2015 Spring, VAS Newsletter - Vermont Astronomical Society

2015 Spring, VAS Newsletter - Vermont Astronomical Society
Morning Star
Spring 2015
New Members ___________ Pg 1
Meetings _______________ Pg 1
Your total existence depends upon
stars. You couldn't exist without them.
Stars are the most interesting things
in the universe, and since our existence
literally depends upon them, we ought to
get to know them. We also need to understand the future of our own star (the
Sun). All that will be revealed in this talk.
New Members
VAS welcomes the following new
members who joined us since the last
David Belanger
Cindy Reid-Pantnode
Events __________________ Pg 2
-VAS Events
- Public Star Gazing
- GMAAA Events
Articles __________________Pg 3-8
- Library Loaner Scope Program
- NASA’s Space Place Articles
- Astrophotography in Puerto Rico
Board Talk
______________ Pg 9
Observer’s Page ________ Pg 9-11
- Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2)
- M42 (The Great Orion Nebula)
- Moon, Venus, Mars Conjuction
- Northern Lights
For Sale / Wanted _______ Pg 11-12
Announcements ___________ Pg 12
Club Info ________________ Pg 12
May 4
Annual Banquet / Business Meeting
No Presentation. Members and invitMeetings/Presentations
ed guests only.
If you are having the meal please
Meetings are held the first (non-holi- RSVP with your dinner choice- Turday) Monday of the month, at 7:30
key with all the fixings or Veggie LaP.M. in the Kolvoord Community
sagna to Paul Walker (388-4220 or
Room of the Brownell Library, 6 Lin- paulwaav@together.net).
coln St., Essex Jct (2nd building
The meal is $20 at the door, no
north of Essex 5 corners on the left
charge if not eating.
on Rt. 2A). (see Map on our web site).
Location: St. Johns Club, 9 Central
Extra parking is available in the Bank
North parking lot across from the library. Ave. South Burlington (take Lakeside
Ave from Pine St.).
For inclement weather call Jack St.
Social Hour 6-7. Dinner 7-8. Door
Louis (802-658-0184) or Paul Walker
awards, annual business meeting
(work # 802-861-8640) to confirm.
April 6
Elections this year are for Treasure, Secretary and 4 Board Members
at Large. Any full member interested in
any of these positions please contact any
of the board members listed at the end
of this newsletter.
How You Are Related
to Your Favorite Star
By Al Boudreau
Jupiter and the Great Red Spot
By Paul Walker
Tis the season for Jupiter. This image may
not be as good a Joe’s on pages 6 & 8 from
Puerto Rico but it’s probably the best I’ve
gotten in Vermont so far. 10” f/5.6 Newtonian using eyepiece projection with a 16mm
eyepiece and 3x barlow. Canon Vixia HD
camcorder at 15x optical zoom. Stack of 800,
1/30s exp. Taken on 3/24/15 at 7:59 PM
Image by Joe Comeau
June 1
How We (and you) First Got
Interested in Astronomy
This night, anyone who wants to can
share their stories of how they became
interested in the night sky. Some of us
can not remember a time before which
we were interested (and not because we
are too old to remember, we were too
young to remember). Some became interested when they observed a celestial
event as a kid. Others got hooked as an
adult by some sky event, an interesting
article they read, or maybe even coming
to one of our meetings.
Page 2
VAS Observing Schedule
All events - Weather Permitting unless otherwise stated.
Bring extra clothes. We want you to
have an enjoyable and comfortable
experience. Even a summer evening
can be chilly after standing still for a
couple hours in damp air.
You are of course welcome to bring
your own scope.
Contact: Paul Walker
802-388-4220 (H)
802-861-8640 (W)
paulwaav@together.net (H),
walkerp@biotek.com (W)
VAS Public Star Gazing
School, Library and other group requested star gazing parties.
Keep in mind that last minute
cancellations may occur even if the
If you know of a group or instituweather is good, so please check the tion that would like to schedule a star
web site (vtastro.org) Events page for gazing session.
any last minute cancellations, members will be sent email updates.
Contact Bob Horton
802-879-7802 rhorton16@comcast.net
Member and Invited Guest
Star Parties at the GMO
Summer Library Programs
(Green Mountain Observatory)
(subject to change)
100 Observatory Road, Hinesburg, VT
Last summer, we supported science
April 10 (Friday, with a Saturday rain activities for several libraries in Vermont.
date) Gate opens 8:30 PM, full
Ron Anstey made a presentation to lidarkness 9:00 PM. If there has
brarians last year and let them know that
been a recent snow storm we may
VAS resources were available. We have
have to cancel if the road is not
had a good response.
cleared or at best we may have to
park outside the gate and walk
Among several others, there was a
through snow if the parking area has children’s programs featuring our slide
not been plowed.
presentation, “Astronomy in Pictures”
along with solar viewing and a Planet
April 17 (Friday, with a Saturday rain Walk.
date) Gate opens 8:45 PM, full
darkness 9:15 PM. Should be past
There was an adult presentation at
the snow storm concern but you
the Grand Isle Library titled “Photonever know.
graphing the Night Sky” with viewing
afterward if the weather permits. For
May 9 (Note this is a Saturday, No
more information or last minute updates
rain date) Gate opens 9:15 PM,
contact Ron Anstey (802-524-3653), Joe
full darkness 9:45 PM. Moonrise
Comeau (802-238-1664) or Jack St. Lou11:15 PM.
is (802-658-0184).
