Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bad Astronomy:The Best Astronomy Images of 2012.

Phil Plait selected the best astronomy photos of 2012 and posted them on the "bad astronomy blog". The blog entry begins...

I couldn’t pick just 10—you have to see all 21 of these mind-bending shots. 
The Universe is beautiful. 
Which is interesting. It doesn’t have to be; it could be all colorless and weird and lumpy. Instead, it’s bursting with color, sculpted by vast forces, molded into fantastic shapes that please our eyes and delight our brains—especially once we understand what we’re seeing.
To see the entry, go here...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Watch livestream as NASA crashes twin GRAIL spacecraft into moon

NASA’s twin GRAIL moon gravity probes – named Ebb and Flow – have nearly run out of fuel. NASA intends to crash the probes into the side of a mountain near the moon’s north pole today (Monday, December 17, 2012) and you can watch it happen live on NASA Television or via livestream from NASA’s website. The show starts with live commentary from NASA scientists at around 4 p.m. CST (2200 UTC). The crash landing will take place around 4:28 CST (2228 UTC) on December 17.
NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information:
The coverage will also be streamed live on Ustream:
The rest of the article can be found at...

Friday, December 7, 2012

AA OSA Meeting Next Tuesday, 11 December 2012


It is rare that we have such an exciting talk and great speaker, but Dr. Stephen Rand has agreed to cover practical applications of his research in "New Frontiers in Non-Linear Optics".  I really recommend that people try to make this last AA OSA meeting of 2012.  As always, everyone is invited to join us for dinner at Paesano's prior to the meeting.  (We have also shifted the date for our January meeting due to the holidays to Tuesday, the 15th of January, as the 2nd Tuesday seemed too tight for people coming back from the holiday break.)  I hope to see all of you at this talk!

Meeting Flyer

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Amateur Astronomers contribute to Science

Amateur astronomers have an opportunity to contribute to science.

At least in Michigan, amateur astronomy is mainly about keeping track of the weather (you can't observe when it is 100% overcast), the moon phase (dim objects can't be observed when the moon is out), the planets, comets and unusual/rare events (such as Venus transits and the like). It is also learning to use your eyes, telescopes and/or binoculars to find static/unchanging objects (constellations and star clusters, nebulae and galaxies). But for the most part you are looking at objects that many other people have looked at before.

Don't get me wrong, these challenges are enough for most amateur astronomers. Nevertheless a few amateur astronomers find ways to make novel observations; novel observations which can add to scientific knowledge. I will not produce a complete list here, but here are a few ideas...
So far I've discussed observational astronomy; but I would be remiss if I didn't mention theoretical astronomy and physics. Contributions to this area by amateurs are possible, but not easy. On occasion I get emails from people who claim to have a new theory of astronomy and/or physics. As a service for anyone else who might want to contribute, I would like to point out the following...
  • Over the past hundred years, most advances in astronomy/physics theory have involved groups of scientists working together. Single individuals making ground breaking advances are rare.
  • Any new idea will be subjected to intense criticism; many people can't deal with criticism, but this is fact of life for theoretical science.
  • It is essential that you understand all the ideas that come before. If you are proposing a new theory, you must demonstrate that you understand the existing theories and explain why your theory is better.
  • In almost all cases, physics and astronomy requires math. A theory without math probably wont be be taken seriously.
  • Above all it is hard work.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Higgs Boson and Supersymmetry.

On Wednesday night (November 14) Gordy Kane (the Victor Weisskopf Distinguished University Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan) gave a presentation for this November's Science Cafe. The Ann Arbor Science Cafes are hosted by the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (formerly known as the Exhibit Museum) and are typically held once a month (except in summer).

Gordy's presentation was the Higg's Boson: What’s it all about?  What’s the evidence? What does it mean? What are the next steps? More info about the November Science Cafe.

One of my earlier posts talked about the Higg's (see "Saturday Morning Physics (October 6)"), I wont repeat that here, instead I'm going to describe what's next for CERN and the Large Hadron Collider.

