There has been a lot of information in the news, blogs, and websites about the upcoming August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse. Though it will not reach totality (completely block out the sun) in the Adirondacks, it is still an interesting phenomenon that will not occur again until 2024. The partial solar eclipse will be visible in our area. With any event that garners such attention, there are safety precautions that need to be followed.
Whether attending a formal viewing party or a solitary event, plenty of people plan to take a few moments of their day to watch the moon pass in front of the sun. One place that can answer all solar eclipse questions is the Adirondack Public Observatory (APO) in Tupper Lake. Using solar telescopes and providing special view glasses, the APO is providing an free afternoon celebrating the sun and moon. » Continue Reading.
Framed by mountains and free of sprawl, Tupper Lake has always been a good place for gazing at the stars. Now the heavens just got closer.
The Adirondacks’ first public observatory is set to formally open in July in a clearing above Little Wolf Pond. Ten years in the making, the Adirondack Public Observatory is the work of a group of committed astronomers who raised $200,000 in community donations and persuaded village leaders to preserve Tupper Lake’s dark skies by toning down the lights.
On a recent summer evening, the observatory’s cofounder, Marc Staves, rolled back the observatory’s four-thousand-pound roof. A storm was on its way, but the clouds did little to dampen his enthusiasm. Closing the roof as the first raindrops started to fall, Staves introduced the observatory’s other attractions: three working telescopes bolted to the floor and a bank of computers, arranged 2001 Space Odyssey-like, in a control room next-door. Equipped with high-speed Internet, the observatory will eventually allow sky watchers to remotely aim computerized telescopes at stars, planets, comets, and other objects in the night sky and take pictures and astronomical measurements that could help identify, say, the next asteroid crashing to Earth. » Continue Reading.
Coming up in the month of June is a rare astronomical event. The second planet to the sun, Venus, will pass between us, and the sun. Venus transits have a strange pattern of 121.5, 8, 105.5, 8 years, and the one prior to the transit in June of 2004 was 121.5 years ago in 1882. The next pair of transits wont happen again for another 105.5 years, so this will be the last chance any currently living human get’s to witness this event.
The reason transits don’t happen more frequently is due to the orbits of Venus and Earth not being on the same plane. Venus’ orbit is slightly inclined to the orbit of Earth, so when Venus passes between Earth and the Sun every 1.6 years Venus is either slightly above or below the Sun. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Public Observatory (APO) will return to The Wild Center for three free public lectures in July and August.
On Monday, July 11th at 7:30 pm is Sunspots and Moonshots with Gordie Duval and Marc Staves. The Sun is a seemingly never ending source of energy for us here on Earth. Now, near the peak of its 11 year sunspot cycle, we must be mindful of its awesome power. The Moon governs the tides and eclipses. It has been the subject of many tales, both fact and fiction. It is our closest celestial neighbor and is the farthest humans have ventured from Earth. Join Gordie Duval and Marc Staves of the Adirondack Public Observatory on a tour of our Sun and Moon. Weather permitting, there will be solar observing during the afternoon before the lecture and lunar observations after the lecture. Gordie Duval and Marc Staves are trustees of the Adirondack Public Observatory. Marc is one of the founders of the APO and Chairman of the Board. Gordie is a physics and astronomy teacher at Tupper Lake High School. Both are lifelong residents of Tupper Lake and amateur astronomers each with their own domed observatory in their backyard.
On Monday, August 1st at 7 pm is Comets, Meteors and More with David Levy. David H. Levy began his telescopic comet search, called CN3, on December 17, 1965. It has resulted in 22 comet discoveries that tie David for third place in history for the largest number of comet finds by an individual. Join David for a fascinating discussion on comets, meteorites and more in the Flammer Theater. Celestial observing in the parking lot after the presentation, weather permitting. There will also be a book signing.
David Levy appears regularly on television and radio programs devoted to astronomy, and is probably best known as a comet discoverer. Perhaps the most famous of which is the co-discovery of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that impacted Jupiter in July 1994. He is an Emmy winner, having received the award in 1998 as part of a writing team for the Discovery Channel documentary “Three Minutes to Impact,” and his work has been featured in 35 publications.
On Monday, August 15th at 7:30 pm is Exoplanets and Aliens with Jeff Miller. There have been hundreds of worlds discovered orbiting stars many light years away. Most of them are inhospitable to life as we know it but there are a few that are a little more than interesting. Finding planets around other stars that have conditions suitable for life would be fantastic. Join Jeffrey Miller from St. Lawrence University in an exploration of “exoplanets” and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. Celestial observing in the parking lot after the presentation, weather permitting.