If your not a member, you are wel- No programs are currently scheduled,
come contact one of the board members check the web site under Events.
listed on the last page, one of us would
be happy to invite you.
Check the web site for the Spring
schedule which will start in April.
Since our 18” scope is best suited
for deep sky objects we only schedule
official observing sessions on nights the
Moon will be out of the way.
Keep an eye out for email announcements / updates for these and other
events, also check the Events page on
our web site, vtastro.org.
Green Mountain Alliance of
Amateur Astronomers
Observing Schedule
Contact Ron Lewis for more details
802-779-5913 (cell)
802-247-5913 (home)
Weather Permitting.
Events at the Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site.
5696 Monument Hill Rd, Hubbardton,
VT 05735
ry/ , “Directory of Sites” , “Hubbardton
Battlefield”, “Things to Do”, “Events
and Happenings”
Jun 16, Tuesday -- Deep Sky (night of
New Moon).
Jul 16, Thursday -- Deep Sky (night of
New Moon; Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS, possibly at naked-eye brightness).
Aug 18, Tuesday -- Deep Sky (4 days
after New Moon; Comet 141P Machholz 2 at perihelion, perhaps Mag 11).
Sep 27, Sunday -- Total Eclipse of the
Moon (Lunar Night). Eclipse begins at
Public Star Gazing at
8:13 pm, peaks at 10:47 pm, ends 1:22
UVM Horticulture Research
am on 28th
Center,65 Green Mountain Drive, (http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/l
So Burlington VT
Every Friday night in May (1, 8, 15,
22, 29)
Page 3
light weight, low cost and rugged design.
We attach the dust covers with strings so
they will not get lost and the Celestron 8
t0 24 mm zoom eliminates the need for
interchangeable eyepieces. A 2” stop is
installed in the objective dust cover to
reduce light when observing the moon.
An operator’s manual provided by
the NHAS, the National Audubon Society’s “Pocket Guide to Constellations”
and a red head lamp rounds out the
The cost of placing a telescope in a
library is around $350. As this program
progresses, we are hopeful that some
libraries will be able to finance this sum
on their own, but recognize that others
may need some assistance. For example,
the Brownell Library has already offered
to contribute $300 toward the cost of
their scope and eyepiece. By fall we will
have some feedback from these two libraries and we can plan for the proVAS Embarks on
Library Loaner Telescope Program gram’s expansion. If you have a favorite
library or feel moved to assist with this
By Keith Lawrence
program physically or financially, please
contact Keith Lawrence (802-453-5496)
The VAS has embarked on a program to place small telescopes in librarys or Dennis Woos (802-453-2360) for
around the state. We plan to work with more information.
local libraries to acquire the Orion Starblast 4.5 inch Astro Reflector telescope
and the Celestron 8 to 24 mm zoom eyepiece, making some small modifications
to the scope and adding some accessories before delivering the package. We
will then train the librarians on the use
of the scope and one of our members
will act as a resource for each library,
We are partnering with NASA’s
assisting with maintenance. Each library Space Place (spaceplace.nasa.gov/). We
in turn will lend the telescope out as
have added the site to our Astro Links
they would a book. We are modeling our page under “Kids Astronomy and Space
program after one run by the New
Sites”. For those who do presentations
Hampshire Astronomical Society, and
for local schools, you can get small quanhave benefitted from their assistance.
tities of NASA’s Space Place items
The library that we selected for the
(bookmarks, stickers, temporary tattoos)
first telescope is Brownell Library in Es- to hand out.
sex Junction, where our monthly meet“The mission of NASA's Space Place
ings are held. We expect to deliver their is to engage kids' interest in Space and
scope by the end of March so we should Earth science, as well as the technolohave some feedback before summer.
gies that scientists use. Our site offers
The second scope will be placed at Car- interactive games and demonstrations,
penter Carse Library in Hinesburg, the
hands-on projects, fun facts and short
town that hosts our observatory site.
videos. It is a U.S. government-sponThe Orion Starblast 4.5 inch is a ta- sored website; there are no advertisebletop alt/az reflector with red dot find- ments or pop-up windows, and NASA's
er selected by the New Hampshire
Space Place does not link to any comAstronomical Society for its ease of use,
mercial websites. It is a safe place for
kids of all ages to visit.
Essentially we provide a free article
each month for inclusion your club's
newsletter (or posted on your club's website, depending upon the organization's
preferred distribution method) and regular mailings of printed materials for sharing with the club's membership. In
return, we ask for a copy of the newsletter using our article and a link to our
websites be added to your club's web
The heavyweight champion
of the Cosmos
By Dr. Ethan Siegel
As crazy as it once seemed, we once
assumed that the Earth was the largest
thing in all the universe. 2,500 years ago,
the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras was
ridiculed for suggesting that the Sun
might be even larger than the Peloponnesus peninsula, about 16% of modernday Greece. Today, we know that planets are dwarfed by stars, which themselves are bound together by the billions
or even trillions into galaxies.
