2018-06-12: In Local News...

Last night, retired adaptive optics specialist Dr. Robert Q. Fugate spent another night doing astrophotography with portable equipment at the FOAH Observatory site. Wind shut him down about 2:30 AM, but before that, he believes he got more great results to add to the images he recorded here during last month's dark time.

Antione Ribaut, a native of France now living in New York City, sent to the Lyceum a lovely framed color print of the North America Nebula that he recorded during a three-night camp-out in the Lyceum backyard also during the last dark time. We'll be hanging it for all to enjoy as soon as we recognize a prominent enough spot for it. It's especially interesting for what it proves possible to do, even when working right inside the Village. Mr. Ribaut expects to return very soon to Magdalena.

Nicely framed posters promoting the ESSP in Magdalena have been kindly donated by Danielle Fitzpatrick and are now hanging prominently at the Lyceum, begging the question why we did not think to do this so well much earlier!

Dr. Dan, Bob Pody, and I converged on some design details for the 37-inch "Wheatonian" telescope using a mechanical drawing program at the Lyceum, and we expect more construction progress soon. Dr. Dan purchased the eight aluminum truss tubes and did a mock-up of the structure in the Lyceum. And, do you know what?-- The telescope is indeed going to be really BIG!

Eric Toops will be returning shortly from a meeting of the SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, currently running in Austin. He met there a coterie of scientists from Cambridge University who will be visiting Magdalena this weekend in connection with the MRO interferometer. Consequently we hope to have them visit the Lyceum this weekend for an informal meet-and-greet (and it may involve beer and burgers). Additional news of that event will shared to this list in case you can join us.

Eric and I travelled to Mayhill several days ago to acquire a heavy equatorial mounting and iron pillar made by Competition Associates (related to Ealing) circa 1965. We now have three mountings of this form, and two are in a room in Eric's lab that we now call the "mounting assembly room." The large vacuum coating chamber and related equipment will soon be moved into another room designated as the coating lab. Yet another area is being remodeled into an optical and machine shop.

The telescope most recently carried on the Competition Associates equatorial, by the way, is a Celestron 16-inch formerly used by NASA and made famous for its ground-based imaging of the Apollo 13 explosion in 1970. The telescope is now part of the Lyceum collection, and we shall refurbish it, mating it with an original Celestron 16 fork mounting, as soon as possible.

Inside a wall shared by the Lyceum and the Toops Lab, we appear to be winning a war, slowly, with an unfortunate infestation of bees.

Local contractor Mr. Tyler Scartaccini is gearing up to build a very large roll-off observatory for a new customer in the Pie Town area. Tyler's firm, True Blue Construction, is currently continuing much of the remodeling at Eric's laboratory, and he has recently built a roll-off for local MAS members John and Wini Labroque. Wini, by the way, has recently located a badly needed Nikon slide scanner that will allow the digitization of many important slides and negatives now stored at the Lyceum.

As a final bit of random news, within the last few days, we have unpacked and shelved another 400-or-so pounds of books at the Lyceum, into two new bookcases. These had remained boxed from the recent Swarthmore College donation and are mainly a collection of the annual Astronomical Ephemeris, in volumes going back to about 1855. They may not make the best general reading -- but they represent a profound effort of human computation and publication! Studying them as a collection may eventually prove surprisingly interesting.

Mr. Johnathon W. Briggs, Esq. (a.k.a. JWB)

2018:05-17: Lyceum: Another FOAH Visitor

A special event earlier this week at the FOAH Observatory was the famous retired astronomer Dr. Robert Fugate visiting Magdalena to enjoy the dark skies. This image from Monday night was used in the Mageboard email posting for the public and Magdalena kiddies "Jupiter Watch" event tonight.

2018:04-08: ESSP: First Planning Meeting This Tuesday

The agenda for this first planing meeting will follow the ESSP Plan we used last year. Judy will provide paper copies of last years plan to all who attend. We'll go thru the plan making updates and changes needed for this year, along with assignments.

Judy will revise the plan with all changes and updates we made and then send that out to the planning committee.

2018:03-27: MAS: We Came, We Voted, We Schemed

MAS meeting was held in a warmer than expected Lyceum. All of the agenda items were covered and then some.

2018:03-26: MAS: Barely Even A "Participation" Ribbon

Dr. Dan, during the Messier Marathon at the Etscorn observatory, took about 60 pictures of deep sky objects in one night. Strangely enough all of the objects have become gaseous clouds. It's been that kind of a March.

