Past Astronomy Events at Berry College


Fall 2017

  • 21 August 2017, 1-4 PM: Solar Eclipse Observing event at Valhalla football stadium.  This event was open to the public.  More than 1000 visitors gathered at the stadium to observe the partial solar eclipse using approved viewing cards and filtered telescopes.  To find out more about all of our eclipse-related activities visit the Berry College Solar Eclipse 2017 web page.

Spring 2017

  • 15 April 2017, 9-11 PM: Star Party at Pew Observatory.  Clear skies and overall a nice night until we dropped below the dew point and the telescopes started to fog up.  We saw Mars, Jupiter, the Orion nebula, globular clusters (M3 and M13), galaxies (Whirlpool, Spindle), and planetary nebulae (Eskimo, Ghost of Jupiter).  We spent some time hunting for Comet 41P, but with no success.  About 20 visitors in attendance.  Student assistants (A Skinner and W Newman) helped operate the telescopes.
  • 19 April 2017, 9-11 PM: Star Party at Pew Observatory (postponed from 17 April).  The weather forecast predicted clouds all day and then clearing skies around 8 PM, but no such luck.  It was extremely cloudy throughout the night.  We managed to see Mars and a few stars (Sirius, Capella) through small breaks in the cloud cover, but that was it.  The 12 or so visitors were very patient.  We mostly just talked about telescopes and astronomy.
  • 7 April 2017, 10-11 AM: Telescope demonstration at the Berry College Child Development Center.  We looked at distant objects using both a refracting and a reflecting telescope and we also looked at the Sun through a solar filter.
  • 6 April 2017, 9-11 PM: Star Party at Pew Observatory.  This was supposed to be a student-run star party, but heavy winds earlier in the week caused the roof to get stuck so Dr. T had to come out to help.  Skies were cloudy and there were problems with the telescopes.  It is probably a good thing only three visitors showed up, but they at least got good views of the Moon, Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula.
  • 14 March 2017, 7-8:30 PM: Observatory event for local Boy Scout Troop.  The skies were cloudy so we spent our time talking about the telescopes and astronomy in general.  We pointed the telescopes at a radio tower on Mt. Alto so the scouts could see SOMETHING through the scopes.
  • 25 February 2017, 8-9:30 PM: Observatory event for Freshmen Class Council.  Student-run event.


