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):



Possible Perseids viewing on August 11-12 (weather dependent)

To be announced here and on ORIONastronomy listserver

 

TAO Public Stargaze

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gates open at 7:30 PM.

 

(Stargazes First and Third Saturday of the Month)

Jupiter waits for us low in the western sky!

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

 


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).

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).

Don't Miss the August 20

TAO Stargaze

(Juno Spacecraft Update)

Radio Astronomy Lecture


Find the Observatory


(Click for Directions)

Some notable events of August, 2016


This August, take yourself and your family on a journey to the stars from Tamke-Allan Observatory.

Comfortable August nights seem to be tailor-made for backyard astronomers (from ORION). Warm evenings throughout August are great opportunities to get the whole family outside for summer stargazing fun with a telescope or a pair of binoculars.


Five Planets After Sunset — In early August, look above the horizon just east of where the Sun sets to catch a glimpse of five planets stretched across the sky all at once! From west to east, the planetary line-up will include Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. While an open view of the western horizon is required to see Mercury and Venus just above the horizon, Jupiter will be higher in the sky and easier to see. Follow the ecliptic path further east and upward in the sky to see our next-door neighbor planet Mars and ringed Saturn near bright star Antares.


The Summer Milky Way — In early August, when the Moon is far from full, you can see the grandest unaided-eye sight in the night sky from a dark sky location — our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Use binoculars to scan the galaxy and tease out dozens of star clusters, nebulas and planetary nebulas. You can also use any telescope to zoom in on interesting objects for a closer look. From a dark sky location, away from city lights, the Milky Way is easy to see and majestic in scale, but you can't see it near heavily populated areas due to light pollution; so plan a summer adventure to a national park or your favorite dark sky site to experience this "must-see" astronomical sight.


The Perseid Meteor Shower — One of the most popular meteor showers of the year, the Perseids, peaks this year on the morning of August 12th. Get outside on the evening of the 11th, but plan to stay up after midnight for the best chance to see meteors appearing to radiate from the constellation Perseus. The bright gibbous Moon sets around 1 a.m. on the 12th, leaving several hours of dark skies before dawn. As many as 80 meteors per hour can usually be seen during the shower's peak, but experts are predicting possibly far more this year. Sky & Telescope says, "There's ... a chance that it could be spectacular." So grab some lawn chairs and gather your friends and family for a night of stargazing punctuated by — potentially hundreds of — beautiful meteors!

Say "See You Later" to Saturn and Mars — August will be the last month of the year to get a good view of Saturn through a telescope. At the beginning of the month, Saturn and Mars will both be well above the horizon in the south-southwest as the sky gets dark, so the "seeing" should be acceptable for good telescopic views. Don't forget a high-power eyepiece! By the end of the August, the planets will only be about 10 degrees above the horizon at twilight's end. On the 23rd and 24th at dusk, the two planets form a picturesque vertical alignment with the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius.


Grand Summer Nebulas — These excellent examples of gaseous nebulas are well placed for viewing in August — See the star chart in Orion's online Community section to find out where you can track them down. The brightest are M16 the Eagle Nebula, M17 the Swan Nebula, M20 the Trifid Nebula and the very bright M8, Lagoon Nebula. All are visible in binoculars from dark locations with good seeing. Use a small to moderate aperture telescope with the aid of an Oxygen-III eyepiece filter or combat light pollution with a broadband SkyGlow filter to see these nebulas from more suburban locations.


Summertime Star Clusters — Even from the city, you can track down some of the brightest star clusters of the summer sky in August. The brightest and best include M13, M93, M11, M6 and M7. You can see these under good skies with a humble 60mm scope, but it will take something larger like a StarBlast 4.5 or a 6" to 8" Dobsonian reflector to reveal their true beauty.


The Summer Milky Way ? From a dark sky location in mid-July, the glorious Summer Milky Way shines as a band of light that stretches from the southern horizon to nearly overhead. As the night progresses, the Milky Way will arch across the entire sky. From a dark observing site, scan the Milky Way with 50mm or larger binoculars or a wide-angle telescope to explore some of the hundreds of open star clusters, emission nebulas and planetary nebulas that lurk among the star clouds.


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."


Gems of the Summer Triangle - By 10pm in mid-northern latitudes, the Summer Triangle, comprising beacon stars Vega (in Lyra), Deneb (in Cygnus), and Altair (in Aquila), will be fully visible above the horizon. Several celestial gems lie within its confines, including the Ring Nebula (M57), the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), open star cluster M29, and the visually challenging Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888). To catch a glimpse of the elusive Crescent, you'll almost certainly need an Orion Oxygen-III Filter in a larger telescope.

The Virgo Cluster - A treasure trove of galaxies can be explored if you point your 6" or larger telescope towards the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. Aim your telescope at galaxy M87 in the constellation Virgo and start scanning the surrounding night sky. How many galaxies can you see?

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

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RECEIVE TAO-News



 

Current TAO Weather

Station data

 

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


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.

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.

Don't Miss the Stargaze at Big South Fork visitor center at Crossville on Friday, Sept. 9th

Maryville Scouts visited us on March 5

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.

Jan. 17 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)

 

IDEAS

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


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:

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

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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.