Jeff Miller is one of the astronomers in the Physics department at St. Lawrence University, and teaches Introduction to Astronomy (Phys 101). He is also involved in the ALFALFA Project, a consortium of 16 universities led by Cornell University and funded by the NSF, that uses the 1000-ft. antenna of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center’s Arecibo Observatory to measure extragalactic abundance of neutral Hydrogen (HI). As part of this group, he has had the opportunity to observe at the Arecibo Observatory, and on several occasions bring students to an annual workshop at the observatory. Jeff serves on the board of directors of the APO, gives many public astronomy lectures and maintains the web site for the APO.
The Adirondack Public Observatory (APO) returns to The Wild Center on Friday nights in May with a series of free public astronomy lectures beginning at 7:00pm.
The Adirondack Public Observatory encourages everyone to share the wonders of the universe from the dark skies of the Adirondacks. The APO works to enhance public awareness and advance the science of Astronomy, integrate with area schools, colleges and universities, encourage and support amateur astronomers of all generations young and old, and provide families, civic and community groups the opportunity to view the night sky with various telescopes. On Friday, May 14th is Freeze Frame: How do they get those wonderful pictures? with Marc Staves, Adirondack Public Observatory. Colorful images of planets, galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and other celestial objects can be found everywhere. Did you know that many of the objects in those photographs are not even visible to the naked eye? Some of them are difficult to see even with a telescope. Experienced amateur astronomer, Marc will show you how he transforms those faint celestial objects through the art of astrophotography.
Marc Staves works for the Village of Tupper Lake Electric Department and to some of us he is known as the “Techno Wizard” because of his technological expertise. An experienced amateur astronomer Marc is also the president of the Adirondack Public Observatory.
On Friday, May 21st is Mars: What Have We Learned About the Red Planet? with Jeff Miller, St. Lawrence University. We have long been fascinated by Mars: its reddish hue, its brightness in the night sky, the strange way it appears to move amongst the background stars. Was there water on Mars in the distant past? And did any form of life exist there? We’ll discuss the history of our love affair with the Red Planet, and discuss some of the more recent discoveries made by robotic explorers.
Jeffrey Miller is an astronomy and physics instructor at St. Lawrence University. An avid astronomer and trustee of the Adirondack Public Observatory, Jeff has had the opportunity to visit the Mount Palomar Observatory in California and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
On Friday, May 28th is Venus Unveiled with Aileen O’Donoghue, St. Lawrence University. Venus…our sister planet. About the same size as Earth, can it really be called Earth’s twin? Could there be life? We’ve all seen the science fiction movies and stories about Venus and for a long time, people could only imagine what was beneath the clouds that completely hide this mysterious planet from our view. We’ll take a closer look at our neighbor and separate fact from fiction. Discover a world that in some ways is similar to our Earth but unique among the planets in our Solar System.
My husband and I were up in the pre-dawn morning with probably half the world to essentially watch a fiery burning of debris enter the atmosphere. To then describe to my child a scientific reason for getting out of bed took a bit of research and a chat with an expert.
In layman’s terms (that is all I’ve got) the Leonid Meteors got their name from their apparent relationship to the constellation Leo. The meteors, some no larger than a speck of dust, derive from the parent comet Tempel-Tuttle. Ernest Tempel (December 1865) and Horace Tuttle (January 1866) individually recognized that the Tempel-Tuttle Comet was a recurring one.
The Tempel-Tuttle Comet takes a little over 33 years to orbit the sun. Each time the comet is closest to the sun it sheds particles that cluster together. Depending on where Earth passes through in the comet’s debris trail depends on the intensity of the meteors. Some years there can be as many as 500 meteors falling per hour. This year is not a “sky is falling” type of meteor year but certainly a way to introduce children to astronomy. The phase of the moon coupled with a clear night is what will make viewing the Leonids a pleasurable experience for all.
President of the Tupper Lake Observatory Mark Staves says, “The Leonid Meteor shower does occur every year but since we will have a new moon on the 18th, moonlight won’t be a factor. Moonlight usually diminishes the effect of the meteors. When the light from the meteor shower competes with the moonlight it is not as spectacular.”
He says, “After midnight start to search for meteors toward the east. As the morning progressives look toward southeast and then about 5:00 a.m. the meteors should be toward the south.”
The Adirondack Loj will be hosting a meteor-searching, s’more-eating campfire this evening at Heart Lake. Even though the early dawn of November 17th was predicted as the peak of the meteor shower the darkened skies coupled with the wide-open mountaintops over Heart Lake will present perfect viewing.
The timing of this event is late for little ones. This free program is hosted by an ADK naturalist and runs from 9:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. tonight. If you can’t make this event the meteor showers will still be able for viewing from any dark wide-open space through the 20th of this month, lessening in frequency as the moonlight brightens in intensity.
“They (meteors) can be intensive,” Staves says. “It would help children to understand that what they are actually seeing is something as small as a speck of dust but traveling 50 times the speed of sound.”
