use November 2nd and 3rd as alternates. Keep track of (and our twitter feed (@NMTelescopes) and Facebook Page) for weather updates and future observing events. Let us hope that one of these nights is clear for our unique opportunity to look “back in time” a couple billion years!


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“New MOST Exhibit Uses Video Game Technology To Interact With Humans” – Article At

Katrina Tulloch at posted an article early this morning about a new immersive technology exhibit that attendees of this morning’s TACNY Jr. Cafe Scientifique were able to immerse themselves in for free.

From the article, available at…/new_exhibit_at_the_most.html, I highlight my favorite part of the installation, Lorne Covington’s Immersive Solar Explorer (those who’ve kept up with the website will remember our post about Lorne’s exhibit back during The MOST’s NASA Climate Day festivities this past April):

The second screen, “The Unseen Sun,” uses continuously updated information from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory to create an interactive sun. By waving their hands, people can “change” the sun’s colors and examine the sun’s different temperature levels.

From the article: New augmented reality exhibit at the Museum of Science and Technology MOST science educator Matt Fagan, 23, explains the features of the museum’s new fall exhibit, “Out There: Exploring Space through Augmented Reality.”

Furthermore, if you’ve not taken an afternoon to expand your mind (or your kids’ minds), The MOST has quite a bit of really good astronomy education happening in its lower floors as permanent installations. Well worth the admission price.

But you can also explore on the cheap! As attendees to TACNY Jr. Cafe Scientifique lectures know, your attendance comes with a free admission to all of the floor exhibits for the afternoon (then use the savings to pick up a model of the Space Shuttle on your way out!).

Before closing this post up, I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to both Katrina Tulloch and the ever-cumulonimbus Dave Eichorn at for regularly posting items of local science (and, specifically, astronomy) interest. If you missed it, Dave’s recent “Anatomy of a beautiful sunset over Central New York this evening” post distilled a nice bit of astronomy, meteorology, history, and photography in one fell swoop.

You can get their direct feeds by subscribing to their twitter feeds (as the @cnyobs account does): @katrinatulloch and @DaveEichorn.

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CNYO Observers Log: International Observe The Moon Night At Westhill School District, 12 October 2013

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

Larry Slosberg and Ryan Goodson took their New Moon Telescopes on the road to the Westhill School District for the October 12th International Observe The Moon Night (IOMN, facebook, twitter). With a fistful of our A Guide For Lunar Observing brochures in tow, both report that the near-or-exceeding 100 attendees were full of great questions and enjoyed close-up views of our nearest natural satellite.

CNYO was delighted to be a part of this local IOMN activity and strongly encourage other schools and local groups to do the same. The Moon is the easiest observing target we have, good at all magnifications (including no magnification) and all times of year. It has been a test for physical theories, the guide for calendars throughout human history, unwitting recipient of meteor impacts (still!) that might have made random Tuesdays quite hectic on Earth, muse of artists and musicians alike, and all the light needed for many a midnight hike. If you missed the “official” IOMN session, grab a pair of binos soon and give the Moon a gander!

Below are a collection of images from Larry Slosberg’s observing station (and one great image of the Moon), courtesy of Michelle Marzynski. Click on any image for the full-size version.


While Larry kept the festivities mostly Moon-centric at his scope, Ryan reports having put many of the best objects in the mid-autumn night sky on full display, including The Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the globular cluster M13 in Hercules, the double stars Albireo (a colored pair in Cygnus) and Mizar/Alcor (a double that becomes a triple at moderate magnification in Ursa Major), the open cluster M39 (“everyone’s fave it seemed” – L.S.) in Cygnus, and finally the Ring Nebula (M57) and the Double-Double in Lyra.

For myself, I celebrated IOMN early from the comfort of a window seat at 36,000 ft. With luck, I hope to be on the ground and running yet another scope for next year’s IOMN session!


CNYO Observing Log: Baltimore Woods, 27 September 2013

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

The September 27th Baltimore Woods session was notable for several reasons. On the down side, my drive to Marcellus through Fairmount was delayed when a minivan with far too many large dogs in it had one of its automatic windows dropped down to the delight of an ejected dog that bounced off my driver side door (my non-astro thought for the day – if your pets are your children, please use the child safety options built into your very modern vehicle!). On the up side, for the first time since March, a Baltimore Woods session started at 7 p.m. The skies were dark enough to begin seeing the brightest stars with ease and cold enough to freeze out the many bugs that frequent the BW Nature Center.

