New User

Welcome to AOAS.ORG
Thursday, October 29 2020 @ 03:44 pm EDT

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

AOAS New Toy - Canon LV-S3 Projector

Education OutreachThanks to a very good deal offered to AOAS through Bedford's Camera and Video, we now have our own multimedia projector, a Canon LV-S3. Thank you Bedford's!!

Bedford's Camera and Video's Ft. Smith store has once again been extremely helpful to AOAS. At our December 2, 2005, 20th annual Christmas dinner and meeting, we once again found ourselves in need of a multimedia projector to show presentations through our Dell laptop. We were unable to aqcuire a projector this year, and almost as a joke, I mentioned to the crowd of nearly 40 members and guests that sooner or later we were going to have to have a projector of our own. I also mentioned that I had spoken to Jeff Beauchamp of Bedford's earlier in the year, and we had discussed the purchase of a new Canon projector. Jeff made the generous offer to allow us to buy one at their cost and the approximate price of $800 was what I mentioned to the members.

This Canon LV-S3 multimedia projector is now the property of AOAS. We now have the capability for all types of excellent presentations at every future AOAS meeting, and all area school and civic organization presentations as well.
Near the back of the room, long-time member Roberta Parks spoke up and somewhat startled me by offering up $200 towards the purchase of our own unit, and then our webmaster Dave Grosvold stepped up with an offer of another $100. This was quickly followed by Margaret Brogley offering another $100, and I offered another $100 when my checks arrive in mid-January. Suddenly, we had $500 spoken for in pending donations towards a projector, and I closed the subject after no one else offered anything extra. I informed everyone that I'd contact Jeff again about the upcoming purchase.

When I contacted Jeff again this week, he thought of a new way to help us out by offering us a projector unit that they used for rentals out of the Ft Smith store. The unit is in excellent condition and a super heavy-duty hard case with fitted foam would also go with the deal. Jeff offered us this unit for $675 plus tax for the projector and hard case! The cost for both these items new would have been nearly $1200.

I began contacting all AOAS members trying to see how many others might want to "chip-in" towards a projector. In an email to everyone, I mentioned that we had 10-11 members who's dues would be coming up again in February, and I suggested that if they sent in their dues immediately, they would save $5 since our dues will increase to $40/yr as of January 1, 2006. I also reminded everyone that whatever they donated to AOAS during 2005 and before the New Year, they could count off that much on their taxes due to our tax-exempt status.

The final "push" came from AOAS astrophotographer, Mike Holloway, who offered to loan us whatever we needed to get the purchase made immediately. With what I knew we had coming in from the members who had offered to do whatever they could to help, I suggested to Mike that a $300 loan would put us in good shape to go ahead and make the purchase immediately. He agreed, and the deal was done!

Once again, our membership has come through with enough funds generated by early dues payments and new outright donations to cover the complete cost of this projector and case. I actually went to the Ft. Smith Bedford's store this afternoon and spoke with store manager, Larry Millican, and purchased the unit for AOAS. We now have what we've needed for such a long time, and we'll be able to make every future meeting and presentation that we give a much more memorable event. Along with the Dell Inspiron 1000 laptop computer that we received in the anonymous donation of July 9th, we're set and ready to go.

Bedford's camera and Video has been so kind to AOAS over the years, and we deeply appreciate the efforts of both Jeff Beauchamp and Larry Millican. Amateur astronomers in our area already know that Bedford's is the ONLY place to go to get what you want out of your astrophotographs, which can sometimes require hours of painstaking work to achieve. Only a trained eye will give you what you want instead of dropping your precious film off at some "Quickie" or "Cheapie" photo-processing outfit. We have always recommended Bedford's Camera and Video for all your camera and video needs, and we always will.

Thanks again, Jeff and Larry! AOAS appreciates your continuing support.
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

A New View of the Andromeda Galaxy

NASA Space PlaceBy Dr. Tony Phillips and Patrick L. Barry

The GALEX telescope took this UV image of the Andromeda galaxy (M31), revealing a surprising shape not apparent in visible light. Click image for larger view.
This is a good time of year to see the Andromeda galaxy. When the sun sets and the sky fades to black, Andromeda materializes high in the eastern sky. You can find it with your unaided eye. At first glance, it looks like a very dim, fuzzy comet, wider than the full moon. Upon closer inspection through a backyard telescope—wow! It's a beautiful spiral galaxy.

