Geological Society to Bring Prominent Paleontologists to Camp Hancock Star Party

Geological Society to Bring Prominent Paleontologists to Camp Hancock Star Party

The Camp and Our Clubs' Intertwined Origins Go Back to 1951

When I first joined the club twenty years ago, RCA Camp Hancock weekends often had upwards of seventy people, with telescopes. We set up and spread out in a large field we called Dob Valley.  But we lost the use of this field a few years ago because it is not part of Camp Hancock; it is National Monument land belonging to the John Day Fossil Beds run by the National Parks Service. So we are limited to three observing locations within Camp Hancock itself. If everyone who signs up for Camp Hancock brings a telescope, we would have fifteen telescopes set up at each of our three smallish observing locations, and that’s enough. For that reason, for the last few years we’ve limited RCA registration at Camp Hancock to 45. It filled up really fast this time, the fastest it’s ever filled up. But there are no fewer “slots” for RCA members than there has been in recent years. We always create a waiting list. Already this time around we’ve had cancellations and some people have moved off the waitlist and are registered. At the moment, there are about ten people on the waitlist. That’s about normal.

At this Hancock event, we’ll have extra guests from the Geological Society of the Oregon Country (GSOC). They were half-invited and half-volunteered because there is such an overlap of interest between astronomy and the earth sciences, which are in fact planetary sciences. Camp Hancock was started in 1951 by OMSI and GSOC founding member/amateur geologist Lon Hancock and became the home to one of our two progenitor organizations, the OMSI Astronomers. Several members of RCA are also members of GSOC; that’s been true for a long time. I’ve gone on GSOC field trips myself, and taken Paul Edison-Lahm’s downtown geology walk, and have found them truly interesting.

The GSOC members are offering us three additions to the weekend that we don’t normally get: (1) they will take us on a hike through millions of years of geologic history, explaining all the cool things we’ve been looking at on our normal hikes but not knowing what they were; (2) they have invited Dr. Nick Famoso, Chief Paleontologist of the John Day Fossil Beds, to be a speaker/resource person; and (3) they have invited Dr. Bill Orr, the Grand Old Man of Oregon Geology, the Man Who Wrote the Book, to give us a presentation about John Day geology on Saturday night after dinner.  I am personally delighted that Dr. Orr said yes to our humble event. We are privileged to have him.
           
The GSOC people will rideshare to Hancock, so will limit the number of cars they add to our parking situation; they will not bring telescopes, so will  not be crowding us on the field; we have arranged for some Telescope Helpers to introduce the use of a telescope to them and introduce the sky; they will have assigned cabins because they will be going to bed fairly early and we do not want to be waking them up at 3 a.m.; they will have dimmable red Celestron LED flashlights.

I am happy that they are coming and think that they will enrich our experience at Hancock a great deal. Rest assured, no RCA member has lost a chance to register for Hancock because GSOC members will be there, and attendance will be no more than we’ve had at Hancock in the past. GSOC is what I call a “natural ally,” since we are all amateurs interested in the sciences and willing to go out and do field work.  I expect we will find that they are as interesting to get to know as anyone else we meet on the observing field. Please make them feel welcome!

Looking forward . . .  Margaret

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Send Us Your Best Images for Our 2019 Calendar

It's the time of year again when we need your help for the 2019 calendar! We are looking for your great astrophotos, so please send us any images you would like considered for inclusion to calendar@rosecityastronomers.org. Images for inclusion should be approximately 3300x2550 pixels (8.5x11 @ 300dpi) in a high-res jpg or a tiff. If the image is too big to send, please send a lower resolution, but high quality image and we will respond with a link to where you can upload the full resolution image. The deadline for submission of images is September 25th, so please send in any images you would like considered soon.

Thanks for helping to make the calendar great!

David Novotny
RCA Calendar Manager

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Electronically Assisted Observing (EAA) Presentations Are Now Available

Electronically Assisted Observing (EAA) Presentations Are Now Available

Did you miss Mark Lowenthal and Jeff Lee's talk on how to image or do EAA with a DSLR? Their full presentation is now available containing links to the programs you can use to use your DSLR and telescope for either imaging and "near live" viewing (EAA).

