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President's Address

September 2018


Welcome to September, with promises of cooler weather and longer nights soon to come. We’ve been fighting the Cloudy Nights syndrome this last month, which leaves precious little time to get out and observe. I hope you take advantage of any clear night you get, as they seem to be few and far between. We still have Saturn and Jupiter in the evening sky for a few more months, and Mercury is prominent in the morning sky fresh off its greatest elongation from the sun. I hope you take advantage of this and get in some viewing time with our celestial neighbors. How about a comment on what you’re looking at on the PAS website?

Mars, while getting smaller and smaller, is still prominent. Having completed its retrograde motion on Aug 27th, it will be (apparently) changing direction in the night sky in relation to background stars. Retrograde is the same effect obtained when you pass another car on the highway: Both cars are going in the same direction, but one is moving more slowly. As they pass, the slower car will appear to be moving backward in relation to the faster one. Now that Earth has “passed’ Mars on the oval racetrack, we both appear to be going in the same direction. Can you notice this effect as you observe our red celestial neighbor?

For those who want a challenge, try to view Neptune and Uranus. Neptune is at Opposition on September 7th. The blue giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Neptune. Due to its extreme distance from Earth, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes. Uranus is at Opposition on October 23rd, and appears as a tiny blue-green dot. It’s about 2 hours behind Neptune in the evening sky. If you get some clear sky, take a look and let us know what you saw.

Congratulations to Barry Simon on winning the Photo Contest for August. We need some competition out there. I’m sure you have some astro-pictures you are proud of. How about showing off your talent and putting it up against other members work. Don’t forget to peruse our AstroNola.org website, and vote for your favorite picture in our monthly Photo Contest.

Coming events include our annual Picnic in October, an outreach event at Bogue Chitto State Park, and the Deep South Star Gaze at its new home, the Whitehorse Center near Columbia, MS.

We will have an announcement at the September meeting regarding the location of the annual PAS Christmas Party. Thanks to all who voted, and we had a lot of votes! A strong majority made it pretty clear where you want to go. Find out where at the meeting. Mark your calendars now for December 14th.

Our next meeting will be held on Friday, September 21st , at 7:30PM at UNO Science Building, and the presentation will be by our own PAS member John Martinez I hope to see all of you at the next meeting. Bring a guest!

Bill Johnson
PAS President 2018

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