Fall 2016

  • 7 December 2016, 8:30-10:30 PM: Star Party at Pew Observatory.  Featured objects: the Moon, Mars, the Orion nebula, and the Andromeda Galaxy.  Only a dozen or so in attendance.
  • 17 November 2016, 8:30-10:30 PM: Star Party at Pew Observatory.  Featured objects: Mars, the Moon, Uranus, Andromeda Galaxy, Orion Nebula, Ring Nebula, globular clusters, Albireo, assorted other galaxies and clusters.  Saw a few meteors from the Leonid shower.  About 40 or so in attendance.  Weather was clear and the smoke from earlier in the week had mostly cleared off so it was a nice night.
  • 17 November 2016, 6:30-8 PM: Observatory Night for BCEMS 4th Grade Class.  We saw Venus, Mars, Uranus, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Ring Nebula, Albireo, and two globular clusters (M 15 and M 13).  About 30 people (students, parents, siblings) in attendance.  We also discussed some constellations, types of telescopes, and the apparent movement of the stars on the sky.  We managed to see a few meteors from the Leonid shower and we thought we saw at least one satellite pass overhead.  It was a great night!
  • 14 November 2016, 8:30-10:30 PM: Night Lab at Pew Observatory.  Got a great view of the "supermoon" but otherwise it was hard to see much.  Mostly that was because of the bright moonlight, but it didn't help that there was a lot of smoke from North Georgia wildfires in the air.  We did get to see a globular cluster (M15), a galaxy (M31), two planetary nebulae (Saturn and Cat's Eye Nebulae), and a double star (Albireo).  Attempts to see diffuse nebulae were futile - the bright moon was near the Orion nebula and nothing else was visible with the moonlight and smoke.  @0 students attended.
  • 4 November 2016, 9-10:30 AM: Solar System Trail Walk with Berry Elementary 2nd Grade Class.  We walked from the Sun to Jupiter and talked about the different objects in our solar system, the scale of the trail, and how the planets move.  The kids got to look at the Sun through a (properly filtered) telescope.  Since we are close to the solar minimum there were no easily visible sunspots (I could see a tiny one but the kids couldn't see it).  I pointed the telescope at the water tower at the House O' Dreams on Lavendar Mountain so they could get a sense of what the telescope was doing.
  • 23 October 2016, 7:30-9:30 PM: Star Party at Pew Observatory (reschedule from Oct 20).  This event was supposed to be at the peak of the Orionid shower, but we had to reschedule and we didn't see very many meteors.  We did see Venus, Mars and Saturn as well as a variety of deep sky objects.  The weather was clear and temperatures were nice, but only about 20-25 people came.  Attendance is never as good when we have to reschedule.
  • 19 September 2016, 9-11 PM: Star Party at Pew Observatory (rescheduled from Sep 12).  Good views of Saturn and Mars, and the gibbous moon rising late.  Also saw galaxies, globular clusters, planetary nebulae, and a double star.  About 30 people attended.
  • 24 August 2016, 8-10 PM: Night Lab for AST 120 at Pew Observatory.  Partly cloudy skies and still lots of daylight when we started, but our early start allowed us to catch a hazy glimpse of Jupiter.  Venus was hidden by clouds until it set.  Good views of Saturn and Mars as well as several deep sky objects: the Ring Nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, the double star Albireo, and the globular cluster Messier 13.
  • 23 August 2016, 9:30-11:30 PM: Star Party at the Pew Observatory.  Clouds threatened but the skies stayed mostly clear and we had a good night.  Featured objects: conjunction of Mars, Saturn and Antares, globular clusters (M13, M15, M92), planetary nebulae (Ring and Little Dumbbell), galaxies (M31 and M51), a double star (Albireo), and Uranus.  We also did a quick tour of the constellations.  Over 60 (maybe 70) in attendance, one of the largest crowds ever at a star party!

Spring 2016

  • 25 April 2016, 10 PM - midnight: Star Party at the Pew Observatory.  Featured objects: Jupiter, Orion Nebula, M 13 and M 3 globular clusters, planetary nebulae (Ghost of Jupiter, Eskimo, Owl), galaxies (M 51, M 81, M 82).  Mars, Saturn, and the Moon rose toward the end of the night.  We also did a tour of the constellations.  Maybe 50-60 people in attendance, almost all students.
  • 18 April 2016, 9:30-11:30 PM: Night Lab for AST 121.
  • 30 March 2016, 8-9 PM: Lecture by Dr. Chad Davies and Vedant Mehta: "Observing Gravitational Waves 100 Years After Einstein's Prediction."
  • 29 March 2016, 9:30-11:30 PM: Star Party at the Pew Observatory.  Featured objects: Jupiter, Orion nebula, M 3 globular cluster, planetary nebulae (Ghost of Jupiter and Eskimo), galaxies (whirlpool, spindle, Bode's nebula), and the beehive cluster.  At the beginning Io was visible near Jupiter, but by the end it was occulted.  You could just make out the Great Red Spot.  About 20 people in attendance.
  • 29 March 2016, 5-6 PM: Lecture by Dr. Paul Wallace: "Stars Beneath Us: Finding God in the Evolving Cosmos."
  • 19 February 2016, 6-7 AM: Planet viewing at the Pew Observatory.  All five naked-eye planets were visible at this time.  We enjoyed seeing them all with our eyes as well as through the telescope.  Jupiter was particularly spectacular since it was close to opposition, and we could easily see all four Galilean moons off to one side of the giant planet.  Saturn's rings were at a nice tilt and very easy to see, along with the moons Titan and Rhea.  Mars and Venus were easy to see.  Mercury was difficult to spot with the naked eye, as it was low on the eastern horizon and there was already a glow from the rising sun when Mercury rose.  Everyone who stayed until the end was able to see Mercury with their eyes and with the telescope, though.
  • 11 February 2016, 8:30-10:30 PM: Night Lab for AST 121.
  • 17/18 January 2016, 11:30 PM - 12:30 AM: Comet viewing at the Pew Observatory.  The featured object was Comet Catalina, but the bright moonlight made it very hard to find.  I could not find it at all with the finder on the 14'' scope.  After about 30 minutes of fruitless searching I switched to the finder of the 6'' scope and found it fairly quickly.  Unfortunately, several attendees had already left by that point.  Everyone got a chance to see Jupiter, the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the moon.  Those who stuck around after midnight got to see the comet, although it was fairly dim and washed out by the moonlight.

