From the Program Chair

by Ira Polans

The November meeting will be held on the 13th at 7:30PM in the auditorium (Room 145) of Peyton Hall on the Princeton University campus. This meeting will be held as a joint event with the MIT Club of Princeton.

This month’s featured talk has its roots in Dava Sobel’s April 2017 talk on her book “The Glass Universe”. The main subject of the book is the collection of over 500,000 glass plates, collected over almost a century, and the women who were employed by Harvard to interpret them. Near the end of the talk she briefly mentioned the project to digitize the plates. In tonight’s talk Robert Simcoe will speak about this project DASCH (Digital Access to a Sky Century @ Harvard).

Bob Simcoe designed and built the two instruments, the plate washer and the scanner, which are central to the project. The project is near the half-way point, having scanned 300,000 of the 600,000 astronomical photographic plates in the collection of the Harvard College Observatory.

He brings a 35 year career of digital circuit design to bear ranging thru the NSA, GE, and DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation). In DASCH, he has turned the challenge of safely cataloging, cleaning, and scanning into a production process. The project team is now making the scanned images available to astronomy researchers. Bob was an amateur telescope maker, frequenting Stellafane, the summer ATM convention.

This talk will discuss the development of the hardware, software, and archival processes needed to meet the goals of digitizing and extracting accurate photometric and astrometric data from this unique data base. The result has been the creation of the unique Harvard DASCH collection of astrophotographs that allows astronomers to study how the sky has changed over one hundred years .

Prior to the featured talk member Rafael C. Caruso, MD will give a 10-minute talk on Averted vision for the amateur astronomer. His talk concerns the retinal basis underlying the advantage of averted vision for the detection of dim stars or nebulae.

Prior the meeting is a meet-the-speaker dinner that will be held at Wiberie’s in Palmer Square. This dinner will be held jointly with the MIT Club of Princeton. If you’re interested in attending the dinner please let me know by noon on October 12.

This is a day earlier than normal because we need to coordinate with the MIT Club of Princeton. If you’re new to the club, please be aware that the dinner might not lend itself to talking a lot about club activities and benefits. You may want to consider coming to the next dinner instead.

Looking forward to you joining us in November!

This entry was posted in November 2018, Sidereal Times and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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