Upcoming Events

Fri Mar 13 @ 6:00PM
RAC Observing Session (RACOBS)
Wed Mar 18 @ 7:00PM
RAC Meeting: The End of Night
Thu Mar 19 @ 7:00PM
RAC Imaging Meeting
Fri Mar 27 @ 7:30PM
Public Observing - Art in the Evening
Fri Apr 10 @ 7:00PM
RAC Observing Session (RACOBS)
Thu Apr 16 @ 7:00PM
RAC Imaging Meeting

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Announcements

The Telescope Clinic on Saturday, Februrary 28, 2015 has been CANCELLED due to ice and snow on the parking deck. It will be rescheduled to a Saturday in March. Check back here in a few days to see the new time. We apologize for any inconvenience.
 

The next Indoor Meeting will be on Wednesday, March 18, and will feature Paul Bogard from James Madison University doing a reading and slide presentation of his critically-acclaimed book about the value of darkness and costs of light pollution. This is a jointly held event with the museum, Audibon Society and other groups. 

The meeting will be at 7:00 PM in the WRAL Auditorium in the Nature Education Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

 

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

Weathered-out in February

Winter can be the best time of the year for Astronomy if you do not mind bundling up. The air is at its driest and clearest of the year and the stars just seem brighter. 

Or it can snow a lot, be overcast and totally shut the hobby down. That was our club experience in February with most of our events, including the indoor meeting, lost to bad weather.

But you can never keep a good man down. The RAC snowman was able to work in some daytime lunar observing amid all the snow.

Hopefully, March is kinder to the club so we can get our telescopes out to enjoy the night sky once again.

RAC Snowman
 
Astronomy Days 2015

The Raleigh Astronomy Club and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences held our Astronomy Days 2015 event in downtown Raleigh over the weekend of January 24th and 25th. Over 14,000 visitors of all ages attended this year. Our visitors enjoyed dozens of exhibits, attended presentations and participated in workshops on a wide range of astronomy topics. This year's event had a Pluto and Outer Solar System theme with presentations covering the New Horizons mission to Pluto, Comets and the Kuiper Belt.

RAC Table        Solar Observing

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January RACOBS - Night of the Comet

We got January off to a good start with over 20 club members and guests attending our monthly observing session at Big Woods. Comet Lovejoy was a popular target and easily found next to the Pleiades. Alan Dyer, a Canadian astronomy writer, produced this beautiful image of Comet Lovejoy and the Pleiades.

Comet Lovejoy next to Pleiades - Alan Dyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January Meeting: Black Holes - Past, Present & Future

SteveChristensen, Ph.D. provided a very engaging presentation on back holes to almost 50 members and guests in attendance at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  The presentation was also streamed live via the club's Google + account and is available for viewing on the club's YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/x3EqklJbDCg.

The presentation covered many aspects of black holes
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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

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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

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