Upcoming Events

Thu Dec 18 @ 7:00PM
RAC Imaging Meeting
Fri Dec 26 @ 6:00PM
RAC Observing Session (RACOBS)
Thu Jan 08 @ 7:00PM
RAC Meeting: Black Holes
Fri Jan 23 @ 6:00PM
RAC Observing Session (RACOBS)



RAC members, for a list of up coming Public Observing Events for which you can volunteer to support, please click > HERE

December Meeting: NASA Launch Weather Forecasting

Speaker: Tony Rice

Our December meeting featured an excellent presentation on NASA Launch Weather Forecasting by local NASA Solar System Ambassador, Tony Rice. Astronomers obviously need clear night skies to get anything done and spend a lot of time studying weather forecasts of frontal boundaries, cloud cover, winds aloft and airmass moisture. To send a space mission on its way, NASA does all that and much more. Tony walked us through other weather factors that govern a launch such as temperature, lightening risk and where winds will carry debris and toxic materials in event of a disaster.

Tony Rice - Launch Weather Forecasting

Rosetta Mission to Comet 67P

In mid-November, the European Space Agency successfully landed a washing machine sized probe, named Philae, on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Philae, and its mothership probe Rosetta, began their long journey to the comet ten years ago atop an Ariane 5G rocket launched from French Guiana.

Reaching this comet was not an easy task and took 3 flybys of Earth and one of Mars to use gravity assist to pick up the speed necessary to rendezvous with 67P. Rosetta has traveled 4 billion miles to reach the comet just inside the orbit of Jupiter. Along the way, Rosetta passed near the asteroids Steins and Lutetia and radio'd back images of these objects - some of the closest ever taken of asteroids.

The image on the left shows a scale model of comets 67P (left) and Siding-Spring (right) next to Los Angeles. The image on the right was taken from Rosetta of Comet 67P last May as the probe approached the comet. Comet 67P is the smudge in the red square just below image center. The globular cluster M107 is prominent near the left edge of the main image. M107 orbits the central hub of our galaxy.

Comet size comparison

Comet 67P and M107 from Rosetta

October RACOBS was a success
The clouds couldn't beat human curiousity for the October RACOBS.   The night started with more than 50% cloud cover but slowly improved.  By 9pm, plenty of objects were available for observing.  Among the approximately 20 attendees were members old and new, guests who have never peered through a telescope and a local Cub Scout Troop.  Attendance started to dwindle by 11p and the observing session came to a close soon after.  Thanks to all club members who graciously provided telesope time to other members and the public who showed up for the "Cloudy RACOBS".
RAC At The ASTC 2014 Conference

The Raleigh Astronomy Club participated in the ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) 2014 Annual Conference this past weekend. This in an international conference and this year it was hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. The conference was held at the Raleigh Convention Center and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. RAC was enlisted to provide help for both the welcome party and the museum open house day. Members provided both daytime (solar) and nighttime observing for the attendees. Many thanks to the RAC members who provided great views for everyone, especially those that worked late into Saturday night/Sunday AM!

Evening Observing at ASTC Welcome Party Solar Observing at ASTC Museum Open House Day
Introduction to BackyardEOS

The October Imaging Group Meeting at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences featured Guylain Rochon speaking on his excellent program for astrophotography, BackyardEOS. Speaking to us from his basement in Canada, Guylain showed the finer features of using the program and explained some of the design decisions. He also discussed some of the coming features of the program. Everyone in attendance felt like they learned many new things about using the program capture great images.

Guylain Rochon, Author of BackyardEOS Screenshot of BackyardEOS
Partial Solar Eclipse this Thursday October 23rd 2014

If the weather cooperates and you have an unobstructed view of the horizon, you should be able to catch some of the partial solar eclipse this Thursday, the 23rd. For our area, it's going to happen near the end of the day and low on the horizon.  The direction to look is roughly 252deg(NW). The partial eclipse begins around 6:00pm EST, at around an altitude of 4.7deg. If you're up high enough, you should be able to get a few minutes of viewing before the sun falls below the horizon at around 6:27pm.

Mike Mantini

Astronomical League
Proud Member of the
Astronomical League
International Dark-Sky Association
International Dark-Sky Association
Jordan Lake
Howell Woods