Tag Archives: Bob Piekiel

CNYO Spring 2016 Observing Session At Beaver Lake Nature Center On Thursday, April 28th (Raindate: May 5th)

FINAL UPDATE: 4 May – 2:00 p.m. – The weather for tomorrow night is predicted to be lousy for observing, so we’re making the official call early to CANCEL tomorrow night’s event at Beaver Lake Nature Center. Stay tuned for an event announcement about The Mercury Transit happening on May 9th!

UPDATE: 28 April – 2:00 p.m. – Sadly, the cloud cover is not agreeable for observing tonight (as also reported by Glenn Coin at syracuse.com), so we are pushing the observing session off to next Thursday, May 5th. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: 28 April – 10:00 a.m. – The sky conditions for tonight are not looking good for observing. We’ll make a final call around 2:00 p.m. and, if necessary, plan for next Thursday instead.

H/T to Glenn Coin for posting the announcement to syracuse.com (and various related pick-up CNY sites).

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The time has come again to make our seasonal Thursday night trek [beaver lake announcement; meetup.com event] to the Beaver Lake parking lot for views of the Nighttime Spring Sky. For 2016, we’ve the added bonus of having prime planetary viewing for the entire session, featuring Mercury to our West just after sunset (and even before if Bob Piekiel’s GOTO scope is ready) and Jupiter, biting at the feet of Leo the Lion, in the sky throughout – having reached opposition in early March.

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Views from the 2006 Transit of Mercury. Photo from nationalgeographic.com

Mercury will be giving us a double-dose of observing in the next few weeks as we approach its Transit on the morning of May 9th (for which Bob Piekiel is hosting a special (and unusually early!) event at Baltimore Woods from 8 to 10 a.m. On Monday, May 9th – event notice to follow!). For those who managed a view of the Transit of Venus in 2012, this is your chance to say you saw the only two planetary Transits you can from Earth – you’ll then have to move to Mars to try to make any kind of inferior planet trifecta.


Google map for Beaver Lake Nature Center. Click to get directions.

LeoTripletHunterWilsonThe Thursday session at Beaver Lake will be our last chance to see any sign of the Orion Nebula (and it will be heroic observing at that, given how close to the tree line it may be by the time it’s dark enough), but M13 in Hercules, the Leo Triplet (shown at right – and they will not look this good from Beaver Lake! Image from wikipedia.org), several other notable Messier Objects, and whatever satellites happen to fly over will be on hand to keep the observing and conversation going.

By the usual ending time for the event, the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra will just be rising above the Northeastern skyline, striking the chord to herald the soon-approaching return of Summer Skies and our views into the heart of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Bob Piekiel Hosts A Mercury/Jupiter-Centric Observing Session At Baltimore Woods, Friday – 15 April 2015

UPDATE: FRIDAY, APRIL 15 – The Baltimore Woods observing session is A GO for tonight! Dress accordingly and come enjoy some excellent views of Mercury, Jupiter, and the Moon!

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

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The view at 8:00 p.m., Friday, April 15th. Click for a larger view.

The temperature’s spiked up just in time for Bob Piekiel’s monthly observing session at Baltimore Woods.

A quick note from Bob about the session:

My program highlight is Mercury, which is at greatest elongation. I’m actually listing the program with a 6pm start time (the Sun will still be up!) because we will also have the Moon and Jupiter as easy targets, and with my NexStar GPS I can lock on them and find Mercury very early. I don’t think it’s necessary to get there much before 6:30, but Mercury does drop below the tree line during twilight.

A Note About Baltimore Woods

Part of Baltimore Woods’ support for their facility and programs comes from event fees – take in some keen sights and keep the place going at the same time!

* 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

CNYO Observing Log: Attempted Observing, Successful Lecture, And Maker Hall Session For January, 2016

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

A brief summary of events already had in January. For the most part, this is the time of year when most activities slow to a crawl (unless you’ve got a good few pairs of thermals to wear, in which case you’re observing is limited by conditions and the build-up of water vapor as you breath too close to an eyepiece).