Now that we have established that the Higgs boson exists, there is still work on probing the properties of the Higgs boson (or Higg bosons). But there is another unanswered question: supersymmetry.

What is supersymmetry? The standard model describes a collection of elementary particles. The most commonly observed of these particles are the photon, electron, up quark and down quark. The photon is responsible for light and the electric and magnetic forces (which physicists describe as a single electromagnetic force). The electron, up and down quarks combine to form protons, neutrons, atoms and molecules in the everyday world. Less commonly observed are two heavier versions of the electron, particles called neutrinos, four heavier quarks and various antiparticles. The photon belongs to a group of particles known as "bosons," there are other bosons as well. (See Wikipedia "The Standard Model").

Supersymmetry is an extension to the standard model: if supersymmetry is correct, each particle in the standard model has a "supersymmetric partner". The photo has a new partner called the photino. The electron has a new partner called the selectron. And so on. This doubles the number of particles. However none of these new particles have been observed, at least so far. (See Wikipedia "Supersymmetry").

The Large Hadron Collider is starting to look for these particles. If you are optimistic, it is possible hints of these new particles might show up in the next few months. A more cautious prediction: those hints might show up in the next few years.

So why care about supersymmetry? Knowledge gained from quantum mechanics and general relativity resulted in technologies such as transistors, computers, laser scanners, GPS, etc; probing the elementary structure of matter may result in new applications that we can't imagine today. Also supersymmetry may explain "dark matter": it is possible that dark matter is composed of supersymmetric particles. If we can prove these particles exist experimentally, that may help us understand dark matter.

(An outline of gravity and dark matter can be found at Gravity, Part 4: Globular Clusters & Galaxies. by Dave Snyder. Reflections of the University Lowbrow Astronomers: October, 2006).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November Club Meeting:

The University Lowbrow Astronomers are meeting on Friday, November 16 at 7:30 PM. The location is room 130 of the Dennison Building, 500 Church Street, Ann Arbor, Mi. Our guest speaker is Professor Edwin Loh from Michigan State University. He will be speaking about the SOAR telescope located in the mountains of Chile and the Spartan Camera. This camera is the main instrument attached to the SOAR telescope and it was designed and built by Edwin and colleagues at MSU. The public is welcome to this and all monthly club meetings.

Another Blog....

Mark Bialek is a freelance photographer based in Southeast Michigan; he has taken photographs at Peach Mountain (the location of the Lowbrow observatory).

He sent this message along...
I've started a new blog - Or, will re-direct you.
Just put a lowbrow shot on there.
The blog background is a shot I took right outside my pad - pointed the camera up high towards the SW.  Wondering if you recognize any of the stars or constellations in it.  I have no idea, myself.  Just thought it would make a cool background for the blog.
This is a screen shot from his blog and shows a photograph taken at Peach Mountain...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

AA OSA Meeting next Tuesday, 13 November - How to Make Your Own Color Holograms

I'm passing along this notice from the Ann Arbor Optical Society of America:

One again, we are having an excellent and interesting talk this month - "How to Make Your Own Color Holograms" by John Nees on 13 November (Next Tuesday) and then in December, a talk by Dr. Stephen Rand on "New Frontiers in Non-Linear Optics" (11 December).  We encourage you to come and also let other people know who might find these AA OSA talks interesting.

Meeting Flyer

Monday, November 5, 2012

Astronomy Blogs

If you are interested in astronomy here are four astronomy blogs that you should explore...

Bad Astronomy (
Blog run by Phil Plait. Phil Plait is a skeptic, astronomer and author of the book "Bad Astronomy". The Bad Astronomy Blog is moving to Slate magazine on November 12.
Actually a series of blogs, each one run by a different NASA scientist or engineer.
The Planetary Society (
Also a series of blogs, covering a variety of topics in planetary science, exploration and advocacy. 
Star Stryder (
Blog run by Pamela Gay. Pamela Gay is assistant research professor in the STEM center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She cohosts the podcast Astronomy Cast (along with Fraser Cain) (See

