DAS FOCUS Newsletter_APRIL_2015

Vol. 60, No. 4, April, 2015
Next Meeting – Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 at 8pm
at the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Observatory
~ ~“Meeting Topic: Needle in a Haystack: The Search for 1A Supernova ~
Presented by: Dr. Steve Walters, IEEE Fellow & Author of CCDWARE,
The Ultimate Image Session Planning Solution
About 10 pm a couple
nights ago I stepped out in
the driveway to check the
cloud cover. It was mostly
overcast but I noticed low in
the West, through the stillleafless trees, a blazingly bright light, one of the many aircraft
which commonly pass over my neighborhood on their landing
approach to Philadelphia. But it wasn’t moving. Venus? Nah.
Too bright for being that low, and besides, Venus should have set
by 10 pm, right? A supernova?! I’ve been thinking about them
because our program this month is about searching for supernovas. Wouldn’t it be cool if the next Crab Nebula is just now being
born and I were one of the first to see it. The Milky Way is, after
all, overdue for one. But no, a quick check of the charts showed
that Venus had still not set. So I’ve been watching Venus moving
higher and setting later each evening. By the time you read this it
will be very close to the Pleiades. By May 10 it will reach its
highest point above the horizon. What a brilliant beacon it is! A
pleasure to see - even if it’s not a supernova
When you come to the meeting you’ll notice some rapid
change around the grounds. Most of the limbs from the tree
cutting are no longer scattered about but are now arranged in neat
stacks ready to feed into the chipper. And those 6 big shrubs that
were blocking the view to the West are finally gone!! The sky over
the Sawin is bigger that it has been in many years. All this is
thanks to the efforts of Jack Goodwin and Dave Groski who
wielded chain saws and to Bill Hanagan, Bill McKibben, Jeff
Lawrence, Keith Given, and Ted Trevarrow who acted like beavers
building a dam. On top of all that we did some Spring Cleaning in
the Sawin by removing the old red tube and base which were still
taking up space since we put the re-figured 17" mirror in its new
split tube. Whose legs are these? Is he working or napping?
(Continued on Page 7)
“From the President”
“From the Observing Chair” The Return of Photons
Public Nights Schedule at Mt. Cuba Observatory
2015 Annual Dinner Meeting May 19th!
Astro Images by Frank Colosimo
DAS Board Members-At-Large Elections
Astronomy Picture of the Day-Stars at the Galactic Center
Astro Images by Ron Worden
Sawin Certification Program
Astro-League Membership Fees
IMPORTANT Board Positions Need Members to Fill NOW!
Astro Images Sought by MCAO for Lobby Display
Pages 1&7
Pages 2&3
Page 2
Pages 4&5
Pages 6&7
Page 8
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Page 9
Page 10
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Star Parties, Upcoming Events and Activities
Rates for Astronomy Technology Today & Amateur Astronomy
Pages 11-13
Page 13
“From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory”
Hubble Discovers 4 Images for Same Supernova
Site on Mars Advanced for 2016 Lander
Stars Found Far from Galaxy Center
Pages 14&15
Page 16
Page 17
“NASA Science News”
Puzzling Spots on Dwarf Planet Ceres
NASA to Investigate Magnetic Explosions
The Mystery of Nanoflares
Kepler Wins Air & Space Museum Trophy
NASA’s Deep Impact Produced Deep Results
Page 18
Page 19
Page 20
Page 21
Page 22
“From The Goddard Space Flight Center”
NASA’s SDO Sees Two Coronal Holes
Page 23
Air & Space Museum Debuts Must-See Sun Video Wall Page 24
GOES-R Coming to an Orbit Near You
Page 25
Operation Ice Bridge Debuts 7th Arctic Campaign
Pages 26&27
NASA ORION Program Manager Visits Goddard
Page 27
MMS: 5 Years, 4 Craft, Thousands of Inspired Students Page 28
Spacecraft in Earth Orbit to Study Magnetic Reconnection Page 29
New Mission Studies Oceans, Airborne Particles & Clouds Page 30
Hubble Suggests Underground Ocean on Jupiter Moon Page 31
Sawin Observatory Reminder & DAS Loaner Equipment
Astro Photo of the Month & Website of the Month
Info on Club Special Interest Groups
Info on Memberships & Magazine Subscriptions
Contact Information for the DAS Board
“The Last Word” - FOCUS Editor Joe Neuberger
Page 32
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The Veil Nebula--Photo taken in Sept., 2012.
It consists of eight 5 minute images stacked
and processed, taken with an SBIG ST4000XCM one shot color camera.
Credit: Photo by DAS Member Rick Davis.
Observing with the Delaware Astronomical Society...
The Return
of the Photons
By Fred De Lucia, DAS Observing
Committee Chairperson
It was a long, frustrating winter of disappointing skies and aborted observing plans but
the inevitable, unhurried, changes have finally given rise to more
auspicious endeavors as we embark upon the Spring Galaxy Season.
On March 12th the clouds were gone by 7:30PM and not a
speck of a cloud appeared all night at the ChesLen Preserve. Light
breezes and mild gusts kept the dew away for a surprisingly dry night.
Greg Lee, Bill Hanagan, Ted Trevorow and I were there sharing views
among our 8", 15" and 18" Dobs and making use of my Interstellarum
Deep Sky Atlas all over Leo. Felt so good to be out observing after
over 4 months of disappointing skies and aborted observing plans. I
know, I already said that.
The forecasts for high wind gusts and a 30%-35% cloud cover on March 18 still didn’t dissuade me from embracing another night at the ChesLen Preserve , this time with Lionel (CAS), Ted (DAS) and Ernie (CCAS). Even with the
temperatures below freezing this ChesLen session turned out just dandy as candy with much better seeing than expected, almost no clouds and wind that essentially was a no-show making me wish I had taken to the darker skies of the
Blue Mountain Vista or even Coyle Field, NJ where Igor and Rodney of the BMAA had headed (they later reported that
similar conditions prevailed).
Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 was riding about 6 degrees lower in the sky than on March 12 but it was still very
bright in my 18”. Ted was quite thrilled to see the Orion Nebula in my 18 referring to it as, “The Adult View” after seeing it
(Continued on Next Page)
updates on programs planned. Interested individuals or
groups can apply by letter or call 654-6407 (preferably
between the hours of 9 and 11 am, Monday through
Friday) to the Observatory to obtain reservations for these
“Public Nights”.
Greg Weaver
The Mt. Cuba
Observatory Public
Nights continue year
round! In addition to
learning about many
aspects of the heavens,
you’ll have a chance to
visit and view our all-digital full-dome planetarium. You can pick
up a schedule when you next come to a meeting or get the
latest updated version off the website at: http://
MountCuba.org. Programs are presented on Monday
nights at 8pm. Please check the website for full details and
The Public Nights schedule for 2015 follows:
20 Apr. Greg Weaver
29 May Greg Weaver
A Beginer’s Guide to Findingf
Objects in the Night Sky
Family Night
The 24 inch Herr Telescope (Greg Weaver)
The Return of the Photons (Continued)
in his 8”. I spent an enjoyable length of time on a number of the Arp Peculiar Galaxies. The interacting nature of these
pairs are not nearly as discernible at ChesLen as they are at darker sites, with Arp 313 quiite a significant challenge but
Arp 217 was a much easier catch being larger and brighter. Arp 85 brought an exclamation from one observer in my
scope, with whom I shared the view, saying, “Oh, that one is bright and widely separated and definitely has something
going on.” I couldn’t hold back any longer and told him that Arp 85 is also, M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. Its face-on spiral
structure was readily seen with the slightest amount of averted vision.
Striking out to some Hickson Galaxy Groups rewarded me with Hickson 44 (left) and 68 showing several galaxies
from 11.9 to 13.8 magnitude
in the impressive field of
view of my 13mm Ethos
Thor’s Helmet (right)
is largely invisible laying
low and partly buried in the
sky glow of Kennet Square
in the south, but sliding in
my OIII filter caused the
nebulous outline of the
familiar pointed helmet to
emerge rather easily.
The view of the night
was the planetary nebula,
the Eskimo (right) in Lionel’s 16" at 436x. Averted vision and a nebula filter showed oodles of shell structure surrounding
the bright central star. As one’s eye naturally drifted into direct vision the shell structure subsided, reminding one to reengage the eye’s peripheral rods to re-establish this delightful treasure.
Then, on March 22 I took the near 2 hour
drive to the Blue Mountain Vista Observatory Field to
meet with several ChesMont astro-buds and, also, a
few DVAAers that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. It
was another good night of favorable transparency
which was complemented well by the darker skies of
more than ½ magnitude allowing my 18” scope to
delve deeper into the same Hickson Galaxy Groups
and, also, the Coma Galaxy Cluster (left), where I
identified almost a dozen of the 1,000 galaxies it
March 28 found Greg Lee, Jeff Lawrence, Bill
McKibben, Keith Given and I at the Bellevue State
Park Star Party in chilly weather under mostly cloudy
skies with three 10” Dobs, my 102mm $59 refractor
and newcomers Bill and son Ian with their 4” Orion
Starblast giving the appreciative crowd of about two
dozen good views of the Moon and Jupiter. Seems
we picked up a few new members, too.
Aside from the much more favorable weather allowing many of us to spend more time under the stars, one of my
favorite events is in April each year, the Northeast Astronomy Forum, better known as NEAF, held by the Rockland
Astronomy Club in Suffern, NY at the Rockland Community College. I have my hotel reservations and will report my
findings in the next FOCUS. Unfortunately, by doing NEAF I’ll pass up on the Delmarva Stargazers’ Trap Pond Observing
Session which they are holding that same weekend. It’s good to have choices after a winter’s worth of disappointing
skies and aborted observing plans. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It was such a fun March.
Clear, dark and steady skies to all.
All pictures from nasa.gov/apod/.
Delaware Astronomical Society 2015
After the great success of the 2014 Dinner Meeting, we will be holding this year's meeting in a similar
fashion! To register visit the DAS website at http://delastro.org/16-event-reports/98-dinnermeeting.
The date is Tuesday, May 19th and the price will remain
$20 per person!
We will hold it once again at the beautiful Ashland Nature Center. A map can be found here:
The Menu:
Bread & butter
Arugula & watermelon salad
Our Speaker will be
Main course, served with beans
Focusing On
& rice and asparagus
Carne Adovada
(New Mexican Citrus Pork), or
Chicken with Peruvian Sauce, or
Vegetarian option upon request
Latin Flan
Water & soda
Beer & wine by free will donation
All About the JWST in a YouTube Video at:
Hot tea & coffee
The easiest way to register, is via PayPal on the DAS website page. Please select your main course
choice. Note, if you are registering more than one person, please add all meal choices to the cart prior
to checking out.
Join Us
At The
If you would prefer, you can mail a
check along with a note indicating your
meal choices to:
Jeff Lawrence
DAS Treasurer
815 Leeds Lane
Newark, DE 19711
For Great Food, a Great Speaker,
Yearly Awards and Comaraderie!
Dinner Meeting is May 19 th
The speaker and topic...
ENGINEER for the
Abstract: This presentation will give an over
view of the James Webb Space Telescope’s
(JWST) science and systems design and
describe the progress made on its development, including some of the key engineering
challenges facing this “first of its kind” mission.
JWST will be NASA’s successor mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. With an aperture
greater than 6 meters, it will observe first light objects in the nascent universe, the evolution of galaxies over cosmic history, star birth within our own galaxy, the processes for planet formation and evolution both in our solar system and in solar systems around other stars. Positioning at the Sun-Earth
Lagrangian2 point (930,000 miles from Earth) will keep thermal sources such as the Sun and Earth in
the same general direction so that their radiation can be shielded by a “tennis court sized” sunshield,
allowing the payload to attain its required operating temperatures passively.
Mike Menzel is the NASA Mission Systems Engineer for the James Webb Space Telescope at the Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Mike has held this position since he joined NASA in June of 2004. His
involvement with the James Webb Project extends back to 1998 when he became the Chief Systems Engineer for
Lockheed Martin’s Pre-Phase A studies for the then Next Generation Space Telescope and later for Lockheed’s Phase A
James Webb Space Telescope contract. In 2001, he joined the Northrop Grumman James Webb systems engineering team.
In his role on James Webb, Mike oversees all system engineering efforts which include requirements formulation and
management, systems design and integration, and systems validation and verification. He has led numerous studies
which have contributed to the systems design and verification program. He wrote one of the first articles to layout a
verification program for the system, “A Strawman Verification Program for the Next Generation Space Telescope” in 1998
and led the Independent Verification Assessment Team, to evaluate the verification risks in 2003.
