Across the water to the Princess in Chains….Celestial Highlights of the Autumn Sky

David Bernson

Constellations, Mythology, Star Names and a few select deep sky objects of unusual interest and surpassing beauty will be discussed.

Bio: 

Dave Bernson is a dedicated, lifelong, sky explorer and a 5-term president of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society (SLAS). His enthusiasm for astronomy is infectious. Before becoming president, Dave helped lead more than 100 astronomical expeditions to dark sky sites in Utah’s mountains and deserts. As president, Dave’s knowledge of constellations, expertise of star names, and skill as a telescope pilot were appreciated and recognized. His astronomical accomplishments include star hopping the Messier Marathon eight times. He is known as a visual specialist on the planet Mars, and has located and observed all (9) planets in a single night 33 times. In his lifetime, since age 12, he has seen over 50 comets. Dave’s deep sky interests include galaxy groups and clusters, interacting galaxies, and quasars. He has twice observed a quasar in the constellation Caelum with a visual magnitude of 17 and a red shift of 3.1. This red shift indicates a probable, original distance in excess of 10 billion light years. Dave has travelled widely in pursuit of solar eclipses. A trip to Lauca National Park in Northern Chile allowed him to enjoy a total eclipse on the morning of his 40th birthday. At this event, Dave was also able to extensively observe the southern night sky. Dave has designed, built and assisted with the construction of several dozen Dobsonian-mounted telescopes. They ranged from small refractors to a large, 20 inch, F4 reflector. And once, Dave had the privilege of participating in a mirror-making class with the revered guru of amateur astronomy, John Dobson. A Utah native, Dave has worked in health care, winter sports and education. He is still waiting to see a brilliant daylight comet and a naked-eye supernova! His career as an experienced cognitive cosmologist began at the age of 5 when he stuck his sisters lovely pink hair barrette into the electrical outlet.

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 09:00

Location: 

Ballroom

Astrophotography/Digital Imaging Workshop

Terry Mann

For some, this will be the first time you are close to truly dark skies. Not only that, you will be in the perfect spot to experience a total solar eclipse. I know I will be taking advantage of my time here to image the daytime sights, the night sky and the total solar eclipse. This is a great opportunity to experience the Milky Way in all its grandeur and take home some amazing images of your own. You can also take some interesting images during totality and partial phases of the eclipse with a camera and tripod. In my talk we will discuss focusing, camera settings and ideas for images for both day and night imaging.

Bio: 

Terry Mann wants to live in a world where skies are clear, nights are long, and the stars look like diamonds on black velvet. As an astro-imager, her images have been featured in galleries, magazines, television, and websites such as Spaceweather, Space.com, and the Smithsonian Institute. She has given workshops at Sally Ride Science Festival, and led various workshops on night sky imaging. To increase interest and raise awareness of astro-imaging and the night skies, Terry has made many presentations to local schools, parks, and various organizations. When she’s not packing her camera and looking for clear skies, you will find her spending time with family and friends, walking her dog Tater, or more specifically Tater walking Terry, or pulling her hair out trying to figure out that new software package. She has served as Vice-President and President of the Astronomical League, Co-Chaired Astrocon at Bryce Canyon and is has been a Solar System Ambassador since 2002.

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 14:45
Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 10:00

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

Chasing Meteors

Chris Peterson

The science of meteoritics has seen a renaissance in recent years, as new instrumentation and computational techniques have advanced our understanding. Meteors, from tiny particles observed only with radar, through bodies large enough to glow as they pass through the atmosphere, provide an important window into the debris in our solar system, from dust through asteroids. Much of what we know about the formation and evolution of the Solar System stems from the study of interplanetary dust.

In cooperation with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, I’ve been operating a network of allsky cameras across Colorado since 2001. I’ll discuss the wealth of information to be found in over 50,000 recorded meteors: fine structure in showers, evidence of new showers, details of the size distribution of bodies in the near-Earth environment, atmospheric dynamics, and much more. We’ll explore what this teaches us about the Solar System, and about potential risks to space-based assets as well as to those of us on the ground. I’ll describe the simple cameras you can build to collect your own data, and how by enlisting one or two friends you can set up your own mini-network that could let you track the next big meteor all the way to the ground, and figure out where meteorites might have landed.

Bio: 

Chris Peterson started developing computerized, guided mounts in the late 1970s. His astronomical interests follow two paths: instrumentation and analytical imaging. On the instrumentation front, he has designed or consulted in the design of a number of mount controllers. He has also developed numerous CCD and CMOS cameras, both for imaging and for guiding, and developed guiding systems currently used on space-based platforms. Imaging interests include photometry of eclipsing binaries and fast rotators, as well as video analysis of occultations. Chris has a BS in Applied Physics from the California Institute of Technology. He owned a California company for many years which designed and built ophthalmological surgical instruments. He is currently an independent consultant, and a Research Associate at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He operates a network of allsky cameras which collect meteor and fireball data over Colorado and the surrounding states. He lives in the tiny town of Guffey, Colorado, with his wife Louise and their assortment of animals. When not working in his observatory or analyzing data, he might be found hiking or riding in the local mountains, or mentoring budding middle school scientists at the local school.

Date: 

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 16:00

Location: 

Ballroom

Eclipses and Science Fiction

Dr. Stephanie J. Slater

Across a wide variety of science fiction movies and books, eclipses capture the audiences’ attention. Dr. Slater provides an overview of how eclipses are used by talented authors of science fiction to highlight the human experience in futuristic settings.

Bio: 

Dr. Stephanie J. Slater is the Director of the CAPER Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research and a Research Professor of Engineering from Capital College. Dr. Slater is a well-known lecturer on the science and socio-cultural aspects of science fiction and an expert on the popularization of science. An author of three books and numerous articles, Dr. Slater connects culture and science as a speaker at conferences around the world.
Stephanie Slater

Date: 

Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 10:00

Location: 

Ballroom

Europa Clipper Mission

Dr. Wladimir Lyra, California State University at Northridge, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life as know requires liquid water and these moons have lots of it under their icy crusts. In this talk I will explain the science behind why we think we know these oceans exist and what we know about the conditions on these worlds. I will focus on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is the target of the upcoming JPL flagship Europa Clipper mission. I will also show how computational models of mantle convection are helping to inform our understanding of worlds like Europa.

Bio: 

Wladimir Lyra is an assistant professor at California State University at Northridge, Department of Physics and Astronomy. He is also a research associate at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a visitor at Caltech’s Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he received his Ph.D. in astronomy in February 2009 from Uppsala University, Sweden. Lyra is a recipient of the Sagan Fellowship, the prestigious postdoctoral research grant named after the famous astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan. The highly competitive grant is given to support independent research that is broadly related to the science goals of NASA's Exoplanet Exploration program, the primary goal of which is to discover and characterize planetary systems and Earth-like planets around nearby stars.

