Cosmic Corner

 

 

 Title III Activity 9: Astronomy and Astrophysics Imaging Program

Welcome to Our Site

Welcome to our website. We hope you will find our material enlightening and interesting. Not only will we be updating our project on a regular basis, but we will be posting images and information about the objects that are currently visible in the nighttime sky. Check out our links below to many web sites of interest in the areas of space science and astronomy.

What’s Up? (Updated January 29, 2016)

NOTE: For updated images of Pluto and its moons, go to http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/ for information, news, and images. The updates will keep coming well into 2016 and some really spectacular close-up images have been returned.

We are already nearly done with the first month of the new year, and there are new opportunities to enjoy the cosmos over the next eleven months, and beyond. Check out this sample of astronomical events that are expected to happen in the new year…

We are in the midst of a “parade of planets” that is happening just as the dawn begins. Jupiter leads the parade, appearing as a bright white star that is seen low in the east as early as 10pm local time. It is in the western sky as dawn brightens. Looking due south the next planet, Mars, appears, actually as one of two equally bright “stars”. The object to the right is the star Spica, and Mars is on the left. See if you can perceive their distinct colors by eye (binoculars help a lot).

Toward the southeast, the next planet, Saturn, is visible. The star Antares appears to its lower right (about the four o’clock position as seen from latitude 30-degrees north) and is almost the same brightness. Venus is the very bright object below and left of Saturn. Finally Mercury is now easy to spot low in the east-southeast, appearing as a bright star in the dawn glow. You will need a low eastern horizon in order to see this elusive world.

The waning moon is now working its way down the line of planets and bright stars, it was found roughly mid-way between Jupiter and Spica early this morning (Jan. 29). The Moon reaches Last Quarter on January 31, and one day later (Feb. 1) it will pass a few degrees from the red planet Mars. Two days later on February 3, the waning crescent Moon will pass a few degrees from Saturn. Finally, for its grand finale, a slender crescent Moon will make a beautiful triangle with Mercury and Venus on the morning of February 6th. The website www.spaceweather.com will have more information, sky maps and, when they are received, images of the conjunctions (close passes between the Moon and the bright stars and planets).

By now it gets dark considerably later than it did back in early December as the days continue to lengthen in the Northern Hemisphere. As it gets dark the constellations traditionally associated with winter are  high in the east, then high in the south by mid- to late- evening. Taurus with the beautiful Pleiades leads the way, along with Aldebaran (Taurus’ brightest star) and the Hyades star cluster. Orion follows with its seven bright stars; these are trailed below by the bright “dog star” Sirius, the brightest nighttime star in Earth’s skies. Further north, passing overhead in the mid- evening is the bright yellowish star Capella, of Auriga. The bright star Procyon is about midway between Sirius and Capella.

As many look forward to the warmer weather of spring and summer, the morning sky provides a preview of what the evening sky will look like when it gets warmer. The constellation Scorpius is visible low in the Southeast, while the summer triangle now is a morning object (although Deneb can still be seen low in the northwest as it gets dark in the evening).  Constellations of Springtime are high in the South with the bright star Arcturus overhead at dawn’s first glow, and the Big Dipper dipping down toward the northwestern horizon.

For much more information about last fall’s total  lunar eclipse, and when the next one will happen, visit this website: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/get-ready-for-septembers-total-lunar-eclipse-091420155/. We were clouded out in Southeast Texas so we did not get to see or image the eclipse. A friend of mine from the International Occultation Timing Association was able to enjoy the event and he has posted lots of beautiful images of the eclipse, at http://www.lunareclipse.timerson.net/. One can also check out https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=11981 courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

More information on what can be seen in the sky on a weekly basis can be viewed at the website http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance. One can go directly to this week’s information by clicking on the link for this week’s (January 24-30; soon to be January 31 – February 6) sky-at-a-glance. For subsequent weeks the most current week is at the top with earlier weeks archived in reverse chronological order.

 

Partial Solar Eclipse-October 23, 2014

Images from our October eclipse viewing event are shown below, to include the small setup we used to videotape the eclipse at various times; students enjoying the show, along with Physics Faculty; and for anyone who prefers a direct view through the eyepiece, they were treated to the view that is shown in the last image. All images courtesy of Dr. Premkumar Saganti.

