End of Summer Sedgwick Star Party

Over the weekend, warm weather and clear skies created the perfect night for a star party at Sedgwick. Donated by LCOGT to the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) for their annual benefit, which includes both a live and silent auction. The auction winner was from Mesa Lane Partners, who is an active partner of the EDC.

Rachel Ross and Kurt Vander Horst from LCOGT and Kate McCurdy and Dennis Nord from Sedgwick were joined by the group in the early evening and enjoyed cold drinks with a fruit and cheese platter followed by a walk around the property. A delicious dinner was then provided by Omni Fresco Catering. After dinner, we headed up to the observatory and were greeted by coffee, tea, and cookies while waiting for the sky to get dark enough to begin seeing stars and begin a sky tour.

Seeking Amateur Images of M101, Aug 22-24, for Supernova 2011fe

Members of the LCOGT supernova team have been monitoring the evolution of a newly discovered supernova in M101. The discovery was made by the Palomar Transient Factory team on 24 August, which LCOGT astronomers are part of.

A Keiki's Dream

A Keiki's Dream
The Keiki's Dream program grants dream days to children who have gone through particular hardships

Early discovery of pinwheel supernova makes APOD

Astronomy Picture of the Day (or APOD as it is affectionately know) has been delighting astronomy enthusiasts since 1995 with a daily image related to astronomy. It has a huge following and accepts astronomy and space related images from anyone whether they are professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, or good astro-photographers. The only requirement is that the image should be interesting and relevant to the audience. There is a great deal of competition for one of these prized, daily spots and I am very pleased to say that today LCOGT is featured with A Young Supernova in the Nearby Pinwheel Galaxy.

Update at Chile Site

(This is a quick update to the blog article First Dome Installed in Chile)

First Dome Installed in Chile

After 10 days of heavy labor and several hours of sweeping away snow, scraping ice, and mopping water, the first dome 1.0m  (nicknamed "Stellan" which is Latin for "Set with Stars") at Cerro Tololo  was installed Friday! The second dome was installed on Saturday just in time for lunch. And the third dome will be installed on Tuesday (the walls are already assembled). John Martinez is down in Chile helping with the assembly and installation, as well as all the other details. Fantastic job to everyone involved! We are incredibly excited and proud to have our first domes at Cerro Tololo!

The changing face of supernova SN2011dh

In early June a new Supernova was discovered. A supernova is the end point of a massive star where the thermal fire at the core of the star runs out of fuel, ending its life in an extremely bright explosion (see our SpaceBook page on high-mass stars for more information). The supernova is outside of our galaxy in the Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as M51. The galaxy is face on allowing observers to clearly see its beautiful spiral arms.

Shutter Tuning

Building a photometric shutter can be a complicated task. The goal is to expose every pixel of the CCD for the exact same window of time. However, since we have to live within the bounds of reality, we must cope with the fact that the shutter cannot physically open and close instantaneously. The next best option is to expose every pixel for the exact same amount of time.

2011 ASP Annual Meeting

Last week (August 1 - 3 with optional Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP) workshop July 30 - 31), in Baltimore, Maryland, was the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) held in partnership with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and Space Telecope Science Institute (STScI). The theme was Connecting People to Science and featured many great speakers and sessions. There were six plenary speakers including Chris Mooney, a journalist, author, and blogger speaking on "Unscientific America: What's the Problem? What's the Solution?", and "America's Favorite Astronomer" Neil deGrasse Tyson whose talk was titled "Tales from the Twitterverse" (the room was filled with laughter throughout most of the talk). Other plenary sessions included talks on the power of perspective, a panel on engaging girls in STEM subjects, planning and evaluating informal science programs, and new views of Mercury and the Moon.

There were many great poster presentations about the local and global education and outreach programs, activities, events, studies, and more. There were a handful of exhibits with a great deal of information about their programs as well from the ASP, NASA's Kepler mission, STScI, and others, including a 3D television presentation of objects in space, complete with the glasses (it was very tempting to try to catch the stars as they jumped out towards me!). And at the annual banquet, this year's eight award winners were presented.

Show Me Stars!

Back in January, comedian Dara Ó Briain co-presented a UK TV show named Stargazing Live that was shown at prime time on the main BBC TV channel. Several million people tuned in for three nights to watch live updates from telescopes around the world. LCOGT, and the UK-based Faulkes Telescope Project, helped Dara use Faulkes Telescope North in Hawaii to take some images which ended up on the show.

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