Copy Fall Quarterly Newsletter for the Astronomy Enthusiasts List

Please join us at the following free, public, virtual events.
Several items of astronomical interest are on programming at Pittsburgh’s free, virtual, science fiction conference this weekend. C’monfluence registration for each individual item can be accessed here:

  • Presentation at noon today on the James Webb Space Telescope by Dr. William Higgins. Saturday, October 3, 2020. Scroll down the schedule and register. “A Million Miles beyond Midnight: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.” The James Webb Space Telescope will be the next big space telescope, named for a former NASA administrator, is slated for launch in 2021. Its 6.5-meter-diameter mirror, orbiting the Sun-Earth L2 point 1.5 million kilometers from here, is designed to give astronomers superb capabilities for exploring the infrared universe. Canada, the European Space Agency, and NASA cooperated to create it. Bill Higgins reviews the Webb’s design and the astronomical phenomena it will examine. Duration: 50 minutes.
  • Also at noon today, Saturday, October 3, 2020, Joe Haldeman, on a panel about world-building in science fiction. Joe is the author of Forever War and Forever Peace, among many other award-winning books in his long, illustrious career. Scroll down the schedule and register. “Where Does Your World Come From?” Worldbuilding is more than plopping a planet in the habitable zone. What challenges had to be overcome and what influences did the panelists have when they built their worlds? With authors Michelle Sagara, Joe Haldeman, Aliette de Bodard and Tobias Buckell Duration: 50 minutes. This item will be recorded
  • Presentation with Dr. Geoffrey Landis: “Mission to Triton” Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, is Pluto’s big brother: mysterious, icy, backwards, and pink. Icy? The mountains of Triton are made of water ice, and the geysers are liquid nitrogen. Backwards? It’s the only large moon in the solar system that orbits retrograde, in the opposite direction from the planet’s spin. Pink? Yes, it has a surface partially covered with tholins, complex organic molecules with a peculiar reddish-pink tint. It has only been visited once, by the Voyager-2 probe, which flew past it on the way out of the solar system. Dr. Landis will talk about a concept for a future mission to try to learn more about Triton’s mysteries, a mission to send a vehicle to land on Triton and then hop from site to site using a radioisotope-powered rocket engine. October 4, 2020 at 1:00 pm. Scroll down the Sunday schedule and register. Duration: 50 minutes. This item will be recorded
The Allegheny Observatory Public Lectures in Astronomy are postponed until further notice.
Buhl Planetarium will close for renovations Monday, Aug. 24 through early November. Stay tuned for a reopening date and more details!
Presentation at the Carnegie Science Center Café Scientifique
“Are Dark Skies in Our Future?”
Learn how innovative science and technology can reverse the steady creep of light pollution, so we can once again view star-filled, dark night skies.
Monday, October 5, 2020, 7:00 - 9:00 pm EDT. The last hour is reserved for questions from the audience.
Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh monthly meeting, in conjunction with the AAAP, Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 6 pm
SSP Technical Forum
Diane Turnshek, Department of Physics (CMU) “Dark Skies: an endangered natural resource”
The US National Parks have adopted the slogan, “Half the Park Is After Dark.” Recognizing the sky is a natural resource is hard for people who live in cities and can’t see the Milky Way because of light pollution, which now comprises 80% of the population in the US. Advocacy for dark skies has many fronts: issues of public safety, human health and wellbeing, disruptions in the lives of plants and animals, concerns for astronomical research, and energy waste that raises our carbon footprint substantially and unnecessarily. It is the only form of pollution that can be fixed with the flip of a switch, so education is the key to correcting the problem. “Light Smart” means light just what you need, where you need it, at the brightness level needed and only when necessary. Consider shielding lights, using motion sensors, timers, dimmers and choosing LEDs at temperatures of 2700K or below. Don’t we all have the right to see a star-filled sky?
The 2021 AAAP Wagman Observatory Star Party schedule is now out.
Thank you to the director, Tom Reiland:
In 2021:
April 16 & 17
May 15 and 22
June 18 & 19
July 16 & 17
August 13 & 14
September 11 & 25
October 9 & 23
November 13
The website for CMU summer research class on SKYGLOW will soon finish being uploaded. Read three children’s books, look at Pittsburgh map data taken from drones, planes, satellites, read over a dozen interviews with astronomy enthusiasts around the world, listen to an original song about stars, see how far out you’d have to travel from a city to see the Milky Way and more. Fifteen scientific papers have been accommodated for a non-expert audience, crystalized into clear language for your reading pleasure and education.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 7 pm, The International Dark-sky Association’s Pittsburgh section will meet. IDAPgh will use the Zoom portal for a meeting on light pollution in Pittsburgh. We’ll talk about best camping locations to see the night sky, awards we have in the works for good local lighting and the city’s plans to replace 40K streetlight bulbs with LEDs near the end of 2021. Join us by signing up for the newsletter on the website:
TEDxCMU talks coming soon: local astronomy enthusiasts talk about the sky and what it means to them. Mike Lincoln, Steve Quick, Daylon Burt and Diane Turnshek.
Did you see this article in the Pittsburgh Magazine on Duquesne physics student Madelyn Hoying?
Anyone see the fireball that surprised early risers on Wednesday at 6:25 am?
Mr. Ryan Muzzio (Physics, CMU) spoke to a congressional subcommittee on the state of grad students during the COVID crisis on September 9. You might remember Ryan, who spoke at the Public Lecture Series at Allegheny Observatory.
Upcoming meteor shower: The Orionids
Thank you for joining us!

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