Date: 

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 10:00 to 11:00

Location: 

Ballroom

Explore New Frontiers with the OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission to Near-Earth Asteroid Bennu

Dolores H. Hill, Sr. Research Specialist Lunar & Planetary Laboratory

Abstract

Dolores Hill will discuss highlights of the exciting NASA mission to near-Earth asteroid Bennu and invite amateur astronomers to join the mission’s citizen science program: Target Asteroids!/Target NEOs! (the Astronomical League’s companion observing program). You can be an important partner in the OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission and contribute observations to benefit future generations!

Dolores will show the innovative method that will be used to obtain a sample from asteroid Bennu without actually landing on the asteroid itself and explain why return of a pristine, protected sample is important. The robotic OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral in September 2016. Upcoming Earth Gravity Assist will take place this September to propel the spacecraft out to asteroid rendezvous in 2018 and sample return to Earth in 2023. Already the mission has made important discoveries about Bennu and the orbital evolution of small asteroids. The samples will reveal new information about the oldest solids and organic material in the Solar System. Earth-based astronomical observations, images, spectra and a variety of maps will significantly advance our understanding of asteroid-meteorite connections, providing direct “ground truth” comparisons.

This long-term mission serves as a pathfinder for future asteroid missions and provides opportunities for amateur astronomers and public outreach. Target Asteroids! and Target NEOs! enlist amateur astronomers to observe a particular list of asteroids of interest to the OSIRIS-REx science team and future spacecraft designers.  While there are much astronomical data available for Bennu, the carbonaceous target of the OSIRIS-REx mission, additional observations of other asteroids allow scientists to learn more about the entire asteroid population and place Bennu in context. Because some of these asteroids will be targets of future spacecraft missions as well, the data submitted will be useful for a long time. OSIRIS-REx Ambassadors share information about the mission with their local clubs and communities. We invite you to join the team!

*OSIRIS-REx is an acronym: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource, Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer

Bio: 

Dolores Hill is a meteoriticist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona, co-lead of Target Asteroids!, a citizen science project of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission and Target NEOs! an Astronomical League Observing Program. In addition to her work analyzing meteorites, she has a lifelong interest in amateur astronomy and began as co-lead of Target Asteroids! in 2011. Dolores is a longtime member of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association and Meteorite Section Coordinator for the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers. She was co-founder of the Sunset Astronomical Society in Midland, Michigan and was a member of the Warren Astronomical Society in the Detroit-area. She has observed long period variable stars with the AAVSO and chased grazing occultations with IOTA. Asteroid (164215) Doloreshill is named after her. In 2013 the OSIRIS-REx mission’s Target Asteroids! citizen science project was honored as a White House Champion of Change for Citizen Science http://osiris-rex.lpl.arizona.edu/?q=target_asteroids.

Date: 

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 14:45 to 15:45

Location: 

Ballroom

Fine Art of Observing Workshop

David Tosteson

David’s passion is to seek out things no one has seen, and new types of objects fresh from research and professional literature using large reflectors. David will share specific examples of objects he have researched and observed.

Bio: 

Dave is an amateur with over 30 years of experience viewing deep-sky objects. His passion is for researching and observing things on the edge of professional science. He has seen and shared with other observers galaxies in the Hubble Deep and Ultra Deep Fields, brown dwarf stars, a gravitationally lensed arc, quasars with redshifts over 5 and Voorwerps, among others. He enjoys writing about these journeys and has had dozens of articles published in magazines such as Sky & Telescope, Amateur Astronomy, the Webb Society's Deep-Sky Observer, Minnesota Astronomical Society's (MAS) Gemini and local papers. He is a frequent contributor to the Astronomical League's Reflector, and has a regular feature in Amateur Astronomy called "Deep Sky Hunting". He and his wife Monica have traveled to four solar eclipses and have been fortunate to see them all. He enjoys major star parties, particularly the Okie-Tex and Texas Star Parties, where he has spoken several times. He received the Lone Stargazer award from the Texas Star Party in 2002. He has been an invited speaker at the annual convention of the Astronomical League in Des Moines and Chicago, and has presented many times at schools, community events and MAS meetings in the past. He is a Master Observer through the Astronomical League, and stopped at about thirty observing programs. Many thousands of observers have shared views through his reflectors through the years, and the thrill of someone viewing and understanding a spectacular object through a large instrument makes it all worthwhile.

Date: 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - 13:15

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

Fine Art of Observing Workshop, Secrets of Deep Sky Observing

Alan M. MacRobert – Sky & Telescope Magazine

We’ve figured out all sorts of ways to get the faintest and the mostest out of CCD chips, DSLRs, and videocams.  But what about your eye?  Are you sure you know all the tricks?  Why your daytime glasses matter, why to hug your trees, why the universe yellows as you age—and do bilberries really work?  Come rouse your rhodopsin with Alan MacRobert, Senior Editor at Sky & Telescope.  Alan MacRobert became an amateur astronomer in 1964, stuck with it for a reason you ought to learn and tell others, started subscribing to Sky & Telescope in 1966, and joined the magazine’s editorial staff in 1982.  He has items filed away for Celestial Calendar coverage in future issues as far ahead as February 2056 (take a guess what this one is).  “I may retire before I’m 105” he says, “but it’ll be in the file drawer whoever’s sitting in my chair.”

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 14:45
Friday, August 18, 2017 - 11:00

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

J. Kim Malville

J. Kim Malville

The talk will summarize the archaeoastronomy of three sites of the ancient world: Nabta Playa in southern Egypt, the earliest known example of megalithic astronomy in the world, Chaco Canyon and its Great House communities in Colorado and New Mexico, and Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of Peru. Nabta Playa is in the western desert of Egypt, west of Abu Simbu and was occupied from about 10,000 year BEC to perhaps 2500 BEC when the desert became hyper-arid. Beginning around 5000 BCE, a ceremonial center was built on the western edge of an internally drained lake, providing the nomadic pastoralists water and forage for their herds. They constructed a stone circle, which marks north-south and June solstice sunrise/December solstice sunset. Their most fascinating activity was to place series of megaliths in the sediments of the lake, which are oriented to Arcturus, Sirius, and α Centauri.

Chaco Canyon in New Mexico appears to have been a major pilgrimage center during the period 1000-1100 CE. The first major astronomical event was the December solstice sun rising above Fajada Butte, as seen from a nearby Great Kiva. Other astronomy involves possible petroglyphs of the 1054 supernova, the 1066 apparition of Halley’s comet, and a total eclipse of 1097.  Great Houses were located to provide views of the sun and moon rising above dramatic features on the horizon, such as the moon at major lunar standstill at Chimney Rock.

Machu Picchu is the crown jewel of the Inca empire, encapsulating much of the power and mystery of the astronomy of the empire. The Inca emperor was viewed as the descendent of the sun, and massive ceremonies were established at Cusco and elsewhere to confirm and enhance his status. Evidence of those celebrations are abundant in the archaeological record..


Machu Picchu at June Solstice


The Calendar Circle of Nabta Playa at December solstice sunset


December solstice sun rising above Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon.

