3rd THURSDAY STAR TALK & MEETING SUMMARIES

DATE: April 20, 2017, 6 :00 to 8:00 PM (Thursday) PUBLIC EVENT
PRESENTATION: “Immersion Grating Infrared Spectrometry”
GUEST SPEAKER: Dr. Lisa Prato, Researcher, Lowell Observatory

COMMENTS: Lowell Observatory’s Discovery Channel Telescope, in collaboration with the University of Texas, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), is working on Immersion Grating Infrared Spectrometry. Dr. Prato discussed the latest advances in this exciting field of science and how she uses it for her exo-planet survey.

Dr Prato’s energetic and enthusiastic demeanor and exceptional knowledge of her field brought the idea, technics and possibilities regarding finding ne exo-planets to life.  Presented with clarity, and a easy to understand dialog young and old came away with a much better understanding of the search for other worlds and how the methods are improving expotentailly.

If you missed this meeting consider contacting Lowell for possible future presentations, this is a presentation that is worth that extra effort to attend.

March 16, 2017, 6:00 to 8:00 PUBLIC EVENT
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library
PROGRAM: “High-Tech Navigation Before GPS; How The SR-71 Found Its Targets”
SPEAKER: Pat Bledsoe, USAF Colonel retired, Alaska Airlines Captain, retired

In 1957, the CIA and the Air Force began a search for a reconnaissance aircraft that would be invulnerable to surface-to-air missiles. Lockheed won the design competition over Convair, and began serious development work in September 1959, which resulted in the A-12, YF-12, and finally the SR-71. The SR-71 served the U.S. all over the world until it was retired by the Air Force in 1990. Colonel Bledsoe, who flew the SR-71 for seven years, explained how the aircraft was built and operated, with special emphasis on its unique astro-inertial navigation system.  The Question and Answer that followed his presentation had to be cut off because of the 8:00 PM Library closing time!  Every seat was filled and everyone left with a better understanding of the SR-71, its mission and what the military world was like during the Vietnam and later conflict periods.

 February 16, 2017, 6:00 to 8:00 PM (Thursday)
“Tests of Special and General Relativity in the Solar System and Beyond”

Dr. Quentin Bailey, Associate Professor of Physics, ERAU  SPEAKER PROFILE
Physicists and astronomers have been increasing the precision of their measurements and observations for tests of fundamental physics in the solar system and beyond. In particular, a growing group of researchers are interested in searches for hypothetical tiny deviations from the laws of Special and General Relativity which may give a glimpse of a much sought after fundamental theory of physics. Dr. Bailey reviewed this area of research and discussed modern precision tests such as lunar laser ranging, solar-system ephemeris, pulsar observations and, more recently, what we can learn from the first gravitational wave observations.

January 19, 2017, 6:00 to 8:00 PM (Thursday)
Planetary Science Field Researcher
Robert Ward  WEBSITE
Robert Ward has a profound passion for science. Seeing meteorites he has personally recovered being used to advance scientific research, knowledge, and understanding is one of his greatest joys. Rarely seen without his cowboy boots and black Stetson hat, Robert is often referred to as the “Space Cowboy.” His private collection features specimens of virtually every known meteorite composition from all over the world.  This meeting was cancelled because of weather.  We are hoping to reschedule Robert later this season, either at a 3rd Thursday event at the library, or perhaps at a General Meeting at ERAU.  Visit the EVENTS webpage for further information.

DATE: January 4, 2017, 6:30 PM (Wednesday)
EVENT: PAC General Meeting
LOCATION: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
SPEAKER: Tom Polakis
While much of nature appears static during the short time frames in which we observe them, photographic time-lapse sequences bring them to life.  Speeding up these slow movements allow patterns to emerge that often have interesting explanations.  This presentation will feature time-lapse videos created by an SLR, a planetary webcam, and a CCD camera, with subjects ranging from the Earth’s rotation to changes in deep space.

Tom dazzled attendees with an hour of exciting photos and information regarding the challenges and rewards of time-lapse photography.  His well prepared and professionally delivered presentation created new interest in another area of observing that will be long remembered by our club members and we look forward to further interaction with Tom and his Astronomy Club.

