Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Bob Piekiel Hosts Observing Sessions At Baltimore Woods (And More!) – 2014 Observing Schedule

I’m pleased to have obtained the official schedule for Bob Piekiel’s growing observing and lecture programs for the 2014 season and have added them to the CNYO Calendar. For those who have not had the pleasure of hearing one of his lectures, attending one of his observing sessions, or reading one of his many books on scope optics (or loading the CD containing the massive Celestron: The Early Years), Bob Piekiel is not only an excellent guide but likely the most knowledgeable equipment and operation guru in Central New York.

Notes On Baltimore Woods Sessions:

The Baltimore Woods events calendar is updated monthly. As such, I’ve no direct links to the sessions below. Therefore, as the event date nears, see the official Calendar Page for more information and any updates on the event.


* Registration for these events are required. Low registration may cause programs to be canceled.
* $5 for members, $15/family; $8 for nonmembers, $25/family.
* To Register By Email:
* To Register By Phone: (315) 673-1350

Green Lakes:

* February 8 (Fri.)/9 (Sat. weather alternate), 1-3 p.m.

Solar viewing session at the main office parking lot. See the Green Lakes website for directions.

Baltimore Woods:

* February 21 (Fri.)/22 (Sat. weather alternate), 7-9 p.m.

The giant planet Jupiter will be in prime viewing position all night long, as well as the brilliant winter skies surrounding the constellation Orion. Uranus and Neptune will also be visible early.

* February 22 (Sat.)/23 (Sun. weather alternate), 1-3 p.m.

A solar viewing program, featuring our nearest (and favorite) star! Come and enjoy safe views of the Sun through a variety scopes and several wavelengths.

* March 21 (Fri.)/22 (Sat. weather alternate), 7-9 p.m.

Jupiter will be visible high in the sky for excellent viewing in the evening, then come and bid farewell to the Winter Skies.

Montezuma Wildlife Refuge:

* March 28 (Fri.)/29 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Come and enjoy the late Winter / early Spring skies, featuring views of Jupiter.

Baltimore Woods:

* April 15, VERY Early Tuesday A.M. – Midnight to 2:30 am

Again, assume this starts at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 14th and goes through about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. This is the first Lunar Eclipse CNY has had in several years, and it will be visible in its entirety for all in NY State. Watch the Moon get covered by the Earth’s shadow and turn a deep shade of orange or red. Saturn and Mars will be in good viewing positions as well for scope viewing.

Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society:

* May 14 (Wednesday)

Bob Piekiel gives the lecture “Collimating Cassegrains and Two-Mirror Scopes” for our friends in the Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society (MVAS).

Baltimore Woods:

* May 23 (Fri.)/24 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Join Bob Piekiel for a possible Meteor Storm! In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 24, the Earth will pass through the debris field left behind by a small comet known as P/209 LINEAR. Astronomers are predicting that this interaction may result in a brief but intense burst of meteor activity that could range from dozens to hundreds of meteors per hour. Nothing is certain, but many mathematical models are predicting that this could be the most intense meteor shower in more than a decade. Saturn will also be at its biggest for its best viewing of the whole year, plus good views of Jupiter and Mars are to be had. Come and say “hello” to the Spring Skies!

* June 6 (Fri.)/7 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Join Bob Piekiel for an in-between Baltimore Woods sessions during this weekend’s Mars and Moon Conjunction.

Baltimore Woods:

* July 18 (Fri.)/19 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Look into the heart of our Milky Way galaxy to see the finest examples of rich star clusters and gaseous nebulae. Also fantastic views of Mars and Saturn.

Green Lakes:

* July 25 (Fri.)/26 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Summer Milky Way, at the Frisbee Golf field.

Baltimore Woods:

* August 12 (Tues.)/13 (Wed. weather alternate), 8:30-11:00 p.m.

The annual Perseid meteor shower, one of the year’s finest, plus Summer Skies and the Milky Way. Look into the heart of our Milky Way galaxy to see the finest examples of rich star clusters and gaseous nebulae. Also fantastic views of Mars and Saturn.

Green Lakes:

* August 15 (Fri.)/16 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00 – 10:30 p.m.

Summer skies and left-over Perseids.

Baltimore Woods:

* August 16 (Sat.)/17 (Sun. weather alternate), 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Solar observing program

Seneca Meadows:

* August 22 (Fri.)/23 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Summer skies

Clark Reservation State Park:

* August 29 (Fri.)/30 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:00 p.m.

Baltimore Woods:

* October 8 – EARLY MORNING 4:30 – 6:30 am.

Lunar Eclipse, NO BACKUP DATE.

* Monday, November 17 (backup Tuesday 18th) 8 – 10 p.m.

Leonid meteor shower and hello to fall skies. Also the planets Uranus and Neptune.

* Saturday, December 13 (backup Sunday the 14th) 7 – 9 p.m.

The Geminid meteor shower and hello to winter skies.

Save The Date! Kopernik Astronomical Society’s AstroFest 2014 – October 24th To 26th

Greetings fellow astrophiles!


Kopernik’s Domes. Image from

The official word is in from Kopernik’s own Fibber Magee that the 2014 AstroFest is scheduled from Friday, October 24th to Sunday, October 26th. Last year’s AstroFest was a great three days of informative lectures, fine dining, raffle prizes, a little observing (admittedly, the weather did not accommodate much observing. That said, there were some interesting cloud patterns out), and the usual great hang with fellow amateur astronomers. The Kopernik Facility is the envy of any amateur astronomy group and they do not disappoint as event hosts!


Kopernik’s Art Cacciola leads a discussion. Image from the Owego Pennysaver.