 

Bio: 

During the International Geophysical Year Dr. Malville wintered over at Ellsworth Station in the Antarctic where he studied the aurora australis. He obtained his BS in physics from Caltech and his PhD in radio astronomy and solar physics from the University of Colorado. He has taught and engaged in research at the Universities of Michigan, Colorado, Oslo (Norway), Sao Paulo (Brazil), James Cook (Townsville, Australia),and The University of Wales Trinity-Saint David (Lampeter, Wales) . At Colorado he served as the Chairman of the Department of Astro-Geophysics, and directed the University’s Honors Program as well as CU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. His research interests have ranged from the aurora, the interstellar medium, solar physics, and, most recently, archaeoastronomy. For many years he carried out measurements of the corona and prominences at eclipses, enjoying the challenges of running complex experiments in remote parts of the world. In 1997 he was a member of the team that revealed the world’s oldest known megalithic astronomy at Nabta Playa near Abu Simbel in southern Egypt, earlier than Stonehenge by more than a millennium. In 2003 he was involved in the rediscovery of Llactapata, previously lost in a cloud forest near from Machu Picchu. He is presently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado, and Tutor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, UK. Books that he has written or edited include A Feather for Daedalus, Prehistoric Astronomy of the Southwest, Canyon Spirits: Beauty and Power in the Ancestral Puebloan World, Ancient Cities, Sacred Skies: Cosmic Geometries and City Planning in Ancient India, and Pilgrimage: Sacred Landscapes and Self-Organized Complexity. His latest book is coauthored with Gary Ziegler and involves their discoveries and re-discoveries in Peru: Machu Picchu’s Sacred Sisters: Choquequirao and Llactapata. Astronomy, Symbolism, and Sacred Geography in the Inca Heartland.

Date: 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 17:15

Location: 

Ballroom

Keynote at Banquet

Fred Espenak

Mr. Espenak will be the keynote speaker at the Gala Awards Banquet Saturday evening. In addition to this talk, he has offered to give an additional lecture during the day on one of the days at ASTROCON. 

Bio: 

Fred Espenak is a scientist emeritus at Goddard Space Flight Center and is NASA's expert on eclipses. He maintains NASA's official eclipse web site (eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov) as well as his personal web site on eclipse photography (www.mreclipse.com). Fred has published numerous books and articles of eclipse predictions and he is the co-author of the popular book "Totality - Eclipses of the Sun". His magnum opus, the "Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses", includes a map of every solar eclipse occurring between 2000 BC and AD 3000. His interest in eclipses was first sparked after witnessing a total solar eclipse in 1970. Since then, he has participated in 34 eclipse expeditions around the world including Antarctica. Fred's eclipse photographs have appeared in both national and international publications, and he has lectured extensively on the Sun, eclipses and photography. In 2003, the International Astronomical Union honored him by naming an asteroid "Espenak" (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/display.cfm?News_ID=5019). Now retired and living in rural Arizona, Fred spends most clear nights losing sleep and photographing the stars (www.astropixels.com).
Fred Espenak

Date: 

Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 20:00

Location: 

Ballroom

Measuring Starlight Deflection during the 2017 Eclipse: Repeating the Experiment that made Einstein Famous

Dr. Don Bruns

In 1919, astronomers performed an experiment during a solar eclipse, attempting to measure the deflection of stars near the sun, in order to verify Einstein’s theory of general relativity.  The experiment was very difficult and the results were marginal, but the success made Albert Einstein famous around the world.  Astronomers last repeated the experiment in 1973, achieving an error of 11%.  On August 21, 2017, using amateur equipment and modern technology, I plan to repeat the experiment and achieve a 1% error.  The best available star catalog will be used for star positions.  Corrections for optical distortion and atmospheric refraction are better than 0.01 arcsec.  During totality, I expect 7 or 8 measurable stars down to magnitude 9.5, based on analysis of previous eclipse measurements taken by amateurs.  Reference images, taken near the sun during totality, will be used for precise calibration.  Preliminary test runs performed during twilight in April 2017 accurately simulated the sky con­ditions during totality, providing an accurate estimate of the final uncertainty.

Bio: 

Dr. Bruns has been an amateur astronomer since his first department store refractor showed the rings of Saturn and lunar craters when he was 11 years old. He has continued to explore telescopes and optics, completing his doctorate in physics from the University of Illinois in 1978. His long and varied career included work developing new lasers, thermal infrared sensors, and fiber optics instrumentation. He was especially pleased to include astronomy in his work, including designing novel adaptive optics components and high precision celestial navigation equipment. Now retired, he is interested in repeating challenging historical experiments using modern equipment.

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 13:45

Location: 

Ballroom

MMS mission delivers promised measurements of ‘magnetic reconnection

Patricia Reiff, Ph.D., Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice

“Space weather is driven by the interactions between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field, and one of the most important of these interactions is ‘magnetic reconnection,’ a fundamental process that occurs when magnetic fields interact with plasmas,” said Rice University physicist Patricia Reiff, co-author of a new paper about MMS results that’s available online this week from the journal Science.

For Reiff and her MMS colleagues, including mission principal investigator and Rice alumnus James Burch, vice president of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, this week’s results are the culmination of a process that began with the initial idea for MMS more than 25 years ago.

Reiff said MMS, a collection of four identical spacecraft that orbit in a pyramid-shaped formation about 6 miles wide, is specifically designed to study region of space tens of thousands of miles above Earth’s surface that is a prime location for magnetic reconnection. This region, known as the “magnetopause,” is where the solar wind — a plasma of positive ions and negative electrons that stream continuously outward from the sun — comes in contact with Earth’s magnetosphere, the region of space dominated by Earth’s magnetic field.

“Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process that’s responsible for the aurora borealis and australis and space storms here on Earth, as well as for solar flares on our own sun and analogous stellar flares elsewhere in the universe,” said Reiff, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice who began studying Earth’s magnetosphere more than 45 years ago with instruments left on the moon by Apollo astronauts.

“When two magnets come together, reconnection is the process whereby the magnetic field rearranges itself to link the north pole of one magnet with the south pole of the other,” she said.

Reconnection occurs when the two magnets are not exactly co-aligned. If reconnection occurs in a vacuum or an electrically non-conducting medium like Earth’s lower atmosphere, the process occurs at the speed of light and has no effect on the surrounding medium.

But each medium of space measured by MMS — the solar wind and the magnetosphere — contain a fully ionized plasma that is an excellent electrical conductor. The plasma’s negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions orbit in opposite directions about a given magnetic field line.

MMS mission spacecraft assembly
The MMS mission’s four spacecraft stacked and ready for encapsulation in the launch nose cone at Kennedy Space Center. (Photo courtesy of NASA KSC)
“When the field lines of two different magnetic fields meet in space — as they do at the magnetopause — and try to reconnect, these gyrating particles initially resist,” Reiff said. “Each field line tends to retain its own distinct set of orbiting charged particles. Reconnection occurs when the field lines draw nearer one another than the distance of the ions or electrons orbiting them, and when it occurs, the energy released by the merger is transferred to the particles, which accelerate rapidly, sometimes at nearly light speed.”

