237th AAS Meeting
Virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society held January 10 – 15, 2021 through Zoom.
ASP 2020 Conference
Astronomical Society of the Pacific 2020 Conference held December 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2020
2020 International Dark-Sky Association Virtual Conference
IDA Annual Conference held November 13th and 14th, 2020
The 2020 IDA conference was held using Zoom this year. The opeing keynote speaker was Annette Lee, a member of the Lakota Nation, an astronomer from in Minnisota. Her talk was titled "Wicaŋhpi Oyate (Star People) Under One Sky". In her talk she discussed the Indigenous Astronomy worldviews of the Ojibwe and D(L)akota peoples and the importance of the connection of all cultures to the sky and how light pollution threatens those connections. There were about 2,000 individuals from 72 countries that registered for this conference. This was the first time that I have ever participated in any IDA activity.
Jeff Dai Talk
Exodus CL Sit Talk
Olayinka Fagbemiro Talk
Sonal Asgotraa Talk
Dajana Bjelajac Talk
Soheil Salimi Talk
Julio Vannini Talk
Fernando Avila Castro Talk
Alejandra Leon Castella Talk
2020 ALPO Virtual Conference
Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers Annual Conference held October 2nd and 3rd, 2020
This was the first ALPO conference that I have ever attended. I have been a member for a number of years but I was never able to travel to one of the conferences. When they announced that the 2020 conference was going to be held over Zoom and streamed live over YouTube I decided to participate. There were talks about the ALPO and talks from members of the different observing sections (Solar, Lunar, Mars, Jupiter, etc...) as well as a talk on observing exoplanets. The keynote talk was given by Pranvera Hyseni, from Kosovo, where she described her efforts at popularizing astronomy starting with the first amateur telescope in Kosovo that was donated to her. Her talk is well worth watching (see the link to the YouTube video).
Walter Haas Award Presentation and Keynote Talk by by Pranvera Hyseni
AAS SATCON1 Workshop
American Astronomical Society Satellite Constellations 1 Workshop held June 29th - July 2, 2020
Back on June 19th members of astronomy clubs around the country received an email from the Astronomical League about the SATCON1 workshop that dealt with the impact of the satellite mega-constellations on astronomy. The workshop was held June 29th through July 2. I was able to sign up and attend the June 29 and 30th sessions. The July 1st and 2nd sessions were limited to the members of the four working groups (Observations, Simulations, Metrics and Mitigation). There were 234 attendees to the conference that was conducted through Zoom. The takeaway from the conference is that astronomy as we know it will never be the same. We are going to have to deal with tens of thousands of LEO satellites. The biggest impact will be to wide field instruments like the Vera Ruben Observatory that is currently under construction. Narrow field telescopes won’t be impacted as much. Currently, there are three major satellite constellations in the works. They are Starlink (SpaceX), Kuiper (Amazon) and OneWeb (a joint effort between Airbus and OneWeb). At the moment the immediate source of these satellites is the Starlink constellation, which will consist of up to 34,408 satellites with orbit altitudes ranging from 328 km to 614 km. Amazon’s Kuiper constellation will consist of 3,236 satellites that will have orbit altitudes ranging from 590 km to 630 km. The OneWeb satellite constellation will probably consist of 47,844 satellites in orbits with altitudes of 1,200 km. The OneWeb constellation will have the most detrimental impact on astronomy. Although OneWeb declared bankruptcy back in March of this year the plan for the 47,844 satellite constellation was filed with the FCC in May. We can expect more constellations in the future.
RASC 2020 General Assembly Virtual Meeting
Annual General Meeting of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada held on Sunday, June 7, 2020
The RASC General Assembly began with a series of talks that started on Sunday afternoon followed in the evening by the General Assembly. The first talk was by Joshua Kutryk talked about his career as one of Canada's astronaughts. The second talk was by Dr. Sara Seager where she she discussed the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) Mission. The final talk was by science Journalist Bob McDonald gave a talked titled "What if everything we know is wrong". All of these talks were recorded and placed on the RASC Youtube channel.
