There’s a saying that goes, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” In the case of the planetary nebula NGC 2438, “you can’t see the nebula for the stars.” NGC 2438 lies within the northern portion of the open cluster Messier 46 and is often overshadowed by the surrounding stars.
I had driven down to Point Judith, ostensibly to look for Comet Lovejoy. The previous week, Comet ISON, which the media had heralded as a possible comet of the century, dominated the conversation during Thanksgiving dinner. Hopes were raised that it would emerge from its rendezvous with the Sun and make good on that prediction. With much disappointment, ISON did not long survive that encounter. Yet, the astronomy community was abuzz with the prominence of several other comets, principal among them, Comet Lovejoy.
In 1980, while scanning a rather vacant area of the constellation Camelopardalis with 7 X 35 binoculars, Canadian amateur astronomer Fr. Lucian J. Kemble came across “a beautiful cascade of faint stars tumbling from the northwest down to the open cluster NGC 1502.”
John Dobson, known for popularizing astronomy through his Sidewalk Astronomy style of outreach (and the founder of the San Francisco-based Sidewalk Astronomers) passed away on January 15, 2014 at age 98. Dobson was perhaps best known for the simple rocker-box style of telescope mounting that bears his name, but his decades-long commitment to bring astronomy to the public is perhaps even more significant, and as such should be a role model for all of us to share our love for the night sky.
Some of us will have the awesome experience of viewing the northern lights in Alaska in the wintertime. It is something I look forward to myself. I look forward to viewing the amazing displays of dancing lights, and of having my breath taken away, as so frequently occurs among fascinated viewers.
Nestled quietly on the corner of Upper College Road and Engineering Row is a unique little building resembling a silo stepped on by the Jolly Green Giant. Many students who pass by this building have no idea they are looking at one of the most modern planetariums in the area. The University of Rhode Island Planetarium, a part of the campus for decades, has within its doors the ability to travel through the solar system, and beyond.
We will officially begin the Skyscrapers Sunspot Count Project on January 1, 2013