Saturday, February 11, 2012
Arvest Bank Meeting Room
Astronomy and Weather
by George Flickinger
BAS is very fortunate this month to have KJRH meteorologist, George Flickinger, as our guest speaker. George's presentation will be divided into two parts. In the first part he will discuss how to use weather computer models to forecast astronomy viewing conditions. In the second part he will present "What if the Joplin tornado occurred in Bartlesville?" This promises to be a fascinating program. Don't miss it.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Bartlesville Public Library
No agenda. No program. No business meeting. Just casual conversation.
In the news this third week of January, a large, potentially disruptive flare was observed on the sun that could affect electric power grids, communications, even possibly forcing the grounding of airplane travel for flights over the polar regions. These flares shoot out streams of charged particles from the sun and if they are directed towards the earth they interact with the earth’s magnetic field, causing these effects. If we use proper solar filters to protect our eyes from the intense light of the sun, we see a uniform spherical ball with occasional dark spots on the surface as seen in the photo on the right taken shortly after noon on January 23rd. However, if we had access to special equipment with filters that show us the sun’s light in wavelengths we normally don’t see well, the sun looks a good deal more active as shown in the photo on the left taken on the same day from one of our solar observatories. Comparing the two photos we see that the sunspots are associated with the areas of greater activity. What we see visibly as sunspots are areas of cooler gases on the surface caused by intense magnetic fields that erupt on the surface of the sun. Because they are cooler, and light output depends strongly on temperature, they appear much darker.
While we don’t fully understand the mechanisms that generate this activity on the sun, human observations over the centuries have tracked the occurrence of sunspots and a record of cyclic activity has been recognized. In the figure below, downloaded from a Wikipedia article on sunspots, is a 400-year record of sunspot activity. The activity follows an 11-year cycle from minimum to maximum and back to minimum. Why it is 11 years is not understood. Currently, we are in an upswing in activity with the local maximum set to occur in 2013. Of recent interest is the prediction that we are entering another “Maunder Minimum” over the next 70 years, such as the one observed in the last half of the 17th century. The sun’s power output increases during periods of greater activity and decreases during quiet periods. Predictions are that this coming Maunder Minimum could result in a cooling trend in the 21st century. More to follow: stay tuned!
Current News from Sky and Telescope
Black Hole Shoots Bullets — January 11, 2012
Powerful jets of high energy material shooting out of the poles may improve understanding of black holes. The more interesting finding is their appearance is associated with the disappearance of cyclic X-ray variations called quasi-periodic oscillations, or QPOs. Key to the finding were observations from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and ironically, budget cuts has terminated it's mission.
Alien Mars Announced — January 11, 2012
Three small exoplanets have been discovered around a sun-like red dwarf. A British amateur astronomer alerted a professional team the fact that KOI-961 had properties eerily similar to those of Barnard’s Star.
New Maps of Dark Matter — January 10, 2012
New maps of dark matter's distribution reveal a weblike network of gigantic dense and empty regions. Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey (CFHTLenS) looked at more than 10 million galaxies in four patches of sky, covering a total of 155 square degrees.
A February observing project or event. Jan and Feb are the best months - if you wait until Mar or April Orion is getting too low in the west to observe well.
They have a similar event in the fall that features the Summer Triangle. The two video sections are good even of special interest at club meetings.
Great weekly sky shows for Kids of all ages
A great weekly online video of things kids can see with the naked eye. These 5 minute video segments feature events that anyone can enjoy by merely going outside and “Looking Up”! Keep this one on your favorites list - http://video.wpbt2.org/program/star-gazers/
Skyweek from Sky and Telescope Magazine also presents a variety of astronomical events for the naked eye as well as telescope viewing. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/videos/skyweek
This is an annual world wide project that lets students and astronomers observe the night sky and collect meaningful data about the state of the night sky. Its very simple and almost all levels can participate.
The GLOBE at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. Light pollution threatens not only our “right to starlight”, but can affect energy consumption, wildlife and health. The GLOBE at Night campaign has run for two weeks each winter/spring for the last six years. People in 115 countries have contributed 66,000 measurements, making GLOBE at Night one of the most successful light pollution awareness campaigns.
In 2012 there will be four opportunities to participate in GLOBE at Night:
14-23 February 12-21 < Best dates for Tulsa Area before DST starts
Learn more from the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: GLOBE at Night Kickoff: Seeing the Light.
Courtesy of John Land, Astronomy Club of Tulsa. firstname.lastname@example.org
March 5, Monday. Bartlesville Public Library Meeting Room (tentative)
Newsletter Contributions Needed
Our club newsletter is reaching more people each month, and member contributions in the form of short articles, interesting news items, alerts of upcoming astronomical events or activities, descriptions of personal observations or useful equipment, and observing tips, are encouraged. Recurring columns or multipart articles are also welcome. Please submit your contributions to Mike Woods or to email@example.com .
Additional club positions:
BAS Public Website: http://sites.google.com/site/bartlesvilleastronomyclub/
BAS Yahoo Group: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/BvilleAstro/
If you want to have your email address removed from the Bartlesville Astronomical Society mailing list, please send an email requesting removal to firstname.lastname@example.org