- NSAS Guest Speaker for July
Our virtual (Zoom) guest speaker for this month is Anita Petzler (PhD candidate at Macquarie University’s Dept of Physics and Astronomy) who will give a talk on “Interstellar Medium” (details below). This will be held on Tuesday 21st July at 7:30pm. To register your interest, please click here.
As before, we will conduct some normal club business (i.e. what is happening) at the start of this meeting before we hand over to Anita.
“The gas and dust between the stars in our Galaxy make for some of the most beautiful and compelling images in Astronomy. This ‘interstellar medium’ also provides the raw material for star formation, and as such its study plays an important role in our understanding of how stars form, live and die. In this talk I’ll discuss how I use radio telescopes to study the interstellar medium, and how I go about trying to unravel some of the persistent mysteries of its properties and dynamics.”
- NSAS – Fred Watson, New Observing site, New Monthly Showcase format and Help requested
I hope you are all well and are enjoying the little more freedom that we have. This, on top of some great observing nights we had last week, have been great for my astrophotography sessions as I’ve managed to finally break the cobwebs and get out there. The two objects above are both Messier 8 with the one on left being a straight LRBG M8 shot and Greg McCall’s on the right is all NarrowBand. Both interesting interpretations – makes it seem more like Art doesn’t it?
For those who managed to join us for our inaugural NSAS Online session with Fred Watson it is clearly not just art but hard science too. Fred took us on an interesting journey through Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) covering the last decades and also revealed some of the latest information which is literally only weeks old. A team, led by an Aussie, Jean-Pierre Macquart, had managed to work out that FRBs passing through space were having to push through matter and the distortion on different wavelengths enabled the team to work out how much matter the FRB had had to pass through, and consequently managed to work out that the universe’s 2.5% missing matter that everyone has been hunting for has been hiding in plain sight. Fred also took us through suspected FRB origins and from the measurements a possible explanation is that FRBs are from a 30km explosive event on a neutron star. This is amazing when you consider that that 30km explosion is many many light years away, and we can detect it here on earth. FRBs are clearly an area of continued research.
At the NSAS Online session we also discussed some work that the Committee had instigated regarding more observing capabilities. The outcome of the sub-committee’s work is that the society now has access to the Terry Hills Observing site for 11-12 nights a month as opposed to just 2 previously. We have also begun negotiations with another organisation for access to a suitable site, located in a darker area but still reasonably centralised. The site will be available 365 days of the year and will be branded our NSAS site with a 5 year minimum lease. The site is currently undergoing earthworks and is planned to be available late in the year. Whilst we have not finalised our contractual arrangements our discussions are promising. To help us secure this opportunity we are looking for some help from a lawyer who can help advise us (pro-bono) in finalising the agreement. If you are able please respond back letting us know you can help.
We have also been making some tweaks to the Monthly Showcase and now all photos will be shown up on our Facebook site and on our website. We will no longer be voting on photos etc but encouraging any photo on anything astronomy related and we will post these, and if you like a photo simply “like” it. If you like them all then feel free to “like” them all.
We previously had mentioned the intended production of a photobook of NSAS photos and society events and if you would like to assist us pulling this together in a small project we’d love to hear from you.
A reminder that all events are members only at this time due to the health risks associated with sharing of eyepieces. The society has two telescopes available to members for nightly bookings which can be used at these events as the eyepieces can be properly cleaned afterwards. If you are interested please reply here and let us know.
I hope you all stay well.
- June 2020 Monthly Showcase
There are still a few days left to submit your entries for the June 2020 Monthly Showcase.
Please send your submissions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, the entries can be photos, stories, videos, anything astronomy-related and with a target 10km and up.
The May 2020 entries can be viewed here: https://nsas.org.au/2020/06/23/monthly-showcase-may-2020/
- Monthly Showcase – May 2020
For May 2020, the entries displayed below.
- Standby Observing Night Sunday 21 June is ON
Hi All, We will hold a Standby Observing Night tonight Sunday 21 June.