Prior to his involvement with James Webb, Mike was the Deputy Program Manager for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Servicing Missions Group for Lockheed Martin. While in this position, he participated in system engineering
activities for the HST Orbital System Test (HOST), which flew on STS 95. Between 1995 and 1997, he was the Director
of Systems Engineering at Orbital Science Corporation (OSC) in Germantown, Maryland. Aside from the functional
management duties of this position he led several proposal efforts; among them, the successful GALEX Mission proposal
for the OSC spacecraft. Between 1990 and 1995, Mike was a Principal Member of the Technical Staff for Lockheed
Martin’s Astro-Space Division in East Windsor, New Jersey and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. While in this position, he
contributed to numerous system conceptual design studies, was the functional manager of the Sensor Systems Group
and developed and taught the Systems Engineering Training course for the Astro-Space Division. He was awarded the
Martin Marietta General Manager’s Award in 1993 for these efforts. Between 1981 and 1990, Mike was an antenna
engineer for RCA Astro in East Windsor New Jersey.
Mike received a BS degree in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technnology in 1981 and earned an
MS degree in Physics from Columbia University in 1986 while he was working for RCA.
During his career, Mike has held various positions as an adjunct college instructor for Astronomy and Physics.
He is an avid amateur astronomer and is a member of the American Astronomical Society. Mike also enjoys weightlifting
and has competed in several amateur power lifting events over
the years.
Images by Member Frank Colosimo
from His Blue Mountain Vista
Observatory at New Ringgold, PA
M85 (NGC 4382 is a lenticular or elliptical galaxy
in Coma Berenices that lies about 60 million lightyears away. NGC 4394 is nearby to the left in my
image and is interacting with M85 and the faint
galaxy to the right is IC 3292, a mag 14.8 spiral.
M85 was low on my target priority list since at first
glance it appeared to be a bland elliptical galaxy.
In spite of the this first impression, you can see
some interesting structure in this galaxy and the
proximity of the other galaxies adds some
additional impact.
Date: May-June 2014
Location: New Ringgold PA
Optics: Hyperion f/8 12.5 inch, FL 2540 mm
Mount: Paramount ME
Camera: Apogee U8300
Guiding: ST-402 on Innovations Foresight OnAxis Guider, SharpLock focusing method.
Exposure LRGB: L 15x 10 min. R: 6x 8 min., G:
10x 6 min, B:10x10 min for a total of 6 hrs.
Processing: Image acquisition using CCD
Autopilot. Initial processing was done using
Maxim DL with subsequent processing with
M102 (NGC 5866, or the Spindle
Galaxy) is alenticular edge-on galaxy
in Draco that lies about 50 million lightyears away. There is some controversy about the identification of this
galaxy in the Messier list and the entry
may have referred to the Pinwheel
galaxy, M101, instead. In any event,
this edge-on displays an interesting
and distinct thin dark lane that bisects
the galaxy from our point of view.
Date: Apr 2014
Location: New Ringgold PA
Optics: Hyperion f/8 12.5 inch, FL 2540
Mount: Paramount ME
Camera: Apogee U8300
Guiding: ST-402 on Innovations
Foresight On-Axis Guider, SharpLock
focusing method
Exposure: LRGB: L:16x10 min R:12x8
min, G:10x6 min, B:9x10 min for a total
of 6.8 hrs.
Processing: Image acquisition using
CCD Autopilot. Initial processing was
done using Maxim DL with subsequent
processing with Photoshop.
Pointers Now Prohibited on MCAO Grounds
Due to some recent lawsuits brought by the Federal Government against individuals using laser pointers which
found their targets to be various aircraft the management of the Mount Cuba Astronomical Observatory has thought it
prudent to ban their use entirely on the grounds of the facilitry This is to both protect aviation and any astronomers
utilizing the MCAO facilities. This is a serious matter and NO violations will be tolerated and will be dealt with in the most
harsh of manners. So please remember, if you are utilizing the Mt. Cuba facilities please leave your laser pointers at home.
FROM THE PRESIDENT (Continued from Page 1)
Members Clearing Brush and doing Spring Cleaning on the Sawin Observatory
AP SIG Meeting Set for the Weekend of April 24 / 25
The next meeting of the AP-SIG is tentatively scheduled for April 24 or 25 at 8:00 PM at MCAO. The specific date will be
announced a day or two ahead of the meeting via DAS Yahoo Group email. This time around, the special topic will be Auto-Guiding for
deep sky imaging.
You probably know that the Hubble Space Telescope was first put into orbit 25 years ago, although it has been overhauled and
updated several times. (It’s a good thing NASA didn’t just sit back and say “it’s historical, we can’t change it”). Guess what other
astronomical first is 25 years old? It’s the first commercial CCD auto-guider, the ST-4 CCD camera made by Santa Barbara Instruments
Group (SBIG).
By taking an exposure every 1 to 5 seconds, a CCD auto-guider can automatically calculate the central position of a
“guide” star to within a small fraction of a pixel and continuously correct the tracking errors of the mount. In practice, this means that
any smoothly varying tracking errors in the mounts gearing can be reduced from as much as 25 arc-seconds in both Right Ascension
and Declination (RA and DEC) to as little as a quarter of an arc-second in both RA and DEC, even for individual sub-exposures of 10
minutes or more. With a CCD auto-guider, many individual “sub-exposures” can be gathered for subsequent alignment and stacking to
improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the final image. This approach also allows any particular sub-exposure that is spoiled by aircraft
trails or other flaws to be left out of the final image entirely
The significance of the CCD auto-guider in deep sky astro-photography can hardly be over-estimated. Indeed, there would be
very, very few amateur made deep sky images to peruse in Sky & Telescope or Astronomy Magazine, or to put into the November
Astrophoto Issue of the FOCUS, were it not for the CCD auto-guider.
An alternative approach known as “Track and Accumulate” was also invented by SBIG, but is seldom used. One reason why is
that “track-and-accumulate” (http://archive.sbig.com/sbwhtmls/online.htm) requires a low-resolution CCD with very large pixels (e.g. 24
microns square) and a telescope with a low focal ratio so that the exposure time can be kept very short to try to limit the damage done
by the tracking errors of the mount. Further, the track-and-accumulate approach does not allow for aircraft trails and other flaws to be
left out of the final image because the accumulation of the multitude of short exposure images must be done in lock-step within the
Sadly, the DAS’s flagship equatorial mount in the Sawin observatory is more than half a century old and does not support
CCD-auto-guiding. So, we won’t be going out to the Sawin for a demonstration of CCD auto-guiding, or to do any deep sky imaging in
celebration of the last quarter-century of CCD auto-guiding. The Sawin equatorial mount is simply too antiquated to use it with a pivotal
technology that was invented only 25 years ago!
DAS Board Members At Large Elections
Fred De Lucia, DAS Elections Committee Chairperson
The terms for the three DAS Board Members At Large are expiring this year. Elections will take place in May via
the usual electronic voting method of the past several elections. Board Members At Large hold voting positions on the
DAS Board of Directors and, essentially, represent the interests of the general membership in all matters brought before
the Board for discussion. The terms are for two years and begin on July 1 of odd numbered years.
Eligible candidates must be in good standing (i.e. current in their dues) and at least 16 years of age. Candidates
will be announced at the April meeting at which time nominations will also be permitted to come from the floor.
Nominations from any member in good standing will be accepted for the slate. Members can nominate themselves.
Please, email me at [email protected] or call me at 609-410-8943 with your nominations or your questions.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
from 2015 April 3
Sun and Moon Halo
Image Credit & Copyright: Göran Strand
Explanation: Two pictures captured on April 1 are combined in this creative day and night composite. Separated in time by about 10
hours the images otherwise match, looking along the coast at Östersund Sweden. The relative times were chosen to show the Sun and
a nearly full Moon at the same place in the cold, early springtime sky. In the night scene Jupiter also shines above the waterfront lights,
while Sun and Moon are both surrounded by a beautiful circular ice halo. The Sun and Moon halos really do align, each with an angular
radius of 22 degrees. That radius is a constant, not determined by the brightness of Sun or Moon but only by the hexagonal geometry of
atmospheric ice crystals and the reflection and refraction of light. Of course tomorrow, April 4, will find the Sun and Moon on opposite
sides of planet Earth for a total lunar eclipse.
Images by Member Ron Worden and
his Snobie Observatory in Bear, DE
Not the best but my tripod broke so I had to improvise and hold camera by hand.
M41 Open Cluster and star field
3-1Sec. handheld images
stacked : Taken with a 40D
Canon with a F1.4 85mm
Rokinon lens at 3200 ASA in
Grand Mayan Riviera Mexico on
a cloudy night.
M27, the Dumbbell Nebula: 9/15/2009, 17 - 30sec. unguided
exposures stacked, F6.5, ST7 camera.
Orion star field 6-1Sec.
handheld images stacked :
Taken with a 40D Canon with a
F1.4 85mm Rokinon lens at
3200 ASA in Grand Mayan
Riviera Mexico on
a cloudy night.
Pleiades 18-1Sec. handheld
images stacked : Taken with
a 40D Canon with a F1.4
85mm Rokinon lens at 3200
ASA in Grand Mayan
Riviera Mexico.
Sawin Certification Program Fred De Lucia
The Sawin is the major centerpiece of DAS. In the past it was in use
much more often and by a number of members on every clear Friday night. It
has been largely underutilized for a number of reasons. One reason, I believe,
is that newer members or members who do not own a telescope might feel
intimidated by the equipment and the observatory’s layout. We hope to address
this by instituting the Sawin Certification Program. With the new upgrades
installed, its use will be more inviting and user friendly to both new and experienced members. Certified Key Holders of the Sawin have access to its use at
any time without supervision
The Program will consist of a minimum of 2 sessions, scheduled at the
Sawin, to obtain the necessary knowledge and experience in using the Sawin
equipment. These sessions will be supervised by a current Sawin Key Holder.
The first session, likely set for a weekend in the daylight (even if it’s cloudy), will familiarize learners with the
layout of the Sawin and overall operation, including opening the roof, uncovering and covering the telescopes, handling
eyepieces and pointing the telescopes, etc.
If the supervising Sawin Key Holder determines that progression during the first session is acceptable, then the
second session will be scheduled for a clear sky night session to address night time use of the equipment.
The Sawin Certification Program is for DAS members only who are in good standing and 16 years of age or older.
Participants in the program who are under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
For information or sign-up, please contact Greg Lee, DAS President at [email protected]
The DAS offers an optional membership in the Astronomical League (AL) at a discounted rate.
AL membership dues are $7.50 per year and are due on June 1 for all members.
Prorated discounts for new memberships starting mid-year are as follows:
April 16 - July 15: $7.50 per member
July 16 - Oct 15: $5.62 per member
Oct 16 - Jan 15: $3.75 per member
Jan 16 - April 15: $1.87 per member
Members should make their check out to DAS and mail it to the Treasurer whose information is below::
Jeff Lawrence
DAS Treasurer
815 Leeds Lane
Newark, DE 19711
Members are Needed to Step Up to Fill Important DAS Board Positions:
Education Chairperson and Observatory Chairperson
These important Club positions remain unfilled and important functions of our club have come to a virtual halt
because of it. If you would like to give a little more of yourself to this organizatioin, please contact President Greg Lee
at 302-762-5358 and explore with him what these positions entail. PLEASE give it some thought--your club needs YOU!
Call for DAS AstroImages for Display in Mt. Cuba Lobby
MCAO is asking for any DAS members to submit their astroimages for display in the Observatory. It would like to
display the club member’s talents and update some of the images currently on display in the lobby of
the Observatory.
Images will be displayed for up to a year and replaced as new images are submitted. Full credits to the imager will
be included. Please include all technical information with the image (date, telescope and camera used, exposure time,
image processing software, etc.). You may email digital images to the Mt. Cuba website. Photos may be sent to the
Observatory or brought to a DAS meeting.
The Observatory looks forward to displaying your beautiful images! Contact Greg at [email protected]
Star Parties, Upcoming Events and Activities
April 16, 2015 - April 17, 2015
NEIAC - Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference
Devoted to all aspects of Astronomical Imaging, this two-day event hosts workshops & lectures
by prominent professional & amateur astro-imagers.
April 18, 2015 - April 19, 2015
NEAF - Northeast Astronomy Forum
World’s Largest Astronomy Expo - Bringing you the Universe in two exciting event-packed days.
NEAF is renowned worldwide as the ultimate astronomy experience. Nowhere else can you find so
much in one place or at one time.
April 21, 2015 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
DAS Monthly Meeting
Topic: Needle in a Haystack: The Search for 1A Supernova by Dr. Steve Walters, IEEE Fellow and
author of CCDWare, The Ultimate Image Session Planning Solution. http://www.ccdware.com/
DAS Board meeting at 7PM, all are welcome. General meeting at 8PM.