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Comet 168P Hergenrother

Comet 168P Hergenrother is breaking up check this link for more information go to this link
You can also see images of the comet spliting and read additional information on the comet at

Friday, November 2, 2012


Super-rare, super-luminous supernovae are likely explosion of universe's earliest stars

Nano Satellite

Michigan Tech students designs a nano satellite to catalogue space objects.
Michigan Tech Cadet Receives Air Force Research Award

9 Gigapixel View of the Milky Way

Here is a post taken from the Michigan_Astronomers Yahoo group regarding a very cool web site worth looking at. Enjoy & pass it on....
One of my sons passed this information to me and I thought some of you would enjoying seeing this link of 9 gigapixels of the Milky Way. There's an interactive way of viewing it and it's extremely high resolution! :-)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Calendar of Open Houses and Other Events

I added a link to the calendar of open houses and other events.

Note the next event is on Thursday November 1st, Terence Dickinson at the Ann Arbor District Library. I added this as a comment to Veronica's earlier post, but I'll repeat it here (the internal links to the books are to the Ann Arbor District Library card catalog).
7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room
Terence Dickinson was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995—that nation's highest civilian achievement award—for his commitment to popularizing the wonders of astronomy. The editor of Canada's SkyNews magazine; author of the internationally bestselling Nighwatch: A Practical Guide to the Universe and The Backyard Astronomer's Guide; and a commentator for Discovery Channel Canada, Dickinson is perhaps better known for the distinctively accessible narrative style found in his several stargazing guidebooks (14 of which are still in print with over 2 million sold). In short, Dickinson is one of that rare breed of astronomer’s astronomer who, like the late Carl Sagan, is also a gifted people’s astronomer.

Who better then to explain the science behind those mind-blowing Hubble telescope photos of the cosmos comprising his latest book, Hubble's Universe: Greatest Discoveries and Latest Images ? (The book cover is shown above). There is no one better—and Dickinson will be here in Ann Arbor to do just that at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 1, with his illustrated talk, “Voyage to the Edge of the Universe.” He’ll then sign copies of the book (which will be for sale) following the event.
For all events, see the Calendar.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A great astronomy photo

Well the today's weather is not the best for staring at the stars.  So, here's a great fall astronomy  In this photo you will see the Pleiades star cluster.  On a clear night here you can see this cluster without a telescope.  So, if it is clear try to see this beautiful night time sight!

Astronomy in Ann Arbor

If you live in Ann Arbor did you know that the Ann Arbor Library has Telescopes you can check out just like one can check out a book.  The Library also host astronomy related activities there website is   If you don't live in Ann Arbor the Library's are open to the public and you are welcome to join them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lowbrow Open House 10/20/12

Wow!  Here are a few pictures from our most recent open house.

Which Galaxy Is Earth In? Most Gen-Xers Don't Know It's The Milky Way, Report Shows

If you accept the thesis that an understanding of science and technology is important for a healthy and thriving economy, then stories like this are troubling. It is like a broken record, yet another survey shows that people in the United States do not understand science.

This time it was a survey of 4000 Americans between the ages of 37 and 40. Participants were shown a picture of a spiral galaxy and then asked a few questions.

Only 43% said that the picture showed a galaxy similar to our own galaxy. Men did slightly better than women, and people with a college education did better than those without a college education.

The author of the report, Jon D. Miller (the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research), has concluded that one of the factors that distinguish people with a good understanding of science is exposure to college level science classes.

For more details see Which Galaxy Is Earth In? Most Gen-Xers Don't Know It's The Milky Way, Report Shows.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where Did Water on the Moon Come From?

In 2009, the LCROSS satellite determined that there is a surprising amount of water ice located on earth's moon (or at least within one particular crater that LCROSS was designed to investigate).

So the question is: where did this water come from? First of all this crater is permanently shielded from the Sun's light, so any liquid water that might find its way to the the crater would freeze and remain in a frozen state. Liquid water finding its way to other locations would probably be lost as liquid water is not stable at those locations.