Fall 2015

  • 6 December 2015, 8-10 PM: Star Party at the Pew Observatory. Featured objects: Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, globular cluster, planetary nebula, a double star.  Originally scheduled for Dec 1, but postponed due to cloudy skies.
  • 23 November 2015, 9:30-11:00 PM: Star Party at the Pew Observatory. Featured objects: moon, globular clusters, galaxies, open cluster, double stars.  Originally scheduled for Nov 17, but postponed due to cloudy skies.
  • 17 November 2015, 7-8 PM: CANCELLED - Observatory night for Child Development Center.  This event was cancelled due to cloudy skies.
  • 10 November 2015, 9-11 PM: Night Lab for AST 120.
  • 10 November 2015, 7-8:30 PM: Observatory night for BCEMS 4th grade class.  This event was originally scheduled for Nov 3, but was postponed (twice) due to cloudy skies.
  • 27 October 2015, 8-9 PM: Lecture by Dr. Todd Timberlake, "Locating Heaven: How the Copernican Revolution Displaced Heaven, and How Astronomers Tried to Find a New Place For It."
  • 15 October 2015, 8-10 PM: Star Party at the Pew Observatory. Featured objects: Saturn and crescent Moon (early), globular clusters, planetary nebulae, a double star, a galaxy.
  • 27 September 2015, 7-8 PM in the MAC Auditorium: Lecture on Moon Phases and Eclipses by Dr. Todd Timberlake.
  • 27 September 2015, 8:30-12:30 PM: CANCELLED - Eclipse Viewing and Star Party at the Pew Observatory. Featured objects: the eclipsed Moon (of course), Saturn (early), globular clusters, planetary nebulae.  This event was cancelled due to cloudy skies (but the lecture event was still held).
  • 17 September 2015, 8:30-10:30 PM: Night Lab for AST 120
  • 14 September 2015, 8:30-10 PM: Star Party at the Pew Observatory. Featured objects: Saturn, Andromeda Galaxy, globular clusters, planetary nebulae, a double star.