I will open the gate at 4:30 PM.
Observing Officer NSAS
0448 120 178
- Observing for Saturday 20 June is OFF
Hi All, The Weather is looking bad for tonight therefore the night is OFF.
Observing Officer NSAS
0448 120 178
- Standby Observing night Sunday 14 June
Sunday night is looking really good, so we will hold a Standby Observing night.
With sunset just before 5 PM, I will open the gate at 4:30 PM.
This will be a STRICTLY Members ONLY night.
All members MUST come and sign in with me and provide an email or phone number.
There is to be NO sharing of equipment, 1.5 M distancing is to be observed at all times.
Observing Officer NSAS
0448 120 178
- Observing Saturday 13 June 2020 is OFF
We were hopping for some observing to night but again the weather is looking bad so the night is OFF.
We will try again next Saturday.
Observing Officer NSAS.
- We’re Back !! and Registration details for our Online Speaker program – Fred Watson presents “Fast and loose – the mystery of FRBs”
At last !! I’m very pleased to let you know that the society will re-open our observing site at Terrey Hills from the 13th June for members only. This restriction is due because no sharing of eyepieces can be allowed, and hence only members with their own telescopes will be admitted onto the site. In keeping with government and health recommendations there will also be restrictions on the number of people (50) and social distancing of 1.5m will be required at all times. Additional signon procedures will also be present on site.
Our Online speaker program is now upon us for 7:30pm 16th June with Fred Watson providing us an update on FRBs. Registrations are required and are able to be made via this form Registration Form. We do have limited places so please get in early. Priority will be given to current financial members but we do expect to be able to accommodate everyone. A few days after completing your registration you will receive a meeting invitation which will be your personal registration for the event. Do not forward this as you may be giving away your ticket !! Please be patient as we get this going if it takes a few days to come through.
Please note: The webinar will be done over Zoom which is an application that runs on most phones, laptops, computers, ipads etc and is available free. You do not need an account but will simply be able to click the link that is sent to you in the invite. Due to increased security that Zoom has recently issued you must install the latest version of the software else you will not be allowed into the meeting. There will be no ability to help you to do this on the night so please make sure you do this in advance. To test your Zoom installation you can use https://zoom.us/test to make sure your application is set up and working. There are also many online help topics which can be easily accessed via Google and entering “Zoom audio not working” (for example) into Google should be able to resolve almost all difficulties.
I hope you are all well and keeping safe
I look forward to meeting you all virtually in our zoom meeting on the 16th if not in the field on the 13th.
- Monthly Showcase – April winners and call for May entries
Congratulations to the joint winners of the April 2020 Monthly Showcase, Kym Haines and Ramon Goldfried with their amazing images of the Leo Triplet and Carina Nebula respectively. The images can be viewed at https://nsas.org.au/2020/05/04/monthly-showcase-april-voting/.
Also, there are still a few days left to submit your entries for May. We have 3 already but it would be great to have a few more – please send your submissions to me at email@example.com. Remember, your entries can be photos, videos, anything astronomy-related with a target 10km and up.
- NSAS – World Record Attempt, Fred Watson confirmed for our first Online Speaker session, Gladys let us back on the field and updates to the NSAS Website
Thank you to all those who responded to the survey and it was an overwhelming positive response to attend our speakers online given the current covid-19 situation. Consequently I’m very pleased to be able to confirm that Fred Watson will be “with us” on the 16th June at our 7:30pm virtual General Meeting. Stay tuned for details on how to register for the event as we set this up. Priority will be given to members and as it is our first time there are a few kinks to iron out but please pencil the date in the diary. We will send a subsequent email with the relative links and guides etc, meanwhile download zoom to your phone, ipad or PC depending upon what you want to watch on. On the night will start with some short club news and then will be handing over to Fred. There will be further follow-on speakers that will be announced for the months ahead.
