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 the Smokey Mountain Astronomical Society (SMAS) groups participate in most TAO 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
Joey models the Starman shirt from TAOAS (TAO Astronomical Society).
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).
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.
Eye patches for Dark Adaptation
September and October nights hold lots of wonderful treats for amateur astronomers to see with binoculars and telescopes. See some of our top September stargazing suggestions below:
The Northern Milky Way - Early in the month, around 9 PM, the "Summer Triangle" of three bright stars (Vega, Deneb and Altair) is nearly overhead. In the northernmost portion of the Summer Triangle, you'll see the brightest portion of the northern Milky Way. Point a telescope there and you'll discover that the fuzzy outlines of the Milky Way will resolve into fields of glittering stars.
Neighbor Galaxy - In early September,
lurking low in the northeast sky is another galaxy, separate from
our Milky Way - the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). From a very dark,
moonless sky, M31 is visible with the unaided eye as a slightly fuzzy
spot. A pair of 7x50, 9x63 or larger binoculars will give you a much
better view and telescopes will reveal some of the subtle dust lanes
in the neighboring galaxy.
More Extra-Galactic Treats - If you
haven't tracked down "The Whirlpool Galaxy," M51, just off
the handle of the easily recognizable Big Dipper asterism, do it now
while you still can! It will be too low for most to get a good view
after September and you'll need to wait until late winter or next
spring to catch a good view of this truly picturesque galaxy.
A Brilliant Open Star Cluster - Off the western end of the constellation Cassiopeia is the beautiful Open Star Cluster M52. You can find it with 50mm or larger binoculars from a dark sky site, but the view is definitely better in a telescope.
The Globular Star Clusters of September
- Off the western side of the constellation Pegasus, three globular
star clusters almost line up in a row from north to south. These sparkling
clusters are, starting with the most northern globular, M15 in Pegasus;
M2 in Aquarius and M30 in Capricorn. From a dark sky site you can
easily find all of them in binoculars and telescopes.
Dying Stars and Glowing Gas: Look to the constellation Lyra with a telescope to catch one of the best Planetary Nebulas in the sky - M57, the famous "Ring Nebula"!
Find the Observatory!
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 seventh year! Founded Nov. 4, 2007
or if you have a comment or questions
Here are photos from Heather Fries showing the sunset, and some of our visitors.
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.
We had a welcome to guests followed by a classroom presentation at 1930 h on our 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 Yajit Jain, Carlos del-Castillo-Negrete, and Scotty Chung. 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.
Jan. 17 TAOrem launch
This was a success. Past and future
students and amateur astronomers were invited. Launch of this remote
sensing balloon was successful 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
Sunspots areassociated with
Coronal Mass Ejections
That Change the Planet
and its Aurora
Image of Saturn by Michael McCulloch
Friendly local astronomy groups:
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
Astrophotography at TAO
M15, M27 and M33 by Roy Morrow (above) and
Triffid Nebula by Tom Hering (below)
Perspectives on good astronomy occasionally appear on the Bad Astronomy Blog, at http://www.badastronomy.com/intro.html
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).
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:
Blount County Zoning for
Conguatulations to Blount County for protecting its skies, minimizing light trespess, and setting a standard for responsible lighting. They have passed the Blount County commercial/industrial zoning regarding outdoor lighting section Section 7.14 part D can be found here
The intention of this regulation is to preserve the Rural Character of Blount County, and requires that a site plan be filed for new developments. The full text (from the Oct. 25 meeting) is here
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
Contacts: For optical /radio astronomy information, please contact Dr. David Fields at Roane State Community College at 865 498 9319.