Program Note: Friday 7/13 Meeting of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club


Friday night at 8:00pm, July 13, the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club is pleased to host Astronomy Magazine columnist and President of the Amateur Astronomy Makers of Boston, Glenn Chaple, with a presentation titled “Double Stars For Backyard Telescopes — Double Stars are TWICE the Fun!”

In the 19th century and early decades of the 20th, when refractors were the telescopes of choice, double stars were the favorite fare of amateur astronomers. With the discovery in the 1920s that the so-called “spiral nebulae” were actually distant galaxies and the emergence in popularity of the reflecting telescope, double stars took a back seat to deep-sky objects.

Light pollution has made it harder and harder to observe deep-sky objects, but double stars remain relatively unaffected by streetlights or the Moon. As a result, double stars are regaining popularity among backyard astronomers.

In a colorful and informative presentation, Glenn will explain the nature of double and multiple stars, discuss the history of double star astronomy, and offer hints on observing double stars with unaided eye, binoculars, or telescope. He’ll conclude with a look at a Top Ten double star list, the Double Star Marathon, and resources for the double star enthusiast; you’ll come away well-prepared for some double-star observing.

We’ll hope to see you on Friday July 13, from 8:00 to 9:30, for an evening of great snacks, great conversation, and a terrific presentation by a GAAC favorite.

GAAC meets on the second Friday of every month except August, at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan Street in Lanesville. There are no dues or fees, and the public is warmly invited. No special knowledge or equipment is needed to have a great time. For more info on the club and its activities, see the website, Facebook page, or follow the club on Twitter, @GAACster.


Friday June 8 is “Welcome to Amateur Astronomy” night at GAAC!


Friday night, June 8, is the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club’s “Welcome to Amateur Astronomy” night!

This annual event is always a GAAC favorite. We’ll be featuring a group of quick, 10-15 minute presentations on topics of interest to anyone interested in pursuing astronomy, as well as a roomful of different binoculars and telescopes to inspect and ask questions about, and all the great conversation and goodies you’ve come to expect at GAAC meetings.

You’ll be able to find out more about what you need to get started, how to do astrophotography, places to shop and how much to spend, what you’ll be able to see, the advantages of different telescope optical designs and brands, and much much more.

If the weather cooperates we can step outside after the meeting and look around a bit with some of the scopes. Jupiter’s up!

You’re invited — see you there!

GAAC members meet at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan Street in the Lanesville neighborhood of Gloucester MA, from 8:00 – 9:30pm on the second Friday of every month, for presentations, discussions and activities related to observational astronomy. There is no cost.

You can learn more about the club on the website, on Facebook, or Twitter, @GAACster.

Come see us! No special knowledge or equipment is needed to have a great time. See the Contact page on our website for directions.


Great GAAC Meeting Friday May 11, “Space Junk” with Dr. Jonathan McDowell

high earth orbitThe Gloucester Area Astronomy Club is fortunate indeed to have Dr. Jonathan McDowell with us this month, at 8:00 pm Friday May 11 at the Lanesville Community Center, speaking on “Space Junk: A Traffic Crisis in Outer Space.” All GAAC activities are free and open to the public.

Dr. McDowell is an Astrophysicist with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a mathematician and a programmer. Dr. McDowell maintains one of the world’s best databases of orbital material launched into space – aka space junk.

It’s been over 60 years since the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, and space is getting busier and busier.

There are over 1,500 working satellites up there, but there are also over 18,000 known pieces of orbital debris whizzing around at up to 18,000 miles an hour. At that speed, a collision with even a small piece of junk can ruin your whole day.

Dr. McDowell will talk about the demographics of the satellite population: who is putting satellites up there, what are they doing, what the space junk is, why there’s so much of it — and most important, what can we do about it?

Join us on May 11th for this colorful, engaging and important talk. Come early for great goodies, fun conversation with friends old and new, and really cool and accessible science.

You can subscribe to Dr. McDowell’s monthly space report here:

To learn more about the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club, see the website at, our facebook page,, or follow us on twitter, @GAACster. Come see us! No special knowledge or equipment is needed to have a great time. There is no cost.

Terrific GAAC Meeting Friday Night 4/13: Gravitational Waves

Sam Palmer (Electronics Engineer, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and Lecturer on Astronomy, Harvard University) will be GAAC’s April speaker, with a presentation on the LIGO gravitational wave observatory.

What are gravitational waves? Check out, which describes them as “…ripples in space-time (the fabled “fabric” of the Universe) caused by massive objects moving with violent accelerations (in outer space that means objects like neutron stars or black holes orbiting around each other at ever increasing rates, or stars that blow themselves up).” That’s a picture of a LIGO observatory, above.