April 25, 2015 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Delaware Museum of Natural History Celebrates Hubble Space Telescope’s 25th
Free with admission.Enjoy hands-on activities, meet space specialists & scientists, and celebrate
Hubble’s legacy. http://www.delmnh.org/event/hubble-space-telescopes-25th-anniversary/
April 25, 2015 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Bellevue State Park Solar Saturday and Introduction to the Night Sky
Bellevue State Park offers a late afternoon of Solar Observing through telescopes properly filtered for
observing the Sun, followed by an evening of stargazing as DAS shows constellations and gives an
introduction to observing the night sky. Equipment will be available, or you may bring your own. Redfiltered lights only please. No fee for this program. Call the Park to pre-register 302-761-6963. Meet in
the Hunter Barn parking lot.
May 2, 2015 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Star Party at Delaware Museum of Natural History
DAS and the Mount Cuba Astronomical Observatory combine resources with the Delaware Museum of
Natural History and Star Party for an evening of astronomy. Astronomy presentation in lecture hall
followed by star party. Pre-register due to limited space for this event. $3 for DMNH members, $5 for
non-members. http://www.delmnh.org/event/star-party/
May 8, 2015 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Telescope Night at Woodside Creamery
Enjoy farm fresh homemade ice cream under the night sky as MCAO associates and DAS members
share telescope views with all. Rain/Cloud Date: Saturday May 9
May 14, 2015 - May 17, 2015
Delmarva Stargaze XXI
Click http://www.delmarvastargazers.org/ for details
(Continued on Following Page)
Star Parties, Upcoming Events and Activities
May 19, 2015 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
DAS Annual Dinner Meeting
See the FOCUS pages 2 & 3 for full information for the 2015 Annual Dinner Meeting.
May 23, 2015 8:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Astronomy Night at ChesLen Preserve’s Lenfest Center
is an event dedicated to astronomy at the Natural Lands Trust’s ChesLen Preserve’s Lenfest Center.
Several local astronomy clubs, including DAS, are participating in this event hosted by the NLT. Preregistration required. Contact Debbie Beer if any questions, or if you’d like to bring a group to this
event – email: [email protected], or call: 610-353-5587 ext. 266..
June 11, 2015 - June 14, 2015
Cherry Springs Star Party
The Cherry Springs Star Party has been running since 2005 at the Cherry Springs State Park and has
been run by the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg, PA Inc. http://www.cherrysprings.org/
June 16, 2015 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
DAS Final Monthly Meeting before Summer Hiatus
Topic: TBD; DAS Board meeting at 7PM, all are welcome. General meeting at 8PM.
June 26, 2015 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Telescope Night at Woodside Creamery
Enjoy farm fresh homemade ice cream under the night sky as MCAO associates and DAS members
share telescope views with all. Rain/Cloud Date: Saturday June 27
July 10, 2015 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Friday Night Lights at ChesLen Preserve
Annual NLT Event (always a sell out) showcasing local winery, craft beer, snacks, musical entertainment and a star party. https://www.natlands.org/event/fridaynightlights2015/
July 15, 2015 - July 19, 2015
Mason-Dixon Star Party
The 26th annual Summer MDSP will be held with guest speakers, vendors, a raffle. Early arrivals allowed with advance permission. A food vendor will be at the star party Friday evening through Sunday
morning. http://www.masondixonstarparty.org/.
July 24, 2015 8:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Star Party at Delaware Museum of Natural History
DAS and the Mount Cuba Astronomical Observatory combine resources with the Delaware Museum of
Natural History and Star Party for an evening of astronomy. Astronomy presentation in lecture hall
followed by a star party. Click http://www.delmnh.org/event/star-party-july-sky/ for more information
about pre-registration due to limited space for this event.
July 31, 2015 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Telescope Night at Woodside Creamery
Star Parties, Upcoming Events and Activities
Enjoy farm fresh homemade ice cream under the night sky as MCAO associates and DAS members
share telescope views with all. http://woodsidefarmcreamery.com/events-cowlender/icalrepeat.detail/
2015/05/08/302/-/telescope-night. Rain/Cloud Date: Saturday August 1
August 13, 2015 - August 16, 2015
Stellafane 2015
Considered by many to be the “Birthplace of Amateur Telescope Making.” http://stellafane.org/
August 14, 2015 - August 18, 2015
Almost Heaven Star Party 2015
At The Mountain Institute Spruce Knob Mountain Center, WV, http://www.ahsp.org/.
August 22, 2015 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Bellevue State Park Introduction to the Night Sky
Bellevue State Park offers an evening of stargazing as DAS shows constellations and gives an introduction to observing the night sky. Equipment will be available, or you may bring your own. Redfiltered lights only please. No fee for this program. Call the Park to pre-register 302-761-6963. Meet in
the Hunter Barn parking lot.
August 28, 2015 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Telescope Night at Woodside Creamery
Enjoy farm fresh homemade ice cream under the night sky as MCAO associates and DAS members
share telescope views with all. http://woodsidefarmcreamery.com/events-cowlender/icalrepeat.detail/
2015/05/08/302/-/telescope-night Rain/Cloud Date: Saturday August 29
September 11, 2015 - September 13, 2015
Black Forest Star Party
The Black Forest Star Party (BFSP) is an annual dark-sky amateur astronomy observing event hosted
by the Central Pennsylvania Observers (CPO). Held every year since 1999, the BFSP generally spans a
weekend in the late summer or early fall in Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County, Pennsylvania.
See the full line-up of events on the DAS’ website EVENTS CALENDAR at
DAS Now has a Discount Subscription Rate for Astronomy
Technology Today Magazine and Amateur Astronomy Magazine
Astronomy Technology Today: Members can subscribe directly on-line and then in the appropriate box enter the club’s
discount code which is: DAS. During the order process, members simply enter the discount code and they will receive the discounted rate at checkout. Print subscribers also have unlimited access to all current and past digital issues at no
additional cost. Normal print subscriptions are $18 per year. The club rate is $14 per year.
The magazine is issued bi-monthly. https://www.astronomytechnologytoday.com/
Amateur Astronomy Magazine: DAS members must print, fill out and mail the form found in the “Files” section of
our Yahoo email list website.
The magazine is issued quarterly. http://www.amateurastronomy.com/index.htm.
The image shows the galaxy's location within a hefty cluster of galaxies called MACS J1149.6+2223. Arrows (inset) point to the multiple
copies of Supernova Refsdal. The four images were spotted on Nov. 11, 2014.
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have spotted for the first time a distant supernova
split into four images. The multiple images of the exploding star are caused by the powerful gravity of a foreground
elliptical galaxy embedded in a massive cluster of galaxies. This unique observation will help astronomers refine their
estimates of the mass of dark matter in the lensing galaxy and cluster. Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that
makes up most of the mass of the universe.
The gravity from both the elliptical galaxy and its galaxy cluster distorts and magnifies the light from the supernova behind it in an effect called gravitational lensing. First predicted by Albert Einstein, this effect is similar to a glass
lens bending light to magnify and distort the image of an object behind it. The multiple images are arranged around the
elliptical galaxy in a cross-shaped pattern, also known an Einstein Cross.
The elliptical galaxy and its galaxy cluster, MACS J1149.6+2223, are 5 billion
(Continued on Following Page)
March 5, 2015
Hubble Discovers Four Images (Continued from Preceeding Page)
light-years away from Earth. The supernova behind it is 9.3 billion light-years away.
Although astronomers have discovered dozens of multiply-imaged galaxies and quasars, they have never seen a
stellar explosion resolved into several images.
“It really threw me for a loop when I spotted the four images surrounding the galaxy— it was a complete surprise,”
said Patrick Kelly of the University of California, Berkeley, a member of the Grism Lens Amplified Survey from Space
(GLASS) collaboration. Kelly is also the lead author on the paper, which will appear on March 6 in a special issue of the
journal Science celebrating the centenary of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
When the four images fade away, astronomers predict they will have the rare opportunity to see the supernova
again. This is because the current four-image pattern is only one component of the lensing display. The supernova may
have appeared as a single image some 20 years ago elsewhere in the cluster field, and it is expected to reappear once
more in about a decade.
This prediction is based on computer models of the cluster, which describe the various paths the divided supernova light is taking through the maze of clumpy dark matter in the galactic grouping. Each image takes a different route
through the cluster and arrives at a different time, due in part to differences in the length of the pathways the light follows
to reach Earth. The four supernova images captured by Hubble, for example, appeared within a few days or weeks of
each other.
The supernova’s various light paths are analogous to several trains that leave a station at the same time, all
traveling at the same speed and bound for the same location. Each train, however, takes a different route, and the
distance for each route is not the same. Some trains travel over hills. Others go through valleys, and still others chug
around mountains. Because the trains travel over different track lengths across different terrain, they do not arrive at their
destination at the same time. Similarly, the supernova images do not appear at the same time because some of the light
is delayed by traveling around bends created by the gravity of dense dark matter in the intervening galaxy cluster.
“Our model for the dark matter in the cluster gives us the prediction of when the next image will appear because it
tells us how long each train track is, which correlates with time,” said Steve Rodney of the Johns Hopkins University in
Baltimore, Maryland, leader of the Frontier Field Supernova Search team (FrontierSN team) that is working with the
GLASS group to analyze the exploding star. “We already missed one that we think appeared about 20 years ago, and we
found these four images after they had already appeared. The prediction of this future image is the one that is most
exciting because we might be able to catch it. We hope to come back to this field with Hubble, and we’ll keep looking to
see when that expected next image appears.”
Measuring the time delays between images offers clues to the type of warped-space terrain the supernova’s light
had to cover and will help the astronomers fine-tune the models that map out the cluster’s mass. “We will measure the
time delays, and we’ll go back and compare to the model predictions of the light path," Kelly said. “The lens modelers,
such as Adi Zitrin of the California Institute of Technology from our team, will then be able to adjust their models to more
accurately recreate the landscape of dark matter, which dictates the light travel time.”
While making a routine search of the GLASS team’s data, Kelly spotted the four images of the exploding star on
Nov. 11, 2014. The FrontierSN and GLASS teams have been searching for such highly magnified explosions since 2013,
and this object is their most spectacular discovery. The supernova appears about 20 times brighter than its natural
brightness, due to the combined effects of two overlapping lenses. The dominant lensing effect is from the massive galaxy
cluster, which focuses the supernova light along at least three separate paths. A secondary lensing effect occurs when
one of those light paths is precisely aligned with a specific elliptical galaxy within the cluster.
“The dark matter of that individual galaxy then bends and refocuses the light into four more paths,” Rodney
explained, “generating the rare Einstein Cross pattern we are currently observing.”
The two teams spent a week analyzing the object’s light, confirming it was the signature of a supernova. They
then turned to the W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, to measure the distance of the supernova’s host
The astronomers nicknamed the supernova Refsdal in honor of Norwegian astronomer Sjur Refsdal, who, in
1964, first proposed using time-delayed images from a lensed supernova to study the expansion of the universe. “Astronomers have been looking to find one ever since,” said Tommaso Treu of the University of California, Los Angeles, the
GLASS project’s principal investigator. “The long wait is over!”
The Frontier Fields survey is a three-year program that uses Hubble and the gravitational-lensing effects of six
massive galaxy clusters to probe not only what is inside the clusters but also what is beyond them. The three-year
FrontierSN program studies supernovae that appear in and around the galaxy clusters of the Frontier Fields and GLASS
surveys. The GLASS survey is using Hubble’s spectroscopic capabilities to study remote galaxies through the cosmic
telescopes of 10 massive galaxy clusters, including the six in the Frontier Fields.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space
Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope
Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.
For images and more information about Hubble, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hubble or http://hubblesite.org/news/2015/08.
NASA’s next mission to Mars,
scheduled to launch one year from today to
examine the Red Planet’s deep interior and
In the weeks after NASA's
InSight mission reaches Mars investigate how rocky planets like Earth evolved,
in September 2016, the
now has one specific site under evaluation as the
lander's arm will lift two
best place to land and deploy its science instruments.
science instruments off the
The mission called InSight -- an acronym
deck and place them onto the
ground. This image shows
for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigatesting of InSight's robotic
tions, Geodesy and Heat Transport" -- is schedarm at JPL about two years
uled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base,
before it will perform these
California. The launch period runs from March 4 to
tasks on Mars.
Image Credit: NASA/JPLMarch 30, 2016, and will mark the first California
launch of an interplanetary mission. Installation of
Full image and caption at
science-instrument hardware onto the spacecraft
has begun and a key review has given thumbs up
to integration and testing of the mission's component systems from several nations participating in
the international project.
The landing-site selection process evaluated four candidate locations selected in 2014. The quartet is within the flat-lying "Elysium Planitia," less than five degrees
north of the equator, and all four appear safe for InSight's landing. The single site will continue to be analyzed in coming
months for final selection later this year. If unexpected problems with this site are found, one of the others would be imaged
and could be selected. The favored site is centered at about four degrees north latitude and 136 degrees east longitude.
"This is wondrous terrain, exactly what we want to land on because it is smooth, flat, with very few rocks in the
highest-resolution images," said InSight's site-selection leader, Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, California.