This critical distance, known as the diffusion region, is considerably larger for ions than it is for electrons, and MMS is the first spacecraft designed to probe the much smaller “electron diffusion region” where the electrons become decoupled and reconnection actually occurs. The MMS plasma instruments are much faster than any previously deployed to measure the magnetosphere, and are thus designed to catch reconnection “in the act” on its most microscopic scale.

- See more at: http://news.rice.edu/2016/05/12/nasa-probe-results-could-improve-space-weather-forecasts-2/#sthash.FXN5jNS5.dpuf

Bio: 

Professor Patricia H. Reiff is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and was the founding Director of the Rice Space Institute at Rice University. Her research focuses on space plasma physics, mostly in the area of magnetospheric physics: "space weather". Her research includes study of the aurora borealis, magnetic reconnection, solar wind-magnetosphere coupling (including solar wind control of magnetospheric and ionospheric convection), and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. She was the first person to prove, using Dynamics Explorer dual spacecraft data, that the aurora is caused by a mid-altitude electric field. She was a Co-I on the "IMAGE" magnetospheric imaging mission (launched March, 2000), Jim Burch, SWRI, P.I., and was the first to propose radio sounding of the magnetosphere, which that spacecraft included as a key instrument. She was a Co-Investigator on the "Peace" plasma instrument on the ESA "Cluster 2" 4-spacecraft suite which were launched in July and August 2000. She is a Co-Investigator for science and E/PO (Education and Public Outreach) on the "Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission" which launched in March 12, 2015. She is instrumental in bringing real-time space weather forecasts and "Space Weather" information to the public. Her "Space Weather" software, which can be found in many fine museums, can be downloaded free from MMS.rice.edu. She is a partner in the "Heliospheric Education Consortium" from NASA, and is developing "iClips", immersive educational clips for use in planetarium domes. She is working on a show on magnetism and will create a clip for the 2017 solar eclipse. She is the director for a major project which has developed an off-ramp for the information highway by "Creating the Public Connection" , bringing real-time earth and space science data to museums and schools (originally sponsored by NASA's Digital Library Technology Program). Over ten million people have interacted with her exhibits and planetarium shows at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and other museums, and another five million with her web sites. Over 300,000 of her educational CD and DVD-Roms and planetarium videos have been distributed through her spinoff company spaceupdate.com. She has also been a leader in public education activities, including being director for four years for teacher education projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Eisenhower Foundation, in collaboration with Dr. Carolyn Sumners of the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS). Their latest collaboration is the creation and marketing of "Discovery Domes", portable digital theaters to teach earth and space science, with over 260 installations in 33 countries and 34 states, through her distribution company ePlanetarium. She has guided many scientific tours, including total solar eclipse trips to Canada in 1979, Louisiana (annular), Mexico in 1991, Peru in 1994, the Caribbean in 1998, the Black Sea in 1999, Madagascar in 2001, Libya in 2006, China in 2008 and 2009, Tahiti in 2010, annular in May 2012, Australia in November 2012, transatlantic in November 2013, and an Indonesian trip in 2016. = She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union , where she serves on the SPA Public Education Committee. In 2009, she received the AGU "Athelstan Spilhaus Award" and in 2013 she won the "SPARC" Award (Space Physics and Astronomy Richard Carrington Award) for service in public education. She is the Rice University representative and former Chair of the Council of Institutions of the USRA - the Universities Space Research Association. She has served on advisory committees for NASA, NSF, NCAR, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NAS/NRC and AAU. She tweets at "@discoverydome" and "@PatReiff"and has an outreach Facebook persona "Discovery Dome". She has a Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/eplanetarium/ that has all her fulldome planetarium shows to view for free. Her educational videos about space science can be found at http://mms.rice.edu/mms/index_multimedia.php. Her MMS Mascot "Trigger" has his own web page, his own "Trigger MMS" Facebook page, and twitter feed "@TriggerMMS"

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 16:00

Location: 

Ballroom

Nightscape Photography: The Juxtoposition of Earth and Sky

Robert Arn

Explore the world at night through your DSLR camera. Juxtapose wide open meadow, towering mountains, and vast deserts under the Milky Way. In recent years, consumer-level sensor technology has opened the possibility of capturing images in very low-light conditions. We will combine common landscape photograph techniques with those used in more traditional forms of astrophotography to tackle the challenges of imaging the world with the sky at night.

Bio: 

Robert Arn has spent more than 10 years in the field of astrophotography. He synthesizes his love for astronomy and photography into the beautiful world of nightscape astrophotography, the art of juxtaposing the Earth with the night sky. Never was a person happier spending long nights on a secluded mountainside beneath a blanket of stars in subfreezing temperatures with a camera in hand. Robert shares his love of this unique form of photography by his involvement in public outreach. He has hosted astrophotography workshops through AstroArn Photograph and the Loveland Photographic Society and has taught astronomy courses through Colorado State University as well as at a number of outreach events and star parties. He has given numerous astrophotography talks along the Colorado Front Range and central Illinois. Robert's work has been showcased and published in a number of settings, including NASA’s APOD, URSA’s EPOD, Les Cowley’s OPOD. He has also given talks about the mathematics of image and video processing. Robert enjoys the challenge of constantly learning new and more advanced photo processing techniques to add to his growing toolbox for astrophotography, drawing from both the skills he has developed in astronomy and those in photography. In addition to astrophotography, Robert received his PhD in Mathematics at Colorado State University in 2016. He currently works as a Software Engineer at Northrop Grumman in Denver/Aurora, CO. His research is in image processing, video processing, optimization, machine learning, large data analysis, geometric data analysis, and large data analysis. When he is not working, he can be found on the side of a mountain or underneath the stars, trying to capture part of this majestic universe. To explore more of Robert's astrophotography creations, visit his website: www.AstroArn.com

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 13:45
Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 10:00

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

Observatories near Longitude 105 West - Past, Present & Future

Dr. Bob Stencel, University of Denver Observatories

The historically high and dry climate of the Rocky Mountain region has given rise to numerous observatories.  These include the classic 1894 large refractor in Denver, and a proliferation of public and private telescope facilities ever since -- both optical and even for cosmic ray studies.  In this talk, we'll trace instrumentation and observational developments, from the pre-historic use of Medicine Wheels, to refractors, reflectors and multiple telescope systems -- all within the context of the effects of light pollution and climate change on astronomy and astrophysics.