The presentation also explains which basic programs are needed (free or commercial) and contains links to explanations about laptop installation and usage. EAA and imaging are exactly alike except that EAA normally depends on very short exposures and you can watch the view be developed in near real time on your laptop screen. Whereas imaging (astrophotography) normally uses 30 to 60 second images, which are then stacked to become an astro-photograph. Bring any questions you have to our EAA online forum. Mark and Jeff's presentation slides are also available on our website.

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Last Chance to Order 30th Anniversary Jackets! *** Order by Oct 1st! ***

Last Chance to Order 30th Anniversary Jackets! *** Order by Oct 1st! ***

We once again offering the popular RCA Anniversary Jacket with our RCA 30th Anniversary Logo embroidered on the upper left of the front of the jacket.

Available in Men’s or Women’s sizes, X-Small through 4X-Large (they run a bit large)

  • Black, Royal Blue and Red (women’s red available only in X-Small, Medium, Large and 3XL)

  • Made by Port Authority: All-Season-II jackets

  • Nylon exterior, jacket body lined with microfleece, sleeves and hood lined with polyester

  • Removeable zippered hood

  • Front zipper zips both ways; wind flap covers the zipper

  • Three exterior zippered pockets; two interior pockets

  • Draw cords and toggles on hood and waist

  • Velcro adjustable cuffs

  • $60 each

  • Pre-order and payment needed by October 1st so that we can have the jackets available at the October 15th General Meeting.

  • $5 extra for shipping for those not picking up their pre-ordered jackets at the meeting.

  • Submit your pre-paid orders now.

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LIGO/"She Who Watches" Registration Open

LIGO/"She Who Watches" Registration Open

For several months now, members have been asking when we are going to take another trip to LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, at Hanford, Washington) especially since we found such a great campground nearby when we went last year. Good news! We’ve set the date for Saturday, October 13. It’s going to be a great trip, but we are going simple this time. Trip details ➡

But wait! There’s more!!!

Tsagaglalal (She Who Watches) Pictograph Tour

Dawn Nilson suggested that taking a tour of the Tsagaglalal (She Who Watches) Monument at the Columbia Hills Washington State Park on the way up to LIGO would be a nice addition to someone’s trip. There are two choices:  10 a.m. Friday, October 12 and 10 a.m. Saturday, October 13. The park is near Lyle, WA, just across the river from The Dalles, so it’s about ninety minutes from Portland. The tour is free but there is a $5 parking fee. The tours are limited to 25 people and registration is required. 

Tsagaglalal (She Who Watches) Tour Details ➡

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RCA Virtual Star Party for August

RCA Virtual Star Party for August

Weather permitting, Mark Lowenthal will be broadcasting another live streamed EAA powered RCA virtual star party on YouTube this Friday, August 3rd starting at 10:30pm. The first broadcast back in May was a bit on the experimental side, with live-chat and audio problems, but the 2nd broadcast in June went more or less as planned with most of the kinks ironed out. Ten deep sky objects were observed, including some requested via live text-chat over the course of the two hour broadcast.

How to Watch Mark’s Virtual Star Party ➡

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New Committee Seeks Potential Observing Site Partners

Board Takes “Fee Title” Purchase Option Off the Table

Do you or anyone you know own property in a dark sky area within 45 minutes to 4 hours from Portland that might be willing to “partner” with RCA as a suitable observing site? Do you have any affiliations with public landowners, such as rural schools, city, county, or state parks? If so, we want to hear from you. A standing Observing Site Committee, chaired by Margaret McCrea, has been formed to review sites that come before the Board for acquisition consideration. We’ll be posting a site form on the website to give you an idea of the basic information needs beyond observing suitability.

What Kinds of Observing Sites Are We Considering? ➡

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Call for Volunteers

Hi Everyone! We have a few upcoming outreach events that could use a few more RCA volunteers with their telescopes. If you are interested, please email me, Yara Green.