Joshua Kutryk Talk
Talks by Sara Seager and Bob McDonald
236th AAS Meeting
This was the first ever virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society held June 1st - 3rd, 2020 through Zoom
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) held its 236th meeting June 1st through June 3rd, 2020. The meeting was virtual, being conducted via Zoom, for the first time in its history due to COVID-19. There were so many interesting talks being held simultaneously that I had a hard time deciding which ones to attend. Fortunately, all of the talks were recorded by the AAS, using Zoom’s recording feature, which have been made available to conference participants for 30 days after the meeting. There were also a number of iPosters available during the conference, some having pre-recorded audio by the poster authors. One of the areas of research that I found interesting was that of exoplanets, covering topics such as direct imaging, radial velocities, transits, and atmospheres. The results of a pro-amateur collaboration on exoplanet transit discoveries in the plane of the Milky Way were presented with one of the iPosters. Sky and Telescope magazine announced those results today (Saturday, June 6th) on their web site. Planet detection methods are continuing to improve and are now allowing astronomers to find planets as small as Mars. One of the direct imaging results, an animation of the HR8799 system (https://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso1905b/) that were shown really impressed me. NASA gave a status update on the James Webb Space Telescope. The preparations of the telescope were dramatically scaled back due to COVID-19, but not completely stopped. They went from 12 shifts down to a single shift working on the telescope’s hardware. The telescope components have all completed their individual vibration tests (tests where the components are shaken at levels well above what they are expected to experience during launch) and the telescope is now being folded up into its launch configuration and will next under go the last series of vibration tests, at levels consistent with launch. The launch date has not yet been announced, but the telescope will be sent by ship to French Guiana, via the Panama Canal, three months prior to launch on an Ariane rocket. One of the hot topics at the conference was the impact of the SpaceX Starlink satellites and other satellite mega-constellations on astronomy. Numerous examples of Starlink satellites photo-bombing research programs were presented and the most recent effort by SpaceX to dim their satellites using sun shields showed that they can dim the satellites to the limit of naked eye visibility, but that does not help professional astronomers, who need to have the satellites dimmed much more than that. The large survey telescopes like the new Vera Ruben telescope that is currently under construction will have lots a bright streaks crossing its field of view at all times. The problem with the extremely sensitive detectors used by professional astronomers is that when one of these satellites crosses through the field of view it swamps all of the pixels and produces secondary ghost images and cross-talk. Not only will optical telescopes be impacted, but radio telescopes will also be impacted by the radio transmissions from the satellites. The least impact will be to telescopes working in millimeter wavelengths like Alma. Not only are these satellites impacting astronomy, but they may also have an ecological impact to migratory birds that navigate at night by the stars. It’s estimated that 80% of migratory birds navigate using the stars. How are they to expected to navigate when the stars are moving?A very nice presentation was given by KU’s Dr. Elisabeth Mills titled “Journey to the Center of the Galaxy: Following the Gas to Understand the Past and Future Activity of Galaxy Nuclei”. Dr. Ian Crossfield, also from KU, gave a talk titled “The Chemical Compositions of Sub-Neptune Atmospheres”.The virtual setting of this conference, although not ideal and lacking the personal contact that is necessary between researchers, gave me an opportunity to participate that I would not have otherwise had. I am hoping that virtual participation will be available as an option in future meetings.
Mid-States Regional Astronomical League Convention
Held in Kansas City, Mo on June 1st - 3rd, 2012 at the University of Missouri Student Union.
2012 Mid States Regional Astronomical League Convention. The following are the presentations that I gave on 6/2/2012 and 6/3/2012. The presentations are provided in the original PowerPoint versions as well as PDF versions. Download all of the files into the same folder. Windows Media Player version 9 is embedded within the presentation for playing animations so you need to have Media Player version 9 or higher to play the animations. Total file sizes ~26 Mb.
PowerPoint workshop presentation on webcam imaging of planets given at the Mid States Regional Astronomical League Convention June 3, 2012. Total file sizes ~107 Mb.
Mid-west Astronomical Imaging Conference
Held in Chicago, IL on June 20 - 21, 2008 at the Northern Illinois University, Hoffman Estates Meeting Center.
This was the second imaging conference that I have attended. I attended the conference with the intention of learning more about PhotoShop and hearing from Bob Pilz about his lunar imaging techniques. The conference trip was extended into a trip to see family in Michigan where I did get one night of imaging from northern Michigan using my Watec 120N camera.
East Coast Astronomical Imaging Conference
Held in Philadelphia, PA on August 11 - 13, 2006
This was the first imaging conference that I have attended. I attended the conference with the intention of learning image capture and processing techniques that would improve the quality of my planetary images. Although the conference emphasized deep sky imaging methods I was able to get enough from the conference to make the trip worth while.
These two slides pretty much sum up what anyone needs to do in order improve their astro images.