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BAS Welcomes Stephen Ramsden to Chattanooga

Have you ever seen the sun?  Really?  No, probably not.  We’re told not to look at the sun from a very young age.  Some of us, however, defy our elders (and better sense) and stare right into that blinding glare; astronomers are a bit special that way.  Some new astronomers learn from the initial moments of blindness and find ways to observe our nearest stellar neighbor without burning holes in their eyes.  These individuals are rare, but one by the name of Stephen Ramsden visited the BAS at the Jones observatory for the March 2013 meeting.

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Starry Nights at Russell Cave

The Barnard Astronomical Society teamed up with the Russell Cave National Park for an inspiring night of gazing on January 19th, 2013.  More than 180 people showed up, including two Cub Scout groups and members of the Chattanooga Hiking Club, to view the cosmos through a variety of telescopes.  It is truly an exhilarating experience for any astronomy enthusiast to hear the awe and wonder in people’s voices as they have their first glimpse of Jupiter, magnified 180 times.

The temperature dipped into the low 30s by 7:30pm.  Star gazers, young and old alike, were packed up and ready to leave by the time telescopes began collecting frost at 8pm.  The clouds started rolling in at about 8:30 and the few that braved the cold, were able to witness an incredible 22 degree moon halo formed by hexagonal ice crystals in the air!

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Sewanee Field Trip 2012

The November BAS meeting has traditionally been a field trip to the lab of Dr. Doug Durig at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.  Dr. Durig's research is primarily in detection of near-earth objects (NEOs) and asteroids.  His lab in in the Cordell-Lorenz Observatory on the U. of S. campus, which is home to an Alvin Clark & Sons 6-inch refracting telescope which dates from 1886.

Dr Durig and CameraDr. Durig presented various videos demonstrating several photographic techniques. He is particularly keen on some new tracking mounts - the "Cube" series from iOptron. Dr. Durig also announced that his lab will be expanding its research activities to include photometric surveys for exoplanets utilizing techniques developed for his NEO research.

We then visited Dr. Durig's lab in the Cordell-Lorenz Observatory. Dr. During showed us various new camera configurations and examples of the iOptron tracking mounts. We then went outside to do some observing. The evening was extremely pleasant - not too cold and no wind with perfectly clear, moonless skies. The Milky Way was plainly visible, with Jupiter well above the horizon. Dr. Durig had their newish (donated) Questar telescope on Jupiter, and a 12-inch DOB on M31.

Clark Refractor 640

Dr. Durig and his students then opened the dome of the Clark 6-inch refractor. Everybody had an opportunity to view Jupiter through this instrument, and it was absolutely breathtaking.  A very interesting and delightful experience!

Attendees:

Members

Richard Clements (President)
Ralph McConnell (Vice President)
Bill Seymour (Secretary)
Gary Caldwell
Chuck Wilson
Kevin Kienholz
Grant Summerlin
John Anderson

Visitors

Heather Clements
Stephen Clements
Julie Livingood
Kathy McConnell
Mr. & Mrs. Anderson (John's parents){jcomments on}

Julie at Clark

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Earth meets Sky for a star party!

The Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center teamed up with the Barnard Astronomical Society for a conjunction of Earth and Sky on October 13th, 1012.  

Susan Russell, School and Program Director for the Arboretum and Nature center was happy to host a star party celebrating the skies.  They were joined by ten members of the public, once of which brought their own 8 inch Dobsonian.  The BAS brought nine of their own telescopes and two sets of binoculars for everyone to enjoy.  Messier 11 was especially impressive and Uranus was visible as well!

The BAS hopes to schedule another star party with the Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center soon!  The scenery is just too hard to pass up!  

 

 

 

 

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International Observe the Moon Night

Impromptu observing of the Moon for International Observe the Moon Night‭ ‬at Coolidge Park‭

On the first day of‭ ‬Autumn‭ ‬in the northern hemisphere,‭ eleven members of the ‬Barnard Astronomical‭ ‬Society brought eight state-of-the-art telescopes and invited the public to‭ ‬observe‭ ‬the detail and complexity of Earth‭’‬s only natural satellite,‭ ‬the Moon.‭ After the sun set and the Moon gained contrast, those in attendance were able to view the‭ ‬“Lunar X‭”‬,‭ ‬which is only visible during a four hour window before the Moon‭’‬s first quarter phase‭! ‬Many attendees from the public both young and old had never seen the Moon through a telescope,‭ ‬and their reactions‭ ‬at the eyepiece were full of enthusiasm! 

Members of the BAS began setting‭ ‬up at the park around‭ ‬5pm.  Members Bill Roddy and Richard Clements‬ brought special sun filters for their telescopes and everyone was able to see ‭sunspot AR1575 ‬on its churning,‭ ‬crackling trip across the face of the Sun.‭  Richard Smith used his refractor telescope to project the Sun onto a piece of paper! ‬Although the originally planned time to adjourn was at‭ ‬7pm,‭ ‬an intensely and steadily curious public kept the BAS presenting to the public until‭ ‬9:30pm

This exciting and well-attended outreach program demonstrated a keen public interest in astronomy as well as the Barnard Astronomical Society’s unique position in Chattanooga to promote the hobby. Great appreciation goes‭ ‬to everyone‭ ‬who‭ ‬showed up‭!

Fun facts about the moon:‭

  • The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth,‭ ‬so only one side or‭ ‬59%‭ ‬is visible.
  • The Moon is‭ ‬1/4‭ ‬the size of Earth,‭ ‬making it the largest natural satellite in the Solar System,‭ ‬relative to the size of its planet.
  • The Moon rotates at‭ ‬10‭ ‬miles per hour,‭ ‬compared to Earth‭’‬s rotation of‭ ‬1,000‭ ‬miles per hour.‭
  • While the Moon‭’‬s origin is still not yet fully understood,‭ ‬it‭’‬s thought to have formed about‭ ‬4.5‭ ‬million years ago.
  • The multi layer space suits worn by the astronauts to the Moon weighed‭ ‬180‭ ‬pounds on Earth,‭ ‬but thirty pounds on the Moon due to the lower gravity‭ (‬only‭ ‬17%‭)‬.

Observing the Moon

More pictures here.

 

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