CANCELED: Annual OTAA Convention

Due to a scheduling conflict involving our Letha House Park venue, our planned July 30, 2016 OTAA Convention has been CANCELED. We are disappointed and upset that this issue developed outside of the CAA’s responsibility but circumstances afford us no alternatives. The officers and members of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association regret any inconvenience this emergency cancellation may cause.

UPDATE: The event has been rescheduled to take place on September 24, 2016 at Letha House Park West. Announcements concerning the event will be posted soon. 7/29/2016

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Looking deep into the heart of Orion

Photo: This spectacular image of the Orion Nebula star-formation region was obtained from multiple exposures using the HAWK-I infrared camera on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. This is the deepest view ever of this region and reveals more very faint planetary-mass objects than expected. Credit: ESO/H. Drass et al.

This spectacular image of the Orion Nebula star-formation region was obtained from multiple exposures using the HAWK-I infrared camera on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. This is the deepest view ever of this region and reveals more very faint planetary-mass objects than expected. Credit: ESO/H. Drass et al.

ESO’s HAWK-I infrared instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile has been used to peer deeper into the heart of Orion Nebula than ever before. The spectacular picture reveals about ten times as many brown dwarfs and isolated planetary-mass objects than were previously known. This discovery poses challenges for the widely-accepted scenario for Orion’s star formation history.

An international team has made use of the power of the HAWK-I infrared instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to produce the deepest and most comprehensive view of the Orion Nebula to date. Not only has this led to an image of spectacular beauty, but it has revealed a great abundance of faint brown dwarfs and isolated planetary-mass objects. The very presence of these low-mass bodies provides an exciting insight into the history of star formation within the nebula itself.

The famous Orion Nebula spans about 24 light-years within the constellation of Orion, and is visible from Earth with the naked eye, as a fuzzy patch in Orion’s sword. Some nebulae, like Orion, are strongly illuminated by ultraviolet radiation from the many hot stars born within them, such that the gas is ionised and glows brightly.

The relative proximity of the Orion Nebula makes it an ideal testbed to better understand the process and history of star formation, and to determine how many stars of different masses form.

Amelia Bayo (Universidad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile; Max-Planck Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl, Germany), a co-author of the new paper and member of the research team, explained why this is important: “Understanding how many low-mass objects are found in the Orion Nebula is very important to constrain current theories of star formation. We now realise that the way these very low-mass objects form depends on their environment.”

This new image has caused excitement because it reveals a unexpected wealth of very-low-mass objects, which in turn suggests that the Orion Nebula may be forming proportionally far more low-mass objects than closer and less active star formation regions.

Astronomers count up how many objects of different masses form in regions like the Orion Nebula to try to understand the star-formation process. Before this research the greatest number of objects were found with masses of about one quarter that of our Sun. The discovery of a plethora of new objects with masses far lower than this in the Orion Nebula has now created a second maximum at a much lower mass in the distribution of star counts.

These observations also hint tantalisingly that the number of planet-sized objects might be far greater than previously thought. Whilst the technology to readily observe these objects does not exist yet, ESO’s future European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), scheduled to begin operations in 2024, is designed to pursue this as one of its goals.

Lead scientist Holger Drass (Astronomisches Institut, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Germany; Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile) enthused: “Our result feels to me like a glimpse into a new era of planet and star formation science. The huge number of free-floating planets at our current observational limit is giving me hope that we will discover a wealth of smaller Earth-sized planets with the E-ELT.”

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After five years, Juno nears its destination

Image: This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This illustration depicts NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Juno mission, launched nearly five years ago, will soon reach its final destination: the most massive planet in our solar system, Jupiter. On the evening of July 4, at roughly 9 PM PDT (12 AM EDT, July 5), the spacecraft will complete a burn of its main engine, placing it in orbit around the king of planets.

