Nov 9 Meeting of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club: Stars and Exoplanets

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This month GAAC is pleased to have as its speaker Sarah Blunt from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Sarah’s presentation is titled “Know thy Star, Know thy Exoplanet.”

Sarah’s talk is based on the simple fact that nearly every known exoplanet (a planet around another star) has been discovered indirectly; that is, in order to detect and characterize the planet, we make measurements of its host star.

Because of these relationships, many exoplanet measurements have been limited by our knowledge of their stars at the time the planets were detected. In this talk, Sarah will discuss exoplanet discoveries that have now been made possible by more precise stellar data, and will introduce ongoing stellar research that has the potential to improve our understanding of exoplanets.

There are more planets out there than stars —  hundreds of billions just in the Milky Way alone.

See you there, 8 Vulcan Street in Lanesville, 8:00 pm on the 9th — lots of good things to eat, lots of fun stuff to know, and great conversations to be had! All are welcome, there is plenty of off-street parking, and there is no cost. No special knowledge or equipment is needed to have a great time.

For more info on GAAC, see the club website, Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter, @GAACster.

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Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Halloween Meeting Friday Oct 12

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At our Friday night October 12 GAAC meeting we are pleased to have with us Phil Orbanes, the North Shore’s preeminent astrophotographer, with “Tales from the Cosmic Dark Side,” a Halloween-themed presentation illustrated with Phil’s excellent photos, touching on all sorts of dark objects — Dark Nebulae (and Bok Globules), Molecular Clouds,  Integrated Flux Nebula, Dark (“Rogue”) Planets, “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy.” Calling on examples from the Pipe nebula through the possible eventual heat-death of the universe, Phil will elucidate the universe of dark phenomena all around us.

We’ll see you there, 8:00 pm at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan St in Lanesville. There is no cost, and all are welcome. There will be goodies of every stripe, friends old and new, and just a generally good time to be had by all.

For more information on the club you can check out the website, the Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter, @GAACster.

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

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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!

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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:

http://www.planet4589.org/space/jsr/jsr.html

To learn more about the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club, see the website at http://gaac.us, our facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/gaacpage, 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

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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  https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/, 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

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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.