The RCA Holiday Potluck will be meeting in the Theory Cafe, which is the main restaurant in the museum, at 6:30 p.m., which is an hour earlier than our usual meeting time.
We will be collecting unopened, non-perishable food to donate to SnowCap Community Charities and winter clothes to donate to Transition Projects. As usual, there will be no club services except for a brief period of calendar sales.
The club will be providing drinks, plates, cups, and utensils as well as a small amount of food intended to supplement what everyone brings. The following table shows the dishes we're asking you to bring based on the first letter of your last name. (Unfortunately we won't have access to power in Theory, so won't be able to warm or cook dishes there.)
A through E: Main Dish
F through K: Side Dish
L through Z: Dessert
There are advantages to holding our event in Theory but also some conditions. We also need to clean thoroughly afterwards. So, please consider staying to help out at the end of the event.
We'll have a brief program consisting of awards, acknowledgements, and a retrospective of notable space missions. We're also considering showing a video in the Planetarium with an astronomical or holiday theme to be announced at the meeting.
We’ll be collecting images for a slide show featuring club-related activities from the past year. If you’d like to contribute images, please send them to our Calendar Director.
It has been a great year for the club. Please come help us celebrate it!
If you need help with a telescope project, need to clean or align your optics, or just want to talk about telescopes, come to the workshop. Activities include telescope building from scratch or a kit, telescope setup, cleaning, aligning, adjustment, and help using your telescope.
A new Members-Only Star Party we are going to try this year, a New Year party on each side of the city to get some winter observing in.
Slides from Our General Meeting
Public Star Parties are held so that we can share our telescopes with anyone who wishes to attend. Since star parties are held at night in the dark, a few common courtesies will go a long way to making sure that everyone has a good time and a safe time.
RCA has a long tradition of small observing parties — it’s part of why the club was formed. RCA Club star parties are for members and their families and guests invited by members. The purpose is have a smaller, quieter event where attendees can spend an entire night observing or imaging without interruption. They are often in remote rural areas where conditions can be primitive at best.
The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to help insure your safety and the safety of others, to contribute to the enjoyment of club events, and to foster an atmosphere that will encourage other people to join RCA. These standards of behavior apply to club events, public events and at any volunteer or outreach events.
We are pleased to announce that 2 additional pairs of binoculars have been obtained, in response to borrower demand. The new binoculars are 20x80's, made by Orion. We had one pair of these, and they have been very popular. Now, we have 3 of them. The binoculars are paired with Orion "extra heavy-duty" tripods. These are heavier than the Orion tripods we have now, and should provide solid support for these large binoculars, better than the Orion field tripods we have for our other binoculars.
The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) hosted its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Utah this year and Dawn Nilson, RCA’s Dark Sky Preservation Director, and Mike McKeag, RCA’s Youth Director, were in attendance. Dark-Sky researchers and advocates came from all over the world — China, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States — to network and share preservation success stories, improved lighting technologies, scientific impact analyses, and outreach ideas. RCA’s list of 2019 “to do’s” in support of dark-sky preservation has grown thanks to the inspiration gained from our attendance at the AGM. You can lend your support to the cause in many ways.
Recently I’ve been asked more than once what telescope to buy for someone who wants one as a holiday gift, and the giver doesn’t know what to get. If you’re a recently-joined member or a parent or partner in the same situation, this article is for you.
Ask yourself a series of questions before you spend money on a scope.
What kind of vehicle do you have for hauling it around?
Do you want to take it apart each time you put it in the car and take it out, or do you want it in one piece?
How much weight can you pick up at one time?
How tall is the person who is going to use it?
What kind of budget do you have?
How serious is the potential user about taking it out into the cold and dark to use it?
How many accessories, like eyepieces and tripods, can you afford? Can you pack them into the same vehicle and remember to bring with you?
Do you have a lot of warm clothes that also fit into the same vehicle?
Do you have a table and a chair? A clock, a sky atlas, some notepaper and pens for taking notes? A planesphere? A thermos? A red LED flashlight? Extra batteries?
One of our most recent acquisitions is a Meade 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope (or SCT), with a new technology twist. Not only is it a GOTO telescope, but it is capable of aligning itself. We have numerous GOTO telescopes, and some that are "push-to", but the track the object, once it has been acquired. My experience with GOTO telescopes has been mixed; they work, mostly, but sometimes they don't, and the alignment process has to be repeated, eating into observing time.
The Meade ACF (for Advanced Coma Free) telescope, with "Light Switch" technology, ships with the claim that you can set it up, turn it on, and it will align itself correctly, every time. I am an old "Carefully align your equatorial mount" kind of observer, so naturally, I was skeptical. Before I put this in the collection, I wanted to make sure this technology actually worked. Lightswitch is an onboard CCD camera, which can be used for imaging. But the alignment system uses to to achieve a high level of accuracy in alignment, by matching the star field observed to what is expected, as the telescope visits alignment stars. I initially tried to align in mid-twilight, and the telescope informed me that it was not dark enough to complete alignment.