It was great to see that Gladys Berejiklian has raised the number of people who can get together (with rules applied) from the 1st June. The committee will be meeting shortly to confirm our decision and the processes that we will put in place for a return to the observing field. To begin, the nights will be Members Only and more stringent registration onto the field with numbers limited and first in first served rules will apply. We hope to get this out to you in the next week or two in time for 13 June, which is currently predicted to be dry.
If you’ve been to our website lately you will see that we have been making some adjustments with our monthly showcase photos, Articles and Reflections Magazine getting a rework. Now, all articles will be able to viewed directly from the website as well as as a part of the Reflection Magazine. Both options are available depending upon if you wish to review specific articles etc. This also means that Google and other search engines will be able to catalogue our articles and photos and they will appear in the search results. Simply Google “NSAS Monthly Showcase” and you will see several links of the submissions to the club.
Lastly – on the darkest night of the year, 21st June 2020, you are invited to be part of a World Record attempt for the largest number of people to attend an online lesson and to record an observation of the night sky. The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance (ADSA) is hosting the event down under but this is being organised on a global scale. Even if you live close to the city where light pollution is a problem then they especially want you to be involved as this is exactly what they need to know. Simply follow this link here to find more details. For $3 you get to make an observation, be in the draw for some super prizes and get a copy of the certificate, assuming the world record is broken of course!!
I trust you are all keeping safe and well and I hope to see you all shortly.
- NSAS – Is there an end in sight to this? Is NSAS zooming a Fred to you?
Great to talk to you from what appears to be the other side of our “first contact” with Covid-19. Hopefully we all manage this well and it becomes our only culture twisting experience. Certainly I must admit I like working from home and it feels normal now although getting out under the starry skies on our nights is something I am REALLY looking forward to. Since my last message to you there have certainly been some nice sky nights with little wind and cloud and as we come into the star gazing season this will only get better.
There are a few things to update you on.
On the good side the Northern Beaches Council sent an email out yesterday easing its restrictions on the community fields and hence we expect to use the field soon. However, as the restrictions still require a maximum of 10 people and the messaging is still very much cautious the Committee has decided that we will only become active at Stage 2 which raises the number of people to 20. So stay tuned for Stage 2 announcements.
On General Meetings and use of the school facilities St Ignatious has advised us that we will be unable to use its facilities until the end of Term 2 which is about another 3 months. Consequently we are looking to start our Speaker sessions on the Tuesday 16th June via Zoom with Fred Watson, Australia’s Astronomer at Large.
We are also considering if our New Astronomers Group (NAG) course can run online and would like your input on this as well please. NAG is designed for beginners or if people are after a refresher.
- Monthly Showcase – April voting
For April, the entries displayed below. Please vote on your favourite at: https://nsas.proboards.com/thread/121/april-2020-monthly-showcase-voting. You’ll need to be a member and logged in to the forum to place your vote.
For May, entries are open – please send your submissions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Monthly Showcase – March results, April entries open
Congratulations to Kym Haines whose wonderful image of M83 Southern Pinwheel Galaxy was voted the best of the March 2020 entries. It was a close contest with only one vote separating him from the other entrants. Congratulations also to David Wallace who had the best article “Light Detectors”.
There are still a few days left to submit your entry for April 2020. There’s been only one entry so far, so it would be great to have a few more. Please send your submissions to me at email@example.com
- Monthly Showcase – Feb results, March voting
Congratulations to Greg McCall who had both the best image (as voted by members) and the best article (as voted by the committee) for February. The image was M83 Southern PInwheel Galaxy and the article was an Introduction to Astrophotography. All of ourmembers’ excellent contributions will be published in Reflections magazine.
For March, the entries are attached in PDF format (see link below). Please vote on your favourite at: https://nsas.proboards.com/thread/120/march-2020-monthly-showcase-voting. You’ll need to be a member and logged in to the forum to place your vote.
For April, entries are open – please send your submissions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please find link below to the latest edition of Reflections.