Fort Stevens (Oregon Coast)

August 17th & 18th (Fri. & Sat. ) 8:00 pm - til.

The observing location will be the Peter Iredale shipwreck parking lot (upper area). We need a couple of volunteers for each night with their telescopes. If you are in the area or will be camping at Fort Stevens, this would be an excellent event to volunteer. This is a Park Ranger-approved event. The sky on the Oregon coast, when clear, can be fun to observe!
 
Thank you for volunteering!
Yara Green, VP of Outreach

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Beware Blindingly Bright LEDs

Beware Blindingly Bright LEDs

Good weather means star parties and with star parties comes the issue of good light management, so it never hurts to review basic field manners. Stargazers do try valiantly to manage their red lights, but LED manufacturers are making their lights brighter and brighter. Given that with modern technology more is always better, we can assume that these lights are going to continue to get even brighter. I did a check for “dimmable red LED flashlight” on Google and came up with these items: Mini Strong Brightness, Energizer Industrial LED, Military Tactical LED, Bulbrite, Brite LED Headlamp... you get the picture. However, a much better choice would be one of the many dimmable astronomical flashlights that are available. We recommend the Rigel Systems Starlight.

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Our First Thirty Years, and the Next Thirty!

Our First Thirty Years, and the Next Thirty!

On Saturday, June 23rd, RCA celebrated the 30th anniversary of its merger with the Portland Astronomical Society with a picnic at Gabriel Park, where RCA and OMSI used to have their public star parties many years ago. The picnic was a rousing success. People who hadn’t seen each other for decades came together with their memories and their memorabilia. We created a timeline, an In-Memoriam page and an “I remember when” page on large sheets of paper for members to write their contributions. There were few marks on the pages, but an amazing amount of conversation and stories bubbled through our conversations.

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Eyepiece Donations

Eyepiece Donations

As you may remember, we recently collected a variety of telescopes for a kids' observing program to provide telescope access to kids of all ages. We are now looking for eyepieces to round out the telescope kits. If you have an eyepiece that you no longer use or has been sitting in the back of a case for longer than you can remember, please consider donating it to the Outreach and Education Committee. Right now, we welcome any and all eyepieces. Please email Yara Green to arrange the donation. Thank you!

Yara
VP Outreach and Education

outreach@rosecityastronomers.org

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Telescope Library Locations: OMSI vs. TMS

The Telescope Library has two locations where it normally operates: OMSI, before and after our monthly general meeting, and the Telescope Workshop, which currently convenes monthly at TMS on Swan Island. We work fairly hard to make sure that we honor reservations; the locations for each item you see on the website are accurate and timely, and making sure that any telescopes reserved to go out are at that location when they are to be checked out. The collections are different, and that difference is intentional.

In general, the telescopes at OMSI are somewhat smaller and less complex. But there are exceptions and there is some overlap — and that's intentional.

Read more about making your reservation ➡︎

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30th Anniversary Jacket: Get Them While You Can!!

30th Anniversary Jacket: Get Them While You Can!!

For a limited time, we are offering an RCA 30th Anniversary Jacket with our RCA 30th Anniversary Logo embroidered on the upper left of the front of the jacket.

  • Available in Men’s or Women’s sizes, X-Small through 4X-Large (they run a bit large)

  • Black, Royal Blue and Red (women’s red available only in X-Small, Medium, Large and 3XL)

  • Made by Port Authority: All-Season-II jackets

  • Nylon exterior, jacket body lined with microfleece, sleeves and hood lined with polyester

  • Removeable zippered hood

  • Front zipper zips both ways; wind flap covers the zipper

  • Three exterior zippered pockets; two interior pockets

  • Draw cords and toggles on hood and waist

  • Velcro adjustable cuffs

  • $60 each

  • Make your pre-paid order now.

  • Order by June 30th for pick-up at July 16th General Meeting.

  • $5 extra for shipping for those not picking up their pre-ordered jackets at the meeting

  • RCA 30th anniversary Jackets will not be available after June 30th.

