SOUTH SHORE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
Vol. 1 #2 (Aug/Sept)
by Paul Grueter President
A brief bi-monthly newsletter for the South Shore Astronomical Society
Upcoming Events: Even though the summer is drawing to a close we still have several public events plan.
We will travel to the Plymouth Public Library on Mon, Aug. 8th for a presentation by Bill Luzader. We are also committed to setting up telescopes for evening viewing. We are looking for some of the members to lend a hand and bring their scopes.
Once again we will be travelling to Quincy for a viewing night with the Beach and Coast Commission. We will be at Merrymount Park on Aug. 10th (rain date Aug. 11th)
Jeff Lane is again coordinating this year’s International Observe the Moon Night on Sunday, Oct. 9th.
Scituate Library Viewing: Louis Gentile and George Roberts continue their Thursday evening viewings at the Scituate Library. Things started off slow with poor viewing conditions but recently the attendance has been excellent. They need other members joining them. Contact Louis at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm weather conditions.
Viewing Nights: In recent months viewing nights have been poorly attended, to say the least. Now that the weather is starting to cool off, lets see if we can start going out on Saturday nights to pursue our interests. If you are considering going send a general email to email@example.com to see who else is going. I am going to make a personal effort to be going to these nights. I am at the point that I might have to get out my scope manual to remember how to run the scope.
Community Outreach Awards: The complete requirements and activities log are available on the members only page. I know many members are eligible to receive this recognition, please take a few minutes and look at the material and see if you qualify I bet you do. If you have questions contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have the info for the Messier Award and Double Star Award on the member’s page. Right now there are only 2 members who have earned the Messier Award, Don Greeley and Steve LaFlamme. Steve actually did it as an individual AL Member many years age. Don is the only member listed as an SSAS member on the Astronomical League web site.
Presenters Wanted: Once again I would ask for presenters. We have a large number of members with knowledge about the many different aspects of astronomy. If you would like to share with other members, we would love to give you time at a meeting. Let Bill Luzader know if you would be interest in giving a little talk on any related subject. If you know of possible speakers who might come to a meeting a present, please let Bill know. In Sept. Bill will be presenting "What's in Starlight? - Milking Information from Photons" based on a request from Al Monaco.
TWO EX OFFICIO OFFICERS: In addition to the officers authorized by our by-laws we have two new “Ex officio” officers.
Jeff Lane is our SSAS Weather Man.
Bob Reed is our New Member Stewart
Thank you gentlemen for volunteering to help.
NASA SPACE PLACE ARTICLE:
New GOES-R to Give More Tornado Warning Time
by Dauna Coulter and Dr. Tony Phillips
So far this spring, more than 1,400 tornadoes have struck the U.S. Some of them have cut jaw-dropping trails of destruction across the countryside and, tragically, across inhabited communities, too. Hundreds of lives have been lost in the onslaught.
Throughout the season, the National Weather Service has routinely issued tornado alerts. In the case of the Alabama tornadoes of April 27th, forecasters warned of severe weather five full days before the twisters struck. Because they couldn’t say precisely where the twisters would strike, however, many of their warnings went unheeded.
“If people get a hurricane warning, they often evacuate the area,” notes NOAA's Steve Goodman. “But we react differently to tornado warnings.”
Perhaps it’s because tornadoes are smaller than hurricanes, and the odds of a direct hit seem so remote. Recent pictures from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri, however, show the perils of playing those odds. Goodman believes that more precise warnings could save lives.
To fine-tune tornado warnings, NOAA will soon launch the first in a series of next-generation weather satellites – GOES-R (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites-R series). The spacecraft is brimming with advanced sensors for measuring key ingredients of severe weather including winds, cloud growth, and lightning.
“GOES-R will be the first geostationary spacecraft to carry a lightning sensor,” says Goodman, the GOES-R Program Senior Scientist. “Studies show that sudden changes in the total lightning activity correlate with storm intensity—and with tornadoes.”
The lightning mapper will detect and map not only cloud-to-ground lightning, but also bolts within and between clouds. The kind of cloud-to-ground lightning we see from our front yards accounts for only 15-20 percent of total lightning. To get a clear idea of a storm's intensity, meteorologists need to know about all the lightning—a view GOES-R can provide.
All by itself, the lightning mapper will provide 7 minutes more lead time in tornado warnings, according to Goodman. GOES-R’s state-of-the-art instruments will also improve long-range forecasts.
“The satellite's Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), for instance, will provide a much clearer picture of clouds,” says NOAA research meteorologist Tim Schmit. Compared to lesser instruments already in orbit, ABI can better detect super-cold “overshooting tops,” evidence of enormous energy and upward velocity that correlate with subsequent severe weather.
“Accurate advanced notice of high-risk tornadic conditions can cue officials to close schools and businesses even before tornadoes are actually detected,” says Schmit.
Forecasters doubt tornadoes can ever be predicted with 100% accuracy. The twisters are just too capricious. GOES-R, however, is a step in the right direction.
This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
WE NEED A SLOGAN: At the August meeting Louis suggested that we print club business cars and/or bumper stickers to promote the club at public events. Bob Reed is coming up with some potential designs but we need a slogan to replace “Keep Looking Up” that appears on our hats. Please think about it and send any ideas to Louis.
FINAL WORD: I am as guilty as anyone, but it seems like we are not using our viewing nights. I know it can be a pain to load up the car and head to field wondering if anyone will be there. I have found as I get older the idea of loading the scope and everything is less attractive. However, I am getting tired looking at my scope box and wondering what is inside. I bought the scope to observe and increase my knowledge about the night sky. I remember a lot of nights where we would get together and have fun and even learn a few things. Remember the night when we had the great Aurora? Lets make an effort to do that again.
Having said that, I must tell you that I won’t be able to attend the next two observing nights because I will be away. Once I get back, I will be going to the observing nights at field as long as I have company.
South Shore Astronomical Society