Me at my setup for the eclipse Students viewing eclipse
Eclipse watching II Sun III

Check out more images from the event at this link. You can also view lots of images of Octobers eclipses at http://spaceweathergallery.com/eclipse_gallery.html.

Lunar Meteor Watch (Updated December 18, 2015)

Recent Reports of Lunar Meteors and a Call for Quadrantid Observations

The Swiss-Italian lunar meteor monitoring group, consisting of observers Rafaello Lena, Stefano Sposetti and Marco Iten, reports the observations of several impact flashes, each of which was confirmed by Dr. J.M. Madiedo’s team. These events are summarized in the below table and were observed in Europe when the Moon was below the horizon for North America. However anyone monitoring the moon from North America with video and at least an 8-inch telescope had a good chance of observing impacts from the Northern Taurid meteor stream. The North Taurids are noted as being the very likely source of the impact that was the first of over 300 events to be observed by the Meteoroid Environment team at NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center ten years ago.

The four flash detected by Stefano have following selenographic coordinates from Dr. Lena’s preliminary computation using LTVT software package (Mosher and Bondo).

o 7 November 2015 03:31:26 UT — longitude 50.9° E +/- 0.4 ° latitude 24.0° N +/- 0.4 °=> north edge of Mare Crisium about 104 km west of Eimmart crater (images courtesy of Stefano Sposetti)

2015_11_07_033126

o   7 November 2015 04:14:07 UT — longitude 48.8° E +/- 0.4 ° latitude 0.70° S +/- 0.3 ° => Mare Fecunditatis about 54 km north east of Messier crater

2015_11_07_041407

o   7 November 2015 05:06:45 UT — longitude 62.4° E +/- 0.4° latitude 4.90° S +/- 0.3 ° => Mare Fecunditatis about 130 km north of Langrenus crater

2015_11_07_050645

o   8 November 2015 05:14:09 UT — longitude 28.4° E +/- 0.4° latitude 7.3° S +/- 0.3 ° .=> about 83 km south of Torricelli crater

2015_11_08_051409

One additional flash event observed 15 November 2015 18:13:57UT has also been confirmed by J.M. Madiedo (image not presently available)

Many thanks to the Swiss-Italian team for their excellent work and for reporting these results

The Annual Quadrantid meteor shower, set to peak on Earth at 8:00UT on 4 January 2016. Since the Moon leads the Earth into the stream the activity seen on the northern half of the waning crescent Moon will peak some six hours earlier, excellent for morning observations in Europe. Observers are encouraged to monitor the northern half of the earthlit side of the waning crescent Moon on the mornings of January 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

Information about opportunities to observe the Moon in 2016 will be posted at this site soon (more likely in early January)

 More notes on the observations of lunar meteors

Activity in this area has been quite slow as there has not been any major meteor showers occurring when the moon is favorably placed; nor has their been any spacecraft missions to the Moon (since LADEE) needing ground-based support. Nonetheless the www.alpo-astronomy.org/lunarupload/lunimpacts.htm main website does have updated information for the campaign for the current quarter of the year (July 1 thru Sep 30).

Earlier reports and images remain archived below…

I received the following report from the Impact Observers Stefano Sposetti, Marco Iten and Raffaello Lena. They report:
Marco Iten detected an interesting luminous event most probably generated by a meteoroidal impact on the Moon occurred the 26 February 2015. The position of the flash was along the terminator. The brightness of the flash 0.16 s after the initial detection was +8.0 magV. After the main lightdrop a successive residual diffuse light lasted for several seconds. Under the assumption of a meteoroidal impact, we argue that this post luminous event and its ever-growing dimensions was likely caused by the sunlight reflection on ejected materials released by the impact. Marco Iten detected it visually using no dedicated searching software.

We placed our preliminary report here: http://digilander.libero.it/glrgroup/

or directly to the pdf file: http://www.lunar-captures.com//Selenology_Today/ST_preliminary%20report_2015.pdf

Marco Iten
Raffaello Lena
Stefano Sposetti
I, Brian Cudnik, showed the video of the event to Impact Expert H. Jay Melosh of Purdue University (USA) and he agrees that this appears to be a genuine impact event, with the ejection of dust that is made visible as it rises into sunlight. He suggested making measurements to find the height of the dust cloud. This animated gif image (aka, the “video”) is presented below; click on this image to view the animated gif sequence of the impact.

