June 2014 Newsletter
By Art Meyer

Welcome to the June 2014 STARS Newsletter

Sunspot viewing was featured during Astronomy Day at the Springfield Science
Museum on May 10. Luckily, predictions for a day of rain didn't
materialize and the attendees enjoyed many good looks at our nearest star.
Scopes were provided by club members Peter and Donna Szaban
and Tim Connolly.

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 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 a future meeting. I’m the guy with a beard, probably sitting near the first row.

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: How did the universe begin? Where does the “Big Bang” fit in?


This is a second blog entry that is not very technical and tells us what the night sky can teach us.

https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/the-night-comes-alive-279cf851a4b6 The night sky comes alive

Index to this Newsletter:

1-2) Welcome

3) The Members’ Page

4-5 The President’s Rants and Non-rants

6-7) Some Upcoming Events

8) Future Speaker Lists for STARS and SOS (Stars Over Springfield)

9) Contact Info Supplied by Board Members and Officers

10-12) Space Place Partner’s Article from NASA: Gravitational Lensing

Members’ Page

Continuing our articles by women in STARS, this was contributed by longtime board member, Crystal Mengele:

“I was always interested in anything science, a real geek. Biology and astronomy are the two fields I was most interested in. Come to think of it, they cover the most expansive and the most minute parts of the universe. One time my Dad woke us up in the middle of the night to witness the aurora. I was spellbound. Even though my Dad was from the inner city, brought up by a single mom on welfare, he managed to get his GED and later got his Masters in science and math. He was truly an inspiration. We never had a scope or anything fancy, but he was always looking up and giving us tidbits of info on what we were seeing. Now I know much more about biology ( I make my living from it ) and I am learning more about astronomy. I never lose my sense of wonder about this world. It all increases my spiritual convictions as well. I joined the 5A's around 4 years ago. That club concentrates on observing. Then I came to an SOS meeting later that year and was hooked. The Springfield Stars has great speakers and I learn quite a bit. So, club-wise, I get the best of both worlds.”

The President’s Rants and Non-rants
By Alan Rifkin
Usually I have something to rant about but again I am writing a farewell to an old friend. Barlow Bob recently passed away. His real name was Robert A. Godfrey and most people remember him in his yellow outfit he made famous by running the solar party at the Northeast Astronomy Forum. Bob had a single mission in life.

He promoted solar viewing. He would take his collection of solar telescopes wherever there were people who would look at the sun. I don’t remember if I first met Bob at Ahrunah Hill or Conjunction as he frequented both events. If you never got a chance to use Bob’s scope, you have missed a very special view of the sun. His scope was made as a one of a kind by the best telescope makers out there. I will never forget watching a corkscrew shaped coronal mass ejection slowly drift away from the sun. He made observing fun. He could talk about the sun forever.

Unfortunately not anymore. You will be missed.

His NEAF web site

We also say goodbye to Judy Young who created the UMass sun wheel
She has been one of our guest lecturers and she was a cross between a Druid and a hippy and always enjoyable to hear her talk.

I do not like losing old friends.
Maybe next month I can go back to ranting.

Till next month
Alan “Rif” Rifkin

A short obituary for Barlow Bob:


Here are two obituaries for Judy Young:



She was the daughter of the famous astronomer Vera Young.


Upcoming Events

STARS meetings are on hiatus until September – but there are many summer events to pique your interest!

Stellafane July 24-27
Rockland's Summer Star Party July 25- Aug 3
Arunah Hill Days Aug 29- Sep 1
Connecticut River Valley Conjunction Aug 22-23

Google any of these names and events to get more information.


From Kevin Collins:
One of our Mt. Greylock Star Parties will be held on the evening of Saturday, July 19th. All info can be found at 2014 Mt. Greylock Star Parties


From Amherst:

Major Summer Observing Astronomical Events :

Friday, July 4, 8pm Mt. Pollux, Amherst – Sunset, Fireworks, & Observing
Friday, August 10, 7:30pm Mt. Pollux, Amherst – Full Moon Rise & Sunset

Saturday - August 1 will be Astronomy Day for the Astronomy Association.
Events :
9am - Free Sun & Moon Observing at A-2-Z SCIENCE, Northampton.
9pm – Free Observatory Observing at Amherst College Wilder Observatory.

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 a topic to be decided.

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.

Speakers and Topics for upcoming Stars Over Springfield Meetings

Sep. 5: To be decided.

Oct. 3: Rich Sanderson - Eclipses

Nov. 7: To be decided.

Dec. 5: To be decided.

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 alan@rifkin.com 413-519-9393

Vice-President: Mike Kozicki

Secretary/Treasurer: Richard Sanderson 413-263-6800 Ext 318

Website: Mike Kozicki


Dave Gallup davesuzy5@hotmail.com

Amanda Jermyn astrogirl200@yahoo.com 413-567-7425

Jack Megas jamira@mailaka.net

Crystal Mengele cmengele@hotmail.com

Joan Presz

Dr. David Wexler dwexler2012@gmail.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

A Glorious Gravitational Lens

By Dr. Ethan Siegel

As we look at the universe on larger and larger scales, from stars to galaxies to groups to the largest galaxy clusters, we become able to perceive objects that are significantly farther away. But as we consider these larger classes of objects, they don't merely emit increased amounts of light, but they also contain increased amounts of mass. Under the best of circumstances, these gravitational clumps can open up a window to the distant universe well beyond what any astronomer could hope to see otherwise.

The oldest style of telescope is the refractor, where light from an arbitrarily distant source is passed through a converging lens. The incoming light rays—initially spread over a large area—are brought together at a point on the opposite side of the lens, with light rays from significantly closer sources bent in characteristic ways as well. While the universe doesn't consist of large optical lenses, mass itself is capable of bending light in accord with Einstein's theory of General Relativity, and acts as a gravitational lens!

The first prediction that real-life galaxy clusters would behave as such lenses came from Fritz Zwicky in 1937. These foreground masses would lead to multiple images and distorted arcs of the same lensed background object, all of which would be magnified as well. It wasn't until 1979, however, that this process was confirmed with the observation of the Twin Quasar: QSO 0957+561. Gravitational lensing requires a serendipitous alignment of a massive foreground galaxy cluster with a background galaxy (or cluster) in the right location to be seen by an observer at our location, but the universe is kind enough to provide us with many such examples of this good fortune, including one accessible to astrophotographers with 11" scopes and larger: Abell 2218.

Located in the Constellation of Draco at position (J2000): R.A. 16h 35m 54s, Dec. +66° 13' 00" (about 2° North of the star 18 Draconis), Abell 2218 is an extremely massive cluster of about 10,000 galaxies located 2 billion light years away, but it's also located quite close to the zenith for northern hemisphere observers, making it a great target for deep-sky astrophotography. Multiple images and sweeping arcs abound between magnitudes 17 and 20, and include galaxies at a variety of redshifts ranging from z=0.7 all the way up to z=2.5, with farther ones at even fainter magnitudes unveiled by Hubble. For those looking for an astronomical challenge this summer, take a shot at Abell 2218, a cluster responsible for perhaps the most glorious gravitational lens visible from Earth!

Learn about current efforts to study gravitational lensing using NASA facilities: http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/january/nasas-fermi-makes-first-gamma-ray-study-of-a-gravitational-lens/

Kids can learn about gravity at NASA’s Space Place: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/what-is-gravity/

See photo on next page.

Abel 2218. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and Johan Richard (Caltech). Acknowledgement: Davide de Martin & James Long (ESA/Hubble).

End of the June 2014 Newsletter