From the Director

Rex

 

 

 

by Rex Parker, PhD, Director

Mt Lemmon Adventures.  I’ve been reflecting on my recent trip to Tucson for the astronomy imaging workshop “Making Every Pixel Count”, run by Adam Block at the Univ. of Arizona’s Steward Observatory atop 9200-ft Mt. Lemmon.  Events have nearly persuaded me to believe that things happen to us mortal beings for a reason.  Some of you may recall my attempts to organize a field trip event for AAAP members to Tucson and Mt. Lemmon this November.

Some of the domes of Mt Lemmon (the 32-inch RCOS is in the dome on the left).

Some of the domes of Mt Lemmon (the 32-inch RCOS is in the dome on the left). Credit: Rex Parker

That effort ran into a scheduling snag, disappointing seven club members who were up for the adventure. This was going to be an opportunity for us to use the amazing 24-inch and 32 inch-RCOS telescopes on Mt. Lemmon visually with eyepieces — all night long under pristine desert mountain skies.  Well, the skies were indeed very good during the four nights of the workshop, with incredible sub-1-arc-sec seeing recorded by the CCD camera on the 32-inch!

The 24-inch RCOS used for visual observing and CCD imaging on Mt Lemmon.

The 24-inch RCOS used for visual observing and CCD imaging on Mt Lemmon. Credit: Rex Parker

However, after the workshop ended on Sunday, October 19, a big rainstorm blew through the desert. The 19th was the night we had nearly decided to book the AAAP observing trip, which would have been a total washout!  The moral of the story is that for future AAAP field trips to faraway places, let’s plan for more than one night of observing to improve our odds.

Biosphere-2.  So on my last afternoon, since the Saguaro’s were getting their much-needed rain, I decided to visit the once famous Biosphere-2 located north of Tucson.  The science and technology of the human two-year isolation project in the early 1990’s provided insights into some of the serious issues for manned spaceflight to Mars, the moon-base, and beyond that we discussed last month at Ken Kremer’s talk.  The human experiments at Biosphere-2 are over now, but the Landscape Evolution Laboratory and several other biogeochemical research projects are continuing, and the public science outreach at the complex is big time.

Rain over Mt Lemmon and the Catalina Mountains on Oct 19.

Rain over Mt Lemmon and the Catalina Mountains on Oct 19.

Amazing Presentation on Nov. 11 at AAAP.  Our tradition of great speaker presentations continues this month (7:30 p.m., Nov. 11 at Peyton Hall) with a talk about the ultimate approach to astronomy imaging — remote CCD astronomy with equipment thousands of miles away at an observatory on another continent!  From his home roll-off roof observatory to an isolated dome in Chile, South America, Dr Steve Mazlin has produced some of the most amazing deep sky images ever published, and is a frequent contributor to APOD.  Check out the meeting announcement in this issue and find further info on the AAAP website. (http://www.princetonastronomy.org/).

Form and function make Biosphere-2 beautiful and fascinating.

Form and function make Biosphere-2 beautiful and fascinating.  Credit: Rex Parker

Important Vote Nov. 11.  At the meeting, a members vote is planned for approval of a capital expenditure proposal for the video equipment to upgrade the WC observatory (as discussed at recent meetings).  Members are urged to attend the meeting to support this proposal for a significant expenditure.  Further details are in the article by Larry Kane in this issue.

Hope to see you at the meeting and the pre-meeting dinner.

This entry was posted in November 2014, Sidereal Times and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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