When something so small hits the atmosphere so fast the heat created causes the sand-sized particles to vaporize Staves summarizes.
As for the Tupper Lake Observatory, board members are in the process of putting together the necessary permit applications to the Adirondack Park Agency.
“We have architectural renderings for a Roll-Off Observatory,” Staves says. “The 24-30’ building will have a gantry roof structure so that the whole roof can come off. All the equipment will be set up there permanently. The roof will roll off completely and have a full view of the night sky. We anticipate breaking ground summer of 2010.”
The Wild Center will host the Adirondack Public Observatory 2009 Fall Lecture Series begining Friday, September 18th. The equinox, Jupiter and Galileo’s legacy, Pegasus Square and Andromeda constellations, and 2012 “the end of time” will be some of the topics discussed. All lectures begin at 7:00 p.m. in The Flammer Theatre at The Wild Center followed by astronomical viewing outside using telescopes and binoculars (weather permitting). The programs are free and open to the public.
Here are the details from the Adirondack Public Observatory: The Equinox… Facts and Myths – Friday, Sept. 18
Did you ever hear about being able to stand an egg on end during the equinox? Did you ever try it? This evening’s talk by Jeffrey Miller from St. Lawrence University will provide an explanation of just what the equinox is and how it affects us here on Earth. Jeff is a trustee of the APO, accomplished astronomer and physics instructor at St. Lawrence University.
Jupiter and Galileo’s Legacy – Friday, Sept. 25
Jupiter is now visible in the evening sky and along with the giant planet comes some interesting history. Dr. Aileen O’Donoghue, Associate Professor of Physics at St. Lawrence University, Astronomer and APO trustee, will be talking about Galileo, Jupiter and some of their history as well as a look at the Vatican Observatory. “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!” – Friday, Oct. 2
What telescopes reveal point to how little we really see. A closer look at the Pegasus Square and Andromeda Constellations, how to identify them and what wonders the telescope can uncover for us. Presented by Dr. Jan Wojcik, Professor Emeritus from Clarkson University 2012…The End of Time – Friday, Oct. 9
You may have heard about the coming of the end of the world in 2012? Marc Staves of the APO will shed some light on this dark topic and provide the facts and history behind 2012. A senior lineman for the local power company, Marc is also president of the APO, and an avid amateur astronomer with his own backyard observatory.
For more information and driving directions please visit . For information on the Adirondack Public Observatory, please visit www.apobervatory.org
On July 23rd, 2009 The Adirondack Public Observatory will host famed comet hunter David Levy at The Wild Center in Tupper lake for his presentation “A Comet Discoverer and Starwatchers Journey” in the Flammer Theatre at 6:30 pm. David H. Levy is one of the most successful comet discoverers in history. He has discovered 22 comets, nine of them using his own backyard telescopes. With Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker at the Palomar Observatory in California he discovered Shoemaker-Levy 9, the comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994. David Levy is the science editor for Parade Magazine and regular contributor for Sky and Telescope and Skynews Magazine. He is the author or editor of 35 books including David Levy’s Guide to the Night Sky and Guide to Discovering and Observing Comets. He won an Emmy in 1998 as part of the writing team for the Discovery Channel documentary, “Three Minutes to Impact.” He has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, PBS, the National Geographic special “Asteroids: Deadly Impact”, and hosts a weekly radio show Let’s Talk Stars which is available worldwide. David Levy is currently involved with the Jarnac Comet Survey, which is based at the Jarnac Observatory in Vail, Arizona. Reception and book signing begins at 6 pm and again following his lecture. Weather depending, star gazing with the Adirondack Public Observatory will follow in The Wild Center parking lot. This evening event is free and open to the public.
Photo: David and Wendee Levy with the Palomar 18-inch Schmidt camera used to discover 13 comets.
Associated Press reporter Michael Virtanen is now offering a nice piece on the Adirondack Public Observatory:
The not-for-profit Adirondack Public Observatory in its first year has raised about $40,000 toward a $500,000 goal, according to board members. They have chosen a site in Tupper Lake, about 110 miles north of Albany. The parcel, at 1,600 feet in elevation, overlooks the town beach and campground at Little Wolf Pond.
“We are in what’s called a dark puddle here,” Staves said, noting the contrast in nighttime satellite images of the Earth. “We can actually see the Milky Way, which is something you can’t actually see most places now.”
Great planning folks… the lights from a hospital reduce the overall impact of having both facilities within walking distance. Imagine the draw for something like that – now imagine how many visitors to the new museum will leave the museum, climb into their car, and drive to the observatory – we’ll guess not too many.
Apparently some planners in Tupper Lake neeeds a lesson on light pollution.
MSNBC has a nice image (on a screwy web page) of light pollution in New York.
By the way, the Natural History Museum construction is well under way.
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