The above photo was taken in our classroom during a Public Stargaze with a guest lecturer, Les Johnson, of NASA/MSFC.

Enjoy TAO in another Language

(we have a big planet):



 

TAO Public Stargaze

May, 2017

Public invited 7:30-11 PM.

(Stargazes First and Third Saturday of the Month)

Where are we? See our map .


Tamke-Allan Observatory invites people interested in astronomy to meet at 1930h on the first and 3rd Saturdays for celestial observing between 7:30 and 11 PM. Or sometimes later, depending on the sky.

JUNO arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Here's our exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy, Oak Ridge. Visit them!

Telescope making/mirror grinding is a hands-on activity for everyone (students, amateur astronomers and visitors).

 

Roy Morrow used James Nolan's camera to capture a beautiful image of the Dumbell Nebula (a planetary nebula from an exploded star). I took a photo of it with my cell phone and it looked like this:

The scope camera had a better image, but I took this one with my iPhone. One can see the remaining white dwarf star at the center of the Dumbell.

May 6 was a busy evening, as we entertained the students and parents at Linden School in Oak Ridge, at their new amphitheater. Saturn and Luna were excellent targets. What a nice group of people! We had 6 telescopes and several hundred observers.

In truth, there were 2 Saturns, but the first one had wheels and rolled away. The second had beautiful rings and a prominent moon, and delighted the crowd.

Recent (Nov. 2013) astrophotography by Shawn Harrison was displayed in real time on the TAO Mobile Solar Observatory rear-screen projector:


Along with decoding the "Enigma" poem by Galileo, we found this in the sky (telescope work at TAO on April 2 showing M1 through the 12" Meade by UJ and DR):

That's the photo of the Crab Nebula 6000 LY distant, at the start of history according to the young earth guys. That light has been traveling for 6000 years. How about the more distant objects? The light has been traveling a lot longer. The actual image is better since you're seeing a CCD image rendered on a monitor, covered by a filter, captured by a handheld iphone camera, resized, transmitted rendered in your monitor, etc.

We discussed whether Galileo could have seen the Crab Nebula in beautiful skies Italian without light pollution, about the year 1535. He saw and wrote extensively about Saturn. The answer is perhaps yes.

We looked at some astrophotos, including those by local people (e.g., as in the photo above, taken just before the hard drive filled up). Skies provided great visibility, but seeing near the horizon was bad because of the turbulence.

Bring telescopes, red flashlights, astronomy gadgets and cookies. The evening will offer opportunities for viewing and Luna (with craters), and Jupiter with 3-4 nearby moons.

Expect Stargazes on the first and third Saturday evenings of each month. Amateur astronomers bring telescopes and binoculars and offer views of astronomical objects, while visitors are invited to bring their telescopes, questions and cookies to share with the astronomers.

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Here's a gazing ball image from 5/19. Note the heavy light pollution along the horizon and illumination of the classroom by the light trespass (click for full size image). This is a 11 PM photo and the light pollution prevents viewing around the horizon.


Tamke-Allan Observatory of Rockwood is a treasure of Roane County. It hosts free Public Stargazes on the first and third Saturday evenings of each month. These stargazes have opened the night skies, free of charge to everyone, for the past 10 years. Amateur astronomers bring telescopes and binoculars and offer views of astronomical objects, while visitors are invited to bring their questions and cameras and meet the astronomers. Kids are especially welcome.

Too much light causes glare – a hazard on our highways. Directing light downward where it is needed conserves energy and gives us a safer, more secure community. It also keeps our observatory open for education and research. When was the last time that you could see our beautiful milky way? We are losing our Roane County Heritage in the glare of unshielded lights.

Star Party Etiquette

* Bring a red flashlight and avoid using any white light after dark.
* Get to know the lighting controls for your vehicle and ensure as little white light as possible shines from your vehicle. If you cannot control the lights, choose to park as far away from the telescopes as practical.
* Carefully enter the observing location. Speeding into a parking area full of telescopes and observers is a recipe for an accident.

