DAS Activities

DAS Public Nights

Public Nights
Tuesday and Thursday at
DU's Historic Chamberlin Observatory
Current start time is 8:30 pm.

Costs to the public are:
$4.00 adults, $3.00 children

To book, please click:

Public Night Reservations

DENVER OBSERVER

Archives

Monthly Skies, Summer 2019

by Zachary Singer

My Friends,

It’s been four years since I came on as the Denver Observer’s editor and (soon after) writer of the “Monthly Skies” column. When I started, we were still putting out an eight-page PDF—it was accompanied by a printed black-and-white edition. I miss the old publication in some ways, but I’m proud to have pushed for our move to WordPress—we’ve only scratched the surface of what the new platform can do. (Putting up our own video is one exciting possibility.)

Around the same time that we reinvented the Observer, other Denver Astronomical Society members expanded our web services, and we now have a member portal (the “Wild Apricot” system), that can support member forums—and therefore, discussions about all things relating to our Society, and to the night sky itself. Like the Observer, the portal offers great potential for us, and we should tap it!

To encourage this, I have some concrete suggestions for the future of our “Skies” column.

…Continue reading “Monthly Skies, Summer 2019” »

Five Nights in the Magellanic Clouds

A Tour of the Night Sky as Seen from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

by Jeff Kanipe

 

This month, we have a wonderful surprise for you—a tour of the southern sky, as seen from Chile, by Jeff Kanipe, author of the highly regarded series, Annals of the Deep Sky. His report covers the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and other objects in their vicinity, all of which are below our horizon here in Denver. Jeff made his observations in November–they’re included here now, because the area is southeast (“to the left and DOWN”) of the summer sky we see in Denver, helping us to imagine the objects’ placement. (It also allows observers enough lead time to plan a November trip for themselves!) —Ed.

Image of Chilean night sky and observers.

Jeff uses a laser pointer aimed through the finderscope to narrow his search field in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). Alex is ready at the laptop to log his object descriptions. The globular cluster 47 Tuc is the dot just to the right of the SMC, to right of the laser; Canopus is the very bright star left of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Achernar (Alpha [α] Eridani) is the bright star above the SMC, near the edge of the frame. Image © WIlliam West.

As a young amateur astronomer growing up on the Texas coastal plain, I could see the star Canopus from my backyard in early February evenings—and from atop the old 100-foot radar tower acquired by our local astronomy club as an observing base, I could see the northern half of the Southern Cross transiting the meridian in early May. But it always frustrated me that the Magellanic Clouds (MCs) were, and would always be, below my horizon, and I vowed that I would one day see them with my own eyes.

My chance came as I was preparing to write about the Clouds …Continue reading “Five Nights in the Magellanic Clouds” »

DAS News

On Sunday, June 2nd, about a dozen members of the DAS volunteered at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s Space Day. While some volunteers answered the public’s questions at tables inside the museum, others showed visitors the Sun through their solar telescopes.

Image of DAS volunteers with solar telescopes.

DAS volunteers provide an opportunity to safely view the Sun through a telescope. (Photo by Mary Ann Wallace)

…Continue reading “DAS News” »

DAS News

Van Nattan-Hansen Scholarship Fund 2019

The Van Nattan-Hansen Scholarship Fund is now accepting applications for 2019. Denver Astronomical Society’s VNH Scholarship program provides support for worthy graduating high school students or undergraduate college students majoring in astronomy and the physical sciences.
Applicants must either be graduating high school seniors or undergraduate college students in good standing. Enrollment must be equivalent to at least a half-time load for the academic term as defined by the institution. All requests for consideration should be accompanied by the following information:
1) Official Transcripts showing a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) including the final transcript of the applicant’s last semester.
2) A dated and signed letter of intent demonstrating the applicant’s interest and the declared major.
3) Letters of recommendation from at least two reputable sources.

Application Deadline: July 1, 2019.
…Continue reading “DAS News” »

May 2019 Skies

by Zachary Singer

Along with the planets this month, we’ve got two targets in the constellation Canes Venatici—one is a sun-like star, and the other a bright spiral galaxy. Let’s get going… …Continue reading “May 2019 Skies” »

April 2019 Skies

by Zachary Singer

For April, we’re looking at a beautiful binary in Leo, and some galaxies in a tight grouping—but perhaps not the one you’re guessing! First, though, we have the planets….

…Continue reading “April 2019 Skies” »

President’s Message, April 2019

Volunteerism

by Ed Ladner

First, let me express my appreciation to all the DAS members who participated in the most recent elections. Without your support, this Society could not exist.

