Welcome to the July/August2014 STARS Newsletter
From the February Stars Over Springfield meeting: The Springfield Science Museum’s 20-inch telescope and the moon. Photo by Richard Sanderson.
The purpose of the newsletter is to communicate information about the club and astronomical events and topics. It is also a place where members can contribute articles, comment on STARS activities and give suggestions for the club and for this newsletter. Email them to the STARS president Alan Rifkin at email@example.com. If you don’t use email, then please talk with Alan at a future meeting.
Looking for member contributions! What did you think of the last meeting? See anything special in the night sky recently? Get a new telescope? Do you have a photo to grace our Welcome page? Please share with your fellow members!
Here is one of Dr. Ethan Siegel’s recent blogs: The Fusion Process in the sun. There is more going on than you might think.
Index to this Newsletter:
3-4) The Members’ Pages
5) Some Upcoming Events
6) Future Speaker Lists for STARS and SOS (Stars Over Springfield)
7) Contact Info Supplied by Board Members and Officers
8-10) Space Place Partner’s Article from NASA: The Invisible Shield of our Sun
Continuing our articles by women in STARS, this was contributed by longtime member, Marguerite Seuffert:
My love of the cosmos and the night sky materialized at the very early age of about one year. I would climb out of my crib, toddle into the living room, around the “Castro Convertible” where my sleeping parents lay, pull back the Venetian blinds and exclaim “HEDOE MOON”. I felt it was my duty to greet our planet’s satellite as it hovered over the Brooklyn skies. As I grew older, the “Space Race” was in full swing and I was in the throes of the craze as so many others: glued to TV sets to watch launches, listen to commentaries, read articles, and join clubs. I built model spacecraft, hung maps of the lunar surface on my bedroom wall, and convinced my parents to buy a cheap “Orion” telescope for me to stargaze with.
Years later, I married and had a child. I shared my love of space and science with her. When I would hear about a star party in Springfield, I’d bring her down to the Springfield Science Museum where we would listen in awe to Ed Faits as he gave his talks. During the day, we would sometimes come to the planetarium for talks about the night sky.
Despite the invitations to come to meetings on “The fourth Tuesday of every month”, I procrastinated. It is at this point where my story parallels that of Amanda Jermyn’s: I brought my daughter to a Lunar Eclipse Party at the Science Museum and then to meetings on a regular basis. We became members soon after. I, like Amanda, joined the STARS Club to pass on something special to my child. I welcome our new members who also want to share something special with their children and/or grandchildren.
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And even though the paths of myself and my daughter, (now a grown woman) rarely intersect these days; I know that from time to time she will gaze aloft and think to herself “HEDOE MOON”.
And now a report from Crystal Mengele on the July 19th Star Party at Mt Greylock sponsored by the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomy Association (the 5 A’s) and the Division of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
Hello! We had a nice turnout and the weather could not have been better. There were people from all 3 area clubs. Ed Faits from Arunah hill was giving a lot of fun and useful information to all the folks there. I’m sure a lot of people learned something. There were many different scopes to look through and everyone who had a scope had a group of interested people who looked through them. Of course, Saturn was the biggest hit. Mars and Jupiter were out there too and no moon! The party went on until 11:00 and ended just in time as the clouds started to roll in. Many thanks to the DCR for sponsoring this and turning out the lights. There will be 1 more event at Greylock in September.
Info can be found at 2014 Mt. Greylock Star Parties
Thanks to Marguerite and Crystal for their contributions!
STARS meetings are on hiatus until September – but here is a summer event to pique your interest!
Arunah Hill Days Aug 29- Sep 1
Google Arunah Hill to get more information.
Don’t forget Amanda’s monthly astronomy articles (AKA “Reach for the Stars”): http://www.reflector.org/amanda/index.php
Here is a link to “Reach for the Stars” columns posted by Masslive. It's in chronological order starting with the most recent, and going back as far as July, 2011. The columns before that date would still have to be accessed through the Stars Club website. If you want to see the more recent ones as they appeared in the paper and on MassLive, with photos and all, you can view the more recent ones through this link.
Speakers and Topics for Upcoming STARS Meetings
Sept. 23: Rich Sanderson will present a Retrospective of Summer Events
Oct. 28: David Wexler will speak on Cosmology.
From David:” We will discuss how astrophysicists model the large-scale structure and evolution of the universe. I think I will try to present this topic in a more discussion-based approach than I used on previous topics.”
