Baton Rouge Astronomical Society Forum

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PostPosted: January 12th, 2016, 3:50 pm 
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA
The transit of Mercury happening on Monday 9 May will be the first one in ten years. During this event, the disk of Mercury will traverse the disk of the Sun.

Here is the outline for the Baton Rouge area (specifically HRPO grounds)...
6:00am = The Highland Road Park Observatory is open to the public.
6:12am = The disk of Mercury makes contact with the edge of the Sun. At that time the Sun is at the horizon.
6:15am = The disk of Mercury is completely "immersed in", or "on top of", the Sun.
6:43am = The Sun is at 5 degrees altitude.
7:07am = The Sun is at 10 degrees altitude.
7:31am = The Sun is at 15 degrees altitude.
7:55am = The Sun is at 20 degrees altitude.
8:18am = The Sun is at 25 degrees altitude.
8:41am = The Sun is at 30 degrees altitude.
9:04am = The Sun is at 35 degrees altitude.
9:28am = The Sun is at 40 degrees altitude.
9:51am = The Sun is at 45 degrees altitude.
9:57am = Mercury's greatest or "deepest" immersion into the disk of the Sun occurs.
10:14am = The Sun is at 50 degrees altitude.
10:38am = The Sun is at 55 degrees altitude.
11:02am = The Sun is at 60 degrees altitude.
11:27am = The Sun is at 65 degrees altitude.
11:54am = The Sun is at 70 degrees altitude.
12:26pm = The Sun is at 75 degrees altitude.
1:01pm = The Sun culminates at 77 degrees altitude.
1:35pm = The Sun is at 75 degrees altitude.
1:39pm = The disk of Mercury make contact with the edge of the Sun.
1:42pm = The disk of Mercury separates from, or is "off of", the Sun.
2:00pm = The Highland Road Park Observatory closes to the public.

As with any solar viewing, appropriate precautions must be taken to insure eye damage will not result. One has a number of options for safely viewing the transit from home...
1) Use a solar telescope.
2) Use a nighttime telescope with a solar filter.
3) Use a commercial device, such as a Sunspotter, that projects an image of the Sun. (Some of these devices, depending on how they are constructed, may be able to project only down to a certain altitude.)

If you have never taken part in these solar viewing or Sun-oriented activities before, please insure that you doing it correctly and safely. If you are not absolutely convinced of that, by all means go to where pre-trained individuals are viewing the transit.

Do not use sunglasses, do not attempt to use your hand to cover a portion of the Sun, and do not attempt to "glance quickly" in the direction of the Sun. At any rate, Mercury is too small to see without magnification.


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PostPosted: April 4th, 2016, 6:02 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA
An introduction to the phenomenon of transits and what to expect while waiting for one will take place on Friday 29 April at the Highland Road Park Observatory. The presentation begins at 7:30pm, is aimed at a general adult audience and has no admission fee.

Before and after this lecture, members of the public will be able to purchase if desired a raffle ticket for the International Astronomy Day drawing on 14 May. First prize is an Orion 40th Anniversary Skyquest XT8 Dobsonian Telescope (retail value $499.99). The tickets are five dollars each and the purchaser must be over eighteen. The purchaser need not be present on 14 May to win a prize.

HRPO's Friday Night Lecture Series:
http://hrpo.lsu.edu/programs/friday.html

More information:
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/transit/transit.html


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PostPosted: April 5th, 2016, 12:16 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Posts: 3693
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
The Science Academy session "Mercury" will take place on Saturday 16 April from 10am to 12pm. SA Cadets will learn about Mercury's largest features, how they were named and what to expect during the Transit. The session is for eight- to twelve-year-olds; the cost is five dollars per in-parish child and six dollars per out-of-parish child.

About Science Academy:
http://hrpo.lsu.edu/programs/academy.html


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2016, 11:22 am 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA
BREC Education Curator Amy Brouillette, BRAS member Roz Readinger and I tested the small rise just southwest of the main building. (A line of trees is between the pavilion and that rise.) We've determined that although the first part of the Transit event will require viewing remote feeds via the internet, HRPO should be able to provide patrons with a live view by about 7am to 7:30am.

