Location: Chemistry/Physics Building, MUN
Time: 8:00 pm
Doug gave us the usual introduction, including the benefits of membership. There will be no swap meet due to lack of interest.
Doug mentioned we will be holding an observing session for the Telegram staff, weather permitting, at the Telegram Production Facility tomorrow at 8 pm. At least three members other than Shawn Martin volunteered to help. Shawn had to look after his family, so someone should let him know about the extra help.
Garry Dymond is a bit disabled and needs help with setting up and taking down the equipment at the Planetarium next week.
Simon became our featured speaker this week, as the additional people are either sick or looking after sick people. Their web site is http://astro.nwisland.ca . If members are ever north of Gander, they are more than welcome to try to get in touch and have a visit.
Jim's observatory, including the construction phase, has been described by Jim to our group before. Simon wanted to talk about the addition of a motor to help turn the 700-odd pound, 10 foot dome. Simon showed us some pictures of the whole setup. Jim has a small building with the dome built on top, with a Meade 12-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain. At one point, in association with Garry Dymond, they had a MIAC all-sky camera, but that needs to be replaced in the future.
Jim decided to go with hydraulics to move the dome. Initially, he set up an electric compressor, and used that to power the hydraulics to an 8-inch rubber tire. Unfortunately, that slipped too much to turn the dome. He decided to go with a gear instead of the tire. He got two sets of skidoo tracks, cut each in half, and used them as a track to lay around the side of the dome. Simon showed us some pictures of the setup of how the gear meshes into the skidoo tracks to turn the dome. We also saw pictures of the observatory itself. You enter the dome by a hatch from the lower level, using a set of stairs. Simon says there is a film of the dome moving, but it needs to be put on a DVD.
There followed a question and answer session. Simon, when asked about visitors, noted that most are tourists. The surrounding population is small, and few of them visit the observatory. They typically fit 5 to 6 people in the dome (a little uncomfortably), although they have been known to have as many as 10 at a time, but that gets pretty awkward, especially if the dome needs to be moved. They also hope to get people to view objects with a web camera -- many noted it may be simpler to use a Malincam and a normal TV. One questioner noted that Jim seems to put a lot of effort into astronomy. Simon replied he has been obsessed since grade school.
Simon went to their site to show us the history of the construction of the dome itself.
Randy showed us some photos from our event for 100 Hours of Astronomy, part of Astronomy Month at the Johnson GeoCentre. Also, Randy noted Earth day will be next week, and Astronomy Day follows in May.
We got to see photos of Dave Caruk's version of Galileo's scope, which was on display at the GeoCentre. We also had a table present, a light pollution display, many member scopes on display, and had use of the GeoCentre's auditorium to display the 100 Hours of Astronomy webcast.
We were webcasting as an official part of the 100 Hours, but were late with registering. We did link up with another group in Florida during the event. Randy showed us a very nice certificate our Centre has received for our efforts from an administrator for 100 Hours of Astronomy.
Gary Case took over for Shawn Martin today. Shawn had his usual sheet print-ready. Gary covered the Moon, planets, Lyrids, Comet Christensen, and the location of Comet Lulin.
Gary really would like everyone to realise the wonders of viewing things in the Virgo cluster. M84, 86, 87 form an arc. Halfway between Vindemiatrix and Denebola you can find M84 and M86, and follow an arc to M87. You have many, many objects, especially galaxies in this area, including Markarian's Chain of Galaxies, and 16 Messier objects in the area (meaning they should be visible in smaller scopes).
Doug gave Simon a gift to thank him, and also passed around the T-shirts that are now available to members who ordered them.
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