Of course that only explains why there is ice in the crater, we still need to know how water got to the moon in the first place. A well known theory is that this water came from comets. A less well known theory is that hydrogen ions from the solar wind combined with oxygen to form water as well as other related compounds. (There is oxygen bound up in compounds within the moon's regolith; Regolith is the material on and near the surface of the moon roughly equivalent to soil on the earth, though regolith has a very different composition than soil).

A recent article published in the online version of Nature Geoscience support the theory that water on the moon was formed from the solar wind plus oxygen in the regolith. The article also suggests that water ice could be located on mercury and other solar system objects.

For more details, see "Solar wind particles likely source of water locked inside lunar soils" Published on Oct 15, 2012.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Star trail video

Here is another cool video!
Polar Swirl on Vimeo

Two galaxies merging

Here is one a beautiful image of two galaxies merging.    Hope you enjoy it! Two Galaxies Merging (from Astronomy Picture of the Day).

(Note there are many other pictures to be found at Astronomy Picture of the Day, look at the current entry, and if you have time look through the archives.)

Astronomy long exposure video

Hey here's a cool video!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mars Science Lab Curiosity.

On Friday, September 28, Nilton Renno (from the University of Michigan Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences) gave a talk to the club entitled “Mars Science Lab Curiosity.”

Back in March, Nilton had given us a talk entitled “Deliquescence and Liquid Water on Mars.” In short, it is now known that liquid salty water is present on the surface of Mars, at least in some locations and during some parts of the Martian year (most of the time water is present in the form of ice).

There was another spacecraft on its way to Mars, the Mars Science Lab Curiosity, which was scheduled to land in August. After his first talk, Nilton agreed to come back for a second talk, after the lander made it to Mars. This was a somewhat risky proposition since many past attempts to land spacecraft on the red planet have ended in failure, and a talk about a failed Mars mission might be rather short.

As it happened, Curiosity successfully landed on the surface of Mars on August 6. There were only a few minor issues. Thus Nilton's second talk on September 28.

During the September talk, Nilton described the mission and its goals. Unfortunately it will take some time to sort out the science results. At the time of the talk, Nilton could only give us a few hints.

Photograph by John Causland.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

AA OSA Special Tour on Tuesday, 23 October

The Optical Society of American (OSA) is having a Special Tour next week, on Tuesday, 23rd October.  We will be meeting at the Eastern Michigan University Physics & Astronomy Dept. to see and hear about their new Planetarium facility, the digital projection equipment and the Sherzer Observatory / telescope on the roof.  We will hear about the departmental facilities, faculty and areas of exploration.  I encourage everyone to attend, as this is really going to be an interesting tour.

Meeting Flyer

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saturday Morning Physics (October 6)

On October 6, 2012 Bing Zhou, (Professor and Associate Chair of Physics at the University of Michigan) gave the talk "The New Particle Discovery at LHC with the ATLAS Experiment." This was the first Saturday Morning Physics talk for Fall 2012. Saturday Morning Physics is hosted by the University of Michigan Physics Department.

After decades of searching, evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson was finally found at CERN. This is a tremendous step forward in Physics made possible through the efforts of the LHC experiments (ATLAS and CMS). These experiments were a international collaboration involving many institutions including the University of Michigan. Professor Zhou presented a brief history on the Higgs hunting in the past decades. She reported the experimental evidence of the new particle discovery and ongoing research related to the studies of the new particle with the ATLAS experiment.

What is the Higgs boson? In the 60's a group of physicists independently proposed the following idea: add a new field permeating space that gives particles mass, and a new particle (or a group of related particles) that creates this field. These are usually called the Higgs field and the Higgs boson(s) respectively, after Peter Higgs. Peter Higgs is one of the physicists who originally proposed the mechanism and is currently professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Higgs is shown in the slide above.

Bing Zhou answering questions from the audience.

Watch the video of this talk.
Saturday Morning Physics Website.
Photo Album, Lowbrows at Saturday Morning Physics.

(Photos from John Causland).