During Juno’s orbit-insertion phase, or JOI, the spacecraft will perform a series of steps in preparation for a main engine burn that will guide it into orbit. At 9:16 PM EDT (July 4), Juno will begin to turn slowly away from the sun and toward its orbit-insertion attitude. Then 72 minutes later, it will make a faster turn into the orbit-insertion attitude.

At 10:41 PM EDT, Juno switches to its low-gain antenna. Fine-tune adjustments are then made to the spacecraft’s attitude. Twenty-two minutes before the main engine burn, at 10:56 PM, the spacecraft spins up from two to five revolutions per minute (RPM) to help stabilize it for the orbit insertion burn.

At 11:18 PM, Juno’s 35-minute main-engine burn will begin. This will slow it enough to be captured by the giant planet’s gravity. The burn will impart a mean change in velocity of 1,212 MPH (542 meters a second) on the spacecraft. It is performed in view of Earth, allowing its progress to be monitored by the mission teams at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, via signal reception by Deep Space Network (DSN) antennas in Goldstone, California, and Canberra, Australia.

After the main engine burn early July 5 (Eastern Daylight Time), Juno will be in orbit around Jupiter. The spacecraft will spin down from five to two RPM, turn back toward the sun, and ultimately transmit telemetry via its high-gain antenna. At Jupiter’s current distance of 536.9 million miles from Earth, radio signals will take about 48 minutes to reach the DSN.

Juno starts its tour of Jupiter in a 53.5-day orbit. The spacecraft saves fuel by executing a burn that places it in a capture orbit with a 53.5-day orbit instead of going directly for the 14-day orbit that will occur during the mission’s primary science collection period. The 14-day science orbit phase will begin after the final burn of the mission for Juno’s main engine on October 19.

JPL manages the Juno mission for NASA. The mission’s principal investigator is Scott Bolton of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The mission is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

Learn more about the June mission, and get an up-to-date schedule of events, at:

http://www.nasa.gov/juno

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter/junotoolkit

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Solstice Celebration a huge success

The night of June 21 the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) participated in the city of Lakewood’s Summer Solstice Celebration. The event, featuring food, music, dance, and frivolity, really focussed on the solstice sunset and the beginning of summer. Representing the CAA, CSU astronomy instructor Jay Reynolds worked with city officials to coordinate safe solar observing through club member telescopes. Reynolds also convinced officials to extend Celebration hours slightly to allow attendees to observe nighttime objects through telescopes.

Reynolds reported that, “In the end, the event drew more than 4,000 to watch a sunset, do some crafts, eat at a food truck (with Lakewood Hospital “Stroke Truck” next to them), look through some awesome telescopes and interact with some really inspiring, kind and generous representatives of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association!  Really well done!”

A tremendous crowd was present, parking up city streets for blocks and covering the Lakewood Park Solstice Steps at the lakefront. There were lines at food trucks and, later, at telescopes, but plenty of space for families to spread out and enjoy the show — both natural and human-made.

To view a brief video via Twitter, click here.

Here are some photographs made during the celebration….

Photo: Celebration attendees cover the Lakewood Park Solstice Steps as they watch the Lake Erie Sunset. Photo by James Guilford.

Celebration attendees cover the Lakewood Park Solstice Steps as they watch the Lake Erie Sunset.

Photo: Girl views Sun through a CAA member's telescope. Photo by James Guilford.

Girl views Sun through CAA member Tim Campbell’s telescope.

Photo: Two young ladies view the Sun through a rather short telescope. Photo by James Guilford.

Two young ladies view the Sun through a rather short telescope brought by David Nuti for kids smaller than these!

Photo: Oh yes, the sunset! The Celebration was blessed with a gorgeous Lake Erie sunset. The crowd broke into applause as the last bit of red-orange sun disappeared below the horizon! Photo by James Guilford.

Oh yes, the sunset! The Celebration was blessed with a gorgeous Lake Erie sunset. The crowd broke into applause as the last bit of red-orange sun disappeared below the horizon!