Mars orbiters have provided detailed information about the candidate sites, which are mapped as landing ellipses
about 81 miles (130 kilometers) west-to-east by about 17 miles (27 kilometers) north-to-south. An ellipse covers the area
within which InSight has odds of about 99 percent of landing, if targeted for the ellipse center. Several types of terrain,
such as "cratered," "etched" and "smooth" were mapped in each ellipse. The one chosen for final evaluations has highest
proportion in the smooth category.
After InSight reaches Mars on Sept. 28, 2016, the mission will assess properties of the planet's crust, mantle and
core. The interior of Mars has not been churned as much as Earth's because Mars lacks the tectonic activity that recycles
Earth's crustal plates back into the mantle. Thus, Mars offers an opportunity to find clues no longer present on Earth
about how rocky planets such as Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury formed and evolved.
InSight's primary science will study the planet's interior, not surface features. Besides safety for the landing, the
main site-selection criterion is for the ground within reach of the lander's robotic arm to be penetrable for a heat-flow
probe designed to hammer itself into the soil to a depth three to five yards, or meters.
Evidence that the ground will be suitable for the probe, rather than rock solid, comes from assessment by the
Thermal Imaging System on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter of how quickly the ground cools at night or warms in sunlight,
and evaluation of images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The heat-flow probe is a key part of InSight's Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) provided by the
German Aerospace Center (DLR). Electronics for that instrument were the first hardware from the science payload put
onto the InSight spacecraft being assembled and tested at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
"As flight components such as the HP3 electronics become available, our team continues to integrate them on
the spacecraft and test their functionality," said Stu Spath, InSight spacecraft program manager at Lockheed Martin.
"We're steadily marching toward the start of spacecraft environmental testing this spring."
InSight's robotic arm will also place another science instrument onto the ground. This is the Seismic Experiment
for Interior Structure, or SEIS, from the French Space Agency (CNES), with components from Germany, Switzerland, the
United Kingdom and the United States.
A third experiment will use the radio link between InSight and NASA's Deep Space Network antennas on Earth to
measure precisely a wobble in Mars' rotation that could reveal whether the planet has a molten or solid core. Wind and
temperature sensors from Spain's Center for Astrobiology and a pressure sensor will monitor weather, and a magnetometer will measure magnetic disturbances.
The project passed its System Integration Review in February. "A panel of experts from outside the project
reviewed the system-level integration and test program," said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman, of JPL. "For Insight,
there are multiple systems being brought together from several countries for final integration and testing in Denver."
InSight and other NASA current and future projects will help inform the journey to Mars, an agency priority to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.
For more information about InSight, visit: http://insight.jpl.nasa.gov.
March 4, 2015:
'Living on the Edge:
Stars Found
Far from
Galaxy Center
The newfound young star clusters lie thousands of light-years below the plane of our
Milky Way galaxy, a flat spiral disk seen in this artist's conception. If alien lifeforms were
to develop on planets orbiting these stars, they would have views of a portion, or all, of
the galactic disk. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Full Image & Caption:
February 27, 2015:
Astronomers using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have
found a cluster of stars forming at the very edge of our Milky Way galaxy.
"A stellar nursery in what seems to be the middle of nowhere is quite surprising," said Peter Eisenhardt, the
project scientist for the WISE mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "But surprises turn up
when you look everywhere, as the WISE survey did."
The discovery, led by Denilso Camargo of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil,
appears in a new study in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The Milky Way, the galaxy we live in, has a barred spiral shape, with arms of stars, gas and dust winding out from
a central bar. Viewed from the side, the galaxy would appear relatively flat, with most of the material in a disk and the
central regions.
Using infrared survey images from WISE, the team discovered two clusters of stars thousands of light-years
below the galactic disk. The stars live in dense clumps of gas called giant molecular clouds.
This is the first time astronomers have found stars being born in such a remote location. Clouds of star-forming
material at very high latitudes away? from the galactic plane are rare and, in general, are not expected to form stars.
"Our work shows that the space around the galaxy is a lot less empty that we thought," said Camargo. "The new
clusters of stars are truly exotic. In a few million years, any inhabitants of planets around the stars will have a grand view
of the outside of the Milky Way, something no human being will probably ever experience."
To learn more about the discovery, and what might have caused the stars to form at the edge of our galaxy, read
the Royal Astronomical Society news release at: http://bit.ly/1ASpUYK.
JPL managed and operated WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The spacecraft was put into hibernation mode in 2011, after it scanned the entire sky twice, completing its main objectives. Edward Wright was the principal
investigator and is at UCLA. In September 2013, the WISE spacecraft was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned
a new mission to assist NASA's efforts to identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. Science
operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.
The WISE mission was selected competitively under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the agency's
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah. The spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado. Caltech
manages JPL for NASA.
More information is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/wise
Credit: Whitney Clavin, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; 818-354-4673; [email protected]
Puzzling Bright Spots on Dwarf Planet Ceres
These two views of Ceres were acquired by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of about 52,000 miles
(83,000 kilometers) as the dwarf planet rotated. The images have been magnified from their original size.
0 Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Cruising through the asteroid belt, NASA
Dawn spacecraft is approaching dwarf planet Ceres, and
some puzzling features are coming into focus.
"We expected to be surprised by Ceres," says
Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission,
based at UCLA. "We did not expect to be this puzzled."
The camera on Dawn can now seeCeres more
clearly than any previous image taken of the dwarf planet,
revealing craters and mysterious bright spots.
"We already knew from the Hubble Space Telescope that there were bright regions on Ceres," says
Russell. "However, those images of the bright spots, taken
more than 180 million miles away, appear to be large."
At close-range, Dawn's camera is revealing
something different.
"As Dawn has come closer to Ceres, the bright
spots have become brighter and smaller. Indeed, they are
much brighter than the surrounding landscape and still
unresolved in our images. The point of origin must be very
"Another way to express this is with fractals," he
adds. "Most of the planetary surfaces we see are cratered
in a random pattern. When you get closer, just as with
fractals, the surface looks the same regardless of scale."
"However, the bright spot is telling us that there is a
phenomenon that acts on a very small scale and NOT at
the larger scale of the cratering."
"And since I don't have a clue what this is I am
The view is about to improve even more. Dawn will
Feb 27, 2015:
be gently captured into
orbit around Ceres on
March 6, beginning a
mission to map, explore
and understand the dwarf
planet. By the time Dawn
is in its lowest altitude orbit
at the end of this year, its
pictures will be well over
800 times better than Hubble's.
"Even though Ceres
is in the asteroid belt, it is
entirely unlike asteroids," Ceres as seen years ago with Hubble
Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, J.
says Dawn's mission diParker (Southwest Research Institute), P.
rector, chief engineer and Thomas (Cornell University), and L.
lead blogger Marc Rayman. McFadden (University of Maryland,
With an equatorial College Park)
diameter of about 605 miles, Ceres has a surface area 38
percent of that of the continental United States, or four
times the area of Texas, writes Rayman in his blog. Its
size, nearly spherical shape and other factors have led
astronomers to classify it as a dwarf planet. Moreover, it
is the largest body between the sun and Pluto (another
dwarf planet) that has never been visited by a spacecraft.
"Earth is about to be introduced to a fascinating
new world," says Rayman.
Bright spots could be just the beginning of the
surprises in store. Stay tuned to [email protected] for
Credits: Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips
| Credit: [email protected]
March 10, 2015:
the tokamak builds up,
reconnection could be the
the electron temperature
Universe's favorite way to
reaches a peak, then
make things explode.
'crashes' to a lower value.
It operates
Some of the hot plasma
anywhere magnetic fields
escapes. This is caused
pervade space--which is
by reconnection of the
to say almost everywhere.
containment field."
In the cores of galaxies,
In light of this,
magnetic reconnection
you might suppose that
sparks explosions visible
fusion chambers would
billions of light-years away.
be a good place to study
On the sun, it causes solar
reconnection. But no,
flares as powerful as a
says Burch.
A new ScienceCast video previews the MMS mission to study t
he mysteries of magnetic reconnection. Click Below to Play it.
million atomic bombs. At
Reconnection in tokahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGh1xc-O0WA&feature=youtu.be
Earth, it powers magnetic
maks happens in a tiny
storms and auroras. It's ubiquitous.
volume only a few centimeters wide. It is practically imposThe problem is, researchers can't explain it.
sible to build sensors small enough to probe the
The basics are clear enough. Magnetic lines of
reconnection zone.
force cross, cancel, reconnect and—Bang! Magnetic energy
Earth's magnetois unleashed, with charged-particles flying off near the speed sphere is much better.
of light. But how? How does the simple act of crisscrossing
In the expansive magnemagnetic field lines trigger such a ferocious explosion?
tic bubble that surrounds
"Something very interesting and fundamental is
our planet, the process
going on that we don't fully understand," says Jim Burch of
plays out over volumes
the Southwest Research Institute.
as large as tens of kiloNASA is about to launch a mission to get to the
meters across, for inbottom of the mystery. It's called MMS, short for "Magnetostance, when reconnecspheric Multiscale" and it consists of four spacecraft that
tion at the sun propels
will fly through Earth's magnetic field, or "magnetosphere,"
plasma clouds toward
to study reconnection in action.
Earth, where additional
"Earth's magnetosphere is a wonderful natural
reconnection events
laboratory for studying this phenomenon," says Burch, the
then sparks auroras.
MMS Principal Investigator.
"We can fly
Slated for launch on March 12th, the four spacespacecraft in and around
A cartoon model of magnetic
craft were designed, built and tested at NASA’s Goddard
reconnection on the sun.
it and get a good look
Click Below for More.
Space Flight Center. Each one is shaped like a giant
at what's going on,"
hockey puck, about 4 meters in diameter and 1 meter in
he says.
height. In space, however, they are much larger.
That is what
"After launch, the spinning spacecraft will unfurl
MMS will do: fly directly into the reconnection zone. The
their electromagnetic sensors, which are at the end of wire
spacecraft are sturdy enough to withstand the energetics of
booms as much as 60 meters long," says Craig Tooley,
reconnection events known to occur in Earth's magnetoMMS Project Manager at Goddard. "When fully extended,
sphere, so there is nothing standing in the way of a full twothe sensors are as wide as a baseball field."
year mission of discovery.
These sprawling, spinning probes will fly in precise
For more information and updates, visit the MMS
formation, as close as 10 km apart and are guided by GPS
home page: www.nasa.gov/mms.
satellites orbiting Earth far below them. "We can maintain
Author: Dr. Tony Phillips,
formation with an accuracy of only 100 meters," says
| Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: [email protected]
Tooley. "This is crucial to our measurements."
Any new physics MMS observes could help
provide clean energy on Earth.
"For many years, researchers have looked to
lifts off atop
fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for our
a United
planet," says Burch. "One approach, magnetic confinement
Alliance Atlas
fusion, has yielded very promising results with devices
V rocket on
such as tokamaks. But there have been problems keeping
March 12,
the plasma contained in the chamber."
2015. Image
"One of the main problems is magnetic
Credit: NASA
reconnection," he continues. "A spectacular result of
reconnection is known as the 'sawtooth crash.' As heat in
Technology in Pasayou attach the prefix
dena, to see what she
"nano" to something, it
usually means "very
"At first I
small." Solar flares
thought the whole idea
appear to be the excepwas crazy," says
Harrison. "Why would
Researchers are
we have the most
studying a type of
sensitive high energy Xexplosion on the sun
ray telescope ever built,
called a 'nanoflare.' A
designed to peer deep
billion times less enerinto the universe, look
getic than ordinary flares,
at something in our own
nanoflares have a power
back yard?"
that belies their name.
Eventually, she
A new ScienceCast video explores the mystery of the sun's tiniest flares.
"A typical
'nanoflare' has the same
Smith explained,
energy as 240 megatons of TNT," says physicist David
NuSTAR has just the right combination of sensitivity and
Smith of UC Santa Cruz. "That would be something like
resolution to study the telltale X-ray flickers of nanoflares. A
10,000 atomic fission bombs."
test image they took in late 2014 removed any doubt.
The sun can go days, weeks or even months
NuSTAR turned toward
without producing an ordinary solar flare. Nanoflares, on
the sun and, working
the other hand, are crackling on the sun almost non-stop.
together with NASA's
"They appear as little brightenings of the solar
Solar Dynamics Obsersurface at extreme ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths,"
vatory, captured one of
continues Smith. "The first sightings go back to Skylab in
the most beautiful images
the 1970s.
in the history of solar
"The relentless crackle of nanoflares might solve a
long-standing mystery in solar physics: What causes the
The next step,
sun's corona to be so hot?
says Smith, is to wait
Imagine standing in front of a roaring fire. You feel
for Solar Minimum. The
the warmth of the flames. Now back away. You get
current solar cycle will
X-rays stream off the sun in this image
cooler, right?
wind down in the years
showing observations from by NASA's
That's not how it works on the sun. The visible
ahead, leaving the sun
Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or
surface of the sun has a temperature of 5500 C. Moving
mostly free of sunspots NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by
away from the surface should provide some relief. Instead, and other magnetic
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
the sun's upper atmosphere, known as the "solar corona,"
clutter that can obscure http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/image/
sizzles at a million degrees--a temperature almost 200
nanoflares. NuSTAR
times higher than that of the roaring furnace below.
will be able to survey the stellar surface and gather data on
For more than a half-century, astronomers have
these explosions like no telescope has done before.
tried to figure out what causes the corona to be so hot.