Spring 2015

  • 21 April, 2015: Star Party at Pew Observatory. About 40 people in attendance. Early in the night we saw Venus and the crescent moon, which were in conjunction. We saw Jupiter throughout the night. The skies were covered with a lot of thin clouds, so other objects were hit and miss all night. But at various points we did manage to see the Orion Nebula, a few galaxies (M51, M81, M82), two globular clusters (M3 and M13), two planetary nebulae (Eskimo and Cat's Eye), and a double star (Mizar). Finally, Saturn came out from behind the clouds (mostly) around 11:30 PM. Not a bad night considering the cloud cover.
  • 20 April, 2015: Night lab for AST 121 course. About 23 students present. We viewed several objects that we had discussed in the course (globular cluster M 13, spiral galaxy M 51, the Orion nebula, and the Cat's Eye planetary nebula). We caught a brief glimpse of Venus just before it set, and had a nice view of Jupiter and the four Galilean moons. We also saw some other galaxies (M 81, M 82, and an elliptical galaxy - can't remember which one), the Eskimo nebula, and an open cluster. Sadly, our eastern horizon was cloudy and we didn't get to see Saturn.
  • 10 April, 2015: sunspot viewing for the Child Development Center 4-year old class. The weather did not cooperate so we didn't get to see any actual sunspots, but the kids did get a chance to look at (and into, and through) one of our 8'' SCTs. We also watched a video showing the motion of sunspots across the sun and talked about how this provides evidence for the sun's rotation.
  • 8 April, 2015 (rescheduled from April 6): Star Party at Pew Observatory. We saw Venus, Jupiter, the Orion Nebula, a planetary nebula (Eskimo), a galaxy (M 51), a globular cluster (M 3), and a supernova remnant (Crab). We also did a tour of the constellations and there were lots of questions about astronomy! About 40 people came by. Skies were clear and temperatures were pleasant. Still need to realign the refractor - it is slightly off.
  • 17 March, 2015: Star Party at Pew Observatory, 9-11 PM. We saw Venus, Jupiter, the Orion Nebula, a few galaxies (Andromeda, Whirlpool, Spindle), a few planetary nebulae (Ghost of Jupiter, Eskimo, Little Dumbbell), a supernova remnant (Crab Nebula), several open clusters and one very faint globular cluster. More than 30 students visited. For the first time in my memory the wind blew the roof back onto the building - need to remember to lock the roof down when it is open on a windy night. The refractor is slightly out of alignment, but still usable.
  • 28 January, 2015: Night Lab for AST 121. We saw the quarter Moon, Jupiter, the Orion nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, the Little Dumbbell nebula, and the globular cluster Messier 79. But the big highlight of the night (at least for me) was seeing Comet Lovejoy through the apochromatic refractor! About 20 students in attendance. Temperatures were cold (mid-30s F) but the skies were clear and the humidity was low. Telescopes worked well.

Fall 2014

  • 8 December, 2014 (rescheduled from 2 Dec): Star Party in Clara Bowl. Temperatures were in the low 30s and only 7 people stopped by. With non-electronic telescopes and a setting with lots of light around we focused on bright targets: the Moon, the Orion Nebula, the Pleiades, and Jupiter. I ended the event about 15 minutes early since nobody was around and the telescopes were completely frosted over.
  • 11 November, 2014: Star Party at Pew Observatory. About 15 or so students in attendance. Clouds rolled in right at the start. For the first hour we managed to observe objects in the clear spots that were available. We looked at M 15, the Ring Nebula, the Pleiades, M 31 and 32, Albireo, and the rising Moon. About an hour into the event the skies clouded over completely. The students left and nobody else showed up. After hanging around for another half hour or so I shut everything down and left.
  • 11 November, 2014: Hosted the Berry College Elementary School 4th grade class at Pew Observatory. More than 30 students and parents in attendance. Objects viewed: Mars, a galaxy (M 31), a planetary nebula (M 57), a globular cluster (M 15), and a double star (Albireo). We also did a tour of the constellations and talked about different types of telescopes. Clear night with moderate temperatures.
  • 11 November, 2014: Solar system trail walk with the Berry 2nd Grade class. We looked at sunspots through a filtered telescope and "toured" the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, the asteroid belt, and Jupiter.
  • 23 October, 2014: Solar Eclipse Viewing on main campus. I set up two 8'' telescopes and had three pairs of binoculars (one on a tripod, two hand-held) all with solar filters. Berry alum Kalen Maloney set up his own 8'' SCT as well. Before the start of the eclipse we saw the large sunspot group AR 2192 in spite of some wispy cloud cover. But, sadly, the thick clouds rolled in before the eclipse began and we didn't even get a glimpse of the eclipse itself. About 30 to 40 people showed up to see the eclipse and we all left disappointed.
  • 20 October: Star Party at Pew Observatory. We saw planets (Mars and Uranus), globular clusters (M 13 and M 92), planetary nebulae (Ring, Dumbbell, Little Dumbbell, Cat's Eye), galaxies (M 31 and M 32), an open cluster (Pleiades), a double star (Albireo), and a fantastic fireball meteor in the northern skies heading west (could have been an Orionid). It was very cloudy for the first half hour, but then the skies cleared and we had a nice night. About 30 or so in attendance.
  • 8 October, 2014: I tried to photograph the lunar eclipse, but the weather did not cooperate. I woke up at 4AM and made it to the observatory by 4:45. The telescopes were ready and the camera was set up well in advance of the eclipse. I got a few pictures of the moon in the penumbral phase of the eclipse, but before the umbral phase began the heavy clouds rolled in and it started to rain.
  • 28 September: Night Lab for HON 250 course at Pew Observatory. Eight students present. We saw planets (Saturn, Mars, Uranus), the Moon (in great detail), globular clusters (M 13 and M 15), planetary nebulae (Ring and Dumbbell), a galaxy (M 31), and a double star (Albireo). It was a nice clear night.
  • 16 September: Star Party at Pew Observatory. A huge crowd (maybe 50-60 people over the course of the night) turned out to view planets (Saturn, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune), three globular clusters (M 13, M 15, and M 5), two planetary nebulae (Ring and Little Dumbbell), a double star (Albireo), and a galaxy (Andromeda). Weather was gorgeous. The apochromatic refractor has become slightly misaligned, but otherwise the telescopes worked great. The highlight of the night may have been the spectacular fireball meteor in our southern skies around 10 PM.