- ICRAR Lectures
If any of our members are interested, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy and Research (ICRAR) are conducting livestream lectures on YouTube every Wednesday at 9:30pm Sydney time.
Last Wednesday lecture was on “Pluto, the Oddball” from Dr David Gozzard.
You can catch this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZH4ZNde2O0
Here is the link to their Facebook post:
Subscribe now to be notified. They’ll run a new lecture every Wednesday at 9:30pm (Sydney time), thanks to ICRAR and ASTRO 3D. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCobAtc3ejuyreZAtIha4XHQ
- NSAS Organised Observing Canceled
For the foreseeable future all organised observing is cancelled.
This includes Solar, Visitor and Member Viewing Nights.
Observing Officer NSAS
- Feb 2020 Monthly Showcase voting and March 2020 call for entries
There are still a few days left to submit your entries for the March 2020 Monthly Showcase. There haven’t been any entries yet, so it’s your chance for an easy win!
Please submit your entries to me at email@example.com
Also, since meetings have been cancelled for the time being, we are now doing online voting for the Monthly Showcase. Please read the below slide pack to see the February 2020 entries, then go to https://nsas.proboards.com/thread/116/february-2020-monthly-showcase-voting and cast your vote. Voting closes 7th April.
Click here -> February 2020 Monthly Showcase – for voting
- NSAS – Announcements and Updates on club activities
“We live in interesting times” seemed an apt 1936 quote by Sir Austen Chamberlain to start this update to you. We have some of the most interesting things going on above us at the moment but alas also around us and the distraction of both are hypnotic. Reading the pages of the various papers and news sites brings to reality the threat of the coronavirus whilst also the wonders of the scientific research that also uncovers more and more knowledge about the reality we live in. Indeed, in reading the Science Daily Dark Matter page https://www.sciencedaily.com/news/space_time/dark_matter/ also reveals articles on the latest supercomputers researching the Coronavirus so it seems that both will be topics of conversation and research for some time. I trust that everyone is keeping well and practicing safe distancing as this seems to be the only real defense until a vaccine is available.
The Committee has held several meetings over the last couple of weeks to determine our course of action for the club for the next 6 months.
The use of the hall by the St Ignatius school has been put on hold until at least the start of Term 2 (27th April) and to contact them then to determine what happens next. As a consequence the April Club Meeting will be cancelled and the 30+ attendees for the New Astronomers Group (NAG) will be postponed till later in the year. In also what has been a long sought after goal I am pleased to announce that we have a New AstroPhotography Group (NApG) course which was slated for 16th May and whilst it is pleasing to announce its existence it is bittersweet as the Committee also needs to advise that it will also be put on hold due to uncertainty of the situation.
The committee spent a fair bit of time also discussing our observing nights and how we should proceed here. Given the continuing restrictions on socialising and the fact that many of our members fit the profile of the worst affected by the virus the committee has decided to put observing on hold. There was much debate about distancing happens naturally around telescopes etc but I feel that for the club to hold events at this time is not prudent and that the members well-being is of the primary concern. Whilst it may be an individuals choice to attend a field to observe, the club should not be facilitating members, or the public, by advertising and hosting such events. No doubt the site can still be used by individuals as it is a public facility but this will be at the individuals choice. We will of course monitor the situation and reverse this decision as soon as we can. I realise that not everyone will agree with this but in the interests of the club, and our members health I believe that this is the correct course to take.
Our return to the Hunter Valley for our Star Party is still currently on track for late September. Whilst we haven’t committed to a booking at this point we have advised the site that we still plan to attend but will need to hold off on the booking at this point. The site is a large area in a quieter and darker area of the valley. Whilst it is next to a road the traffic in that area is particularly quiet. The plan includes marques at Two Fat Blokes’ new estate with platters of food and wine from the area, and as Jacinta is our organiser for this year the party side of the name is getting a good work out. It should be a fun filled event but also settled in a darker site with less sky glow than last year. More details to come as we will continue to flesh out the plans but we won’t be confirming things till mid-year.
