TAS General Meeting, August 28, 2020
Online Virtual Meeting via ZOOM
The June General Meeting of the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas will be an online virtual meeting via ZOOM. The meeting will begin at 7:30 pm. CDT. Members in good standing of Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas will receive an email notification containing information about how to join the virtual meeting.
|Zoom open for Q&A|
| Meeting called to order
Opening remarks from the President
V.P. Introduces Guest Speaker
Guest Speaker Presentation
|TAS Business Meeting|
|Constellation of the Month|
|Adjourn to BAMSIG|
Joseph E. Pesce, Ph.D., FRAS, FCBS
Abstract: In this talk we will explore the field of Radio Astronomy, with a discussion of what it is, how radio observations are made, and what they can tell us about astronomical sources. We will then survey some of the most recent findings in Radio Astronomy.
Joe Pesce is an astrophysicist whose primary area of interest is in the external environments of the galaxies hosting supermassive black holes (to understand black hole formation and fueling). He also worked with clusters of galaxies, and in various areas of stellar astrophysics, including the atmospheres of cool stars (red giants, AGBs), symbiotic variable stars, and supernova progenitors. He has been involved in observations at all wavebands, with ground and space-based telescopes, and has managed large research groups. Joe previously worked at the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA.
Dr. Pesce is currently a Program Director at the National Science Foundation, Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences, Division of Astronomical Sciences where he is responsible for most of the US Government’s ground-based radio astronomy facilities (NRAO, including ALMA, VLA. And VLBA). He is a Part-time Professor at George Mason University and a Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He founded, and served as CEO, of several firms specializing in high-level science and technology, critical thinking and problem-solving consulting and education. He has expertise in foreign space programs, space launch, human space flight, emerging space programs and science policy. He is a thought leader in critical & creative thinking and analytic methodology education, and an expert on STEM, leadership and research issues.
An important aspect of Dr. Pesce’s work involves public outreach, as an ambassador for science in general, and astrophysics specifically. Among other activities, he has made a number of television appearances, and has served as scientific advisor to several science fiction series (television and online) and has advised science fiction authors.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Cambridge Philosophical Society, serves on the Board of Advisors of the Presidents Leadership Class at the University of Colorado, Boulder; is a member of Peterhouse, Cambridge; the American Astronomical Society; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Sigma Pi Sigma; the American Institute of Physics; and the Cosmos Club (Washington DC).
Dr. Pesce received a B.A. degree (cum laude and with Honors) in Physics from the University of Colorado in Boulder and M.Sc., M.Phil., and PhD. degrees from Cambridge University (Peterhouse) and the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy.
Joe’s other interests include interspecies communication, non-human intelligence, psychology, Sci-Fi (in particular, Star Trek!), and all things British.
TAS Short Sleeve Logo T-shirts
A Word from the President
July 16, 2020
Dear TAS Members,
I hope you took advantage of the opportunity to venture out in the pre-dawn hours to sneak a peek of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE). It’s approach to Earth was quite spectacular as it really brightened to Magnitude +1.x levels after its orbit around Sol. It is now heading back out of the solar system and transitioning to an evening object for those observing in the Texas region. Look for it in the northwest at astronomical twilights it rises through Lynx and Ursa Major and makes it closest approach to Earth through the remainder of July.
Saturn, Pluto, and Jupiter are all in opposition this month. In fact they are putting on a great performance now through December 2020. Take advantage of every clear night to enjoy the show!
TAS volunteers continue to progress on the new bunkhouse construction project at the Atoka. The paneling and ceiling are complete, walls and ceiling are painted, the engineered wood floor is complete, the LED lights are installed, and significant progress has been made installing the interior trim. The skirt is installed. A bit more interior trim, two ceiling fans, exterior porch railing and staining the skirt is all that remains. We are evaluating ADA compliant access for ingres/egress to/from the two entryways.
Please reach out to me directly if you are interested in helping with these tasks. I want to sincerely thank all of you who have (and continue to) provide your time and effort to help with the bunkhouse construction. It has truly been a team effort!
The pandemic situation continues to weigh heavy on our minds. As our federal, state, and local governments began to convey their recommendations, strategies and plans to “re-open” our economy, so has your Board of Directors working out recommendations, strategies and plans to incrementally resume TAS business operations.
Atoka has been conditionally reopened seven days a week with specific guidance, the details of which were communicated through Constant Contact and repeated in the June issue of the Spectrum. Social distancing is expected of all members. Members in good standing are required to read the guideline document that outlines the TAS facilities that are open and those that remain closed, references to CDC and State Health Department COVID-19 sheltering recommendations, advice, and recommendations regarding the use of masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, soaps, and cleaning supplies, and proper preventive measures one should follow when using public facilities. Members must also sign (written signature required) the new Member’s Liability Release Form for each family member and return this document to Secretary@TexasAstro.Org prior to scheduling a trip to Atoka. Once received the Secretary, upon request by the member, will return the current gate code for Atoka. This gate code request must be made for each date the member visits Atoka and serves to record dates of visitation by each member. We continue to monitor and evaluate the latest information and guidelines provided by the CDC and state health departments. These will serve to guide our decisions and direction as we consider updating the operational plans necessary to insure member safety as we carefully resume some level of normalcy. The information from our governmental sources continues to be fluid and thus changes frequently. The BOD plans will need to be flexible to accommodate the nature of this dynamic situation. We will strive to keep you informed as these strategies and plans firm up over the coming weeks and months.