 

Bio: 

Robert "Dr. Bob" Stencel is the William Herschel Womble Professor of Astronomy at Denver University and Director of the DU Observatories*. He became interested in astronomy as a result of Sputnik, and was fortunate to have as a mentor Ed Halbach, one of the founders of the Astronomical League. Following graduate study in astronomy at the University of Michigan, Dr. Stencel worked at NASA Houston and Greenbelt sites and then NASA Headquarters in Washington DC, prior to joining Denver University in 1993 where he teaches astronomy and astrophysics. Prof. Stencel has served as a judge for several years for the Astronomical League's National Young Astronomer Award program, and was recipient of a National Youth in Astronomy Award in 2002. He is also Coordinator for the Colorado Section of the International Dark-Sky Association. His recent research has focused on the rare eclipse of the bright star, epsilon Aurigae, using interferometric imaging, as well as large telescopes in space and on earth. For a summary of results, see: http://www.aavso.org/ejaavso402618 -- as well as notes on the related world-wide Pro-Am observing campaign: http://www.aavso.org/ejaavso402614 . *The Director of the DU Observatories: Chamberlin (1894 with its 20 inch, f/15 Clark-Saegmuller refractor) and Mt.Evans (1997 with its dual 28 inch f/21 R-C reflectors). Many members of the Astronomical League have been guest observers at Mt.Evans observatory during it's first decade of operations. Homepage: http://www.du.edu/~rstencel

Date: 

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 11:15

Location: 

Ballroom

Operating the Kepler Mission with University Students

Bill Possel, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado

The Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009, has been one of NASA’s most scientifically successful missions.  From the first command to the spacecraft, students at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at University of Colorado in Boulder have been participating in Kepler’s mission operations.  Kepler has amazed the world with the discovery of numerous planets circling distant stars in our galaxy.  Yet Kepler has been one of the most challenging spacecraft to operate due to several on-orbit failures.  Despite these failures, Kepler continues to collect valuable astronomical data and provide a training ground for future space professionals.  

Bio: 

Bill Possel is the Director of Mission Operations and Data Systems at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has over thirty years of experience in space system management, development, and operations with the Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office, and NASA. Prior to his appointment at LASP, he served in the Air Force, retiring at the rank of Colonel. During his Air Force career he managed numerous space system and launch vehicle programs and directed spacecraft operations at ground stations. His experience covers space systems from concept study through launch and on-orbit operations. Bill earned his commission following graduation from the University of Cincinnati in 1979. He holds a Bachelor of Science in physics and a Masters of Science in engineering physics from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is also a graduate of the Air Force Air Command and Staff College and Air War College.
Bill Possel, LASP

Date: 

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 13:45

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

Photograph Basics for the 2017 Total Eclipse

Fred Espenak

Abstract:

With August’s total eclipse of the Sun fast approaching, do you want to capture images of it with your camera? Learn tips from an eclipse photography expert who has shot over 20 total eclipses. Some of the topics covered include:

- How to use any camera (even cell phones) to shoot wide-angle photos of totality
- Tips on the best telephoto lenses and telescopes for telephotography of eclipses
- What solar filters to use, and when to use them
- How to capture partial phases, the diamond-ring effect, and Baily’s beads
- How to shoot bracketed exposures to capture the inner, middle, and outer corona

Bring you camera and lens and be prepared to ask questions.

Bio: 

Fred Espenak is a scientist emeritus at Goddard Space Flight Center and is NASA's expert on eclipses. He maintains NASA's official eclipse web site (eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov) as well as his personal web site on eclipse photography (www.mreclipse.com). Fred has published numerous books and articles of eclipse predictions and he is the co-author of the popular book "Totality - Eclipses of the Sun". His magnum opus, the "Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses", includes a map of every solar eclipse occurring between 2000 BC and AD 3000. His interest in eclipses was first sparked after witnessing a total solar eclipse in 1970. Since then, he has participated in 34 eclipse expeditions around the world including Antarctica. Fred's eclipse photographs have appeared in both national and international publications, and he has lectured extensively on the Sun, eclipses and photography. In 2003, the International Astronomical Union honored him by naming an asteroid "Espenak" (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/display.cfm?News_ID=5019). Now retired and living in rural Arizona, Fred spends most clear nights losing sleep and photographing the stars (www.astropixels.com).

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 14:45

Location: 

Ballroom

Pro-Am Collaboration Workshop

Carolyn Collins Petersen, CEO of Loch Ness Productions

Carolyn will be talking about the Pro-Am experiences that she has had including comet and other observations.  She has been involved with the International Halley Watch and will share what she had learned about comets and the solar wind from her observations.

Bio: 

Carolyn Collins Petersen is an award-winning science writer and astronomer. She is CEO of Loch Ness Productions, a unique multimedia production company specializing in cosmically creative content. She has written more than 50 documentaries about astronomy and space science, appearing in domed theaters and observatory exhibits around the world. Her exhibit work can be seen at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and she had a short exhibition about climate change at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. In 2013, she co-produced a video about light pollution called "Losing the Dark", for the International Dark-Sky Association, which is showing worldwide on domes and in classrooms. She is currently working on a fulldome immersive show about recent astronomical discoveries. Carolyn is also part of the lecturer team for Smithsonian Journeys, teaching about astronomy and space exploration for selected cruises and land tours. Carolyn is a former editor for Sky Publishing's SkyWatch Magazine and was an associate editor for Sky & Telescope Magazine from 1997-2001. Carolyn wrote "Astronomy 101", a beginner's guide to astronomy. She has also written several books about astronomy including "Astronomy 101: From the Sun and Moon to Wormholes and Warp Drive" and the best-selling "Hubble Vision", about the accomplishments of the Hubble Space Telescope. Her latest book, on the global history of space exploration, is due out in late 2017. Carolyn studied education, astronomy, and physics at the University of Colorado, followed by a stint in graduate school, where she took a Masters' in Science Journalism and Telecommunications Engineering. She enjoys reading science fiction, doing hand crafts, and hiking in the mountains near her Colorado home.

Date: 

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 14:00

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

Pro-Am Workshop Abstract

Jim Fox

Jim will describe some of his experiences working with professional astronomers on various projects. He will then suggest ways that an interested amateur can find ways to contribute directly to advancing astronomical science.

 

Bio: 

When asked how he got into astronomy, “I always wanted to be an astronomer, once I got through the cowboy and fireman stage of young boys in the 1950s,” Jim claims, “but then I found out what they got paid and looked for something that would support it as a hobby.” He ended up working 37 years as a chemical engineer to maintain that support. Along the way, he became a telescope maker, having completed some 30 Newtonian mirrors. “I even tried a Cassegrain, once, but gave up on that convex secondary.” He has taught astronomy classes at local museums and co-designed and co-taught Astronomy Lab for the Amateur at the University of Minnesota. Always interested in amateur research contributions, Jim has submitted observations to AAVSO, ALPO, IOTA and various individual investigators. On the administrative side of astronomy, Jim has chaired the League’s North Central Region and has been elected Secretary and President of the Astronomical League. He served a term on the Board of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and for several years he chaired the Photoelectric Photometry section of AAVSO. In 2014, the League honored Jim with its Leslie C, Peltier award for accomplishments in observing. Now, Jim and his wife, Stephanie, live at 7300 feet in the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico where he continues photoelectric photometry at his Makalii Observatory.

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 10:00 to 12:00
Friday, August 18, 2017 - 14:00

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

REAL SCIENCE FOR THE TIME POOR AMATEUR - The study of Double Stars from the Southern Hemisphere

Graeme Jenkinson

Like many of us I am continually in awe of the skills of the modern day amateur astrophotographer with the huge range of quality CCD astro cameras now available.  If like myself, time at your telescope is limited, I will show how to use this technology to make a real and worthwhile contribution to the science of astronomy.  Join me on journey starting with selection of target pairs, acquiring useable images, through to analysing those images and the publication of your results in the scientific journals you too can contribute, and still be fit to go to work the next morning! Pristine dark skies are not essential and like myself, there is a good chance of discovering new pairs, with your name preserved for posterity! 

