Author Archives: Damian Allis

NASA Night Sky Notes: Watching The Late Spring Skies

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting by the Night Sky Network in May, 2019.

By David Prosper

Late spring brings warmer nights, making it more comfortable to observe a good showing of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. Skywatchers can also look for the delicate Coma Star Cluster, and spot the Moon on the anniversary of Apollo 10’s “test run” prior to the Moon landing in 1969.

The Eta Aquarids meteor shower should make a good showing this year, peaking the morning of May 6. This meteor shower has an unusual “soft peak,” meaning that many meteors can be spotted several days before and after the 6th; many may find it convenient to schedule meteor watching for the weekend, a night or two before the peak. You may be able to spot a couple dozen meteors an hour from areas with clear dark skies. Meteors can appear in any part of the sky and you don’t need any special equipment to view them; just find an area away from lights, lie down on a comfy lawn chair or blanket, relax, and patiently look up. These brief bright streaks are caused by Earth moving through the stream of fine dust particles left by the passage of Comet Halley. While we have to wait another 43 years for the famous comet grace our skies once more, we are treated to this beautiful cosmic postcard every year.

While you’re up meteor watching, try to find a delightful naked eye star cluster: the Coma Star Cluster (aka Melotte 111) in the small constellation of Coma Berenices. It can be spotted after sunset in the east and for almost the entire night during the month of May. Look for it inside the area of the sky roughly framed between the constellations of Leo, Boötes, and Ursa Major. The cluster’s sparkly members are also known as “Berenice’s Hair” in honor of Egyptian Queen Berenices II’s sacrifice of her lovely tresses.  Binoculars will bring out even more stars in this large young cluster.

May marks the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Module’s test run by the Apollo 10 mission! On May 22, 1969, NASA astronauts Thomas Safford and Eugene Cernan piloted the Lunar Module – nicknamed “Snoopy” – on a test descent towards the lunar surface. Undocking from “Charlie Brown” – the Command Module, piloted by John Young – they descended to 47,400 feet above the surface of the Moon before returning safely to the orbiting Command Module. Their success paved the way for the first humans to land on the Moon later that year with Apollo 11. Look for the Moon on the morning of May 22, before or after dawn, and contemplate what it must have felt like to hover mere miles above the lunar surface. You’ll also see the bright giant planets Saturn and Jupiter on either side of the Moon before sunrise. When will humans travel to those distant worlds?

You can catch up on all of NASA’s current and future missions at nasa.gov

A view of Apollo 10’s Lunar Module from the Command Module as it returned from maneuvers above the lunar surface. Photo Credit: NASA; Source: http://bit.ly/apollo10view
Try to spot the Coma Star Cluster!  Image created with assistance from Stellarium

The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “Drone Days Of May – Technology And Trends Of Unmanned Aircraft”

Saturday – May 18, 2019, 9:30-11:00am

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

Please RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org

Speaker: Kip White, Sales Manager, United Radio, Communications Division

Talk Overview: Kip will fly us through the basics of sUAS including a little history, flight systems, different drone airframe designs, physics of flight and a brief look into the future. We will also have a discussion on uses of small, unmanned aircraft systems as a possible career path. We will set up an area outside for live flying demonstrations.

Biography: Kip spent most of his career in the electronic security industry as a technician, technical manager, sales person, sales manager and general manager. Upon leaving the security industry, he took on the role as a project manager of a multimillion-dollar commercial construction project. He joined United Radio early in 2017 to work with their Communications Division. With an interest in aviation and the knowledge that first responders are a major customer of United Radio, Kip took on the mission of educating Police and Firefighters on the uses and benefits that sUAS drones can bring to their departments.

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 www.tacny.org.

Sweet Science Series – Tesla: The Transportation Disrupter

May 9, 6:00-7:30 pm

Refreshments at 5:30

The Tech Garden, 235 Harrison St, Syracuse, NY 13202

The remarkable story of recent vehicular electrification continues to unfold at an ever increasing pace, much directly related to the forces generated by the technological and market successes of Tesla. This presentation will provide an analysis of the impact that Tesla Inc. is making within the world of surface transportation and what lies behind the disruption that’s occurring. The presentation will include both personal experiences and data available from other sources. A lively, interactive discussion is anticipated to be followed by a hands-on tour of a Tesla vehicle.

People interested in learning more about electric vehicles are invited to attend the free Sweet Science Series presentation on Thursday, May 9th, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Tech Garden, 235 Harrison St, Syracuse, NY 13202. Admission is free and open to the public. Light snacks will be served at 5:30pm. Walk-ins are welcome, but we ask that people RSVP to sweet.science@tacny.org by May 7, 2019. 

Presenter Information

Dan Steele is a retired Systems Engineer with an engineering career spanning 42 years from 1965 through 2007.  He has been employed by GTE, General Electric, Anaren Microwave and Lockheed Martin with a wide ranging engineering technology experience, including developments associated with space satellite ground stations, sonar, radar, laser, UAVs.  Before and after retirement activities include biking (cycling), scuba diving, cross-country skiing, hiking and solar energy systems.

About Sweet Science Series

TACNY John Edson Sweet Lectures, a program founded in 1913, is now called the Sweet Science Series and features discussions about topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an informal atmosphere for adults of all levels of technical understanding. A minimum of six free and open to the public presentations are held each year.

About TACNY

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, see www.tacny.org