July 2013 Newsletter
By Art Meyer

Welcome to the July 2013 STARS Newsletter

I am Art Meyer, STARS member since 2011 (I think…) and I am finally contributing something besides my annual dues. I will be writing this monthly newsletter.

The purpose of the newsletter is to communicate information about the club’s 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 me at myer70@charter.net and a copy to the STARS president Alan Rifkin at alan@rifkin.com. If you don’t use email, then please talk with me at the next meeting. I’m the guy with a beard, probably sitting in the first row because Amanda makes me.

In addition to club related news, I will be including an article written for NASA by Dr. Ethan Siegel for astronomy clubs. Ethan Siegel writes the blog “Starts with a Bang”. You can read about him at: http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/author/esiegel/.

Here is one of his recent blogs: http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2013/07/12/the-dark-depths-of-the-Universe/#.UeKrDqwCOpY.email.

Index to this Newsletter:

1) Welcome

2) Some Upcoming Events

3) Future Speaker Lists for STARS and SOS (Stars over Springfield)

4-5) Ethan Siegel’s Article: Astrophotography

Upcoming Events

From our leader on the STARS’ annual picnic:

STARS’ past picnics were at Dick and Edie's Gerry's place but now this year we’ll be having a beach party on Saturday August 24. The cost is $10 per person: while pets are not invited, children, musical instruments, telescopes, bathing suits and towels and BYO are welcome! The club will supply hamburgers, hot dogs, sides, corn on the cob, non-alcoholic drinks, etc. Please RSVP to me (alan@rifkin.com), so I know how much food to get. I will start setting up at noon. People are welcome to come and help me set up or just go and jump in the river. Location is Flood Plain Point http://rifkin.com/1-fppt/.


From our star writer, Amanda Jermyn, about the September meeting of STARS:

The next STARS meeting will be Tuesday, September 24th at 7:30pm at the Springfield Science Museum. There will be a slide show and an account of the club’s recent private tour of Harvard University’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. The meeting will also include a report on the summer’s star parties – Stellafane, The Conjunction, Arunah Hill Days and stargazing at the Wilco Music and Arts Festival held at Mass MoCA. Also, Ed Faits will do the Sept. 6 talk for SOS (Stars over Springfield).


BTW: Amanda’s monthly astronomy articles: http://www.reflector.org/amanda/index.php

Speakers for upcoming STARS meetings:

Sept 24 There will be a slide show and an account of the club’s summer activities

Oct. 22: Rich Sanderson - The Maksutov telescope design and its integration in amateur telescope making

Nov. 26: Mission to Mars Panel - 10 minutes per speaker. Moderator: Dave Gallup
1. Mars 101 - Introduction to Mars - Paul Cardone
2. How to get to Mars - orbital mechanics - Alan Rifkin
3. Report on findings of Curiosity Rover - Crystal Mengele
4. NASA 10 minute video of Curiosity landing - Crystal Mengele and Tim Connolly
5. Medical implications of sending people to Mars - David Wexler

Dec. 17: Holiday party. Venue still to be decided.

Jan. 28: Jack Megas and Rich Sanderson will present the planetarium show "Stars around the Campfire," and give a brief introduction to it.

March 25: David Wexler - Cosmology and Space Time

SOS Speakers:

Sep. 6 Ed Faits

Oct. 4 Dave Gallup

Nov. 1 Rich Sanderson - Comets & Meteors, plus Comet ISON

Dec. 6 Paul Cardone

Jan. 3 Ed Faits

Inventing Astrophotography: Capturing Light Over Time

By Dr. Ethan Siegel

We know that it’s a vast Universe out there, with our Milky Way representing just one drop in a cosmic ocean filled with hundreds of billions of galaxies. Yet if you’ve ever looked through a telescope with your own eyes, unless that telescope was many feet in diameter, you’ve probably never seen a galaxy’s spiral structure for yourself. In fact, the very closest large galaxy to us¾Andromeda, M31¾wasn’t discovered to be a spiral until 1888, despite being clearly visible to the naked eye! This crucial discovery wasn’t made at one of the world’s great observatories, with a world-class telescope, or even by a professional astronomer; it was made by a humble amateur to whom we all owe a great scientific debt.

Beginning in 1845, with the unveiling of Lord Rosse’s 6-foot (1.8 m) aperture telescope, several of the nebulae catalogued by Messier, Herschel and others were discovered to contain an internal spiral structure. The extreme light-gathering power afforded by this new telescope allowed us, for the first time, to see these hitherto undiscovered cosmic constructions. But there was another possible path to such a discovery: rather than collecting vast amounts of light through a giant aperture, you could collect it over time, through the newly developed technology of photography. During the latter half of the 19th Century, the application of photography to astronomy allowed us to better understand the Sun’s corona, the spectra of stars, and to discover stellar and nebulous features too faint to be seen with the human eye.

Working initially with a 7-inch refractor that was later upgraded to a 20-inch reflector, amateur astronomer Isaac Roberts pioneered a number of astrophotography techniques in the early 1880s, including “piggybacking,” where his camera/lens system was attached to a larger, equatorially-mounted guide scope, allowing for longer exposure times than ever before. By mounting photographic plates directly at the reflector’s prime focus, he was able to completely avoid the light-loss inherent with secondary mirrors. His first photographs were displayed in 1886, showing vast extensions to the known reaches of nebulosity in the Pleiades star cluster and the Orion Nebula.

But his greatest achievement was this 1888 photograph of the Great Nebula in Andromeda, which we now know to be the first-ever photograph of another galaxy, and the first spiral ever discovered that was oriented closer to edge-on (as opposed to face-on) with respect to us. Over a century later, Andromeda looks practically identical, a testament to the tremendous scales involved when considering galaxies. If you can photograph it, you’ll see for yourself!

Astrophotography has come a long way, as apparent in the Space Place collection of NASA stars and galaxies posters at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/posters /#stars.

Great Nebula in Andromeda, the first-ever photograph of another galaxy. Image credit: Isaac Roberts, taken December 29, 1888, published in A Selection of Photographs of Stars, Star-clusters and Nebulae, Volume II, The Universal Press, London, 1899.

End of the July 2013 Newsletter. Art Meyer 7/28/2013