August 12 Membership Meeting features talk on the European Scientific Revolution

Anne Kugler, Ph.D.

The August 12, 2019 meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will host featured speaker Anne Kugler, Professor of History, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, and Director of the M.A. in Humanities, John Carroll University. Dr. Kugler’s talk titled, “Madame du Chatelet and the Origins of Science,” will describe how the Scientific Revolution challenged everything Europeans understood about humans and the natural world. The Enlightenment shaped how this new field of “science” was practiced in the social environment. The example of Madame du Chatelet shows how the development of physics and astronomy were grounded in the cultural context of eighteenth-century France.

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

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July Membership Meeting: LIGO Part 2

Madeline Wade, Ph.D.

The July 2019 membership meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will take place Monday, July 8, beginning at 7:30 PM.

Featured speaker for the evening will be Dr. Madeline Wade, Assistant Professor of Physics, Kenyon College. Dr. Wade writes: “The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (aLIGO) has been making ground-breaking discoveries since the moment it turned on in 2015. The LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaborations have published results for 11 total gravitational wave detections. We have detected gravitational waves from ten merging black hole systems and one merging neutron star system. In this talk, I will give an overview of gravitational-wave physics, the LIGO detectors, and give some highlights of the current discoveries. I will also discuss some of the current and ongoing research I am involved in, including calibration of the LIGO instruments and applications of machine learning algorithms to improve the quality of LIGO data.”

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

June 10 meeting: LIGO presentation to be featured

Photo: Aerial view of the LIGO detector in Livingston, LA. Image Credit: LIGO
Aerial view of the LIGO detector in Livingston, LA. Image Credit: LIGO

The June 2019 meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will take place on Monday, June 10, beginning at 7:30 PM. CAA member and officer Tim Campbell will discuss the history of LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory), a new and unique type of astronomical instrument. The LIGO system is, however, based upon a nineteenth century instrument developed and first used here in Cleveland. Campbell will also describe his visit to the facility in Livingston, Louisiana. This talk will be a basic-level companion to our July talk to be presented by Dr. Madeline Wade. Assistant Professor of Physics, Kenyon College.

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

May 13 membership meeting and the summer sky

Sky Map Image: The Summer Triangle
The Summer Triangle Asterism

Click here for larger image!

The May 2019 general membership meeting will feature a program entitled, “How to find Your Way Around the Summer Sky” to be presented by club member Gary Kader; he is director of the Burrell Memorial Observatory at Baldwin Wallace University, Berea. Bring the family and your curiosity; copies of Sky and Telescope magazine star maps will be provided.

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

April 8 Membership Meeting: The Great Melbourne Telescope rises again

Photo: Author Trudy E. Bell, M.A.
Trudy E. Bell, M.A.

The April 2019 Membership Meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association will take place on Monday, April 8 beginning at 7:30 PM. The evening’s program, “Rising From the Ashes: Restoration of the Great Melbourne Telescope,” will be presented by Trudy E. Bell, M.A. Ms. Bell is a Sky & Telescope Contributing Editor, 2006 recipient of the American Astronomical Society’s David N. Schramm Award, and board member of the Antique Telescope Society.

When completed in 1869, the Great Melbourne Telescope was the world’s largest equatorial reflector. Today, 150 years later — after a bushfire that devastated the Mount Stromlo Observatory — Australian opticians and machinists are restoring the GMT to become one of the world’s largest telescopes for public outreach! Ms. Bell’s latest article about the restoration appears in the October 2018 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine.

Photo: Photo: The Great Melbourne Telescope was built by Thomas Grubb of Dublin in 1868 and erected at Melbourne Observatory in 1869. It was a reflector telescope with a speculum (metal) mirror of 48 inches. Image Courtesy:  Museums Victoria
Photo: The Great Melbourne Telescope was built by Thomas Grubb of Dublin in 1868 and erected at Melbourne Observatory in 1869. It was a reflector telescope with a speculum (metal) mirror of 48 inches. Image Courtesy: Museums Victoria

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

Visualization of colliding black holes

Robert Owen’s presentation at the CAA’s March 11 meeting featured a fascinating and beautiful animated simulation of what colliding black holes might look like if somehow viewed through a telescope. Watch the video here:

This computer simulation shows the collision of two black holes, a tremendously powerful event detected for the first time ever by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO. LIGO detected gravitational waves, or ripples in space and time generated as the black holes spiraled in toward each other, collided, and merged. This simulation shows how the merger would appear to our eyes if we could somehow travel in a spaceship for a closer look. It was created by solving equations from Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity using the LIGO data.

The two merging black holes are each roughly 30 times the mass of the sun, with one slightly larger than the other. Time has been slowed down by a factor of about 100. The event took place 1.3 billion years ago.

The stars appear warped due to the incredibly strong gravity of the black holes. The black holes warp space and time, and this causes light from the stars to curve around the black holes in a process called gravitational lensing. The ring around the black holes, known as an Einstein ring, arises from the light of all the stars in a small region behind the holes, where gravitational lensing has smeared their images into a ring.

The gravitational waves themselves would not be seen by a human near the black holes and so do not show in this video, with one important exception. The gravitational waves that are traveling outward toward the small region behind the black holes disturb that region’s stellar images in the Einstein ring, causing them to slosh around, even long after the collision. The gravitational waves traveling in other directions cause weaker, and shorter-lived sloshing, everywhere outside the ring.

This simulation was created by the multi-university SXS (Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes) project. For more information, visit http://www.black-holes.org.

March Membership Meeting

Robert Owen, Ph.D. - Oberlin College Photo
Robert Owen, Ph.D. – Oberlin College Photo

The March 2019 Membership Meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association will take place on Monday, March 11 beginning at 7:30 PM. The evening’s program, “Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes,” will be presented by Rob Owen, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, at Oberlin College.

Dr. Owen is a member of the Simulating Extreme Spacetimes collaboration (www.black-holes.org), which carries out supercomputer simulations of colliding black holes and neutron stars. Such simulations are essential for relating gravitational wave signals (such as those measured by the revolutionary LIGO observatory) to the astrophysical sources that produce them. In this talk he will describe the work and the often misunderstood physics of black holes and how they relate to the structure of space and time!

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.