Spring 2014

  • 8 May: Hosted the Verdery Class of Decatur First Baptist Church (led by former Berry professor Paul Wallace!) at Pew Observatory. The sky was covered by thin clouds which precluded deep sky viewing, but we got good looks at the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. About 15 people in attendance.
  • 23 April: AST 121 Night Lab at Pew Observatory. Observed planets (Jupiter, Mars, Saturn), globular clusters (M 13 and M 5), planetary nebulae (Cat's Eye and Eskimo) and a galaxy (M 51). Students were also fascinated to see Sirius low on the horizon, twinkling and changing color because of atmospheric refraction. Although the Lyrid meteor shower was still in progress (the peak was early on April 22) we did not see any meteors.
  • 16 April: Star Party in Clara Bowl. We set up an 8'' SCT and an 8'' Dobsonian. Unfortunately the electronic controls on the SCT were not functional so I had to do it all by hand. From Clara Bowl we can only see bright targets so we looked at the Orion Nebula, Jupiter, Mars, the Moon, and Saturn. About 25 people in attendance.
  • April 1, 2014 (rescheduled from March 31): Star Party at Pew Observatory. Nice night with temperatures in the 60s F and no clouds. We started the night with a view of the Earthlight phenomenon on the thin crescent moon low in the West. After that we looked at planets (Jupiter and Mars), galaxies (M 81, M 82, M 51), planetary nebulae (Ghost of Jupiter and Eskimo), globular clusters (M 3 and M 53), an open cluster (Beehive) and a diffuse nebula (M 42). SN 2014j was still barely visible in M 82. More than 30 in attendance.
  • 26 March, 2014 (rescheduled from Feb 3 and March 13): Night Lab for AST 121. 25 students present. Clear skies. Observed planets (Jupiter and Mars), the Orion Nebula, two globular clusters (M 3 and M 53), an open cluster (Beehive), a planetary nebula (Ghost of Jupiter), a supernova remnant (Crab nebula), and several galaxies (Cigar, Whirlpool, Black Eye, Sombrero). SN 2014j was just at the edge of visibility in M 82, noticeably dimmer than a month ago.
  • 25 March, 2014: Panel presentation on Eschatology (the End of the World). Dr. Todd Timberlake discussed astronomical perspectives on the end of the world, while other panelists will address the topic from the point of view of various religious traditions and modern film.
  • 12 March, 2014: Lecture on Maya Astronomy by Drs. Timothy Knowlton and Todd Timberlake.
  • 27 February, 2014 (rescheduled from Feb 25): Berry Star Party at Pew Observatory. The highlight of the night was seeing Supernova 2014j in the galaxy M 82. We also looked at Jupiter (and three of the Galilean moons), the Orion nebula, a globular cluster (M 79), some planetary nebulae (Ghost of Jupiter and Eskimo), other galaxies (M 81, M 51), a supernova remnant (Crab nebula), and some open star clusters. We got a hazy view of Mars shortly after it rose. Temperatures were very cold (below 30 F) and only about 15 visitors showed up, but the skies were clear and those who came got to see a supernova!

