Tag Archives: Neaf Solar Star Party

2016 U.S. Star Parties And Astro Events Calendar – Still Remembering Barlow Bob (By Helping Keep The Community Connected)

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

www.cnyo.org/2016-u-s-star-parties-and-astro-events/

I wanted to get this post out before the year gets any further (not farther) along. I am pleased to announce that the 2016 edition of U.S. Star Parties And Astro Events calendar is available on the CNYO website for your star party planning pleasure (and/or download). This is an as-complete-as-google-and-email-will-allow list of all of the star parties happening in the U.S. for the year (complete as of this posting, so check back to the main page often), including all of the events that were announced in 2015 but that haven’t had 2016 dates announced yet (and we’re keeping track of those links as well).

2016feb2_Barlow-Bob-FullThis list, now maintained by Chuck Higgins of Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society and myself and is a continuation of the same original star party list compiled by the late-great Barlow Bob (shown at-play at right, who co-managed it with Chuck Higgins starting a few years back and before BB’s passing in 2014. For those who don’t know about Barlow Bob, his contribution to NEAF in the form of the NEAF Solar Star Party (Astronomy Technology Today article downloaded from www.asgh.org), or his own solar astronomy outreach, please check out THIS LINK on the CNYO website. The image above comes from a nice remembrance at Stargeezer Radio).

You can always find the page by hovering over the CALENDAR link the top menu list on the CNYO website. The excel file and list will be updated as we find new info for new events. If you want to add events to this list, please do so (contact Damian at info@cnyo.org, or use our CONTACT page)! We are also awaiting corrections, comments, new links, additional announcements, etc., from current items on the list – specifically the blue items at the bottom of the page.

And What Is This Star Party Of Which You Speak?

2016feb2_TexasSta-Party2009_341Very briefly – a chance for you to join many other enthusiastic amateur astronomers for a night of group star gazing, comparing eyepieces, assorted discussions, wandering around to see the variety of scopes in the community, and generally having a great time spending as much of the night as you can looking up. You should try to take in at least one each year!

And might one of the events on this list be your first Star Party? Have you been kicked out of one lately and don’t know why? Do you want to NOT face the wrath of several hundred dark-adapted, caffeine-crazed astronomers in a single flicker of a flashlight? The I strongly encourage you to take a look at a few of the links below – which all cover proper Star Party Etiquette. As you will see, all the links basically say the same thing. With that kind of a consensus view, you know that we fellow attendees mean business. If you need more reading, just google star party guide. Attendees have a lot to say!

* www.astrohbg.org/CSSP/images/CSSP_Images/PDF/StarPartyEtiquette.pdf
* www.astro-tom.com/tips_and_advice/star_party_tips.htm
* www.company7.com/library/starpty.html
* www.astromax.org/faq/aa01faq16.htm
* bfsp.org/rules-and-faq/

I hope to see your dark, featureless outline at at least one of the events on the list. If you find one happening right in your own vicinity that you didn’t even know existed, thank Barlow Bob.

U.S. Star Parties And Astro Events Calendar For 2015 – Continuing A Great Idea

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

For several years, those in the Barlow Bob email loop were treated to a Word doc containing a list of East Coast Star Parties, complete with web links and locations “Courtesy Barlow Bob and Friends.” Starting two years ago, this event list was compiled by Barlow Bob and Chuck Higgins of the Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society. For my part, this list served two great purposes. First, it allowed me to keep track of (and pass along) astro events not too far from Central New York (many an easy drive for overnight stays). Second, it was a great way to see how other clubs had their websites arranged (which was great for stealing ideas and widgets – it’s a large enough community where you can see what seems to work and not work with only a few hours of snooping around!).

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Barlow Bob at the center of the 2014 NEAF Solar Star Party.

As a way to continue Barlow Bob’s tradition of outreach beyond his own solar observing sessions (I often called him the “Postman of Amateur Astronomy” for the number of emails he would forward along), I am pleased to report that the compilation of 2015 Star Parties has been completed (and we’ve only missed a few events already) by Chuck Higgins and myself. The link can be found when you hover over the “Calendar” link above and an official page has been setup on the CNYO website, complete with PDF, DOCX, and HTML versions (the HTML case so you can copy + paste the table into your own pages if you like).

