Call for Volunteers: July & August

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.

Portland Metro  Star Party at Glendover Park

July 21st (Saturday evening) 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm.

This is a big annual event put on by Portland Metro in collaboration the Audubon Society of Portland. Because this is such a large event, we are  still looking 10 more volunteers for this event.


Clackamas Community College Star Party

July 27th (Friday evening) 8:30 - 11:30 pm.

Star party on the lawn of the Clackamas Community College. We are looking for 5 volunteers with telescopes for this event.


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.

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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.

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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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Do You Have a Kids Scope to Donate?

Do You Have a Kids Scope to Donate?

RCA Youth Programs and Outreach are looking to put together a fleet of 6-8 telescopes for kids to use at various outreach events. In particular, we are looking for donations of table-top, alt-azimuth mount Newtonian telescopes such as the 114mm aperture, f/4, 450 mm focal length Orion Starblast, Meade Lightbridge Mini, or similar.

RCA participates in many events bringing astronomy to kids in the metro area. We would like to be able to provide an even more meaningful experience by giving them the opportunity to use the telescopes themselves.

If you have one these sitting in your garage or closet gathering dust, these telescopes would be put to excellent use by allowing kids a chance to observe through a telescope for the first time. We would be very appreciative of any and all donations of these telescopes. For telescope donations and questions, please contact Yara at outreach@rosecityastronomers.org or Mike at youth@rosecityastronomers.org.

Don't forget! If you are interested in volunteering at one of the many upcoming RCA outreach events, email Yara at outreach@rosecityastronomers.org.

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Brand New Developments in Portland Defy Basic Standards of Sustainable Outdoor Lighting

Brand New Developments in Portland Defy Basic Standards of Sustainable Outdoor Lighting

Support City-Wide Lighting Standard with Your Letter to Portland City Commissioners

Thomas Lovejoy, “The Godfather of Biodiversity” said, "If you take care of the birds, you take care of most of the big problems in the world." The same might be said about light pollution. Reduce light pollution and you reduce its harmful, biological effects to birds, fish, frogs, trees, and most forms of life that have evolved in sync with the clockwork of day and night --- including humans. Reduce light pollution and you reduce energy waste caused by unnecessarily lighting the sky or your neighbor’s bedroom. Reduce light pollution and we may make streets and neighborhoods safer. More studies are showing that certain outdoor lighting may invite crime, not deter it. More and more people are heard saying, “I avoid driving at night; the lights are blinding.”

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How Do I Become an RCA Volunteer?

How Do I Become an RCA Volunteer?

As you know, RCA is comprised of many amazing volunteers who generously give their time to share their passion and love for astronomy and science with the community. Whether it is setting up a telescope at a star party with students or a private event, working with kids in the classroom, or talking with people at a resource table at a maker fair or farmer's market - RCA volunteers are there!

The first question you may be asking yourself is "How do I volunteer?" Maybe you have never done astronomy outreach before. No problem! There are different ways to volunteer, depending on what you like to do. If you like to do star parties, but don't have a telescope? Let us know. We can find a way to get you connected with the equipment you need. Do you like to develop activities for kids? We can work on putting together content for different school requests. You don't have to know everything about astronomy to volunteer. We can bring you up to speed on what you want to know. Not sure how to work a telescope? We can partner you with someone who does and you can work together.

The next question you may be asking is "How do I sign up to volunteer?" It's easy! First, email me, Yara Green, at outreach@rosecityastronomers.org.

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February President's Message: Electronically Enhanced Observing?

February President's Message: Electronically Enhanced Observing?

The topic of technology and observing have come up again recently with the appearance of yet another technology that is likely to revolutionize observing: Electronically Enhanced Astronomy (EEA), such as is used by the recently Kickstarted Unistellar eVscope (image from their website).

This development is likely to stir up the kind of discussion and debate that the advent of GoTo technology brought up twenty years ago. There’s already lively discussion about it on our Forum and other amateur astronomy boards.

I propose to settle the debate from the start: technology always wins.  So let’s predict that EEA is going to revolutionize our hobby and I hope for the better.  But I am always the voice that says: don’t let the technology overtake our enjoyment of the sky and the stars that fill those gorgeous nights.

Observing Survey: If you haven’t filled out the survey regarding our observing site choices, time is getting short. We appreciate hearing from everyone who fills it out.

Astro-Imaging Class: Registration for the Astro-Imaging Class is still open.  The cost of the class is $20, and class is limited to forty people. It’s filling rapidly so if you want to start at the very beginning and move into the mid-weeds of imaging, this is the class for you.

Camp Hancock: Registration for Camp Hancock is open until March 10. We are limited to 45 RCA members and guests and registration is filling up for this popular event.

Youth Astronomy Class: The Youth Astronomy Class registration is still open. Classes start in March, so if you know of a youth who wants to learn about astronomy and observing, we encourage our members to point them this direction.

Youth Award: We’re still interested in awarding money to young people who do something of merit regarding astronomy and the sciences. Contact our Youth Director if you know of a project that might qualify.

Until the skies clear, I hope we all get to enjoy our winter days!

— Margaret

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Take the Observing Program Survey — We Want to Hear From You!

Take the Observing Program Survey — We Want to Hear From You!

It’s been over 13 years since the RCA Board officially surveyed the membership about its astronomical observing needs. Quite a bit has changed since the last survey, including the size and composition of our membership, the type and number of our available observing sites, the rise in light pollution (particularly from LED lights), the popularity of astrophotography, and the increase in traffic congestion in the metro area. So, it’s time that the Board hear from the membership again. Starting December 16th and running for a month or two, you can take the survey online or, if you'd prefer, take it using in hard copy at our general meetings. Both formats will be on-hand at the Holiday Potluck on December 18th to make it easier for you to contribute to this important survey campaign.

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Register Now for Spring Youth Astronomy Class

Register Now for Spring Youth Astronomy Class

Registration is now closed. Ever looked up into the night sky and wondered what’s up? Experts from Rose City Astronomers will prepare you to explore the universe. Learn the fundamentals of observational astronomy, how to use binoculars and telescopes to explore the night sky, to observe planets, star clusters, nebula, galaxies. Learn about objects astronomers study, how and why our view of the night sky changes through the night, and with the seasons, how telescopes work and how to use them, and how to find your way in the night sky. We will finish with practical advice on how to prepare for a night exploring the universe. In addition to the classroom sessions, telescope observing opportunities under the night sky will be offered. Students and their families will be invited to a end optional star parties with Rose City Astronomers after this class.

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The Telescope Library: What's Next for 2018

The Telescope Library: What's Next for 2018

In 2017, we have started to transform our Telescope Library to increase the value we deliver to our group. This is a good time to look back and appreciate the changes we've made, and the challenges we faced in the past year:

1. Recruiting volunteers has made greater borrowing volume and high quality service a reality, and we will continue to improve in 2018. We also continue to look for people with talent and skills to help maintain and improve our collection. If you like to work with telescopes, we have a place for you!

2. We are modernizing our collection and responding to your demands, by donations and planned acquisitions of newer gear, and retirement of older, less or non-borrowed items.

3. We experimented with multiple-month loans, and customized orders. We will apply these ideas and lessons learned in 2018; expect to see more of this.

4. Introducing web-based reservations has changed how telescopes are borrowed, improving planning for everyone. Most of our borrowing is now done by reservation, but you can still borrow a telescope on-the-spot, at any meeting, year-round. We already have reservation as much as 6 months in advance for 2018.

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