Bio: 

Graeme Jenkinson is an amateur astronomer who works and lives with his wife in Oakey, a small country town of 5,000 people in south-east Queensland. He became interested in astronomy after seeing a “shooting star” for the first time as a high school student in the 1970’s and subsequently joined the Astronomical Association of Queensland, Australia (AAQ). Work and family commitments led to a membership hiatus until the Great Leonid Meteor Shower in 2001 re-kindled his passion for astronomy. During his current membership of the AAQ , Graeme has held various positions including Council member, director of the Visual Observing Section, Librarian, and currently Double Star Section director. With a 150mm F8 Synta refractor permanently housed in a Sirius dome he focused his attention on lunar occultation timing before beginning in 2007 multiple star observations in collaboration with fellow AAQ member, Tim Napier-Munn. The 2014 introduction of a 400mm F4.5 Newtonian reflector in a second Sirius dome has resulted in the discovery of 3 previously unrecorded double stars. Since 2014 both these observatories have been included in the professional body, the Astronomical Society of Australia’s list of Designated Optical Observatories (#DO3-45). These are both professional and amateur facilities judged to be valuable resources for research, education or community use. Over the last decade Graeme has designed, built and continues to maintain three observatories in his local area for a group of Japanese amateur astronomers. Two of these are used on a regular basis by visiting group members, with the third facility, a roll off roof design, being remotely controlled from Japan and used primarily for supernova searches.

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 10:00 to 12:00

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

Recent Advances in Astronomy: A Visual Tour

John Bally, Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, University of Colorado, Boulder

The recent completion of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the upgrade to the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, development of adaptive optics on 8 to 10 meter telescopes, and astronomy satellites such as Chandra, HST, Spitzer, Herschel, WISE, and Planck are revolutionizing our understanding of the Universe and documenting its stunning beauty.  

I will take the audience on a visual, multi-wavelength tour of the Orion region. I will start with the large-scale view of the entire Winter sky from visual to radio wavelengths where we see the expanding Orion-Eridanus superbubble created by Orion’s massive stars over the last 5 to 10 million years.   I will then zoom into the cauldron of star formation activity inside and immediately behind the Orion Nebula and show the remarkable images produced by HST, ground-based adaptive optics, and the ALMA array.  The new sub-arcsecond resolution data reveals the complex interplay between the violent birth of massive stars and the hundreds of lower-mass ones that may once host future planetary systems.

Bio: 

John Bally, Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, University of Colorado, Boulder. John Bally did his undergraduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley, and obtained his PhD at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, earning his PhD in millimeter-wave radio astronomy in 1980. He joined AT&T Bell Laboratories for 11 years as a Member of Technical Staff, working in the Radio Physics Research Department at Crawford Hill in Holmdel NJ with the group that discovered the Cosmic Microwave Background. While at AT&T, he studied interstellar molecular clouds, the outflows and jets produced by forming stars, and built sensitive mm-wave receivers. He participated in several expeditions to the South Pole in Antarctica to set-up the first permanent astronomical observatory there. Since 1991, he has been a professor of astrophysics in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has made extensive use of the world’s major observatories such as the Hubble, the facilities of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, and the facilities on Mauna Kea in Hawaii such as Gemini and Caltech Sub-millimeter Observatory. He is now a user of the new Atacama Large Millimeter Array, ALMA, which is the most ambitious ground-based telescope ever built. His current research includes the formation of stars and planetary systems, the first blind search for dense, dusty clumps that may soon or are currently forming clusters of stars. During the last decade he has concentrated on massive star and cluster formation. He has recently re-kindled his interests in cosmology and is exploring the Lee Smolin hypothesis of “cosmic natural selection” in which black holes produce Universes. This theory may provide an `explanation’ for the so-called anthropic principle and for the small but non-zero value of the cosmological constant. This highly speculative and “risky” research direction is a natural outgrowth of his interest in massive stars, the most massive of which form stellar-mass black holes at the ends of their lives. John Bally is an avid skier, and owns a home in Breckenridge, CO where he operates a small observatory.

Date: 

Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 11:15

Location: 

Ballroom

Researching the total solar eclipse experience – putting words to the ineffable

Dr. Kate Russo

Dr Kate Russo has been engaging in researching the eclipse experience and eclipse planning for several years, starting with her surveys and interviews with eclipse chasers for her first book Total Addiction:  The Life of an Eclipse Chaser.  She has since surveyed and interviewed hundreds of people about their eclipse experiences.  She undertook detailed research before and after the 2012 total eclipse in her home region of Far North Queensland.  More recently, she undertook a post-eclipse research workshop at the Eclipse Festival in Sulawesi, Indonesia.  Along with trying to put words to the indescribable experience of totality, her research also has real world applications – she undertook detailed post-eclipse interviews with eclipse coordinators in 2012 and 2015 to produce her White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning, which is being used by many communities along the path of totality for the 2017 eclipse.  

Kate is a Clinical Psychologist by profession, and is an expert in Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.  She has taken time out of her psychology career for the foreseeable future to focus on her eclipse research, planning, events and media.  She is planning to relocate to the US in 2017 to do a high profile outreach tour along the path of totality. 

 

Bio: 

Dr Kate Russo is an Australian author, psychologist and eclipse chaser who has lived in Belfast for almost 20 years. Professionally, she is a Clinical Psychologist and academic, formerly with Queen’s University Belfast. She became hooked after seeing her first total solar eclipse from France in 1999, and has since seen ten total eclipses in her 15 years of chasing. As a psychologist, she researches the eclipse experience and has published two books: Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser; and Totality: The Total eclipse of 2012 in Far North Queensland. She has become a leading authority on the eclipse experience, and now helps with planning, events and media on the ground in the lead up to every eclipse. Her message is clear – a total solar eclipse should be enjoyed by everyone – and not just men with beards and telescopes.

Date: 

Thursday, August 25, 2016 - 10:30

Saros Series 145 and the American Eclipse of 2017

Derryl Barr

Eclipse chasers have long known that whatever eclipse they have just observed, another will again occur with little variation 18 years and 11.32 days in the future. All they need to do is move approximately one third of the way around the world to the west and adjust their latitude by about 200 miles. The Saros series is the pulse of solar mechanics that has made eclipses predictable events even in ancient times. At any one time an average of 38 saros serirs are active, producing eclipses at their regular intervals. In this epoch saros series produce an average of 72 eclipses extending over a 1300 year period. Accordingly, some series are old, some middle aged and some young. Saros series 145 fits in the young classification of this remarkable rythmic order of nature, and on 2017 August 21 will produce only its eighth out a future total of 43 central eclipses. All but two of those being total. A variety of factors contribute to the determination to the type of eclipse a saros will predominately produce, and we are fortunate in that those factors for saros series 145 are most favorable for the production of total rather than annular events. While the series starts with eclipses of brief totality, celestial mechanics are slowly conspiring to bring about great things. By the 25th century celestical circumstances will produce 5 six minute plus and 3 seven minute plus eclipses in the series. While historically the first five totals preceding the series imminent return have had little impact on the history of astronomy, they each have etched unforgettable memories into the conscience of those who found themselves within its path. And while the future for 145 looks brighter than its past, each eclipse of each saros series has its own call to uniqueness.