DATE: November 17, 2016 (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM
EVENT: Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library, 215 East Goodwin Street, Prescott, Arizona  86301
PROGRAM: “Latest Results from the Mars Curiosity Rover”
SPEAKER: Dr. Ken Herkenhoff
SPEAKER BIOGRAPHY:  Ken Herkenhoff has been interested in astrophotography since he was a child, and now specializes in imaging Mars.  His love of the outdoors led him to study geology and earn a Bachelor’s degree in that subject at the University of California, Berkeley in 1981.  After working for a few months in a geostatistics group at Fluor Mining and Metals, he returned to school to study planetary science at Caltech.  He recalibrated the Mariner 9 cameras and used the improved images to study the south polar layered deposits on Mars, which are thought to record climate variations on Mars that are similar to ice ages on Earth.  He earned a doctorate in Planetary Sciences at Caltech in 1989.

Ken was a post-doctoral researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for two years, where he continued geologic mapping of the south polar region of Mars and studied the photometry of Mars and its satellites.  He was hired as a research scientist at JPL in 1991 and became involved in several planetary missions, including Mars Observer, Cassini, and Mars Pathfinder.  The success of Mars Pathfinder and its Sojouner rover led to his involvement in the Mars Exploration Rover missions as science lead for the Microscopic Imagers.  These larger rovers landed on Mars in January 2004; Opportunity continues to explore Mars today.  In 1998 he moved from JPL to the U. S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he currently works as a research geologist.   Ken is a Co-Investigator on the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, serving as Polar Geology science theme lead.  He is also a Co-Investigator on the Mars Science Laboratory Mastcam/MAHLI/MARDI and ChemCam science teams; MSL landed on August 5, 2012 and is now exploring Gale crater on Mars.

Ken has published hundreds of papers and abstracts as first or co-author on various topics including the impact origin of Upheaval Dome (Utah), light scattering in Mars’ atmosphere, and Phobos photometry.  But most of his work has focused on the design, calibration, and operation of cameras on Mars spacecraft. 

DATE: October 20, 2016 (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM
EVENT: Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library, 215 East Goodwin Street, Prescott, Arizona  86301
PROGRAM: “Moondance” plus an update in OsirisRx  WEBSITE
SPEAKER: Richard “Rik” Hill, Retired, AZ Lunar and Planetary Lab & Dolores Hill, OsirisRx Project
COMMENTS: For lunar photographers, except for the Dark Side of the Moon, there is
no such thing as a Bad Moon Rising. But when There’s a Moon Out Tonight, Rik showed us how Once in a Blue Moon, you can get very detailed images of the Mountains on the Moon and become Children of the Moon and maybe even Master of the Moon.  Rik also discussed considerations needed in taking and processing high resolution images of the moon with easily available freeware and relatively inexpensive cameras.  Dolores brought the group up to date on the launch, current status and future of the recently launched spacecraft.

DATE: September 15, 2016 (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
EVENT:  Third Thursday Star Talk, “300 Years of Space Exploration: What Have We Learned About Earth’s Neighbor, Mars?” 

SPEAKER: Dr. Christopher Edwards, NAU
LOCATION:  Prescott Public Library, 215 E. Goodwin St., Prescott, AZ  86301
COMMENTS:  Ever since early humans walked the Earth, we have explored our surroundings, whether for subsistence, acquisition of property, or intellectual reasons. Despite our Earthly accomplishments, no other endeavor has inspired humankind quite like the exploration of outer space.

On this tour of the exploration our solar system, we’ll focus on recent findings from Mars due to the wealth and diversity of data returned from spacecraft in the past two decades.  New and exciting discoveries paint Mars as an active and potentially habitable world, which we are just beginning to understand.

Dr. Edwards, an exceptional speaker, presented an extremely entertaining, informative and in-depth view into about what we have learned about the “red” planet.  Although there are always great challenges, mysteries and unknowns when exploring at such vast distance from earth, the amount of understanding we have gleaned from our rovers and space craft is incredible.  The geological similarities between Mars and Earth is astonishing and with a more suitable atmosphere, other than it’s 1% that of earths’ and consisting of CO2, Mars might just be a suitable place for mankind to visit on vacation, especially an avid thrill seeker and adventurer!

