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Journal of the South Bay Astronomical Society – October 2016
on line at
On Facebook at
On Yahoo Groups at:
Monthly General Meeting: Friday October 7th 7:30 PM
Tim Thompson
The September 9 Meeting
President Greg Benecke began the meeting by welcoming newcomers Mike and Sophia. Ken Munson then gave an
observing report that included his efforts to find a good observing location for next year’s total solar eclipse, and his
visit to a meeting of the Big Sky Astronomy Club in Kalispell, Montana. Ken also observed last-month’s conjunction
of Venus and Jupiter, and he had a dark but windy observing session at Red Rock Canyon. Finally, Ken set up a
couple of telescopes during Labor Day, and showed dozens of passersby the Sun in hydrogen-alpha, as well as the
Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn and even a few stars.
President Benecke then read out an article that contrasted the Webb and Hubble Space Telescopes. He also
announced that the eight-week Astronomy for City Dwellers course will be starting on September 28. He also
pointed out that the SBAS annual elections will occur during the October meeting, and that members should
seriously consider helping the Society out by volunteering. Ken Rossi announced plans for an upcoming star night at
the South Coast Botanic Garden.
After a ten-minute break, George Nestojko gave a short presentation to the twenty people present about the RR
Lyrae stars and the Blazhko effect, which is still not fully understood. The meeting then ended at 8:50.
- Dr. Steven Morris
One Incredible Galaxy Cluster Yields
Two Types of Gravitational Lenses
By Ethan Siegel
There is this great idea that if you look hard enough and long enough at any
region of space, your line of sight will eventually run into a luminous object: a
star, a galaxy or a cluster of galaxies. In reality, the universe is finite in age,
so this isn't quite the case. There are objects that emit light from the past
13.7 billion years—99 percent of the age of the universe—but none before
that. Even in theory, there are no stars or galaxies to see beyond that time,
as light is limited by the amount of time it has to travel.
But with the advent of large, powerful space telescopes that can collect data
for the equivalent of millions of seconds of observing time, in both visible light
and infrared wavelengths, we can see nearly to the edge of all that's accessible to us.
The most massive compact, bound structures in the universe are galaxy clusters that are hundreds or even
thousands of times the mass of the Milky Way. One of them, Abell S1063, was the target of a recent set of Hubble
Space Telescope observations as part of the Frontier Fields program. While the Advanced Camera for Surveys
instrument imaged the cluster, another instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3, used an optical trick to image a parallel
field, offset by just a few arc minutes. Then the technique was reversed, giving us an unprecedentedly deep view of
two closely aligned fields simultaneously, with wavelengths ranging from 435 to 1600 nanometers.
With a huge, towering
galaxy cluster in one
comparably massive
objects in the other,
the effects of both
gravitational lensing
are readily apparent.
The galaxy cluster—
over 100 trillion times
the mass of our sun—
warps the fabric of
space. This causes
background light to
converging on our
eyes another four
away. From behind
Galaxy cluster Abell S1063 (left) as imaged with the Hubble Space Telescope as part of the Frontier the cluster, the light
Fields program. The distorted images of the background galaxies are a consequence of the warped
from distant galaxies
space dues to Einstein's general relativity; the parallel field (right) shows no such effects. Image
credit: NASA, ESA and Jennifer Lotz (STScI)
magnified, distorted,
and bent into arcs and multiple images: a classic example of strong gravitational lensing. But in a subtler fashion, the
less optimally aligned galaxies are distorted as well; they are stretched into elliptical shapes along concentric circles
surrounding the cluster.
A visual inspection yields more of these tangential alignments than radial ones in the cluster field, while the parallel
field exhibits no such shape distortion. This effect, known as weak gravitational lensing, is a very powerful technique
for obtaining galaxy cluster masses independent of any other conditions. In this serendipitous image, both types of
lensing can be discerned by the naked eye. When the James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2018,
gravitational lensing may well empower us to see all the way back to the very first stars and galaxies.
If you’re interested in teaching kids about how these large telescopes “see,” be sure to see our article on this topic at
the NASA Space Place:
This article is provided by NASA Space Place. With articles, activities, crafts, games, and lesson plans, NASA
Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit to
explore space and Earth science!
SBAS Executive Board
Greg Benecke
Ryan Parker
[email protected]
[email protected]
Steve Pedersen
[email protected]
Treasurer & Astronomical
League Rep.
SBAS Committees
Program Chairman
Astronomical League
Outreach Committee
Newsletter Reproduction
Publications Committee:
SBAS Website
First Light Editor
Observing Committee
Membership Committee
Cathy Brassell
[email protected]
Ken Rossi
[email protected]
Ken Munson
Greg Benecke
Craig Gates
Ray Grace
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Publicity Committee
Property Committee
Manhattan Bch
Harbor Fwy
San Diego
Fwy (405)
Monthly General
We normally meet on the first Friday of each month
at 7:30 p.m. in the Planetarium at El Camino College
(16007 Crenshaw Bl. In Torrance). If the first Friday
is on or close to a holiday, we usually defer the
meeting until the second Friday of the month. The
Planetarium is on the south side of Manhattan
Beach Blvd., one block west of Crenshaw Blvd.
(near the center of the map at left).
The planetarium is the only round, domed building
on campus. There is on-street parking, and we can
often use campus parking: check inside to see if you
need a FREE parking permit for your car.
