A Great Evening at U. MASS Dartmouth Observatory!!!

A Great Evening at U. MASS Dartmouth Observatory!!!

Postby NGC7000 » Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:52 am

I wanted to let you guys know what a wonderful time I had last night at the opening of the Observatory. My deepest thanks to all of the members who volunteered and did all the work so members like me could just walk right in have a blast! I was really impressed by the number of folks who showed up, and it was very exciting to hear people asking some remarkable questions, both on the Observatory line, and at the member scope stations.. and they received some very enthusiastic and understandable replies from the members.
We were blessed with the deepest blue and darkest skies one could hope for in that somewhat lit up area. I was astounded at the resolution of M13 in the Observatory scope. I had a great view of M27 through Bob M's scope, and a view of Jupiter (as well as a history lesson on Galileo!) from Matt.

I look forward to the next meeting time, and hope to be a volunteer by that point.
:D
Tom
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Postby Mark G » Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:59 am

I'm glad the skies cleared for the opening last night. I'm sure I'll be reading more posts like this on the happenings of the night. I'm sorry I couldn't make it. The events in my life, in the last few weeks caught up with me and I was asleep early. I look forward to reading more reports on the opening as they get posted.
Clear skies,

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Postby ASSNE Prime » Sun Sep 16, 2007 12:50 pm

The Grand Opening at UMD went better than I could ever hope, especially given the state of the sky at noon time!

ASSNE members turned out to help in force, and we had at least 8 to 12 scopes deployed, and Greg Stone had the Video feed off his 8" displaying the output on a DVD player. All in addition to the University's newly repaired 16" Meade LX200 in the dome. It's a beautiful instrument and it's great that it's back in service gathering light from distant places.

The weather went from poor to clear almost instantly, at 6:30 on my drive down the last clouds were eveperating. As Tom said, the sky is far better there than I ever expected. The Milkyway was obvious and showed structure, especially if you used your arm to block the lighting from the camup across the road.

The view is great in all directions, the Teapot was hanging way up as soon as it was dark enough to see it. I couldn't see the Double Cluster naked eye, one of my benchmark tests, but it was poorly placed above the big spotlight at the entrance to the campus (rumor has it we may be able to get that turned off) but the better situated Little Dipper was visible in it's entirety (though the last corner of the bowl required some averted vision on my part) and I was just able to glimpse the Andromeda galaxy naked eye despite, like the Double Cluster, it's not being in the best part of the sky.

Alan and John each welcomed the crowd and gave brief talks on the observatory's history, the scope and it's repair, ASSNE, and the cooperative effort between UMD & ASSNE that began in earnest that night.

We had a good crowd of visitors with each scope having a line but all of manageable proportions. I had a great time hopping from scope to scope, and after the lines died down I went to the dome and was treated to terrific views of the Swan, M13, and the Triffid.

Everyone had a great time, our visitors had their horizons expanded, some having never looked though a telescope before. It was a great time chatting and observing with friends, and making some new friends, some of which are likely to visit ASSNE at our meetings.

I talked with Alan, and had the pleasure of meeting the head of the Physics department at UMD Marguerite Z, who's enthusiasm for the outreach program seems boundless. I think the ASSNE-UMD project is off to a great start and I am greatful to the University and Alan and Marguerite for offering this opportunity to ASSNE. In addition I want to thank John W, Pete P, Bob M, George H, Mark G and those I am forgetting at the moment for organizing the project, helping to repair the facility, and helping to make the Grand Opening a success. Thanks also to our members who came out and brought their support and in many cases their scopes.

I am looking forward to seeing this program continue and evolve, nice work everyone!
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Postby Rotorhead » Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:38 pm

It was, indeed, an excellent night for first light on the repaired facility. At 3 yesterday afternoon, I was doubting we would be able to see anything, by 4 the sky was just lovely. New England is always amazing in the weather department.

Arriving a little early to see how I might help out, I found George already pacing the area, anxious to see the event go down as planned. Alan, John W. and Pete showed soon after, the dome was unlocked and other club members and a student volunteer arrived and started setting up/helping with the dome, and the event began to shape up. The shutter on the dome is still a bit of a problem, but I have found the section of the shutter that sticks, and can tweak it from a ladder as it opens, and that proved to be the trick, and we had the dome ready to observe in short order.