TAO Academic Associates are Colleges, Universities and other educational institutions that have both faculty and students that share research and scientific goals. The emphasis is not just scientific -- this is a humanistic endeavor that encourages both cultural exchange and critical thinking.

Our Associate Groups:

ORION

ORION is a local science and engineering oriented group that supports astronomy public events, field trips and lectures on current related topics. Group activities are centered in Oak Ridge and at TAO. Orion members support the Tamke Allan Observatory family nights on the first and second Saturday of each month. Monthly meetings are held at the Oak Ridge Historic Grove Theater on third Wednesday evenings at 1900 h (7:00 PM).

Astronomers from the Oak Ridge Isochronous Observation Network (ORION) and Knoxville Observers participate in these events.. TAO serves as the center for astronomy classes, optical astronomy and radio astronomy observing as well as and public stargazes on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

To subscribe to ORION news items, send an email to

orionastronomy-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

 


 

TAO Pleiades Cluster Status

 

Radio Astronomy is one focus of our TAO activities. Here is an image of a poster showing how we are using the Itty Bitty Telescope (IBT) as part of the SARA-NRAO Radio Navigator's Group (click for full size, and we are happy to share the poster).

TAO astronomy students visited UT and built a scintillation detector containing several plastic scintillators and 4 photomultipliers. The complete cosmic ray detection system is now in place and TAO is part of the TEnnessee Cosmic ray Observatory Project (TECOP).

Program for May 6:

"Satellite Prototypes"

Plus Night Sky Highlights

 

 


Find the Observatory


(Click for Directions)

April Celestial Sights

Mercury After Sunset - On April 1st, Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation of just under 20 degrees from the Sun, which means the planet will reach its highest point above Earth's horizon. Catch a glimpse of tiny Mercury in binoculars just above the western horizon right after sunset, or use a [telescope] for a closer look. Since Mercury is very small in the sky, locating it can be a challenge. Try looking for a bright "star" in the western sky that doesn't appear to twinkle as much as surrounding stars. Chances are you've found Mercury!

Jupiter at Opposition - Gigantic Jupiter reaches opposition on April 7th, making it the best night of the year to explore the gas giant planet. While Jupiter can be detected in almost any size telescope, the most rewarding views of the gas giant planet and its four brightest moons can be found in larger refractor and reflector telescopes with moderate to high power eyepieces. Opposition occurs when a planet reaches its closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit. Since Jupiter will be directly opposite the Sun from Earth on April 7th, it will be visible all night long - rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. Take advantage of Jupiter's brightest night of the year and take a closer look at its striking cloud band "stripes" and four Galilean moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Use an [Orion Jupiter Observation Filter] to reveal cloud belt details and improve contrast in your views of the biggest planet in our solar system.

Jupiter and the Moon - Just a few days after reaching opposition, gas giant planet Jupiter pairs up with the Moon to make a pretty pairing in the night sky. Get outside at sunset on April 10th to see gas giant planet Jupiter appear as close as 2.4° South of the nearly Full Moon. Both Jupiter and the Moon will rise together over the eastern horizon just a few moments after sunset.

Spring Brings Galaxy Season! - April skies provide stargazers with ample opportunities to observe far-off galaxies. With the Virgo Galaxy Cluster and bright galaxies in the Big Dipper and Coma Berenices well-positioned in the sky, April evenings are truly a gift for galaxy hounds. Check out a few of our favorite galaxies: M101, M51, and M106 near the Big Dipper asterism; M86, M87, M84 and M104 in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster; and don't miss NGC 4565, M64, M99, and M100 in the constellation Coma Berenices. While a humble 80mm telescope will show most of the galaxies we mention, a big reflector like our [SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian] will provide jaw-dropping views of these distant galaxies!

International Dark Sky Week - From Saturday April 22nd through Friday April 28th, celebrate International Dark Sky Week by keeping your outdoor lights turned off after sunset to reduce light pollution. Endorsed by the International Dark-Sky Association and the American Astronomical Society, International Dark Sky Week presents an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful night sky without the adverse effects of light pollution from outdoor lighting. Turn out those lights and enjoy views of the starry sky from your own backyard!