Monday, October 8, 2012

AA OSA Presentation on How to Micro-Machine with Lasers

Hi everyone,

We have a very interesting presentation tomorrow night (Tuesday, 09 October) with Philippe Bado (Translume) and Larry Walker (Clark-MXR) talking with you about "How to Micro-Machine with Lasers".  Please see the attached meeting flyer and post it in a prominent location for others who might be interested.

The location: the University of Michigan North Campus, EECS Room 1005, Ann Arbor Michigan.

Meeting flyer

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Minute Physics

We ran across this site: Minute Physics .

There are a number of interesting short videos covering various physics topics. At the time I post this, the video at the top was "Why is it Dark at Night?", which caught my eye, but there are other interesting videos as well.

If your first language is English and you have no desire to translate videos into other languages, ignore the language stuff.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Great Lakes Star Gaze

Here are short reports, photos and videos from the recent Great Lakes Star Gaze. The Great Lakes Star Gaze is held once a year at River Valley RV Park in Gladwin, Michigan. For more information go to the web site for the Great Lakes Star Gaze.

From: Brian D. Ottum, Ph.D.

John Causland, Mike Radwick and I enjoyed two fantastic (and looong) nights of observing at the Great Lakes Star Gaze this past weekend. Skies were clear and the dew wasn’t too bad. John and Mike can speak for themselves, but highlights for me were tracking down Barnard’s Galaxy, Pease 1 in M15 and the Pegasus Galaxy cluster. I produced a time lapse video of Saturday night’s activity:

Brian's Video

From: Mike Radwick

Hello everyone,

Like Brian, I too had a fantastic time at Great Lakes Gaze 2012. Although Thursday was rained out, Friday and Saturday were both great nights.

I had planned to do some serious deep-sky photography on Friday, but it turned out that the seeing was not so great at the beginning. So I attached the wide-field lens to my camera and took some shots of the Milky-Way. Afterwards John Causland, Brian Ottum, and I shared the views of both eye-candy and faint-fuzzies until about 3am.

One traditional Saturday daytime activity is the launch of several large-scale model rockets by Norb Vance. I think both Brian and I captured a couple of good photos, but you be the judge.

On Saturday night I had a long list of objects I wanted to observe visually, and was successful at tracking down most of them. I think the best was when we observed Perseus-A (NGC1275 aka Caldwell 24), a galaxy cluster which showed 6 objects in my 14.5" dob, and showed 7 in John's 24". Another highlight was the view of Jupiter, which provided us with a shadow-transit (Io) and a Great Red (Tan) Spot transit. The seeing at this point (2:30am or so) had turned outstanding, so all the fine detail, such as the equatorial belt, was visible. We ended the night just after 4am by observing the Horsehead nebula (couldn't see it in the 14.5", but after some struggle we could see it in the 24").

I've uploaded the photos I took to Google Picasa. You should be able to view them at the following link: Mike's photos.

From: John Causland

John's Photos

Lowbrow Photo Album

For those you interested in some of the events the Lowbrows have been involved in over the years, go to the Lowbrow Photo Album.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Astronomy at the Beach (Paul's email).

This was an email sent out by Paul Walkowski (who was present both on Friday and on Saturday)....

Well the crowds have gone home, my scope is drying out from dew in the basement, the adrenalin rush is subsiding, all of the bills are getting paid, and the number of emails and text messages surrounding GLAAC are down to a few per day. (GLAAC is the organization that runs the Astronomy at the Beach event). The GLAAC organizers and I would like to thank all the Lowbrows for coming out and supporting our activities. We could not have done it without you. Many brought scopes and cameras, some brought families, and all brought good will. By my estimate we had between 35 and 45 telescopes. The welcome table greeters used hand clickers to count those who visited the tables: 500 on a wet and rainy Friday night and 1400 on a cold and breezy Saturday night. There were several different cub scout groups, a girl scout troop, a brownie troop, and a home schooler group. I noted a large number of kids under 6 years old who stood in line to look through the scopes, smothered us with “pleases” and “thank yous”, and were a joy to work with. All were well behaved, fully supervised, and none of them got PB&J on my EPs! There were a fair number of families with strollers as well but they pretty much disappeared by 9pm. The other group that was extremely well represented was the over 60 crowd. I noticed that as a group they lingered in front of the EP’s longer, and asked more questions than the younger folks did. The college class that showed up in other years with lists of objects to observe did not come, or at least they did not show up at my wood scope this year.