2015_02_26_213522_Iten_black

Monthly Campaign Status Update

Due to the lack of activity at the moment I plan to change the frequency at which this page is updated. I will start a new, quarterly format which will provide, at a glance, the observing schedule along with any meteor showers active during the observing windows. In general the observations fall into three groups: Evening, from three days after New Moon (NM) to two days after First Quarter (FQ); Morning, from two days prior to Last Quarter (LQ) to three days prior to New Moon (NM); and significant shower, when the moon is favorably placed (usually during these two intervals) during annual showers with ground-based ZHR’s of 20 or more.

I will update mainly on occurrences when the moon is favorably placed during such showers, but will also place the information on specific dates of monthly observing “at a glance” similar to the format below. We have already passed most of evening part of the current phase cycle campaign, and for the remainder of the second quarter of 2015, here is what is planned …

• Interval: 24-29 March (NM = 20 Mar; FQ = 27 Mar), evening.
• Interval: 10-15 April (LQ = 12 April; NM = 18 Apr), morning.
• Interval: 21-27 April (NM = 18 April; FQ = 25 April), evening; the Lyrids peak on the 22nd of April; the pi-Puppids peak on the 24th of April; eta Aquarids become active.
• Interval: 9-15 May (LQ = 11 May; NM = 18 May), morning; the eta Aquarids peaked on the 6th of May; the eta Lyrids peak on the 9th of May.
• Interval: 22-27 May (NM = 18 May; FQ = 25 May), evening.
• Interval: 7-12 June (LQ = 9 June; NM = 16 June), morning.
• Interval: 20-26 June (NM = 16 June; FQ = 24 June), evening; the June Bootids become active by the 22nd of June and peak on the 27th of June.

This is the time of year where meteor showers are not very active. The Lyrids and the eta Aquarids are the most active of the listed showers; the remaining showers are trickles of ZHR of 6 or less.

Check back often for any updates on activity related to these last two major showers of the year.

Lunar Project Overview (Involvement with the LADEE mission)

The LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer) mission is history:

We have received official word from the Mission Operations Manager – LADEE has impacted the Moon!

Last contact, before LADEE went behind the Moon, was at DOY-108 [April 18] 04:30 UTC. Re-establishment of contact would have occurred at DOY-108 05:22 UTC.  After achieving over 140 days of science and meeting its primary mission goals, LADEE dropped into a lower orbit for the extended mission phase in order to collect high value science data at extremely low altitudes. In anticipation of impact, we have been downloading science data on each of today’s low-altitude passes to ensure that we retain as much of the collected data as possible.

The LADEE team is doing well, with a mixture of pride and melancholy (and some celebration!).

For the duration of the more than 140 days of LADEE operations Mr. Cudnik had been one of about two dozen coordinators worldwide who coordinated and collected lunar meteoroid flash observations (such as the examples shown below). The images will go a long way to support the efforts of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer team as they sift through much science data collected by LADEE (“LAH-Dee”) during its four-month mission. The aim is to correlated changes in dust concentration with impact events. The spacecraft made impact on the far side of the moon, out of view for ground-based observers. More information on this NASA mission can be obtained at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ladee/main/#.Uw4V1uNdV8E

The work of ground based video observers to monitor the moon with low light video cameras and telescopes in the 8 to 14 inch (20 to 36 cm) size range for up to two weeks per month will continue beyond the life of LADEE. These observations will not only support the science results of LADEE but will also continue to illuminate the frequency and size of lunar meteors, among other results. This web site will continue to serve to provide near-real-time images and information as they are received from observers. The mirror site, hosted on the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) website will give dates of observations each month, background information, and other monthly updates as needed. The ALPO-based mirror site can be accessed via this URL: http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/lunarblog/lunimpacts.htm.

If you are interested in joining our efforts and want to make a scientifically useful contribution, please “tune in” to the archived workshop that was held December 5, 2013. The archive is about 4 hours in length but there is a lot of great information and discussion contained therein. View it here: http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/p4zpsnm6weh/ (you may need to copy and paste this link into your favorite browser)

Lunar Project Updates

I have not received any recent reports as of this writing aside from what I have provided below, it is possible given the weather we have been experiencing as of late, many observers may have been clouded out. Earlier observing cycles have featured impact candidates that are presented below, starting with the most recent events.