We enjoy the planetarium facilities through the courtesy of the El Camino College Administration, and have several
faculty members of the Astronomy Department as members of our Club. Our meetings always include an informal
opening, when new attendees are invited to introduce themselves and let us know about their interests in
astronomy. Members share their latest news and observations at this time. The rest of the evening is devoted to
guest speakers, who range from amateur astronomers to professional astronomers to representatives from local
aerospace companies to college professors. We are fortunate to have all these talented people in our area, willing to
come and talk to us.
Monthly Planning Meeting
Committee members (and anyone else with an interest in Society activities) meet each month, usually on the
Monday following the general meeting. Meetings are sometimes rescheduled due to travel and other circumstances.
Exact date and time of each month’s meeting will be announced in the monthly meeting. The October planning
meeting will be held at the home of TBD.
Month Join/Due
Member (Family)
Student Expires
Email Only
Note to Current U.S. Mail Members: The SBAS Board has decided that it is no longer cost effective to publish and
mail out hard copies of the FirstLight. Since this decision was made after some 2016 renewals for U.S. Mail
memberships were received, we will either refund the difference or extend your full 2015 membership though March
of 2016.
To simplify the dues, we suggest that all membership expire in December. Dues are $40.00/year ($25.00/year for
students) and expire on December 31, of the current year. The FirstLight is now only available via Email notification
and on our web site. New members use Month Join, and current members select your expiring Month to calculate
the amount. Members that expire in October or November may wish to write one check and include next year’s
membership. Make checks payable to the South Bay Astronomical Society. Dues may be paid at the general
meeting or mailed to:
South Bay Astronomical Society
Attn: Greg Benecke
P.O. Box 1937
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
SBAS Membership Benefits
Contact Greg Benecke for magazine subscriptions at club rates: “Sky & Telescope” $32.95 and “Astronomy”
$34.00/1 year or $60.00/2 years!
Note: S&T subscribers at the club rate renew their subscriptions by mailing their renewal notice and check or calling
the 800# on the renewal notice.
Only new subscribers or subscribers converting their subscription to the club rate need to contact Arnie or send a
check to the PO Box. Astronomy subscriptions and renewals still go through Arnie or via the PO Box.
Astronomy Technology Today has become a digital only magazine. They have stated that current print subscribers
will continue to be able to access digital issues without any cost. New subscribers should check their website for
ordering details and subscription costs (
Online Subscribe/Renew Instructions Astronomy Magazine
US Subscription Rate:
1 year/12 Issues…..$34.00
2 years/24 issues….$60.00
3 years/36 Issues….$85.95
This year, there is an additional option for club member to order or renew. If you prefer, you can complete your
individual transaction online with a credit card. Please follow the instructions below:
1) Go to
2) When prompted for the promotion code, type in your club’s unique offer code “RCLUB165” and click the
“Get Offer” button.
3) Select the order term (1 year, 2 years, or 3 years).
4) Enter your name, address and credit card information. Please note: you do not need to enter the promotion
code a second time on this order page. That entry field can be disregarded.
5) Click on the “Submit” button. You will receive a confirmation page immediately. Please print this page for
your records.
If you have any questions, call one of our Customer Service Representatives at 1-800-533-6644, Monday – Friday
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM CT. Outside the US and Canada, please call 262-796-8776.
Astronomical League Observing Clubs
All SBAS members in good standing are also members of the Astronomical League and are eligible to participate in
the League’s Observing Clubs. The Astronomical League provides many different observing programs (clubs).
These programs are designed to provide a direction for your observations and to provide a goal. The programs have
certificates and pins to recognize the observers’ accomplishments and for demonstrating their observing skills with a
variety of instruments and objects. For more information, go to:
New Free Astronomy Technology Today Subscription Offer
Astronomy Technology Today offers a free 12-month online subscription for members. Go to the following URL for
instructions on how to subscribe:
Useful and Interesting Astronomy Websites
A useful site for planning an evening's star
gazing if you don't have your own
planetarium software.
Information for observers with an interest
in tracking variable stars.
Good site to check to know what the
weather will be like where you might be
planning on going.
Great site to use when you want to find a
new comet or asteroid that isn't already in
your planetarium software's list. See the
Ephemeris Generator file on the SBAS
Yahoo group site for instructions.
Check this site to find out what satellites
may be visible in your sky.
Website for the International Occultation
Timing Association. Good place to find
information on asteroid occultations of
background stars.
Find out when the ISS will transit in front
of the Sun or Moon as seen from your
Weekly information on bright comets.
Good place to learn where there are bright
comets to be seen. Refer to the Horizons
website above to generate ephemerides.
See the sun in ways you might never have
imagined! You can even create your own
movies of the sun in different the different
frequencies imaged by the SOHO
I took a two-week vacation in August, ostensibly to visit relatives in north-central Montana. My secret mission was to
do a reconnaissance of some sites for observing the total solar eclipse next year. I headed north through Utah on
Interstate 15 then east on I-70 to Colorado and then north on I-25 to Wyoming. Casper and the area around it had
beautifully blue skies with a number of puffy clouds formed in the turbulent airflow over the Rockies to the west. It
didn’t seem like a big show stopper for eclipse watching.
After visiting my mother and brother, I headed for home, first stopping off in Kalispell, Montana. There, I met up with
the Big Sky Astronomical Club. They are a small group of dedicated astronomers in the beautiful Flathead Valley.