We hoped to post the list of door prize winners by now but that list is still being collected. For the first time in 16 years I won a door prize at GLAAC, a 2-in, 32mm, fully multicoated erfle EP made by Antares and donated by Meridian Telescopes. I am very pleased to have this EP as it combines with my new (well. new to me anyway) Televue Genesis scope to give a whopping big 5 degree FOV. I had to hold the hand rails on the sides of the EP to keep from falling in! Please visit their web site,, they carry entry and medium priced optics and lots of other observing equipment and are located in Mt Clements, MI. The reviews of the Canadian made Antares EPs on Cloudy Nights all seem to be over the top.

I attended astronaut Dr Andrew Feustel’s Saturday afternoon presentation and enjoyed it thoroughly. He is one of the US’s most accomplished space walkers spending over 20 hours working directly on the Hubble and another 20 plus hours completing the International Space Station. Please consider that the only thing that separated him from certain death in the vacuum of space was 3/32-in of rubber coated fabric, a helmet, a bunch of very temperature sensitive Viton O-rings, and a zipper. He explained that every space walking astronaut including himself had a moment of ultimate vertigo when they first walked in space and their hands and arms absolutely locked up in a death grip on the hand rails. You have to convince your body that you too are traveling 17,500 mph in orbit just like the shuttle, and you will not immediately fall 250 miles to your death. And after a few minutes your heart stops racing, your field of vision opens up again, and body starts to listen. Space walks are fraught with danger, sharp sheet metal edges, points on fasteners, and the pointy soldered ends of electrical components sticking up from printed circuit boards all conspire to puncture and tear your suit. They practice for years moving slowly, and yet in space there is no resistance to motion. He noted that you want to work fast, especially when you start to fall behind the timeline, and at one point he pushed himself off the Hubble way too fast and missed the shuttle’s hand rails that he thought were in easy reach. He explained that he did in fact catch the last possible hand rail with the tips of 2 fingers. He was tethered to the shuttle, but did not want to go the end of his 75 yards of cable only to be snapped back and go tumbling out of control to smack into some other part of the shuttle. He had many other training and space experiences that he shared with us, and I was so awe struck that I forgot to ask him if he ever viewed the stars form space in his free time. If you were not there, you missed a very humble and down to earth guy talking about working and playing hard for a living in one of the best jobs that I can imagine.

I spent 20 minutes talking to an amateur astronomer who came from the N. Chicago area to see GLAAC. The Chicago clubs have Astrofest for amateurs, but no public star party so he wanted to see what we were doing and how we did it. He was very pleased with the public oriented program we put on and impressed with Andrew Feustel’s humble, somewhat playful, but professional stage presence. He imagined that at a public star party kids would be running around unattended and that scope could become compromised, but never saw any of that. He complimented you all on your patience with the public, their questions, and your willingness to put your equipment on the line for the public. I explained that many clubs, the Lowbrows included, put on several star parties per month and were used to working with the public. He was disappointed that University Optics, Riders Hobby, and others were not represented among the vendors, because he was used to a good vendor turnout at Astrofest. He understood that our skies were not pristine from an amateur astronomer point of view but noted how well we served the public, how well attended it was, and how close we were to all the major Detroit suburbs on the map. He was not sure that such a place existed anywhere south of Madison, WI where he normally observes, and he doubted that the public would commute as far as he did form a star party. He also chided me about the lack of any big scopes at the star party, probably the largest we had was a 16 inch, while they had several Yard Scopes. I explained that we were at a disadvantage this year with Lowbrows and other at competing star parties all around the country: Oki –Tex, Nebraska, Black Forest, and Northern Michigan, but truly there are only a few very large scope among GLAACs combined membership. I told him about the 10,000 people we had a few years ago when Mars made its real “closest approach”; we had 100 telescopes and were still overwhelmed. He shook his head and said he couldn’t even imagine that many people coming to an astronomy event.