Approximately 70 people attended and the following photo shows the warm and cheerful atmosphere Dr. Edwards created with his pleasant personality, sense of humor and incredible knowledge of Mars..  We hope he will in the future when even more information is uncovered.

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DATE: June 16, 2016 (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM
EVENT: Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library, 215 East Goodwin Street, Prescott, Arizona  86301
PROGRAM: “Deep-Sky Observing: The Astronomical Tourist”
SPEAKER: Professor Steve R. Coe, Retired
COMMENTS: Steve has been observing the deep sky from locations near his home in Arizona and around the world for more than 40 years, and he shared his accumulated wealth of knowledge, observations, hints and tips to help every deep sky observer, regardless of experience, enhance their viewing.  Steve also shared many photographs of a variety of deep sky objects: star clusters, glowing nebulae, distant galaxies and examples of his free-hand observation drawings in both black on white and white on black formats.  Another great presentation by a true showman and passionate astronomer.

DATE: May 19, 2016 (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM
EVENT: Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library, 215 East Goodwin Street, Prescott, Arizona  86301
PROGRAM: “The Great Solar Eclipse of 2017″
SPEAKER: Professor Fulton Wright, Retired
COMMENTS: When they ask you “Have you seen a total solar eclipse?”, and you answer “I think so”, then you haven’t. Your best chance to see one in the old 48 states, as it travels across the continent, is August 21, 2017. Fulton presentad all the facts, maps, and scientific information you will need to maximize viewing this upcoming eclipse.  Start planning today and your eclipse event will be a great one.

DATE: May 4, 2016 (Wednesday)
TIME: 6:30 PM
EVENT: General Meeting
LOCATION: Our new General Meeting Home!
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Building 74, Lecture Hall 107, located top of the hill at the end of Haas Boulevard, about 1/2 mile from Willow Creek Road.

SPEAKER: Andrew Odell – “Interstellar Media.”  Andrew spoke about interstellar dust and gas, both dark and lit by stars.  This was mostly about Gaseous Nebulae and Planetary Nebulae.  Andrew also discussed the Dark Matter which makes our universe flat.

DATE: April 21, 2016 (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM
EVENT: Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library, 215 East Goodwin Street, Prescott, Arizona  86301  MAP
PROGRAM: “New Horizons’ Mission to the Pluto System”  POSTER
SPEAKER: Dr. Will Grundy, Co-Investigator, New Horizons Project
COMMENTS: Dr. Grundy is co-investigator and leader of the surface composition theme team on NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. New Horizons has returned an amazing amount of scientific data on Pluto and our solar system beyond. Dr. Grundy provided an overview and update of this historic scientific mission.

DATE: March 17, 2016 (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM
EVENT: Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library, 215 East Goodwin Street, Prescott, AZ  86301
PROGRAM: “Through Compact Telescopes to New Research Realms
SPEAKER: Father Christopher Corbally, S.J., PhD, Secretary, Vatican Observatory, Tucson, Arizona
COMMENTS: Father Corbally was greeted by a full room of interested folks for this presentation.  Drawing on his charm, wit, and vast knowledge he held the the audience’s attention as he explained how years of experience using smaller scopes and spectroscopy to explored the stars of the Universe have led the way to our current understanding.  Using an extremely well prepared PowerPoint presentation he demonstrated that it is not always the biggest telescopes that count in space science discoveries. Often it is imagination, innovative technology, prime location, and persistence, coupled with compact telescopes. His experiences and research included results from programs at the Vatican, Toronto, and Arizona – and he encouraged amateurs to follow his lead with their smaller scopes in their backyards. His presentation touched on stellar physics, supernovae, black holes, exoplanets, and brown dwarfs.

