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.
The Meridian News
Skyward – A magic beagle and the stars April 2023 David H. LevyMarch 19, 2023
Skyward – A magic beagle and the stars April 2023 David H. Levy It is my honor to introduce you, dear readers, this month to my latest book, “Clipper, Cosmos, and Children: Finding the Eureka moment.” It is a book specially designed to inspire young people to enjoy the night sky. Whether you are physically young, or even just young at heart, this new book is meant to inspire you to reach for the stars. This book’s genesis was one day a few years ago. As I strolled into the office in the east wing of our home, I saw Wendee engrossed in the reading of an old book entitled Clipper. “When did you write this book?”she inquired. “I wrote it when I was ten. Around 1958.” Not a word about the stars in it. “David, this is the best book I have ever read of yours. In fact,” she laughed, “all your other books have gone downhill since this one.” She asked me that day to rewrite Clipper as an astronomy book. I did, and the book is now published by RJI publishing in 2022 and is available from Amazon for about $20. As I wrote and revised the […]...
Skyward March 2023 David H. LevyFebruary 17, 2023
Of comets, more comets, and Fritz Zwicky Since October 1965, when I spotted my first comet, Comet Ikeya-Seki, I have seen 227 different comets. Near the dawn of my passion for the night sky, watching that mighty comet rise, apparently right out the St. Lawrence River, was a sight I shall never forget. The two most recent comets I have seen share the same name; they are both called Comet ZTF for Zwicky Transit Facility. This project t uses a new camera that offers a very wide field of view. The camera is attached to the large 48-inch Oschin Schmidt camera at Palomar. This project has a rich history. It is loosely named for astronomer Fritz Zwicky, one of the founding astronomers at Palomar and one of the foremost scientists of the last century. He developed not the big Schmidt but the original smaller 18-inch Schmidt camera, the very first telescope atop that mountain. Since this project is named after Zwicky, why are its comets called “ZTF” instead of just Zwicky? It is because the comets are named for the project, not the man. The historical Zwicky actually had little interest in comets. His career leaned towards the big questions […]...
Skyward February 2023 David H. Levy – Back to the MoonJanuary 16, 2023
Skyward February 2023 David H. Levy Back to the Moon I shouldn’t have been surprised by the complete success of the Artemis mission last fall. NASA’s A team of engineers really know what they are doing. The mission was fun to watch, particularly the brilliant light when the msain engines lit up, and it provided some hope that we may actually return to the Moon, someday soon. But somehow, it isn’t the same. Something is missing. For those of us who were alive and young in 1961, do you remember President Kennedy’s poignant speech to Congress on May 25, 1961, when he asked the nation to commit itself to landing a person on the Moon? Only three days after my 13th birthday, this was a call I heard distinctly. I did miss the fact that this was the second of three speeches. The fireest call was during his inaugural address: “Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science, instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars…” And at Rice University he gave his third: “We choose to go to the Moon.” On August 25 of the summer of 1960, I observed a 99.2% partial eclipse of […]...
Skyward January 2023 David H. LevyDecember 16, 2022
“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, But in battalions.” (Hamlet 4.5.76-77) This column begins with a delightful quotation from Hamlet, where King Claudius reflects on the deaths of Hamlet’s father, Polonius, and the madness of Ophelia. In this lonely period of my own life, the one constant I have is being able to continue doing the stargazing that I love so much. In recent months, the losses of Don Machholz, Constantine Papacosmas, and Wendee have tested the strength of observing the night sky as never before. But I must add to this the passing of my closest friend from my youth, Carl Jorgensen, on October 18. Of these four transitions that occurred late this year two of them—Don and Carl, both died from Covid. This is strong evidence that we are nowhere near being done with this dreadful illness. Our lifelong friendship began in November of 1963. I had just returned from a 14-month stay at the Jewish National Home for Asthmatic Children in Denver. At the observatory of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in Montreal, Isabel Williamson introduced “young Carl Jorgensen” to “young David Levy” and our friendship never wavered over 59 stargazing years after that. […]...
Skyward – December 2022 By David H. LevyNovember 20, 2022
As I get older and older, the list of people who depart gets longer and increases with a greater frequency. But now I find myself writing, for the third month in a row, about the loss of someone who meant a lot to me and without whom I do not know how I will continue my own journey through the night sky. Constantine Papacosmas introduced himself to me the first night I entered the old observatory of the Montreal Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The young observer had just completed a truly fabulous 8-inch reflector which we used once or twice. At that time he was brilliant, creative and inspiring. Within a few years we had become great friends and we spent a lot of time together. One afternoon while walking down a hill to my junior high school classes, a car passed me, then slammed on its brakes about 300 meters away. Putting the car in reverse, the driver screeched backward until it reached me. “Hello David!” It was Constantine. You might have read a few months ago the story of how I got my own 8-inch reflector, Pegasus. It was a loaner scope. By the […]...
