Astronomy Club: November Newsletter

November 30, 2019

Posted by Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

A change in the air…

There are leaves on the ground and a chill in the air. The holiday season is near and with it arises the inevitable stress and anxiety associated with family events, company parties, financial “stretching” and all the other things that occur this time of year. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with planning and organizing over the next few weeks. Personally, when life gets stressful, I always go out and look at the night sky for some peace and perspective. Since, here in good ole’ Northeast Ohio, there is strong chance you may not see clear skies for weeks, make sure you have a way to remain grounded and mindful of where you are right now. Focus on what and who is important to you at this moment in time. It doesn’t take an Astronomer to tell you that the Sun rises everyday and with it is the chance to learn something new and give the gift of sharing what you know.

– Bill

News and Current Events

High speed internet at what price? – On November 11, SpaceX , using a single rocket, launched 60 new satellites into orbit. Starlink is the SpaceX program to start offer broadband internet globally starting in 2020. Phase 2 of the Starlink program brought the total number of satellites it has in low Earth orbit up to 120. Phase 1 launched back in May. With a current plan for a constellation of 12,000 satellites and possibly 30,000 more, what does this mean for the future of ground-based astronomy? These objects reflect a substantial amount of light that can be seen with the naked eye. With these current satellites already causing issues for astronomical observations, does this mean that the end is near for Earth-based astronomical science?

Farewell to RTMC – The Riverside Astronomy Expo (know to most as the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference) is a well-loved annual event held at Big Bear Lake in Southern California. For 50 years, amateur astronomers and telescope builders came together for one of the largest star parties and conventions in the United States. It peaked at over 2,000 attendees in the 90’s but dwindled to less than 500 in recent years. With shrinking attendance, 2019 marked the final gathering. This was my favorite event to attend and really got me started in building my own telescopes. Farewell RTMC and thanks for all the great times, inspiration and memories.

Gadgets and Gear

Need juice? – While growing in the hobby of amateur astronomy, you will find that, over time, you will start accumulating gadgets and gear, most of which require power. From computers, cell phones and telescopes to electric socks, the options are endless. While some can be battery powered most will be more convenient to run on external power. Many options are available from lead-acid portable batteries, like the inexpensive but heavy car jump starters, to more expensive lithium power supplies. When choosing external power packs, consider cost, weight, frequency of usage, maintenance and especially types of power connections whether it be USB, 12v, or 120VAC.

Astro-tainment – Space and Media

This month we reviewed the movie “Moon.”

An astronaut miner on the Moon reaches the end of his solo 3-year tour but things are not quite as they seem. Delving into topics such as Moon mining, long term isolation and the ability of humans to stay sane in space, this is one to check out.

Mind-blowing Facts

The amazing human body – Your largest organ is your skin. Covering 22 square feet, it sheds 600,000 particles every hour. That is 1.5 lbs. each year. By the time you are 70 years old, you will have lost about 105 lbs. of skin… the equivalent of one 7th grader. You are also born with 350 bones in your skeleton but by the time you are an adult, there will be only 206. In 2015, astronaut Mark Kelly spent a year in space. When he returned home, he was 2 inches taller than his identical twin who remained on Earth. On a 10-month journey to Mars, you could lose up to 50 percent of your muscle mass. This is why astronauts have to exercise 2.5 hours a day, 7 days a week in space.

Time is precious – The average life expectancy for a baby born in 2019 is 78.7 years. When Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in 1968, it was 67 years. At the time of the stock market crash in 1929, it was 56. When the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903, life expectancy was 49. When our forefathers signed this great nation into existence in 1776, life expectancy was 36 years old. Despite shorter lives, our ancestors learned, discovered and accomplished many great things that contribute to our civilization today. With your substantially longer lifespan, what are you spending your time doing?