Lyrids Meteor Shower - Kick off International Dark Sky Week by getting outside after midnight on the night of April 22nd to enjoy the peak of the LyridsMeteor Shower. Look for meteors to radiate outwards from the constellation Lyra after midnight on the 22nd into the early hours of April 23rd. The Lyrids is a medium shower which can produce about 20 meteors per hour during its peak. The waning crescent Moon will be out when shower activity peaks, but it shouldn't make it too difficult to spot meteors. The Lyrids shower often produces meteors with impressive dust trails that can last several seconds. You don't need a telescope to enjoy the show - just sit back in a comfy chair and watch bright dust trails flare across the sky.

-- Thx to ORION for this summary!

Here's a photo of our STEM teacher's group, learning "From Earth to the Stars with STEM" on Dec. 8:

.

 

RECEIVE TAO-News


Save Roane Starry Skies is in its tenth year! Founded Nov. 4, 2007


Click to join Save Roane Starry Skies EMAIL group

or if you have a comment or questions

Enter it here, or email your query directly to InfoStarrySkies@yahoo.com

Dark skies on a night in December revealed Aurora from TAO (note our weather station). Photo by Astronomy class student Robert Quinn.

The following sunset photo was taken on Astronomy Day, May 7, 2006.


Sometimes our POD actually glows. The source of the light is something that visitors are encouraged to discover.

Solar Photos

Here are photos from Heather Fries showing the sunset, and some of our visitors.

We had a welcome to guests followed by a classroom presentation at 1930 h on the Siemans competition projectt in using computer models to steer particle beams. This work has several applications in astronomy and materials research. Our presenters were Oak Ridge High School students Scotty Chung Yajit Jain, and Carlos del-Castillo-Negrete, and. These students are the 2010-11 Siemens Foundation Regional Finalists in the prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. They are among 94 finalists selected from 2,033 student researchers from 36 states and are competing for Siemens awards that range from $1000 to $100,000. We had a hot grill and live music from the astro-country folk band outside

.

This (below) is an earlier photo of (multiple science fair award winner) Katie Sloop, together with the visiting Dinkins family, learning radio astronomy at TAO.

In doing radio astronomy, TAO supports the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA). SARA materials and ideas turned up at the TAOSON exhibits at the 2010 Rockwood Fall Festival in Rockwood, TN:

 

IDEAS

Perspectives on good astronomy occasionally appear on the Bad Astronomy Blog, at http://www.badastronomy.com/intro.html

ORION Program for April 19

Don't miss the April ORION meeting on Wednesday April 19, 7 PM at the Historic Grove Theater in Oak Ridge.

The speaker, Dr. Harold McAlister, is well-known for his research at Kitt Peak and Mt. Wilson observatories.

The topic is multi-spectral astronomy:

"Seeing the Unseen with the CHARA Array"

 

ABSTRACT: Seeing the Unseen with the CHARA Array
Historic Mount Wilson Observatory is home to the world’s highest resolution optical telescope – Georgia State University’s CHARA Array, a collection of six 1-meter aperture telescopes operating at visible and near-infrared wavelengths. The Array uses the principles of long-baseline interferometry to achieve resolutions capable of not only resolving the surfaces and shapes of stars but also seeing spots, gas and dust disks, and close stellar companions. In terms of angular resolution, the facility functions as a single, giant telescope some 330 meters across, and – with its limiting resolution of 200 micro-arcseconds (0.0002 arcseconds) – CHARA is providing details about stars, including images of them, never before directly seen. It is the most scientifically productive such instrument ever built in the US and possesses angular resolution that exceeds the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer. This talk describes how the CHARA Array works and will give selections from the rich smorgasbord of CHARA’s scientific results during its first decade of operations. The speaker will also touch on his retirement activities as a biographer and novelist.

