Jan 052013

The first star count campaign of 2013 has already started!
The folks at Globe at Night are providing five chances this year for you to get involved and show that you care about the quality of your night sky. Best of all you don’t need any fancy equipment to participate.

Just find the constellation Leo or Orion and match the number of stars that you see to one of 7 charts found on line at www.globeatnight.org that represent the seven different levels of light pollution from none to clouded out. Report your results to the same web site, and you can report results for multiple different locations. The more folks that participate and the more locations reported the more detailed the map will be, and it demonstrates that folks really do care.

Stellar Skies,

Richard Norman
VBAS Dark Sky Rep

Dec 082012

Jared Cassidy provided the 8 inch f/10 Schmidt Cassegrain and atlas mount to aide Jeff Delmas in obtaining the two color and one black and white shot, M42 and M43, the great Orion Nebula in the sword of Orion, and the Crab Nebula near the tip of one of Taurus the Bull’s Horns were captured in color, and NGC 891, the edge on galaxy in Andromeda was captured in black and white. Jeff Delmas operated the SBIG CCD camera and Frank Schenck and Jeff Delmas did the image processing with SBIG software.

 Posted by at 4:16 pm
Dec 082012

Jeff Delmas images and processes Barnard 33, The Famous “Horse Head” Nebula just off of Alnitak in Orion’s Belt in color and the nebula that surrounds it IC 434 with 21 inch f/4 Newtonian Reflector and the SBIG CCD camera and processed it with SBIG software.

Frank Schenck also captured this picture of Ganymede and Jupiter with the Celestron 16 inch f/11.25 Schmidt Cassegrain Reflector with his planetary video camera and processed with Registax 6.

 Posted by at 2:58 pm
Jul 142012

The First Color Picture is Messier 57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra, color made with the SBIG camera and SBIG RGB combine software, operated by Doug Horacek; the second photo is of Albireo the Blue and Gold Double Star at the head of Cygnus the Swan (comment, add Double Stars as a section on the BLOG), the color photograph captured by the SBIG camera and processed with SBIG RGB combine software, operated by Doug Horacek. The Black and White Antares and its White Dwarf Companion Picture was processed by Doug Horacek using Hard Planetary Smooth, Hard Planetary Sharpen, and DDP filter utilities from the SBIG software. John Callahan and Frank Schenck assited in image processing. Jeff Delmas did the photography on the evening of 6 July 2012 with the SBIG camera and Jared Cassidy’s eight inch f/10 Schmidt Cassegrain, a Meade telescope on an Orion Atlas Mount.

 Posted by at 2:22 pm
Jul 112012

Here are two more images taken with John Callahan’s 4 1/2 inch refractor and our new SBIG camera, these are black and white raw images taken by Jeff Delmas. The top picture is the Veil Nebula, NGC 6960, the southwest branch and star 24 Cygnii in Cygnus the Swan or the “Northern Cross”. The Bottom Picture is Messier 101 the Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major the “Big Bear” or “Big Dipper”.

 Posted by at 6:37 pm
Jul 062012

From the International Dark-Sky Association:

PBS Documentary ‘The City Dark’ Explores
Problems of Light Pollution

04 July 2012. TUCSON, AZ – Beginning 5 July 2012 the Public Broadcasting Service
will start airing The City Dark, a documentary that explores the problems of light
pollution and the disappearance of stars from the night sky.

For nearly two and a half decades the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has
been working to sound the alarm concerning many of the issues brought up in the
film while advocating for greater controls of nighttime lighting. IDA Executive
Director Bob Parks says, “We are delighted to see Ian Cheneyʼs film get a national
stage and hope that, before too much longer, many of the issues raised in the film
will be behind us. The good news is that with awareness, light pollution is an easy
problem to solve.”

Astronomy, ecology, human health, crime and economics are some of the topics
explored in the film which follows filmmaker Ian Cheneyʼs personal exploration of the
impact of light at night as he asks “Do we need the dark?” The film covers various
aspects of light at night and features noted experts in their respective fields including
astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, writer Timothy Ferris, cancer researcher David
Blask, and many more.

Director Ian Cheney says, “We are thrilled to present The City Dark on PBS’
amazing series POV, and what better week to air than the week of July 4th; perhaps
the fireworks can serve as a reminder of all that glitters in an unpolluted starry sky,
and encourage us all to do what we can to protect the night. We are indebted to our
partners like the International Dark Sky Association for taking the lead in combating
wasteful night pollution, and grateful for our viewers for tuning in and enjoying the

For more on the film, to check local TV listings and to explore background
information on the topic, visit the PBS website http://www.pbs.org/pov/citydark/. The
PBS POV website will be streaming (in the U.S. only) the film online.
The International Dark-Sky Association, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, was
founded in 1988 to promote environmentally responsible outdoor lighting and the
preservation of the night sky. IDA educates communities and individuals to use only
the amount of outdoor lighting necessary, only when necessary and to direct it to the
ground where it is needed. Among its efforts, the organization provides information
brochures, workshops, a model lighting ordinance, manages a night sky
conservation program, and awards the distinguished IDA Fixture Seal of Approval to
applicants with lighting fixtures that are dark-sky friendly.

Jun 232012

Saturday evening starting after program and regular observing 10 P.M. until 2:00 A.M., 11-12 August (peak evening according to Sky & Telescope, note change of date), at the VBAS field watch the Persied Meteor Shower, the Moon will be a waning crescent, estimated between 110 and 90 meteors per hour, a great evening for observing meteors given the weather holds. Come join us for a great display of the bright Persied Meteor Shower.

Target Date: Tuesday evening, 14 August, Saturn, Mars, and Spica conjunction – call Doug Horacek at 256 772-6788 will serve pizza and root beer at Doug’s Condo. Bring binoculars and scopes with a wide field of view – will start at 6:00 P.M. to set up. Event happens at dusk and a little beyond. Alternate bad viewing dates due to weather are Monday evening 13 August, or Wednesday evening 15 August.

Target Date: Tuesday evening, 21 August, Grouping of Saturn, Mars, Spica, and the Moon at the Space and Rocket Center, event occurs at dusk and a little beyond, stay posted for more details.

Early Notice: For early risers, the Beehive Cluster (M44), Venus and the Moon will be very close together in the sky at around 4:00 A.M. on the morning of 12 September, Wednesday Morning, the only morning this happens, well worth getting up to see.