Will it solve the mystery of nanoflares and the solar
Every year or so, a press release appears purporting to
corona? "I don't know," says Smith, "but I cannot wait to try."
solve the mystery, only to be shot down by a competing
theory a year or so later. It is one of the most vexing
Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips
problems in astrophysics.
| Credit: [email protected]
Smith thinks nanoflares might be involved. For one
thing, they appear to be active throughout the solar cycle,
which would explain why the corona remains hot during
Solar Minimum. And while each individual nanoflare falls
short of the energy required to heat the sun's atmosphere,
collectively they might have no trouble doing to job.
To investigate this possibility, Smith turned to a
telescope designed to study something completely different.
Below To
Launched in 2012, NASA's NuSTAR X-ray telescope is on a mission to study black holes and other
extreme objects in the distant cosmos. Solar scientists first
thought of using NuSTAR to study the sun about seven
years ago, after the space telescope's design and construction was underway. Smith contacted the principal
investigator, Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of
March 19, 2015:
Mission type
Space observatory
Operator NASA / LASP
NASA's Kepler mission team will receive the Smithsonian's National Air and Space
Website kepler.nasa.gov
Museum's highest group honor at a ceremony in Washington on March 25.
Mission duration
Planned: 3.5 years
Elapsed: 6 years and 14 days
March 23, 2015:
The team in charge of NASA's Kepler mission, responsible Spacecraft properties
Ball Aerospace & Technologies
for history's first detection of Earth-sized planets orbiting other suns in their Manufacturer
1,052.4 kg (2,320 lb)
temperate "habitable zone," will receive the Smithsonian National Air and Launch mass
Dry mass 1,040.7 kg (2,294 lb)[1]
Space Museum's highest group honor at a ceremony in Washington on
Payload mass
478 kg (1,054 lb)[1]
March 25. Kepler will receive the 2015 Trophy for Current Achievement,
4.7 m × 2.7 m (15.4 ft × 8.9 ft)
1100 watts[1]
which honors outstanding endeavors in the fields of aerospace science
Start of mission
and technology.
Launch date
March 7, 2009, 03:49:57 UTC
Since its launch in March 2009, the Kepler mission has detected Rocket Delta II (7925-10L)
more than 4,000 candidate planets in orbit around other stars, or exoplanet Launch site
s for short. More than 1,000 of those exoplanet candidates have since beenCape Canaveral, FL
United Launch Alliance
confirmed. These discoveries have revolutionized humanity’s view of Earth’sContractor
Entered service
May 12, 2009, 09:01 UTC
place in the universe by unveiling a whole new side of our Milky Way galaxyOrbital parameters
-- one that is teeming with planets.
Reference system Heliocentric
Regime Earth-trailing
As a result of Kepler’s discoveries, scientists are confident that
most stars have planets and that Earth’s galaxy may host tens of billions Semi-major axis 1.0132 AU
of Earth-sized planets that reside in a distant star's “habitable zone,” the
Perihelion0.97667 AU
region around a star where liquid water might exist on the surface of an
Apohelion1.0498 AU
0.44745 degrees
orbiting planet. The Kepler mission is also establishing a foundation for
future studies of exoplanet atmospheres that could eventually answer the Period 372.53 days
Argument of perihelion
2.9411 degrees
question of whether or not we are alone in the universe.
Mean anomaly
41.177 degrees
The Kepler space telescope infers the existence of an exoplanet, Mean motion
0.96635 deg/day
13, 2015
by measuring
the amount
of starlight
it passes
or transits
The Magnetospheric
or MMS,
mission when
will provide
detailinon aEpoch
the universe
can accelerate
to nearlyorbital
the speed ofMain
Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Duberstein
front ofhappens
its parent
star. From
a planet's
size inupradius,
in Earth years and the amount of heat energy received from the hostDiameter 0.95 m (3.1 ft)
can be
Collecting area
0.708 m2
sq mission.
On March 12, 2015, NASA plans to launch the Magnetospheric
or (7.62
nm surrounding our
prime mission,
of four
will orbit around
through theWavelengths
dynamic magnetic
of more than
150,000 stars
for magnetic
four years,
looking Transponders
planet to the
a little-understood
X band up: 7.8 bps-2 kbps
for the telltale
the presence
an orbiting
by clicking
above toof
more about MMS
-- which
X bandand
10 bps-16 reconnection
2014, on
a newstars
to vicinity
Ka band
Up tostars.
4.3 Mbps
the sun,
in other
and in
of fields along
the ecliptic plane,Multiscale,
the orbitalor
of the
about the
The Magnetospheric
the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth
familiar constellations
the zodiac
lie. This
via anew
known a magnetic reconnection. MMS consists of
with anthat
to search
for even
four identical
work together
to provide
first exoplanets,
three-dimensional view of this fundaasmental
well asprocess,
new opportunities
to observe
star clusters, young and
which occurs
the universe.
old stars, active
and supernovae.
to magnetic space environment,
The mission
in Earth's
data in its new mission.
the magnetosphere.
By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, MMS helps us underFor a full listing
of previous
a video about
stand reconnection
as well,
such as
in the
of the
sun and
stars, in the
vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere
NASA's Ames
and interstellar
space.Research Center in Moffett Field, California, manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA’s
Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball
& Technologies
Laboratory for AtmoLaunch
Space Physics
at the University
Single Engine
Centaur. of Colorado in Boulder.
For more information
Kepler mission,
Launch Site:about
Air Forcevisit:
Florida, Eastern Test Range, LC-41 Launch Pad.
Launch Readiness Date (LRD): March 2015
September 20, 2013:
This was a clear sign
Launched on
that chemical
a clear winter day in
diversity was the
January 2005, NASA's
important factor in a
Deep Impact spacecomet's chemical
craft spanned 268
million miles (431
For many
million kilometers) of
years we have known
deep space in 172
that a handful of
days, then reached out
comets (fewer than
and touched comet
10 percent) produced
Tempel 1. The collision
more water vapor
between the coffee
than should be
table-sized impactor
possible by sublimaand city-sized comet
tion of nucleus of
occurred on July 4,
water ice, in which
2005, at 1:52 a.m.
the sizes of the nuclei
EDT. This hyper-speed
are known. The flyby
collision between
of comet Hartley 2
spaceborne iceberg
showed a large
and copper-fortified,
number of icy grains
rocket-powered probe
in the coma are
was the first of its kind.
driven out of the
It was a boon to not
nucleus by the
only comet science,
outgassing of carbon
but to the study of the
dioxide. These icy
evolution of our solar
grains are plausibly
the source of much of
July 20, 2005: The image depicts the first moments after Deep Impact's probe interfaced with
The mission
the water coming
comet Tempel 1. The illuminated -- and possibly incandescent -- debris is expanding from the
of Deep Impact ws
impact site. The rough-hewn edges at the top and bottom of the flash are a result of light given off from the comet.
supposed to conclude at impact saturating some of the pixels in the camera's imager. The pixels "bleed" excess
Observawithin weeks of this
electronic charge onto adjacent pixels in the same column. This image was taken by Deep
tions of Hartley 2 by
July 4 cometary
Impact's high-resolution camera. image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD
the Deep Impact
smackdown. Then,
spacecraft showed
NASA approved a mission extension, re-enlisting the Deep Impact the importance of carbon-dioxide ice relative to carbon-monoxide
ice in comets, and led to reexamination of all previous observations of
spacecraft for two distinct celestial targets of opportunity. EPOXI,
these two ices in comets. The relative abundances in short-period and
as the mission was renamed, was a combination of the names for
long-period comets imply that the short-period comets formed under
the two extended mission components: the extrasolar planet
warmer conditions than did the long-period comets. Thus, the shortobservations, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characperiod comets must have formed closer to the sun than their longerterization (EPOCh), and the flyby of comet Hartley 2, called the
period brethren. This is contrary to popular belief in the astronomical
Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI).
community (for many decades) that the short-period comets formed in
The Deep Impact spacecraft, history's most traveled
the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune, while the long-period comets formed
deep-space comet hunter, provided many significant results for
in the vicinity of the giant planets. The new model fits well with
the science community. Here are the top five, according to the
measurements by other astronomers of heavy water Hartley 2, and
mission's principal investigator, Michael A'Hearn of the University
with the newest dynamical studies of planetary migration.
of Maryland, College Park.
The excavation of a crater on Tempel 1 was the trigger
Studies of imagery showed that that the luminous flash
that allowed the proposal for the Stardust NExT mission to
created within a fraction of a second after Deep Impact's impactor
succeed. In addition to searching for the crater formed by Deep
was atomized by comet Tempel 1 was much fainter than exImpact, a key goal of that Stardust-NExT mission was to measure
pected. Comparison with experimental impacts at the Vertical
changes in the surface of the comet over an orbital period. This
Gun Range at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field,
second set of measurements of Tempel 1 surface features
Calif., showed that such a faint flash was consistent only with a
showed that much of the evolution was in discrete, large areas,
surface layer (depth a few times the diameter of the impactor) that
i.e., there was not a small, uniform erosion of the all parts of the
was more than 75 percent empty space. This surprisingly high
surface, but rather large changes in a few places. Thus, comets
porosity was in contrast with theories that predicted comets were
evolve in a manner anaologous to erosion – most erosion takes
armored with a stronger, solid crust that impeded outgassing.
place in discrete events (floods that make large, local changes)
Observations of comet Tempel 1 by Deep Impact's
rather than as a slow, continuous process.
spectrometer instrument showed that water was arising prima-rily
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in
at longitudes near noon and peaking near the equator, whereas
Pasadena, manages the Deep Impact mission for NASA's Science
most of the carbon dioxide was arising from far southern latitudes,
Mission Directorate, Washington. The mission is part of the Discovery
not too far from comet Tempel 1's south pole. This could be due
Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsto seasonal effects (southern hemisphere just going into winter
ville, Ala. The University of Maryland, College Park, is home to Michael
darkness) or due to differences in the chemical composition in
A'Hearn, principal investigator for Deep Impact. The spacecraft was built
different parts of the nucleus. During the mission extension, the
for NASA by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.
EPOXI observations of comet Hartley 2 showed that the comet's
For more information about Deep Impact, visit:
smooth waist was emitting pure water, while the small end was
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/deepimpact .
emitting excess carbon dioxide, regardless of the time of day.
N A S A’ S S D O S E E S T W O C O R O N A L H O L E S
This image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 16, 2015, shows two dark spots, called coronal holes.
The lower coronal hole was one of the biggest observed in decades. Image Credit: NASA/SDO
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, captured this solar image on March 16, 2015, which
March 17, 2015:
clearly shows two dark patches, known as coronal holes. The larger coronal hole of the two, near the southern pole,
covers an estimated 6- to 8-percent of the total solar surface. While that may not sound significant, it is one of the largest
polar holes scientists have observed in decades. The smaller coronal hole, towards the opposite pole, is long and narrow.
It covers about 3.8 billion square miles on the sun - only about 0.16-percent of the solar surface.
Coronal holes are lower density and temperature regions of the sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona.
Coronal holes can be a source of fast solar wind of solar particles that envelop the Earth.
The magnetic field in these regions extends far out into space rather than quickly looping back into the sun’s
surface. Magnetic fields that loop up and back down to the surface can be seen as arcs in non-coronal hole regions of the
image, including over the lower right horizon.
The bright active region on the lower right quadrant is the same region that produced solar flares last week.
Related Links: http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/sun-emits-significant-solar-flare-X2.2-20150311/
Credit: Clare Skelly, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD; www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/home/index.html
The 7-by-6-foot Dynamic Sun Video Wall shows full sun observations captured the previous day, space-weather information
and scientific explanations of solar features. The high-resolution images help visitors
better understand the complexities of the sun’s behavior. Image Credit: Eric Long, Smithsonian Institution
Eye doctors say it is never safe to look at the sun with the naked eye. Warning: Future visitors to the
National Air and Space Museum might not be able to resist.
"The museum's new Dynamic Sun Video Wall will show pictures of the sun that are guaranteed to make you
stare," says Lika Guhathakurta of NASA's Heliophysics Division at NASA HQ. "And it's perfectly safe.”