DATE: February 18, 2016 (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM
EVENT: Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library, 215 East Goodwin Street, Prescott, Arizona  86301  MAP
PROGRAM: “Gravitational Waves from Core-Collapse Supernovae
SPEAKER: Marek J. Szczepanczyk, Graduate Student, ERAU

COMMENTS: With the recent Gravity Wave verification of Einstein’s prediction, this meeting was timely, extrmemly interesting and well attended. Marek, a true professional and expert in this field presented facts, examples and insight into graveity wave research and what is means to the scientific community.  Marek fileded dozens of questions in a calm, professional manner, demonstrating his extreme knowledge of the field.  In September last year the Advanced Gravitational Wave Detectors started observations for Gravitational Waves, leading to new field of astronomy – gravitational astronomy. Core-Collapse Supernovae are believed to be a great source for gravitational radiation. When a star explodes all information from its core carried by electromagnetic waves are lost. Gravitational Waves can go freely through the hot mantle and they can bring new unique information to our understanding of exploding stars. A BIG THANKS to Marek for contributing to a wonderful evening with the Prescott Astronomy Club.

DATE: January 21, 2016  (Thursday)
TIME: 6:00 PM
EVENT: Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION: Prescott Public Library, 215 East Goodwin Street, Prescott, Arizona  86301  MAP
PROGRAM: “Ancient Astronomy of the Southwest
SPEAKER: Professor Bryan Bates, Coconino Community College
COMMENTS: Professor Bates shared his research from Wupatki National Monument, Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde National Parks and other sites. Humans have long observed the night-time sky, often asking probing question about the different patterns they see among the stars (constellations), why some stars wander (planets) and what forces are driving the change as well as stability of certain celestial objects. In the Southwest, the ancestral Puebloan people have a long history of observing the sky and recording  their cosmology through petroglyphs and stories. Professor Bates has had the good fortune to research numerous ancestral sites and attempt to discern what the ancestral Puebloan people may have been observing and how they used the information they extracted from their observations.

DATE: November 19, 2015 (Thursday)
TIME:  6:30 PM
EVENT:  Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION:  Prescott Public Library, Founders’ Suite

PROGRAM:  Io-Jupiter’s Hyperactive Moon
SPEAKER:  Dr. Laszlo Kestay. Director, Astrogeology Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey
COMMENTS:  Dr. Kestay diagnosed the processes that keep Io geologically hyperactive lead us from the volcanoes on the surface, through the crust that thrusts up mountains taller than the Himalayas, into a hidden ocean of magma. These same processes operate in other, wetter, moons in our Solar System, potentially providing environments that are favorable for life.

DATE:  October 15, 2015 (Thursday)
TIME:  6:30 PM

EVENT:  Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION:  Prescott Public Library, Founders’ Suite
PROGRAM:  “My Favorite Comet Stories
SPEAKER:  Professor Steven R. Coe (retired) AMAZON

COMMENTS:  Comets may be defined as “a celestial body moving around the sun”, but they are so much more, Steve presented imagess and observations of the brightest and most interesting comets of the past 35 years. Included were Comets Halley, Hale-Bopp and Holmes and… lots of other comets that do not start with the letter “H”.  A smooth professional program delivered with a great sense of humor and and obvious expert knowledge, this presentation ranked high on the “enjoyment” scale as well as being educational and informative. 

DATE:  September 17, 2015 (Thursday)
TIME:  6:30 PM

EVENT:  Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION:  Prescott Public Library, Founders’ Suite
PROGRAM:  “Cosmic Collisions Galore!
SPEAKER:  Dr. Lisa Chien, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University

COMMENTS:  The Hubble Space Telescope, has produced some of the most spectacular images of colliding galaxies. Often their beautiful and unique appearance stirs our imaginations and leads to names like the Tadpole, the Humming Bird, the Rose, the Atom of Peace, and the Fountain of Youth. What actually happens during the process can result in some of the biggest and most violent events in the universe. Collisions of galaxies can create enormous bursts of star formation, disrupt entire galaxies, transform their shapes, and even lead to the merger of central black holes, creating a single super massive black hole. After decades of research astronomers are just now understanding the details of such collisional processes. These interacting galaxies are ubiquitous throughout space time, and are the building blocks of our universe. Dr. Chien introduced the process and the outcome of galactic collisions, and the importance and insight of studying such objects.

