BASS Meeting and Potluck – Saturday December 13th

Annual Almost Solstice potluck celebration (and meeting) at the Hartung’s house. 6PM till the conversation dies down.

Spouses, friends, and even family are welcome to attend with you. Bring a dish that is best served in appetizer or small side portions. We used to try to coordinate who was bringing what, but in the end it just turns into bring what you want anyway. Beverages will be provided.

Science in the Brewery, Exo-planet talk

Just wanted to let people know that I’m doing a talk on exo-planet discovery on Thursday 12/11/14 starting at 6:30pm. This is an informal thing like the Science Café series, only this time it is the Science Brewery. I’m doing the inaugural experiment in science talks at Vindication Brewing in Gunbarrel (see map). The format is similar to the Forum Astronomique series that I have held at Fiske Planetarium in the past (except that you can also buy a beer or a house made ginger ale).

Cheers, Steve

BASS Meeting -Saturday November15th

7PM November 15th, at Sommers-Bausch Observatory on the CU Boulder campus:

Featured presentation: The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope and its Instrumentation

David Elmore
Optical Systems Scientist and Instrument Scientist
National Solar Observatory

When operational in 2019 the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), formerly Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, will be by far the largest solar telescope in the world. With its 4-meter diameter mirror, off-axis Gregorian design, adaptive optics, and advanced thermal control, DKIST will produce diffraction-limited solar images that for the first time will resolve the ‘natural’ solar image scale of less than 20km. DKIST will be equipped with five first-light instruments to provide high spatial, spectral, and polarimetric accuracy observations over the wavelength range of 380nm to 5000nm. The presentation will show slides of the Telescope design, state-of-the-art solar images, and the telescope’s instruments that will improve upon those images.

David Elmore is Optical Systems Scientist for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) working with international partners to deliver first-light instrumentation for DKIST. Mr. Elmore has developed and designed instruments used for research in solar physics at the National Solar Observatory and previously for the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. His expertise includes design of ground-based, balloon born, and spaced-based spectro-polarimeters that measure polarized spectral line profiles to infer solar magnetic field strength in the solar photosphere, chromosphere, and corona.


Computer rendering of the DKIST atop Haleakalā, Maui, Hawai’i. NSO/AURA/NSF.


Bear Creek Elementary Super Science Night Oct 29th

Just a reminder that BASS is participating in the annual Bear Creek Elementary (Boulder, Table Mesa at the foot of the road to NCAR) Super Science Night tonight Oct. 29th, 2014 (yes, new this year, it is a mid-week event). The event is officially from 6-8PM, setup starts at 5:30. We will again be on the east playing fields. We will be able to drive up gently onto the field to setup right out of the back of our cars, as in the last two previous years. Power can be run from very long extension cords, but it is not very practical. If you require power for your systems, your field battery options are recommended.

This is usually a big event, and we appreciate anyone willing to bring out a scope. If you do not have a scope and want to participate, please do come and we will ask you to monitor one of the other scopes since some people bring more than one.

If you can’t make it by 6pm, feel free to come when you can.

Hope to see you there.

BASS Meeting -Saturday October 18th

As a formal entity, BASS is 10 years old this month. It has been an extraordinary decade for astronomy, and BASS has brought you many talks and programs related to some of the most interesting research and space missions in the field. We will look back on some of those discoveries and programs, and we will have cake! In professional astronomy they do something called a Decadal Survey, where they look at what they want to do in the coming decade for the flagship programs. We will do the BASS Decadal Survey, and look at what we have witnessed in the past decade.

Lunar Eclipse Early Wed Morning Oct 8th

A total lunar eclipse will be visible before dawn on Wednesday morning, October 8, 2014. The eclipsed Moon should take on a reddish or purple color as the majority of light on it will be that which is being refracted and diffracted by the Earth and our atmosphere. It is essentially a Moon illuminated by all of Earth’s sunsets and sunrises at on time.

The Earth’s shadow will begin to take a bite out of the Moon at 3:15 AM, and totality will run from 4:25 AM to 5:24 AM. The Moon will be above the mountains to the west for the event, making for some good potential photo opportunities. The forecast is for partly cloudy skies, but this event should even be nicely viewable even through light cirrus clouds. Viewing is best with the naked eye or binoculars. Take a look and enjoy the view.

BASS Meeting – Saturday September 27th

7PM at Sommers-Bausch Observatory (SBO). The BASS meeting has been moved from our usual 3rd Saturday of the month to the 27th due to a home CU football game. There will be a feature talk plus training on the SBO telescope operations. Even if you are a current SBO telescope operator, please attend this meeting to learn about the updated control system for the telescopes. The telescopes controls have been updated to run with the XEphem application, a tool that is widely used on scientific-grade instruments.