2018-03-26: FOAH: FOAH Visitor

We have a new friend from NYC who has visited FOAH Observatory recently (on a very windy day!) and will be returning again as soon as next month. His first projects will likely be with the Thurmond 200-mm f/3 astrograph that we'll return to the site in a new housing, likely an AstroHaven dome. Also, we've recently procured a 31-foot AlumiLite RV trailer that will become a control room on the hilltop. Antoine is a programer and expert imager with dual citizenship (US and France). He recently went through the Stellafane mirror making class and has produced an unusually excellent short-focus 8-inch mirror. We're very excited how his involvement here will accelerate work at the FOAH site. And obviously, I love his shot of the Milky Way above the FOAH dome (see below). His shot of me in the dome shows the 16-inch f/9 RCOS telescope that has been lent to our site by Mr. Christian Pérez of Switzerland. Recent astrometric measurements with the 16-inch submitted to the Minor Planet Center resulted in our achieving a permanent observatory code for reporting future data, V23. Jet Propulsion Laboratory will now perform calculations of celestial objects specifically for the FOAH site, and this is important when targeting near-Earth asteroids.
-- John Briggs

John and Antoine


2018-03-21: MAS: Big Official Meeting!

From the office of the president (not that president, but our MAS president):

Friends in astronomy,

MAS is having its 'annual meeting' on Tuesday, March 27, 5 pm at the Lyceum. This meeting is dictated by federal regulations to maintain our non-profit status. Other meetings are scheduled as needed.

Agenda items include:

  1. Discuss and pass the bylaws.
  2. Elect officers for the next year. The current roster of officers (Bob Pody, president; Judy Stanley, vice president; Dan Klinglesmith, secretary; Linell Jones, treasurer) will be running for another year. However, others are welcome to run - nominations for all positions will be open. If you can't attend the meeting you may vote by email. Contact me by via email by March 27 for instructions and a list of candidates.
  3. A review of MAS's first year, and a discussion of where we are heading.
  4. A report on ESSP preparations for 2018.
  5. Questions and Issues brought up by members, at the meeting.

Clear skies,
Bob Pody

2018-03-13: ESSP: A Bigger Meeting

A gang of eleven met at the Magdalena Lodge for talking and eating. Present were Dan K., Nina, Bob Pody, Bob Greschke, Cathie, Michael Mideke, Jim Jackson, Wini and John, and Eric Toops and brother Chris. Chris isn't a priest, he's just Eric's brother. A few notes:

2018-03-10: ESSP: Night Shift

The expert driving skills of Michael were put to the test during the week and the area beyond the current star party site, and the new area a couple of miles down the road, were tested for headlight intrusion. The results are in. Both areas are better than where things were set up last year.

2018-03-04: Lyceum: Pretty Interesting

Caroline E. Odden, chair of the Physics Department at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and director of its Gelb Hall Observatory, gave a talk about her program at the Astronomical Lyceum in Magdalena. Odden leads a program allowing bright high school students to make actual astronomical discoveries and publish observations in refereed specialty journals like Minor Planet Bulletin. Pretty interesting! FOAH telesopes have already contributed some asteroid data for students in her program.

2018-02-28: ESSP: A Closer Look

A closer examination of the area about 200 yards beyond (north) the RV area of the current Star Village site for the 2018 edition of the star party is in the making. Brave folks will check out the area IN THE DARK(!) to see how sheltered it is from vehicle headlights on Forest Road 10. The hunter traffic at night was a bit much last year it being against the law to hunt after sundown notwithstanding.

2018-02-20: MAS/ESSP: Mini-Me Ting

Six individuals stared down the blizzard of Feb 20th and had a quick to the fireplace at the Magdalena High Country Lodge. There was at least 1/4" of snow on the ground in Magdalena. It was brutal.

Next (bigger) meeting with the same general topics will be on March 13th.

2018-02-19: MAS: March Madness

More important than college basketball, March is Messier Marathon month. On the weekend of March 17th, Dr. Dan is planning on trying to take 1-minute photos of as many Messier objects as he can in one evening. The C-14 in the roll-off roof building at Etscorn Observatory will be used. It doesn't have a dome that will need to be manually moved, so Dr. Dan can sleep all night. The observatory has a limited horizon to the east, so it may be tricky to get them all. I believe there are four that will not be possible from no matter where you are in central New Mexico. If you're planning on being up all night some time in March a list of the M-objects for your location can be created using a tool on the website of the The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Calgary Centre [sic :] here. There are various ways for the information to be listed. Good luck!

2018-01-24: ESSP: The Hunt Is On

Wednesday afternoon at 1:00pm three of us met at the Wells Fargo bank in Magdalena to get a tour of a couple possible new locations for the the 2018 star party. The same three of us didn't get the memo that the trip had been rescheduled for 12:00pm NEXT Wednesday. Bob Pody was kind enough to meet us and show us the new sites "just down the road" from the current/old site. One is not bad, but the road to the other one, which would be better, is definitely iffy. No large vehicles or regular normal vehicles would want to try and get in there.

Links to GPX files of the GPS track and waypoint files for the adventure:

Looking "down" Site 1. Very different from 2017.

One of the good spots on the road to Site 2.

2018-01-19: MAS/ESSP: The Central Committee Meets

Friday afternoon the organizing committee for the Enchanted Skies Star Party got together for dinner and the first meeting of the year.

Next meeting will be Tuesday, February 6th, 5:30pm, at the Magdalena High Country Lodge.