The pictures come from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), an orbiting telescope that researchers have
called a 'Hubble for the Sun.' Using specialized filters to cut through the glare, SDO routinely takes super-high-definition
(HD) photographs of solar flares, erupting magnetic filaments, and "solar tsunamis" big enough to engulf our planet 100
times over. No previous observatory has been able to observe the whole sun with such depth or clarity.
Launched in 2010, SDO recently beamed its one-hundred millionth image to Earth. The prolific observatory is the
first mission of NASA's Living with a Star (LWS) program. The goal of LWS is to understand the sun as a magnetic
variable star and to measure its impact on life and society on Earth and the solar system.
Unveiled for public viewing on March 18th, the 7 by 6 ft. video wall shows full sun recordings captured by SDO
the previous day. Only such a large screen could do justice to the high-resolution images. SDO takes ten images of the
differing layers of the sun's atmosphere every 12 seconds with an image size of 4096 x 4096 pixels. By comparison, a
high-definition TV can only display 1920 x 1080 pixels. The museum's outsized video screen will not only amaze visitors,
but also demonstrate to them why super-HD images are required to study, understand, and predict solar behavior. ““The
sun is stunning in its complexity and beauty. We study it everyday, and we never cease to be amazed,” say Smithsonian
astrophysicists Mark Weber and Trae Winter, the project's co-leads. “We wanted to bring a new understanding of our
home star to a wider audience.”
Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin, the principal investigator for SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, says,
"we use tremendous computing power to visualize the data from SDO, to understand the Sun's ever-changing magnetism
and the solar storms that it powers. That's important because the sun's behavior can disrupt and damage satellites and
power grids."
That computing power will be on full display from now on at the National Air and Space Museum building on the
National Mall in Washington, D.C., located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W., the museum is open from 10
a.m. until 5:30 p.m. every day (closed Dec. 25).
Members of the public are invited to come and see the Dynamic Sun Video Wall. Staring is encouraged.
March 18, 2015:
of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
February 12, 2015
This is the first installment in a four-part series of conversations with Paul Geithner, deputy project manager, technical, for the James
Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,
Maryland, about different aspects of the Webb.
The Webb telescope is a showcase for new technologies. Recently
Paul Geithner provided a closer look at the technologies on the observatory.
Q: The Webb telescope seems to have a lot of unique technologies on board. Can you explain what they are?
Paul: Sure. The Webb telescope features many novel technologies
that make it feasible. Among these are large, lightweight, deployable structures
and optics; software and mechanisms needed to control the segmented mirrors; and ultra-sensitive infrared light detectors. Webb is breaking the mold in
terms of its size; it will be the largest space telescope. The scale of its deploy
ment in space, and scope of its very cold, a.k.a. cryogenic, telescope and scientific instruments.
August 2013 James Webb Space Telescope
mural image. (Artist's impression.) Image
Credit: Northrop Grumman
Q: What are the four main parts of the Webb?
Paul: The Webb observatory has four main 'elements' –the telescope, the instrument module, the sunshield and
the spacecraft bus.
Artist concept
Q: What is the primary mirror and why does
it haveofto
be so large?
Image Credit: Lockheed Martin
With eyes to the future of improved weather forecasting, the team behind NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series will launch its first satellite, GOES-R, one year from now in March 2016.
GOES-R will be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on board an Atlas V rocket
into geosynchronous orbit where it will have a view of the Western Hemisphere from 22,000 miles above the Earth. In
this position, the satellite is poised to capture near-real-time observations of weather across the United States and the
surrounding oceans.
The new observation capabilities that GOES-R will offer are in high demand. Once the satellite is on orbit, it will
be operational throughout the typical checkout and validation phase. That means data will be available sooner for input
into models and other tools used by NOAA’s National Weather Service meteorologists.
What goes into building and launching a satellite? Go behind the scenes in this animated video. View images of
the satellite under construction on NOAA Satellites' Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/noaasatellites/sets/.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites – R Series (GOES-R) is the next generation of geostationary Earth-observing systems. The GOES-R program is a collaborative development and acquisition effort between
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA.
March 16, 2015:
Related Links:
Related story: Top 5 Reasons Why NOAA’s GOES-R Satellite Matters http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/top-5-reasons-why-noaa-s-goes-r-satellite-matters/#.VQ2QwfzF9Nc
GOES-R website - http://www.goes-r.gov/
NASA’s GOES Program website - http://www.nasa.gov/goes/
NOAA’s GOES Program website - http://www.goes.noaa.gov/
Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, Maryland
NASA's C-130 aircraft getting readied for pressurization tests on March16, 2015 at Wallops Flight Facility, during preparation for the Arctic 2015
Operation IceBridge field campaign. The mission¹s usual research aircraft in the Arctic, a P-3, is currently getting new wings.Science flights
begin this week as the mission studies Arctic sea ice, ice caps, glaciers, and the Greenland Ice Sheet Image Credit: NASA/Jefferson Beck
March 20, 2015:
NASA's Operation IceBridge, an airborne survey of polar ice, successfully completed its first Greenland
research flight of 2015 on March 19, thus launching its seventh Arctic campaign. This year’s science flights over Arctic
sea and land ice will continue until May 22.
The mission of Operation IceBridge is to collect data on changing polar land and sea ice and maintain continuity
of measurements between NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) missions. The original ICESat
mission ended in 2009, and its successor, ICESat-2, is scheduled for launch in 2017. Operation IceBridge, which began
in in 2009, is currently funded until 2019. The planned two-year overlap with ICESat-2 will help scientists validate the
satellite’s measurements.
The extensive data IceBridge has gathered over the Greenland ice sheet during its six years of operations have
provided an improved picture of the surface, the bed and the internal structures of Greenland’s ice sheet and allowed
scientists to create more accurate models of glacier contribution to sea level rise. As for sea ice, IceBridge’s measurements of the thickness of sea ice and its snow cover have assisted in improving forecasts for summertime melt, enhanced
the understanding of variations in ice thickness distribution from year to year, and updated the climatology of the snow
depth over sea ice.
The first part of the Arctic campaign, based in the Thule Air Base in northern Greenland and including a short
deployment to Fairbanks, Alaska, will focus on the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland and in the Beaufort and
Chukchi Seas north of Alaska.
“As far as the sea ice flight lines go in the Arctic this year, the new thing is that we’re not changing things this
year,” said Jackie Richter-Menge, IceBridge science team co-lead and sea ice researcher with the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H. “We’ve achieved a pattern of survey
flights that is doing its job: it provides good insight into what the thickness distribution of the Arctic cover looks like in the
Western Arctic, late in the winter season. This coverage is good both for modelers that are looking to do a prediction of
the seasonal extent of the ice cover through the following summer and it also pays a nice complement to the satellite
coverage that we’re getting from ESA’s [European Space Agency] CryoSat-2 satellite.”
This year, one of IceBridge’s radar instruments, the Multi-Channel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder (MCoRDS),
which is operated by the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, will
try for the first time to take direct measurements of sea ice thickness. Thickness is a key indicator of Arctic sea ice’s
likelihood to survive the summer melt season, but remote measurements of this characteristic are largely indirect.
“It would really be a wonderful thing to get direct measurements of sea ice thickness because what we have now
is an inferred measurement based on how much sea ice is floating above open water”, Richter-Menge said. “Direct
measurements would increase the level of certainty in the data.” (Continued on Following Page)
Operation IceBridge (Continued from Preceeding Page)
The second part of the Operation IceBridge’s 2015 Arctic campaign will be based in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland,
and it will focus on surveying ice surface elevation and thickness at several rapidly changing points of the Greenland ice
sheet. Afterward, the team will return to Thule for the last phase of the field campaign.
This year, four areas have been added to the list of Operation IceBridge’s high priority missions. Among these
are the Zachariae Isstrom glacier in northeast Greenland and its neighbor to the north, the 79 N or Nioghalvfjerdsbrae
glacier. Both of these rivers of ice have rapidly increased the rates in which they drain land ice to the ocean in the past
“That part of Greenland is changing very rapidly and corresponds to a basin below sea level pretty far inland,”
said Eric Rignot, IceBridge science team co-lead and glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine and NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “It’s a sector that we’re paying close attention to because it has the
potential to change rapidly and it could have a significant implication for sea level rise in the coming decades.”
“As we do every year, we are sampling the four corners of Greenland and the interior regions to complete a
rather extensive survey of the ice sheet,” Rignot said. “Recent results have shown that this type of survey is good enough
to keep track of the total mass loss of the ice sheet from year to year, and also to get details on glaciers that are key
players in driving the mass loss to higher values every year.”
Operation IceBridge is using a different research aircraft this year, an adapted C-130 Hercules former military plane. The
mission’s usual ride in the Arctic, a P-3, is getting new wings. Despite both planes having similar sizes and capabilities,
mounting IceBridge’s array of lasers and radars on an unfamiliar fuselage doesn’t come without challenges.
“Any time we install our very extensive suite of sensors, they have to be integrated in the aircraft, which means
mechanically mounted in good, stiff mounts, and the radar antennas have to be embedded within the fuselage so that
they function adequately without requiring time-consuming aerodynamic modifications to the aircraft,” said John Sonntag,
Operation IceBridge’s Field Team Lead. “It takes a lot of time and mechanical work to get the sensors mounted on the
aircraft and to get the electrical interfaces with the crew and the cockpit”.
As in previous years, Operation IceBridge will be collaborating with several international research initiatives. In
Barrow, Alaska, the C-130 will overfly a sea ice experiment by the Naval Research Laboratory. In a remote outpost in the
northeastern Greenland coast, IceBridge will take measurements overlapping those taken from the ground by researchers from the University of Manitoba, Canada. And, weather permitting, NASA’s airborne polar laboratory will fly over a
drifting sea ice station in the Fram Strait, a passage between Greenland and Svalbard that is the primary region of sea
ice export from the Arctic.
“The purpose of our cooperations with other research groups is to understand our own instruments better by
comparison to the measurements they’re collecting on the ground, primarily snow depth and sea ice thickness,” Sonntag
said. “ We use their detailed measurements collected on the ground to better understand the geographically much wider,
but in some cases less detailed measurements we take from the air.”
The IceBridge project science office is based at Goddard. The C-130 research aircraft is based at NASA’s
Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. For more about Operation IceBridge and to follow this year's campaign, visit:
Credit: Maria-Jose Vinas Garcia
[email protected]
NASA ORION Program Manager Visits Goddard
On Dec. 5, 2014, NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the
vehicle that will send astronauts to deep space destinations,
underwent a rigorous uncrewed flight test that was supported
by various teams at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Maryland.
March 20, 2015:
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, Orion Program Manager
Mark Geyer of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, visited
NASA Goddard to meet and thank the teams for their efforts.
Geyer also had an opportunity to see some of Goddard’s other
current programs such as the James Webb Space Telescope
and the Satellite Servicing Robotics Laboratory.
As part of Geyer’s visit to Goddard, a media opportunity for
reporters to speak with him wss planned.
Orion splashes down in the Pacific after a flawless test flight
Most kids’ eyes light up when I say, ‘your cell phone service could
be interrupted because of solar activity,’” said Troy Cline.
Space weather, such as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, which are large
outbursts on the sun, can affect Earth’s magnetic field. A change in Earth’s magnetic
field may cause current surges in power lines that can lead to power failures.
Cline, who is the education and public outreach mission lead for Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, and the NASA Goddard Education Office work with
organizations such as the International Society of Technology and Education to
schedule workshops and programs in different states and school districts. These
workshops feature the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, components of the MMS mission, as well as heliophysics
in general.
Full-size, Student-built model of one of four
The MMS mission uses four identical spacecraft and Earth’s magnetosphere Magnetosphere Multiscale mission spacecraft
on display at NASA's Goddard Space Flight
to study processes in space such as magnetic reconnection. To engage students in
Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
the mission, including processes they can’t actually see, Cline simplifies concepts
Image Credit: NASA/ Bill Hrybyk
and uses keywords and analogies to capture their attention. He explains coronal
mass ejections as solar explosions and compares the size of each MMS spacecraft to a small car. “Kids like to hear about
rockets, jets and explosions,” Cline said.
Research shows many middle school-aged kids lose interest in science and math. One of the education and public
outreach goals is to maintain their interest in these subjects. “It’s vital to instill passion in kids by talking about how NASA
researches and explores the environment around us and in space,” said Cline.
Standard school visits and assemblies include looking at current images of the sun, sunspots and magnetic fields.
Hands-on activities can include learning with magnaprobes or building scale paper models of MMS observatories and launch
vehicles. Cline also stresses the importance of pursuing careers in STEM subjects. He includes the arts in his pitch, sharing how
NASA hires people to create digital art and schematics, among other things.
After liaising with Cline, some educators choose to make MMS a larger part of their curriculum. For example, more than
60 students from the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, voluntarily completed STEM and art projects
based on the MMS mission and magnetism. The students presented their projects at a community MMS pre-launch party that
attracted more than 350 people, educating their parents and peers about the MMS mission.
