Blog Archives

Eyes on the Sky: May 7 thru May 13

Eyes on the Sky: May 7 thru May 13

Mars and more Messiers; Bootes doubles up

Mars makes moves heading out of Leo starting this week, but not before it gives us one last pointer to the Leo Triplet of M95, M96 and M105.  Faint galaxies all, but worth attempting if they have been difficult to find previously for you.  If that challenge is a bit too much for your skies, take a whirl back over to Bootes, and see “double” with some double stars lurking in the Herdsman.  Wishing you clear and dark skies!

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Eyes on the Sky: April 30 thru May 6

Eyes on the Sky: April 30 thru May 6

Venus at brightest; a celestial time trip(let)

Venus will be taking center stage in about a month when it transits across the face of the Sun for the last time in 105 years.  But it manages to steal the spotlight by outshining everything else in the sky except the Sun and the Moon.  Learn how to spot its phases with a a telescope, or catch the brilliant planet’s dazzling glow near a fairly bright star in Taurus, which will look quite dim in comparison.

Later in the week, the nearly Full Moon glides by Saturn and Spica.  These three objects are vastly different distances from each other, and contemplating the time differences of light from each is a pretty cool exercise to consider.  Use a telescope to spot Saturn’s rings.  Wishing you clear and dark skies!

Global Star Party

28 April 2012


Be sure to reserve Saturday, April 28th, for GAM’s ultimate observing event: the Global Star Party.  Of course, it’s B.Y.O.T. – Bring Your Own Telescope – but encourage even those who don’t have one to come anyway. All are invited, all will be excited.  It is amazing that when we turn our gaze upward all religious, national, cultural and political barriers fade into the darkness.  April 28th is the time to come out under the stars, bridge gaps across the seas, and join your brother and sister skywatchers in proving that the world is, in fact, “One People, One Sky.”

 

Start Early and Follow Up
Not just the 28th, of course, but the whole month of April is dedicated to the science, art, and culture of astronomy, so plan to take your hobby to the streets as often as you can.  Club members need to “divide and conquer” their community on every corner. Get events scheduled and supported by your community’s science centers, planetariums, and science museums.  Spearhead new ways of outreach to convalescent hospitals, rest homes, military bases, busy sections of town, and libraries.  Be ready to accommodate handicapped visitors to your scopes, including those in wheel chairs.  Be on top of your game with lectures, presentations, exhibits, telescope demonstrations, handouts, and star charts—and be ready to dazzle them with fun facts (not boring ones) about the objects you have captured in your eyepiece.


Begin with the Sun
You can build momentum by scheduling events not just in the evening but during the day as well.  Spark interest in our number one star, the Sun, by planning an Astronomy Day at the park with picnic.  And, of course, invite all your daytime guests to your Global Star Party in the evening.  Contact your local observatory—they may be happy to work with you to have a big, all-day astronomy event on their grounds.


Publicize Your Events

But the public won’t know about your Global Star Party unless you get the word out.  Local weekly newspapers are very receptive to running news items about events like this, and if you can give them a well-written story that has a catchy news angle in it, you may get not just a small announcement but a feature article.  Also, if your city or town has a public radio station, they will likely be happy to announce your event—perhaps including an interview with you.


Use Your Creativity
Other than the set date—Saturday, April 28th local time—there is no formal agenda.  Amateur astronomers have proven to be incredibly creative when organizing events, so we encourage you to show us what you can do!  We do, however, encourage everyone to expand the time beyond the regular evening events—starting early with solar activities and continuing until late evening.
Everyone should choose the activities that fit their community and personal preference.  We are encouraging everyone to think in new directions and try new methods of outreach, but want everyone to be comfortable in their choice of events.
Be sure to register you event with AWB online and to come back afterwards and fill out your event reports and post your photos.  We all want to see what our friends around the world are doing!

Some Program Idea

  • Visit a military base, retirement hotel, or children’s hospital and give those able a chance to see the Universe up close.
  • Have a club member dress up as a famous astronomer from history.
  • Find ways to attract attention – your own version of 100HA’s Camel Cart!
  • Use our resources page to get the materials to accommodate the seeing impaired.
  • Host “How Telescopes Work” demonstrations and put your ATM guys to work with mirror grinding demos and use some of that extra glass to let the public try.
  • Hold events outside of art galleries or musical events.
  • Surround a shopping mall or city park with telescopes at every corner or entrance.
  • Hold astropoetry events, such as a public poetry reading at a library.
  • Get a local scout or school group to assist at your star party—have the youngsters ask questions, provide information, and even help run the scope.
  • Have an “artists table” set up so that younger observers can make and take their own souvenirs of the event.
  • Work with a local library to have book displays set up near the telescope so that people can learn more.
  • Work with another club in a different country and set up an internet connection so that those attending your event can connect with others doing the same thing at the same time in a different part of the world.
  • Live-stream your event on Ustream.

 

Share your Star Party experience with us:

Share your Global Star Party images with us via GAM2012 Facebook or Flickr group or Tweet using #GAM2012 hashtag (@gam_awb). Don’t forget to register your events here.

