Tag Archives: Green Lakes State Park

Session Announcements: Bob Piekiel’s Summer 2016 Observing Schedule (With Event Links)

UPDATE: Saturday, July 9th, 5:00 p.m. – There’s supposed to be an open pocket of clear sky tonight, so Bob is going ahead with the Clark Reservation session. As a bit of advanced warning, Bob was informed late yesterday that Clark Res may be charging a $5 admission fee to the park for the event (due to the +75 people we had last year).

UPDATE: Friday, July 8th, 4:00 p.m. – Tonight’s Clark Reservation session has been rescheduled to tomorrow (Saturday, July 9th) due to cloud cover. Update to follow Saturday afternoon.

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

In the interest of a little more advanced notice for scheduled events, this page is meant to help you get your own schedules synchronized with upcoming nighttime and solar sessions hosted by Bob Piekiel (with his fellow CNYO’ers serving as wing-observers). Pending additional announcements, the list below fills out his Summer Roster (now with meetup.com and Facebook Events included).

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The attending crowd at last summer’s Clark Reservation session.

For the record, seven sessions in two months counts as a whole lot of fantastic CNY astronomy outreach!

July 8/9 – Bob Piekiel @ Clark Reservation, 8:00 – 10:30 p.m.

* Free and open to the public
* nysparks.com/events/event.aspx?e=126-16053.0
* facebook | meetup.com

Planets, stars, and a crescent moon! The summer skies are at their finest, when we can look directly into the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and see it’s many rich star clusters and nebulae. Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible. We might even get a peek at Mercury.

July 22/23 – Bob Piekiel @ Baltimore Woods, 9:00 – 11:00 p.m.

* 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
* facebook | meetup.com

Summer skies at their finest, with the many rich star clusters and nebulae visible in the direction of the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible.

July 29/30 – Bob Piekiel @ Green Lakes, 8:00 – 10:30 p.m.

* Free and open to the public
* facebook | meetup.com

The summer skies are at their finest, when we can look directly into the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and see it’s many rich star clusters and nebulae. The Delta Aquarids meteor shower peaks that night, and Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible. We might even get a peek at Mercury.

August 12/13 – Bob Piekiel @ Baltimore Woods, 8:30 – 11:00 p.m.

* 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
* facebook | meetup.com

The annual persied meteor shower, one of the year’s finest. Bring a blanket or lawn chair to recline on while not looking through a telescope. Great views of the summer Milky way, with the planets Mars Jupiter, Venus and Saturn visible.

August 13/14 – Bob Piekiel @ Clark Reservation, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

* Free and open to the public
* facebook | meetup.com

Solar program! Using special telescopes, come and see solar flares, prominences, sunspots, and magnetic storms on our nearest star, the Sun!

August 26/27 – Bob Piekiel @ Green Lakes, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

* Free and open to the public
* facebook | meetup.com

Summer skies again, Plus a stunning conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the west on those nights, and Mars and Saturn also.

August 27/28 – Bob Piekiel @ Baltimore Woods, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

* 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
* facebook | meetup.com

SOLAR VIEWING PROGRAM. Using special telescopes, come and see solar flares, prominences, sunspots, and magnetic storms on our nearest star, the sun!

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

2016feb2_makerhall

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 Hosts Observing Sessions At Baltimore Woods (And More!) – 2016 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 2016 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.

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 8 (Fri.)/9 (Sat. weather alternate), 7-9 p.m. (meetup.com)

Winter skies at their finest, with the many bright clusters and nebulae surrounding the constellation of Orion. The planet Uranus will be visible as well, and maybe a few leftover Quadrantid meteors.

* February 5 (Fri.)/6 (Sat. weather alternate), 7-9 p.m.

Winter skies again, with the many beautiful sights surrounding the constellation Orion. Another good look at the planet Uranus, and we may get our first peek at Jupiter as it rises in the east.

* February 27 (Sat.)/28 (Sun. weather alternate), 1-3 p.m.

Solar program in the parking lot.

* March 4 (Fri.)/5 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Jupiter will be about as close to earth as it gets, so it will be bigger and brighter than any other time in the upcoming year. Come see the king of the planets, plus a final look at the bright winter skies.

* April 15 (Fri.)/16 (Sat. weather alternate), 6-9 p.m. (Notice the early start time!)

This will be our best chance to see the planet Mercury, as it will be as high in the western sky after sunset as it ever gets. Jupiter will be visible, plus a bright moon. While the moon will blot out faint objects, this will be a great night to view the planets!

* Monday, May 9, 8-10 a.m.