Jennifer Miller, Carroll Independent School District’s instructional technologist and Ph.D. student at University of North
Texas, created a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, or STEAM, camp. The camp incorporated a NASA
MMS challenge curriculum. This challenge required students to choose a career and approach potential mission roadblocks
from the perspective of that career.
“It is exciting to see not only students but also teachers make connections on how topics surrounding NASA missions
and careers connect to curriculum using real world events and scenarios,” Miller said.
Carol Coryea, a science teacher at Paw Paw Schools in West Virginia, learned about the MMS mission in 2012 while
taking a class at the NASA Educator Resource Center, ERC, in Fairmont, West Virginia. Coryea started using iPads to teach her
seventh-grade students about solar weather.
Coryea didn’t stop there. She spent two years learning more about the MMS mission and teaching it to her students.
Coryea visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, multiple times, both with and without her students.
Coryea said she noticed the “intriguing style” of the MMS spacecraft and started thinking about making models in the classroom.
Her initial popsicle-stick-and-glue assignment idea quickly evolved into a much larger project.
Coryea and her technology education counterpart, Chris Poniris, applied for and secured a grant to build a to scale
model of one MMS satellite. Paw Paw, the second smallest school in West Virginia, set out to complete a large project. Sevenththrough 12th-grade students worked on the project three days a week for eight months, fabricating materials and creating an
exceptional final product. The model was on display last fall at Goddard. This spring the model will be on display at the Clay
Center for Arts and Sciences in Charleston, West Virginia.
“This project has made a lasting impression on many students,” Coryea said. She believes her school has a great story
to tell. Paw Paw, a K-12 school, has a high poverty rate and 100-percent free or reduced lunch program, meaning all of its
students receive food subsidies while on campus. Coryea believes the project became a high point of the community. Simultaneously, she noticed her students begin to more seriously think about higher education.
Coryea said the project challenged her students and gave them a better idea about possibilities for their futures. One of
Coryea’s students who visited Goddard’s robotics lab now talks about wanting a career in robotics. “Before last October, that
wasn’t the case,” Coryea said.
Coryea has seen shy students become engaging speakers about the project and MMS mission. For Paw Paw, the
project results are greater than just the model itself.
Miller and Coryea both traveled to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, with groups of students
to participate in a series of student led activities and watch MMS launch aboard an Atlas V rocket on March 12, 2015.
“When you ask scientists and engineers, ‘what inspired you,’ you’ll often get answers that refer to an event in middle or
high school. That event guided the trajectory of what they did with their lives,” Cline said. “We’re hoping by talking passionately
about the mission and NASA we encourage kids to pursue careers that capture their interests in middle school.”
March 16, 2015:
Credit: Clare Skelly, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
March 13, 2015:
Following a successful launch at 10:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, NASA’s four Magnetospheric
Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft are
positioned in Earth’s orbit to begin the
first space mission dedicated to the
study of a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. This process is
thought to be the catalyst for some of
the most powerful explosions in our
Artist's concept of the MMS observatory fleet
As an Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch
solar system.
with rainbow magnetic lines Image Credit: NASA
Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force
The spacecraft, positioned
Station in the background, the launch can also
of the other on a United
be seen on the countdown clock at the Kennedy
Atlas V 421 rocket,
Space Center's Press Site. The rocket is
carrying NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale, or
launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. After reaching orbit,
MMS, spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/Frankie Martin
each spacecraft deployed from the rocket’s upper stage sequentially, in fivehttp://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/
minute increments, beginning at 12:16 a.m. Friday, with the last separation
occurring at 12:31 a.m. NASA scientists and engineers were able to confirm the
health of all separated spacecraft at 12:40 a.m.
"I am speaking for the entire MMS team when I say we’re thrilled to see all four of our spacecraft have deployed
and data indicates we have a healthy fleet,” said Craig Tooley, project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Over the next several weeks, NASA scientists and engineers will deploy booms and antennas on the spacecraft,
and test all instruments. The observatories will later be placed into a pyramid formation in preparation for science observations, which are expected to begin in early September.
“After a decade of planning and engineering, the science team is ready to go to work,” said Jim Burch, principal
investigator for the MMS instrument suite science team at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio (SwRI).
“We’ve never had this type of opportunity to study this fundamental process in such detail.”
The mission will provide the first three-dimensional views of reconnection occurring in Earth's protective magnetic
space environment, the magnetosphere. Magnetic reconnection occurs when magnetic fields connect, disconnect, and
reconfigure explosively, releasing bursts of energy that can reach the order of billions of megatons of trinitrotoluene
launches from
Force Station
on Feb.
11, 2015.
will of light.
(commonly known
as TNT).
the speed
provide NOAA space weather forecasters more reliable measurements of solar wind conditions, improving their
the mission
not solar
help them
magnetic reconnection, but also will
to monitor
provide insight into
these powerful events, which can disrupt modern technological systems such as communications
networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.
By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, scientists can understand the process elsewhere, such
as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary
between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space.
The spacecraft will fly in a tight formation through regions of reconnection activity. Using sensors designed to
measure the space environment at rates100 times faster than any previous mission.
“MMS is a crucial next step in advancing the science of magnetic reconnection – and no mission has ever observed this fundamental process with such detail,” said Jeff Newmark, interim director for NASA’s Heliophysics Division at
the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “The depth and detail of our knowledge is going to grow by leaps and bounds,
in ways that no one can yet predict.”
MMS is the fourth mission in the NASA Solar Terrestrial Probes Program. Goddard built, integrated and tested the
four MMS spacecraft and is responsible for overall mission management and operations. The principal investigator for the
MMS instrument suite science team is based at the SwRI. Science operations planning and instrument commanding are
performed at the MMS Science Operations Center at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and
Space Physics. ??
More information about the MMS mission is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/mms.
Dwayne Brown, Headquarters, Washington,
202-358-1726, [email protected]
Susan Hendrix, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.,
301-286-7745, [email protected]
New measurements by
spacecraft will
advance our understanding of how living
marine resources
respond to a changing
climate. NASA
pioneered the field of
global ocean color
observations with the
SeaWIFS satellite
sensor from 1997 to
2010. Image Credit: NASA
NASA is beginning work on a new satellite mission that will extend critical climate measurements of Earth’s oceans
and atmosphere and advance studies of the impact of environmental changes on ocean health, fisheries and the carbon cycle.
Tentatively scheduled to launch in 2022, the Pre-Aerosol Clouds and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission will study Earth’s
aquatic ecology and chemistry, and address the uncertainty in our understanding of how clouds and small airborne particles called
aerosols affect Earth’s climate. PACE will be managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“Knowing more about global phytoplankton community composition will help us understand how living marine resources
respond to a changing climate,” said Jeremy Werdell, PACE project scientist at Goddard. “With PACE, we will learn more about
the role of marine phytoplankton in the global carbon cycle.”
NASA has long used satellites to observe the global ocean’s microscopic algal communities, which play a significant
role in the ocean’s ecology and the global carbon cycle. PACE will provide a global view of the planet's microscopic ocean algae
called phytoplankton. Phytoplankton live in the sunlit upper layer of the ocean, producing at least half of the oxygen on Earth
and form the base of the marine food chain.
Goddard will build PACE’s ocean color instrument. This PACE sensor will allow scientists to see the colors of the ocean,
from the ultraviolet to near infrared, and obtain more accurate measurements of biological and chemical ocean properties, such
as phytoplankton biomass and the composition of phytoplankton communities. These changes in the ocean’s color help identify
harmful algal blooms.
Quantifying phytoplankton is essential for understanding the carbon cycle and tracking climate variability and change.
The ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide into solution at the sea surface. Like land plants, phytoplankton use carbon
dioxide to create their organic biomass via photosynthesis. Phytoplankton vary greatly in their size, function, and response to
environmental and ecosystem changes or stresses such as ocean acidification.
Dissolved carbon dioxide also reacts with seawater and alters its acidity. About one fourth of human-made carbon
dioxide ends up in the ocean.
"NASA Goddard pioneered ocean color remote sensing 35 years ago with the very first satellite observations, and the
Center has been committed to supporting the science ever since," said Piers Sellers, deputy director of NASA Goddard Earth
Science. "Goddard scientists play a critical role in generating and improving core satellite data sets for the international ocean
biology community. We look forward to extending this important record into the future with PACE."
In addition to gathering data on ocean color, PACE will measure clouds and tiny airborne particles like dust, smoke and
aerosols in the atmosphere to supplement measurements from existing NASA satellite missions. These measurements are
critical for understanding the flow of natural and human made aerosols in the environment. Aerosols affect how energy moves in
and out of Earth’s atmosphere directly by scattering sunlight, and indirectly by changing the composition of clouds. Aerosols also
can affect the formation of precipitation in clouds and change rainfall patterns.
The blend of atmospheric and oceanic observations from PACE is critical as ocean biology is affected by aerosols
deposited onto the ocean, which in turn, produce aerosol precursors that influence atmospheric composition and climate. NASA
is currently planning a second PACE instrument, a polarimeter, to better measure aerosol and cloud properties. These measurements will improve understanding of the roles of aerosols in the climate system.
Goddard's proof-of-concept sensor for measuring ocean color — the Coastal Zone Color Scanner that flew on the
Nimbus-7 satellite from 1978 to 1986 — was the first sensor to demonstrate phytoplankton biomass could be quantified from
space. The Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor or SeaWiFS mission collected data from 1997 to 2010 and was the first
mission dedicated to routinely observe ocean biology, chemistry, and ecology for long-term climate research. Currently, researchers employ the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer that flies aboard both NASA’s Terra and Aqua spacecraft, and the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership
satellite, to measure biological and chemical properties of the ocean, as well as aerosol and cloud properties.
NASA capped the costs for PACE at $805 million, to cover the spacecraft, mission design and engineering, science,
instruments, launch vehicle, data processing, and operations.
For more information about PACE, visit: http://decadal.gsfc.nasa.gov/pace.html
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard
our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency
freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.
For more information on NASA’s Earth science activities, visit: www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow
March 13, 2015:
In this artist’s concept,
the moon Ganymede
orbits the giant planet
Jupiter. NASA’s
Hubble Space
Telescope observed
aurorae on the moon
generated by
Ganymede’s magnetic
fields. A saline ocean
under the moon’s icy
crust best explains
shifting in the auroral
belts measured by
Hubble. Image Credit:
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has the best evidence yet for an underground saltwater ocean on Ganymede,
Jupiter’s largest moon. The subterranean
ocean is thought to have more water than all
the water on Earth's surface.
Identifying liquid water is crucial in the
search for habitable worlds beyond Earth and
for the search of life as we know it.
“This discovery marks a significant
milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can
accomplish,” said John Grunsfeld, associate
administrator of NASA’s Science Mission
Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. A deep ocean under
the icy crust of Ganymede opens up further exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth.”
Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field. The magnetic
field causes aurorae, which are ribbons of glowing, hot electrified gas, in regions circling the north and south poles of the
moon. Because Ganymede is close to Jupiter, it is also embedded in Jupiter’s magnetic field. When Jupiter’s magnetic
field changes, the aurorae on Ganymede also change, “rocking” back and forth.
By watching the rocking motion of the two aurorae, scientists were able to determine that a large amount of
saltwater exists beneath Ganymede’s crust affecting its magnetic field.
A team of scientists led by Joachim Saur of the University of Cologne in Germany came up with the idea of using
Hubble to learn more about the inside of the moon.
"I was always brainstorming how we could use a telescope in other ways," said Saur. "Is there a way you could
use a telescope to look inside a planetary body? Then I thought, the aurorae! Because aurorae are controlled by the
magnetic field, if you observe the aurorae in an appropriate way, you learn something about the magnetic field. If you
know the magnetic field, then you know something about the moon’s interior."
If a saltwater ocean were present, Jupiter’s magnetic field would create a secondary magnetic field in the ocean
that would counter Jupiter’s field. This “magnetic friction” would suppress the rocking of the aurorae. This ocean fights
Jupiter's magnetic field so strongly that it reduces the rocking of the aurorae to 2 degrees, instead of the 6 degrees, if the
ocean was not present.
Scientists estimate the ocean is 60 miles (100 kilometers) thick – 10 times deeper than Earth's oceans – and is
buried under a 95-mile (150-kilometer) crust of mostly ice.
Scientists first suspected an ocean in Ganymede in the 1970s, based on
models of the large moon. NASA's Galileo mission measured Ganymede's
magnetic field in 2002, providing the first evidence supporting those suspicions.
The Galileo spacecraft took brief "snapshot" measurements of the magnetic field
in 20-minute intervals, but its observations were too brief to distinctly catch the
cyclical rocking of the ocean’s secondary magnetic field.