Luckily, their monthly meeting was being held a week later than normal due to their recent public observing session
atop the Continental Divide at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. That’s nearly 7000 feet above sea level! Wish I
could have been there with them.
I meet them at their meeting site, a local fire station outside of Kalispell. I’d hoped we’d be able to do some
observing afterwards but the weather was too bad to allow that. Anyway, when I’d arranged to meet them I’d offered
to do a talk so I did one of the presentations I’d done for SBAS, “Tales from the Edge: When Things Go Wrong in
Geostationary Orbit”. It was a lot of fun meeting and doing the talk for them and the emails I got afterwards told me
they really enjoyed having such an unusual guest speaker.
On the way home I came down the west side of the Rockies passing through central Oregon on Highway 97.
Madras, Oregon is going to be dead center on the path of totality. I’d thought the high desert of central Oregon
would be clear but instead, the sky was covered by solid clouds. Thin in some areas but still the whole sky was just
a bland grey.
These are one-point data samples so not a whole lot can be taken with them. Still, I’m planning on going to the
Casper area next August.
Ken Munson
Observing Reports
Harbor City – On Saturday evening, August 27th, just before sunset, I got my binoculars out and walked down to the
corner where I had a good view to the west. Without any good marks to use for sighting, it took me a while to find
the small bright speck of Venus in the fading sunset. It took about another 10 minutes before I was finally able to
see distant Jupiter just barely 10’ away. What a neat sight to see! I saw several neighbors who were out so I went
over and invited them to take a look at this fairly rare conjunction of these two planets. A couple of girls came by on
bicycles and asked what I was looking at. One of them was really excited at hearing about the conjunction and
asked to take a look. Turns out she was interested in astronomy and her several most recent school science
projects were on astronomy.
Ken Munson
Inyokern Road – Having been on-call the previous week, I’d been unable to make a dark-sky trip prior to new
moon. Since new moon occurred on a Thursday, it was still going to be a small crescent and would set early on
Saturday. So, on September 3 rd, I packed up and headed off to Inyokern Road area by Redrock Canyon for a night
of observing. Predictions were for some fairly good conditions. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a lot windier than
I’d anticipated. Too windy for doing any photography, I set the scope up for visual observing. A huge cloud had
formed over the mountains to the north which must have been influenced by spiral winds rising over the mountains.
It made a really striking shape and by sunset, lit by the red light, it almost appeared to glow from fire within the cloud.
Wished I’d had my SLR camera to snap a picture.
Even before the sunset, I was able to find the Moon, Venus and Jupiter. Not a lot of detail to be seen on Jupiter with
it being so low and with low clouds on the horizon.
Once it was fully dark, the observing really got underway. First up was Saturn, beautiful as always but a bit shaky
with air turbulence couple with vibration of the scope in the wind. Next, it was on to Mars. Equally watery but with
filtering and patience I could still make out a fair amount of surface detail.
I decided to work my way up the Milky Way, starting on the southern horizon in the Scorpio/Sagittarius region. Even
though it was pretty windy throughout the night, initially, at least, the sky was very transparent and I was able to see
a lot of faint objects. I started out hunting through all the different globular clusters that swarm around the galactic
core like moths around a light. Many were small and faint, but some were small yet very bright. I was way late
getting around to M5 which, even though low, was still magnificent. M19 was high in the sky when I came across it
and it made a very beautiful sight. Using the 12mm Nagler eyepiece I could resolve many stars in the cluster.
NGC 6302, the Bug Nebula, was a very bright oblong planetary nebula. According to Starry Night it was a
magnitude 13 planetary yet it appeared to be much brighter. Also in Scorpio, I checked out IC 4606. This is a patch
of diffuse nebula, part of the Rho Ophiuchi Complex. For the first time, using the 35mm Panoptic eyepiece and my
Comet Filter (really an ultra-high contrast filter), I was actually able to make out the hazy nebulosity.
Moving into Ophiuchus, I came across NGC 6369, a planetary nebula. This was just a small hazy patch with a 10 th
magnitude star nearby. In the 12mm eyepiece, it appeared to be a ring-type nebula as the circumference appeared
brighter than the center.
M8, the Lagoon Nebula, was absolutely magnificent, probably the best I’ve ever seen it. Using the 35mm eyepiece
and the Comet Filter, I could see more nebulosity around the star cluster even details far away from the cluster that
I’d never seen before. NGC 6445, the Little Gem, really is a little gem of a planetary nebula. This one, in the 12mm
eyepiece, looked like a double ring, similar to the Helix Nebula. M17, the Swan Nebula, was another familiar object
made even better with the 35mm and Comet Filter. There was more nebulosity visible to a greater extent than I’d
ever seen before. NGC 6818, another planetary in Sagittarius looked like it might be another ring-type nebula.
There did appear to be some structure but with the intermittent bouncing of the telescope, I couldn’t get enough of a
steady look to make out the detail.
NGC 6572, in Ophiuchus was a small, bright planetary. Not a lot of detail could be seen. Interesting thing here was
that it makes the point on two pairs of stars off to one side.
Moving into Aquila, I checked out NGC 6571. This is a small, faint planetary. Even so, it looked nice in the 12mm
eyepiece even without any filter. NGC 6772, also in Aquila, is a very faint, 14 th magnitude planetary. This is a new
low for me in visual planetary nebula observing. Looked better in the 35mm eyepiece with the Comet Filter than it
did in the 12mm with or without any filter.
