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

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

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

46 Astronomical League Certificates - How I Did It?

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 10 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 37 of the Astronomical League’s Observing Programs, receiving 46 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 more advanced 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, http://www.mikehotka.com.
Mike Hotka

Date: 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:15

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

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

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

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

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

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