Maryville Scouts visited us on March 5, 2016

Scoutmaster Chris brought Troop 700 from Maryville and they filled the classroom. What a group -- with questions and a lot of interest in learning how to find Jupiter (and moons) with our 8" refractor. They were already a part of the TAO action since it was one of their Eagle Scouts who built our camping area in our woods. They brought us coffee and 3 types of strudle (!) and we shared our telescopes (Thanks Jan, DR, and George), Jim Long's Spagetti, 2 kinds of bread, cookies, chips, etc. It was a beautiful evening, after those clouds cleared.

Eye patches for Dark Adaptation
I used to wear an eye patch to dark adapt but later, decided to simply close an eye when needed. I was wrong.

Itt turns out that pirates were on the right track in wearing eye patches. I had thought that they should just have closed their eyes to dark-adapt to go below-decks but no -- blood transmits wavelengths (heavy curve) that bleach ocular rhodopsin (light curve)

Shiver me timbers and belay any discard-patch advisories. Wearing an eye patch for dark adaptation is a good idea.

TAOrem launch

This was a success. Past and future students and amateur astronomers were invited. Launch of this remote sensing balloon occurred at 4 PM on 1/17/2015 from Tamke-Allan Observatory in East TN, USA, 35.8325 Lat, -84.618 Lon. Transmissions were 110baud ASCII, 8b, 2s, np on 433.97462 MHz upper sideband, with ID WA4ADG-1 as announced on http://arhab.org/hab_launch_list.php and tracked on http://www.roanestate.edu/obs
and on Twitter @TAOrem.

Our 2 launches of 2014 used instrumented weather balloons (monitoring position, temp, ionizing radiation, solar insolation, etc.), and attained about 100,000 foot altitude before bursting as expected.. The Jan 17 launch was more experimental, using a 1/3 filled non-expanding bladder -- we had constant-volume altitude stabilization at 30,000 feet. Flight duration was long as expected -- about 5 hours.

Sunspots Today

Solar activity

Status

Sunspots areassociated with

Coronal Mass Ejections

That Change the Planet

Geomag. Field

Status

and its Aurora

 

 

 

Image of Saturn by Michael McCulloch

Friendly local astronomy groups:

TAOSON (TAO Solar Observation Network) Signal (issues)

TAO Astronomy Society

ORION

Join ORION discussion group

Smoky Mountain Ast. Soc.

 

Dark Skies

  1. Carpe Noctem -- Seize the Night and Stop Light Pollution

  2. Security Lights for East Tennessee

  3. When is National Dark-Sky Week

  4. Parkland News

Check the premier International Dark Skies site
and the new Dark Sky Institute site

Carpe Noctem! Let's keep our little TAO dark with stars in the sky. In the map, all red areas have lost their night sky while blue areas have dark skies. Please support our dark skies. We are darker than Knoxville, but WE DO HAVE A PROBLEM from light pollution.

 

Past TAO Events

READ April 18 Knox News-Sentinal article - Losing the Sky

Kingston Troup 101 on trail 2005

Music on the Mountain

John Dobson's Visit

Click for Astronomy Lab Photos

Click for other TAO Photos

Antenna searches
Retriever's nose in the wind
Ether's far secrets.

-- Haiku by Corporal Shaftoe,from Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Radio Astronomy

Astrophotography at TAO

 

M15, M27 and M33 by Roy Morrow (above) and

Triffid Nebula by Tom Hering (below)


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Our 15m radio astronomy sytem responds to changes in D-layer density. If the greyline(grey area on the map) is above TAO then we get terrestrial transmitter interference in our Skypipe Jupiter/Solar monitor receiver. Signals which travel inside the grayline region often experience significant improvements in propagation because of the loss of ionization in the D-region as the Sun sets. However, because the higher F-regions of the ionosphere remain strongly ionized for longer periods of time, signals with higher frequencies are able to travel to greater distances with less attenuation when they are within the grayline. The current solar position is shown in the yellow area. Click on the image for more informaton.

TAO proudly supports the NASA Night Sky Network through our associated astronomy clubs in Oak Ridge, Knoxville, and Soddy Daisy


The Web Roane State Community College

Contacts: For optical /radio astronomy information, please contact Dr. David Fields at Roane State Community College at 865 498 9319.