Attending scopes included Bob Piekiel‘s massive 16″ Meade GOTO (with some included heavy lifting by the two of us to get it set up and torn down), Larry Slosberg’s 12″ New Moon Telescope, and my 12.5″ NMT Dob (herein referred to as “Ruby”). A fourth scope appeared early in the evening with the first attending family, but ended up not getting too much use. Despite being a bit worse for wear, their “retail store” Stratus 60mm refractor scope surprised the owners (and kids) with a good view of a distant cellular tower and a fuzzy but noticeably “half-moon cookie” Venus (whatever description works is fine with me).


Bob inspecting the Stratus 60mm.

The final size (25ish) of the crowd (and the number of first-time attendees) dictated the observables for the evening, with all of us sticking mostly to bright, easily identifiable objects. As for our local neighborhood, the good news was that more than half of the planets were out for the evening (counting the views of Earth). The bad news was that Venus and Saturn set early (both due to the time and the high trees along the Western horizon), leaving the very distant Uranus and Neptune as targets for later-night observers.

As has been my standard procedure, I picked one object from my standard list of “kinds of” objects so those at my scope would be sure to get a sampling of the types of objects we amateur astronomers look forward to looking at. My list included:

* (Hopefully) One Planet – From my (scope’s) vantage point, Venus and Saturn were impossible catches behind large trees. Neptune and Uranus were, for the entire viewing session, nestled within the glow of Marcellus (and Syracuse beyond), so I didn’t even bother attempting to find them. Bob, however, had at his disposal a massive GOTO, so the gathered crowd was able to take in at least one of the two distant planets (making them part of the way-less-than-1% of the entire planet who can claim the same).

* One Star – At Bob’s request, I gave special attention to Herschel’s Garnet Star (mu Cephei) in Cepheus. One of the real benefits of magnification through good optics (or long-exposure photography) is the appearance of color in many stars that are otherwise just too slightly colored to be noticeable to Naked Eye observers. While the different colors of the binary star Albireo are generally obvious to most people, the Garnet Star jumped out to everyone through every eyepiece as a very orange star. This red supergiant, affectionately known to some as Erakis, is BIG. Those who have seen the image below in one of our CNYO library lectures…


The scale of familiar objects in our vicinity (click for the wikipedia version).

Will recognize Mu Cephei as the third star from right (in the “Big Block” 6) in the bottom of the image. Our own Sun peters out in Block 3. If a super race of aliens were to swap out our Sun for the Garnet Star, the outer edge of its plasma would engulf Jupiter and either engulf or roast Saturn. Big. Not only big, but old to boot. Mu Cephei is what is known as a “carbon star,” one that has nearly exhausted its helium (which is produced from all the fusion of hydrogen, which it then exhausted quite some time ago) and is now producing carbon in the star’s core. The near-exhaustion of the star’s fuel means that it’s likely only a few million years from going supernova (somewhere between a finger snap and ringing wine glass in cosmic terms) and is currently identified as a variable star for its subtle and erratically changing brightness.


Mu Cephei, Cepheus, and surrounding constellations.

As you scour Cepheus some evening, do take the Garnet Star in. If you’re scanning randomly along the bottom of the barn, you can’t miss it!

* One BinaryAlbireo in Cygnus remains an easy favorite. Everyone saw Albireo A as slightly orange or yellow, while Albireo B appeared as slightly to “clearly” blue (clearly a demonstration of the importance of dark adaption and cone sensitivity in the retina). One point of interest is that we’re not entirely sure of Albireo is an optical binary (the two just appear close, but one is much farther away than the other as projected onto our two-dimensional sheet of the Night Sky) or a gravitationally-bound binary pair. If gravitationally-bound, the two are likely far from one another, with the orbital dance occurring over 100,000 or more years.

* One Open Cluster – The Double Cluster (Caldwell 14) in Perseus

* One Globular Cluster – The ever-obvious M13 in Hercules

* One Nebula – The Veil Nebula in Cygnus – typically, this would be considered one of the less-easy objects for a new observer to make out. Through an OII filter, however, the wispy-ness jumps out and new observers, with a little patience, can even see the curvature of each fragment well enough to know where the Veil must be radiating from.