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$1000 in RCA Youth Astronomy Awards to Be Announced at June Meeting

At our June meeting the Rose City Astronomers will announce the names of the seven (7) recipients who will receive awards for their astronomy related projects. The awards are made as part of the Rose City Astronomers’ ongoing Youth Awards Program. The seven middle and high school aged students will receive awards varying from $100.0 to $200.00 dollars. If you are a student or have a student, come to the meeting to find out more. The awards are given out twice a year for astronomy related projects from astronomical research to science-based science fiction and astronomical art. These are our Spring Award Winners:

  1. Avital (Tali) Emlen and Diana Herrera, 12th Grade, Wilson High School, Portland, mentored by RCA member Ken Hose: "Calculating the Distance to Star Cluster M52, Telescopic Spectroscopy, Pine Mt., Oregon"

  2. Sasmitha Purushothaman, 7th Grade, Meadow Park Middle School, Beaverton, Teacher Susan Duncan: "Science Fair Presentation: Detecting Gravitational Waves: Laser Interferometer (LIGO)"

  3. Wilson High School Astronomy Club, Alec Sautter reporting, Wilson High School, Joseph Minato teacher: "The Big Eclipse Camp: Public Education Eclipse Gathering"

  4. Sofia Solares and Kate Kelly, 12th Grade, Woodrow Wilson High School, Tom Calderwood mentor: "The Vega Project, Part 1:  Is Vega a Variable Star?"

  5. Quinn Brown, 9th Grade, Wilson High School, Rob Brown, father/mentor: "Tensegrity Telescope: Building a Portable Telescope"

  6. David Fang, 11th Grade, Oregon Episcopal School, Peter Langley mentor: "Modeling the Orbit of Asteroid NEA 2003 QB90"

  7. Mitchell Simmons, 12th Grade, Woodrow Wilson High School, Chris Bartlow, mentor: "Program to Predict Lunar Eclipse."

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Volunteers: Thanks for Stepping Up!

We're Recruiting for a Picnic Coordinator and a Sales Table Assistant

President’s Message:
For the last several months I have been in the throes of downsizing from twenty-seven years of home-ownership to a smaller, simpler living situation; at the same time, I've had a family health situation to deal with. So to keep the club on track while I've been swamped, I began to ask people to step in and help me, and to my great delight, they did. The Board has taken on more tasks; we got not one but two volunteers for the New Member Orientation position; when I called someone and told her I just didn't have time for a project, she took it on. It has been gratifying and has offered me great relief.

Sales Table Assistant Needed

Now I have another need for someone to step up.  Robin Baker (pictured above) after many years of faithful assistance at the Sales Table, needs to step away for a while and we need someone else to help Craig Hlady every month. It involves coming to the general meetings, helping people find the right resource, being especially helpful to new members, and being able to multi-task while keeping track of the money.  If you want to help the club in this way, please contact me at president@rosecityastronomers.org or Craig Hlady at sales@rosecityastronomers.org.  

Picnic Coordinator Needed for Our 30th Anniversary Picnic June 23

And don't forget that we have a special event coming up in June: our 30th anniversary picnic, June 23rd at Gabriel Park, SW 45th Ave. and Vermont St. We choose this place because it's where the club used to have star parties, back in the day when it was a tiny club and light pollution wasn't so bad. We have plans to recognize the accomplishments of past presidents of the club and to remember some members we have lost. Beyond that, to tell the truth, I've been so flooded over with responsibilities and tasks related to downsizing and moving that I haven't put much effort into planning this affair. So if someone would like to step up at this late hour and help us put on a terrific event, plan a timeline and get the word out, I would very much appreciate it and so will the members who come out to enjoy our unique day together. if you have ideas or energy for making the picnic a great time, contact me at president@rosecityastronomers.org.  I know the the exact right person will step forward. They always do.

Our (New) New Member Director

We welcome our new New Member Director Alexe Mastanduno. Alexe completed an Astronomy-Physics Degree at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and is now happily back in the Portland area where she grew up. She is a Museum Educator with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Thank you, everyone, for being there, front and center, and keeping our club as good as it is.