At a distance of "only" 2 million light-years, Andromeda is the nearest big galaxy to the Milky Way, and astronomers know it better than any other. The swirling shape of Andromeda is utterly familiar.

Not anymore. A space telescope named GALEX has captured a new and different view of Andromeda. According to GALEX, Andromeda is not a spiral but a ring.

GALEX is the "Galaxy Evolution Explorer," an ultraviolet telescope launched by NASA in 2003. Its mission is to learn how galaxies are born and how they change with age. GALEX's ability to see ultraviolet (UV) light is crucial; UV radiation comes from newborn stars, so UV images of galaxies reveal star birth—the central process of galaxy evolution.

GALEX's sensitivity to UV is why Andromeda looks different. To the human eye (or to an ordinary visible-light telescope), Andromeda remains its usual self: a vast whirlpool of stars, all ages and all sizes. To GALEX, Andromeda is defined by its youngest, hottest stars. They are concentrated in the galaxy's core and scattered around a vast ring some 150,000 light years in diameter. It's utterly unfamiliar.
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

A Beginners ATM Project – 6” Newtonian Reflector by Mike Moffatt

TelescopesMike Moffat of the Tulsa, OK, area has produced a beautiful 6" f/8 wooden Dobsonian telescope and after my suggestion that he write about his project for our website, he sent me this story. I applaude his efforts and hope that others will take the time to submit their stories, too, especially if you have built as beautiful a telescope as Mike has. We would encourage anyone who has a story about astronomy, or telescopes, or observing, anything having to do with amateur astronomy, to contribute your story to this website. We'll edit it, and we only restrict profanities and "wild ideas" which can not be substantiated by the scientific method.
Tulsan Mike Moffatt built this beautiful Coopered tube 6" f/8 Dobsonian telescope during his free time on weekends and evenings. Read his story about this project and then try to decide whether you might want to start your own similar project.

My wife says I'm insane when I get an idea to do something and it shows in this project. 4 weeks start to finish (is anything ever really finished??). Wish I had actually counted the hours, but suffice it to say there were hundreds. I have three day weekends that were totally devoted to this project, spending approx. 18 hours each Fri. Sat. and Sunday and every day after work during the week from 6:00 PM to sometimes 3:00 AM. The primary and secondary mirrors as well as the focuser were purchased; all other parts were built in my shop.

• Would I have started it if I had known how much work? Probably not.

• Am I glad I did? Absolutely!

• Will I build another? Already planning it.

• How does it work?

My pal Shane who has been doing this for 20 years says it rocks for a 6" scope. On two occasions I have resolved A through F in the Trapezium in M42 under my suburban skies. F was not solid but popping in and out as the seeing cleared momentarily as it often will. I am currently chasing after my Messier certificate, 43 captured so far, DSOs seem to have captivated my interest. Jupiter and Saturn of course look outstanding in this scope and the Mars transition this year was astonishing for this newbie.

I am a 44-year-old father of 4, grandfather of 2 that until October 2004 never thought much about the night sky. My daughter Sam developed an interest in the night sky and received a department store 70mm Bushnell refractor and all the frustration that went with it.

I didn’t know it at the time but a co-worker has been an amateur astronomer and ATM for more than 20 years. Shane brought a newly created 8” Newtonian to work one day for me to check out. Not only was I surprised to learn he was an astronomer I was blown away that someone could make a telescope. He pointed it at the moon that morning and I was captivated both by the view as well as by the workmanship required to make a telescope.

I called my wife later that day and asked why Sam didn’t use her scope any more (I had noticed she hadn’t taken it out in a while). She told me that it was too difficult to use and she had gotten discouraged and resorted to just laying in the yard and looking up.

An ATM project was born, but little did I know that it would be me that was bitten by the bug and she would move on to concentrate on her music and writing.

