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):
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.
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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 December 3:
Find the Observatory
Celestial events of Nov, 2016
Best Galaxy M31, The Andromeda Galaxy. In early November, the Andromeda Galaxy will be just north of the constellation Andromeda and positioned high in the eastern sky for great views. Use a 6" or larger telescope for the best views of this spiral galaxy. Massive M31 is the nearest galaxy to our home galaxy, the Milky Way.
Best Star Cluster M45, the Pleiades. November is sometimes called "the month of the Pleiades," since the famous open star cluster is visible all night long for observers in the Northern hemisphere. From a dark sky site, M45 is easy to see with unaided eyes and resembles a small "teaspoon" pattern in the sky, but this open star cluster is best appreciated in a good pair of 50mm or larger astronomy binoculars.
Supermoon Rises The second "Supermoon" of 2016 occurs on November 14th, when the perigee Full Moon rises in the sky. The Moon will be just 221,525 miles from Earth, making its closest approach of the year. On this night, the Moon will be directly opposite the Sun in the sky and will appear slightly brighter and larger than usual.
Leonids Meteor Shower Go outside around midnight on Tuesday, November 16th into the early morning hours of the 17th to see the peak of the annual Leonids Meteor Shower. The best viewing will be after midnight, when the waning gibbous Moon sinks low in the sky. Look for meteors as they appear to radiate out from the constellation Leo. The Leonids meteors are left-over debris of comet Temple-Tuttle, a comet that orbits the Sun every 33 years. Grab a warm blanket or coat and enjoy the show!
ORION Nebula Our namesake constellation Orion will be in a great viewing position in late November, placed nice and high in the southeastern sky around midnight. Use 50mm or larger binoculars or a telescope and look in the area below the three recognizable stars of Orion's belt for a great view of M42, the Orion Nebula. Any telescope will reveal this nebula, but we recommend a 6-inch or larger telescope with a wide-angle, low-power eyepiece for the best views. If you'll be observing from the city or near a lot of streetlights, use an Orion Oxygen-III Nebula Filter to boost contrast for more pleasing views
Pre-Dawn Pairing Before the Sun rises on November 24th, the Moon and Jupiter will be close together in the sky. Look above the eastern horizon before dawn to see this pretty pair as the Moon and the largest planet in our solar system appear to pass within 2° of each other.
Two Clusters Side by Side High in the northern sky around 10 PM is a bright knot in the Milky Way, located between the constellations of Perseus and Cassiopeia. With astronomy binoculars you can tell this bright patch is really two open star clusters side by side, the famous Double Cluster in Perseus. Also called NGC 884 & NGC 869, these star clusters are relatively very close to Earth, about 7-8,000 light years away. Astronomers believe these open clusters are about 3-5 million years old, just youngsters on the cosmic timescale!
A Dark Sky Test On the opposite side of Andromeda from M31 is another nearby galaxy, M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy. Use a star chart to look for it in 50mm or larger astronomy binoculars. If you have a dark sky site to observe from, you may be able to detect this galaxy with the naked eye. In fact, M33 is used as a test of sorts by experienced observers to judge the darkness and transparency of a potential observing site.
Here's a photo of our STEM teacher's group, learning "From Earth to the Stars with STEM" on Dec. 8:
All those little red markers above show clumps of recent Internet connections to TAO. You can use the mouse wheel to enlarge the map.
Save Roane Starry Skies is in its ninth year! Founded Nov. 4, 2007
or if you have a comment or questions
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.
Here are photos from Heather Fries showing the sunset, and some of our visitors.