George Varros reported:

Brian, here are two candidates from Jan 5.  I don’t know what to make of them. They are both single video field events and are dim but don’t look like cosmic rays because of their nice shape and brightness centroids. They have a similar look, are dim and very short, just like the one from Jan 4.  (I’m rescanning everything using Lunarscan 1.5 after experiencing anomalies or unexpected results.)

Jan 5, 2014 00:12:26  Lat 15.321S  Lon 25.489E inside crater Cyrillus F

Jan 5, 2014 00:31:35  Lat 15.5N  Lon 20.6E

001226_candidate 003135_candidate

[Images courtesy of George Varros]

——————————————————————–

This is a detection by Marco Iten and Stefano Sposetti of a probable impact event on the moon. These are members of the Swiss-Italian team of lunar observers.

———-
Date: 2014 Jan 7
UT Time: 18:19:31.0
Airmass: 1.39
Lunar coordinates: 15.5° West, 19.5° North (Mare Imbrium)
Duration: 20 ms
Brightness: -
Presence of artificial satellites along the line-of-view: none in a 3deg diameter
Iten’s instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate
Sposetti’s instrument: 280mm reflector with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Images courtesy of (left) M. Iten and (right) S. Sposetti.

2014_01_07_181931_iten 2014_01_07_181931_sposetti

——————————————————————–

Lunar meteor observer George Varros reports the following impact candidate:

I found a single video field event that may or may not be an impact. It occurred on Jan 4, 2014, at 23:49:37 UT, just south of Gambart B at  Lat 0.979 Long -11.56  I uploaded and posted an image and a map, in a new folder labeled “01/04/2014 candidate”.

Although it’s only one video field, the event does not have the visual appearance of a cosmic ray in that it has a brighter center and is in a matrix of 3×3 pixels – it looks somewhat stellar.

It was not detected by Lunarscan probably because the event is only seen in the even video field – the odd field was blank along with the odd field of the next frame. The picture is dark because I probably have my gain set too low.

The map image in the folder was made using Registax and consists of 30 video frames surrounding the event, to help pinpoint it’s location and to boost the signal.

The image of the impact candidate is shown below (Image courtesy of George Varros):

234937_candidate _Varros 7 Jan 2014——————————————————————–

We received several observations of likely lunar meteor impacts in December, and the images are provided below. One impact flash was observed on December 7, and another on December 8, with both observations being made by the Swiss-Italian lunar observation team. With the following images the team reports: “Saturday, Dec 7, Marco Iten, Raffello Lena, Andrea Manna and I, made some video recordings of the crescent Moon. We got good, but also poor sky conditions. 2 of us, Marco Iten and I, detected independently and simultaneously a small flash on the Moon. The image of Marco Iten [below, right] shows a very nice bright point of light, lasting about 4 fields (ie. 80 ms). My image is a lot blurred [below, left] because of wind and strong turbulence, the flash is washed out but clearly visible at the same instant and in the same lunar region. The airmass at the moment of the detection was 3.9.

No artificial satellites were along the line-of sight inside a 3deg diameter centered on the Moon coordinates. We performed no photometry of the flash. To note that Marco Iten noticed the flash visually in real time, while looking at the laptop screen.

In summary:

———-

Date: 2013 Dec 7

UT Time: 19:31:06.6

Airmass: 3.9

Lunar coordinates: 11° West, 14° South (Mare Nubium)

Duration: 80 ms

Luminosity: -

Iten’s instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Sposetti’s instrument: 150mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Analysis of the rest of the AVI-files is under way.

Best regards.  For the Swiss-Italian group, Stefano Sposetti

2013_12_07_193106_Sposetti_field 2013_12_07_193106_Iten_fieldCourtesy S. Sposetti (left) and M. Iten (right)

 The same group reports another probable impact event on December 8, 2013:Marco Iten, Raffello Lena, Andrea Manna and I made some video recordings of the crescent Moon in the first half of December 2013. The December 8th, 2 of us, Marco Iten and Stefano Sposetti, detected independently and simultaneously a small flash on the Moon. The image of Marco Iten shows a somewhat bright point of light, lasting about 2 fields (ie. 40 ms). The flash of light in the Sposetti’s image is less evident.