Taking a page from my mentor's (Mark G) playbook, I made sure to check Heavens Above before leaving home, and so we were able to observe a -8 Iridium flash :shock: as the opening act of the evening. Since it nearly collided with Polaris, it was easy to watch for, and spectacular to see. Since this day was officially the second World Astronomy Day for 2007, it only seemed fitting to have a great Iridium flash to match the one during the Astronomy Day in Barrington. :)

We had the club scopes set up in a straggling gaggle to the south of the dome, and the crowd began arriving before sunset. Since my official target (M27, the Dumbbell) was going to be invisible until well after dark, I set up on Albireo to get my tracking data set up, and let about 20 people see Albireo. We tend to forget sometimes that many people have no idea about run-of-the-mill targets like Albireo, and everyone seemed quite happy to observe this star system.

Greg Stone and I were doing a tag-team effort to show folks the same target by eye and electronically enhanced, and when Greg announced that he could see the Dumbbell, I moved to it and was surprised to see it quite well despite some lingering twilight. Immediately I found a problem caused by the few but very intense streetlights at the entrance to the campus: using a narrowband filter to enhance the Dumbbell was impossibe, since the mirror finish of the filter was picking up the light behind me and reflecting it INSIDE the eyepieced, causing a new constellation of amber-colored stars to surround M27 like a halo, and ruin the image. So I was reduced to showing everyone a nebula without a filter, but the sky was transparent enough to handle that, and a number of observers commented very favorably on the idea of seeing the same target in two different ways on Greg's screen and my eyepiece.

I probably had about 40 to 50 folks take a turn on my scope, with several repeat observers who were going back and forth to Greg's scope and mine. So that tells me that they were getting the idea of comparing and contrasting the two ways of seeing, and were coming back for more. As Tom mentioned, the questions were of a very high caliber - even from the kids that were there! It was a very pleasant crowd the entire evening.

I overheard several people commenting on the 'impressive' telescope/dome setup, so I think that the value of this instrument as an outreach resource was clearly demonstrated. There is just something so awe-inspiring about entering a dome with all of its red lights inside, and seeing this enormous telescope sitting high on a pier, just waiting to show you a fabulous target. So I believe that the general public was very impressed by the setup.

We were all packed out by about 11, and a small contingent of us kept up the tradition of DD after a meeting (that WAS a club meeting, remember...) and we talked until nearly midnight. The universal consensus of the group was that it had been a very pleasant experience for our first cooperative effort with the university.
Bob M
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Postby Pete » Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:49 pm

A high pressure weather pattern moved in only an hour or two before UMD's Astronomy Day started. Crisp highly transparent sky delighted all.

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Greg's setup took a loooooong time, but the results were super impressive.

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Some people call these thing cloud magnets. I think Bob's is a people magnet.

Image

Here's Professor Hirshfeld hosting a visitor. Crowd size was estimated at somewhere between 100 to 150.

Wonderful night.
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Postby Stargrrl » Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:54 pm

It was nice to see everyone at last night's session - and very enjoyable. The citizens who turned up were quite interested and asked lots of questions, and some were making plans to be at our next meeting, as well as asking about future observing sessions at UMD.

I've posted some pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/coelacanthbooks

Or you can find them on the slowly growing ASSNE Flickr Group (feel free to include your ASSNE or astronomy photos here if you have a Flickr account): http://www.flickr.com/groups/assne/

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Postby Mark G » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:13 pm

Keep the UMD reports coming! I love the pictures and just look at the smiles. :D Especially on Alan's face. :D
Clear skies,

Mark
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Postby Dan Chieppa » Sun Sep 16, 2007 5:03 pm

Meredith and I enjoyed the session at UMass Dartmouth. I was impressed with the two views I got through the 16-inch Meade. Bigger really is better! :lol: I really should start using my 10-inch SCT.
It was good seeing fellow ASSNE members as I missed Stellafane this year.
Nice photos from Peter and Rebeka. I forgot my camera. :oops:
Clear skies,
Dan
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Postby Paul D » Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:13 pm

I must say when I arrived from home after work in the morning I didnt think UMD was going to happen. I went to sleep at 11:00AM and it was still pouring. I woke to find the sun shining and me hustling to get my gear in the car and directions that Bob sent me.