Here a few unsolicited GLAAC visitor messages received by Shannon from Facebook:

1) From Wendy L. (who also posted the pic of her son with Drew):
Our family would like to extend our deepest appreciation and most sincere gratitude to the Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs. To say that we had an absolutely marvelous time would be an understatement of galactic proportions. All of the individuals from the astronomy clubs involved could not have been more gracious, hospitable, friendly, outgoing, kind, and generous. To allow attendees to use tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of precision astronomical equipment shows an amazing faith and confidence in the ability of the public to exercise proper behavior. By all appearances, as a result of the fantastic time that our beloved son, Karol, experienced because of your efforts on his behalf, the GLAAC has created an addict. He now has an astronomy addiction for which there appears to be no cure. Any parent understands the joy of seeing one's child absolutely delighted and excited about learning, racing from telescope to telescope and marveling at his first experience with gazing at the wonders of the night sky. We will always be most grateful to the wonderful members of GLAAC who made it all possible (even though we now have to contend with our son who is intent on repeating the "make a comet" demonstration for his elementary school class because "it was really cool"). Dr. A. J. (Drew) Feustel could not have been more delightful. What a truly incredible individual, and one of Metropolitan Detroit's finest sons. His highly entertaining and educational presentation made those in attendance feel as though it is they who had walked in space six times, flown aboard the Space Shuttle, and lived aboard the International Space Station. Although Dr. Feustel is obviously an exceptionally intelligent individual, he was able to easily speak to, not down to, everyone that he met. It would be difficult to find a more friendly, outgoing, personable individual than Dr. Feustel. The word "charismatic" must have been invented to describe his personality. Forget Superman, Spiderman, and The Hulk. Our young (future astronaut) son now has a new super hero and cherishes the photograph that Dr. Feustel graciously posed for with him. NASA made an excellent decision in choosing Dr. Feustel for the astronaut corps. He is a modest, unassuming, highly intelligent individual cut from the same cloth as our cherished Neil Armstrong. We were delighted to have had the opportunity to meet and learn from Dr. Feustel who definitely possesses "The Right Stuff". Once again, thank you so very much GLAAC for the absolutely marvelous "Astronomy On The Beach" event. We hope to see you again soon!

From Kelly S.
2) This evenings events were outstanding! Thank you for putting the effort forth to bring us Astronomy at the Beach! The demonstrations, the 3D movie, the first-hand account of NASA astronaut Andrew Feustal's journey's in to space, and the beautiful images of space through the lens of the many telescopes available to us all. Thank you !

From Jeff B.
3) Awesome event! Traveled from Illinois to visit your event. Great planning
and participation by your local clubs and colleges. We plan on attending next year!

4) Here is a blog post from a U of M student

And in answer to the question you have all been waiting for, no child tried to ride my wooden scope this year.

Three other photos from Astronomy at the Beach

For more information here is the web site of Astronomy at the Beach

Astronomy at the Beach

This past Friday and Saturday (September 21-22, 2012) was the 16th Annual Astronomy at the Beach. This event is held at Kensington Metropark, located near Brighton Michigan. Each year, if the weather is good, you can expect dozens of telescopes and hundreds of guests, as well as a guest speaker (often an astronaut or a professional astronomer).
I didn't go Friday, the weather was bad. From what I understood, it rained most of the day and evening, but there was a good turnout for the guest speaker, two-time shuttle astronaut and geophysicist Dr. Andrew Feustel, a native of Lake Orion, Michigan. Drew talked about his work repairing the Hubble and installing the AMS module on the International Space Station, as well as the future of space exploration. The only telescope out on the field belonged to Jim Abshier. This wasn't an optical telescope (which would have been useless in the rain), but a small amateur radio telescope.
Saturday was much better, by sunset most of the clouds were gone and we had a good turnout of telescopes and guests. I had a chance to look at Jim's radio telescope, it was a simple design made of inexpensive components.
Below, Jim and his radio telescope. Jim is on the left.

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