The airmass at the moment of the detection was 2.19. The geostationary satellite INTELSAT 907 was at 66arcmin from the Moon centre at the moment of the detection, ie. outside the field of view. No other satellites were in a 3degree diameter circle centered on the Moon coordinates. We performed no photometry of the flash.

In summary:

———-

Date: 2013 Dec 8

UT Time: 19:15:58.6

Airmass: 2.19

Lunar coordinates: 18° West, 50° South (Longomontanus crater border)

Duration: 40 ms

Luminosity: -

Iten’s instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Sposetti’s instrument: 150mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Best regards.  For the Swiss-Italian group, Stefano Sposetti

2013_12_08_191558_Sposetti 2013_12_08_191558_ItenCourtesy S. Sposetti (left) and M. Iten (right)

 

 

Project Summary and November Update

IMAG1253 IMAG1260 IMAG1261

Three of our primary instruments are shown above: (from left to right), a Takahashi 5-inch refractor, a NexStar 11-inch Cassegrain and a Meade 14-inch LX 850 Cassegrain.

Since the last update we had effectively put the observatory project on hold due to the Chancellor’s Research Initiative project activities (Radiation Biology Physics and Collaboration with Shinen-2, a spacecraft due to launch from Japan in December 2014), and the requirements of various levels of approvals. As of this writing (November 3, 2014) we have been given the go-ahead to meet with the necessary people and obtain the needed approvals.  Up until now, we had been primarily focused on

Work has also been on hold for the Lunar Meteor monitoring project (the updates are just above). Astronomy is not only a very fascinating area of science but it is also an exciting area of study for many undergraduate students around the world. Many physics departments across the nation traditionally identified as “physics and astronomy departments” and this is true for many institutions in the State of Texas as well. Technology useful for scientific quality astronomical data has become available to the masses, and universities also benefit in that they are able to establish an activity involving “real” astronomy at relatively low cost. Within the Physics Program at Prairie View A&M University, an astronomy component is being established with our current expertise in astronomy, and help from Title III funding. Our activity, “Astronomy and Astrophysics Imaging at Prairie View A&M University” promises to bring to our Physics majors and minors, as well as all of our physics and physical science students an opportunity to become involved in a rewarding activity that is “out of this world”. We have a list of potential projects that students can be involved in and have already established a “Center for Astronomical Sciences and Technologies” (CAST) laboratory in room 325 in the E.E. O’Banion (New) Science Building.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of physics majors at PVAMU. We currently have 16 physics majors including double majors. As such we need a support structure (in terms of academic excellence and research opportunities) for these majors to complete their degrees and astronomy component is a popular and a competitive aspect of this structure. In addition to serve our existing majors, implementing and increasing an astronomical presence within the program will appeal to a broader audience: education majors planning to teach science, chemistry majors looking for another application for their subject area including spectroscopic applications, visiting teachers and students (e.g. summer programs, academic year visits from Texas schools, etc.) and future physics majors. Astronomy has a certain draw to it that attracts more people to the physical sciences and we would like to use that to not only attract more people to the program, but also to provide another resource for these students to gain practical, hands-on experience in a physical science that is literally “out of this world.”

As a central part of this activity, we plan to erect a small observatory to serve as a multi-faceted, primarily nighttime (but with a daytime, solar component) teaching-learning-research observatory that will be used by science students in collaboration with existing and future research projects. A preliminary site has been selected on campus for a facility whose primary purpose will be for teaching and outreach, although initially it will be available for basic research and observation projects. Some examples of these projects include senior research and capstone requirements of majors as well as the lunar mission LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) that is now underway. NASA-Ames research center (the institution in charge of LADEE) has requested collaboration between their program and our physics majors and a web based conference will happen on December 5 for coordinators and participants.

With the planned activities and upgrades, along with our present accomplishments, we are progressing to gain nationwide recognition needed for our department and students. With this proposed expansion and augmentation of astronomy component through teaching and laboratory resources we are certain to reach the pinnacle of recognition deserved for an undergraduate and minority serving institution.

Spacecraft Status Updates

There are lots of automated, robotic, unmanned spacecraft exploring various parts of the solar system, galaxy, and universe. DISCLAIMER: All are doing the exploration from within our local solar system, with the exception of Voyager 1 (and this only from a fields and particles perspective) none of our spacecraft have left the solar system.