TAS Elections are quickly approaching. We have begun to form the nominating/election committees with two volunteers. We need a third volunteer who is not running for a position on the board to assist. Due to COVID we do not expect to be meeting in person for the election this year. Instead we expect to be conducting the election online using Zoom. The nomination/election committee will be meeting to discuss the process. Several current board member positions have reached term limits, ergo we need new members to step up and assume these important leadership positions. This includes positions of President (Candidate Dodie Reagan), Vice President (open), Secretary (open), Treasurer (open), and several Director positions. Please reach out to me directly if you would like to run for one of these positions. It is a great way to connect more closely with other members of our Society. I’ve spent eight years in various positions on the Board and have made many strong bonds as a result of this experience. I highly encourage you to step up and participate!
Our Astronomical League Observing Coordinator, Lloyd Lashbrook, has created a new Observing Special Interest Group to help new members and beginning astronomers through their initial learning curve. Those that have never undertaken an Astronomical League Observing program and those that are just starting out and want to learn the lingo, develop visual Observing skills, learn how to classify objects, rank seeing and transparency, and properly log their observations are encouraged to join. These sessions will be a combination of Zoom meetings held once a month to set objectives and discuss topics as well as planning and executing actual observing sessions at a reasonably dark local site. Reach out to Lloyd Lashbrook or me if you are interested in joining us.
In a similar vein, Frank Castanho is forming a new Astrophography special interest group for beginners. Recognizing the current APSIG group have been collaborating on advanced topics Frank felt there was a need to support newcomers to the hobby who are just starting out. If you are looking to enter the fun and challenging hobby Astrophotography and are looking for guidance reach out to Frank. He will be hosting a zoom session once a month to cover this topic.
Stay safe and by all means keep looking up!
Gary J. Carter
President, Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas
About the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas
The Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas was chartered in 1955 to promote interest and research, and to give instruction in the science of astronomy and related disciplines. Membership is open to anyone having an interest in astronomy and related subjects and includes benefits such as a our monthly newsletter, discounts to the top astronomy magazines, access to our dark sky observing site and many more.
Our annual membership dues are very reasonable and can be paid on-line using the PayPal link listed below. Membership is open to anyone having an interest in Astronomy and the night sky.
Please visit the Club Information section for more on TAS.
New members can download the New Members Handbook from the Members Only Section of the website.Follow @TASObserve
We invite you to further explore our website for more information and hope you consider becoming a member of our Society. TAS is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, donations to which would be tax deductable for U.S. taxpayers under IRS rules. Donations may be given by using our secure PayPal site and indicating "donation" on the form.
Thank you for your gracious support of the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas.
The latest issue of our award-winning monthly newsletter, the Spectrum, can be downloaded below.
Back issues are available under "Features->Spectrum Newsletter" in the main menu.
TAS Recurring Star Parties
TAS holds 4 regular monthly Star Parties where our members get together to observe and educate about the night sky. Come join us to look at planets, stars, and other celestial wonders. The monthly Star Party schedule is as follows:
Our full schedule of activities is on our calendar. Please come out and join us or volunteer at one of our events.Please call the Public Observing Hot Line at 214-800-6000 for the latest cancellation information.
Visit the members' discussion forum to discuss astro-type stuff with fellow TAS members.
Visit the Members Only section for access to:
Constellation of the Month: August: Cassiopeia and Cepheus
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TAS is a member of
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Sun, Moon, and Tonight's Sky
| Richardson, TX
(times in CDT):
Sunrise today: 6:44am
Sunset today: 8:22pm
Moonrise today: 10:31pm
Moonset today: 9:26am
94% of moon illuminated
Click the above image for a chart. Popup blockers must be disabled. Chart courtesy of Fourmilab Switzerland.
| Major Planets and Moon Charts
Bright Minor Planet Charts
Observable Comet Charts
Magnitudes observed within the last 5 days:
Minor planet and comet lists, and corresponding orbital elements, are courtesy of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Charts courtesy of Fourmilab Switzerland
Special Interest Groups
APSIG (Astrophotography Special Interest Group) is sponsored by the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas, Texas.
APSIG meets once a month to share information and learn more about the art and science of Astrophotography -- taking photographs of objects in the night sky such as planets, galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. Imaging these celestial objects requires special techniques and equipment, but are attainable by anyone willing to point their camera skyward. Come learn how! For more information on APSIG just follow this link...
ATMSIG (Amateur Telescope Makers Special Interest Group) is sponsored by the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas, Texas.
The ATMSIG meets every other month to explore the design, construction and adjustment of both do it yourself and professionally built telescopes. Anyone interested in building their first scope will find this group a big help in finding the best place to start. You don’t need to have a well equipped workshop, just a few simple tools and an interest in building or modifying it yourself. The ATMSIG is a wonderful place to see projects built locally by TAS members and to share new ideas for the future! For more information, just follow this link...