For those who cannot come, or who wish to construct a homemade projection device, see...
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/how-to-look-at-the-sun/
http://solar-center.stanford.edu/observe/


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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2016, 4:59 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Posts: 3693
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
NASA has announced live broadcasts concerning the Transit of Mercury. This is good news for those who cannot make it to HRPO, who do not have Sun-viewing experience, and those whose locations will be clouded out.

Here is the Monday 9 May NASA schedule as it is posted right now...
5:30am CDT, NASA-TV3 Live interviews with scientists Alex Young, Yari Collado-Vega and Stephen Rinehart
9:30am CDT, NASA-TV1 Live panel discussion on the Mercury Transit

Throughout the entire event (and therefore overlapping these discussions), NASA-TV2 will show a live stream of solar views from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

NASA-TV can be accessed at...
http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html


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PostPosted: May 3rd, 2016, 8:50 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Posts: 3693
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Patricia Totten Espenak has penned an excellent article. She makes what is probably one of the most important points: if Baton Rouge has cloudy weather for the 2019 Transit of Mercury, the 9 May Transit is the last one for us for thirty-three years!

Read the article to find out what to expect from this event. (The same article can be found on pp. 65-67 of Skywatch 2016.)

The Article:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/get-ready-for-may-9th-transit-of-mercury-041320162/


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PostPosted: May 4th, 2016, 12:26 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Amy Wold has a good article on the Transit...
http://theadvocate.com/news/15677242-173/highland-road-park-observatory-offers-public-viewing-as-mercury-passes-in-front-of-the-sun-monday

I need to make one clarification. Viewing the Sun is dangerous if done incorrectly.

Below is the NOAA forecast for HRPO's Transit viewing time of 6am to 2pm...
precipitation potential, 17%
sky cover, 74%
relative humidity, 81%
temperature, 21˚C
surface wind, SE 13 km/h


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PostPosted: May 4th, 2016, 8:47 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA
The SOHO, SDO and Hinode satellites will all have their "eyes" aimed at the beautiful and evocative Transit on Monday. SOHO launched in December 1995 with twelve different instruments onboard.

More information:
http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/satellites-to-see-mercury-enter-spotlight-on-may-9


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PostPosted: May 5th, 2016, 3:55 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Posts: 3693
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
The Scientific Visualization Studio has a simulation of the upcoming Transit...
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=20236



Below is the NOAA forecast for HRPO's Transit viewing time of 6am to 2pm...
precipitation potential, 17%
sky cover, 77%
relative humidity, 79%
temperature, 22˚C
surface wind, SE 17 km/h


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PostPosted: May 6th, 2016, 4:54 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Here's a partial list of the equipment which will be in operation during the event Monday at HRPO...
*SunSpotter Projection Device
*6" Orion Skyquest Dobsonian Telescope
*8" Orion Skyquest Dobsonian Telescope
*10" Orion Skyquest Dobsonian Telescope
*90mm Coronado SolarMax II Solar Telescope

Solar glasses or "solar viewers" are for sale at this time from the HRPO at $2.00 per pair. If an adult patron requests by phone only (768-9948), we can hold one or two pairs of glasses for up to twenty-four hours. Keep in mind, the glasses will assist in seeing the actual size of the Sun in the sky, to compare with what is seen in a telescope. The glasses will not show the disk of Mercury, which is too small to see without magnification. Do not use the glasses with any magnification device.

Marcia Dunn, an AP writer who focuses on aerospace issues, penned a brief article that appears on page 9A of today's Baton Rouge Advocate.

Please call 768-9948 or email observatory@brec.org with any questions concerning this event.

BREC's Transit of Mercury Press Release:
http://www.brec.org/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/2785

More information:
May 2016 Astronomy, p. 63.
May 2016 Sky & Telescope, pp. 38-40 and 48-49.


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