Public Lectures at the Cherry Springs Star Party
Astronomical Society of Harrisburg, PA Inc.
Cherry Springs State Park, Coudersport, PA
Using the STSCI Digitized Sky Survey for Imaging and Education.June 13, 2015
The Palomar All Sky Survey is used in applications like TheSky and other popular programs. It can also be used directly by observers and teachers. I will cover what's in the POSS surveys, what filters were used to make the images, the physical processes that make the light in those filters, and using these images to plan an observing run.
Gravitational Waves: Looking for Light in all the Wrong PlacesJune 28, 2014
In 2015, the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave laser interferometers will have been upgraded and make their first forays into great enough sensitivity to finally detect them. The researchers believe that certain catastrophic mergers of neutron stars and black holes will create huge amounts of gravitational waves. These events will also make some kind of counterpart in light. Globally, teams will be hunting for them, and soon amateur-class telescopes will be enlisted to assist, much in the same way the Swift mission seeks global assistance in isolating gamma-ray bursts seen optically. The biggest problem now is that they are faint and gravitational waves cannot be "focused"', so it's old technique of blind searches, and just seeing what's out there. Jason Kendall will discuss what makes gravitational waves, what they are, what we can expect to see and what it might take to prepare a large-aperture amateur-class telescope to assist in the search.
Extreme Urban Stargazing: Outreach in New York City and BeyondJune 8, 2013
There is a fundamental need for the professional community to cultivate and nurture active relationships with amateur astronomy organizations. The rewards of such work are highly beneficial to general public education and town-gown relations, but are time-consuming and hard-won for both amateurs and professionals. New York City and the surrounding area is both ideally situated and unambiguously ill-suited for astronomy public outreach. I will detail the results of three major outreach efforts in coordination with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. I will highlight large public-space observing in the context of the Transit of Venus and star parties at other locations. I will also outline outreach efforts at William Paterson University, where two public nights and a Curiosity EDL event created a clear impact in Northern New Jersey. I will detail methods of event participation, urban crowd management, publicity issues, women's and public safety, and the benefits and pitfalls of social media in the promotion and execution of large-scale and moderate events. Also outlined will be public efforts for the "National Star Party Weekend" in September, which is a deliberate fusing of amateur and professional observing events.
Curiosity: The Mars Science Laboratory: Seeking Life on MarsJune 16, 2012
NASA's next big mission to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory, christened "Curiosity" blasts off in Thanksgiving of this year. Its goal is to seek out signs of past life on Mars. Mars is today a cold desert, but in the distant past, the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity found overwhelming evidence for liquid water on Mars' surface, with shallow oceans, now gone dry. Did life arise on Mars long ago? We'll learn about how this robotic adventurer will try to answer the question of whether we are alone in the Universe.