 

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 23 thru Apr 29

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 23 thru Apr 29

Luna splits Beauty and the Bull; an eye on Cor Caroli

Early this week, the Moon splits some well-known star clusters, and visits the brightest planet.  Don’t miss the interesting take on earthshine, as the time it takes for light to reach your eye from the Moon really can vary by several seconds, even while looking at the same Moon!

Close to overhead this time of year just south of the Big Dipper, and therefore visible from most any location for stargazing – even in cities – is the small constellation Canes Venatici, which harbors some great objects that can be spotted with simple binoculars or small telescopes.  Cor Caroli, the star named after England’s Charles 1, is a central highlight of this week’s video.  Wishing you clear and dark skies!

Meteors Without Borders – Lyrids Watch 2012

April 21-22, 2012

lyrids_watch-160Perhaps you’ve seen “shooting stars” before, but during GAM you can witness a meteor shower!

The Lyrids meteor shower happens each year from about April 16 to 26 but the most are seen on April 22. Don’t expect continuous meteors covering the sky but you’ll still see a good display. A shower occurs when Earth goes through a swarm of material in space and the meteors appear to come from one point in the sky known as the radiant, in this case in the constellation of Lyra (giving the annual event its name). You’ll see the most Lyrid meteors near the shower’s peak on April 22 as Earth moves through the debris left behind by Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, a regular visitor to the inner solar system referred to as a periodic comet. The recorded history of the Lyrids is longer than any other, with records of observations going back 2600 years.

Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2, which is bright enough to be visible from most cities, but you’ll see more and enjoy them more if you leave the city for a dark place where the stars shine brighter. They often produce luminous trains of dust that can be observed for several seconds. Some Lyrids will be brighter, though, and the occassional “fireball” can cast shadows for a split second and leave behind glowing, smoky debris trails that last for minutes. Lyrid meteors disintegrate after hitting our atmosphere at a moderate speed of 29.8 miles per second.

During GAM we include a global Lyrids Watch when everyone is encouraged to observe the Lyrids and send in reports of what they saw. Observing reports like this are valuable scientific evidence that is gathered and analyzed by the International Meteor Organization. Submit your data to IMO; Visual Meteor Observation

Tweet your data! You can also share your data by Tweeting your postcode, your country (click here to find your country code) and, optionally, the meteor count along with the hashtag; #MeteorWatch (you are welcome to use GAM hastags as well – #GAM2012 #LyridsWatch)

The meteor data will appear in a map at MeteorWatch.org

Resources:
Lyrids 2012 details at IMO
Visual Meteor Observation information at IMO

Share your Meteor experience with us:

Share your LyridsWatch images of outreach or meteor-photography with us via GAM2012 Facebook or Flickr group or Tweet using above mentioned hashtags (@gam_awb). Don’t forget to register your events here.

Related articles

Global Astronomy Month 2012 : Programme Schedule

AWB is planning a rich schedule of programs and events for Global Astronomy Month 2012 (GAM2012), all designed to inform and inspire the public throughout the world. Below is a sampling of some major events listed by date but there is much more to come soon. For more information on each program, click on the highlighted links.

Date / Time Program
23 March to 27 April IASC Asteroid Search Campaign
1 April SunDay
1 April Online Messier Marathon (remote observing event)
1 to 7 April Lunar Week
1 to 22 April International Earth and Sky Photo Contest
7 to 8 April In the Interstices of Life (astroart video presentation)
8 April Bats & Radio Astronomy (live presentation)
11 to 20 April Globe at Night
12 April Yuri’s Night
14 to 15 April Spiral Galaxy (video presentation)
14 to 20 April International Dark Skies Week
15 April Saturn Watch (Beauty without Borders)
15 April Around the Ringed Planet (remote observing event)
19 April Cosmic Depths (remote observing event)
20 April World Night in Defence of the Starlight
21 April (deadline) Celebrate Starlight
21 to 22 April Lyrids Watch (Meteors without Borders)
21 to 22 April Neurostar (astroart video presentation)
27 April Walking on the Moon (remote observing event)
28 April Global Star Party
28 April Stars for All (remote observing event)
28 April Opticks (live moonbounce event)
29 April Cosmic Concert (live musical concert)
30 April Write Your Name in The Sky (remote observing event)
Throughout April One Star at a Time – Fight Light Pollution
Throughout April Astropoetry Contest for GAM2012
Throughout April Programs for Planetariums
Throughout April Programs for People with Disabilities
Throughout April 30 Nights of Star Peace
Throughout April MicroObservatory Astrophotography Contest
Throughout April Olympicosmopoetriada for GAM2012
Throughout April The Sky in Your Hands

The 2012 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance

The 2012 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance

The Global Astronomy Month in April 2012 brings the 3rd International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. Coordinated by TWAN the contest is open to anyone of any age, anywhere around the world.