Hayabusa-2 (related to the above mention Shinen-2 project) http://www.jspec.jaxa.jp/e/activity/hayabusa2.html

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter:  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/main/index.html

Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ladee/main/#.UtAZKdJDt8F

Curiosity Mars Rover:  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html

All Mars Missions: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/

Venus Express:  http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Venus_Express

MESSENGER at Mercury:  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/messenger/main/index.html

Solar Dynamics Observatory:  http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

STEREO (Solar Observing Spacecraft):  http://stereo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Dawn:  http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/

Cassini at Saturn:  http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/

The Voyagers: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/

Hubble Space Telescope: http://hubblesite.org/

GAIA (search for Earth-like worlds): http://sci.esa.int/gaia/

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Project Status archives: (updates Spring 2013)

We are in the first year of a five year activity cycle and have made purchases of many pieces of state-of-the-art equipment. We will be providing images soon of some of this equipment. One of the first significant pieces of equipment is a “Solar Max” Coronado 90 mm Hydrogen-alpha solar telescope, which will enable detailed study of the activity on the sun’s disk. With a video connection and laptop, we will be able to display the sun for entire classes to see at once. Also we have the capability right now to image the Sun and bright nighttime celestial objects, one of the purposes of which is providing activities for our majors to use for their Senior Research Projects.

One project we plan to start over the summer is monitoring the moon for meteoroid impacts. More on this project will be forth coming but information on the monitoring of meteoroid impacts can be found on the web page of the Lunar Meteoroid Impact Search Section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, http://www.alpo-astronomy.org . The primary instrument for this work will be a Meade 14-inch telescope and will be used for up to 5 days twice per month, weather permitting.

Dr. Saganti is working with a colleague from NASA-Johnson Space Center, Mr. Doug Holland, to test and validate a new scientific-grade detector that uses CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology. A number of images have been produced and published online at http://www.holland-observatory.net/recent/.

We are awaiting the arrival of a Meade LX 200 16-inch scope. This instrument will be for planetary and deep astronomy; one project involves the monitoring of Jupiter for meteors in its atmosphere as several have been reported with identically-sized instruments in recent years. In the meantime, software and hardware essential for these projects are being acquired and observations will be scheduled, involving students as much as possible.

Check back as this site will be updated regularly with accomplishments and activities as time passes. We hope to get our computing environment set up over spring break so as to be able to process images; some additional hardware for lunar meteor impact work will be purchased in the near term and activities in conjunction with the Astronomy and Astrophysics class that Mr. Cudnik is currently teaching will be defined and tested during the second half of the semester

We are in the first year of a five year activity cycle and have made purchases of many pieces of state-of-the-art equipment. We will be providing images soon of some of this equipment. One of the first significant pieces of equipment is a “Solar Max” Coronado 90 mm Hydrogen-alpha solar telescope, which will enable detailed study of the activity on the sun’s disk. With a video connection and laptop, we will be able to display the sun for entire classes to see at once. Also we have the capability right now to image the Sun and bright nighttime celestial objects, one of the purposes of which is providing activities for our majors to use for their Senior Research Projects.

Dr. Saganti is working with a colleague from NASA-Johnson Space Center, Mr. Doug Holland, to test and validate a new scientific-grade detector that uses CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology. A number of images have been produced and published online at http://www.holland-observatory.net/recent/.

We are awaiting the arrival of two medium-sized telescopes, expected sometime around Spring Break. They include a Meade 14-inch and a Meade LX 200 16-inch scope. The former will be used for lunar meteor impact monitoring which will happen twice per month for five-day stretches, weather permitting, starting in April. The Meade LX 200 16-inch scope will be for planetary and deep astronomy; one project involves the monitoring of Jupiter for meteors in its atmosphere as several have been reported with identically-sized instruments in recent years. In the meantime, software and hardware essential for these projects are being acquired and observations will be scheduled, involving students as much as possible.

Check back as this site will be updated regularly with accomplishments and activities as time passes. We hope to get our computing environment set up over spring break so as to be able to process images; some additional hardware for lunar meteor impact work will be purchased in the near term and activities in conjunction with the Astronomy and Astrophysics class that Mr. Cudnik is currently teaching will be defined and tested during the second half of the semester.

 

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