Click read more for the rest of this story and pictures detailing Mike's entire project

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Spirit and Opportunity Mark One Martian Year

Lunar & PlanetarySpirit and Opportunity, NASA's twin Martian Rovers, are marking their 1-year anniversaries on Mars. But one year on Mars equals nearly 2 Earth years. Both these hearty robots have now exceeded their originally intended 90-sol "warranty" periods by more than 7 times, and yet, both are still going strong!
Talk about SUCCESS! The twin Martian Rovers just may outlive a certain popular rabbit! They just keep going, and going, and going....

NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers are the longest lived planetary surface explorers in history, and they don't appear to be any worse for wear after now completing their first full Martian year on the fourth planet from the Sun. One year on Mars is equal to 687 Earth-days, and since a "day" on Mars (called a 'sol') is 24hr and 40min long, a full year on Mars itself is actually 669 Martian days long. How remarkable their stories are, and how fascinating the photojournals of their travels have been. The total number of pictures returned to Earth from both MER rovers to date are: Opportunity - 61,567 raw images....and Spirit - 71,778 raw images. For anyone who would like to view ALL their images, they can be found by clicking on this link: mars rovers gallery

Or perhaps you'd be more interested in viewing NASA's own slide show of the pair's journey since they landed in January of 2004. This slide show will be slow to view on dial-up modems, but DSL or cable subscribers to the internet will be quite pleased at this amazing set of images and their educational captions. See all that this great site has to offer for yourself at the Mars Exploration Rover homepage. Once there, look for and click on the link for the slide show.

Click READ MORE for maps of the terrain crossed by the MER's, and for the rest of this story.
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Start an Astronomical League observing program tonight!

Backyard AstronomySent by - John Jardine Goss

Secretary, Astronomical League

After finally finding some time under the stars, have you ever thought, "What should I observe? There's so much up there!"

The Astronomical League offers nearly 30 observing programs to help in just that situation. Some are designed for the novice such as Constellation Hunters, Universe Sampler, and Lunar Clubs. Other programs, including the Messier, Urban, and Planetary Observer Clubs, are better suited for intermediate observers. More experience deep sky hunters can hone their skills with the tougher selections of the Herschel, Arp Peculiar Galaxies, and Galaxy Groups and Clusters Clubs. Truly, there is a program for everyone!

Upon completion of each club, the observer is presented a certificate suitable for framing and a nifty lapel pin. These lists are a low stress way to enjoy the many wonders of the night sky.

Check out which program is right for you! Visit the League Observing pages here
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

Deep SkyI was just looking at a great pictorial article (8pp), Night Vision - NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope Lights Up The Heart of a Dark Universe, in the Dec. 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine. Launched in August 2003, this car-size telescope is 26 million miles from Earth. Spitzer utilizes 3 different instruments to capture and analyze different infrared frequencies. The telescope's infrared vision is the sharpest ever, using a mirror nearly 3 feet across, sensitive detectors cooled almost to absolute zero, along with an orbit far from the distracting heat of our planet, Earth. Spitzer is expected to run out of the liquid helium that helps cool it, in about 2008.

The color pictures in the article, compiled from Spitzer, are well worth the time to look at and to read this brief article.
Chuck Larson

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

New Solar System found

General News

I was watching the ABC national news early this morning. They ran a crawler across the bottom of the screen announcing that a new solar system had been discovered 500 light years away.

I did not hear anything about this, nor see any other information on this since I had to leave early this morning to do a presentation on campus at UAFS.

Has anyone seen or heard about this???

Chuck Larson
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

KIDS! - Play "Black Hole Rescue!"

NASA Space PlaceNearby matter is not the only thing attracted by a black hole. These mysterious objects also attract a great deal of curiosity from kids here on Earth. Taking advantage of this interest, NASA’s Web site for kids, The Space Place, has just added a new game called “Black Hole Rescue!” After (or before) reading a short, illustrated article introducing black hole concepts, game players “rescue” the vocabulary words, one letter at a time, before they get sucked into the black hole. After playing this mesmerizing game for a while, kids of all ages will not soon forget what black holes are all about.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Voices from the Cacophony

NASA Space PlaceBy Trudy E. Bell and Dr. Tony Phillips

Around 2015, NASA and the European Space Agency plan to launch one of the biggest and most exacting space experiments ever flown: LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.

