Bob Piekiel Hosts Observing Sessions At Baltimore Woods (And More!) – 2020 Observing Schedule

This event list will be added to as the year progresses. Check back often!

I’m pleased to have obtained the official schedule for Bob Piekiel’s growing observing and lecture programs for the 2020 season. 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:

As the event date nears, see the official Calendar Page for more information and any updates on the event.

Also…

* 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: info@baltimorewoods.org
* To Register By Phone: (315) 673-1350

Baltimore Woods:

* January 3 (Fri.)/4 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Quadrantids meteor shower, a crescent moon, and winter skies. The area around Orion offers the brightest stars and clusters in the sky. Also, have a close-up look at the moon, and maybe catch a few shooting stars from the Quadrantid meteor shower.

* February 15 (Sat.)/16 (Sun. weather alternate), 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

This is our best chance to see the elusive planet Mercury, right after sunset, plus great views of the winter skies surrounding the constellation Orion. Venus will also be visible as it makes its way around the sun, getting closer to earth each week.

* March 20 (Fri.)/21 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.

Venus is at its best viewing position for the year, high above the western sky at sunset. Plus, a farewell to winter skies.

* April 24 (Fri.)/25 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.

The Lyrid meteor shower peaks about this time, Venus will be easily visible, and a “hello” to spring skies.

* May 29 (Fri.)/30 (Sat. weather alternate), 6:00 – 9:30 p.m.

Come see the 1st-quarter moon, A farewell to Venus, Mercury (early) along with spring skies.

* June 12 (Fri.)/13 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

It gets dark late, but if we start early, we can still get a glimpse of Mercury, and maybe a few deep-sky objects later n the evening.

* July 17 (Fri.)/18 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Saturn and Jupiter will be rising in the east, and we can have our first look at the southern Milky Way, with its dense array of clusters and nebulae.

* August 12 (Wed.)/13 (Thur. weather alternate), 8:00 – 11:00 p.m.

The annual Perseid meteor, one of the year’s fines, along with great views of Jupiter and Saturn, plus views of the southern Milky Way. No moon to interfere with viewing tonight!

* September 11 (Fri.)/12 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Come see our last look at summer skies, Jupiter Saturn, and Mars rising in the east towards the end of the program.

* October 2 (Fri.)/3 (Sat. weather alternate), 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Goodbye to summer skies, and hello to fall. The moon will be full at this time, but we’ll have great views of Mars Jupiter Saturn and Uranus!

* November 6 (Fri.)/7 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

The Taurid meteor shower peaks around this time, fall deep skies, and great views of Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus and Neptune.

* December 13 (Sun.)/14 (Mon. weather alternate), 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

The Geminid meteor shower, the year’s finest, peaks tonight, plus winter skies with no moon to interfere, plus views of Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus and Neptune!

Beaver Lake Nature Center:

* Thursday, April 18th (details to follow)

Green Lakes:

Awaiting 2019 scheduling.

Chittenango Falls:

Awaiting 2019 scheduling.

Marcellus Library:

Awaiting 2019 scheduling.

Clark Reservation:

Awaiting 2019 scheduling.

NASA Night Sky Notes: The Orion Nebula – Window Into A Stellar Nursery

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 December, 2019.

By David Prosper

Winter begins in December for observers in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing cold nights and the return of one of the most famous constellations to our early evening skies: Orion the Hunter!

Orion is a striking pattern of stars and is one of the few constellations whose pattern is repeated almost unchanged in the star stories of cultures around the world. Below the three bright stars of Orion’s Belt lies his sword, where you can find the famous Orion Nebula, also known as M42. The nebula is visible to our unaided eyes in even moderately light-polluted skies as a fuzzy “star” in the middle of Orion’s Sword. M42 is about 20 light years across, which helps with its visibility since it’s roughly 1,344 light years away! Baby stars, including the famous “Trapezium” cluster, are found inside the nebula’s whirling gas clouds. These gas clouds also hide “protostars” from view: objects in the process of becoming stars, but that have not yet achieved fusion at their core.

The Orion Nebula is a small window into a vastly larger area of star formation centered around the constellation of Orion itself. NASA’s Great Observatories, space telescopes like Hubble, Spitzer, Compton, and Chandra, studied this area in wavelengths we can’t see with our earthbound eyes, revealing the entire constellation alight with star birth, not just the comparatively tiny area of the nebula. Why then can we only see the nebula? M42 contains hot young stars whose stellar winds blew away their cocoons of gas after their “birth,” the moment when they begin to fuse hydrogen into helium. Those gas clouds, which block visible light, were cleared away just enough to give us a peek inside at these young stars. The rest of the complex remains hidden to human eyes, but not to advanced space-based telescopes.

We put telescopes in orbit to get above the interference of our atmosphere, which absorbs many wavelengths of light. Infrared space telescopes, such as Spitzer and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, detect longer wavelengths of light that allow them to see through the dust clouds in Orion, revealing hidden stars and cloud structures. It’s similar to the infrared goggles firefighters wear to see through smoke from burning buildings and wildfires.

Learn more about how astronomers combine observations made at different wavelengths with the Night Sky Network activity, ‘The Universe in a Different Light,” downloadable from bit.ly/different-light-nsn. You can find more stunning science and images from NASA’s Great Observatories at nasa.gov.

This image from NASA’s Spitzer missions shows Orion in a different light – quite literally! Note the small outline of the Orion Nebula region in the visible light image on the left, versus the massive amount of activity shown in the infrared image of the same region on the right. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/IRAS /H. McCallon. From bit.ly/SpitzerOrion

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!

Free Astronomy Magazine – November-December 2019 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (November-December 2019) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at www.astropublishing.com (click the link to go directly to the issue).

As editor-in-chief Michele Ferrara alludes to early in his “flexible concept” article on page 38, there’s been quite the transition into the study of exoplanets and the potentials for habitability as a way to more credibly have the discussion about alien life. His article on page 22 is worth the read for those who think it’s not a question of “if” but of “how often?”

Free Astronomy Magazine (website, facebook) was featured as the first of a series of articles on great free online content for amateur astronomers (see A Universe Of Free Resources Part 1) and we’ll be keeping track of future publications under the Online Resources category on the CNYO website.

You can find previous Free Astronomy Magazine issues by checking out our Free Astronomy Magazine Category (or look under the Education link in our menu).

For those wanting a quick look at what the issue has to offer, the Table of Contents is reproduced below.


November-December 2019

The web browser-readable version of the issue can be found here:

November-December 2019 – www.astropublishing.com/6FAM2019/

For those who want to jump right to the PDF download (20 MB), Click here:

November-December 2019