But gravitationally bound structures
extend far beyond galaxies, which themselves can bind together into massive
clusters across the cosmos. While dark
energy may be driving most galaxy clusters apart from one another, preventing
our local group from falling into the Virgo Cluster, for example, on occasion,
huge galaxy clusters can merge, forming
the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe.
Take the "El Gordo" galaxy cluster,
catalogued as ACT-CL J0102-4915. It’s
the largest known galaxy cluster in the
distant universe. A galaxy like the Milky
Way might contain a few hundred billion
stars and up to just over a trillion (1012)
solar masses worth of matter, the El
Gordo cluster has an estimated mass of
3 × 1015 solar masses, or 3,000 times as
much as our own galaxy! The way we've
figured this out is fascinating. By seeing
how the shapes of background galaxies
are distorted into more elliptical-than
average shapes along a particular set of
axes, we can reconstruct how much
mass is present in the cluster: a phenom-
Page 4
enon known as weak gravitational lensing.
That reconstruction is shown in blue,
but doesn't match up with where the
X-rays are, which are shown in pink!
This is because, when galaxy clusters collide, the neutral gas inside heats up to
emit X-rays, but the individual galaxies
(mostly) and dark matter (completely)
pass through one another, resulting in a
displacement of the cluster's mass from
its center. This has been observed before in objects like the Bullet Cluster,
but El Gordo is much younger and farther away. At 10 billion light-years distant, the light reaching us now was
emitted more than 7 billion years ago,
when the universe was less than half its
present age.
It's a good thing, too, because about
6 billion years ago, the universe began
accelerating, meaning that El Gordo just
might be the largest cosmic heavyweight
of all. There's still more universe left to
explore, but for right now, this is the
heavyweight champion of the distant
Davis), J. Hughes (Rutgers U.), F. Menanteau (Rutgers U. and UIUC), C. Sifon (Leiden Observatory), R.
Mandelbum (Carnegie Mellon U.), L.
Barrientos (Universidad Catolica de
Chile), and K. Ng (UC Davis). X-rays
are shown in pink from Chandra; the
overall matter density is shown in blue,
from lensing derived from the Hubble
space telescope. 10 billion light-years
distant, El Gordo is the most massive
galaxy cluster ever found.
Minor mergers have massive
consequences for black holes
By Dr. Ethan Siegel
When you think of our sun, the nearest star to our world, you think of an
isolated entity, with more than four light
years separating it from its next nearest
neighbor. But it wasn't always so: billions of years ago, when our sun was
first created, it very likely formed in concert with thousands of other stars, when
a giant molecular cloud containing perLearn more about “El Gordo” here:
haps a million times the mass of our sohttp://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/april lar system collapsed. While the vast
/nasa-hubbleteam- finds-monster-el-gor- majority of stars that the universe
forms—some ninety-five percent—are
El Gordo is certainly huge, but what
the mass of our sun or smaller, a rare
about really tiny galaxies?
but significant fraction are ultra-massive,
containing tens or even hundreds of
Kids can learn about satellite galaxies at times the mass our star contains. When
NASA’s Space Place
these stars run out of fuel in their cores,
http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/satellite-gal- they explode in a fantastic Type II superaxies/.
nova, where the star's core collapses. In
Image credit: NASA, ESA, J. Jee (UC
the most massive cases, this forms a
black hole.
Over time, many generations of
stars—and hence, many black holes—
form, with the majority eventually migrating towards the centers of their host
galaxies and merging together. Our own
galaxy, the Milky Way, houses a supermassive black hole that weighs in at
about four million solar masses, while
our big sister, Andromeda, has one nearly twenty times as massive. But even relatively isolated galaxies didn't simply
form from the monolithic collapse of an
isolated clump of matter, but by hierarchical mergers of smaller galaxies over
tremendous timescales. If galaxies with
large amounts of stars all have black
holes at their centers, then we should be
able to see some fraction of Milky Waysized galaxies with not just one, but multiple supermassive black holes at their
It was only in the early 2000s that
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory
was able to find the first binary supermassive black hole in a galaxy, and that
was in an ultra-luminous galaxy with a
double core. Many other examples were
discovered since, but for a decade they
were all in ultra-massive, active galaxies.
That all changed in 2011, with the discovery of two active, massive black
holes at the center of the regular spiral
galaxy NGC 3393, a galaxy that must
have undergone only minor mergers no
less than a billion years ago, where the
black hole pair is separated by only 490
light years! It's only in the cores of active,
X-ray emitting galaxies that we can detect binary black holes like this. Examples like NGC 3393 and IC 4970 are not
only confirming our picture of galaxy
growth and formation, but are teaching
us that supermassive relics from ancient,
minor mergers might persist as standalone entities for longer than we ever
Check out some cool images and
artist reconstructions of black holes
from Chandra:
Kids can learn all about Black Holes
from this cool animation at NASA’s
Space Place:
Page 5
amateur astronomer—located an object
in the night sky. After measuring it, he
determined that this object moved too
quickly to be a star. It had to be a comet,
he thought.
