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.


Feb 1 - Journey to the Seventh Planet - by Frank Melillo.  Astronomers here on earth made painstaking observations of the planet Uranus to gather as much information as possible, trying to learn the story of  this distant world.  Sir William Herschel observed Uranus on 13 March 1781 from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, England, with a telescope of his own making and initially reported it as a comet.  Even with the Voyager 2 spacecraft’s arrival in 1986, it was just a short glimpse of the planet and it revealed very little detail. The Hubble Space Telescope has increased our knowledge of the Uranian system and continues to do so today. But the HST cannot always point toward Uranus as we like. In addition, amateur astronomers are now stepping in with modern technologies, and are making observations like we never seen before.  

Feb 8 - A History of Dark Matter - By Steve Lieber. This presentation will explore the topic of dark matter. Dark matter is an unidentified type of matter distinct from dark energy, baryonic matter (ordinary matter), and neutrinos. The name refers to the fact that it does not emit or interact with electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and is thus invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Where did this concept come from? What are some of the possible candidates for dark matter? 

Feb 15 - Observing Planning Software - by members of ASLI.This will be a talk on the subject of planning observing sessions using applications for smartphones, tablets and small, portable laptops both at home, and in the field. Members will connect their phones and laptops to the projector, and demonstrate how the programs look and how they work. The first week the programs demonstrated will be: <>, Sky Tools on Windows, AstroPlanner for Mac, Stellarium, (a free application for laptops), and two applications for Android phones. This is the first in a series of two talks, the next one in March. 

Feb 22 - Observing Night - Weather Permitting. Waning Crescent Moon .We will only observe if the skies are clear. Bring your own telescope or binoculars, or come and observe through our scopes. 

Messier 27 - The Dumbell 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.