Telescope Library Goes On-line with Elegant Reservation System

Telescope Library Goes On-line with Elegant Reservation System

In the past year, our Telescope Library has been re-organized, and we now give each eligible member the ability to reserve any of our telescope packages on-line.

Perhaps you’re very new to observing and you need to choose your first telescope. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a telescope or two out for a “test drive” before buying or building one?

Or maybe you’re more advanced: you've outgrown your first telescope. You feel the need for something larger, perhaps more suited to your interests. It's time to try out some of these ideas, with a couple of different instruments.

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Creating a Video of RR Lyrae Variables in M3

Creating a Video of RR Lyrae Variables in M3

Globular Cluster M3 looks almost as stunning as M13 when viewed through a small telescope. You can’t see any color through the eyepiece, but properly exposed and processed photos show many light blue stars. Over 200 of these stars are variable stars of the type called RR Lyrae variables. These stars are very interesting because they have about the same average luminosity and there are two main types with periods averaging about 8 hours and 13 hours. This means that one can capture nearly a full period in one night’s observations.

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President's Paragraph: January 2017

President's Paragraph: January 2017

Many thanks to the folks who helped our year go out on a positive note. We donated two full lawn-and-leaf bags of warm clothes to Transitions Projects Inc. We also donated 117 pounds of food to SnoCap, and gave the remainders of our potluck to the Clark Men’s Shelter, traditions started under the leadership of Dave Nemo and one that I hope continues long into the future. My best to all our members and their families, wishing you all bright stars and clear nights and much joy and happiness for all of 2017.

Margaret McCrea, RCA President

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Holiday Potluck: Donate Extra Warm Clothes to Transition Projects

Holiday Potluck: Donate Extra Warm Clothes to Transition Projects

President’s Paragraph: December 2016

RCA has a tradition of being generous and giving at the time of our annual dinner, this year on Monday, Dec. 19. For several years, under David Nemo’s leadership, we have taken the leftover food from the banquet to Transition Projects' Clark Men’s Shelter on MLK. We have also collected cans of food for Portland’s Food Bank. We’ll do the same this year and hopefully every year as part of our holiday banquet tradition. Consider this is a special reminder to encourage you to bring a can or box of food to donate to Food Bank, as well as your usual contribution to the potluck.

Additionally, this year we are starting a new tradition. We are encouraging our members to donate leftover and unused warm clothes to the homeless. Transition Projects accepts clothes for people of all ages and situations, since so many families are now facing homelessness, so do not worry about size, gender or other issues of appropriateness. We encourage you to bring that fourth scarf someone gave you after their trip to Peru, or those socks that are so thick you can’t stuff your feet into your shoes when you wear them, or that redundant wool hat you never wear, or that wool vest that shrank when you washed it in hot water. As long as the clothes are in good repair and clean, they will be accepted. We’ll have some large boxes and bags to put the clothes into and right after the dinner is over, we’ll drive to Transitions Project’s 24-hour donation location and give them to those who need them.

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Camping reservations open for eclipse viewing at Oregon State Parks

Camping reservations open for eclipse viewing at Oregon State Parks

Salem OR — Starting November 17, 2016, state park campers can make reservations for campsites, yurts, and cabins to enjoy the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. The normal advance campsite reservation window opens nine months before the first night of a visitor's stay, but a temporary change to the reservation system will affect people who want to make a 14-night reservation, the maximum allowed in Oregon's State Park system.

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High-School Students Capture Exoplanet Transit with Ken Hose

High-School Students Capture Exoplanet Transit with Ken Hose

I love working on astronomy projects with students. On October 10 we had a clear night and I had 2 high school students over to capture an exoplanet transit. There were a few possible known transits that night and we chose to image Kepler-17 b which was discovered in 2011 by the Kepler Mission. The students were doing this as a school project. I have an observatory with a 12.5” telescope and a CCD camera that the students used.

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August 2017 Eclipse Page

August 2017 Eclipse Page

A total solar eclipse refers to the sun being completely covered by the moon during the day. During this time, the sky momentarily darkens, temperatures fall, and daytime becomes nighttime. Total solar eclipses are rare: Any particular location on earth only sees a total solar eclipse about once every 300 years. The path on the Earth within which the total solar eclipse is visible is called the path of totality. On August 21, 2017, the path of totality over land will stretch from Oregon to South Carolina.

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Can You Offer Sound Advice, Wisdom, and Foresight?

It’s election season and time to think about RCA officers for 2017. It’s also time for our members to think about nominating themselves for various positions on the Board. Next year is going to be a year for the record books: the eclipse is coming, the club will grow, RCA will be in the news more, will extend its outreach and take on different tasks than it has in the past, or at least find new ways to carry out traditional tasks. So why would anyone be crazy enough to consider volunteering themselves for an officer’s position? Well, let us count the reasons.

For one, it’s a good way to thank the club for the positive work we’ve done and continue to do that has benefitted both our members and the public we’ve worked with. It also helps insure that we continue to carry on our good work during what promises to be a very active year.

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Nominations Now Open

RCA Annual Election of Officers is slated for the November annual meeting. Nominations are open for the following positions:

  1. President
  2. Secretary
  3. Treasurer
  4. VP of Membership
  5. VP of Programs
  6. VP of Outreach & Education
  7. VP of Observing
  8. VP of Communication

Follow the links above for the position descriptions for each office. To nominate yourself or someone else, contact Secretary Duncan Kitchen.

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Volunteer for Lights Out! Sept. 30th at Sunnyside Elementary

Volunteer for Lights Out! Sept. 30th at Sunnyside Elementary

"LIGHTS OUT!" Those are welcoming words among the astronomy community. They are also welcoming words to those trying to protect birds from the harmful effects of light pollution. RCA is joining the Portland Audubon Society in a Lights Out event on September 30th to promote dark skies.

