Special Issue! Free Astronomy Magazine – March/April 2020 Issue Available For Download

Above: The changed technology of libraries and library lectures (all used), including a slide projector (property of my late, great-uncle Gus Columbus) with a two-slide carousel (and a book of slides for which any spelling errors were deemed too expensive to fix), an LCD projector (I had to have one because Stu Forster had one), for which fresh slide updates and audio/video are no problem in a darkened room, and a Sandisk USB stick with built-in wifi to transfer slides to an existing projector system by USB and to set up a local network for attendees to download media after the presentation.

Yes, a series of articles about the importance of amateur astronomers coming together as a community through outreach, just in time for a global pandemic to keep everyone from coming together (for a while, anyway).

The March/April 2020 issue of Free Astronomy Magazine has been available for your downloading pleasure for (a, here, long) three weeks, featuring an opening article by myself and an international perspective (Spain, Catalonia and Italy) by the editor Michele Ferrara and other contributing language editors on the general topics of the state of amateur astronomy and outreach in our respective locations.

We were all given great flexibility in our content, so I went with a very CNY-centric perspective on some of the great observing/outreach events, as well as their hosts, we’ve known in the past decade-or-so (while trying to name-drop all the area astronomy clubs in the process). These include shout-outs to some of the better-known lectures/observers, including David Bishop with ASRAS, Larry Slosberg with CNYO, James Callens with Western NY Astronomers, Bob Piekiel and his near-rock-solid monthly schedule at Baltimore Woods, my favorite classicist and dark sky proponent Prof. John McMahon, and the late, great Barlow Bob.

Writing an article that then undergoes several translations is an interesting exercise in clear thoughts and limited, in my case, Americanisms. Ain’t easy as pie, dig? I suspect all of us contributing articles could have gone into all kinds of additional details about our experiences and other ways we’ve seen the astronomy scene change over these many years in terms of technology and outreach activities, but the need to not melt the brains of our fellow editors forces a kind of brevity (unlike this sentence). Michele continues to have my utmost respect for taking on the task of first-pass translations to hand off to each of us in these cases to produce a great bimonthly multi-language magazine.

The science returns with the May/June issue. In the meantime, please give this issue a good read. If any of the discussion peaks your interest and you’ve something to say about it, consider dropping Michele a line, commenting on the Free Astronomy Magazine Facebook page, or otherwise drop me a line.

Specifically so – if you fall into the category of potential public amateur astronomer described in the final section of my article, I urge you to consider making your presence known to your community – after your 14-day self-isolation, of course (you should easily get a number of presentation slides together with two free weeks).

"Upstate NY Stargazing" Series At newyorkupstate.com And syracuse.com – Summaries And Links For The Last Few Months

The old adage "if you want to really learn something, teach it" has been in full effect these past few months with the writing of the UNY Stargazing series for newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com (which don't combine the comments and shares. You have to go to both!). Firstly, it is excellent practice for anyone doing astronomy outreach to try to capture all of the events and observing opportunities that a new or casual observer might find interesting – while providing enough extra detail to whet the appetites of those reading with a wikipedia tab open (which remains the go-to for astro consistently accurate astronomy information). Secondly, if helps sharpen the editorial blade – such as by not using the word "old" to qualify "adage" when you're really trying to keep it to 2500 words.

After 11 months of articles, the UNYStargazing template is fairly matured, Stellarium has moved well into advanced topics stage, and the many astronomy clubs that have allowed their public events to be posted have all resulted in an increasingly smooth and, hopefully, informative read.

Having ignored this blog generally recently, here's the last four months in rapid succession:

– Upstate NY Stargazing in February: Lunar eclipse, Kopernik star party, 'Dog Nights of Winter'

* nyup.com/outdoors/2017/02/upstate_ny_stargazing_in_feb…

* syr.com/outdoors/2017/02/upstate_ny_stargazing_in_feb…

Featuring a washed-out lunar eclipse and one of Larry Slosberg's great lunar images.

– Upstate NY Stargazing In March: Messier Marathon and the Lunar Occultation of Aldebaran

* syr.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2017/02/upstate_ny_stargazing_mar…

* nyup.com/outdoors/2017/02/upstate_ny_stargazing_mar…

Friend and Kopernik Astronomical Society member George Normandin provided the eye candy to start the March article, which included a discussion of Messier Objects (such as M31, M32, and M110) still long enough to get the editor's attention (but it was about Messier Objects and sometimes you have to say stuff). The Lunar occultation of Aldebaran was pointed out to the ASRAS email list by Brad Timerson and then promoted on the CNYO website.

– Upstate NY stargazing in April: Comet hunting and the Lyrid meteor shower

* nyup.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2017/03/upstate_ny_stargazing_in…

* syr.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2017/03/upstate_ny_stargazing_in…

Brad Loperfido of Revette Studio and the CNYO Facebook Group had an amazing capture of Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak, M97, and M108, allowing for a final addition to the Messier Object discussion with the objects that Messier was most interested in finding – comets. The month also included a washed-out Lyrid Meteor Shower peak and a proper shout-out to astronomy.fm.

– Upstate NY stargazing in May: A meteor shower and preparations for the solar eclipse

* nyup.com/outdoors/2017/05/upstate_ny_stargazing_in_may…

* syr.com/outdoors/2017/05/upstate_ny_stargazing_in_may…

The first in the series prepping for the great North American eclipse on August 21st of this year, featuring a NASA/SDO/AIA image (our tax dollars at work) and a continuation of the discussion of circumpolar constellations (which will get a full summary in four more articles).

"Stargazing In Upstate NY In September" Article Posted To newyorkupstate.com And syracuse.com

The third article in the series – "Stargazing in Upstate NY in September: Look for more subtle objects on autumn nights" – is available for your reading and critical review at newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com. I'm pleased to report that we've hit our stride with the formatting and content transfer, and I can only hope the star charts make sense in their current forms.

For interested parties, this article also marks the first official mention (to the best of my knowledge) of our upcoming MOST/TACNY/CNYO hosting of International Observe The Moon Night on Saturday, October 8th. Additional details to follow, but expect the observing to happen somewhere around The MOST itself.

image_1__2016sept_smdomecomposite

Extra-special thanks to Nick Lamendola from the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science (image above, taken from the grounds of my new observing stomping grounds at the Farash Center – click for a larger view) for the use of his Perseid composite as the article opener (one of the benefits of being a member of several local clubs is the listserve content – and the many fantastic images that fly by on a weekly basis).