It was getting towards midnight and the wind was picking up. Literally picking it. It picked up my mouse pad and
blew it and the mouse several yards away! The telescope was bouncing so bad I gave up on it for a while and sat
back on my astronomy chair and used the binoculars. It was kind of fun to see how many objects I could recognize
in the binoculars. Among them, M39, M29, M103, all open star clusters. While roving around Cassiopeia, I noticed
a large fuzzy object off of Caph, near Rho Cassiopeia. I noted the position and kept roving around. Off one right
arm of Perseus I noted another fuzzy object that couldn’t be resolved with the binoculars. Its position was just off of
b Persei and formed a triangle with Lambda Persei.
After a while, the wind settled down and I went back to the scope. First, I checked out the two objects that I’d found
in binoculars. The one in Cassiopeia turned out to be NGC 7789, a dense open cluster of faint stars. Looked very
nice. The one in Perseus turned out to be NGC 1528, another dense open cluster made of faint stars. I tried
finding Campbell’s Red Hydrogen Star in Cygnus. Still couldn’t find it. Easy enough to see in the 60-inch, it seems
to be hard to identify in a small telescope. Checked out NGC 6905, a 12 th magnitude planetary nebula in Delphinus.
It makes a nice tight triangle with a pair of stars.
NGC 1491 is an emission nebula in Perseus. Located in a patch of dark nebula, it was just barely noticeable. It
looked slightly better with the Comet Filter. Nearby, in Cassiopeia is NGC 281. Also an emission nebula, this one
was much more visible. In fact, this was the first time I’d ever seen it, even though I’d tried many times. Once
again, the Comet Filter really does a great job of bringing out the “faint fuzzies”! I could see why it got its nickname,
the Pacman Nebula.
By this time the wind was starting to gust again. I checked out a couple of carbon stars, most notable of which was
DS Pegasus. This bright, orange colored star is surrounding by a huge number of white stars.
By now it was after 2 AM and it was cold and windy and clouds were moving in. All night I’d been plagued by the
scope seeming to lose its tracking and the GoTos getting more and more inaccurate. I’d had to re-align the scope
several times through the night. When I started taking things apart I found out why. I hadn’t fully locked the
elevation clutch down! This allowed the scope to slip in elevation a bit with every move. Stupid mistake!
Not a terrific night but one of the best I’ve had in some time.
Ken Munson
Columbia Park – I decided to take advantage of the holiday and the recent new moon to take the scope and my
PST over to Columbia Park in Torrance. I set up at about 10:30 AM with the sky covered in cloud but figured they
would break up around noon like they usually did. I figured with the holiday there’d be a lot of people in the park and
I could do a bit of astronomy outreach. I wasn’t disappointed and there were a lot of people in the park that day. A
large church group set up at the tables and barbecue grills not too far from me.
This group was really curious and a lot of their young people mostly teens, came over repeatedly to take a look. For
most of the day, I alternated from the Sun, to the Moon and then Venus. The sun had a really good grouping of
large sunspots. In the PST, the biggest two spots were visible as well as a bright plage area between them, a dark
river of a filament and some large prominences around the edge. People were really amazed to see a planet, even
one as dull as Venus, in broad daylight. As the sky grew clearer, I swung over to Jupiter. I could see it but no one
else could. It was just a faint, faint pale ghost of its usual self.
Late in the afternoon, I tried finding Saturn but didn’t have any luck so it was back to the initial trio. After a bit more
time, by about 4 PM, I tried Saturn again and thought I’d seen it but couldn’t be sure. So I swung down to Mars.
And there it was! Its reddish orange color made it stand out more clearly against the blue sky background. The kids
and their parents were really thrilled to see Mars. Then, swinging back up to Saturn, I could definitely see it. After a
bit of patient observing, one by one the young people who were around were also able to finally spot the ringed
With that success, I decided to go for the gold and try to find a star with the sun still shining brightly. Swung the
scope up to Arcturus and, yes! There is was, glowing with a fiery orange color in the deep blue sky overhead. Once
again, it amazed people and it seemed like half the church group lined up to get a look at a star in daylight.
By this time the marine layer was starting to move in and patchy clouds were beginning to crowd the sky. One of the
young people who’d been with me most of the day, Jonathan, really wanted to see Vega. So, I decided to try since it
should be almost straight overhead, even though I feared its white color would make it less visible in daylight. But,
no, it stood out like a sore thumb against the deep blue sky! As luck would have it, it happened to be in a patch of
clear sky between the branches of a tree. Again other members of the church group lined up to see it. People were
just so amazed and stunned to be able to see a star with the sun still up in the sky.
With clouds moving in rapidly and the temperature dropping and the park emptying out, I decided it was time to shut
down. It had been an incredibly fun and worthwhile day and I was glad I’d decided to do this.
Ken Munson
Ridgecrest School – On Saturday night, September 24th, club members Ken Rossi, George Nestojko, Justin Fuller,
Larry Kinney, Steve Pedersen (who arrived around midnight) and Ken Munson gathered at Ridgecrest Middle
School in RPV at sunset for an evening of in-town observing. Conditions looked favorable with clear skies, only a
light breeze and warm temperatures. In fact, it was so warm, it was shirt-sleeve weather all night long. By 1 AM, the
temperature was still 75o F on top of PV. It was actually colder down below.