Images credit: NGC 3393 in the optical
(L) by M. Malkan (UCLA), HST, NASA
(L); NGC 3393 in the X-ray and optical
(R), composite by NASA / CXC / SAO
/ G. Fabbiano et al.
(X-ray) and NASA/STScI (optical).
Editors download photo here:
ners/2015- 01/ngc3393.jpg
ing it. It was a matter of knowing that it
was a planet. The story of Uranus’s discovery is full of people not realizing
what they were seeing. People may have
seen Uranus as early as 128 B.C. but,
each time they saw it, they said it was a
Why did it take so long to discover
A Great Debate
Herschel told other astronomers
about the new “comet.” They were confused. The problem was that a comet as
bright as this object would have to be
pretty close to the sun, but a comet that
close to the sun would have to be moving through the sky much faster than
this thing was moving. It also didn’t
have a coma or a tail like comets have.
These other astronomers began to
study the object too. They figured out
that its orbit was pretty close to circular—just like the orbit of a planet. That
was enough for most of them to call it a
planet. By 1783, Herschel also accepted
that it must be a planet. After he tried to
name it after King George III, the planet was named Uranus, after the Greek
god of the sky.
Astrophotography in Puerto Rico
By Joe Comeau
Hubble telescope image of Uranus.
Right in Plain Sight
If you know where to look, and
your eyes are strong enough, you might
be able to see Uranus without a telescope or binoculars. It’s not very bright
and barely large enough, but it does
sometimes appear in our night sky.
In spite of this, Uranus wasn’t officially discovered until 1781. Ancient
Babylonians knew about all of the planets from Mercury to Saturn long before
that. Why did it take so long for people
to find lonely Uranus?
What to Call It?
Actually, it wasn’t a matter of find-
Sir William Herschel.
In fact, the man who we credit with
discovering the planet got it wrong too!
Sure, he knew it wasn’t a star, but he
didn’t think it was a planet either. On
March 13, 1781, William Herschel—an
We had enough cold weather so Molly and I packed our bags for the island
of Culebra, 17 miles off the eastern tip
of Puerto Rico. Before settling in Culebra, we made a side trip to the impressive Arecibo Radio Telescope, about an
hour and a half west of San Juan. The
dish is the largest in the world. The observatory mainly studies the ionosphere
but has played a major role in many scientific endeavors. At the observatory,
there is a large interactive astronomy
exhibit with a mission directed at school
outreach. We found
that it was possible on
certain days to get a
VIP tour of the control
room but the next
available date was a
week too late for us.
After Arecibo, we
settled at Casa Yaboa
in Culebra. The five by
seven-mile island is
small but has a variety
Page 6
of mini-climates. The southeastern region is arid and the skies are mostly clear
each night. Evening temperatures in February and March are in the mid-70s to
lower 80s and the stable weather commonly results in very good to excellent
With assistance from the US postal
service, I brought a versatile setup for
astrophotography. The system was featured in my January 2015 presentation to
the club. My mount was a Celestron
Advanced VX system equipped with an
optional polar finder scope. The payload capacity was 30 pounds.
For imaging I used 6" F9 Astro
Tech Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph (RC6)
with a piggybacked Astrotech F6 66 mm
APO (apochromatic) (AT-66) and a 50
mm Orion guidescope.
For autoguiding I used an Orion
Starshoot Autoguider Pro. The autoguider was set up to be parfocal with a 12
mm crosshair illuminated eyepiece to
enable the guide scope to function as a
finder scope.
Imaging cameras were a Sentech
MC33-USB color video system for lunar
and planetary imaging and a modified
Canon XT system for deep sky and wide
field work.
I set the mount on the shore on the
first night and left it in place the rest of
the month. The mount required latitude
adjustment, leveling and rough polar
alignment using the polar finder scope.
After setup, a two star alignment was
performed with a third star added as a
calibration star. Finally the mount was
fine polar aligned using the Celestron All
Star Polar Alignment routine.
I looked at Jupiter but the image
was not as sharp as I expected. The RCAstrograph collimation was evaluated
with a Cheshire eyepiece and the primary mirror was found to have shifted
slightly during shipment. The mirror
was readjusted to align it with the scope
tube and the secondary as adjusted using
a star test on Sirius. The air was perfectly steady and the star test alignment took
only a few minutes. After collimation,
the image quality improved significantly.
Next, I used the astrograph to test
the autoguider. This was first light for
the guiding system. I took 1 minute, 4
minute and 10 minute sub-frames and
examined the stars. There was almost
no evidence of movement and the stars
were round. This indicated that the
guiding was working but the noise on
the Canon XT camera at the 80o temperature was too high. One minute subs
gave a more satisfactory background
noise level.
On the same evening, I found Comet Lovejoy C2014/02. It had gone from
a peak 4.2 magnitude comet to 6.3 magnitude. I had seen the comet just after
peak through the club scope "Irene" at a
star party at Orchard School in South
Burlington on January 16th but I wasn't
motivated to take a picture in sub zero
temperatures. This image is the sum of
60 30 sec sub frames. The green glow
from cyanogen gas (CN)2 excited by UV
light is readily apparent along with the
forked tail.