2015 U.S. Star Parties And Astro Events

PDF VersionWord DOCX VersionTable’d HTML Version

(www.cnyo.org/2015-u-s-star-parties-and-astro-events/)

The list is, as of 6 April 2015, as accurate as our web searches and other organizations’ websites has allowed – but we expect a few changes to appear as situations require and as some organizations announce their official dates. We’ll keep the official page here updated accordingly.

In the meantime, I see this list and can only remark on how many clubs we have in the US full of members who enjoy and appreciate the Night Sky. As you’ll see checking out event info pages, these Star Parties are usually wide open to the public as well. As someone who’s organized such events, I can say with certainly that it is no trivial matter to arrange all of the details for a successful Star Party. That is to say, the hosts for these events really want *you* to enjoy and appreciate the Night Sky as well.

If you see a problem, want to add an event, or have any other comment about the page, please drop a line to info@cnyo.org and Chuck and I will reply accordingly. Otherwise, get yourself outside a few times this year!

Remembering The Godfather Of Solar Astronomy, Robert “Barlow Bob” Godfrey

The field of amateur astronomy hosts many different personalities. Some love to know anything and everything about astronomy equipment. Some prefer the study of astronomy through the ages. Some enjoy the banter around a large scope with others at midnight. Some enjoy the quiet solitude of a small dome or open field. Still others enjoy setting their equipment up in the middle of the chaos of a large group of people to show them the sights. Some take their love of outreach well past the observing field, taking it upon themselves to educate others by taking what they know (or don’t yet know) and making it accessible to the larger audience of amateurs and non-observers alike.

Amateur astronomy has seen a few key players pass this year, starting with John Dobson this past January and the noted comet hunter Bill Bradfield just a week ago. Both are noteworthy in their passing in that, amongst a large, large number of astro-hobbyists, their names are held in higher esteem because of their unique contributions to amateur astronomy. In the case of Bill Bradfield, he singly was responsible for finding 18 comets that bear his name, making him responsible for helping map part of the contents of our own Solar System from his home in Australia (reportedly taking 3500 hours to do so). In the case of John Dobson, he not only synthesized many great ideas in scope building with his own to produce the class of telescope that bears his name, but he also made it part of his life’s work to bring the distant heavens to anyone and everyone through his founding of what we call today “sidewalk astronomy.”

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Barlow Bob at the center of the 2014 NEAF Solar Star Party. Click for a larger view.

The CNY amateur astronomy community learned of the passing of Barlow Bob on June 13th through an email from Chuck Higgins of MVAS. I suspect most people in the community didn’t even know his real name was Robert Godfrey until the announcement of his passing. The announcement of his passing had much farther to go, as the list of people and clubs that Barlow Bob had made better through his own outreach is as large as his many contributions to solar astronomy. For the record, below is a snippet of his contributions to the CNY astronomy community generally and to me specifically.

The Postman And Telephone Operator of Northeast Astronomy

I have a decent handle on all of the astronomy clubs in the Northeast thanks to Barlow Bob’s habit of forwarding newsletters and email announcements around to his email list. Those who’ve not edited a club newsletter do not know how much this simple gesture was appreciated! In my 2008 reboot of the Syracuse Astronomical Society newsletter the Astronomical Chronicle, the biggest problem facing its monthly continuation was new content. Not only did Barlow Bob provide a steady stream of articles for “Barlow Bob’s Corner,” but I learned about several free sources of space science news from these other newsletters (the NASA News Feed and the NASA Space Place being chief among them – still sources of news and updates freely available to all). He saved myself, and the SAS, several months of organizing content and finding relevant material. Those newsletters remain available in PDF format on the SAS website, many peppered with varied hot topics in solar astronomy that Barlow Bob chose to write about for “Barlow Bob’s Corner.”

As part of his aggregative exploits, amateur astronomers in his email loop were also treated to a yearly events calendar of nearly all of the East Coast star parties and special events. His and Chuck Higgins’ 2014 Events Calendar makes up the majority of the non-celestial phenomena listed in CNYO’s current calendar.

I also had the pleasure of being one of the recipients of his many (many!) phone calls as a regular of his “astro-rounds” call list, during which I learned early on to have a pen and paper ready for all of the companies to check out and solar projects to search for. Barlow Bob loved being on the edge of solar observing technology, both in pure observational astronomy and in solar spectroscopy (his Solar Spectroscopy History article is among the most concise stories of the history of the field). A number of his voice messages lasted little more than 15 seconds, but provided enough detail for a requisite google search and email exchange after.

