Astronomical Society

of Long Island


NOTICE:  All content on this site is Copyright ©2016 by Ken Spencer, The Astronomical Society of Long Island, and the respective photographers.  All Rights Reserved.  Reproduction is forbidden without express written permission.


Jan 29 -  Cosmic Explosions - by Dr. Rosalba Perna. Stars play a fundamental role in the chemical evolution of the Universe, as well as in the development of organic life. In this talk she will review how stars are born, what it is that keeps them shining, and their ultimate fate when they die. In particular, she will discuss the explosive events associated with the death of the most massive stars in the Universe, as well as the compact objects that they leave behind - neutron stars and black holes. She will conclude with a summary of the observational evidence that has allowed us to identify these remnant objects in the Milky Way and in nearby galaxies. Dr Rosalba Perna is a professor of physics and astronomy, and a theoretical astrophysicist whose main research interests are compact objects and explosive phenomena. Following a bachelor in Physics in Italy, Dr. Perna studied condensed matter. She came to the United States and obtained a PhD at Harvard University. Her interests shifted towards the Physics of the Universe. She has been on the faculty at Stony Brook since January 2014, after being a faculty for almost 10 years at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Not only an Astrophysicist, she is also a pianist!


Feb 5 - 7:15 PM - Visual Observers Discussion Group - Come join us for the Visual Observers Discussion Group.  If you are brand new to astronomy, you are welcome.  If you are a seasoned veteran we welcome you as well.  We will talk about what’s in the sky this month and how to find it.  We might pick a constellation to learn for the month.  And we may discuss Astronomical League observing programs to help us get the most of our observing time. We will also talk about telescopes, eyepieces, filters, charts, and other tools.  We can discuss computer programs and phone/tablet apps to enhance your visual observing experience.  If the weather is clear we may take the discussion outside so we can actually view the sky as we talk about it.  We hope the new and the experienced will join the discussion to share experiences so we can learn from our fellow club members. 

Feb 5 - 8 PM - How to Use Stellarium - by Ed Anderson.   Stellarium is an open-source FREE software for  computers,  available for Linux, Windows, and macOS. A port of Stellarium called Stellarium Mobile is available for Android, and iOS.  All versions use OpenGL to render a realistic projection of the night sky in real time. Learn how use this amazing FREE software to help you learn the night sky.

Feb 12 - Cleaning Optics - by Ken Spencer - You probably own binoculars, and then some eyepieces for your telescope.  How do you clean these optical surfaces without damaging them?  And if you have a telescope, how to you clean the objective of a refractor?  And, probably most complicated of all, how to you clean the primary mirror of a Newtonian telescope without scratching its delicate surface?  Ken will show the techniques he has learned from other amateurs for cleaning all these items.  You can have a chance to argue with him about whether or not his techniques, and materials are correct!

Feb 19 - NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter, Update - by Prof. Alan Calder. NASA's Juno spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011 and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Named after the "cloud piercing" wife of Jupiter, its mission is to investigate the atmosphere of Jupiter to measure the composition, particularly the amount of water, and to observe Jupiter's magnetic and gravitational fields. The information we are gaining from Juno will help us better understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, which will also help us understand the formation of giant planets. I will discuss the layout of the solar system and what we know about Jupiter, theories of planet formation, questions the Juno mission strives to answer and the latest results from Juno. Alan Calder joined the Stony Brook Physics and Astronomy department in 2007 after research appointments at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago. His research is in numerically modeling astrophysical phenomena, and he has studied a variety of problems including core collapse and thermonuclear supernovae, merging neutron stars, and classical novae.

Feb 26 - Observing Session - Thin Crescent Moon.  Come view the night sky through our telescopes and binoculars.  If you like, bring your telescopes and perhaps we can help you with learning how to use it.  Members will set up telescopes down below the Vanderbilt mansion.  Ask the guard at the gate where the observing field is.


NGC 4216 in the Virgo Cluster by Dave Barnett

Our intrepid astrophotographer Dave Barnett apparently needs no sleep at all, judging by his latest handiwork.  In the center of the frame is the galaxy NGC 4216 in the Virgo Cluster.  It is 40 million light-years distant, and is an edge-on spiral galaxy.  It is nearly 100,000 light-years across, about the size of our own Milky Way galaxy.  It is flanked by fellow Virgo cluster member NGC 4222.  If you are thinking of trying astrophotography, you should know this is not a simple trick.  He used an 8” f/4 Newtonian, and this final image is a stack of 4 minute long sub exposures with a total time of 92 minutes.