DATE:  June 18, 2015 (Thursday)
TIME:  6:30 PM

EVENT:  Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION:  Prescott Public Library, Founders’ Suite
PROGRAM:   “Our Amazing Sun
SPEAKER:   Jeffrey Hall, Ph.D., Astrophysics; Director, Lowell Observatory

COMMENTS:  Jeff studies the Sun and Sun-like stars. He works on Lowell’s Solar-Stellar Spectrograph project (SSS) for long-term monitoring of the Sun and solar-like stars to learn more about the Sun and its effects on Earth’s climate.   Jeff and colleague Wes Lockwood have accumulated over 5,000 observations of the Sun and more than 20,000 of Sun-like stars. During his presentation Dr. Hall expanded on the current status of the Solar cycle and what it might mean in the future as climates continue to change on Earth.

May 21, 2015
Asteroid and Meteorite Connections… Arizona Style
Rik and Dolores Hill
Robert Ward

DATE:  May 21, 2015 (Thursday)
TIME:  6:30 PM

EVENT:  Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION:  Prescott Public Library, Founders’ Suite
PROGRAM:   Asteroid and Meteorite Connections… Arizona Style!
SPEAKER(S): Rik Hill, Sr. Research Specialist, University of Arizona, Lunar & Planetary Laboratory’s Catalina Sky Survey; Robert Ward, Iron From the Sky Meteorites  “www.ironfromthesky.com“: and Dolores Hill, Sr. Research Specialist, University of Arizona, Lunar & Planetary Laboratory and OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission communication and public engagement team.
COMMENTS: Our speakers explained how we investigate these rocky bodies on their journey from the sky to the ground to the laboratory, sharing exciting news about asteroid discoveries, recoveries of meteorites and research from an Arizona perspective. University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey observer Rik Hill described what really happens when a suspected near-Earth object or impostor is spotted. Prescott native and meteorite hunter/collector extraordinaire Robert Ward  regaled us with tales of his meteorite-hunting adventures around the planet, and gave us a rare opportunity to see some favorites from his world-class collection. Meteorite specialist Dolores Hill spoke about the importance of fresh meteorite falls as pieces of asteroids, what is learned from them and why we are sending a spacecraft to retrieve a sample.

Arizona is home to the best preserved meteorite crater in the world, several of the world’s largest meteorite falls, an array of telescopes dedicated to the discovery of near-Earth objects, and the central operations for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx sample return mission to asteroid Bennu. A number of groundbreaking asteroid and meteorite research institutions were in operation long before such work was appreciated. Today they are still at the forefront of planetary science, leaders in near-Earth object discoveries, meteorite research and innovative NASA missions to asteroids. Along the way, amateur scientists have assisted in these endeavors and you can, too!

April 16, 2015
Dr. Gerard van Belle
Lowell Observatory

DATE:  April 16, 2015 (Thursday)
TIME:  6:30 PM

EVENT:  Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION:  Prescott Public Library, Founders’ Suite
PROGRAM:   The Pluto Vote: One Astronomer’s Personal Story
SPEAKER:   Dr. Gerard van Belle, Lowell Observatory
COMMENTS:  The 2006 vote on the planetary status of Pluto has had a long-lasting reverberation throughout astronomy. With an outcome that remains controversial both in the public eye and within the professional community, the debate on what to call this world remains a lively one.  Dr. Belle’s own accidental involvement in this question had its own amusing tall tale, which he recounted along the way to re-examining a question: What is a planet, and why do we care?

February 19, 2015
Dr. Andri Gretarsson
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

DATE:  February 19, 2015 (Thursday)
TIME:  6:30 PM

EVENT:  Third Thursday Star Talk
LOCATION:  Prescott Public Library, Founders’ Suite
PROGRAM:  Pulsar Timing and Other Radio Happenings
SPEAKER:  Dr. Andri Gretarsson, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
COMMENTS:  Pulsars are the rapidly rotating, super-dense remnants of massive stars. They emit directed “light-house-like” beams of radio waves that we detect on earth when the beams sweep across our galactic location. By carefully timing the arrival of these beams we can learn a surprising amount about pulsars and their environment; we can even learn about the nature of the space-time through which the beams sweep. In the talk, Dr. Gretarsson gave an overview of the many interesting applications of pulsar timing and the pulsar timing work being started at Embry-Riddle University here in Prescott.