Sunday, September 25, 2011

Last Star Party of the Season was fantastic!

September 23, 2011
We had a beautiful night for the last Star Party on the Prairie out at the Minnesota State University Moorhead's Regional Science Center. The sunset was unusually pink. Perhaps aerosols or smoke from the large forest fire in NE Minnesota? Once it got dark we had a beautiful view of the sky on the first day of fall. The September equinox was this morning at 4:05 am. It was a wonderfully clear night with a bright Milky Way arching overhead. Most of our audience was middle school students from area schools. Jupiter was a big hit when it rose above the eastern treeline near the end of our viewing session. Among the other objects viewed were Alberio, the Hercules globular star cluster (M 13), the Andromeda galaxy (M 31), and the Ring nebula (M 51). People enjoyed having the constellations pointed out with the awesome green laser pointers. We are making plans for an October "Observe the Moon" event at Discovery Middle School. Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 13 Post Meeting Notes

We had a smaller meeting at the Regional Science Center - Buffalo River Site on Tuesday, September 13.

If I counted right, we had nine members in attendance, and two young aspiring astronomers (grand children).

The original plan was to do some observing and to hopefully catch a glimpse of comet Garradd (C/2009 P1). The weather didn't play nicely with us however. Towards the end of the evening there were patches of clear sky, but the winds had picked up so much that no one felt like setting up a scope.

Indoors we discussed two upcoming events:

First the last Science Center Star Party of the season is scheduled for Friday, September 23. As usual the star part is at the Buffalo River Site. The event officially starts at 7:30 PM and runs until 9:30 PM. Club members running telescopes that night should plan to arrive around 6:30 PM to setup.

Second we discussed hosting an event in conjunction with the International Observe the Moon Night. If we host an event it will be on Saturday, October 8th.

We also discuseed some other exciting news. Our club is now a member of NASA's Night Sky Network. This is exciting for us as it will help increase visibility for our club and the events we participate in. We'll be sending more information about the Night Sky Network to our members soon.

Dave also led a discussion on why the moon looks larger at this time of year. Hopefully we can get him to post a blog entry here to tell more about it.

Dave also gave us an update on the new digital projector slated for install at the Planetarium. It sounds like the installation date is targeted for October 15. They are working on acquiring new programs to take full advantage of the new projector.

That's it for our first blog post!