Fall 2013

  • 10 December, 2013 (rescheduled from Dec 4): Berry Star Party at Clara Bowl. We looked at Jupiter (with all four Galilean moons on one side), M 42, and the Moon. The lights in the area make it difficult to see dimmer objects, and the electronic controls on the 8'' SCT were not functioning. Our newly donated 8'' Dobsonian worked well, though. Temperatures were very cold (27 F) and only 8 visitors showed up, but the skies were clear and those who came by enjoyed the views.
  • 4 December, 2013: Berry Star Party at Clara Bowl. POSTPONED due to cloudy skies.
  • 14 November, 2013: Solar system trail walk with the Berry 2nd Grade class. We looked at sunspots through a filtered telescope, explored the apparent motion of inferior and superior planets, and "toured" the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, the asteroid belt, and Jupiter.
  • 11 November, 2013, 10PM: Night lab for AST 120 at Pew Observatory. We saw M 31 and then it clouded over. After that the only thing we could see was the Moon. But my students got a few good afocal shots of the Moon with their digital cameras. I have posted a few of their images on the  Berry Astrophotography Page.
  • 7 November, 2013: Berry Star Party at Pew Observatory. About 30 people in attendance. Objects viewed: Jupiter, a diffuse nebula (M 42), two galaxies (M 31 and M 32), a globular cluster (M 15), three planetary nebulae (Ring, Eskimo, Dumbbell), an open cluster (M 37), and a double star (Albireo). Cold and clear.
  • 7 November, 2013: Hosted the Berry College Elementary School 4th grade class at Pew Observatory. About 30 students and parents in attendance. Objects viewed: Moon, Venus, a galaxy (M 31), a planetary nebula (M 57), a globular cluster (M 13), and a double star (Albireo). Cold but clear and the telescopes worked perfectly.
  • 9 October, 2013: Berry Star Party at Pew Observatory. About 40 to 50 people in attendance. Objects viewed: Venus (briefly at the beginning), crescent Moon, several globular clusters (M 13, M 14, M 15), several planetary nebulae (Ring, Dumbbell, Cat's Eye), a few galaxies (Andromeda, M 32, M 33 - although most could not see M 33), some open clusters (Pleiades, M 34), and a double star (Albireo). Beautiful night with clear skies and a great view of the Milky Way. 31.
  • 5 October, 2013: Mountain Day sunspot viewing. Had somewhere between 20 and 30 visitors to look at sunspots. Two medium-sized spots were clearly visible, with a few more small/faint ones on the edge of visibility.
  • 5 September, 2013: Berry Star Party at Pew Observatory. Over 50 people in attendance over the course of the event. Objects viewed: three planets (Venus, Saturn, Uranus), three globular clusters (M 13, M 15, M 5), three planetary nebulae (Ring, Cat's Eye, Dumbbell), three galaxies (M 31, M 32, M 51), and one double star (Albireo). Great night and both telescopes worked perfectly.
  • 3 September, 2013: Night lab for AST 120 at Pew Observatory. 25 students in attendance. Some clouds, but otherwise clear skies. We saw a planet (Saturn), galaxies (M 31, M 32, and M 51), planetary nebulae (Ring and Cat's Eye), globular clusters (M 13 and M 5), and a double star (Albireo). We also toured the constellations and oriented ourselves with Polaris.
  • 29 August, 2013: Hosted a group of students from the Montessori School of Rome at Pew Observatory. We managed to see Venus, Saturn, M 15, and Albireo. Unfortunately there was a lot of cloud cover that rolled in at the last minute and much of what we wanted to see was hidden behind clouds. About 20 students and 6 adults in attendance.

