Star Gazer April 2018
Schoonover Observatory 670 N. Jefferson Street, Lima, Ohio 45801
Mailing Address: Lima Astronomical Society, Box 201, Lima, OH 45802
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The Star Gazer is written by Sherry Cottle Graham. Please forward comments, suggestions, or to unsubscribe/subscribe to this newsletter to SherryCottle@gmail.com.
April 6, 2018 Meeting starts at 8:00 P.M. at the Schoonover Observatory
Presentation for April 6, 2018 will be hosted by Mark Casazza. He will present, either, “Astronomy session planning”, or “So many things to look at, where should I go?” Mark will demo 1 web site, 1 spreasheet and several Windows based programs.
Under the Dome
Earl Lhamon Wins Jefferson Award 2018
On March 27, 2018, Earl Lhamon received his Jefferson Award at the United Way’s event that was held at the Knight’s of Columbus, Lima, Ohio. There were eight winners this year. These winners were: Terri Beasley, Bev Beery, Lynda Best, Dave Roznowski, Earl Lhamon, Bill Roeder and Jack Rex, Rachael and Cameron Staley, and Deborah Zwez. This award is sponsored by the United Way and Husky Energy of Lima. It is used to recognize the volunteers who selflessly contribute their time to improve the Lima Community. Earl is active in many community activities, but it was his building of a landmark in Lima approximately fifty-four years ago that earned him this award.
Earl was one of seven Lima Astronomical Society members who approached the Schoonover family, fifty-four years ago, to discuss building Lima an observatory. Earl said, “It was a group of seven of us that though, it certainly would be nice if Lima had an observatory. So we went to the Schoonover family and asked them if they would provide a building that we would provide a telescope. And they liked the idea.” This suggestion was agreed upon and it wasn’t long before Earl was busy gathering building designs, financing, and deciding what type of telescope that they would provide.
Earl Lhamon is holding up a banner at the United Way’s banquet.
Building the telescope was in process while the building was under construction. The most time-consuming element that came with this promise was grinding the lens. This task was completed by multiple members who took turns grinding the lens to the specs that Earl had established. He said, “It took six months to grind it. It really worked out well because by the time the building was finished, the lens was ready.”
During this event, Earl accepted a Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00) check from the United Way for the Lima Astronomical Society. The Lima Astronomical Society sends a special salute out to Earl for a job well done.
Fifty-four years later, the observatory is still open and active, especially during the summer months. I tis open to the public every Friday night at dusk. Even if it is raining outside, a movie or presentation will still be offered in the main meeting room downstairs.
The observatory will be open to the public at dusk every Friday evening starting on June 1st, 2018 and ending on September 7, 2018.
Astronomical Calendar for 2018 April and May
Date GMT Event (h:m)
· April 16 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 01:58 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
· April 22, 23 – Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. It peaks this year on the night of the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight, leaving dark skies for the what could be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
· April 29 – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 27 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
· April 30 – Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 00:58 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers. This moon has also been known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Growing Moon, and the Egg Moon. Many coastal tribes called it the Full Fish Moon because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.
· May 6, 7 – Eta Aquarids. The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. It peaks this year on the night of May 6 and the morning of the May 7. The waning gibbous moon will block most of the fainter meteors this year, but you should be able to catch quite A few good ones if you are patient. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
· May 9 – Jupiter at Opposition. The giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show you some of the details in Jupiter’s cloud bands. A good pair of binoculars should allow you to see Jupiter’s four largest moons, appearing as bright dots on either side of the planet.
· May 15 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 11:48 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
· May 29 – Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 14:19 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.
· General Meetings for 2018 are on the first Friday of each month starting at 8:00 P.M.
· Astronomy Days #1, April 21, 2018 starting at 9:30 P.M. at Kendrick Woods
· Perseids Meteor Shower, August 12-13, 2018 starting at dusk, at Kendrick Woods.
· Astronomy Days #2, October 13, 2018, from Noon to Evening, at Lima Schoonover Observatory.