Looking forward . . .  Margaret

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Jill Tarter's Cosmic Perspective

Jill Tarter's Cosmic Perspective

Article courtesy of Seattle Astronomy.

Jill Tarter thinks that Craig Venter and Daniel Cohen may not have been bold enough when they declared in 2004 that the 21st Century would be the century of biology. “I think the 21st Century is going to be the century of biology on Earth—and beyond,” Tarter declared during a talk at last month’s meeting of the Rose City Astronomers in Portland, Oregon. Tarter, the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute and former director of the Center for SETI Research, thinks there are many ways we might find extraterrestrial intelligence.

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What Is All This Hubbub About EAA and White Light? What Is EAA?

What Is All This Hubbub About EAA and White Light?  What Is EAA?

EAA (Electronically Assisted Astronomy) is an exciting, emerging new form of astronomy that our club members are embracing at a quick pace. EAA offers a hybrid form of observing, that mixes near-real time imaging (photography) with traditional observing through the use of specialized equipment. Essentially, a camera replaces the eyepiece, but instead of long-exposure imaging (what many imagers do to produce those stunning photos of deep space objects, but it often takes hours of capture time and then equally long periods of post-processing on the computer for many days after the capture), the EAA camera takes a sequence of very short exposures, and then a software program quickly stacks and stretches the images, using a few configurations/instructions preset by the observer, to yield often stunning views of objects.

Read More About EAA ➡︎

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Geological Society of Oregon (GSOC) Coming to Camp Hancock Star Party

Geological Society of Oregon (GSOC) Coming to Camp Hancock Star Party

We are very pleased to announce that a delegation from the board of the Geologic Society of Oregon Country (GSOC), including our own Paul Edison-Lahm, will be joining us for our May 11-13 Camp Hancock star party. The “GSOCers” will be sharing their knowledge of the local John Day basin geology and will in turn be learning from us about dark sky observing. All board members have had training in star party etiquette and their impact on parking and cabin space should be minimal.

RCA, GSOC, and OMSI share a long history at Camp Hancock originating with its namesake Lon Hancock, an amateur geologist and charter member of GSOC. Lon devoted many years to exploring the paleontology of the John Day region and was the first in Oregon to discover an Eocene vertebrate fossil: a rhinoceros tooth embedded in a nut in the nut-beds above the camp. A 1951 OMSI field trip led by Hancock and other GSOC members would quickly become “Camp Hancock” and plant the seeds for the OMSI Astronomers, a parent organization to RCA.

Read more about GSOC at Hancock ➡︎

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Remembering Peter Abrahams

Remembering Peter Abrahams

We are all still saddened by the sudden loss of our friend and member, Peter Abrahams on March 4 to a heart attack while visiting his family in Los Angeles. The more I talk to his family and other club members, the more I learn about his wide range of talents and accomplishments.

Peter was probably the least self-promotional person I’ve ever met, yet he cast a wide net in both science and the arts. Fortunately, David Nemo, another past president, is working on preserving Peter’s works from his website, and already someone has stepped forward saying he’d like to take up some of the archival work that Peter was doing. There is a longer memorial article, including many comments from friends remembering Peter, in this article below.

Read More About Peter ➡︎

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The Early History of RCA: Reprint of 2008 Article "RCA at 20"

The Early History of RCA: Reprint of 2008 Article "RCA at 20"

This article appeared in the Rosette Gazette in July, 2008. Dale Fenske is a past president of RCA and former liaison to the Astronomical League. Republished with his permission.

Has it really been 20 years? Time goes so quickly. It seems like only yesterday when I exchanged my 60mm Sears refractor for a giant 10“ Cave reflector with a German equatorial mount. (At that time a monster scope was 12 ½”.) I was anticipating some serious astronomy with the Messier list as the agenda. My new scope could view many deep sky objects that I had been missing with the 60mm telescope. Frustration is the word for what came next.

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