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RCA General Meeting: Observing From the Urban Backyard with Electronically-Assisted Astronomy

  • OMSI 1945 Southeast Water Avenue Portland, OR, 97214 (map)

The RCA General meeting is in the Auditorium beginning at 7:30. Mark Lowenthal and Jeff Lee will discuss Electronically Assisted Astronomy.

The new member orientation will begin at 6:30 in the Planetarium. Most club services will be available in the Auditorium prior to the meeting. In particular, the Telescope Library will be operating near the Planetarium door. 

Mark Lowenthal became interested in astronomy before age ten and his father — supporting Mark's growing passion — fell in love with it too. After using a 3-1/2 inch refractor borrowed from a friend for a year or two, his father scraped together enough money to buy a Cave Optical 6” Newtonian. They joined the local astronomy club, the East Bay Astronomical Society, and frequently attended joint star parties held with John Dobson’s San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers.

Mark became found his calling at the beginning of the microcomputer revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s programming microcomputers, initially developing business applications and later focusing on image processing and commercial printing graphics applications. After 27 years of computer programming, he moved on, combining prior knowledge of electronics with his knowledge of the print industry, in new endeavors developing printed electronics. This gave him the opportunity to become involved in general electrical engineering, LED semiconductor design, specialty ink chemistry and a variety of other disciplines.

Mark retired from this work because of health issues in 2016 and is now self-employed. This has happily given him the time to return to observing after many years of armchair-only amateur astronomy.

 M13 in 5 seconds through an ST80 refractor on an SLT mount.

M13 in 5 seconds through an ST80 refractor on an SLT mount.

DSLR/Mirrorless EAA

Electronically Assisted Astronomy got Jeff Lee back into viewing after a two-year hiatus. If you have a motorized mount, and a DSLR or Mirrorless digital camera, the price to enter the EAA world is either very inexpensive or free. Jeff will present the basics needed to start “seeing” things in the Portland light dome that you might not have believed was possible with your equipment.

The Tools needed

  1. A Motorized Mount (Goto is very helpful)
  2. A DSLR or Mirrorless Camera (astronomy cameras work also)
  3. Tethering software for your camera
  4. Processing software (Free or $10 per year or $100 forever – choices
  5. Laptop

Jeff Lee is retired and two years ago had stopped observing. This year he was introduced to EAA (Electronically Assisted Astronomy) and has since explored the use of small scopes in the Portland light dome using this technique. He feels strongly that even modest equipment can help amateur astronomers see things from their backyards that would require a much larger scope as well as get more “sky time” by being able to view any clear sky — and in Portland those can be rare during fall and spring.


Slides From Our August Meeting

Earlier Event: August 20
New Member Orientation
Later Event: August 25
Telescope Workshop