Welcome to Quad Cities Astronomical Society!

Stimulating an interest in the science of astronomy within the Quad Cities, nurturing an ongoing desire by our members to study the cosmos, and to providing members of our community opportunities to experience the
Joy and Beauty of Astronomy.

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The Meridian News

  • Skyward for July 2022 By  David H. Levy
    Skyward for July 2022 By David H. Levy
    June 16, 2022

    Skyward for July 2022 The Meteor Shower that wasn’t, but not so much By David H. Levy On May 30 observers all across the western hemisphere were outside, hoping to see a wonderful “new” meteor shower. The shower is actually not new. It is called the Tau Herculids, and it sends us dust particles from Comet Schwassmann-Wachman III. In 1995 this normally faint comet brightened dramatically as it split into several parts, releasing huge amounts of dust into space. On May 30, at 10 pm Mountain Standard time, the Earth plowed through the debris released in 1995. We were hoping for a possible meteor storm of hundreds of thousands of meteors. Wendee and I sat outside at Jarnac observatory, waited, watched, and waited some more. There was one bright meteor that seemed too far from the direction my camera was pointing for its lens to detect. Ten o’clock came and went, and we counted a few shooting stars here and there. Over the course of the evening we counted 18 meteors. But a meteor storm? To use the Yiddish word that means what you think it means, we saw bupkis. Somewhat disappointed, we went indoors and completed a quiet evening. […]...

  • June 2022 – Skyward by David Levy
    June 2022 – Skyward by David Levy
    May 23, 2022

    Nothing in the night sky quite beats a total eclipse of the Moon. Other than a shooting star, eclipses prove to all who watch them that the sky is a changing place. During the several hours of a lunar eclipse, we can actually watch as the Moon slowly orbits the Earth, and as it passes through the shadow of the Earth we can enjoy its changing illumination. Last Sunday evening, May 15, 2022, there was a total eclipse of the Moon. It was perfectly timed for observers throughout most of North America. On the east coast, the eclipse began in mid-evening. For those of us who live in Arizona, in the great American southwest, the eclipse began just as the Moon was rising, and it ended late in the hours of the evening. As the Moon marched its way eastward, the penumbral shadow manifested itself as a shading, slowly dimming the Moon’s light as it spread across. Gradually the eastward facing limb, or edge, of the Moon grew darker and darker. About 90 minutes into the event, the full and profound darkness of the umbra, the central shadow of the Earth, struck the Moon’s leading edge. Over the next hour […]...

  • WSSO Update – May 12, 2022
    WSSO Update – May 12, 2022
    May 13, 2022

    Greetings all! Coordinating observatory use with Rick who had a number of students observing last night (Excellent!!!), club member Cecil and I worked on the modeling again last night. Modeling, if you recall, is the process where we fine tune the telescope mounts internal mapping of the sky to its exact latitude, longitude, and altitude in accordance with the Equatorial… When I was last at the observatory, we were finding, and thinking the cause of previous issues, that time zones where not set up the same on the mount as they were on the application… yet they both had the same Universal Time Code… which was 1 hour off. Strange! Unfortunately, correcting this didn’t fix whatever issue we are having completing the modeling, BUT it did really improve the pointing of the scope… telling it to go to different objects is pretty close now, where as before it was about 15° off. Correcting the UTC/Time by 1 hour would explain that 15° change. When I try this next, I will be bringing my AstroMI GPS/Weather box with me to see if that is more exacting as far as Lat,.Long, Alt, Date, Time…. Cecil and I did various manipulations with the […]...

  • May 15/16 2022 Lunar Eclipse
    May 15/16 2022 Lunar Eclipse
    May 12, 2022

    Greetings to all of you Lunartics! As you know, there will be a Lunar event on Sunday night beginning at approximately 9:30 PM and lasting until approximately midnight. I have received permission from the City of Riverdale, Iowa to again hold the public event on top of the hill in Riverdale at Bicentennial Park… weather permitting of course… While telescopes and binoculars are not needed… feel free to bring them to take advantage of observing the moon and other celestial objects that are out and viewable. As always, this is a free event but donations to our Oberservatory Relocation Project are always welcome! Club members… let me know in advance of you’ll be participating and in what capacity. I can provide further details at that time. Clear Skies! Jeff...

  • May 2022 Skyward by David Levy
    May 2022 Skyward by David Levy
    April 18, 2022

    In the late summer of 1964 I was leaving the Observatory of the Royal Astronomical Society’s Montreal Centre with some friends, one of whom was David Zackon. I asked the group if they would like to drop by my house to observe with a 3.5-inch reflector. Before they had a chance to answer, David upped the ante by asking if we’d like to come by his house to look through an 8-inch reflector. When we arrived at his place, we found a very competent 8-inch reflector with a focal ratio of 7. It gave us wide field views of Jupiter and Saturn plus a few other nice things to see. It was rather pleasant. Just a week later, David telephoned me to invite me for a second look. As we used the telescope to view Saturn, David was adjusting one of the mount’s large bolts. As I looked at Saturn I remarked, “I think that’s Titan,” after seeing one of the planet’s large moons. David looked up toward me and said, “No, it is still loose.” David told me that he was soon to leave for his university year, and each year he had a tradition of lending the 8-inch […]...