BASS Meeting – Saturday August 16th

The BASS Meeting, Saturday August 16th, will NOT be held Sommers-Bausch Observatory on the CU Boulder Campus. Ongoing maintenance work has our usual meeting space out of commission for the remainder of August. Instead, we will meet at the Hartung residence for a casual cookout of beers and brats and telescopes.

Planet hunting with data from the Kepler satellite

The Kepler satellite is looking at 150,000 stars, searching for planets as they transit these stars. Although software sifts through the science data to search for transits, the human eye is can often find transits that the software miss. If you’d like to look through Kepler science data for planets that the software missed, go to There is also a very nice article from Time that describes “Hunting for Planets from the Comfort of Your Own Home

The Herald-Bobroff Astroatlas

Review by Bill Travis

I first saw this atlas at the Sterling Star Party. David Dunn had it in his collection, along with Sky Atlas 2000.0 and the old Skalnate-Pleso Atlas of the Heavens (which was fun to look at and brought back memories of the 1960s when it was the best an amateur could get). Needing to purchase an atlas, I tested all three on a group of obscure galaxies that Bill Possel showed me one night at Pawnee, and the Herald-Bobroff was the only one of the three atlases that had them all.

This is an unusual star atlas for several reasons. It is Australian, and went out of print in 2002. Then Robert Haler, owner of Lymax, an astronomy store near Kansas City, decided to buy the rights to reprint it. Lymax was apparently forced to trim the sheet size to suit U.S. printing presses, which reduced the size (and scale) of the maps slightly. Also, in comparing my new copy with David Dunn’s original at Fox Park in July, I noticed that the print was less distinct, that is, the ink saturation was lower and some of the lines and symbols less readable, especially under dim red light. The atlas comes ring bound, and only in black objects on white paper. It is thick: 214 charts, arrayed in six series at increasing scales (that is, covering a smaller and smaller part of the sky, in increasing detail and limiting magnitude).

If you want to find pretty much everything there is to see (without benefit of the HST that is) in, say, Puppis, you start with the all-sky chart A-02, which points you to chart B-12 (or to BS-12, which is the same map with south at the top for southern observers — the atlas is Australian, after all; there is also a BM-12 which is the same as B-12 except that all star magnitudes are plotted); then you are referred to the C-series chart that suits you (several of which touch on Puppis). So you try C-69, which adds stars to 10 or 11.5 mag (depending on the chart) and gets really busy. Finally you’re at D-22, with the same stars but larger scale, so it is less crowded (the last two offering more deep sky objects than you could have imagined). Four parts of the sky (the Virgo galaxy cloud, the Magellanic Clouds, and Carina) have an even more detailed E Chart (Virgo goes to 13 mag stars and 15 mag objects).

In addition to variable-scale maps, the other unusual aspect of the HB Atlas is its symbology for deep sky objects. An amazing amount of information about each object is encoded in the symbol. Galaxy symbols (the well known ellipse) are angled, notched, dotted and spiked to tell you PA, inclination, morphology, and size. The simple square for bright nebula is notched or spiked in no less than 37 ways, to tell you everything from brightness to color, to shape, to source of its light (emission, reflection, or both). These examples only scratch the surface of this celestial cartography run amok, and even the authors recognize that they have so left Norton’s in the dust that some users may be overwhelmed. Though, as they suggest, I’ve found that even without deciphering all their deep sky Morse code, the atlas can still be used effectively. It served me well for navigating areas rich in galaxies, though I haven’t memorized all the symbols, and didn’t wish to further loose night vision by staring at the legend (a full-size, laminated, loose version of the legend is included).

One weakness is that the atlas does not outline nebula even on the more detailed charts; the squares or diamonds just get bigger. And navigating the H-B atlas can be as difficult as navigating the actual sky. Trying to balance the atlas on my lap, perched on a stool at my 9.25 SCT, resulted in it impaled on a few cacti at Pawnee. It weighs in at 3.4 pounds. In fact, though some of you may think it unconscionable to perform surgery on a book, I believe that a strong dose of exigesis is in order. Though the binding does not encourage it, I plan to cut out the entire BS (southern perspective) and maybe BM (magnitude-listing) series to lighten the load.

My copy arrived with a small blemish on one of the plastic pages and the back cover not properly attached to the ring, but otherwise I’m happy with the atlas. Still, the slightly reduced chart size, scale, and print quality might recommend searching for a used copy of the original.

The Herald-Bobroff Astroatlas
by D. Herald and P. Bobroff
Canberra, Australia (1994)
Now licensed to Lymax’s Earth, Sky and Astronomy Inc.
Independence, MO (2003)
$79.95 plus $5.00 shipping;