Every club has one

Tony-jupiter
Image courtesy Anthony J. Kroes, Quantum Skies Observatory, Pulaski WI

Amy and I are blessed in that we have so many amazing amateurs in our club, all excited and passionate about astronomy and involved in public outreach. Some of them take breathtaking photos, some build their own telescopes, some restore vintage scopes and equipment, some travel to warm climes to observe from different locations, and some rack up observing awards. Most are fonts of knowledge that we can call on any day, any time, who will lend us just about any equipment they have and take the time to show us how to use it.

Tony is one of these special guys in our local astronomy club, and he’s special because he’s not only interested in astronomy, he actually does serious science and contributes to mankind’s knowledge about the universe. On his serious side, Tony is part of a team that monitors cataclysmic variable stars for the Center for Backyard Astrophysics. But to me and Amy, he’s just Tony, one of the coolest guys we know. I mean, how many people do you know with a full-size, operating catapult in their backyard?

Tony knows a lot about astronomy and shares his enthusiasm. And even though he’s several rungs higher on the astronomy evolutionary ladder than either of us, he doesn’t talk down to us no matter how dumb our question is. For example, one night Amy and I showed up at his house with a little 90mm refractor, but the way he got us excited about using it to look at Mars, you’d think we had brought the Hubble with us.

And Amy and I both heartily agree that the best observing experience either of us ever had was at his place in the wee hours one morning as we watched a near-earth asteroid tumble through the eyepiece of Tony’s 12″ Meade.

Tony not only pushes our limits, but is always pushing his own limits too, trying new things and then sharing them with the rest of us. Some of his photography is fantastic. And just recently, he sent the club this 11-second Jupiter animation that he gathered over the course of six hours on a recent cold, Wisconsin winter night. That’s dedication.

I think almost every club has at least one Tony of its own – someone who stands out and inspires you. They share their knowledge and their equipment, encourage you, and just keep you excited about astronomy.

You know who those people are in your club. It doesn’t take long to spot them. And Amy and I recommend that you hang around with them as much as you can. Their enthusiasm will rub off on you!

And for the curious, here’s information on the Jupiter compilation that Tony kindly allowed us to share…

I put together an animation of Jupiter showing a transit of the Great Red Spot (the Great ‘Pale’ Spot is still more like it!) from Sunday night.  In addition to the GRS, you can see other surface details as Jupiter turns, and I caught two moons as well – Ganymede in the upper right going behind (occultation) Jupiter, and Io in the far left heading toward the planet.  The video stops just shy of Io crossing in front of (transiting) Jupiter – that happened a short while after my session ended, complete with a trailing shadow transit, and Ganymede reemerged from behind Jupiter about an hour or so later as well – I wish I could have gotten those events in the shot but it was very cold and the wind picked up considerably during the last 15 minutes or so that I did capture, so I thought it better to cut my losses and go with the shorter animation as it was really more of a test anyway.

The Video is a compilation of 67 original frames, each one composed of a still image created from the best 15% of the frames from short, 1000-frame videos taken two minutes apart. The video is about 2-1/4 hours of real time rotation compressed into 11-seconds for your viewing pleasure. The video was captured at my observatory in Pulaski with a DMK21AU618 video camera through a Tele Vue 127is refractor and a x4 Powermate (Barlow) for an effective focal length of 2540mm at f/21. Scope was mounted on a Paramount MX.

Lynn

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Time Well Spent

star_gazing_projectPublic outreach – otherwise known as a great excuse for wearing my astronaut flight suit that I got at space camp. On Saturday I spent some time at a local science expo for kids, helping out in the booth with telescopes, binoculars and handouts. It was very fun and rewarding. I always love to share this hobby with other people.

It always amazes me to see how open the kids are to new experiences. Like a carnival ride they can’t get enough of, they line up over and over to peek through a telescope aimed at a paper target on the ceiling. Outside Gary and Wayne, ever the troopers, stood vigil by their solar scopes, patiently re-aiming the telescopes time after time, after little hands grab the eyepiece.  For hours in the cold they help hundreds of eager kids see something they may have never seen before – sunspots on the sun!

So here’s a challenge for all of you – find a way to share astronomy with someone. It could be a family member, a friend, or your child! You could simply share a beautiful moon, or find out when the ISS will be gliding by. Sometimes a little thing like that could spark interest. If nothing else, it’s a great way of spending time with your family.

Clear skies!

Amy