  • April 2022 Skyward by David Levy
    April 2022 Skyward by David Levy
    March 15, 2022

    Skyward April 2022 Omicron! Over the last few months you must have read dozens of articles, online or in print, about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Fortunately, this is not one of them. This article is about Omicron² Eridani. It is a faint star in the constellation of Eridanus, the River. Actually, there are two Omicron stars in that constellation. The first is brighter, and is a variable star. The second one is one of the closest stars to the Sun. Omicron², also known as 40 Eridani, happens to be not a disease but one of the most interesting star systems in the entire sky. Omicron² is a triple star system that is only about 16 light years away. Its brightest component is a Sun-like star faintly visible to the unaided eye on a good night.It lies in northern Eridanus, the River, just a few degrees west of Rigel at the foot of Orion. The secondary is a white dwarf star. Unlike the companion of Sirius, this star is 9th magnitude and not near the brighter star so it is easy to see in a small telescope. The third star is not far from the secondary, but at 11th magnitude […]...

  • Skyward for March 2022 By David Levy
    Skyward for March 2022 By David Levy
    February 14, 2022

    Skyward for March 2022 By David Levy Star Gazers What crowd is this? What have we here? We must not pass it by; A telescope upon its frame, and pointed to the sky…  William Wordsworth, 1806 While I was working on my master’s degree at Queen’s University in Canada some 42 years ago, I came across this poem, loved it, and decided to include it in my thesis. Norman MacKenzie, my thesis advisor, a scholar and a genius, pencilled one comment at the bottom of this poem: “Wordsworth wrote some wretched verse.” Norman did not have much of a sense of humour, but I am still laughing at his written comment. In his poem, Wordsworth complains about how many people who look through a telescope are disappointed in what they see. At no point in time is that idea more cogent than now. If a telescope we look through cannot offer us a view as good as a space telescope, then that telescope is a failure. By the end of the poem, the crowd abandons the telescope: “One after one they take their turns, nor have I one espied That doth not slackly go away, as if dissatisfied.” For […]...

  • Skyward for February 2022 by David Levy
    Skyward for February 2022 by David Levy
    January 14, 2022

    Skyward for February 2022 David Levy Go Webb! We all got a special and thoroughly delightful present early on Christmas morning. Although I did not set my alarm, Wendee did get up around 5 am. I turned on our television set, and what I saw 15 minutes later was the most thrilling space view since 1969, when Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon. It was the spectacular, flawless launch of the James Webb Space telescope, The start of a mission so perfect and smooth that if Webb could speak, it would have told us that it did not feel any motion whatsoever as it soared away. Even the countdown was unique; it was in French: “Dix, neuf, huit…” I did notice a possible hiccup. About ten minutes later, the metal covers designed to protect the telescope during launch fell away while the vehicle was still in powered flight. But a second later, I understood that this was not a hiccup; it was supposed to fall away. The telescope was already out of Earth’s atmosphere, and with no air to bother it, the protective cover was no longer needed. As lovely as this experience was for me, the launch was […]...

  • WSSO – 12/30/2021
    WSSO – 12/30/2021
    December 27, 2021

    Well, with a little bit of luck… short of doing some documentation, training and the open house… and the weather holding… I’ll be at the Wilton School Systems Observatory from 2PM until 10PMish doing the final touches on Thursday. The plan is to get there before dark and make sure everything is working and in place… then see if I can get the some sort of picture taken with the camera. This is to ensure that the camera is working and will come to focus so that I can perform the next step…Modeling. Modeling is used for 2 things… the first is to allow a precise Polar Alignment to be made to the physical mount. The modeling finds a number of stars and stores them and then the application determines how far off the mount is from perfectly aiming at the Celestial Equator… you then use the adjustment bolts on the mount and pier to tweak it as directed by the application… then you repeat this process. An accurate Polar Alignment is needed to ensure that an object stays perfectly in center of the the field of view for extended periods of time… when you take a picture, and the […]...

  • WSSO – Update 12/22/2021
    WSSO – Update 12/22/2021
    December 22, 2021

    Hi all! Before heading into the STEM room I went into the observatory to check to make sure that things were safe in the observatory to remote in from the STEM room. While U was in there I did go ahead and do 1 Windows update followed by a restart. I also put the filter wheel back in the cabinet as I was able to determine what all of the filters were except for the one in slot 8… In the STEM room I performed all of the various tasks and made mental notes of miscellaneous issues that occurred… We’ll probably want to consider getting the large monitor behind the instructors desk hooked up to the computer for screen sharing… and maybe consider a wired mouse for that PC… oh, and a shortcut for Tight VNC Viewer if possible… and the classroom pc still goes to sleep while in use… all nit-picky stuff, but may prove to make things look slicker when we do the public open… by the way, how’s that going? Any public notices yet? So for mentally noted issues, I ran into an issue with the mount starting… I’d never seen that before, but maybe, since I […]...

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