Rare Transit of Mercury Across the Sun. The planet Mercury will move directly between the Earth and the Sun. Viewers with telescopes and approved solar filters will be able to observe the dark disk of the planet Mercury moving across the face of the Sun. This is an extremely rare event that occurs only once every few years. There will be one other transit of Mercury in 2019 and then the next one will not take place until 2039. (Venus will also be visible right near the sun as well).

* June 10 (Fri.)/11 (Sat. weather alternate), 9:00-11:00 p.m.

The start of Summer skies, with the planet Jupiter in good view, and Mars about as close to earth as it will get for the year.

* July 22 (Fri.)/23 (Sat. weather alternate), 9:00-11:00 p.m.

Summer skies at their finest, with the many rich star clusters and nebulae visible in the direction of the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible.

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

The annual persied meteor shower, one of the year’s finest. Bring a blanket or lawn chair to recline on while not looking through a telescope. Great views of the summer Milky way, with the planets Mars Jupiter, Venus and Saturn visible.

* August 27 (Sat.)/28 (Sun. weather alternate), 1:00-3:00 p.m.

SOLAR VIEWING PROGRAM. Using special telescopes, come and see solar flares, prominences, sunspots, and magnetic storms on our nearest star, the sun!

* September 9 (Fri.)/10 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:00 p.m.

Say goodbye to summer skies, and view the softer constellations of Autumn. Neptune will be visible, as well maybe our last look at Saturn before it sets. Venus is getting bigger and brighter. We will also get a good look at the first-quarter moon, displaying a wealth of craters and mountain ranges.

* October 21 (Fri.)/22 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:00 p.m.

The Orionid meteor shower peaks at this time, plus Venus, Uranus and Neptune are in great viewing positions. The fall skies, with their many bright galaxies, will be visible through telescopes. Bring a lawn chair to lie back and watch for meteors.

* November 4 (Fri.)/5 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00-9:30 p.m.

This is the night of the Taurid meteor shower. Venus, Uranus and Neptune will be visible, as well as the start of the winter skies, with their bright nebulae and star clusters. Bring a lawn chair to lie back and watch for meteors.

*December 13 (Tue.)/14 (Wed. weather alternate), 7:00-10:00 p.m.

This is the night of the Geminid meteor shower, the year’s finest. Even though the moon will be nearly full, many Geminids are so bright they can still be seen. Bring a lawn chair to lie back and watch for meteors, and enjoy telescope views of some of the brightest winter star clusters and nebulae. Depending on the tree line, we MIGHT get a quick peek at Mercury just as it gets dark. Uranus and Neptune will be visible all evening. Venus will be a bold crescent just before dark.

Green Lakes:

* January 9 (Sat.)/10 (Sun. weather alternate), 1-3 p.m. (meetup.com)

Come view our nearest star, the sun, close up in special telescopes that give interesting views of solar flares, eruptions, and sunspots. At the parking lot behind the main office building.

* February 26 (Fri.)/27 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Come see the winter skies at their finest! The area around the constellation of Orion has more bright stars, nebulae, and clusters than any other part of the sky, plus, the planet Jupiter will be in good view as well. At the parking lot behind the main office.

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

The summer skies are at their finest, when we can look directly into the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and see it’s many rich star clusters and nebulae. The Delta Aquarids meteor shower peaks that night, and Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible. We might even get a peek at Mercury.

* August 26 (Fri.)/27 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Summer skies again, Plus a stunning conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the west on those nights, and Mars and Saturn also.

Clark Reservation:

* July 8 (Fri.)/9 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:30 p.m.

Planets, stars, and a crescent moon! The summer skies are at their finest, when we can look directly into the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and see it’s many rich star clusters and nebulae. Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible. We might even get a peek at Mercury.

* August 13 (Sat.)/14 (Sun. weather alternate), 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Solar program! Using special telescopes, come and see solar flares, prominences, sunspots, and magnetic storms on our nearest star, the Sun!

Bob Piekiel Interview On thenewshouse.com – “Barefoot Astronomer Shares Passion With Stargazers”

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

Close to the recent total lunar eclipse this past September 27th, I was approached by Andy Belt of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on the S.U. campus for an article he was writing about local amateur astronomer extraordinaire Bob Piekiel. I searched for several days after, waiting to see it hit the internets, then forgot to keep searching, and have just recently stumbled upon the article at thenewshouse.com. A nice write-up about someone many know by voice from his many sessions at Baltimore Woods and Green Lakes (to name a few), even if they don’t know him by sight (given when the observing sessions usually start!).

And, for the record, I’ll say that, if you make it down to my quote, the “the founder” should be “a founder.” Otherwise, I can’t complain. An excerpt is included below for the official record (and click here for a PDF of the full article for website posterity), then I direct your attention to the full article at: www.thenewshouse.com/story/barefoot-astronomer-shares-passion-stargazers

2015dec8_piekielwithtelescopeedited2

Article and photo by Andy Belt
September 15, 2015

Amateur astronomer known as “Barefoot Bob” educates locals
during monthly astronomy events across Central New York.