Figure 4 - Comet Lovejoy C2014/02
Figure 2 - One, four and ten minute subs to
check star shape (tracking) and noise
Figure 1 - Astrophotography Setup for 2015
Figure 3 - Jupiter and Europa
My first image was of Jupiter and
Europa. This was taken at 22:13 AST
on 2-23-15 using the RC-6 scope and a
2X barlow. The image was from a 1
minute video taken at 25 frames per second and processed using Registax 6.
In mid February the Moon dominated the evening skies so on several evenings I set my scope on the terminator
region and took series of 500 frame videos with the RC-6 and a 2X barlow. Craters 3 Km in diameter were visible in the
Registax 6 processed images. Figure 5 is
a shot of the Vallis Alpes region on 225-15. According to Wikipedia.... "Vallis Alpes is a lunar valley feature that
bisects the Montes Alpes range. It extends 166 km from the Mare Imbrium
basin, trending east-northeast to the
edge of the Mare Frigoris. The valley is
narrow at both ends and widens to a
maximum width of about 10 km along
the middle stretch".
Page 7
from this area have also been detected
using spectroscopy. Orbiting spacecraft
have also detected a mass concentration
(mascon) below this feature."
On March 4, A Venus and Uranus
conjunction occurred. The two planets
were 15 arc minutes apart with nearly a
9000 fold difference in brightness.
Figure 9 - The Christmas Tree Cluster
Figure 5 - Vallis Alpes area
The Grimaldi area was photographed on 3-3-15. This is an interesting crater. According to Wikipedia.…
"The inner wall of Grimaldi has been so
heavily worn and eroded by subsequent
impacts that it forms a low, irregular
ring of hills, ridges and peaks, rather
than a typical crater rim. However there
are peaks remaining that reach heights
of over 2 kilometers. The floor is the
most notable feature of this crater, forming a flat, relatively smooth and featureless surface with a particularly low
albedo. The dark shade of the floor contrasts with the brighter surroundings,
making the crater easy to locate. The
approximate diameter of the inner rim is
140 kilometers.
Beyond the basin are the scattered
remnants of an outer wall, which has a
diameter of 220 kilometers. This exterior
rim is more intact to the north and west
of the crater than elsewhere. To the
southeast of Grimaldi is a system of
rilles named the Rimae Grimaldi. To the
northwest, rilles belonging to the Rimae
Riccioli approach the western edge of
Grimaldi's rim.
Figure 6 - The Grimaldi area
Grimaldi has a history of transient
lunar phenomena, including occasional
flashes of light, color patches, and areas
of hazy visibility. Gaseous emissions
I have often imaged the Great Orion Nebula (M42) but never intentionally
captured its neighbor, the Running Man
Nebula (M43). The nebula was directly
overhead and ideally positioned for early
evening viewing. M43 is at the top of
Orion's sword. This image is from 61
thirty sec. subs and was captured on 317-15.
Figure 7 - Venus-Uranus Conjunction
Most evenings, I captured a few 11
minute images of the Crab nebula (Messier 1). Over the time I was here, I accumulated 160 minutes of exposure. The
Crab nebula is a 1054 supernova remnant with a neutron star pulsar spinning
at 30.2 revolutions per second and emitting electromagnetic radiation from gamma rays to radio waves.
Figure 10 - The Running Man Nebula
Low on the horizon at around midnight, I was able to image the Carina
Nebula. According to Wikipedia....." The
Carina Nebula (also known as the Great
Nebula in Carina, the Eta Carinae Nebula, NGC 3372, as well as the Grand Nebula) is a large bright nebula that has
within its boundaries several related
Figure 8 - The Crab Nebula
open clusters of stars. It contains the
two large OB associations Carina OB1
The Christmas Tree Cluster was cap- and Carina OB2. Carina OB1 contains
tured with 100 one minute subs. The
the two star clusters Trumpler 14 and
Cluster has the cone nebula at the top of Trumpler 16. Trumpler 14 is one of the
the tree and the Fox Fir nebula near the youngest known star clusters, at half a
million years old. Trumpler 16 is the
home of WR 25, currently the most luminous star known in our Milky Way
galaxy, together with the less luminous
Page 8
but more massive and famous Eta Carinae star system, and HD 93129A. The
nebula lies at an estimated distance between 6,500 and 10,000 light years from
Earth. It appears in the constellation of
Carina, and is located in the Carina-Sagittarius Arm. The nebula contains multiple O-type stars.
The nebula is one of the largest
diffuse nebulae in our skies. Although
it is some four times as large and even
brighter than the famous Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is much less well
known, due to its location in the southern sky. It was discovered by Nicolas
Louis de Lacaille in 1751-52 from the
Cape of Good Hope.
Eta Carinae is a highly luminous
hypergiant star. Estimates of its mass
range from 100 to 150 times the mass
of the Sun, and its luminosity is about
four million times that of the Sun.
This object is currently the most
massive star that can be studied in great
detail, because of its location and size.