I arrived at the UMD field late and set up near Matt on the outer fringe of the other ASSNE members. Most did not know I was there with Matt till we packed it up. I was very surprised by the amount of stars I could see and finding objects was very easy. I like everyone else started with Jupiter and was fortunate enough to get to listen to Matt give his history lesson on the planet. I soon got many request from members and others to observe other objects because everyone was on Jupiter. I observed M13, M57, M81 and 82 and M31. People were most impressed with M13 and M31 which surprised me because in the past people have always liked the planets.

I had about 70+ people who seemed as interested in my scope as they were by what I was observing. Many people asked me how and where they should and could buy a telescope. People were amazed by how simple a telescope can be. I would rate the crowd as the best I have ever entertained. They were asking great questions and many understood what they were observing.

I looked up several times to see a large crowd but because there were so many of us and scattered in a uniform group along the field it remained orderly. People were able to observe without having to wait a long time and could wander from scope to scope without difficulty. I would say that UMD was a huge success for both UMD and ASSNE.

We all packed up around 10PM and a small group of us headed to DD for our normal meeting night coffees where it seemed like everyone was happy with the turn out and the success of the night.
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Postby Galactus » Tue Sep 18, 2007 8:37 pm

What a great time!

Even though there were some lights in the campus perimeter, I found the field surrounding the Observatory to be a really pleasant place to observe. It was dark with Sagitarius wonderfully placed. I found some of the Milky Way visible with structure of the dark lanes. I would enjoy observing there even without an event. :shock:

We may have an article in the Providence Journal this Sunday as Al and I met with the reporter and photographer this morning. Since they wanted to know the next date for an event and there was no set schedule yet for the Observatory, I was able to get a big plug in for "Rehoboth Skies." Alan was going to ask a colleague if he was free to speak at that event...he is a black hole expert. I enjoy his company a lot and I have a great hope for the collaboration and how it will benefit both sides...! :P

Bob Wrote:
Arriving a little early to see how I might help out, I found George already pacing the area, anxious to see the event go down as planned.

To clarify, I was relaxed, sitting down enjoying the end of my Wendy's value meal...I should have just set up, but wanted to make sure Alan or Pete was able to let us know where we should set up...truth to tell, I was a little anxious about getting the word out...I actually sent an email at 5:30 AM to Jeff Latham of WJAR 10 to make sure some mention of the event was made...Both Spence and Bob M told me that they saw "Don't forget Astronomy Day at UMD" on the weather map and the Channel 10 Web Site...Yea! :lol:

Here are a few fun photos of mine own:

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By gnhuftalen
Spence show a young guest the wonders of the universe...


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By gnhuftalen
Dan explains the secrets of the known 'verse... 8) :lol:

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By gnhuftalen
Alan fights the feedback... :lol:

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By gnhuftalen
Matt ready to go...

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By gnhuftalen
Tom and Rose... Is it winter already?...Well, it was chilly... :lol:

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By gnhuftalen
The Men of the Hour... 8)

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By gnhuftalen
One of my favorite photos since Bruce dozing at Stellafane... :lol: Way to go Bruce and Joe!
Last edited by Galactus on Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Joe B » Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:13 pm

George, thank god you got my good side :lol: I would have to agree with the conditions. Im about 2 miles away from UMD and the milky way is faint to non existant most nights. I also had a great time scope hopping most of the night. I only wish i had brought my scope, next time..
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Postby faintfuzzies » Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:55 am

Sorry for the late post ,for i have been very busy with school,

This was a great time and i want to thank everyone who made it possible. I look forward to the day i can put in my time to help with this type of event.. This time around i choose to take my wife and kids instead of my scope, I am very glad i went this route because they had a wonderful time at this event . It really sparked the interest in my kids all over again. they are now asking when i will build them their own scope :)

It really is a wonderful thing seeing the wide open bright eyes of a child and seeing the birth of what i hope to be a long and wonderful hobby for them.

You know I am very glad i belong to assne. There is nothing like sharing something so wonderful as the heavens with your family and friends !

Thanks again everyone..


Lou
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Postby Borg » Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:39 pm

Hi All, And I must agree with Lou.I also love this club because of all the people that I have met and made good friend's :o And I thank all for showing me new things :)
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