At the end of Wilson Drive, a quiet street in the sleepy village of Marcellus, New York, is a house on a small hill that stands out from all the others. The home would look like any of the other low-key ranches on the block if not for the 12 solar panels installed to the roof, or the eight-foot-tall wind turbine perched on top. A vibrant greenhouse takes up half of this already modest dwelling.

But the crown jewel of the house is in the backyard in the form of large twin telescopes that date back more than forty years. After all, this is the home of Robert Piekiel, one of Central New York’s most respected amateur astronomers. In his mind, no true stargazer’s home would be complete without the proper equipment.

Piekiel has learned nearly everything there is to know about this particular hardware. Since 2006, he’s authored 11 books on telescopes and still has more in the pipeline. A walking encyclopedia, Piekiel’s most extensive work (a history of Celestron, his favorite telescope company), took up over 1,800 pages. A CD-ROM copy of the book is available for “lighter” reading.

Born in 1961, Piekiel’s fascination with space began at an early age. “The first time I saw the rings of Saturn through a telescope as a ten-year-old, it was like a religious experience,” Piekiel said, leaning on his impressive Celestron 22 telescope, his model of choice at the moment. “I think it is for everyone who has the chance to see it.”

CNYO Observing Log: Perseid Week @ Marcellus Library, Baltimore Woods, Beaver Lake, and Green Lakes, 11 – 14 August 2015

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

2015aug25_two-moons-hoaxThis was, far and away, the busiest and best-attended Perseid Meteor Shower week in my history as a CNY-residing amateur astronomer, ranking third overall in public interest behind a Darling Hill Observatory session for the closest approach of Mars in 2003 (the origin of that completely useless meme about Mars and the Moon appearing the same size this (and nearly every one since 2003) August) and the Transit of Venus event held along the Armory Square Creekwalk back in 2012. I would argue that a large part of this local interest (as pertaining to CNYO events, anyway) was due to the efforts of Glenn Coin at syracuse.com in keeping science (and, specifically, space science) in the local paper/websites. His articles following the days approaching, as well as the instigation of we locals to take another shot or two at seeing anything on alternatively partly-cloudy nights, can be found at the links below:

* 6 Aug – Catch the Perseid meteor shower at Baltimore Woods viewing party (by Emily Nichols)

* 10 Aug – Perseid meteor shower: What’s the best night to see it in CNY?

* 12 Aug – ‘Amazing’ Perseid meteor shower: When, where and how to see it in Central NY

* 12 Aug – Perseid meteor shower update: CNY skies should be mostly clear for peak

* 13 Aug – Miss the Perseid meteor shower last night? Try tonight

* 13 Aug – Perseid meteor shower: Watch video of amazing display above the Finger Lakes (by Lauren Long)

Our continued thanks to Glenn Coin and syracuse.com for covering the big yearly astronomy events!

Solar Observing Session At Marcellus Free Library, August 11th

2015august25_marcellus

sunspots_1024_20150811Our Perseid week actually started in the daytime, with a Solar Observing Session run by Bob Piekiel as part of a How-To Festival at Marcellus Free Library on Tuesday, August 11. Like the Sun itself, the Sun’s importance in irradiating comets as they pass into the inner Solar System and melt enough to leave the trails of cosmic debris that become our yearly meteor showers cannot go unnoticed. This session featured Bob’s Coronado 90 mm H-alpha scope, a small Baader’ed refracting scope, and Christopher Schuck’s Coronado PST. Over the course of about 90 minutes (from the session start to the Sun slipping behind the high tree line), we had about 25 people cycle past the scopes to observe numerous medium-sized prominences and a reasonably clear Sunspot 2396 (click the image at right for a larger view from NASA/SOHO).

Besides the continuous dialog about all things solar, more than a few attempts to capture images through the scopes were had. While smartphones are not the ideal gear for accomplishing this (due to both the difficulty in proper placement and the relative sensitivity of the sensors to monochromatic light (in our cases, the dark red H-alpha band)), Chris did manage a pic that included multiple prominences, one power line, and the ever-constraining tree line (below).

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Smartphone Coronado PST pic by Christopher Schuck. Click for a larger view.

A Three-For: Baltimore Woods (Aug. 12th), Beaver Lake (Aug. 13th), and Green Lakes (Aug. 14th)

Bob and I handled scope and lecture duties for the three peak Perseid nights, hitting well-separated locations and a few overlapping attendees. As all three sessions were nearly identical in their content and observing targets, I’ll briefly summarize the unique aspects of each event before giving the combined (and nearly identical) observing lists.