Spring 2013

  • 30 April, 2013: Star Party at Pew Observatory. Skies were partly cloudy but we managed to see Jupiter, Saturn, globular clusters (M3 and M5), planetary nebulae (Ghost of Jupiter, Eskimo, Cat's Eye), and faint glimpses of spiral galaxies (M51, M101, and M108). Some of us managed to catch sight of the Orion nebula as it went behind the clouds just before it set. About 30 people came by over the course of the night.
  • 25 April, 2013: Are We Ready? Exoplanets, Extraterrestrial Life, and Terrestrial Religion Lecture by David Weintraub, Professor of Astronomy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.  Click here for the flyer.
  • 24 April, 2013: How Old is the Universe? Lecture by David Weintraub, Professor of Astronomy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.  Click here for the flyer.
  • 20 April, 2013: Star Party for the Berry Family Reunion at Pew Observatory. The moon was pretty bright so we could not see many faint objects, but we got good looks at Jupiter, Saturn, and the Orion nebula, as well as a globular cluster (M3) and a planetary nebula (Ghost of Jupiter). About 15 people in attendance.
  • 15 April, 2013: Night lab for AST 121 course at Pew Observatory. Eight students in attendance. We saw planets (Jupiter and Saturn), a diffuse nebula (Orion), a planetary nebulae (Eskimo), a globular cluster (M 3), and a spiral galaxy (Whirlpool).
  • 9 April, 2013: Star party at Pew Observatory. Thanks to the Berry Physical Plant folks the roof is working again, so we were able to use both the 14-inch SCT and the apochromatic refractor. Had nice clear skies and pleasant temperatures, which brought out a crowd of about 40 people. We saw planets (Jupiter and Saturn), a diffuse nebula (Orion), a supernova remnant (Crab), three planetary nebulae (Cat's Eye, Ghost of Jupiter, and Owl), two globular clusters (M 3 and M 13), and two spiral galaxies (Whirlpool and Sunflower). All around an awesome night!
  • 19 March, 2013: Stars as the giant warriors of God: The forgotten weird side of the Copernican Revolution. Lecture by Christopher Graney, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, KY.  Click here for the flyer. Another fascinating lecture by Chris Graney. More than 30 people in attendance.
  • 18 March, 2013: "You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever" One scientist's conversation with those who oppose science with scripture. Lecture by Christopher Graney, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, KY.  Click here for the flyer. This was an excellent lecture which was attended by more than 50 people in spite of the tornado warning that ended only 45 minutes before the start of the talk!
  • 12 March, 2013: Star Party at Pew Observatory. The night did not begin well when I discovered that winds had lifted the observatory roof and shifted the wheels out of their tracks. The roof would not budge. But I disassembled the apochromatic refractor and set it up on the pad outside, so we did have a functioning telescope (albeit without electronic controls). There was a long wait after sunset for the skies to get dark enough, but eventually we were able to see comet PanSTARRS with the refractor, binoculars, and (at least for some keen-eyed folks - not me) the naked eye. It was beautifully situated just to the left of a very thin crescent moon. Everyone had a chance to see the comet through the telescope before it set. After the comet set we observed Jupiter and the four Galilean moons, the Orion nebula, the Pleiades, and the Andromeda galaxy. Overall we had a great turnout, with somewhere between 40 and 50 visitors, though most of these only stayed to see the comet. In the end it was a successful night in spite of the problems with the observatory roof and the anxious waiting for the comet to be visible.
  • 19 February, 2013: Night Lab for AST 121. About 15 students in attendance. Used only the 14 inch SCT. Saw Jupiter, the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Nebula, the Pleiades, and the Spindle Galaxy. Toured the winter constellations and discussed connections the material in the AST 121 course.

