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.


Jun 21 - Observing Night - Weather Permitting - it must be a completely clear sky for us to observe. This is a New Moon time of the month. Come and bring your telescopes, or binoculars, or look through our instruments which we will have set up on the lawn. Please do not park on the lawn. 

Jun 28 - Solstice Party - We overlooked the date of the Solstice this month, so we are scheduling our Solstice Party a week late, more or less.  Everything at this party is brought by members, so bring salads, or veggies and munchies and potato chips and Cheetos (this is a health food party...   :-) as well as desserts,  and soda or other beverages of your choice to share among members.  If the weather is clear, we will set up some telescopes in the Rose garden, next to the planetarium.


July 5 - All about the Mars Curiosity Rover -  By Dr. Kirsten Siebach.  The Mars Science Laboratory Rover Curiosity landed on Mars in August 2012 to investigate the sedimentary rocks in Gale Crater, which tell the story of a time when Mars, like Earth, had liquid water in lakes and rivers at the surface. Curiosity’s investigations have revealed that there were lake environments on Mars 3.6 billion years ago that would have supported Earth-like life if it had developed there. Dr Sieback will discuss Curiosity’s site selection, landing, the human side of daily science operations on Mars, and the scientific findings from the rover so far. Kirsten Siebach is a post-doctoral research associate at Stony Brook University and a member of the Science and Operations team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity. 

July 12 - Tectonics around the Solar System - by Dr. Dan Davis. Until the past few decades the study of geology and tectonic activity was limited to our own Earth and, through a telescope, the Moon. That has changed. Spacecraft have now explored all of the planets, numerous moons, comets and asteroids, and thanks to New Horizons, even Pluto. Plate tectonics has made it possible to explain how, why and where our planet forms mountain belts, rifts, the diverse types of volcanoes and earthquakes, and how Earth came to have both an ancient granitic continental crust and a much younger basaltic oceanic crust that is constantly being created by sea-floor spreading and destroyed by subduction. The planets and moons around the solar system have tapped diverse sources of energy to create spectacular displays of many kinds of tectonics, with crust that has folded and faulted in all of the fundamental ways found on Earth. We are coming to understand, though, why we find nothing quite like our own plate tectonics anywhere else in the solar system. Our planet’s style of recycling crust through subduction and sea-floor spreading remains unique. Dan Davis is a professor and currently the department chair in the Department of Geosciences at Stony Brook University. His research interests include plate tectonics, the geology of mountain belts, and geophysical studies of glacial and coastal deposits. He is also co-author of a popular guide to amateur observational astronomy, “Turn Left at Orion.” 

July 19 - Observing Night - Weather Permitting. We will only observe if the skies are clear. Bring your own telescope or binoculars, or come and observe through our instruments. New Moon is July 23rd. Do not park on the lawn.

July 26 - Second Observing Night - During the warm weather months, we have been scheduling two observing nights a month, in hopes that we will actually get to observe.  We will only observe if it the skies are absolutely clear.  Bring your own telescopes or binoculars, or please come and observe through our telescopes.

Messier 27 - The Dumbbell Nebula

This is a magnificent image of The Dumbell Nebula done recently by ASLI member Jonathan Nelson.  This object was the first planetary nebula to be discovered; by Charles Messier in 1764. At its brightness of visual magnitude 7.5 and its diameter of about 8 arc minutes, it is easily visible in binoculars, and a popular observing target in amateur telescopes.  However, in amateur instruments it only appears as a black and white image because of the inability of the human eye to see color in very low brightness.  Doing long exposure astrophotography like this is a very demanding process.  The total time of all exposures exceeds one hour and thirty minutes!  Here are the technical details:

Scope: Explore Scientific 102ED Triplet Essentials Series

Mount: Celestron AVX

Guiding: Orion Magnificent Mini AutoGuider Package

Camera: Canon Rebel T5

Other: Explore Scientific Field Flattener and Orion SkyGlow Imaging Filter

Capturing Software: BackyardEOS (with dithering), PHD2

Processing: Entirely in Pixinsight 1.8

Light Frames: 19 x 180" (57 min total)

Dark Frames: 10 x 180"

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.