Larry Kinney was busy trying out his new, home-made, hand-crafted wooden equatorial mount. George did a
number of astro-images of stellar spectra while the rest of us pursued our own observing plans.
The evening started off with some easy targets, Venus, Mars and Saturn. A family passed by as a father’s son ran
laps around the playing field. I offered them a view of Saturn. Even though it turned out the seeing was not all that
great, they were amazed to see the rings of Saturn. As the sky gradually darkened, one by one the moons of Saturn
became visible. Kent, the young boy in the family, was the first to spot a moon and was thrilled to discover it was a
large moon and the only one in the solar system to have an atmosphere. Mars was also still very good to see,
clearly in a gibbous phase and showing a fair amount of surface detail in spite of the unsteady air.
Once it was fully dark, observing really got underway. A surprise target was provided by George who directed us to
check out the second Double-Double in Lyra. This is another pair of stars similar to the famous Double-Double of
Epsilon Lyra 1&2. Identified as HIP 94043 and HIP 94075 in my Starry Night software, the pair of double stars
makes a nearly equilateral triangle with another star, TYC 24648-965-1. The doubles are not quite as close as the
famous pair, having a fairly good separation, which was fortunate given the poor seeing this night. The doubles are
also of slight different magnitudes. Still, a nice sight to see and fun to find another pair of close double stars that can
fit in the FOV of an eyepiece.
Having set up for visual observing, I spent a good portion of the evening flitting through a lot of globular and open
star clusters. I’d mounted my 80mm Onyx scope on my Nexstar 11 and would use it for those clusters or objects
that were a bit too big to really appreciate in the smaller FOV of the Nexstar. M22, M13, M92 and M15 were
magnificent examples of globular clusters in the 12mm Nagler eyepiece. M11 was all but invisible in the Onyx,
being made of many faint stars. Yet in the 12mm on the Nexstar, it was really beautiful, the many faint stars
standing out clearly. Open cluster NGC 6633 in Ophiuchus made a nice gem with a wide spacing of bright stars.
Surprisingly, in the Onyx, it wasn’t all that attractive.
I tried for some nebulas, as well. M57 was very nice in the 12mm with an OIII filter. My old friend, 12 th magnitude
NGC 6905 also looked nice in the Nagler eyepiece. M27 was really magnificent in the 12mm in the Nagler with the
OIII filter. The Saturn Nebula, NGC 7009, was very bright, clearly looking like a slightly fuzzy version of its
namesake. The Helix Nebula, NGC 7293, however, was all but invisible even with the my 35mm Panoptic eyepiece
and the high contrast Comet Filter.
I decided to try for interesting doubles, first just going through the stars in a constellation and using the Starry Night
software to identify which stars were doubles. One drawback with SN, is that it only says a double has a separation
of < or > 10”. Many of the doubles I found using SN were quite nice but not truly spectacular. A few were so widely
separated that it was impossible to tell in the scope whether they were doubles or not.
I switched from using SN to the Nexstar Observing List, or NSOL. This program, designed by an early user of the
Nexstar series of scopes, has a number of lists provided by other users and the ability to create new lists. I started it
up and opened a list of double stars for September-November. I found a few doubles that were challenging to split
with the seeing conditions that prevailed all night. 12 Aqr was one such as it had a separation of only 2.9” and a
huge magnitude difference between the stars of the pair. 49 Cyg was another close double that could just barely be
separated as it was only 2.5” apart.
After hunting down doubles, I opened the list for Carbon Stars for September-November. Carbon stars are late age
stars similar to red giants but with a distinctive spectral signature. That signature is dominated by Carbon in various
combinations. Carbon stars come in two varieties, one which creates carbon from fusing helium into carbon which
then gets lofted into the star’s atmosphere through convection, and the other which is believed to be a red giant pair
with what is now a white dwarf. Here the giant siphoned material from its companion which had been a carbon star
and pulled the carbon into its own atmosphere.
Carbon stars are often dim and hard to see since they often don’t radiate enough energy to trigger the color rods in
the human eye. Still, they can be very beautiful to see, especially in a crowded field among white stars. Hence, the
effect I call being a ruby among diamonds.
UX Dra is one such carbon star. It’s a nice, bright, very pretty deeply red carbon star surrounded by a sprinkling of
similar magnitude white stars. S Cep is absolutely beautiful, a deep cherry red carbon star. Very pretty to see.
By now, it was nearing 1 AM and I decided to shut down, having been up since before 4 AM. I took one last look at
an old favorite, M45. Here, the Nexstar showed its limitations since it’s FOV was too small to appreciate this huge
open cluster. It looked spectacular in the Onyx with it really wide field, using my 20mm Wide-angle eyepiece.
A very satisfactory way to end an enjoyable evening!
Ken Munson
for City Dwellers
Enjoy the Night Sky!