Several other known stars may be more
luminous and more massive, but data on
them is far less robust. (Caveat: Since
examples such as the Pistol Star have
been demoted by improved data, one
should be skeptical of most available
lists of "most massive stars." In 2006,
Eta Carinae still had the highest confirmed luminosity, based on data across
a broad range of wavelengths.) Stars
with more than 80 times the mass of the
Sun produce more than a million times
as much light as the Sun. They are quite
rare-only a few dozen in a galaxy as big
as ours-and they flirt
with disaster near the
Eddington limit, i.e.,
the outward pressure
of their radiation is
almost strong enough
to counteract gravity.
Stars that are more
than 120 solar masses
exceed the theoretical
Eddington limit, and
their gravity is barely
strong enough to
hold in its radiation
and gas, resulting in a
possible supernova or
hypernova in the near
Within the large bright nebula is a
much smaller feature, immediately sur-
rounding Eta Carinae itself. This small
nebula is known as the Homunculus
Nebula (Figure 12) (from the Latin
meaning Little Man), and is believed to
have been ejected in an enormous outburst in 1841 which briefly made Eta
Carinae the second-brightest star in the
On March 12, Io made a shadow
transit on Jupiter. I was able to make an
animated video showing planet rotation
and moon orbits. Figure 13 shows a
couple frames of the video. Io is visible
on the planet disk in the first image and
is just leaving the disk in the second image.
Figure 11 - the Carina Nebula
Figure 14 - Jupiter-Io Shadow Transit
Figure 12 - The Homunculus Nebula
Since I was closer to the equator, I
photographed some objects not visible
from Vermont. The brightest globular
cluster in the sky is Omega Centauri.
This cluster is thought to be the core of
a galaxy that was captured by the Milky
Saturn was in the southeast in Sagittarius in the morning skies. I was able
to capture images but they were not
spectacular. The RC 6 does not gather
quite enough light with my imaging setup.
Figure 15 - Saturn
With all the astrophotography, I almost forgot about my poor long-suffering wife, Molly. I checked in with her to
see how she was doing.
Figure 13 - Omega Centauri
Figure 16 - Molly on vacation
Page 9
12in Meade SCT (at prime focus)
2 x 45 sec exposure @ 800 iso
Board meetings are currently held at Dark frames - 19 x 45 sec @ 800 iso
Bias frames - 35 x 1/4000 sec @ 800 iso
BioTek Instruments (Paul’s employer)
Flat frames - none
the week after the Monthly Meeting on
Tuesday, 7:30 to 9:00 PM. They are
open to all members, contact any Board DeepSkyStacker 3.2
DigitalPhotoPro (comes with Camera)
Member for info.
GIMP - text & Colors/Levels
Sky quality meter reading: 17.2
Board meeting summaries:
Board Talk
Lost my notes.
No meeting held
Angele has offered to have star gazing parties are her place in Shelburne.
Could be a good alternative for some
folks rather than going all the way to
Hinesburg (we won’t hold simultaneous
star parties at both places).
Russell Chmela’s parents have donated $10,000 for a second observatory
building at the GMO. This building will
house the 5” f/29 Schiefplegler he built
(including grinding and polishing the
mirrors with some help from Gary)
when he lived in Vermont. This is a
good planetary scope. Gary and Keith
are doing some refurbishing and upgrading to this scope. We can use some help
in designing the building and getting the
necessary building permits from Hinesburg. Starting later in the Spring or early
Summer we will need volunteers to
build it. If you know of businesses that
may be willing to donate materials or
provide them at cost, please let us know
(we are a 501C not-for-profit). Contact
Gary or Jack.
Keith Lawrence has been in contact
with the Hinesburg Library about our
Library Loaner Scope Program. VAS
will offer to cover up to 50% of the cost
for the scope (Hinesburg town has allowed us to house our observatory on
town property for the last several years.
Observers Page
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2)
by Floyd Glick (Colorado Springs, CO)
Date: 1/10/2015 8:41 PM MST
Canon XSi Rebel 450D not modified
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2)
By Paul Walker, 2015-01-09
135mm f/5.6 40% crop (2.4 x 3.6 deg)
Camera- Canon Xti,
Exp 2min x 36 (with 10 darks), ISO 800
Visual magnitude estimate 4.4
Camera Temperature- 7.5 degree F
Transparency at target 20.1 mag/arc sec
(Sky Quality Meter), Zenith 20.3
mag/arc sec
Stacking - Registax 5
Noise Reduction - Noise Ninja 2
Other - Picture Window Pro 6
The tail of Lovejoy was very faint
and difficult to bring out in the images.
The image above is highly processed. I
also took some images with a 50mm
lens the same night but the tail is even
harder is see there. Another factor was
the a relatively bright sky due to fresh
snow reflecting the street lights skyward.
Although 20.1 mag/arc sec isn’t real
bright, when imaging faint objects it
makes a notable difference compared to
a sky brightness even half a magnitude
dimmer at 20.6
Lovejoy on 2015-01-23
8 inch f/4.0 (800mm fl) reflector (Orion
Astrograph) 80% crop (0.8 x 1.2 deg).
Camera - Canon Rebel Xti
Exp 1min x 106 (with 10 darks), ISO
Orientation - Landscape, North Down.
Camera Temperature- 6 degree F.
