SOUTH SHORE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
Vol. 1 #3 (Oct/Nov)
by Paul Grueter President
A brief bi-monthly newsletter for the South Shore Astronomical Society
Scituate Library Viewing: Louis Gentile and George Roberts continue their evening viewings at the Scituate Library through October. The night has been changed from Thursday to Friday with the stat of school. Both Louis and George report there has been a lot of interest and find people there before they have set up. They need other members joining them. Contact Louis at email@example.com to confirm weather conditions.
OBSERVE THE MOON NIGHT: For the second year, Jeff Lane set up Observe the Moon Night in Sharon. This was well attended by members. Joining Jeff, were Skip Newell, Bill Luzader, George Roberts, Bruce Lewis and Paul Grueter. The Patriots game probably kept the attendance down, but as they say it is not the quantity, it’s the quality. Jeff already has some ideas for next year.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS: We will be accepting nominations for 2012 officers at the November meeting. I would encourage any member that is interested in being an officer to let us know. All positions are open, new blood and new ideas are welcome.
VIEWING NIGHTS: The weather has not cooperated in recent weeks, but lets keep a positive thought and hope the clouds and rain will stop so we can start viewing again.
BOARD MEETING: There is a Board Meeting scheduled for the end of the month, the exact date will be confirmed shortly. All members are welcome to board meetings. If you have suggestions please join us.
SLOGAN UPDATE: Bob Reed has submitted so ideas for cards and bumper stickers of the club. If you have ideas please put them down on paper so we can discuss this at our Board Meeting:
SPEAKERS: We are always looking for ideas or volunteers for presentations at our meetings. If you have an idea or are willing to presents let Bill Luzader know.
NASA SPACE PLACE ARTICLE:
Dark Clues to the Universe
By Dr. Marc Rayman
Urban astronomers are always wishing for darker skies. But that complaint is due to light from Earth. What about the light coming from the night sky itself? When you think about it, why is the sky dark at all?
Of course, space appears dark at night because that is when our side of Earth faces away from the Sun. But what about all those other suns? Our own Milky Way galaxy contains over 200 billion stars, and the entire universe probably contains over 100 billion galaxies. You might suppose that that many stars would light up the night like daytime!
Until the 20th century, astronomers didn't think it was even possible to count all the stars in the universe. They thought the universe was infinite and unchanging.
Besides being very hard to imagine, the trouble with an infinite universe is that no matter where you look in the night sky, you should see a star. Stars should overlap each other in the sky like tree trunks in the middle of a very thick forest. But, if this were the case, the sky would be blazing with light. This problem greatly troubled astronomers and became known as “Olbers’ Paradox” after the 19th century astronomer Heinrich Olbers who wrote about it, although he was not the first to raise this astronomical mystery.
To try to explain the paradox, some 19th century scientists thought that dust clouds between the stars must be absorbing a lot of the starlight so it wouldn’t shine through to us. But later scientists realized that the dust itself would absorb so much energy from the starlight that eventually it would glow as hot and bright as the stars themselves.
Astronomers now realize that the universe is not infinite. A finite universe—that is, a universe of limited size—even one with trillions of stars, just wouldn't have enough stars to light up all of space.
Although the idea of a finite universe explains why Earth's sky is dark at night, other factors work to make it even darker.
The universe is expanding. As a result, the light that leaves a distant galaxy today will have much farther to travel to our eyes than the light that left it a million years ago or even one year ago. That means the amount of light energy reaching us from distant stars dwindles all the time. And the farther away the star, the less bright it will look to us.
Also, because space is expanding, the wavelengths of the light passing through it are expanding. Thus, the farther the light has traveled, the more red-shifted (and lower in energy) it becomes, perhaps red-shifting right out of the visible range. So, even darker skies prevail.
The universe, both finite in size and finite in age, is full of wonderful sights. See some bright, beautiful images of faraway galaxies against the blackness of space at the Space Place image galleries. Visit http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/search/?q=gallery.
This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
iPD , iPHONE and iPAD APS: Below is a list of apps that are on my iPad and my iPod Touch. Many if not most are free. If you are interested in some of the pay ones, let me know which ones and I will send you an email about my experience. I usually bring my iPAD to the monthly meetings or observing sessions so you can also see the individual app in action
iEphemeris Lite – Free, iEphemeris Pro – Pay
iCSC Clear Sky Chart – Free
Distant Sun 2s, Distatnt Suns
Star Walk - 2.99 iPhone, .99 iPad
Stellarium – Free, Stelarium XL .99
Planets – Free
Sun Moon - .99
MoonMapLite – Free
MoonToday Lite – Free, MoonToday
MoonGlobe – Free, MoonGlobe HD - .99
Jupiter Guide – Free
Grand Tour – Free
Go StarGaze – Free
Exoplanet – Free
Planetoids – Free
NASA – Free
ISSLite – Free
Satelites - .99
Sky & Tel, SkyWeek – Free
Carl Sagan - Free
Cosmic – Free
APOD, Astronomy Picture of the Day – Free
Collider Lite – Free
Hubble – Free
PlanetFacts – Free
3D Sun – Free
Aurora Fest – Free
Go Star Gazing