Experience the wonder of the night sky
 Learning constellations
 Understanding amazing truths
about the cosmos
 Seeing planets, galaxies, star
clusters, nebula and other deep-sky
objects through a variety of
modern telescopes
 No experience required
Begins September 28; 8 weekly Wednesday evening
classes 7:00-9:00 pm
Rancho Del Mar School, 38 Crest Road West, Rolling Hills, CA
Instructor: Steve Lindsey
Course Fee: $92
Registration Info:
CALL 310-541-7626 ext. 290
Astronomy App Luminos Introduces Advanced Features
and Visuals
September 1, 2016
Displayed with permission from Fandom Fare
California-based Wobbleworks LLC today releases Luminos 9.1, the most recent free feature update to its awardwinning astronomy app for iOS devices. Whether you want to admire ancient constellations, watch satellites soaring
overhead, find out what that brilliant dot is on the horizon, or recreate eclipses, Luminos has what you need.
Luminos now supports translucent 3D terrain, orientation modes, a 3D view of recently explored Comet 67P, and a
hypothetical model of the undiscovered Planet Nine.
San Jose, California – Wobbleworks LLC has released the latest version of its flagship astronomy app Luminos,
bringing visual improvements and stargazing additions to existing customers. Luminos 9.1 expands on the
application features with new visuals such as Comet 67P and the theoretical Planet Nine, and new settings such as
orientation modes. Luminos 9.1 is a free update for current iOS device and Apple Watch owners.
Users of Luminos will now see translucent versions of the terrain at their current location, as determined by their
device sensors. Translucent terrain allows quicker identification of celestial objects below the horizon, and these
objects can be tracked even when they are obscured by the ground. The translucent terrain is an addition to the
Luminos dynamic terrain engine, which downloads 3D representations of hills and valleys based on current GPS
To support more advanced users, Luminos has added orientation modes that allow the user to change the view from
the default "horizontal" system to "ecliptic", "equatorial", or "galactic" orientations. While the traditional horizontal
view appears as though the user is standing on a planet surface, the new options re-orient the screen interaction
along a different baseline. For example, the ecliptic option adjusts the view along the plane of the Solar System
planet orbits. Orientation modes provide easier tracking for many celestial objects.
The Luminos app now calls out variable stars with magnitude changes over time. Users can also sort star categories
to find the largest, fastest changing, or closest stars with single taps.
The ESA Rosetta mission recently mapped the structure of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during its closeup
study of that object, and Luminos has utilized the data from the Rosetta mission to include a 3D representation of
the comet nucleus which users can rotate and explore.
The theoretical Planet Nine, a body as yet unseen but proposed by noted astronomers is now modeled in
Luminos 9.1 using the best-known calculations of its hypothetical position. Planet Nine is thought to exist in the outer
reaches of the Solar System due to observed fluctuations on known bodies that would be caused by the gravitational
pull of another large body. While scientists search for proof of the planet, users of the Luminos app can simulate
orbiting Planet Nine and observing the rest of the Solar System from its remote location.
Luminos is the recent recipient of a 2015 PC Magazine Editor's Choice award. Previous versions of Luminos added
the largest star catalog available on mobile, the most comprehensive built-in deep space image library, live sky
charts for Apple Watch, and 3D meteor shower simulations.
App Highlights:
* Now in its sixth year of free feature updates
* Realistic sky visualizations
* Largest astronomy database on mobile, up to 113 million stars
* Smooth animations and 3D flight to any destination in the solar system
* Thousands of years of simulated solar and lunar eclipses
* Satellite, comet, meteor, and asteroid tracking
* Telescope control
Device Requirements:
* iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch
* Optional Apple Watch app included
* iOS version 9.0 or later
* 700 MB device space
Ancient UK Standing Stones Proven To Be Astronomical In
August 19, 2016
Displayed with permission from STEAM Register
New research proves that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain were constructed to track the
specific movements of the Sun and Moon.
New research has statistically proven that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain, constructed around
5,000 years ago, were indeed constructed to track the specific movements of the Sun and Moon.
The research, which was conducted by experts at the University of Adelaide, relied on the use of innovative 2D and
3D technology to
quantitative tests of
alignment of the
standing stones.
"Nobody before this
has ever statistically
determined that a
single stone circle
phenomena in mind
project leader and
The research team
studies on the oldest great stone circles built in Scotland (Callanish, on the Isle of Lewis, and Stenness, Isle of
Orkney - both predating Stonehenge‘s standing stones by about 500 years). They found that there was evidence of
a great concentration of alignments towards the Sun and Moon at different times of their cycles. They also found that
much simpler monuments were still being built that had at least one of the same astronomical alignments some
2,000 years later in Scotland.
The Standing Stones of Stenness, Isle of Orkney. Credit: iStockphoto
More Than Meets The Eye
The stones aren't just connected to the Sun and the Moon, however. The researchers uncovered a complex
relationship between the alignment of the stones, the surrounding landscape and horizon, and the movements of the
Sun and the Moon across that landscape, reports Adelaide's Robyn Mills.
"This research is finally proof that the ancient Britons connected the Earth to the sky with their earliest standing
stones, and that this practice continued in the same way for 2,000 years," Dr. Higginbottom said.
The team also found that about half the sites were surrounded by one landscape pattern and the other half by the
complete reverse.
"These chosen surroundings would have influenced the way the Sun and Moon were seen, particularly in the timing
of their rising and setting at special times, like when the Moon appears at its most northerly position on the horizon,
which only happens every 18.6 years," Dr. Higginbottom said. "For example, at 50% of the sites, the northern
horizon is relatively higher and closer than the southern and the summer solstice Sun rises out of the highest peak in
the north. At the other 50% of sites, the southern horizon is higher and closer than the northern, with the winter
solstice Sun rising out of these highest horizons. These people chose to erect these great stones very precisely
within the landscape and in relation to the astronomy they knew. They invested a tremendous amount of effort and
work to do so. It tells us about their strong connection with their environment, and how important it must have been
to them, for their culture and for their culture's survival."