When the official announcement is sent out by Kopernik with the list of presenters and events, we’ll be sure to post that info here. For a sample of the variety of speakers and events that Kopernik hosts during their AstroFest, check out our post of last year’s announcement. Also, check out the 2013 AstroFest photo gallery on the Kopernik website at:

We hope you can join Kopernik (and several CNYO members) for the festivities on October!

Ying-TRSEF Mini Maker Faire – Adventures And Discoveries For The Young And Old – 18 January 2014, 1 – 4 p.m.

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

We are now one week away from a Mini Maker Faire being hosted by Le Moyne College and featuring, among many other great activities for young and old alike, CNYO members Ryan Goodson and myself in our new capacities as NASA Solar System Ambassadors (in our case, running a booth on the Solar System – quite appropriate!). The event, organized by the always-energetic Mary Eileen Wood, Director of STEM Initiatives at OCC (if you’ve ever judged at a local science fair, chances are you know who I’m talking about), and sponsored by YING-TRSEF, NASA, The Gifford Foundation, TACNY, and several other local institutions and companies, is an afternoon-long event of science demos, hands-on projects, engineering studies, even astronaut training – all free and open to the public (although those under 18 MUST be accompanied by an adult!).

Information about the event can be found at its website:

The official announcement is attached, with some of the event info summarized below:

What? Maker Faires are about hands-on experiences, supported by people who really love science, engineering and the arts.
Who? Children of all ages, kindergarten through retirement, PLUS volunteers from OCC and other organizations and campuses in the area
When? Saturday, Jan 18, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Where? Le Moyne College Recreation Center
And … It’s free to everyone! 
Pre-registered youth and volunteers even get FREE NASA t-shirts!

Would YOU like to:
* attend with your friends/family? Here’s a LINK to family registration
* host or help at one of our stations? Here’s a LINK to options
* pass along the flyer to all the CNY people on your mailing list so they can attend? HERE’s the flyer
* invite your children or students to join us as volunteers? Here’s a LINK to volunteer registration


There will be a few space-centric booths at this Faire, with our Solar System booth getting a little extra tweaking in the form of multimedia and a few (very small) Mars and Moon rocks in attendance. We are looking forward to an afternoon of teaching and getting our hands dirty with some of the other demos running near our booth. If you’re interested in attending, please consider registering early. If you’ve interest in helping with the CNYO Solar system demo booth, just let me know!

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “The Science Of Shipwrecks”

Saturday – January 18, 9:30-11:00am

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

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Shipwrecks—from TITANIC to USS MONITOR and many others—hold many scientific secrets about how the ocean works. We will explore the science of shipwrecks in the tropics and near the poles. We will see wrecks in warm shallow waters and in the cold deep oceans. Using underwater images, we will see some stunning scientific discoveries on shipwrecks that have changed how we understand the oceans.

People interested in learning more about shipwrecks are invited to attend the free Junior Cafe presentation on Saturday, January 18, 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 January 15, 2014.


2014jan9_medium_newtonCathryn R. Newton Ph.D., is Dean Emerita and Professor of Earth Sciences and Interdisciplinary Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. She is an ocean scientist, paleobiologist, and environmental stratigrapher, has published scores of scientific papers concerning modern and ancient marine communities, especially deep-water coral reefs; ecological dynamics of mass extinctions; and quantitative paleoecological theories of how communities work. Several of her papers have been selected as “Science Classics” in the journal Science. Newton’s work is based upon extensive field work and intensive research in museum collections around the world. She has won numerous awards for both research and teaching, including Syracuse University Scholar-Teacher of the Year.

She chaired the Department of Earth Sciences as Jessie Page Heroy Professor of Geology (1993-2000) and led the College of Arts and Sciences as its first woman dean in 2000-2008. She has been instrumental in the Renée Crown University Honors Program, and was founding co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering program at Syracuse, a program she has actively supported since 1997.

The daughter of an oceanographer and an English teacher and writer, Newton grew up in small coastal communities at an unusual time in American history. Newton, as a 16-year-old Duke sophomore, was the youngest scientist on the Duke-MIT-North Carolina-Delaware oceanographic team that discovered the wreck of USS Monitor off North Carolina in 1973 (her book on this experience is forthcoming!).

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

CNY Skeptics Lecture: 15 January 2014 – “Alternative Medicine: Alternative to What?”

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

In a busy evening for the TACNY listserv, David Harding with CNY Skeptics has sent the following announcement for a lecture this coming Wednesday, January 15th.

“Alternative Medicine: Alternative to What?”

Presentation by Mahlon Wagner

Sponsored by CNY Skeptics

Time: Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 7:00 PM

Where: Dewitt Community Library, Friends Room

Event Is Free And Open To The Public – Light Refreshments Will Be Served

Please contact (315) 636-6533,, or email for more information.

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Presentation Summary:

2014jan9_mahlon_wagnerAfter receiving a Ph.D in experimental psychology, Mahlon Wagner taught statistics and research design in a University setting. Based upon these two topics it became “natural” for him to look at “alternative” medicine and the claims made for “alternative” treatments in the light of existing experimental evidence. In his talk, Mahlon Wagner will look at the abundance of “alternative” medicine in Central New York and discuss how to detect the “code words” that can suggest if a treatment is “alternative” medicine. He will also discuss some of the main types of alternative medicine (such as chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, reiki, and therapeutic touch) and examine what, if any, evidence exists for their claims to effectively treat medical conditions.

Presenter Biography:

Mahlon Wagner is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at SUNY Oswego. He has been a long-time member of CNY Skeptics, and has given several presentations in Germany and the UK on various skeptical topics. He has written on and lectured about the effectiveness of various forms of “alternative” medicine.

About CNY Skeptics

Central New York Skeptics (CNY Skeptics) is a community organization dedicated to the promotion of science and reason, the investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims, and the improvement of standards for science education and critical-thinking skills.