 

Bio: 

Derryl Barr has been involved in astronomy for most of his whole life, and has recently witnessed for the second time Saturn's return to the exact location where he first telescopically observed it at the age of 13 in 1958, making him two in Saturnian years. He received his education from Westmar College, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1967, and the University of Northern Iowa where he earned his Masters in 1974. For an eighteen year period embracing the last decade of the 20th and first decade of the 21st century he wrote an astronomy column for the North Platte, Nebraska Telegraph, and between 2003 and 2011 taught an observational astronomy course at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte. In 2004 he served as chairman for the first session of the 2nd International Solar Eclipse Conference held in Milton Keynes, England. He has observed 21 central eclipses as of this conference, having observed an eclipse from each of the seven continents. In addition he has observed from ingress to egress both of the transits of Venus. He plans to observe as many more eclipses as time will allot him. But doubts than any more Venusian transits are in his future. Currently he lives in Indianola, Iowa, occasionally substitute teaches, serves as a volunteer during Drake Observatory Lecture Nights, is a member of the Des Moines Astronomical Society, and spends as much time as he can with his three grandchildren.
Derryl Barr

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 14:45

Location: 

Ballroom

Save Our Night Skies Update

Bob Gent

Bob Gent will give an update on the campaign to save our night skies and reduce light pollution.  He will provide real-world examples where communities have passed outdoor lighting ordinances, and successfully put the brakes on the growth of light pollution.  He will also discuss the recent report by the American Medical Association on the need to restrict LED streetlights.  Bob recently served on a local city's outdoor lighting code task force, and he will share the techniques used to update an outdated lighting code.

Bio: 

Lt Col Bob Gent is a retired USAF Space Systems Officer. He worked with space-based telescopes many years before Hubble was launched. From 2007 to 2008, he served as President of the International Dark-Sky Association, and from 2002 to 2006, he was President of the Astronomical League, a federation of nearly 300 astronomical societies. Over the past 20 years, he has spoken to dozens of international, national, state, and local legislative bodies on the problems and solutions of light pollution. In 2000, the International Astronomical Union renamed a minor planet BobGent (10498) in his honor for his work in night sky preservation. In 2015, he won the Astronomical League award for exceptional accomplishments in astronomy. On August 21, 2017, Bob will be celebrating his birthday on the day of the Total Solar Eclipse.

Date: 

Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 13:45

Location: 

Ballroom

Solar System Life Cycle

Dr. Stacey Palen

  Outline of the presentation:
 1) Formation of the Sun and Solar System
 a) Giant molecular clouds
 b) Gravity and disks (interactive demo)
 c) Planetesimals and planet formation
2) Stellar middle age
 a) Orbit stability (interactive demo)
 b) Changes in the Sun over time
3) Death of the Sun
 a) Timescales----Andromeda will be here before then
 b) Red Giant phase (will Earth be consumed?)
 c) Planetary nebula phase (interactive demo)
 d) Outstanding questions about planetary nebulae
4) Q&A with audience
     -- 
 

Bio: 

Dr. Stacy Palen grew up in New Jersey, and earned a bachelor's of physics from Rutgers University. From there she headed west to Iowa, where she picked up a master's in astronomy and a PhD in physics from the University of Iowa. Since she already had some momentum, she continued west to Seattle, where she served as a lecturer/post-doc at the University of Washington for 4 years. Geographically, it would have been difficult to continue moving west without leaving the country, so instead, she continued moving culturally west, arriving in Ogden, UT in 2002. Now at Weber State University, she is an award-winning University Professor, and Director of the Ott Planetarium, which is internationally known for its fun and educational productions about the night sky. Dr. Palen's research specialty is the death of Sun-like stars, and she will discuss the life and death of the Sun at ASTROCON. Dr. Stacy Palen Professor, Physics Director, Ott Planetarium Weber State University Ogden, UT, 84408
Dr. Stacey Palen

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 11:15

Location: 

Ballroom

The 1898 and 1995 Indian eclipses: A contrasting view

Martin Ratcliffe

There’s a famous journey involving a long sea voyage to India by the British Astronomical Association in 1898. The saga is highlighted in the volume, The Indian Eclipse 1898, by E W Maunder. In 1995, almost a hundred years later, I traveled by Boeing 747 to New Dehli, and filmed the eclipse using a modern television camera. The two journeys reveal some stark contrasts in how eclipses are recorded yesterday and today. Follow along with fascinating historical stories of the efforts to record the two eclipses, including some personal anecdotes. Finally we’ll journey into space to preview the 2017 event which can be enjoyed from unique vantage points from anywhere in space using planetarium software.

Bio: 

Martin is currently Director of Professional Development for Sky-Skan, a digital planetarium company, and he trains planetarium staff to use the DigitalSky® software for creating innovative live planetarium shows. He is a former President of the International Planetarium Society 2001-2002. Representing Sky-Skan, he attended the first White House Star Party in October 2009 and introduced the first family to a digital planetarium experience on the South Lawn of the White House. He moved from England to the USA in 1991 to direct the Buhl Planetarium at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1997 he moved to Wichita, KS, to oversee construction and operation of the Boeing CyberDome theater at Exploration Place. In addition to a life in professional planetarium world, he’s a lifelong amateur astronomer who grew up in England, served as a council member of the BAA and the Society for Popular Astronomy, and was involved in forming the local Newbury Amateur Astronomical Society. His first embryonic lecture was for Reading Astronomical Society, which loomed large in his formative years. He is a contributing editor for Astronomy magazine, and co-authors the Night Sky column with Alister Ling. He is author of four books and has written numerous planetarium shows. Martin has filmed total eclipses of the Sun for television (1995 and 1998), and enjoys astronomical photography from his own home-built observatory near Wichita, KS. He earned a bachelor of science degree from University College London (England) in Astronomy. Martin is an adjunct lecturer at Wichita State University and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. In case you didn’t notice, his passion is teaching astronomy to wide audiences.

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 09:00

Location: 

Ballroom

The Fine Art of Observing

Mike Murray

Whether you're observing the night sky with binoculars, telescopes, or even the naked eye, there is lot of detail waiting to be seen if you employ the right techniques.  Photographs are time exposures that can bring out color and certain features, but there are many details that the dynamic range of the human eye can detect that photos do not show!  Seeing the fine points in an object is one of the most exciting aspects of observing, and this talk will review many "tricks of the trade."  We will cover topics such as dark adaptation, averted vision, good optics, seeing conditions, optimizing the body, appropriate cover, and more.