The students of Sunnyside Elementary School have been preparing for this event since April and have had lessons on the importance of dark skies. RCA members can now SHOW the children, their parents, and local community members the wonders of dark skies. Some city skyscrapers, including the Wells Fargo Building, will also be participating in this Lights Out event.

We are looking for volunteers to point out constellations (e.g., Cygnus and Aquila -- the "bird" constellations), demonstrate how to navigate by the stars (after all -- birds do it!), and by sharing views through their light-weight telescopes and binoculars. (Please don't bring a heavy, complicated telescope. We aren't promised onsite parking, so it will be wiser to bring something you can easily carry and set-up). Email Dawn Nilson for more information.

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Lighting the Fuse

Lighting the Fuse

President's September Update

At the August General Meeting I brought a jar labeled Accomplishment Bank, and to my surprise and delight, someone made a deposit in that bank. She said she attended the 2016 Bryce Canyon National Park annual Astronomy Festival. Lucky her! Bryce Canyon is in Utah and is no doubt worth the travel time to get there for clear dark skies. She also visited a friend and former RCA member who has moved to Utah. They both volunteered for the event. I had to smile when she described how a view of Saturn “lit the fuse” of one twenty-something viewer. Saturn just does that to people.

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Blue Spruce Camp Kids Embrace the Sky

Blue Spruce Camp Kids Embrace the Sky

On Thursday night, August 25, three RCA Outreach Volunteers (Alison, Pearl, and Jim) ventured to Camp Blue Spruce, A Camp For Kids With Food Allergies, near Dallas, Oregon. We were rewarded by having an opportunity to meet children who every day deal with the complications of being allergic to dairy, nuts, or an assortment of other common foods. These children can't attend a "regular outdoor camp" because of life threatening reactions that could occur.

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Summer Outreach Highlights

During July and August, nine outreach events were held in each month—a new record—and that doesn’t count August 31st, the night of “OMSI After Dark” because that hasn’t occurred yet!

  • July:  9 events, 1,021 attendees
  • August: 9 events: 7,290 attendees


Much of the attendance surge was driven by the huge attendances this year at Rooster and Stub (6,800 attendees combined) for the Perseid Meteor Shower. Stub had to be “shut down” to prevent more attendees! Attendance was also big for the Perseids last year, but not nearly as many attendees as this year!

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President's August Update

Observing season is in full swing. The weather is about as good as it’s going to get in a year. RCA has a full calendar of observing opportunities. Now is the time to load up the scope and get out under the summer skies to figure out how to sail around among the stars on a glorious night of fun and friendship. Nothing could be finer.

At the same time, we’re getting more and more invitations to do outreach events in the community. When I first started with the club almost twenty years ago, we would get a few requests from elementary school and scouting troops per year, someone on the board would take on the assignment, and that was the end of it. But over time the number of requests has steadily risen, and more requests are coming in for larger and more elaborate events. To tell the truth, we’re about as stretched as we can be in meeting these outreach events.

Outreach is an essential component of the mission of this club. We have always gladly gone out to the community, near or far, to events small or large, but with the growth in the size of the club and our greater visibility in the community, we’re close to being inundated. Like all volunteer organizations, we can only do what our members are willing and able to do. We need to have more members signing up to do one or two of these volunteer events per year. Out of a club of 500 members, we have a list of 75 people whom we contact when we need volunteers for outreach events, and about 35 – 40 of them have done more than one event this year. A hearty thanks to all of them, but it’s not enough. Roughly ten percent of the club is carrying a growing load of obligations. We need more.

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Updated Star Party Etiquette

As promised at the June and July meetings, attached hereto is a draft of our updated star party etiquette. It’s written in four sections and each section will probably be uploaded individually to our website, but for convenience, it’s in one document which you can access here. If you have feedback or comments, please contact me at president@rosecityastronomers.org. We expect to get these uploaded to the website by August 10th. In the meantime, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to review the Forum Netiquette / User’s Guide that we have for the Forum too. It’s never a bad idea to renew our commitment to fundamentals.

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Volunteers Needed for Upcoming Outreach Events

8/6 Oxbow Park We could use 1 volunteer to add to the 2 we already have.

8/12 OMSI Perseid meteor shower event. Jim Todd will send out a later email about this.

8/25 Blue Spruce Allergy Camp in Dallas, Oregon (near Salem). Need 2 more volunteers.

8/31 OMSI After Dark. Held at OMSI at night, 7:00 – 11:00 pm. Need 10 volunteers. This will include telescopes outside and a table inside.

If you want to volunteer for any of these, please send an email to Jim Higgs or call at 503.544.7696.

 

Update on recent events

  • We had 5 RCA volunteers last Saturday night at King’s Raven Winery. We had about 35 attendees and a good time was had by all.
  • Last night at Mountaindale, we had about 80 girl scouts see the stars through RCA telescopes. It’s a wonderful thing to hear the “Oohs and Ahhs” from kids seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time!
  • Also on Saturday tomorrow (in addition to RCA at Glendoveer), we have 11 RCA volunteers at Maryhill. We have all the volunteers we need at Maryhill.
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President's Paragraph: July Update

July is going to be a very good month for RCA. We have no less than FIVE RCA member star parties scheduled. We start bang-off on July 1 at Stub Stewart and then again on July 2 at Rooster Rock. That’s Friday and Saturday nights. I am pleased that our members have been making good use of Stub Stewart for impromptu parties, since RCA had a role in creating it as an observing site for stargazers. And since Friday’s event is official, the bathrooms will be open. Yay

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