· International Observe the Moon, October 20, 2018, starting at 6 P.M. at Kendrick Woods.
· Lima Schoonover Summer Schedule: Every Friday night at dusk (June 1 through September 7, 2018)
50th Anniversary of the Apollo Lunar Landing, May 4th, 2019 at the Neil Armstrong Airport.
Night Out at the Neil Armstrong Museum, May 19th, 2019.
In the News
60-Second Astro News: Water-rich planets, New Planetary Timeline & Fast Stellar Death
rappist-1 Planets May Be Water-rich, Hint at Migration
The seven Earth-size planets orbiting Trappist-1, a dim star not much larger than Jupiter, may contain far more water than previously thought, according to results appearing March 19th in Nature Astronomy.
his illustration shows TRAPPIST-1 surrounded by its seven roughly Earth-size planets.
NASA / JPL-Caltech
Observations had already shown that the planets are not dense enough to be pure rock and thick atmospheres had also been ruled out. A lighter element, probably water in ice, liquid, or vapor form, must be involved in the lightweight planets’ makeup.
Cayman Unterborn (Arizona State University) and colleagues use a computer code to combine information about the entire Trappist-1 system, including the planets’ radii and the star’s chemical makeup. The code suggested that the inner two planets (b and c) have less than 15% water by mass, while the outer planets (f and g) are more than half water by mass. (Previous results based solely on the planets’ masses and radii had found considerably lower water masses.)
The results suggest that the outer planets formed outside of the “frost line,” where water in the protoplanetary disk existed in ice form and would have been more easily accumulated, then migrated to their current close-in orbits. Read more in the Arizona State University press release.
Researchers Measure Timeline of Planetary Formation
In the March 22nd Nature, Martin Schiller (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) and colleagues have pieced together a history of the solar system — using calcium.
The team focused on the abundances of two isotopes, calcium-48 and calcium-44, measuring the ratio on Earth, in meteorites known as angrites and ureilites, which come from two distinct parent bodies, and in meteorites from Mars, the Moon, and Vesta.
The researchers found that the ratio grew with the parent body mass. The trend suggests all planetary bodies in the solar system’s protoplanetary disk of dust, gas, and pebbles, grew at the same rate — smaller bodies just stopped growing earlier. The new view on planet formation has interesting implications. For example, a longstanding Moon formation scenario has a Mars-sized impactor colliding with a fully formed Earth; this new formation scenario instead implies two half-Earth-sized masses collided to make the Earth-Moon system.
The standard Moon formation theory has a Mars-sized object colliding with Earth (shown here in an artist’s illustration). A timeline based on calcium isotopic ratios instead suggests the objects would have both been half Earth’s size.
Getty Images / Lynette Cook
Some details and discrepancies remain to be worked out, but “the authors’ work adds a missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle of planet formation,” commented Alessandro Morbidelli (Observatory of Côte d’Azur, France).
How Fast Can Stars Die?
Researchers report in the March 26th Nature Astronomy the discovery of a luminous supernova that vanished within a month, designated KSN 2015K. The discovery, using the Kepler space telescope, is the most extreme example so far of a class of exploding stars dubbed fast-evolving luminous transients (FELTs), which peak quickly and fade fast.
Armin Rest (Space Telescope Science Institute) and colleagues comb through possible explanations of KSN 2015K’s light curve, discarding most. For example, a typical explanation for a supernova’s light is the radioactive afterglow of unstable elements created in or shortly before the explosion. However, this radiation lasts too long to explain these observations.
Instead, the team thinks that a dense cocoon of material, ejected from the star shortly before the blast, initially hid the supernova’s radiation. Only when the outer layers of the star break through the cocoon could we witness the light. However, questions remain about what kind of progenitor star would have shed its outer layers shortly before its demise.
Mission Statement: To promote knowledge of astronomy and science (in general) for the residents in and around our community.
Membership Renewals for 2018 year are now due. Please send your checks to: Lima Astronomical Society, Box 201, Lima, OH 45802. The price is: Student $15: Individual $20: Family $25: Life Time $300.
End of Star Gazer