Solar @ Green Lakes, Nighttime @ Baltimore Woods, January 9th

With the Friday night session a complete wash at Baltimore Woods, Bob Piekiel and I ran a double on Saturday, January 9th. The first event was a solar observing run at Green Lakes State Park (amid current construction around the main building). Sadly, this was the best-attended failed session yet, with considerable cloud cover only providing the most fleeting glimpse of the Sun before taking it away again. Attendance peaked near 25, though, which is great news otherwise. Bob will be running (and I wing-man’ing) a few more solar sessions, for which we hope the skies agree at least once.

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Observers observing, but not as planned @ Green Lakes. Click for a larger view.

I am pleased to mention that, near the end of the session, a few mountain bikers came by the scopes to ask what we were looking at. When I said it was a failed solar observing session, one of the bikers (in an SOS shirt) mentioned that he had learned some observing with “A guy named Stu.” Taking a few minutes to remember local amateur astronomer extraordinare Stu Forster was a treat that made my otherwise overcast day.

Later that night, during what was maybe-sort-of predicted to be an opening in the sky from 7 to 8, Bob and I waited patiently at Baltimore Woods for his monthly New Moon weekend session. We went with hope, then left with 90 minutes remaining in the session as the cloud cover only got worse-and-worse. Our loss was other’s gain, of course – as we’ve had a few previous January sessions that were painfully cold but clear. 2016 has started warm but painfully cloudy.

Ceres & Pluto @ DPL 4 CNY Skeptics, January 21st

The lecture given at DeWitt Community Library for our fellow science-minded friends in CNY Skeptics was a repeat (mostly) of the Ceres & Pluto lecture given at Liverpool Public Library late last year. With a few new pics and the benefit of one full pass of the lecture, this session went fairly well (minus at least one softball-stump-the-speaker question). Plans are already in the works for a few more lectures, including one at DPL for the non-affiliated library audience.

TACNY Maker Hall @ The Dr. King Community Celebration, January 30th

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A view from the CNYO table (and a Meteor Game). Click for a larger view.

This past Saturday, CNYO hosted a strategically-placed table to talk astro-shop for a third MLK Community Day Celebration in a row (with continued thanks to STEM Superstar Mary Eileen Wood for the invitation to the event at Nottingham High School). With brochures, Prof. John McMahon’s graciously donated table-top scope (and a 38mm eyepiece to be able to get *anything* into focus in the background), Mars and Ceres pebbles, and a gyroscope in tow, we had about 50 kids and adults stop by over the course of the 2 hour 30 min event. Directly behind us, Dr. David Wormuth made a guest appearance and put his surgical skills to the test (well, not really) in a live demo for the attending audience.

Bob Piekiel Hosting His Monthly New Moon Baltimore Woods Session Tonight, 5 February 2016, 7-9 p.m.

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

Tonight is looking reasonable enough to warrant trying to get at least one February observing session in. Pending any final weather update (by 5:00 p.m. tonight here and on the Facebook Page), Bob and I will be at Baltimore Woods Nature Center from 7 to 9 p.m. to enjoy some of the very best (and, to me, THE best) observing of the year.

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Not only is the Southern Sky full of some of the very best Messier Objects of the year (click on the image above, centering Orion at 9:00 p.m. for ease-of-orientation, for a larger view), but we’ll (hopefully) be treated to a sight of Comet Catalina, currently in the direction of Polaris.

For those going out to look at the conditions around 6:00 p.m. – wait! At 6:13 p.m., the ISS will be flying overhead and hitting mag. -3.1 (you can’t miss it! MAP #1 courtesy of heavens-above.com). Attendees will be treated to a second, dimmer fly-by at 7:51 p.m. (only mag. -0.4. MAP #2 courtesy of heavens-above.com).

As with all Baltimore Woods events, they request that you RSVP for the event through their facility. Also note that Baltimore Woods is supported by hosting these events, so there is an associated fee for the event ($5 for BW members, $8 for non-BW-members). To RSVP, contact the BW office at (315) 673-1350 or info@baltimorewoods.org.

CNYO Observing Log: A Summary Of The Last Few Months Of 2015 In Rapid Succession

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

In the interest of full documentation of the year’s events (but because we’re running short on time), a brief post summarizing all of the unsummarized Observing Logs for the past few months (we’re done with observing for 2015 unless something really interesting happens tomorrow night!). Despite mostly unfavorable conditions, we did manage to get a few decent sessions in.