Results of this research, which is part of the Western Scotland Megalithic Landscape Project, are published in the
Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
Ripples in fabric of space-time? Hundreds of undiscovered
black holes
ScienceDaily 7 September 2016 - New research by the University of Surrey published today in the journal Monthly
Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has shone light on a globular cluster of stars that could host several
hundred black holes, a phenomenon that until recently was thought impossible.
Globular clusters are spherical collections of stars which orbit around a galactic centre such as our Milky-way
galaxy. Using advanced computer simulations, the team at the University of Surrey were able to see the un-see-able
by mapping a globular cluster known as NGC 6101, from which the existence of black holes within the system was
deduced. These black holes are a few times larger than the
Sun, and form in the gravitational collapse of massive stars at
the end of their lives. It was previously thought that these
black holes would almost all be expelled from their parent
cluster due to the effects of supernova explosion, during the
death of a star.
"Due to their nature, black holes are impossible to see with a
telescope, because no photons can escape," explained lead
author Miklos Peuten of the University of Surrey. "In order to
find them we look for their gravitational effect on their
surroundings. Using observations and simulations we are
able to spot the distinctive clues to their whereabouts and
therefore effectively 'see' the un-seeable."
It is only as recently as 2013 that astrophysicists found
individual black holes in globular clusters via rare phenomena
in which a companion star donates material to the black hole.
This work, which was supported by the European Research
Council (ERC), has shown that in NGC 6101 there could be
several hundred black holes, overturning old theories as to
how black holes form.
Hubble Space Telescope Observation of the
Co-author Professor Mark Gieles, University of Surrey central region of the Galactic globular cluster
continued, "Our work is intended to help answer fundamental NGC 6101: Compared to the majority of Galactic
questions related to dynamics of stars and black holes, and globular clusters, NGC 6101 shows a less
the recently observed gravitational waves. These are emitted concentrated distribution of observable stars.
when two black holes merge, and if our interpretation is right, Credit: NASA
the cores of some globular clusters may be where black hole mergers take place."
The researchers chose to map this particular ancient globular cluster due to its recently found distinctive makeup,
which suggested that it could be different to other clusters. Compared to other globular clusters NGC 6101 appears
dynamically young in contrast to the ages of the individual stars. Also the cluster appears inflated, with the core
being under-populated by observable stars.
Using computer simulation, the team recreated every individual star and black hole in the cluster and their
behaviour. Over the whole lifetime of thirteen billion years the simulation demonstrated how NGC 6101 has evolved.
It was possible to see the effects of large numbers of black holes on the visible stars, and to reproduce what was
observed for NGC6101. From this, the researchers showed that the unexplainable dynamical apparent youth is an
effect of the large black hole population.
"This research is exciting as we were able to theoretically observe the spectacle of an entire population of black
holes using computer simulations. The results show that globular clusters like NGC 6101, which were always
considered boring are in fact the most interesting ones, possibly each harboring hundreds of black holes. This will
help us to find more black holes in other globular clusters in the Universe. " concluded Peuten.
First stars formed even later than previously thought
ScienceDaily 2 September 2016 - ESA's Planck satellite has revealed that the first stars in the Universe started
forming later than previous observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background indicated. This new analysis also
shows that these stars were the only sources needed to account for reionising atoms in the cosmos, having
completed half of this process when the Universe had reached an age of 700 million years.
With the multitude of stars and galaxies that populate the present Universe, it's hard to imagine how different
our 13.8 billion year cosmos was when it was only a few seconds old. At that early phase, it was a hot, dense
primordial soup of particles, mostly electrons, protons, neutrinos, and photons -- the particles of light.
In such a dense environment the Universe appeared like an 'opaque' fog, as light particles could not travel any
significant distance before colliding with electrons.
As the cosmos expanded, the Universe grew cooler and more rarefied and, after about 380,000 years, finally
became 'transparent'. By then, particle collisions were extremely sporadic and photons could travel freely across the
Today, telescopes like Planck can observe this fossil light across the entire sky as the Cosmic Microwave
Background, or CMB. Its distribution on the sky reveals tiny fluctuations that contain a wealth of information about
the history, composition and geometry of the Universe.
The release of
happened at the
protons joined to
atoms. This is the
first moment in
the history of the
matter was in an
neutral state.
Cosmic reionisation.
Credit: ESA – C. Carreau
After that, a few
hundred million
atoms could assemble and eventually give rise to the Universe's first generation of stars.
As these first stars came to life, they filled their surroundings with light, which subsequently split neutral atoms apart,
turning them back into their constituent particles: electrons and protons. Scientists refer to this as the 'epoch of
reionisation'. It did not take long for most material in the Universe to become completely ionised, and -- except in a
very few, isolated places -- it has been like that ever since.
Observations of very distant galaxies hosting supermassive black holes indicate that the Universe had been
completely reionised by the time it was about 900 million years old. The starting point of this process, however, is
much harder to determine and has been a hotly debated topic in recent years.
"The CMB can tell us when the epoch of reionisation started and, in turn, when the first stars formed in the
Universe," explains Jan Tauber, Planck project scientist at ESA.