Our search for our new site is progressing well with over 15 sites reviewed and evaluated. We are currently short listing and plan to bring to the club our recommendations to proceed. Some of the options require little investment whereas others come with lots of facilities and club houses already established but will require an ongoing financial arrangement that the club will need to be committed to. There is even a potential for a 10 year plan if the club so chooses. Shout out to Greg McCall, Nick Angelini, Phil Angilley, John Lin and Dave Armen on the progress to date. Look out for our next update in a few weeks time.
Given the above the club will further invigorate our Reflections Magazine and Monthly Showcase photos and articles. There is a new Reflections due to come out shortly so I encourage everyone to pick up your pen (or keyboard) and put down some of those thoughts that I know goes around in astronomers heads all the time. Turn your thinking into a muse or some jottings. I recently purchased a new guide-scope and it is decidedly not fixed and its position will definitely move from setup to setup. SharpCap says that this is not a problem! I’ve set out to test this and will be publishing my results in the next few weeks. (“publishing!” – doesn’t that sound grand!!). The Monthly Showcase will be distributed electronically and you can all vote. Look out for the email…there are some lovely photos and interesting articles this month.
Meanwhile I have done a total re-haul on my electrics and cabling and significantly reduced my cable snagging risk!
I hope you are all well and look forward to catching up with you all as soon as we can.
- Observing for Saturday 28th March is OFF
Hi All, The Weather for Saturday is looking bad again therefore the night is OFF.
Observing Officer NSAS
- Observing Saturday 21st March is OFF
The weather is not looking good for Saturday, therefore I have called the night OFF.
I am going to Mangrove Mt tonight, any takers to join me.
Observing Officer NSAS
0448 120 178
02 9939 7319
- Observing Friday 20 March Mangrove Mt
With Saturday not looking so good at this present time, I am intending on going to Mangrove Mt, I will get dinner at the Petrol Station at Peat’s Ridge at 1830 and be onsite by sunset at 1900.
I will be setting up on Kyola Rd, a few 200 M past Mangrove Dam Rd.
If anyone is interested in joining me, please let me know directly firstname.lastname@example.org 0448 120 178
Observing Officer NSAS
- NSAS IMPORTANT UPDATE of General Meeting for tomorrow night CANCELLED
IMPORTANT UPDATE – In discussion with the St Ignatius school today we were advised that the school is closing down all use of its facilities other than for direct school activities.Consequently the NSAS meeting with Fred Watson as the speaker for tomorrow night will need to be postponed.The school has also advised that until the start of Term 2 (27th April) the facilities are not available.Whilst this is disappointing it is understandable given the circumstances.The committee will be convening a Committee Meeting in the weeks ahead and we will keep you appraised of developments.David StevensonClub President
- NSAS General Meeting for March; special speaker (Cont)Everyone,With the COVID-19 virus about the committee has discussed the advice from the Australian Dept of Health and based on this we will be proceeding with Fred Watson’s talk on Tuesday night. The Dept of Health advice is to limit organised, non-essential gatherings greater than 500 people and workplaces, schools, universities, shops, supermarkets, public transport and airports are not subject to any additional restriction.However restrictions will be applied for anyone with a cough, sniffle or any symptoms of a fever or cold. If you have any of these symptoms please do not attend Tuesday night.If you have any reason to believe that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 then please do not attend Tuesday night.For the safety of all of our members and visitors if you are symptomatic I, and the club, will ask you to leave and I would prefer to not have to do that.In WHO advice (link) it discusses that an aid to stopping transmission you should not shake hands nor stand within 1m of someone with symptoms. Again for our members, guests and visitors safety please adhere to this on Tuesday.I do hope to see many of you there, healthy people only of course 🙂 as it promises to be a very interesting talk and topic. In talking to Fred today Fred indicated that there is some new news to come out of ASKAP so I am quite intrigued.Stay well