 

I’d like to talk with you about volunteerism—the only thing that makes our Society work. We have volunteer needs for tasks big and small, once a year and monthly, for the experienced astronomer or the complete beginner. At last count, …Continue reading “President’s Message, April 2019” »

Astro Update, April 2019

Selected Summaries of Space News

by Don Lynn

Asteroid Sampled

Hayabusa2 (a Japanese spacecraft) has touched down on its target, the asteroid Ryugu, and completed a procedure to fire a projectile into it and collect the debris blown off. Another sample will be taken from inside a fresh impact crater to find out what the inside of the asteroid is made of. (Material on the surface has been subjected to millions of years of space weathering caused by radiation and micrometeorite impacts, so it won’t chemically be the same as the interior.) How will the spacecraft controllers find a fresh impact? They will make it by firing a huge impactor that is expected to make a crater two yards across.

Martian Air Pressure

InSight landed on Mars in November and has been sending weather reports back to Earth. Among its instruments is the most precise …Continue reading “Astro Update, April 2019” »

March 2019 Skies

© Zachary Singer

In March, we have a relatively quiet month for planets: Most of them are now early-morning objects, but they are at a greater angle from the Sun, allowing better observing. In the “Stars and Deep Sky” section, we’ll look at two stars in the constellation Cancer—the first is a wonderful binary, and the other, a lesser-known carbon star. …Continue reading “March 2019 Skies” »

Astro Update, March 2019

Selected Summaries of Space News

More New Horizons Results

More data has been received from the New Horizons spacecraft since its recent flyby of the Kuiper Belt object informally named Ultima Thule. One new result is that the larger of the object’s two lobes is not so much spherical, as thick-pancake-shaped. This shape was determined from examining what stars were blocked by that lobe in images taken from the object’s night side.

Both lobes display similar reflectivity and color, implying that they formed in the same way and then gently collided. …Continue reading “Astro Update, March 2019” »

President’s Message, March 2019

Passing the Gavel

This month, we have a joint message, with Ron Hranac, our outgoing president, starting off. Ed Ladner, the DAS president-elect, follows…  —Editor

February’s well-attended annual membership meeting had a packed agenda, including election of Executive Board (“E-Board”) officers and trustees to serve a one-year term beginning later this month. A tip o’ the hat to the following individuals, who will be officially seated on Denver Astronomical Society’s E-Board during our March 23rd Spring Banquet (more information about the banquet can be found HERE).

Officers:

President – Ed Ladner

Vice President – Dena McClung …Continue reading “President’s Message, March 2019” »

February DAS In-Reach Cancelled

The DAS In-Reach originally scheduled for Saturday, February 23rd, 2019, has been cancelled. 

DAS News, February 2019

Lunar Eclipse Photos

DAS members were out in droves for the January 2019 full lunar eclipse, and they sent in some of their images…   Here’s a selection of their work:

Image of January 20th lunar eclipse.

This picture shows the Moon every half hour during the lunar eclipse. Each image is aligned with respect to the Earth’s shadow, so you can see the Moon passing through the shadow, as our satellite moves from west to east (from right to left). Image © Don Lynn.

…Continue reading “DAS News, February 2019” »

February Skies 2019

Image of M37, an open cluster.

Open cluster M37, by Joe Gafford.

 

by Zachary Singer

Some of our favorite planetary targets, Venus and Jupiter, are up in the pre-dawn sky this month, and Mercury appears in the evening, as we’ll see in “The Solar System,” below. In “Stars and Deep Sky,” we’ll take a look at two notable open clusters in Auriga, M36 and M37.

The Solar System

Mercury starts off February still lost in the solar glare, but begins to reappear after the first week of the month. It’s still difficult on the 10th, but the party is just beginning—just a few days later, on Valentine’s Day, you’ll see Mercury glowing at magnitude -1.2; look for it low in the west, …Continue reading “February Skies 2019” »

Astro Update, February 2019

Selected Summaries of Space News

by Don Lynn

Kuiper Belt Object Flyby

On December 31st, New Horizons (Pluto spacecraft) flew by the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, since unofficially named Ultima Thule, at a distance of only 2200 miles, fervently taking images and other data. This was the farthest-from-Earth spacecraft encounter with any celestial body.

Ultima Thule turns out to be a contact binary, that is, two roughly spherical bodies barely in contact with each other. The larger, “Ultima,” is about 12 miles across, while the smaller, “Thule,” is about nine. It’s thought that the two bodies came together early in the history of the solar system. The “crash” must have occurred at the speed of a walk, in order for them to have stuck with little damage.

The object is probably mostly water ice, though the surface is fairly dark (about as dark as our Moon’s dark markings) and reddish …Continue reading “Astro Update, February 2019” »