“You keep writing them, I’ll keep publishing them.”

Barlow Bob was, by all metrics, a prolific writer on the topic of solar astronomy. My Barlow Bob CD contains at least 50 full articles along with pictures, equipment reviews, and society newsletters including his articles. Barlow Bob took great pleasure equally in his own understanding some aspect of solar astronomy and his committing that understanding to keyboard and computer screen for others. While many amateur astronomers delight in knowing something well enough to be able to talk about it with authority, precious few in the community actually take the next step and distill all they know into something others far beyond their immediate sphere can appreciate. Even those who’ve never been to NEAF likely knew of Barlow Bob through his writings. Along with his founding of the NEAF Solar Star Party, his many articles will serve as his lasting contribution to the field. We will continue to include Barlow Bob’s articles on the CNYO website and we hope that other societies will consider doing the same. Some of those articles are available on his dedicated webpage at NEAF Solar, http://www.neafsolar.com/barlowbob.html.

The Bob-o-Scope Comes To Syracuse

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Barlow Bob and “the works” at Darling Hill Observatory. Click for a larger view.

While Syracuse only managed to have one solar session hosted by Barlow Bob, that one session provided a number of lasting memories. After a few months of planning around available weekends and Barlow Bob’s own vacation schedule, we finally settled on the early afternoon of 30 July 2011 for a solar session (with a lecture by CNY’s own Bob Piekiel to follow that evening, making for one of the better amateur astronomy weekends in Syracuse) at Darling Hill Observatory, home of the Syracuse Astronomical Society.

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Very likely him at Darling Hill Observatory. Click for a larger view.

Our initial plan was for an 11 a.m. set-up and a noon to 3-ish observing session. Saturday morning started a bit earlier than I expected with a phone call at 9:30 a.m. – Barlow Bob, ever ready to be out and about on a clear day, was outside the locked front gate of Darling Hill Observatory. A frantic prep and drive out later, Barlow Bob and I set up and placed his many scopes on the observing grounds to the delight of about 30 attendees. I myself took one look through the Bob-o-Scope and began calling people, telling them “you have to come and see this.” A full day of observing in, Barlow Bob didn’t end up leaving Darling Hill until just before 5 p.m. The hour we took to leisurely pack his station wagon with all of his gear was full of shop talk, people and equipment to be made aware of, and plans on a similar event at some point in the future. That hang and the view through his Bob-o-Scope are two of my favorite memories during my tenure as SAS president.

Barlow Bob and a spectroscopy mini-lecture at Darling Hill Observatory, 30 July 2011.

The Sun, being the excellent, usually accessible target that it is, is ideal for hosting impromptu observing sessions at most any location. Members of CNYO now do as a small group (and with cheaper equipment) what Barlow Bob would do single-handedly – set up and observe “with attitude.”

Not Just NEAF

Barlow Bob is known to many in the community as the founder of the NEAF Solar Star Party and as the author of articles for “Barlow Bob’s Corner.” To those of us with a bent towards public outreach, Barlow Bob is an example of someone who could take some fancy equipment and his own know-how and run a one-host show. Barlow Bob committed a great deal of his own time and talent to doing for our nearest star what those like John Dobson did for far more distant objects. Despite the many, many amateur astronomers in the world today, it’s still a field where a single person can have a strong influence simply by being a perfectly-polished primary mirror that reflects their own love of the field for others to appreciate. Amateur astronomy outreach can learn a lot from Barlow Bob’s example and CNYO will continue in his footsteps of making safe, variously-filtered solar sights available to the public as part of our observing efforts. May we all become a bit more familiar with our nearest star, following in Barlow Bob’s footsteps to observe it “with attitude.”

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“It’s like looking in a mirror!” Barlow Bob and I at Kopernik’s 2013 Astrofest.

* Announcement of his passing on Cloudy Nights: cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/6581115/Main/6578514

* David Eicher’s announcement at astronomy.com: cs.astronomy.com/asy/b/daves-universe/archive/2014/06/16/solar-astronomy-guru-quot-barlow-bob-quot-dies.aspx

* A memorial webpage at forevermissed.com: http://www.forevermissed.com/robert-a-godfrey/