We’re really looking forward to this one.

More on our speaker:

Sam Palmer is an Electrical Engineer and Radio Astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  A member of the CfA’s Radio & Geoastronomy Group, Sam built the 1.2 m “Mini” radio telescope which has been hugely instrumental in increasing our understanding of the structure and chemistry of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The radio telescope has been mainly dedicated to obtaining what is by far the most extensive, uniform, and widely-used survey of dense, star-forming molecular clouds in our Galaxy. A total of 24 PhD dissertations have so far been written based on observations or instrumental work with these telescopes, and many more undergraduate students have participated in the observations either in course laboratories or as observing assistants.

Join us Friday night, April 13 at 8:00 pm at the Lanesville Community Center for an evening of fun, accessible science, great conversation and lots of goodies.

The Gloucester Area Astronomy Club meets on the second Friday of the month at 8:00 at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan Street in Lanesville. You can find out more about the club on our Website, Facebook page, or twitter, @GAACster.


March 9 Meeting of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club: What’s Up Next at NASA


This month’s GAAC meeting will feature club member Steve Kolaczkowski with a preview of NASA programs scheduled for the next couple of years.

Will we land on Europa or Enceladus? Sail the Methane seas of Titan? Go back to the moon? Add to all the hardware on Mars, revisit Jupiter or Saturn, send another spacecraft racing out to the stars with New Horizons and the Voyagers? Come to our Friday, March 9 meeting, 8:00 pm at the Lanesville Community Center and see what might be next!

We’ll have all the goodies you associate with a GAAC meeting, all the great conversation and of course a colorful, entertaining, informative presentation with Steve. You’ll always leave GAAC knowing something you didn’t know coming in — come early and get a good seat for this one.

We hope to see you next Friday!

The Gloucester Area Astronomy Club meets from 8:00pm to 9:30 on the second Friday of the month at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan Street in Lanesville. There is no cost, and all are welcome. Plenty of off-street parking. For more info on the club see the website, Facebook Page, or follow us on Twitter, @GAACster.

Astrophotography Program at Feb 9 Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Meeting

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Image Copyright © 2018 Phil Orbanes, GAAC

As I write, it’s yet another cold, grey day, but GAAC has the perfect antidote to February — on Friday night, February 9 at 8:00pm, we will bring you our annual evening of astrophotography.

Five of our best astrophotographers will each show off a handful of favorite pictures they’ve taken of galaxies, nebulae and other astronomical objects, and will tell you what each one is, how big and far away it is, and any interesting issues they had getting the shot.

This event is always a colorful, fun and exciting evening, one that will leave you with a new appreciation of what these folks do, as well as a lot of new knowledge about the strange, distant and compelling objects they photograph.

Come early to see friends old and new, grab a good seat and some great goodies, and share some terrific conversation and some wonderful views. See you on the 9th!

The Gloucester Area Astronomy Club meets from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm on the first Friday of the month at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan St in Lanesville. See the website for more info, or the Facebook Page, or follow us @GAACster.

All are welcome, and there is no cost. Plenty of free off-street parking.

Come to the GAAC Holiday Party Dec 8!


GAAC is extremely fortunate to have Sky & Telescope Magazine Senior Editor Kelly Beatty as our speaker for the December 8 Holiday party, with a riveting presentation on “The Sputnik Years.” Kelly will show us how it all happened, who was involved, and what some of the many important historic results of that event have been.

October 4, 1957 marked the beginning of the Space Age, with the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union. The satellite sped by over the heads of the world, and the space race was on. Everything that came later, from John Glenn to Neil Armstrong, from the Mercury rockets to the moon landings, to the Voyagers and the Rovers, to New Horizons’ visit to Pluto, follows from this one little satellite.

Kelly Beatty has been honored twice by the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society. In 2005 he received the Harold Masursky Award for meritorious service, and in 2009 he was honored with the inaugural Jonathan Eberhart Journalism Award. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Astronomical League Award (in 2006) for his contributions to the science of astronomy and the American Geophysical Union’s Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism (2009).

Kelly holds a Bachelors degree in geology from the California Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University. During the 1980s he was among the first Western journalists to gain firsthand access to the Soviet space program. Asteroid 2925 Beatty was named on the occasion of his marriage in 1983, and in 1986 he was chosen one of the 100 semifinalists for NASA’s Journalist in Space program.

GAAC meets on the second Friday of every month at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan street in Lanesville. All are welcome, and there is no cost. No special knowledge is necessary to have a great time. For more info on the club see the website at, the Facebook page at, or follow us on twitter, @gaacster.