Skyward November 2022 Goodbye, Wendee.October 15, 2022
Skyward November 2022 Goodbye, Wendee. Dear readers, What follows is the most difficult article I have ever written. On Friday, September 23, 2022, my wife Wendee died. She had been suffering from metastatic breast cancer for over a decade, but this past summer she was truly and clearly suffering. We had an oncologist who was good clinically but who had no bedside manner, and a nurse practitioner who was very good, but a bit of a pollyanna. Therefore, when Wendee began to destabilize by the hour near the end of September, I was just not prepared for it. Wendee and I were together for more than thirty years, and we were married for the last 25 of them. We got together as the result of a fix-up. When Wendee’s Mom, Annette Wallach, and my Mom, Edith Pailet Levy, resumed their childhood friendship in 1985, my father has just died from Alzheimer’s Disease. They got together in Montreal and immediately shared stories about their children. Wendee, it turned out, had just separated from her first husband and I was long since divcorced from my “practice wife.” They decided to try to bring us together. Wendee was the first to reject the […]...
Skyward September 2022 – David LevyAugust 15, 2022
On first looking through Baade’s window Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold, And many goodly stars and clusters seen; Round celestial islands have I been With telescope after telescope to the night sky hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That Galileo ruled as his demesne; Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Baade speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new star cluster swims into his ken; Through his majestic window looks upon the Milky Way He star’d at the centre of our galaxy. Like a diamond shining in the sky, with a wild surmise— Silent, through the mists of space and time. (–Keats, Chapman’s Homer sonnet, adapted for this article.) Lying in the western portion of Sagittarius, the archer, is a small region of sky that has unusual importance for astronomers around the world and which to med is one of the most beautiful things in the whole sky. It was most thoroughly studied by the German astronomer Walter Baade while using the great 100-inch Hooker reflector at Mt. Wilson Observatory in California while searching for the center of […]...
2022-08-03 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Young Men’s Encampment!August 3, 2022
What an excellent outing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Young Men’s Encampment! There were about 60 guests on site, and what a pleasure! We started off with a fairly detailed tour of the whole facility followed by a bit of Lunar viewing thru John’s refractor and Cecil running the 20″ Newt… Jim fielded questions in between folks looking at the site and looking thru gear while I demoed the classroom/dome and gave a quick demo of the 14″ SCT… So special thanks to those members! Thanks to Alan, Rusty and Sam who were able to come out, but due to the cloudy weather, I asked that they only come out if they wanted as there would be little to see with the 50% or more cloud cover. As usual, we were tied up with guests and didn’t get much in the line of pictures… but I did take 2 quick shots in the classroom/dome. Again, thanx to the youth group, and you are welcome back any time!!!...
Upcoming Events!August 1, 2022
Hi all! Tomorrow, Tuessday, August 2nd, from 6PM to 8PM I will be at the Riverdale, IA Fire Station for public solar viewing. On the evening of Wednesday, August 3rd we have the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Young Men’s Encampment at the Menke/QCAS Observatory… about 70 guests are anticipated. On Monday, August 15th we have our 7 PM club meeting at St Ambrose, McCarthy Hall (lower level) or via Zoom. On Saturdays, August 20th, 27th and September 3rd we have public nites at the Menke/QCAS Observatory. As a member, your attendance at at least a couple events is appreciated. Clear Skies! Jeff...
Sept 23-25 Eastern Iowa Star Party!August 1, 2022
Hi all! The Eastern Iowa Star Party is alive and well, but of course in post-COVID recovery mode! This year’s event will be held on the night’s of Sept 23, 24, and 25…. Mark your calendars! What recovery mode means is that we wont have raffles or guest speakers this year, but weather permitting, 3 nice night’s of clear skies! I will hopefully have munchies and beverages on site… and there is no registration fee, HOWEVER, please RSVP! Donations, of course, are welcomed! If you haven’t visited our site in a while, you’ll notice that we have moved our dome from the old Sherman Park site to the Menke Observatory… our new location… and we have just today broken ground to build a second but larger roll off structure. We did acquire a bit more ground, so we can still easily hold 50 astronomers and their gear… At the event, I would like to take the opportunity to address the group as to the QCAS relationship with Menke Observatory… and also some exciting information and maybe a demonstration of the new Wilton School Observatory. So… please RSVP ASAP! This invitation is only going out to members of the QCAS, PAC, […]...