Mars is far from a dead planet, especially when it comes to weather. From clouds that can interfere with imaging from orbit, to dust storms that can affect rovers on the surface, to seasonal and long-term changes in weather and climate, there are many reasons scientists keep an eye on Mars' weather. Thanks to a continuous presence in orbit around Mars for nearly 20 years, the planet's weather patterns haven been routinely monitored on a near-daily basis. Planetary scientist and former "martian weather reporter” Dr. Tanya Harrison, Director of Research for Arizona State University’s Space Technology and Science (“NewSpace”) Initiative, will present a photographic tour of atmospheric processes on the Red Planet.
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.
New members are welcome to meet in the OMSI Planetarium at 6:30 before the General Meeting for an orientation and introduction to Rose City Astronomers.
To inform, inspire and keep up to date on current research and the state of our knowledge of the universe. This SIG meets in a private home so the address is not published on our website. Our Cosmology SIG leader can be reached through the Contacts page for more information.
Whether you're a beginner, intermediate or advanced astro-imager — whether you're using a CCD, DSLR, point-and-shoot or film camera — this group can help you achieve better images with less effort and frustrations.
Join us at noon on the first Fridays of every month for good conversation and good food at McMenamin’s on Broadway, 1504 NE Broadway, Portland. Everyone is welcome!
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.
President’s Paragraph, February 2019
Wildfires have been increasingly figuring into our planning for our summer observing. If you plan to get outdoors to observe under our great Pacific Northwest skies this season, please read these preparedness suggestions:
We need to stop thinking of wildfires as abnormal and start planning our summer observing as if we could very well encounter wildfires, or have skies filled with smoke, or have to cancel events for fires.
We have to watch the fire forecast as carefully as we watch the weather forecast. I’ve asked Matt Vartanian, our new VP of Observing, to include fire watch in his forecasts for star parties, even early in the season, just to get in the habit of it.
We have to create safety practices at star parties in preparation for the event of a fire. At Camp Hancock, we park our vehicles facing the exit so we can get out quickly in case of fire. RCA should make this a requirement also. It has the added benefit of turning each car’s headlights away from the observing field.
At Oregon Star Party, we are required to carry five gallons of water dedicated to fire-fighting, and a shovel. We’ve been asked by Eugene Walters, who owns the property at our Maupin site, to require every attendee to have a five-gallon empty plastic buck filled with old blue jeans and enough water to keep them damp, with a lid so they don’t spill in the backs of our cars. In the event of fire, we would put the damp clothes on the grass around our observing site to dampen down the spread of fire, and leave. Eugene said the old-fashioned technique was to use wet gunny sacks. But no one knows what gunny sacks are anymore. I have already assured Eugene we can do this. It’s a small ask to protect his property and to protect ourselves.
We probably will have to develop ways to keep an eye on the wildfire situation on any weekend we’re observing in Oregon Outback. This means that those who have internet connections on site may have to have a fire watch program running in the background.
We must practice fire safety in the drylands where we camp. This means no smoking and no campfires where fire danger is high. This is not one of those “oh well, everyone’s getting too fussy” requirements. If we’re asked not to smoke outdoors, we don’t.
There may come a day when we really do need to leave a place quickly to get to safety. It may even mean having to leave all our beautiful, dearly beloved and expensive equipment behind. But the fires have become more numerous, bigger and faster than they have ever been in the past, and until we as a society invest the time and effort to restore our forest and grassland environments, fires will probably continue on this growth curve.
I sincerely hope that if we are careful and proactive, we can continue to have many more years of wonderful observing. But given that wildfire season has stretched into early spring and late fall, we may have to start expanding our thinking to include our hobby as a winter-time sport. So those clear cold nights in February up at Stub Stewart State Park are looking better all the time. So are nights in our backyards, or online telescope services. We will find a way.
Looking forward — Margaret
With the arrival of Winter and the New Year, our prime season for maintenance and cleanup is upon us. After examining our patterns and preferences for borrowing over the past year, I am making some decisions about reorganizing the collection a bit. In order to free up space at both of our storage locations, telescopes that have not loaned out over this past year will be removed to another location. They will still be available for reservation, but on a somewhat different basis.
Telescopes that are in this category will be removed from the main list you see on the website today, and moved to a new section, below the main collection. You will still be able to reserve them, but what happens between the time you reserve and the time you pick up and return the telescope will be a little different. In essence, we will decide, together, where the telescope will be loaned, and where it will be returned, and how long each loan will be.
Observational Astronomy Class for Middle School Students Offered by RCA in Partnership With Saturday Academy.
April 13 – May 4, 2019
Four Saturdays, 10AM – 1PM
Grades 6 – 8
Location: University of Portland
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 attend optional star parties with Rose City Astronomers after this class.
The curriculum is created and delivered by members of Rose City Astronomers. Registration, administration, classroom, computers, and promotional support are provided by Saturday Academy. To register your young astronomer, visit the Saturday Academy website. Don’t delay; registration is limited to 12 students