Transparency at target 20.1 mag/arc sec,
Zenith 20.2 mag/arc sec
Stacking - Registax 5
Noise Reduction - Noise Ninja 2
Other - Picture Window Pro 6
This image is also processed to bring
out details of the gas tail of which several streamers are visible. Even with 106
minutes of total exposure time there is
not much tail to see. When I stacked
the images I used the sigma cutoff feature to suppress the stars and make the
tail more noticable.
This a more aesthetically pleasing
version. It is the same set of 106 images
processed to preserve the details of the
nucleus and minimize the suppression
of the stars.
I used short exposures for the next
image to produce an image showing the
inner comma. It is a stack of 60, 10 second exposures at ISO 1600 through the
same 8 inch f/4 scope. It is cropped
15% (0.1 x 0.15 deg). If you look carefully you may be able to detect a slight
Page 10
asymmetry in the glowing gas right next
to the inner coma.
be short to minimize tracking errors.
That night I took about 14 exposures of
15 seconds at ISO 1600. Turned out
this was not really enough.
More recently on March 24, I again
had the 2x barlow installed and shooting
the Moon. With Orion still well up I
took about 60 shots of M45. This time
because I had adjusted the scope’s polar
alignment a few days prior, I could get
away with longer exposures (the scope
sits on top of the ground and is affected
greatly by the freezing and thawing of
the ground). After a little experimenting,
I settled on 30 seconds at ISO 1600. Of
the 60, I deemed 45 usable.
One thing I should have done in
both cases was switch to my modified
Canon XT because it is more sensitive
to the H-alpha emissions. Oh well, next
time. Besides this way it highlights the
reflection part of the nebula.
Total exposure time is 22.5 minutes.
This last image is a 5% crop (1/3) of The larger image is a 90% crop (0.2 x 0.3
the previous image. The asymmetry
degree field of view). The smaller image
may be a little easier to see (brighter on was processed to maximize details. It is
the sun ward side).
a 35% crop and covers 0.07 x 0.12 degree (4.4 x 6.9 arc min).
M42 (The Great Orion Nebula)
By Paul Walker
Back in January when I was taking
images of the Moon through my 10”
f/5.6 using a 2 inch 2x barlow and a
Canon XTi camera it occurred to me
that the core of M42 should be bright
enough to take images with this configuration.
Since the magnification factor ends
up being 2.65X, the effective focal
length is 3730 mm at f/14.8. Since I was
Notes from Larry Garrett
not going to take the time to set up the
The stars aligned this Thursday in
autoguider the exposures would have to the press room of Queen city printers,
as lunar observations highlighted
the first indoor
star party for 2015.
While last year
I introduced the
phases of Venus
and sunspots in
my 90mm ETX,
this year featured
not only the
Moon, but the
far-side of the
Moon to boot!
This week
[1/16/15] features a very favorable libration of part of the far-side impact basin
Mare Orientale. With the lunar limb at
97.3W degrees yesterday near the basin,
peaking around the lunar far-side was
even cooler then the 3 degrees outside,
enjoyed from inside at 65 degrees.
I was really impressed with the details seen in a small window of excellent
seeing (around 8 AM). I used a yellow
15 filter for contrast. 62x held well
enough for the dark basin to be seen
well, with all of those who looked seeing
the Moon for the first time in a telescope. I used printed maps of the moon
to point out where to look for the Mare.
It was one small sight for a few men,
and one giant leap for all those who had
never seen the Moon before in such detail!
More excellent librations coming in
February and March for the Mare Orientale Feb 12,13,14. March 13,14.
Close encounter between the Moon,
Venus and Mars. Taken by Larry Garrett on February 21, 0h34m UT (7:34
EST), Camera- Sony NEX-5R 55mm at
f/8, 1.3 seconds, ISO 6400. Image is
Inner Core of M42
by Mary Lou West, Tolga Gumusayak and Adrian Mroczkowski
Here's an image I helped take with
Tolga Gumusayak and Adrian Mrocz-
Page 11
kowski using an SBIG STL-11000 CCD
A co-worker of mine recently went
camera cooled to -30C. We imaged M42 to Iceland hoping to catch a glimpse of
on several nights starting on Thursday
the north lights. He was not disappointFeb 5 with our AAI club’s 24” Ritchey- ed.
Chretien f/10 telescope in Cranford, NJ.
In each narrow wavelength color band
(hydrogen alpha, sulfur II and oxygen
III) we took 16 exposures of duration 5
seconds, 30 seconds, and 180 seconds
for a total integration time of about 3
hours. The Trapezium star group is surrounded by dramatic billows of colored
Stephen Scaravella, 802-434-3884 or
Celestron 23mm
Basically unused and
very clean condition.
Buyer to pay for
shipping of their
choice and PayPal
fees. $100
Contact Douglas
PO Box 8, West
Sony NEX-5R camera, 16mm (24
Glover, VT 05875
equiv.), F/3.2. The first image is 20 sec(802) 525-4904
onds at ISO 400, the second 30 seconds
at ISO 1600. I did the processing (they
were a bit on the dark side, however, the
camera performed well.