“Immediately after the sun dipped below the horizon, we were mobbed with people,” according to Reynolds. “…they saw very good views of Jupiter and its moons, Mars with polar ice cap and dark regions, and Saturn with its rings, and a lot of people saying WOW!”

Photo: Jay Reynolds, gesturing as attendees view Jupiter, coordinated CAA's participation in the Celebration. Photo by James Guilford.

Jay Reynolds, gesturing as attendees view Jupiter, coordinated CAA’s participation in the Celebration.

Photo: CAA President Bill Murmann watches as young woman views Jupiter. Photo by James Guilford.

CAA President Bill Murmann watches as young woman views Jupiter.

Photo: Long line of folks wanting to view Jupiter through Suzi Dills' big Meade. Sorry about blocking your smiling face, Suzi!

Long line of folks wanting to view Jupiter through Suzi Dills’s big Meade. Sorry about blocking your smiling face, Suzi!

Photo: A long line to view planets through an 1874 Alvin Clark & Sons refractor. Nope, the scope isn't bent, it's only fisheye lens distortion! {whew!} Photo by James Guilford.

A long line to view planets through an 1874 Alvin Clark & Sons refractor, brought by Gary Kader. Nope, the scope isn’t bent, it’s only fisheye lens distortion! {whew!}

Photo: A Dobsonian light-bucket affords views of Saturn to a little girl. Photo by James Guilford.

A Dobsonian light-bucket affords views of Saturn to a little girl.

“Towards the end of the night, the representative of Lakewood came and remarked what a nice group we were and it looks like everyone had a great time. She also remarked how appreciative they were, that CAA supported their event and brought these wonderful telescopes.” Reynolds said, “My comment to her was: “this is who we are, this is what we do”.

Photo: After sunset scopes pointed skyward and offered views of planets Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Photo by James Guilford.

After sunset scopes pointed skyward and offered views of planets Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Bob Wiersma’s large home-built refractor was a crowd favorite.

Jay Reynolds and the CAA express their thanks for bringing the scopes to the following: Rich & Nancy Whistler, Bill Murmann, Gary Kader, Chris Christe, Dave Nuti, Tim Campbell, Carl Kudrna, Bob Wiersma, Steve Spears, and Suzie Dills. Thanks, too, Anita Kazarian who helped coordinate viewers among the scopes and provided information.

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June 21: Lakewood Solstice Celebration


FREE Family Fun! Come to Lakewood Summer Solstice Celebration, June 21 from 6:00 to 19:30 PM. CAA members are encouraged to bring telescopes to the event – solar and/or celestial. Interested members should contact Jay Reynolds via club channels for important details!  

Public Information — https://www.facebook.com/events/1613608782291114/

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JOI: NASA’s Juno arrives at Jupiter on July 4


Mission Trailer Video: Secrets lie deep within Jupiter, shrouded in the solar system’s strongest magnetic field and most lethal radiation belts. On July 4, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will plunge into uncharted territory, entering orbit around the gas giant and passing closer than any spacecraft before. Juno will see Jupiter for what it really is, but first it must pass the trial of orbit insertion.

For much more on NASA’s Juno mission, click here!

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“Beautiful” fireball seen, recorded

Photo: June 11, 2016 Meteor Track - Credit: NASA

June 11, 2016 – 10:17 PM EDT Fireball meteor captured by NASA’s All-Sky Fireball Network located at Hiram College. Credit: NASA

Kim Doran emailed us on June 12 asking if anyone had seen what she witnessed the night before: a brilliant, multi-colored fireball meteor. Fireballs are meteors that flare to become brighter than the planet Venus.

We don’t know if other human observers saw the meteor’s brilliant fall but NASA’s automated cameras on the campuses of Hiram College and Oberlin College recorded the June 11 event at 10:17 PM EDT.

“(I) saw what I thought was a very large shooting star … then brighter flash and very thick trail with quick red, bright white, and some blue.” She said she is 57 years of age and has never seen anything quite like this before. “Beautiful!”

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