 

Bio: 

Mike Murray is the Astronomer and Planetarium Manager for the Delta College Planetarium in Bay City, Michigan. Mike has over 30 years of experience in the planetarium and informal science education field, producing and directing shows at several organizations including the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City, the Museum of the Rockies in Montana and the Orlando Science Center. Since 1990 Mike has worked in the domain of digital planetariums, developing innovative approaches for public presentation and science education programs. Mike also served as Deputy Director of the NASA Space Grant Consortium at Montana State University, creating and overseeing a number of education/public outreach projects that covered the entire state, including telescope and observing workshops for tribal colleges. Mike has been an avid amateur astronomer since 1969, providing presentations and seminars for star parties, astronomy clubs and museums. He has been actively involved in starting and “growing” astronomy clubs, and participating in major star parties around the country. He has served in many organizations including the International Planetarium Society, the Astronaut Memorial Foundation and the Astronomical League. He has over 100 articles and blogs in planetarium journals, museum websites, astronomy club newsletters and newspapers. Mike Murray Delta College Planetarium 100 Center Ave, Bay City, MI 48708 989-667-2270 http://www.delta.edu/planet.aspx
Mike Murray, Production Manager, Clark Planetarium

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 14:45
Friday, August 18, 2017 - 11:00

Location: 

Tiffany/Champagne Rooms

The Gravitational Universe

Shane L. Larson, Research Associate Professor, Northwestern University/Adler Planetarium

Of all the known forces of Nature, gravity plays a singularly important role in the Cosmos --- it is the only force that matters on the mind-bogglingly large scale of the entire Universe.  It drives the formation of star systems, it forces stars to ignite nuclear fires in their cores, it keeps galaxies bound together, and it tells the story of the beginning of the Cosmos as well as what it's ultimate fate might be. 

Our modern understanding of gravity is called General Relativity, described by Albert Einstein in 1915. One of the first major astronomical tests of general relativity was the observation of the total solar eclipse by Eddington on 29 May 1919. Since then, we have made remarkable discoveries that build on that early, first test of gravity. 

In this talk we'll revisit Eddington's observations and the role they played in cementing our understanding of gravity. We'll then leap forward a century, to the modern day, to talk about how a new kind of astronomy -- gravitational wave astronomy -- is transforming our understanding of the Cosmos, and the role that both professional and amateur astronomers are playing in opening our minds to the Gravitational Universe

Bio: 

Shane Larson is a research associate professor of physics at Northwestern University, where he is a member of CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics). He is also an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium. He works in the field of gravitational wave astrophysics, specializing in studies of compact stars, binaries, and the galaxy. He works in gravitational wave astronomy with both the ground-based LIGO project, and future space-based detectors for NASA. Shane grew up in eastern Oregon, and was an undergraduate at Oregon State University where he received his B.S. in Physics in 1991. He received an M.S. in Physics (1994) and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics (1999) from Montana State University. Before moving to Northwestern, he was a postdoctoral scholar at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, then at the California Institute of Technology, and finally at the Center for Gravitational Wave Physics at the Pennsylvania State University. He was formerly a tenured associate professor of physics at Utah State University. Shane is also an avid amateur astronomer, observing with two homebuilt Dobsonian telescopes, named EQUINOX and COSMOS MARINER. He currently lives in the Chicago area with his wife, daughter and three cats. In addition to astronomy, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and geocaching. He also collects Legos, fountain pens, and telescopes. He contributes regularly to a public science blog at writescience.wordpress.com, and tweets with the handle @sciencejedi .

Date: 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 13:45

Location: 

Ballroom

Visual Astronomy 101

Mike Hotka

Talk outline

  • Introduction
  • Who am I?
  • Setting Intentions and Goals

  • Use of an Astronomical Database

  • Preparing your Observing Outing

  • Where to Go Observing

  • Achieving Better Contrast in the Field of View

  • Star Hopping Tutorial

  • What to Record While Observing

  • Post Observing Activities

  • Astronomical League Observing Program Discussion

  • How to Complete Southern Hemisphere Observing Programs

  • Summary Wrapup

  • Questions

Bio: 

Mike Hotka has been an amateur astronomer for almost 50 years. It all started when he was 11 and Santa brought a small, Tasco refracting telescope. Being cold in Iowa that time of year, he poked his new telescope out an upstairs bathroom window and first looked at Polaris. Mike became a member of the Astronomical League in 1984 and made his first Astronomical League certificate observation on July 12, 1986, when he recorded observing M57 for the Messier Observing Program. Many observations later, he has completed 51 of the Astronomical League’s Observing Programs, receiving 70 certificates in the process. Mike’s presentation will share his experiences in observing, how he prepares and records a night of observations, touch on the 3 telescopes he built, share tips on how to complete some of the Observing Programs and much more useful information to help make your personal observing more fun and rewarding. For more information about Mike and his observing, visit his website, Mike Hotka's Astronomy Page at http://www.mikehotka.com
Mike Hotka

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:15

Location: 

Ballroom

What’s So Hard About Understanding Eclipses?

Dr. Tim Slater

 Of all the wonders of the sky, perhaps the most awesome is that unexpected appearance of an eclipse. Yet, many students encounter unexpected difficulty in explain the physical processes leading to eclipses and their prediction. Recent advances in cognitive science help explain students’ reasoning difficulties and give guidance to amateur astronomers trying to demystify eclipses for the general public.

Bio: 

Dr. Tim Slater is a Professor at the University of Wyoming where he holds the Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair for Science Education. As a member of the UW Physics and Astronomy Department and the College of Education, he is recognized as an expert in education and public outreach in astronomy and space sciences. Professor Slater earned his Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, his M.S. from Clemson University and he holds two bachelors’ degrees from Kansas State University. He is an author on nearly 100 refereed articles and 11 astronomy textbooks, is the winner of numerous awards, and is frequently an invited speaker on improving public understanding of science.
Tim Slater

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 10:00

Location: 

Ballroom

“Juno: Revealing Jupiter’s Interior” – NASA's Juno Mission to Jupiter: What’s Inside the Giant Planet?

Dr. Fran Bagenal

 

Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our solar system during its formation. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter can also provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars. With its suite of science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet's auroras. Juno will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system. NASA’s JUNO mission was launched in August 2011 and starts orbiting over Jupiter’s poles on July 14, 2016. JUNO carries instruments that will probe Jupiter’s deep interior and measure the amount of water — a key component of solar system evolution. JUNO is the first spacecraft to fly over Jupiter’s aurora and will measure both the energetic particles raining down on the planet and the bright “northern & southern lights” they excite.

Bio: 

Dr. Fran Bagenal is professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder and is co-investigator and team leader of the plasma investigations on NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Juno mission to Jupiter. Her main area of expertise is the study of charged particles trapped in planetary magnetic fields. Dr. Bagenal received her bachelor degree in Physics and Geophysics from the University of Lancaster, England, and her doctorate degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from MIT in 1981. She spent five years as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College, London, before returning to the United States for research and faculty positions in Boulder, Colorado. She has participated in many of NASA's planetary exploration missions, including Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, Deep Space 1, New Horizons and Juno.

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 16:00

Location: 

Ballroom