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Dear Members and Friends of CCAS,                               October 15, 2022

Finally, things have picked up a bit from the “marooned in the Zoom-iverse” semi-isolation that has characterized the past two years! Over the last few months, we have had two major star parties and a very nice public outreach event, in addition to our excellent Zoom talks (which, to be honest, kept us operational over the past two years!) And more events are planned and coming soon!

RECENT EVENTS

The event at Joint Base Cape Cod in mid -July kicked off our star parties (combined with talks beforehand). And two months later, on September 24th, we co-hosted the Dark Skies event at the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS), which featured children’s events in the morning, four great talks in the afternoon, and a spectacular star party in the evening.  

We have talked previously about the Joint Base Cape Cod star party in a recent newsletter, so we’ll just steer you there for details. It was a great event, featuring a huge “Super Moon.”

The star party could be described as “spectacular” without being immodest for two reasons. First, the Dark Skies Marconi Beach site, combined with amazingly clear weather conditions, provided a gorgeous view of the entire night sky overbridged by the Milky Way stretching horizon to horizon. And second, a little after 7PM, a SpaceX launch was seen by the gathered crowd (estimated to be 400-450 people). A beautiful photo of the launch trail (see above), taken by CCAS member Mary Lou Ricci, shows just how bright and impressive the trail was. As mentioned in our last newsletter, this launch was also ironic, in that it deposited 52 Starlink satellites into orbit, and one of the key talks of the Dark Skies event was “The Astronomer’s Disappearing Sky,” which focused on how satellite “streaks” in research telescope images were destroying their ability to take research grade data.

Given the amazingly clear skies, the Milky Way and various deep sky objects like the Andromeda Galaxy were clearly seen, much to the delight and interest of the crowd, many of whom lived in cities where light pollution destroys such views. Two brighter objects, Jupiter and Saturn, also made their appearance, and were viewed through the telescopes that the club brought along. All in all, this was a very successful event, again with many thanks due to the skies and some very pretty launch contrails.

A third event, a talk to the Falmouth Newcomers Club, was also held in-person in Falmouth, on October 13th. This was a straight talk about amateur astronomy, together with some equipment demonstrations, and is something we are happy to do for Cape clubs and organizations. Again, a very fun event, and seemingly enjoyed by a fair-sized audience.

For more description and information about these events, see our recent “First Light Lite” newsletters on this site.

UPCOMING EVENTS

At this point, let’s move to upcoming events. This next week (from the date of writing this), we are planning a star party at the Werner Schmidt Observatory (WSO) for the students and faculty of Dennis Yarmouth HS, weather permitting. This is for the school and club members only. Don’t worry – most other star parties at WSO will be open to the public.

And after that, we are planning a series of lecture/star party events with Upper Cape Tech, to which the public is invited (but has limited enrollment on a first-come, first-served basis). The first two events are scheduled for November 16th and December 14th.  See the Upper Cape Tech website (https://registration.xenegrade.com/uppercape/searchResults.cfm?couID=1144)  for details and to sign up.

Past there, we are looking into planning some more autumn and winter star parties and events for the public, with details to be announced soon!

UPCOMING SPEAKERS

We also have a very good speaker lineup this fall.  All will be on Zoom and the November talk will be live at DYHS as well.

November – Martin Elvis from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics will talk about his recent book: “Asteroids: How Love, Fear and Greed Will Determine our Future in Space.”

December – Nathan Whitehorn from Michigan State University will be talking about neutrino astronomy.

CLOSING REMARKS

We are making efforts to get updated information on our website and not just in our newsletter.  These will be reflected under the category headings rather than in the “Introductory Remarks” section.