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.

“Looking for the Dark” at the CAA’s Monthly Membership Meeting: February 11

John Ruhl, Ph.D. Photo Credit: CWRU
John Ruhl, Ph.D. Photo Credit: CWRU

The Monday, February 11 meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association, will feature John Ruhl, Ph.D., Professor of Physics and Cosmology at Case Western Reserve University, as guest speaker. In his talk, “Looking for the Dark,” Dr.Ruhl will describe the latest findings from two new and unique projects designed to utilize gravity waves and the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation to search for the mysterious Dark Energy that is causing our universe to expand!

Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

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,

January 14 Meeting: New Horizons at Ultima Thule

Image: Artist's impression of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Kuiper Belt Object.
Artist’s impression of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Kuiper Belt Object. Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI)

Kai Getrost, CAA member and member of the NASA MU69 Occultation Team, will be program presenter at the January 14 meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA). Getrost will discuss the latest news about what we’ve learned, how we got there, and how he was involved in the mission on three science trips to South America.

This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is the most detailed of Ultima Thule returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with an original scale of 730 feet (140 meters) per pixel. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is the most detailed of Ultima Thule returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with an original scale of 730 feet (140 meters) per pixel. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The successful January 1 flyby of Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69/Ultima Thule came after extensive work by the scientists and technicians running the New Horizons mission. Largely unknown, invisible to the public, were efforts on the part of others to accurately locate the spacecraft’s target of opportunity subsequent to Pluto. Teams of astronomers were dispatched with portable telescopes and computers to observe and time occultations of stars by the invisible (it’s only about 20 miles long and is 4 billion miles away) target object; the exact location and improved orbital information of Ultima Thule was derived from those observations. Occultation refers to the moment the light from a distant star is blocked by an object nearer the observer.

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.