The new observations were done in ultraviolet light and could only be
accomplished with a space telescope high above the Earth's atmosphere, which
blocks most ultraviolet light.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating 25 years of groundbreaking science on April 24. It has transformed our understanding of our solar
system and beyond, and helped us find our place among the stars. To join the
conversation about 25 years of Hubble discoveries, use the hashtag #Hubble25.
Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA
(European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of
Ganymede's auroral belts (colored blue in this
Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute
illustration) are overlaid on a Galileo orbiter
(STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is
image of the moon. The amount of rocking of
operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the moon's magnetic field suggests that the
Inc., in Washington.
moon has a subsurface saltwater ocean.
Image Credit: NASA/ESA
For images and more information about Hubble, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/hubble and http://hubblesite.org/news/2015/09
Felicia Chou, Headquarters, Washington, 202-358-0257, [email protected]
March 12, 2015:
Ann Jenkins / Ray Villard, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.,
410-338-4488 / 410-338-4514, [email protected] / [email protected]
The DAS owns and maintains The Sawin Observatory on the grounds of the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Observatory.
The Sawin Observatory houses the club’s equatorially mounted 12.5" reflecting telescope. The Sawin is also currently
home base for our 17.5" split-tube Dobsonian telescope.
DAS members can obtain a key for access to the Sawin Observatory by being checked out on these telescopes
and the use of the observatory. Naturally, all DAS members are invited to look through these telescopes during our
Member Star Parties (MSPs) at the Sawin. DAS members who are interested in becoming key holders of the Sawin
Observatory should contact Greg Lee to receive training in the use of the facility and the telescopes.
80 mm Celestron Refractor (on loan from Bill McKibben)
The club currently has on loan from our Secretary, Bill McKibben, an 80 mm Celestron Refractor with a
Nextar GOTO mount. Contact Bill McKibben if you would like to give this scope a try.
6” Orion Dobsonian Telescope
We have a 6" Orion Sky-Quest XT6 Dobsonian reflector, complete with eyepiece set, available for loan to members. You can keep the telescope out on loan for a month or more. However, we use this telescope heavily for outreach
star parties at the Woodside Farm Creamery, so if you have it on loan from April through October you may be asked to
bring it out to one or more of these events.
Meade 8” LX-10 Telescope
We also have an 8” Meade LX-10 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) available for loan. This telescope is
equipped with an equatorial wedge and is driven in Right-Ascension only. If you have any thoughts about buying a
telescope, especially an SCT, you are strongly advised to take this one out on loan so you can learn the advantages and
disadvantages of this design.
Barlowed Laser Collimator Toolset
Also available for loan to DAS members is Howie Glatter’s version of the Barlowed Laser Colimator. This is
actually made up of a set of three very nice tools: 1) a 1.25” Glatter laser collimator (which is useful on its own for collimating the secondary mirror); 2) a 1.25” “TuBlug”, which converts the straight beam laser collimator into a “Barlowed”
laser collimator, complete with a target screen that’s visible from the back end of your Newtonian telescope; and 3) an
Orion 2” to 1.25” centering adapter for use with 2” focusers.
Along with the center donut or triangle on your Newtonian primary mirror, a Barlowed laser collimator is a very
accurate and incredibly easy way to collimate your Newtonian or Dobsonian telescope. It may sound complicated, but
using the Barlowed laser collimator is incredibly quick and easy compared to earlier generations of collimation tools. As
one person noted “It’s one of the handiest and most useful tools the club has ever offered for loan to the membership!”
Obviously, no one DAS member can keep these collimation tools out on loan forever, but borrowing this set of tools is a
great way to become familiar with the new “Barlowed Laser Collimator” approach to collimation without having to buy the
tool set sight unseen.
If you’re interested in borrowing any of the club’s loaner telescopes or other items, please contact Bill Hanagan,
Jeff Lawrence, or Greg Lee at one of our monthly meetings.
Don Shedrick
This is a restricted e-mail service for use by DAS members
for DAS purposes. To use this site, go to http://groups.yahoo.com;
search for Delaware Astronomical Society; and click on the link that
comes up. To join, you must have a Yahoo ID and password; if you
don’t, you can register at this time by following Yahoo’s instructions.
You will then be allowed to “Join the group” upon clicking in that box.
You must then register for the DAS group and add your profile by
clicking on “add new profile” and completing the form
When adding or editing your profile, you will need to enter your actual
name in the “Real Name” box so you can be identified as a DAS
member so Don Shedrick can approve your application to join the DAS
group, and everyone will know to whom they are communicating.
Finally, specify your desired email address for
delivery of messages. Note: You may choose to not have your
name and email address displayed to any-one other than DAS
members who are members of the Yahoo DAS email group.
For more detailed instructions, go to the DAS
website under DAS Resource Links.
Messier 45, The Pleiades
of the
Image Credit: DAS
Member Willis Greiner, Jr.
Image obtained
3-15-2015 through
RVO's Megrez
80mm refractor
with Orion fieldflattener lens,
using a Baadermodified Canon
XSi DSLR and
software -- 12
selected and
stacked 300second luminance
frames combined
with multiple dark,
flat and bias
calibration frames
shot at ISO 1600
and totaling more
than 160 minutes
(60 minutes
effective luminance) were used
to create this
image; optics
driven by the
Losmandy G-11 mount equipped with Ovision's precision RA worm gear, guided with an Orion SSG3 Monochrome CCD
camera using Maxim DL Pro and post-processed with DeepSkyStacker and Photoshop CS3.
of the
A Learning Center
for Young
Information and online
movies related to the solar
system and space exploration
for children in grades K to 8. A
service of the High Energy
Astrophysics Science Archive
Research Center at NASA.
Bill Hanagan
The DAS astro-photography special interest group (DAS
\ AP-SIG) meets monthly at Mt. Cuba and at our members’ homes. The AP SIG sometimes meets regardless of the weather, but some meetings are planned around specific
imaging demonstrations and are “Flex-Scheduled” using email on 1-2 day notice to synchronize with the weather. APSIG meetings are regularly announced via the DAS Yahoo Group as well as by email to AP-SIG members. See the
sidebar for a brief rundown on how to get started taking astro-photos. To join the AP-SIG, send me an email at
[email protected] with your name, address, and phone number and tell me that you want to join the AP-SIG.
AP-SIG meetings are informal and typically include the presentation of astrophotos taken by the members along
with an extended question and answer period. The topics discussed during our Q&A sessions have covered the entire
gamut of astrophotography, from how to get started with a minimum of equipment, to polar aligning your telescope, to the
fine points of using auto-guiders and post-processing digital images.
In addition, we often have special presentations on topics of particular interest at the time. For example, we’ve
had special presentation on the ways a telescope can be polar aligned, the nature of various noise sources in electronic
detectors including CCD cameras, how to make high dynamic range (HDR) photos, and how to photograph many different particular subjects, including: aurora, lunar eclipses, meteors, and the planets.
Even if you aren’t an AP-SIG member, you’re welcome to attend the AP-SIG meetings to learn more.
The next meeting of the AP-SIG is tentatively scheduled for April 24 or 25 at 8:00 PM at MCAO. The specific date
will be announced a day or two ahead of the meeting via DAS Yahoo Group email. This time around, the special topic will
be Auto-Guiding for deep sky imaging.
On How to Get Started in Astro-Photography
Bill Hanagan
You can get started in astrophotography with your current camera mounted on a tripod by taking wide field
photographs of meteor showers, conjunctions, constellations, and star trails. Mounting your camera “piggyback” on a
motorized telescope that tracks the movement of the stars allows you to photograph a few more subjects, mostly large
and bright nebulas and comets. At this level, some smaller subjects may benefit from the use of a telephoto lens. As you
move to progressively fainter and smaller subjects, the demands on your equipment will grow considerably. However, as
you improve your equipment, the number of subjects that you can photograph will also increase exponentially.
Joining the AP SIG is a great way to learn what equipment you’ll need to photograph the subjects that interest
you and to find out what specific equipment works well (or doesn’t work) before you spend your money.
Bill Hanagan
The DAS Amateur Telescope Making (ATM) Special Interest Group (SIG) is made up of DAS members who get
together to work on their own as well as club related telescope making projects. The ATM SIG meets at times and
locations appropriate for whatever projects are currently underway.
The general range of activities of the ATM SIG includes all manner of telescope making including Newtonian
mirror making, the testing of complete telescopes as well as individual optics, and the making of telescope accessories.
In the past, we’ve made several Newtonian telescope mirrors from scratch and completed some that members brought in
as works in progress, including one that was started in the mid-60’s! We’ve also made new telescope tubes, made
secondary mirror holders, tested numerous telescope objectives, manufactured spiders, and made many solar filters for
telescopes and binoculars. We recently completed the refiguring of the DAS 17.5” Newtonian mirror.
Anyone interested in joining the ATM SIG should email their name, address, and phone number to me at
[email protected]
FOCUS uses plenty of photos
in banners & elsewhere each issue, and
So how about you?? HAVE ANY
we want to use YOURS...not Hubble’s!!
PLEASE email to FOCUS editor
they can be found on the web if your photos reside there)
Photos need NOT be current.
· DAS membership dues are $30.00 per year and due on November 1 for all members.
- There is no need to renew membership until the treasurer contacts you during the membership renewal drive starting in mid-October.
New members joining at various times of the year may be eligible for a prorated dues amount.
- $20 when joining March-May
- $10 when joining June-August
- $30 for joining September-October through November 1 of the following year.
The DAS offers subscriptions to Sky & Telescope at a discounted rate of $32.95 per year.
Subscriptions to S&T will be processed by the club for the first subscription year only.
The publisher should then send renewal notices directly to the subscriber at the club rate of $32.95.
You may receive renewal offers for amounts other than $32.95. If so, check to see if they are special offers and how close you are
to your renewal date.
Your subscription expiration date should be displayed on the mailing label on your magazine.
If you are within 3 months of your renewal date and still have not received the correct renewal notice, please contact the publisher
and tell them you should receive the member rate.
The DAS offers subscriptions to Astronomy magazine at a discounted rate of $34.00 per year.
Subscriptions to Astronomy will be processed by the club for the first subscription year only.
Your subscription expiration date should be displayed on the mailing label on your magazine.
Renewals can be handled by all club members on the Astronomy.com website using the following steps:
a. go to www.astronomy.com
b. select the ‘customer service’ link in the upper right corner
c. select the ‘renew your subscriptions’ link
d. enter your customer number (found on the mailing label), postal code, and the renewal code of ‘RCLUB040’ and
click ‘continue’
e. follow the remaining steps from there.
Please review the membership and magazine information above carefully.
PLEASE fill out the membership form below completely.
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Please be sure to review the Membership and Magazine information above carefully.
Please make checks payable to DAS and forward to:
Jeff Lawrence, Treasurer, 815 Leeds Lane, Newark, DE 19711
Senior / Family Membership
Junior Membership (15 or under)
Sky & Telescope Magazine
Astronomy Magazine
Name_________________________________________________Email Adress________________________________
Street Address_________________________________________________Phone Number________o______________
For questions or concerns, contact Jeff Lawrence, DAS Treasurer at (302) 668-8277 or [email protected]
DAS CONTACTS Please call any of us with your concerns!
Board members:
Greg Lee -- 302-762-5358 or [email protected],
Vice-President: Rob Lancaster -- also, Program Chair & Future Web Site Development -- [email protected]
Bill McKibben, Secretary [email protected]
Jeff Lawrence [email protected]; (302) 668-8277also Sky & Telescope & Astronomy magazine issues
Board Members at Large:
Terry Lisansky [email protected]
Glenn Bentley -- 610-869-0706 or [email protected]
Bill Hanagan -- 302-239-0949 or [email protected], also Astronomical Photography Special Interest
Group; Amateur Telescope Making Special Interest Group; By-Laws;Observatory and Equipment Improvements
Standing Chairs:
Joe Neuberger -- 302-723-2734 or [email protected], also, FOCUS Newsletter article/photo contributions
Fred DeLucia -- 609-410-8943 or [email protected], also, Elections Chair and Awards Chair
Open Position (contact Pres. Greg Lee with questions)
Open Position (contact Pres. Greg Lee with questions)
Maria Lavalle and Sue Bebon
Other Chairs:
Other Contacts:
MCAO Web Page: www.MountCuba.org
DAS Web Page: www.DelAstro.org
Astronomical League Coordinator: Lynn King - [email protected]
If you have questions, call any of the member representatives listed. Otherwise, just check the appropriate boxes and complete the form on the preceeding
page. Print it or cut it off and send it with your check to Jeff Lawrencet his address on
the form. The magazine prices are group rates to DAS members.
If you’re just joining us for the first time, THANK YOU VERY
MUCH, and WELCOME to the DAS! It’s GREAT to have you with us!
The Last
Word. . .
It Finally has REALLY Arrived. . .
The Trees & Flowers are blooming and it’s SPRING!
So Get Out There. . . and ENJOY IT!
FOCUS editor
Joe Neuberger