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

June 17, 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).

TAO Program for July 15:

 

Radio Astronomy 7. "Astronomy when the Clouds Appear"

David Fields
Observatory Director

 

TAO Program for June 17:

Welcome: "Stars and Progress"

Radio Astronomy 4. "More on Radio Astronomy and EM Spectra"

David Fields
Observatory Director

Radio Astronomy 5. "How did our VLF Radios become SDR Radios?"

Rob Scott
Systems Engineer
ScottSystems
TAOSat Systems Design

Radio Astronomy 6. "Radio Transmitter for GPS and Data Relay"
Carl Lyster
Instrumentation Engineer
TAOSat Spectral Relay Project

TAO Program for June 3:


Welcome: "Stars and Progress"


Radio Astronomy 1. "Introduction: Radio Astronomy and EM Spectra"

David Fields
Observatory Director


Radio Astronomy 2. "RPi Computer Option for TAOSat Radio Astronomy"

Dave Rauen
Signal Analysis NVH Engineer
TAO CP Spectrometer Project

Radio Astronomy 3. "Data Relay from Remote Sensing Instrumentation"

Carl Lyster
Instrumentation Engineer
TAOSat Spectral Relay Project

 

 


Find the Observatory


(Click for Directions)

May Celestial Sights

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower - Grab a blanket or a comfy lounge chair to sit back, relax and watch the Eta Aquarids meteor shower, which peaks after midnight on May 5th into the early morning hours of May 6th. The waxing gibbous Moon might outshine some of fainter meteors, but there will still be opportunities see Eta Aquarid meteors streak across the night sky at the approximate peak rate of 40 per hour. Look for meteors appearing to radiate from the constellation Aquarius.

Jupiter High in the Sky - Gigantic Jupiter will be well-placed for telescopic study throughout the month of May. Look for the bright planet well above the eastern horizon at nightfall as it lingers in the constellation Virgo. Check in on Jupiter often to see its four brightest moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) change positions night to night as they dance around the gas giant planet. On May 7th, Jupiter will appear close to the waxing Moon, making a pretty pairing in the sky you can enjoy with wide-field [binoculars] or a low-power, wide-angle telescope [eyepiece].

Four Big Planetary Nebulas - Use a 6" or larger telescope and an [Oxygen-III or UltraBlock filter] to catch nice views of four relatively large planetary nebulas in May skies. See the "Ghost of Jupiter," NGC 3242 in Hydra; M97, "the Owl Nebula" in the Big Dipper; NGC 4361 in Corvus, and the famous "Ring Nebula", M57 in Lyra just a few degrees from bright star Vega.

Mercury Before Dawn - Before sunrise on May 18, tiny planet Mercury will be at its greatest western elongation. This means Mercury will reach its highest point in the pre-dawn sky. Once the Sun comes up, Mercury will become hard to spot, so look above the eastern horizon just before sunrise to catch the small and elusive planet.

Saturn's Nighttime Debut - It's worth staying up late in early May for the first nighttime views of Saturn and its glorious rings. In early May, Saturn will rise above the southeastern horizon around midnight, but by May 20th the distant gas giant planet will rise around 10pm PT. Use a [telescope] and a high-power eyepiece to see Saturn and its intricate structure of rings. Set a reminder to get outside late at night on May 13th and 14th to see Saturn appear very close to the waning gibbous Moon. A great sight to behold in big binoculars, a wide-field telescope, or even with unaided eyes!

Five Glittering Globulars - Five picture-perfect examples of globular star clusters will be visible in May skies. Check out M3 in the constellation Boötes. M13, the "Great Cluster in Hercules" will be visible near the zenith. M5 can be found in Serpens, and M92 in the northern section of Hercules. Be sure to track down M4 (NGC 6121) in Scorpius on May 27th, as it will be in a great position for telescopic study throughout the night, reaching zenith around midnight. Big [telescopes] will provide the best views, but even a pair of humble 50mm or larger [binoculars] will show you these dense balls of stars from a dark sky site.

Four Face-On Spirals - Use a large [telescope] to see the classic pinwheel shapes of galaxies M51 and M101 in the Big Dipper asterism of Ursa Major, and M99 and M100 in the Virgo galaxy cluster. There are also dozens of additional galaxies to explore in the Virgo cluster with a large aperture telescope.

May's Challenge Object - May skies present some of the best opportunities to grab a view of Omega Centauri - the brightest globular star cluster in the sky! While it's big and bright, even visible as a "fuzzy" star in binoculars, the challenge Omega Centauri presents is its low position in southern skies, which can make it unobservable from higher northern latitudes.

-- 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

.

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:

The Eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017

TAO will be closed because of having only a single-lane access road.

The Harriman Campus of Roane State Community College will be open with limited facilities, and visitors must bring eclipse glassses, food, water, sunscreen, hat, etc., as described here (click).

 

ORION Program for July 19


"Radio Astronomy from Orbit: TAOSat"

David Fields


ABSTRACT
Small Satellites can potentially be deployed in the LEO zone or far above, and provide platforms for economically testing concepts and performing research tasks. Microelectronic and highly redundant radiation-hardened circuitry, advanced communication protocols, and the possibility for maneuvering via interactions with gravitational, as well as static and dynamic electromagnetic fields/fluxes provide a wide trade space of possibilities. The 3kHz-10MHz radio spectrum is an energetic EM band, rich with radio flux outside our ionosphere due to radio emissions from the sun and four local planets, yet this band is inaccessible from earth-based observatories. We discuss how amateur radio astronomers might be a part of an effort to measure the 3kHz-10MHz radio flux. The science package on a small satellite would likely include other components. Additionally, such a satellite could support the communications needs of partnering agencies that would utilize other frequencies. Technical requirements for meeting these challenges are (1) developing or utilizing existing sensitive ground stations, dedicated to contributing to scientific and technical projects, and (2) launching bespoke satellites to gather VLF data, perform spectral analyses, and downlink pulse and spectral data. Since most instrument flight tests are balloon flights from Tamke-Allan Observatory, the project is called TAOSat.

 

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)

IDEAS

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

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.