August 2012

Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Another Double-Double in Lyra

Original article appears in GuideStar September, 2012.

Object: Struve 2470 / 2474
Class: Double, double star
Constallation: Lyr
Magnitude: (2470) 7.00 / 8.6 and (2474) 6.7 / 8.1
R.A.: 19 h 08 m 56 s (appx midpoint between pairs)
Dec: 34 deg 40 min 36 sec
   10’ 16.4” (main pair)
   2470 — 13.4”
   2474 — 16.0” (some uncertainty)
Optics needed: Small telescope and relatively dark skies.
Other names:
   2470 = SAO 67870
   2474 = SAO 67879

Why this is interesting: You probably know about the ‘double-double’ in Lyra (Epsilon Lyr). If you don’t, check the September, 2009 GuideStar on the HAS web site. Epsilon Lyr is the ‘Shallow Sky Object’ in that issue.

This is a similar set of stars, four stars comprising two sets of double stars but there are differences. The stars comprising this double-double are dimmer, and the close pairs of stars that make up the end-points of the collection are not as close.

The Wow! Signal

Original article appears in GuideStar August, 2012.

The Wow! SignalBy Don Selle

When you think of the possibility humankind’s first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, what image pops into your mind?

Its probably one of a number of movie-influenced images. Depending on your age, it might be of Richard Dreyfuss in Spielberg’s classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” If you are a bit younger, it might be Will Smith in the 1996 movie “Independence Day”. If you are a Trekkie of any age (like my wife), your image is from the movie “Star Trek First Contact”, which was released later in 1996. In that movie, Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) assisted by First Officer William Riker (Johnathan Frakes) blast off in a home-built rocket ship to the beat of Steppanwolf’s classic song “Magic Carpet Ride”. Once on orbit they activate the first warp drive, attracting a passing Vulcan ship.

The Art and Science of Visual Astronomical Observations

HAS Program Chair and Master Observer Brian Cudnik has graciously made his new eBook available for complimentary download right here on the HAS Website. It's titled "The Art and Science of Visual Astronomical Observations" and it's a great homage to some of the awe-inspiring aspects of observing at the eyepiece. It's also chocked full of practical techniques for observing and suggestions for how visual observers can contribute to the science of astronomy. In Brian's own words...

The purpose of this book is to provide the visual astronomer, especially the beginner, a greater sense of appreciation of each object he or she observes. In addition, I want to instill a greater sense of wonder for the universe as a whole, to discover for oneself one‘s place in the universe and the privilege to be able to contemplate these ideas. Most of the chapters in this book will be divided into two parts, the “art” (named―“appreciation”) section and the “science” (or “application”) section. You may say, “Sure it may be just a ‘white dot’, but consider what is hidden in that ‘white dot’…”; I want to help with the second by discussing the physical nature of the ‘white dot’, I hope to stimulate observers’ interests to keep looking. This is the “art/appreciation” portion of the book, which also seeks to share my own passion for these things. The “science/application” part of the book outlines how amateurs who either cannot afford the sophisticated equipment becoming more widely available, or just prefer to use their own eyes to view celestial objects, can make a contribution to astronomy as a science.

Download “The Art and Science of Visual Astronomical Observations”

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