From now through Earth Day, April 22, an on-line “Earth and Sky” photo contest is open for submission by any photography enthusiasts of any age from around the world. International projects The World at Night and Global Astronomy Month along with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory are the organizers of the Earth and Sky Photo Contest. The contest was founded by TWAN and Dark Skies Awareness project in 2008 as a regional program. It was expanded to an international effort in 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy. In 2011 participants from over 30 countries submitted a wonderful collection of nightscape images. The contest news was broadcasted by major science news media world-wide and the winning images were widely promoted this way. With the growing efforts of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), the organization behind the Global Astronomy Month, the Earth and Sky Photo Contest will have an even larger feedback this year.

Submitted photographs must be created in the “TWAN style” — showing both the Earth and the sky — by combining elements of the night sky (e.g., stars, planets, the Moon or celestial events) set against the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called “landscape astrophotography”. This is similar to general “Nightscape Photography” but with more attention to the sky, astronomical perspectives, and celestial phenomena.

The contest theme, “Dark Skies Importance,” has two categories: “Beauty of the Night Sky” and “Against the Lights.” Photos submitted to the contest should aim to address either category: either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is or to impress people on how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Both categories illustrate how light pollution affects our lives. Photographers can submit images to one or both categories. The contest organizers encourage participants to view examples of such photos by the winners in the previous years: the 2011 winners, the 2010 winners, and other notable photos of 2010.
Winners this year will be announced by the end of April, to celebrate the end of GAM 2012.

Prizes
A wide range of prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in both categories will be awarded. The prizes could include (as last years) telescope and camera mounts, telescopes, binoculars, astrophotography accessories, filters and gift certificates. The contest organizers wish to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT), Canadian Telescopes, Vixen Optics, and Sky&Telescope magazine in obtaining some of the prizes. More information about the prizes and supporting companies will appear on this page soon.

Guidelines
Each entry must comply with the following requirements.

1- Size and format:
– Only photographs in digital format may be submitted. Photographs taken using film must be digitized for submission. Scanned prints may also be submitted.
– All entries must be accompanied by a short caption.
– Photographs must be submitted as high-quality JPEG files (level 10–12). The preferred color spaces are Adobe RGB (1998) and sRGB IEC61966-2.1. Contestants are strongly encouraged to use color management and to use one of these color spaces for their submitted images.
– Submitted photographs should be no larger than 1600 pixels across in their wide dimension and not smaller than 1200 pixels long. File size should be no larger than 2 Megabytes. Judges might request high-resolution files from finalists for final evaluation.

2- Number of submissions:
– No more than 5 photographs may be submitted per person. If the contestant submits more images, only 5 of them will be randomly selected. So extra submissions might result in removing your better images.
– Each contestant will be registered through the submission page and can edit profile and content, and add or remove their submitted images until the contest deadline.

3- Date of Photographs and Submissions:
– The contest highlights the recent efforts of landscape astrophotogtraphy. Images must be taken since January 1, 2011. Photographs taken before January 1, 2011 are ineligible.
– Photographs must be submitted from April 1 to the Earth Day, April 22, 2012. Winners will be announced by April 30, 2012.

4- Style and subject of the photos:
– Entries must combine elements of both Earth and Night Sky—i.e., landscape astrophotography.
– Entries must follow the contest theme of dark skies importance with displaying the beauties of starry skies or the problem of increasing light pollution.
– A pair or a series of comparing images to display the difference between dark and light polluted sky can be submitted as one entry. The comparing images can make strong public impression on importance of dark skies. See a TWAN example of such images here.
– Photographs may be taken through a telescope, but must combine Earth and Sky composed in the same photograph. Photographs taken through a telescope that show only the sky are ineligible.

5- Originality, image processing, and composite images:
– Minor burning, dodging, color and exposure correction is acceptable. Cropping is acceptable. Fish-eye lenses are acceptable. High dynamic range images and stitched panoramas are acceptable only if the combined parts are taken at approximately the same time and with the same setting. Digital composition of a series of photographs taken successively at the same location with the same lens pointed in the same direction, for example to create a digital star trail image, is acceptable. Any other changes to the original photograph not mentioned here are not acceptable, and will render the submitted photo ineligible for a prize.
– Composite images made by combining images taken at different locations, different times, or using different lenses are ineligible.

6- Copyright and legal notes:
– The submitted photo must be the original work of the contest entrant. The entrant must be the copyright holder of the submitted photo.
– The Photographer retains complete copyright, but agrees to have his/her photograph published on TWAN website and on other online media together with the report about the contest results.
– Model releases will be required for all winning photographs that contain a person in the image.
– Submitted photographs must not contain provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable content. Entries may only be submitted on-line. Submitted photographs will be judged by a panel of TWAN photographers based on creativity, relevance to the topic, and aesthetic beauty. Contest prizes will be announced later this month. You can contact us for any further inquiry related to the contest.

 Submission Opens on April 1, 2012

Courtesy: http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/news.asp?newsID=6069

Let’s capture immemorable moments….Give me a shout if you’re participating.

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