All, I am safely here at Casper, Wyoming, right on the line for the eclipse. We DID have rooms in the local motel (YAY!) and have been rambling through town a little to get oriented. The town is divided in a couple of neat ways: the Platt River runs through as does a major train route frequented by the BNSF RR and others. The town has a basic grid layout with a couple of highways to help with faster circumnavigation. It is clear, sunny and hot, and the weather is supposed to stay that way through the eclipse. Restaurants and businesses are all out in full force with eclipse gear: shirts, hats, pins, logos, stickers, drinks. One can not make way through town without seeing some reference or another. Yesterday as we drove into town, there was little in the way of traffic, so I surmise that there will be a LOT of traffic today and tomorrow. In short: ALL is GO for eclipse 2017 here.
The day started out as partly cloudy with a blustery wind up to about 15mph. At 6:30am, the sun was well up, and 45 minutes it both cleared the trees and was to start a morning-long experience with the little planet Mercury crossing its face. Those 45 minutes came and went, and the clouds stayed until about 10am, when things started to clear out. We even had a few strong rain showers, associated with the looming cumulonimbus clouds that were rolling by. The wind picked up, the skies cleared, and the sun came out to play!
We had two telescopes in operation. The newest, the 16″ SCT in the Kurtz Dome was operating with a newly constructed solar filter: Baader solar film and cereal boxes combined with hot melt glue and duct tape. This makes for an excellent off-aperture 6″ screen for the monster scope. The other was our Heliostat which has an inverted Byers fork mount that moves a primary flat mirror to reflect sunlight onto the secondary and then into a 6″ refractor waiting through a hole in the Chart House wall in the library. We had some excellent views and enjoyed visitors from NH and MA as well as several astronomy classes and some members of the astronomy club.
Gravitational Waves Explained: What The Discovery Means for Science
Last week, scientists made headlines with the announcement that they’d detected and recorded the first gravitational wave in human history. John Blackwell, Phillips Exeter science instructor and Director of the Grainger Observatory, explains how the discovery proves the last predicted outcome of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and gives astronomers the first new way of looking at the universe since Galileo pointed his telescope at the night sky.
September 27th lunar eclipse was an awesome experience from Exeter, NH. Well over 100 people came to the observatory for a visit and a look through the telescopes while the eclipse was under way. At moonrise, I thought there was actually someone with a spotlight in the adjoining fields…. nope! That was the moon! It was BRIGHT! Bright enough to take this 5 second exposure of the fields and fog:
As the event ensued, we had a few cameras out there: one taking wide field shots of the event every 10 minutes or so, one taking closeup images with a 200mm telephoto, and some others roaming around. The following two images are of the event with the images stacked in PhotoShop. The moon’s dimming is very much evident here:
This image shows the eclipse with deeper exposures. The stars become evident as the moon dims. Note to the lower right the light pollution from Boston, to our south. As with all photos in this blog, click on the images for higher resolution!
This series below is from the 200mm lens and follows the eclipse from full moon (no eclipse) to totality. Photoshop wass used to stack the images. Click for higher resolution.
There is an excellent opportunity coming up to see a total lunar eclipse this September… in just a few weeks! Plan now! This one is visible from western Europe, Africa and the Americas. Eclipse timings here:
Lunar Eclipse Timing (all times UT) September 27-28, 2015
- 00:10 Moon enters penumbra (not visible)
- 01:07 Partial Eclipse Begins
- 02:11 Totality begins
- 02:47 Mid Eclipse
- 03:24 Totality ends
- 04:27 Partial eclipse ends
- 05:24 Moon leaves penumbra
So for those in the Eastern time zone which is still in EDT (daylight savings mode), the times are here below….
Lunar Eclipse Timing (all times EDT) September 27-28, 2015 below:
- 08:10pm Moon enters penumbra (not visible)
- 09:07pm Partial Eclipse Begins
- 10:11pm Totality begins
- 10:47pm Mid Eclipse
- 11:24pm Totality ends
- 12:27am Partial eclipse ends
- 01:24am Moon leaves penumbra
If you take a look in the right hand column of this page, you will see a Twitter feed widget. Here, the last five tweets from the observatory (PEA_Obs) will be posted. Look here for announcements about public observing sessions, open houses and weather related information.
Welcome all to the new ExeterAstro blog. The primary focus of this area will be to disseminate news, images and more from the Phillips Exeter Academy observatory in Exeter, NH. Seeing as this is post #1, you might also be interested in following us on FaceBook and Twitter. On Facebook the observatory can be found as the Phillips Exeter Academy Grainger Observatory page. On Twitter we are known as PEA_Obs. The Twitter site is used to present time-dependent information. Examples of this include:
- Rapidly changing weather conditions that either open or close the observatory.
- Weather warnings.
- Open houses.
- Changes to instrument availability and use.
- and more!
We hope you enjoy this blog and the other social media sites as well.