Nov. 25: Astrophotography – speaker to be decided.
Dec. 23(?): Dave Gallup to invite Bill Putnam to speak at the holiday party at the Student Prince. Date to be decided by the speaker.
Jan. 27: Alan Rifkin to speak on his Observatory of the Future - a personal turret observatory. http://talazim.com
Speakers and Topics for upcoming Stars Over Springfield Meetings
Sep. 5: Ed Faits.
Oct. 3: Rich Sanderson - Eclipses
Nov. 7: Dave Gallup.
Dec. 5: Paul Cardone
Jan. 2: Jack Megas - Winter Stars
Contact Info for Board Members and Officers
(Attention Board Members: it's important for board members and club members to be able to communicate with one another, and we can't do this if we don't have contact info, at least email. Thanks to those that have provided information!)
President: Alan Rifkin firstname.lastname@example.org 413-519-9393
Vice-President: Mike Kozicki
Secretary/Treasurer: Richard Sanderson 413-263-6800 Ext 318
Website: Mike Kozicki
Dave Gallup email@example.com
Amanda Jermyn firstname.lastname@example.org 413-567-7425
Jack Megas email@example.com
Crystal Mengele firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. David Wexler email@example.com
Alan added,” I have room for new board members and board advisors. A board advisor is someone, not necessarily a club member, who is invited to Board of Directors’ meetings to help out.”
Space Place Partner’s Article from NASA
The Invisible Shield of our Sun
By Dr. Ethan Siegel
Whether you look at the planets within our solar system, the stars within our galaxy or the galaxies spread throughout the universe, it's striking how empty outer space truly is. Even though the largest concentrations of mass are separated by huge distances, interstellar space isn't empty: it's filled with dilute amounts of gas, dust, radiation and ionized plasma. Although we've long been able to detect these components remotely, it's only since 2012 that a manmade spacecraft -- Voyager 1 -- successfully entered and gave our first direct measurements of the interstellar medium (ISM).
What we found was an amazing confirmation of the idea that our Sun creates a humongous "shield" around our solar system, the heliosphere, where the outward flux of the solar wind crashes against the ISM. Over 100 AU in radius, the heliosphere prevents the ionized plasma from the ISM from nearing the planets, asteroids and Kuiper belt objects contained within it. How? In addition to various wavelengths of light, the Sun is also a tremendous source of fast-moving, charged particles (mostly protons) that move between 300 and 800 km/s, or nearly 0.3% the speed of light. To achieve these speeds, these particles originate from the Sun's superheated corona, with temperatures in excess of 1,000,000 Kelvin!
When Voyager 1 finally left the heliosphere, it found a 40-fold increase in the density of ionized plasma particles. In addition, traveling beyond the heliopause showed a tremendous rise in the flux of intermediate-to-high energy cosmic ray protons, proving that our Sun shields our solar system quite effectively. Finally, it showed that the outer edges of the heliosheath consist of two zones, where the solar wind slows and then stagnates, and disappears altogether when you pass beyond the heliopause.
Unprotected passage through interstellar space would be life-threatening, as young stars, nebulae, and other intense energy sources pass perilously close to our solar system on ten-to-hundred-million-year timescales. Yet those objects pose no major danger to terrestrial life, as our Sun's invisible shield protects us from all but the rarer, highest energy cosmic particles. Even if we pass through a region like the Orion Nebula, our heliosphere keeps the vast majority of those dangerous ionized particles from impacting us, shielding even the solar system's outer worlds quite effectively. NASA spacecraft like the Voyagers, IBEX and SOHO continue to teach us more about our great cosmic shield and the ISM's irregularities. We're not helpless as we hurtle through it; the heliosphere gives us all the protection we need!
Want to learn more about Voyager 1’s trip into interstellar space? Check this out: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-278.
Kids can test their knowledge about the Sun at NASA’s Space place: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/solar-tricktionary/.
SEE PHOTO ON NEXT PAGE!
Image credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA / STScI), C. R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt), and NASA, of the star LL Orionis and its heliosphere interacting with interstellar gas and plasma near the edge of the Orion Nebula (M42). Unlike our star, LL Orionis displays a bow shock, something our Sun will regain when the ISM next collides with us at a sufficiently large relative velocity.
Download photo here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/52706main_hstorion_lg.jpg
End of the July/August 2014 Newsletter
Copyright © Art Meyer