Updated pricing
Paul Walker
Lumicon EC Diagonal - 96% LD1010
paid $100, selling for $50
Cosmo Comfort Observing Chair
For Sale / Wanted
paid $180, selling for $75
For Sale:
We also took a timed photo of Tolga
Lumicon Deep Sky Filter LF3010
Feather-touch focuser for a Schmidt- paid $120, selling for $65
and me by the telescope in the freezing
Cassigrain. Brand new, hardly used.
Lumicon OIII Filter LF3040
For specs go to
paid $120, selling for $65
http://starlightinstruments.com/store/i Lumicon UHC Filter LF3025
ndex.php?route=product/product&pro paid $120, selling for $65
duct_id=51. Asking $200 for it.
Lumicon Lunar &Planetary Filter Set
(Light) LF5080 paid $85, selling for $40
NextStar 11-inch SCT, Alt-Az mount
I have decided to sell my
Package Deal:
. I put a lot of work into it
Lumicon ND50 Density Filter LF1090
through the years. I had it fully baffled
Lumicon 23A Light Red Filter LF1035
and flocked with dark material. Also re- Lumicon 80A Blue Filter LF1070
cently refurbished the altitude and aziLumicon 12 Deep Yellow Filter LF1020
Paid $25 each.
Northern Lights from Iceland
in a feather-touch focuser ($300) .Its
Sell 4 Filter Package for $50
Taken by Mike Finnefrock
go-to and tracking are
impeccable. It comes
Contact Sean Sullivan,
with 50mm finder and spsullivan1970@gmail.com
has a Telrad base
(518) 795-5635
mounted. Heavy duty
tripod. If you know
anyone that is interestThe
could get a real deal,
ed let me know. I will
keep it if there is no
interest, but it's a
Meticulously maintained Meade LX
shame to leave it un200 10 Inch f/10 Telescope with
Meade Tripod and 8 X 50 Meade finder
Scope. Go-To capability with 64,359
Asking price is $650.
object library. High Precision Pointing
Paid $3000.
Page 12
feature. 9 Speed dual-axis electronics.
2” 45deg. righting prism
Multi-functional key pad hand controller 2” Big Barlow
with digital display
2”, 4.8mm Nagler
1-1/4", 26mm Plossl
Also includes (older) Dell Latitude Lap- 2”, 45deg. Prism camera adapter
top with "The Sky" software (if wanted).
Accessory case & step stool
Price $3500
200 feet of power cord. All Original box- Contact Rick@vsbmetal.com
es for the telescope.
Or you can contact Ron Anstey
Includes the following Series 4000
Meade Eyepieces:
7.0 mm, 8.8 mm, 9.7 mm, 14.0 mm, 26.0
mm, 32.0 mm, 40.0 mm
Other items included:
Antares Polarizing Filter
Meade Focal Reducer (f/6.3)
Meade 1 ¼ " Eyepiece Adapter
Meade Color Filter Set
Meade Dew Shield
More details upon request
Asking price for all…$1500.00 OBO
High quality, 45° Correct Image diagonal for a SCT.
Contact, Brian S. Johnson
I would like to someone with a real inter- For selling & buying also check out:
est in astronomy to get it. The right per- www.marketplace.skyandtelescope.com
son could get a real deal.
Original price for Telescope & Eyepieces $4800.00
Contact Information:
Ron Webster
Warren VT
Home (802) 496-7734
Cell (203) 245-5701
Email: rwebster@gmavt.net
Associate Members interested in becoming full members make your interest known to one of the board members.
are available. Pricing $3 each or 2 for $5.
You can get them at the monthly meetings.
Club Info
Observing Certificates
Several certificates (beginner to advanced) are available to members as
encouragement to get out under the
stars and hone their observing skills. Follow the link on our web site.
Wanted - Webmaster
Also wanted PR person
If interested in either position contact
Jack St. Louis or Paul Walker.
Looking for 5-10 minute product reviews for the monthly meetings.
Moving / Changing Email?
Please send changes to Paul Walker,
53 Valley View, Middlebury, VT
05753, paulwaav@together.net
Associate Members $15
Full Members $25
Web Site
Email: webmaster@vtastro.org
Paul Walker is acting webmaster.
Board Members
Jack St. Louis
Joe Comeau
Doug Williamson Treas 388-3482
or Send your address (and email)
Paul Walker
Sec'y 388-4220
and dues to
VAS, PO Box 782, Williston, VT 05495. Bob Horton
Gary Nowak
Bill Wick
Contact Paul Walker or
Doug Williamson
Editor and Publisher - Paul Walker
4 inch, 550mm f.l. brass Televue Renaissance scope with carrying case
Equatorial mount with oak tripod
2”, 20mm Nagler type 2
Elections this year are for Treasure, Secretary and 4 Board Members
at Large. Any full member interested in
any of these positions please contact any
of the board members listed at the end
of this newsletter.
Contributors: Joe Comeau, Mike Finnefrock, Larry Garrett, Tolga Gumusayak,
Keith Lawrence, Adrian Mroczkowski,
Paul Walker, Mary Lou West, Dr. Ethan
Siegel (NASA’s Space Place)
(My apologies if I missed anyone)
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF