Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Highlights From Bob Piekiel’s Green Lakes Solar Observing Session, 8 February 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

A decent-sized group of appropriately-dressed observers braved the mid-winter cold to attend a solar observing session at Green Lakes State Park this past Saturday, February 8th (approx. 1 to 3 p.m.). The event, organized by Baltimore Woods favorite Bob Piekiel, was wing-observered by Ryan Goodson, Larry Slosberg, and Steve Capp. Observers were treated to a reasonably busy solar surface, with the massive sunspot 1967 and the small constellation of sunspots around 1968 just disappearing out of the field of view with the Sun’s rotation (and our revolution), then several smaller sunspots working their way across the Sun’s equator (that said, note the Earth size in the image below. Sunspots 1973 and 1974 are large enough to swallow the Earth whole!).


The Sun on 8 February 2014. Image from NASA/SOHO.

Below is a gallery of images from the event (our first attempt at a CNYO gallery. If you have issues loading images or just don’t like how it works on the site, please let us know) featuring photos by Ryan Goodson and Cindi Farrell. Another session is coming up from 1 to 3 p.m. on February 22 (with the 23rd as the weather alternate) at Baltimore Woods. We hope you can join us for that one as well!

[envira-gallery slug=”2014-green-lakes-solar-session”]

Project ENGAGE, A Unique Opportunity For Middle School Girls To Be Held At Syracuse University This Summer

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

This announcement came in across the TACNY community listserv announcing a great STEM-related pair of programs happening on the Syracuse University campus this July. Project ENGAGE is a pair of two week-long programs aimed at introducing aspiring young female engineers to all areas of engineering by giving them direct contact with both people and projects. Details below.

I attended a similar summer course in computing at S.U. back in the mid-80’s just as color screens were becoming the “in thing” (yes, it has been a while) and that course most definitely peaked my interest in computer science and technology. If you’ve a girl of the right age either in your house or connected to your social circle, do consider passing the information below along to them. We will certainly benefit from their expertise in the future!

Two weeks, two programs, two life-changing opportunities for the next generation:

Week 1, July 6-11: Sustainability and Alternative Energy (7th grade graduates)
Week 2, July 13-18: Biomedical Engineering: Bridging the Technology-Medicine Gap (8th grade graduates)

2014february_2012_Group_ShotIt is with great pleasure that I invite schools from Central and Upstate New York to nominate up to four middle school girls (two – 7th graders and two – 8th graders) for an exciting opportunity at Syracuse University (SU) this July. Project ENGAGE is a successfully piloted engineering immersion program for girls who have a wide range of interests and demonstrated abilities across several academic areas. While living at SU, the participants will explore the breadth of topics engineers address within the focus area, gain important problem-solving skills and benefit from the experience of successful female engineers and other role models. The summer program includes mini-courses, readings and discussion, projects, field trips and hands-on learning alongside accomplished female engineers, college professors, and high school teachers and college students.

Project ENGAGE is limited to a small number of highly qualified young women from Central and Upstate New York and are selected through a highly competitive process for each of the two program weeks – not all nominated students will be accepted into the program. The Allyn Foundation, the John Ben Snow Foundation, the Joan Rothenberg Family Foundation and Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science support project ENGAGE 2014. The cost of the program for accepted students is $150 and full scholarships are available.

The application forms and additional program information is available through the Project ENGAGE website at Completed applications must be postmarked by March 7, 2014.

For additional information please contact: Project ENGAGE at (315) 443-0466 – The College of Engineering and Computer Science, Syracuse University, 223 Link Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244 or E-mail

Best regards,
Carol Stokes, Cawley, Director
Project ENGAGE
College of Engineering & Computer Science
Syracuse University
223 Link Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244

Official Announcement: 2014 Cherry Springs Star Party – June 26th To 29th

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

Registration is now open for one of the very best Star Parties in our neighborhood (OK, a 3 hour drive. But well worth it once you’re there!). Aside from excellent dark skies (when it’s clear), a wide variety of day-and-night scopes for your observing pleasure, vendors and raffle prizes, and the daily lectures (for those not sleeping off the previous night), the Cherry Springs Star Party is a great place to hang with fellow amateur astronomers (Ryan and I spending the bulk of our down time with friends and fellow members of Kopernik Astronomical Society).

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The website is the official location for all announcements about the event, but we may provide updates here if something significant is announced (and will remind via facebook and twitter as well). If you’ve never committed yourself to a small block of time of heavy-duty nighttime observing, this is an ideal event and location to do so. And what better way to shop for your next scope than to have several hundred demos on display each night!

Official email announcement is below. Registration PDF: 2014_Star_Party_Reg_Form.pdf.

Hello friends:

cherryspringsMark your calendars now for this summer’s prime astronomy experience, the Cherry Springs Star Party in beautiful Potter County, PA. Make your plans now for a wonderful astronomy vacation under the darkest skies in the Northeast. Enjoy old and new astronomy friends. Families will enjoy the fun, too. Nearby Lyman Run State Park has a great lake and beach area for relaxing. They also provide shower facilities for those who are camping.

Registration for this years star party is currently open. A registration form is attached to this email. Registration by PayPal is open and the link is included at the bottom of this email. You may send in your registration at any time.

A Facebook page for this years star party has been created for up-to-date information regarding speakers, vendors, door prizes and weather updates. You do NOT need a Facebook account to access this page and the material on this page. The Facebook page will be updated periodically until the day of the star party.

A update email will be sent out closer to the star party with a list of all the vendors, door prizes and other information that becomes available.

Clear Skies,
Max Byerly
Astronomical Society of Harrisburg

Registration by PayPal:

Go to that link, on the left side, click Registration Information under the menu. That will take you to the page where you can register by PayPal.

Follow the Latest on the Star Party on Facebook:
(you do not need an account to access all the information on this page)

CNY Photographer Stephen Shaner Hosting A Class On Astrophotography At LightWork – Sunday, March 2 At Syracuse University

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The following message was forwarded along by Ryan Goodson about a class on astrophotography being held at LightWork by CNY photographer Stephen Shaner. Having purchased a DSLR last year specifically for doing some simple astrophotography, this introductory course sounds to be right up my alley – and I encourage anyone who might not know just how straightforward and fun it can be to set some long exposure shots in your backyard to give this class a look! More information and the registration link can be found on the LightWork website:

Get directions to the LightWork office below:

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Dear local astronomy enthusiasts:

My name is Stephen Shaner and I want to let you know about an astrophotography workshop I will be conducting on Sunday, March 2 at Syracuse University. This three-hour workshop is aimed at anyone who wants to get started or improve their existing astrophotography skills. We will be discussing the tools and techniques to create a variety of night sky images including: moon and constellation portraits, star trails, planetary imaging, time-lapse video and stunning shots of the Milky Way. We will survey astrophotography software and see how digital photos are processed to bring out the detail and colors of the night sky. There also will be an introduction to long exposure, prime focus astrophotography with a hands-on demonstration of the equipment required to capture amazing deep sky objects, such as nebulae and galaxies.

Current members of local astronomy clubs who want to register for the workshop will receive a discounted Light Work member rate of $25 off the normal non-member rate.

You can find registration info online at or by calling 315-443-2450. If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me directly at stephen[at]stephenshaner[dot]com.

And for those wondering just what can be done from CNY with a decent sky and the right equipment, I include a post from our Facebook Group below featuring one of Stephen’s images: The great Orion Nebula (M42):


Hi all. Here’s a small jpg of M42 quickly taken during the last new moon period under the (always perfect) CNY skies.

I’ve received several questions regarding the workshop Ryan was kind enough to post about last week and thought I’d answer them here. In addition to a technical overview and the best ways to get started, we’ll be setting up a complete outfit for guided, long-exposure work with all the various gear required as well as cameras for capturing brighter solar system objects. We’ll demo stacking and processing images (stretching images) plus various tricks, plug-ins and tools for better image control. Also, one big manufacturer is sending a neat piece of astrophoto gear to demo.

Overall, the focus will be on getting great results without spending a fortune!

The Barlow Bob and Chuck Higgins Astronomy Events (Festivals And Star Parties) Calendar For 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

I was very happy to find in my inbox last week an email from solar specialist and NEAF Solar Star Party head honcho Barlow Bob containing his (and Chuck Higgins) summarized list of 2014 Astronomy Club Star Parties and assorted events.

The summarized list links are provided courtesy of Barlow Bob and Chuck Higgins as of 13 February 2014 (and new events may be added). If it’s on this side of the Mississippi River and they’ve announced the event already, it’s likely on this list. If something is happening in/near your state, consider making a day trip (or night trip) to see how the many other amateur astronomy clubs in the US celebrate the night sky!




Feb 23 – Mar 2 2014 Winter Star Party Florida Keys, FL

Apr 10 – 11 Northeast Astronomical Imaging Conference 2014 Suffern, NY

Apr 12 – 13 NEAF 2014, NSSP NEAF Solar Star Party Suffern, NY

Apr 24 – 27 Zombie Star Gaze Atlanta, GA

Apr 24 – 27 Delmarva Star Gaze Star Party Tuckahoe State Park, MD

Apr 24 – 27 South Jersey Spring Star Party Belleplain State Forest, NJ

Apr 25 – 26 Spring Stokes Star Party Stokes State Forest, NJ

Jun 25 – 28 Green Banks Star Quest Green Bank, WV

Jun 26 – 29 Cherry Springs Star Party Cherry Springs Park, PA

Jul 9 – 12 ALCON 2014 Atlanta, GA

Jul 23 – 27 Mason Dixon Star Party York County, PA

Jul 24 – 27 Stellafane 2014 Springfield, VT

Jul 25 – 27 RocheStar Fest Ionia, NY

Jul 25 – Aug 3 Rockland Summer Star Party Plainfield, MA

Aug 21 – 24 Hidden Hollow 2014 Green Bank, WV

Aug 22 – 23 The Conjunction 2014 Northfield, MA

Aug 22 – 24 Black Forest Star Party Cherry Springs Park, PA

Aug 22 – 26 Almost Heaven Star Party Spruce Knob, WV

Aug 29 – Sep 1 Arunah Hill Days Cummington, MA

Sep 18 – 21 Fall No-Frills Star Party Tuckahoe State Park, MD

Sep 25 – 29 Acadia Night Sky Festival Bar Harbor, ME

Sep 26 – 28 Connecticut Star Party Ashford, CT

Oct 19 – 26 Peach State Star Gaze Sharon, GA

Nov 17 – 23 Chiefland Fall Star Party Chiefland Astro Village, FL

Oct 24 – 26 Kopernik AstroFest 2014 Vestal, NY