* One Galaxy – M31, The Andromeda Galaxy in Andromeda (and M32 and M110), which were easy for all to spot with a little scope nudging.

As has become the norm recently, I packed up Ruby around 9:30 p.m. and pulled out the Canon T3i and tripod for an extended session of scope-less astrophotography. Three highlights include a very discernible Milky Way, complete with Great Rift, from opposite the direction of Marcellus…


The Milky Way (plus one bright plane and one dim satellite). Click for a larger version.

A dimmer part of the Milky Way that seemed to radiate from (and be washed out by) Marcellus…


The Milky Way and Marcellus (plus a dim plane (dashed line) and dim satellite). Click for a larger version.

And a quite decent view of the varied objects in the vicinity of the constellation Perseus (in the pocket between the two trees and closer to the left tree), including the components of the Double Cluster, NGC 884 and 869 (the fuzzy splotches at the base of the small necklace – 1/3 over from the left edge and 1/4 down the image).


Perseus, NGC 884, and NGC 869. Click for a larger version.

I packed it in around 10:00 p.m. in great anticipation! Within the glow of Marcellus lay the Pleiades (M45) and just a hint of its closer cousin the Hyades in the head of Taurus the Bull. These objects have likely served as markers for many millennia that the clear, dark, steady, and uncomfortably cold night skies of winter approach.

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “Why Doesn’t it Look Like it Does on TV?: Forensic Evidence Using Digital Technologies”

Saturday – October 19, 9:30-11:00am

Milton J Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology – Syracuse, NY

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Courtroom environments, which have traditionally relied on people talking to each other, are now changing into cinematic display environments. CGI technology from movies and the computer game industry create compelling visual media displays to present a range of digital evidence in a convincing and credible manner. But take a second look!! This form of digital media warrants special attention due to its inherently persuasive nature, and the undue reliance that the viewer may place on the evidence presented. Dr. Damian Schofield’s talk will illustrate the use of video game technology in the courtroom (particularly forensic animation and virtual crime scene reconstructions), and conclude with a discussion of the potential benefits and problems of implementing this technology in courtroom settings.

People interested in learning more about forensics are invited to attend the free Junior Cafe presentation on Saturday, October 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) in Syracuse’s Armory Square. Walk-ins are welcome, but we ask that people RSVP by emailing by October 16, 2013.


Dr. Damian Schofield, PhD, is the Director of Human Computer Interaction and a Professor at SUNY Oswego, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia. Dr. Schofield was the Associate Professor of Computer Games and Digital Media in the School of Creative Media at RMIT Univ. in Melbourne, Australia. Before moving to Australia, he was on the management team of the Mixed Reality Lab at the Univ. of Nottingham, UK, and the management boards of the Visual Learning Lab and the Learning Sciences Research Institute. Dr. Schofield remains a director and major shareholder of Aims Solutions Ltd. in the UK, which provides computer graphics visualization services and virtual reality based simulation training products to public and private sectors.

Dr. Schofield studies the use of digital evidence in courtrooms, e.g., virtual reconstructions and the representation and understanding of visual evidentiary information using computer game technology. He examines the prejudicial effect of digital evidence, validation and verification procedures, admissibility of digital evidence and mathematical uncertainty associated therein. Dr. Schofield serves as an expert witness in courts all over the world, including the UK, Australia, the USA and Malaysia. This work covers forensic visualization from computational fluid dynamics models to blood spatter patterns at crime scenes, from road traffic accident reconstruction to post-mortem pathology visualization. He worked on the facial reconstruction of an Egyptian mummy for a documentary, “Nefertiti Reserected,” on the Discovery Channel, and as well as research projects for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the USA.

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique, a program for middle-school students founded in 2005, features discussions about topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an informal atmosphere and seeks to encourage students to consider careers in these areas. Students must be accompanied by an adult and can explore the MOST at no cost after the event.

Technology Alliance of Central New York

Founded in 1903 as the Technology Club of Syracuse, the nonprofit Technology Alliance of Central New York’s mission is to facilitate community awareness, appreciation, and education of technology; and to collaborate with like-minded organizations across Central New York.

For more information about TACNY, visit