To make this measurement, scientists exploit the fact that a fraction of the CMB is polarised: part of the light vibrates
in a preferred direction. This results from CMB photons bouncing off electrons -- something that happened very
frequently in the primordial soup, before the CMB was released, and then again later, after reionisation, when light
from the first stars brought free electrons back onto the cosmic stage.
"It is in the tiny fluctuations of the CMB polarisation that we can see the influence of the reionisation process and
deduce when it began," adds Tauber.
A first estimate of the epoch of reionisation came in 2003 from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
(WMAP), suggesting that this process might have started early in cosmic history, when the Universe was only a
couple of hundred million years old. This result was problematic, because there is no evidence that any stars had
formed by then, which would mean postulating the existence of other, exotic sources that could have caused the
reionisation at that time.
This first estimate was soon to be corrected, as subsequent data from WMAP pushed the starting time to later
epochs, indicating that the Universe had not been significantly reionised until at least some 450 million years into its
This eased, but did not completely solve the puzzle: although the earliest of the first stars have been observed to be
present already when the Universe was 300 to 400 million years old, it remained unclear whether these stars were
the main culprits for reionising fully the cosmos or whether additional, more exotic sources must have played a role
In 2015, the Planck Collaboration provided new data to tackle the problem, moving the reionisation epoch even later
in cosmic history and revealing that this process was about half-way through when the Universe was around 550
million years old. The result was based on Planck's first all-sky maps of the CMB polarisation, obtained with its LowFrequency Instrument (LFI).
Now, a new analysis of data from Planck's other detector, the High-Frequency Instrument (HFI), which is more
sensitive to this phenomenon than any other so far, shows that reionisation started even later -- much later than any
previous data have suggested.
"The highly sensitive measurements from HFI have clearly demonstrated that reionisation was a very quick process,
starting fairly late in cosmic history and having half-reionised the Universe by the time it was about 700 million years
old," says Jean-Loup Puget from Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France, principal investigator of Planck's
"These results are now helping us to model the beginning of the reionisation phase."
"We have also confirmed that no other agents are needed, besides the first stars, to reionise the Universe," adds
Matthieu Tristram, a Planck Collaboration scientist at Laboratoire de l'Accélérateur Linéaire in Orsay, France.
The new study locates the formation of the first stars much later than previously thought on the cosmic timeline,
suggesting that the first generation of galaxies are well within the observational reach of future astronomical
facilities, and possibly even some current ones.
In fact, it is likely that some of the very first galaxies have already been detected with long exposures, such as the
Hubble Ultra Deep Field observed with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and it will be easier than expected
to catch many more with future observatories such as the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.
Schedule of Coming Events
3-9 October
Astronomy Week
4-10 October
World Space Week
Astronomy Day is a world-wide event observed each spring and fall. The next Astronomy Day this
year is October 8, 2016; Astronomy Day next spring will be May 14, 2016. Local astronomical
societies, planetariums, museums, and observatories will be sponsoring public viewing sessions,
presentations, workshops, and other activities to increase public awareness about astronomy and
our wonderful universe.
Since its United Nations declaration in 1999, World Space Week has grown into the largest public
space event on Earth. More than 1,800 events in 73 countries celebrated the benefits of space and
excitement about space exploration in 2015. With our new Theme “Remote Sensing – Enabling Our
Future” we aim to inspire even more events around the world in October 2016. See for more information.
7 October
Friday Night
Monthly General Meeting
9 October
Draconids Meteor Shower Peak
Topic: TBD
Speaker: TBD
The maximum rate typically reaches 1-2 per hour, but outbursts of hundreds or thousands per hour
occurred several times during the 20th century.
11 October
Monthly Planning Meeting
Monday Night
See directions on Page 4.
7:30 PM
14 October
Evening 6-10
O-tsumkimi Festival
Japanese Harvest Moon festival being held at the South Coast Botanical Garden at 26300
Crenshaw Blvd, Palos Verdes Estates. While few Japanese are lucky enough to have tearooms, let
alone a pond with a view to the east, this ancient festival is meant to celebrate the beauty of the
moon, and the fall harvest.
18 September UCLA Meteorite Gallery Lecture Series
Saturday 2:30
“Calcium-Aluminum-rich Inclusions: The Solar System's First Rocks” by Kevin McKeegan,
Professor of Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry, UCLA
21 October
Orionid Meteor Shower Peak
The Orionid meteor shower is the second of two showers that occur each year as a result of Earth
passing through dust released by Halley's Comet, with the first being the Eta Aquarids. The point
from where the Orionid meteors appear to radiate is located within the constellation Orion.
Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will see around 20 meteors per hour at maximum
22 October
In Town Dark Sky Observing Session at Ridgecrest Middle School– 28915 NortbBay Rd. RPV,
Weather Permitting: Please contact Greg Benecke to confirm that the gate will be opened!
29 October
Out of Town Dark Sky Observing Session
30 October
Venus Passes 3 Degrees from Saturn
Contact Greg Benecke to coordinate a location.
4 November
Monthly General Meeting
Topic: Update on JUNO
Evening 7:30
Speaker: Theo Clarke, JPL
South Bay Astronomical Society
Next General Meeting at El Camino College Planetarium:
Friday, October 7th, at 7:30 P.M.
Tim Thompson
South Bay Astronomical Society
P.O. Box 1937
Redondo Beach, CA 90278