Fall 2012

  • 28 November, 2012: Star Party at Clara Bowl. About 20 total visitors including students, as well as some faculty/staff with children. We had 2 eight inch SCTs and a 12 inch Dob, but light pollution and a full moon kept us from seeing too much. We did get good looks at Jupiter, the Moon (with a filter), the Orion nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, and Albireo. Temperatures dropped below freezing by 10 PM when we finished.
  • 13 November, 2012: Night lab for AST 120 (after the 4th grade event). Eight students. Saw everything the 4th grade saw (see below) plus Uranus and the Orion nebula. Problems with the 14 inch resolved, but couldn't get it to focus very well. May need to do a better job of cleaning the corrector plate.
  • 13 November, 2012: Observatory Night for Berry Elementary 4th grade class. About 12 students and 10 parents/siblings. Clear and cold with low humidity. Saw Jupiter, the ring nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, a couple of globular clusters, and a double star (Albireo). Toured the constellations and discussed types of telescopes. Had some minor problems with the 14 inch hand controller (unresponsive keys).
  • 31 October, 2012: Berry Elementary 2nd Grade Solar System Trail Walk. Toured the Solar System Trail from the Sun to Jupiter. Discussed the scale of the trail and how it represents both relative size and relative distance. Discussed characteristics of each of the planets.
  • 10 October, 2012: Star Party at the Observatory (9:30 to 11:30). Somewhere between 15 and 20 visitors. Clear skies but high humidity, so the 14 inch scope fogged up around 10:30 and was mostly unusable after that. Still we saw planetary nebulae (Ring, Dumbbell, and I saw the Little Dumbbell although nobody else could see it), globular clusters (M 13, M 2, M 30), galaxies (M 31 and M 32), a double star (Albireo), and planets (Uranus and Jupiter and its four Galilean moons). Not a bad night, but we will definitely be investing in a dew shield/heater for the 14 inch.
  • 5 October, 2012: Star Party for Physics Alumni. In conjunction with Mountain Day we invited returning physics alumni and current students to a private star party. This event was thrown together at the last minute, but we still managed to get four of former students there along with some of their friends, as well as two current physics majors for a total of 13 in attendance. We saw Uranus, a pair of galaxies (M31 and M32), two globular clusters (M 13 and 2), Albireo, two planetary nebulae (Ring and Dumbbell), and a diffuse nebula (the Omega, or Swan, Nebula). We hope to make this Mountain Day star party for physics alumni an annual event.
  • 12 September, 2012: Night Lab for AST 120 class. We managed brief views of Saturn and Mars before they set, toured the constellations, discussed different types of telescopes, and saw a galaxy (Andromeda), two globular clusters (M 13 and M 5), two planetary nebulae (Ring and Dumbbell) and a double star (Albireo). Reasonably clear skies. Just over 20 students in attendance.
  • 10 September, 2012: Star Party at the Observatory. We saw Saturn (and its moons Titan and Rhea) and Mars briefly before they set. In spite of a fair bit of cloud cover we managed to see a few globular clusters (M 13, M 15, M 92) two galaxies (M 31 and M 32) with a slight glimpse of a third (M 51), three planetary nebulae (Ring, Dumbbell, and Cat's Eye) and a nice double star (Albireo). Not a bad night considering the clouds. We had roughly 30 people in attendance.