Syracuse Astronomical Society President's Message for September, 2007

A late, and brief, post just after the 2007 Summer Seminar.

SAS Summer Seminar Note

The 2007 Summer Seminar started rough Friday evening (starting so-so and eventually clouding into an official no-no for Perseid Meteor Shower viewing) but turned into a wonderful, well-attended Saturday night. A number of the "usual suspects" engaged in the daytime festivities, which included my own reasonable (after many false starts) assembly of solar filters for my 25×100 binoculars (and, after all that work, only ONE Sun spot). I will say that having proper equipment for daytime and nighttime viewing certainly does extend the usable hours of the day for doing astronomy and, let's face it, if you had to start by being able to find one star in the sky, it might as well be the Sun. Prof. Gianfranco Vidali from the Syracuse University Physics Department served the doubly duty of presiding over the always chaotic prize raffle and providing a most wonderful presentation on the nature and chemistry of interstellar space (aspects of which are available on his website, The sky Saturday night was near-flawless for viewing, with the Perseid show constantly turning too many necks ever-too late for catching the night's brightest streaks. Those of us content with stationary viewing through our scopes were also treated to the night's clear sky (and, perhaps, a bit too much dew).

A Nice Surprise from Oceanside Photo and Telescope

Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT for short) not only provided us the crown jewel of our prize raffle (for which the SAS Board and I are exceedingly grateful) but also sent us off our official SAS Rewards Card, which provides you, the SAS member (you mean you're not?!) our society-wide discount on purchases through OPT. The discount works by phone and online (even in person if you're around). All you need to do is let myself or any board member know so we can get you the club number (provided your membership is in good standing), after which OPT will provide you your own. For any questions, feel free to contact me or OPT (, 1-800-483-6287).

Cafe Scientifique

Not only can you see Nature in action up at the Darling Hill Observatory, you can also hear all about it through the monthly meetings of Cafe Scientifique, "a place where scientists and scientifically interested non-scientists can come together informally to hear about interesting science, old and new, and discuss its implications in a friendly, cordial way, over drinks and snacks." Now entering its third year (and now at the Ohm Lounge, in case anyone missed the location change from Ambrosia), the school-year meetings (September to May, first Tuesday of every month) serve as a public introduction to many, many areas of science by professors at local universities (Syracuse, Rochester Medical Center, Upstate Medical). The discussions are always lively and the questions are never bad, making it a perfect place to learn a fair share more about the topic at hand with a guided hand(s) than you might while trying to put the proper keywords into google. The next meeting is set for early October. For more information, keep a random track of the Cafe Scientifique website,
The-Moon Wiki Website

While many credit the plough as responsible for human civilization, it is the Moon that provided the means for knowing when to use it! Our closest celestial neighbor and the easiest target of the night sky, the Moon now has its own information-filled wiki site, From wikipedia, "A wiki is a collaborative website which can be directly edited by anyone with access to it." If you've paid attention to the news lately, you know this can be a double-edged sword. That said, The-Moon Wiki is being maintained by a small number of dedicated astronomers and, one can only imagine, all data is being checked, making this an excellent resource for lunar history and observing.The Dark Side of the New YorkerAn illuminating story about light pollution in the New Yorker (Aug. 20, 2007). John McMahon provided us the link to the article, now available online in its entirety (for now, anyway).

Additions to the Forster Collection

The images this month are being kept local, featuring, as always, the work of our own Stu Forster. It's always delightful to see just how much structure exists in astronomical objects that our vision (and the atmosphere above us) reveal only after many, many exposures.

The Brady Emails #1

The last two points of note to the SAS were provided by email by our own Michael Brady.

I am very pleased to announce that one of our more recent SAS guest speakers is one of just nine 2007 inductees being honored on October 7, 2007 by the National Woman's Hall of Fame.I will be attending this special ceremony and encourage anyone else interested in honoring the very real "Mother of the Spitzer Space Telescope" on this very special occasion. Judy's work in infrared astronomy is a foundation for current and future research.

From the website:

"Dr. Judith L. Pipher (1940- ) Dr. Judith Pipher's research in the field of Infrared Astronomy began in graduate school with work on some of the first rocket-borne telescopes. Since 1971, Dr. Pipher has served on the faculty of the University of Rochester, where she and her colleagues were the first U.S. astronomers to turn an infrared array toward the skies. Her experiments with ground-based and airborne telescopes culminated in development of a camera for, and infrared observations on, the Spitzer Space Telescope, launched in 2003."

For more information, see

The Brady Emails #2

From the Night Sky Network (NSN):

Seeing in the Dark, a visually stunning HDTV documentary on the rewards of first-person, hands-on astronomy –exactly what you do in your outreach!– that will air Wednesday, September 19 at 8:00 p.m. over PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).

We are encouraging NSN members to utilize the local airing of the program as an outreach opportunity. For example, the Challenger Center in Tallahassee, Florida will project the live HD broadcast onto their planetarium dome and is inviting the public and astronomy groups in for a free screening. It can also be projected onto an auditorium screen. Please note that you cannot charge entry for this event. Such live screenings provide the opportunity to get people to your facility and further educational outreach by fielding questions after the program. You can contact your area PBS station to confirm the local air time and coordinate promotion of the event with their public information officer. A locator for PBS stations is available on the home page at

Find more details about the show, as well as links to resources here:

Space is the place,
Damian Allis, Ph.D.

Links Used Above (Subject To Web Changes)

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