Baltimore Woods (August 12th)

With the best time for the Perseids predicted to be between the late evening of the 12th and 13th, Baltimore Woods Nature Center was predictable busy. Attendees began to arrive around 8 p.m., with total attendance maxing out at about 65 people (and the parking lot itself maxing out before that). With an introductory lecture and white light warning provided, the entire 8:30 to near-11:00 p.m. session only included three shooting stars. Two were moderately bright (and fleeting). A third, the best of all three days, hit atmosphere above a large set of clouds, yet was bright enough to light the clouds like a green-twinged lightning bolt.

2015august25_baltimorewoods

Bob Piekiel and the calm before the storm.

The evening itself turned out mostly cloudy, providing just enough open pockets of dark sky for views of Saturn, a few Messiers, some Constellation touring, one ISS pass, and the three observed meteors that graced the skies that night. Cloud cover became all-consuming just after 10:30 p.m. and we packed up and were gone by 11:00 p.m.

In the interest of trying to catch at least one Perseid by photo, I trekked out to Cazenovia Lake around 4:00 a.m. in 30 minutes of trying, I managed only a single shooter (in the image below, it looks like a white arrow (at bottom) pointing to some dim objects).

2015august25_cazenovialake

A sharp streak of a Perseid in an otherwise poorly-balanced image. Click for a larger view.

Beaver Lake Nature Center (August 13th)

CNYO’s official seasonal Beaver Lake Nature Center session was greatly simplified by having the Baltimore Woods session the night before (meaning Bob and I could attend both sessions with no overlap). With the session moved from the Beaver Lake rotunda to the overflow parking, we found ourselves in a darker, lower tree-lined, and easy to arrange location (meaning we may request that all future sessions be held in the same spot!). Beaver Lake skies were not much clearer than Baltimore Woods, but the waits between observables was shorter and our ability to cycle through objects and attendees was improved. With additional announcements on syracuse.com, the final Beaver Lake count was five meteors and about 75 people from our 8:30 introductions to 11:00 p.m. pack-up.

Green Lakes State Park (August 14th)

2015august25_greenlakes

Upcoming festivities announced during our session.

Our Green Lakes State Park session in July peaked near 120 people (some for the stars, some for the s’mores), which is quite a crowd for 3 scopes! Despite the predictions of clearer skies than previous days and generally excellent evening weather, the August session capped itself at about 70 people (with a bunch of them being young amateur astronomers who packed it in early, leaving a smaller group of about 15 to stay until our 11:00 p.m. Ending to pick off several Messiers after Saturn slid behind Green Lakes’ high southern tree line. Going solely by “ooh-and-aah” statistics, Green Lakes attendees may have seen a total of 5 Perseids (none rivaling the one from Baltimore Woods, but easily seen in the mostly clear skies above).

Observing List (More Of The Summer Same, And For Good Reason)

As has been discussed many times on this website, the importance of introducing new observers to easily observed and described objects cannot be understated. The hunt for dim NGCs and equally dim Messiers is always worthwhile with sufficient time and clear skies, but the brand new observer (arguably) benefits more from prominent views of objects such as the Moon, M13 in Hercules, Alcor and Mizar, M57 (the Ring Nebula) in Lyra, The Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and the bright visible planets each evening. These objects are easily seen by anyone approaching the eyepiece and can be used to give new observers a kind of “upper limit” on their expectations of what a scope is capable of magnifying from ground level. Amateur astronomy, like chess, can become a lifelong training in subtlety. That said, the mechanics are easy to learn by slowly introducing the many kinds of players.

With two scopes and +60 attendees at each session, we were definitely limited in our observing variety simply by the lengths of the lines behind each scope. That said, we were able to give all of the patient attendees some great views of the night’s best for each Perseid session. The short list of objects is below (listed according to the order in which they’re observable as the skies get darker and darker):

* Saturn (our bright planet for the Summer and Fall)
* Alcor and Mizar in Ursa Major, Albireo in Cygnus, Herschel’s Garnet Star in Cepheus
* M13 (globular cluster) in Hercules, M57 (The Ring Nebula) in Lyra
* M27 (The Dumbbell Nebula) in Velpecula
* M31 (The Andromeda Galaxy) and M32 (one of its two satellite galaxies) in Andromeda
* M51 (The Whirlpool Galaxy) in Canes Venatici

[envira-gallery id=”4192″]

M13, M57, and M27. Photos by Bob Piekiel. Click for a larger view.

In closing, we had an excellent week-long turnout for the sessions and are grateful to everyone who came out to make this a busy Perseid show. We hope all of the new faces on our meetup and Facebook pages keep track of upcoming events – and we hope to see your dark, featureless outlines at another 2015 session!