"Backyard Astronomers" - Community Education Class

Apr 22 & 29, 2016

I took over this Cabrillo Community Ed class for Karl, who had a conflict. He'll be back next time! Our first meeting was on a cloudy evening, which we spent indoors in the planetarium and in Room 705. I talked about the planets and their formation in interstellar clouds, evidence for a supernova which triggered the formation of our own solar system, and then a session in the planetarium where we learned the constellations, how to spot red giants and blue giants, and how the sky moves when seen from various places on Earth. Our second night was clear, fortunately. We started with an hour on the mystery story of Dark Matter and the ways that scientists have tried to rule out various candidates for the Dark Matter. We then headed to the observatory, where I set up the 10" Meade, did a 2-star alignment and looked at Jupiter and tried to see the faint shadow of Io on Jupiter's surface, then on to the binary star Gamma Leonis, to Regulus, to various open star clusters, contrasting with globular cluster Messier 3 in the east, and to various aspects of the Orion Spur spiral arm setting in the west. As it got dark at 9pm, we got the 12" in the dome opened up, and I explained how I'd built the observatory and how the CCD camera system worked. I thought it would be great to see actual color in the same globular cluster M3 which we'd just looked at visually, and we did a nice photo of Messier 3, pointing out the red giants and blue main sequence stars which were dimmer. Finally, on to a spectacular edge-on spiral galaxy in the Coma Cluster - NGC 4565. It was a pretty packed session, and at 10pm I wished them a good night.

I stayed for another hour to take more photos of NGC 4565, four in total, to allow me to stack, polish in Photoshop, and then to post here, for anyone to download and keep some memories of our class.

Single 5 minutes shot of globular cluster M3, DDP processing in CCDOPS, then polishing in Photoshop

NGC 4565 in Coma. 4x5min images under poor seeing, moonless skies but some cirrus. 12" dome scope w/ ST2000xcm camera. Chip T=-20C