Mid-to-Late 2015 Library Lectures

1. Hazard Branch Library, Syracuse – 20 June 2015

In advance of International SUN-Day on June 21st, CNYO hosted a combined solar astronomy lecture and nearly clouded-out observing session. Provided the sky is clear (which was mostly NOT the case for the 2015 SUN-Day festivities), we’ll be running a session for International SUN-Day 2016 somewhere around town.

2. Seymour Library, Auburn – 6 October 2015

A “general introduction to astronomy” lecture was the staff request for this session, including a bit about getting around the CNY Nighttime Sky (courtesy of CNYO’s handy-dandy brochures) and a little sneak-in of the New Horizons (Pluto!) and Dawn (@ Ceres!) missions. For the record, one of the aesthetically pleasing libraries in CNY.

3. Liverpool Public Library, Liverpool – 23 November 2015

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After a rescheduling of the October 22rd lecture due to pending social obligations, CNYO returned for our twice-yearly (or more) LPL lecture, featuring a more complete session about Ceres and Pluto and all that it means to be dwarf planets in our always-interesting Solar System.

4. CNY Tech User Group @ LPL, Liverpool – 7 December 2015

CNYPCUG (but by “PC,” they mean “Tech”), which meets monthly at LPL, saw the announcement for the November 23rd session and asked for a tech-centric lecture of their own. Mixing up some of the recent dwarf planet discussion with the flurry of missions already active (with an extra emphasis on Hubble imagery), this session ran over 90 minutes and had lots of good discussions to boot.

Late 2015 Observing Sessions

2015 wasn’t a truly bad year for observing, but trying to get clear skies, little-to-no Moon, and short-notice organizing all together for some of our hoped impromptu sessions just didn’t work out too well. The four official sessions on the books are listed below.

1. Total Lunar Eclipse @ Baltimore Woods – 27 September 2015

This, THIS session was a treat. Driving out to Baltimore Woods around 8:00 p.m., the sky was completely overcast with only a few patches of anything clear-like in the distance. Within 5 minutes of BW, however, the sky just opened right up, with some of the last cloud cover making for some excellent final views of the obscured Moon before the whole sky went clear. Over 50 people were at the session, which culminated in a beautiful full lunar eclipse.

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The best part of the whole session – and the one I made mention of for people to take a second look – was just how bright the restive the sky becomes when the Moon is dimmed so significantly. One could have had a full New Moon observing session, complete with galactic views and all the subtle highlights one could wish for, all while having this dark orange/red Moon *right there* in the sky. Bob Piekiel was kind enough to make a montage of the event, which I include above (click for a larger view).

2. North Sportsman’s Club, West Monroe – 10 October 2015

This session was mostly organized on our Facebook Group and even received a small but active (8) attendance (including a guest appearance by New Moon Telescope’s own Ryan Goodson) despite a clerical error in the organization itself not allowing us to make it through the gate (so, not wanting to waste a clear sky, we unloaded and observed from the long NSC driveway – the field being too far away to want to risk carrying scopes around).

3. Joint Nottingham/Corcoran Observing Session @ Corcoran High School – 6 December 2015

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A shining example of Murphy’s Law of Astronomy – “If you schedule it, it will be cloudy. If you cancel, it will be clear.” The session was scheduled for December 4th, with the 5th and 6th as alternates. The 4th was a wash, and the 5th looked to be – until we cancelled the session, after which those who still attended reported having an hour of clear skies for observing. We set the 6th as a make-or-break session – which mostly broke. Despite a busy 70 minutes with 18 attendees, we were only able to catch a poor view of the Andromeda Galaxy and a moderately washed-out view of the Pleiades. The discussion more than made up for the weather, however, and we plan to return again to try our luck near the heavily lit Corcoran High School football field (sadly, Nottingham High School does not fare much better).

4. Geminid Meteor Shower @ Baltimore Woods – 13/14 December 2015

As far as reported observing, this session went solely to Bob Piekiel at his special session at Baltimore Woods. With a one hour clearing on the evening of the 13th, Bob and his two attendees managed six bright meteors and a number of deep sky objects before packing it up. The 14th, sadly, was not an option for observing due to increased cloud cover, meaning CNY, yet again, largely missed out on one of the great meteor showers.

The 2016 calendar is getting populated and plans are in the works for more sessions. Stay tuned and Happy New Year!