Thursday, October 23, 2014

Partial Solar Eclipse

Later today there will be a partial Solar Eclipse. This will be visible from extreme eastern part of Russia and most of North America.

Depending on where you live you might see the whole eclipse or just part of it. For details on timing go to....

As added bonus there is currently a very large sunspot visible on the sun.

Warning: Always use proper protection when looking at the sun (both to protect your eyes and to prevent damage to equipment like cameras, telescopes, binoculars).

Looking at the sun near sunrise and sunset, when the sun is red is safe. It is not safe at other times, especially when using optical devices like telescopes.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lunar Eclipse of October 8, 2014.

There will be a lunar eclipse in a couple days. Observing lunar eclipses are easy, you need to know roughly what time to look and go outside at the right time. If you have a window facing the correct direction you might not need to go outside.

  • If you live in North or South America it will be visible during the morning of October 8.
  • If you live in Asia or Australia it will be visible during the evening of October 8.
  • If you live in Europe or Africa, it will not be visible at all.

The above information is approximate (the location of visibility is somewhat smaller than indicated above), for more detailed information see this web site:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Future of Peach Mountain

Since the late 1970's, the University Lowbrow Astronomers have operated a 24" Cassegrain telescope located on "Peach Mountain." Peach Mountain in turn is located within "Stinchfield Woods," property owned by the University of Michigan (UM for short).

It is unclear where the name came from. With an elevation of 315 meters (1033 feet), Peach Mountain can't compare with mountains in other parts of the country. You would be forgiven if you called it a big hill. The connection with peaches or someone named Peach is unclear.

From 1960 to 2010, the Astronomy Department at UM operated a 26 meter (85 feet) radio telescope at Peach Mountain. After 2010, the Astronomy Department ceased operations at Peach Mountain (they still have access to telescopes in Arizona and other parts of the world).

The Department of Aerospace Engineering (also at UM) is in the process of upgrading the radio telescope. When the upgrades are complete, it will be used to communicate with artificial satellites.

For information about the upgrade, see this PDF document (a handout given during a tour of the facility on September 18, 2014):

For more information about the history of Peach Mountain see:

Friday, September 12, 2014

University Lowbrow Astronomers mentioned in Sky & Telescope

Many club members are regular readers of "Sky & Telescope," a magazine with articles aimed at amateur astronomers. Look at the October issue, the club is mentioned in two places....

Page 10: Club member Jim Abshier sent an e-mail which described his radio telescope observations of quasars.

Page 69: The University Lowbrow Astronomers contributed 30 loaner telescopes to the Ann Arbor District Library. For more information on the Library's telescope loaner program, see

Correction: What was reported in Sky & Telescope wasn't correct. The Lowbrows made adjustments to a set of telescopes purchased by the Library. After the adjustments, the telescopes were made available through the telescope loaner program.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

60 foot asteroid to pass close to earth

An asteroid estimated to be about 60 foot in size is expected to pass close to the earth on Sunday.

The asteroid named 2014 RC will not hit the earth, is not bright enough to see naked eye, but should be visible in a telescope.

This is about the same size as the meteor that exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia over a year ago.

For more details...

Monday, August 18, 2014

The First Planetary Nebula Spectrum

Sky and Telescope has an article "The First Planetary Nebula Spectrum." 150 years ago this month was the first time anyone had take spectrum of a planetary nebula.

At the time the word "nebula" covered a variety of objects that were visible in telescopes, but whose composition was not understood. The observed spectrum gave important clues about one type of nebula, namely the planetary nebula.

See this link....

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Calendar of Astronomy Events in Southeast Michigan

The University Lowbrow Astronomers (Lowbrows for short) maintains an astronomy calendar. This calendar is focused on events in the Southeast Michigan area and includes:

  1. Open Houses at Peach Mountain Observatory (located near Dexter Michigan).
  2. Club Meetings of the Lowbrows (held on the central campus of the University of Michigan).
  3. Other astronomy events that may be of interest in the Southeast Michigan Area.

You don't need to be a club member or affiliated with the University of Michigan to attend these events. There are four different ways to view the calendar:

1. Go to the web page:

2. If you have an Android tablet or smartphone, you can download the Lowbrow App at

This app is free. You can view the calendar directly from the app.

3. If you use a calendar program that supports the ICAL format (such as Google Calendar), you can subscribe to the Lowbrow Calendar by using the subscribe function within your calendar program. This will allow you to view Lowbrow events along with the events in your personal calendar and/or other calendars. When subscribing to the calendar, you will be asked for a URL. This is the URL:

4. If you use a calendar program that supports the ICAL format (such as Google Calendar), you can take a snapshot by downloading this file:

and importing it into your program. The events in the Lowbrow calendar will be added to events already in your calendar, but if there are changes to the Lowbrow calendar they will not be automatically incorporated into your calendar without a subsequent import.