Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

UCI Physical Science Breakfast, Physics Colloquia, Distinctive Voices lecture, upcoming Nightfall Star Party, New members Karen and Ed, Nerd and Theatre Impressario Scott, and Danny meets BB-8

Well, this week has been more about the ongoing astrophysics and cosmology study effort than about actual observing.  I will have one picture of a new tool purchased for the observatory, but first the week in lectures and upcoming events.

Tuesday was the UCI Physical Sciences Breakfast Lecture series and the speaker and breakfast ( free, but $10 parking) were both very good. The presentation was about the new surface properties that are found with nano scale materials.  One example from nature that Professor Korn used to explain the new properties was of the very colorful wings found on some moths.  The coloring is not due to biological dyes or molecules, but comes about because of nano,scale mechanical structure of,the wings surface.  That surface structure is made up of lines and groves and such that have physics dimensions in the same range as visible light and can cause reaction of light and the mechanical structure then acquires a color perceived by us, which nonetheless not really present.  Neat stuff.  All sorts of new inventions and uses are possible with nano scale manufactured surfaces.

The next physics colloquium at CSULB is on "Searching for dark matter with matter wave interferometry" is a real mouthful but should be really interesting.  Gravity guy, Ken, found some reference papers on the matter wave subject, which are a nice preview of the topic, even though the topic appears very difficult to me.

If you're interested in attending general audience lectures, usually on some science topic, then check out the National Academy of Science's UCI Distinctive Voices lecture series at  http://www.nasonline.org/programs/distinctive-voices/ .  I've usually enjoyed the free series and even, Telescope-still-packed-in the garage, Frank, reported he really enjoyed the lecture he attended.

 If you're interested in some upcoming dark sky observing check out the NightFall Starparty,
November 5-8 in Borrego Springs.  Info is at http://nightfallstarparty.com/introduction/
Resident Astronomer Peggy and I will be there, where I hope to finally capture a good photo of the spiral galaxy Andromeda (M31) using  say, 200-300 mm telephoto lens on my piggy back mounted camera.  The scope will do the tracking so the camera can have long 60 second exposures.

Observatory staff will also be touring the Goldstone Tracking station next week.  If you're interested in checking out tour opportunities see 
Should be fun.

Speaking of fun we also just signed up for our second River cruise next year starting in Basel and  on the Rhine to Amsterdam.  We have really enjoyed the smaller cruise ships that operate on the rivers.  They are small enough that if you meet some interesting people at one meal or event you have a good chance of bumping into them and recognizing them at some other event. On our last cruise one could be sure of finding me at the bar, with say a 95% probability.  This next time, with me being on a diet, the probability of me being their Is maybe only 50%.  Oh well, it should still be fun. I also looked into a possible tour of the Large Hadron Collider outside of Geneva, but decided not this time.  Oh well, it should still be a lot fun.

Last night we met up with brand new OCA members, Karen and Ed, for dinner at the Filling Station.  That was a lot of fun and we had a good time and then for more fun went up to the OCA General meeting.  The speaker, Professor Leonard from SDSU spoke on finding the progenitor stars that will shortly (in astronomical time frame) entering the supernova phase he thinks he has a method or predicting the event in say about a million years in advance.

After the meeting in an informal get together, Engineer-and-Theater-
impresario, Scott, mentioned how some of Earth's mass extinctions have been somewhat correlated with the orbit of our solar system around the center of the Milky Way.  It takes about 250 million years for one orbit and during that time out solar system will pass through the spiral galactic arms, which can disrupt the orbits of comets and such and make the collision with earth much more likely.  Pretty neat stuff Scott.  If you are more invested in this topic check out a brief paper describing the concept at  http://arxiv.org/pdf/1309.4838v1.pdf

If your more interested in the formation of galactic spiral arms and how the stars that make up the galaxy move faster and collide with the arms, check out Chapter 11 of your copy of "Galaxy Formation and Evolution".

Finally, I guess we should have at least one photo image.  I asked Astronomer Assistant, Danny, to check out the BB-8, which apparently has a role in the new Star Wars movie. 

Danny, didn't quite know what to do with BB-8, who can roll around in any direction, controlled from your wifi cell phone.  Ok,ok, I have to quell right here and now you smart Alec's who will be asking "isn't there an age limit on this to toy, or tool as you say".  Well yes, and Danny is about 7 years so, he will be ok.  What?  You meant isn't there an upper age limit?  Ok, ok, I have to tell you that I am applying my electromechanical system engineering background to understands how BB- can be
> controlled to move in any direction and how it remembers what direction is home and such.  I haven't quite worked out whether the innards work by using counter weights or equal,and opposite reaction torques or whatever to move around. Also, BB-8's little head is not permanently attached and usually stays on top by some magnetic force.  But don't worry I will continue to investigate this great phenomena for you all, even the smart alecs.

And just for more fun, we will be going to Still-working-psychotherapist, Heidi's birthday. Happy birthday Heidi.

Until next time

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