February Monthly Meeting
The January monthly meeting was cancelled due to snow, but there was a good crowd for the February meeting. Al Washburn presented another installment of constellation posters from his former high school astronomy classes. This month he showed posters of Auriga, which included the bright star Capella, the nearby dimmer stars known as “the kids,” and open clusters Messier 36, 37, and 38.
Michael Miller gave an interesting and informative talk on the outer solar system. He noted that there is a lot out there besides Neptune and Pluto, including the Kuiper belt, a few known dwarf planets, outer asteroids known as Centaurs, and the Oort cloud. Miller also discussed the recent evidence that there is a large ninth planet in the very distant outer reaches of the solar system (at least 20 times farther away than Neptune). This planet has not yet been found, but several lines of indirect evidence make a strong case that it exists.
In an open discussion of observing activities, many of those present reported seeing the close conjunction of Mars and Uranus over the past weekend. It was easily visible through telescopes or binoculars.
In a special presentation, ASNH President Greg Barker awarded Dave Johnson a lifetime membership in the society in recognition of his numerous contributions over more than 20 years. Congratulations, Dave, on this much deserved award!
March Monthly Meeting
At the March monthly meeting, Al Washburn gave a presentation on the constellation Cepheus, the King, and showed posters created by his astronomy classes. This constellation includes the famous variable star delay Cephei, the red star mu Cephei, and a variety of nebulae and open clusters. We saw that the students found several creative ways to spell “Cepheus.” In our open discussion of recent observations, many of those present reported viewing the recent occultation of Adebaran by the Moon. Gaianne Jenkins and Bob Carruthers also saw Venus as a very thin crescent as it was getting closer to the Sun in the evening sky.