LISA will be able to detect gravitational waves from as far back as 10-36 second after the Big Bang, far earlier than any telescope can detect. (Click image for larger view.)
LISA will consist of three spacecraft flying in a triangular formation behind Earth. Each spacecraft will beam a laser at the other two, continuously measuring their mutual separation. The spacecraft will be a mind-boggling 5 million kilometers apart (12 times the Earth-Moon distance) yet they will monitor their mutual separation to one billionth of a centimeter, smaller than an atom's diameter.

LISA's mission is to detect gravitational waves—ripples in space-time caused by the Universe's most violent events: galaxies colliding with other galaxies, supermassive black holes gobbling each other, and even echoes still ricocheting from the Big Bang that created the Universe. By studying the shape, frequency, and timing of gravitational waves, astronomers believe they can learn what's happening deep inside these acts of celestial violence.

The problem is, no one has ever directly detected gravitational waves: they're still a theoretical prediction. So no one truly knows what they "sound" like.

Furthermore, theorists expect the Universe to be booming with thousands of sources of gravitational waves. Unlike a regular telescope that can point to one part of the sky at a time, LISA receives gravitational waves from many directions at once. It's a cacophony. Astronomers must figure how to distinguish one signal from another. An outburst is detected! Was it caused by two neutron stars colliding over here or a pair of supermassive black holes tearing each other apart in colliding galaxies over there?
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

A Wrinkle in Space-Time

NASA Space PlaceBy Trudy E. Bell

LISA's three spacecraft will be positioned at the corners of a triangle 5 million kilometers on a side and will be able to detect gravitational wave induced changes in their separation distance of as little as one billionth of a centimeter.
When a massive star reaches the end of its life, it can explode into a supernova rivaling the brilliance of an entire galaxy. What's left of the star fades in weeks, but its outer layers expand through space as a turbulent cloud of gases. Astronomers see beautiful remnants from past supernovas all around the sky, one of the most famous being the Crab Nebula in Taurus.

When a star throws off nine-tenths of its mass in a supernova, however, it also throws off nine-tenths of its gravitational field.

Astronomers see the light from supernovas. Can they also somehow sense the sudden and dramatic change in the exploding star's gravitational field?

Yes, they believe they can. According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, changes in the star's gravitational field should propagate outward, just like light -- indeed, at the speed of light.

Those propagating changes would be a gravitational wave.

Einstein said what we feel as a gravitational field arises from the fact that huge masses curve space and time. The more massive an object, the more it bends the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time. And if a massive object's gravitational field changes suddenly -- say, when a star explodes -- it should kink or wrinkle the very geometry of space-time. Moreover, that wrinkle should propagate outward like ripples radiating outward in a pond from a thrown stone.

The frequency and timing of gravitational waves should reveal what's happening deep inside a supernova, in contrast to light, which is radiated from the surface. Thus, gravitational waves allow astronomers to peer inside the universe's most violent events -- like doctors peer at patients' internal organs using CAT scans. The technique is not limited to supernovas: colliding neutron stars, black holes and other exotic objects may be revealed, too.

NASA and the European Space Agency are now building prototype equipment for the first space experiment to measure gravitational waves: the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA.

LISA will look for patterns of compression and stretching in space-time that signal the passage of a gravitational wave. Three small spacecraft will fly in a triangular formation behind the Earth, each beaming a laser at the other two, continuously measuring their mutual separation. Although the three 'craft will be 5 million kilometers apart, they will monitor their separation to one billionth of a centimeter, smaller than an atom's diameter, which is the kind of precision needed to sense these elusive waves.

LISA is slated for launch around 2015.

To learn more about LISA, go to http://lisa.jpl.nasa.gov. Kids can learn about LISA and do a gravitational wave interactive crossword at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/lisaxword/lisaxword.shtml.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

User Functions

Lost your password?

What's New


No new stories

COMMENTS last 2 days

No new comments

LINKS last 2 weeks

No recent new links

Want It ALL?

Become a card-carrying member of AOAS. Paying dues gives you several advantages over other registered users, including a subscription to the club newsletter, an AOAS.ORG e-mail address, use of club materials, including books and telescopes, and access to the Coleman Observatory facilities. On top of all that, you also qualify for a 20% discount on all books at any Books-A-Million location.

To get your membership application, click here.