Hi everyone. We had a very productive January meeting.
Solstice Lantern Walk awards
The Friends of Galileo organized Longview's first-ever Solstice Lantern Walk through the Solar System on December 21, 2018. It was a great success!
Our judges, Marin, Noel and Ava, announced the winner of the Out of this World Award for best planet. They came up with the criteria:
After visiting each planet, they gave the award to the Lilac Academy for Bright and Curious Girls for their display at Saturn.
Hazel and Ila, and parents Matt and Sarah, did a terrific job. They had a brightly-lit booth, information about their planet and about women in space, and even LED-lit hula hoops for Saturn's rings. They also lit the path of the Solstice Lantern Walk with luminarias - for at least 500 feet!
Friends of Galileo presented them with a planesphere and a red LED flashlight to help them continue their astronomical explorations.
We also had a number of online votes. Our judges gave the People's Choice Award to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington for their display at Venus. Venus definitely had the longest lines of interested people. Well done!
And we were pleased to have so many of our planet sponsors present at the meeting.
Thank you all for coming!
Mark Thorson spoke on "Limiting Magnitude," that is, how we calculate the relative brightness of stars. The system we still use today has its origins with the Greek astronomer Hipparchus - over 2,000 years ago!
The club has a few more events to consider. Will we participate in the following?
Sky Report by Ted Gruber
A total lunar eclipse occurs the night of Sunday, January 20, and will be visible across the entire western hemisphere. The partial eclipse begins at 7:33pm local time, totality begins at 8:41pm, maximum eclipse occurs at 9:12pm, totality ends at 9:43pm, and the partial eclipse ends at 10:50pm. Totality lasts for 62 minutes. The next total lunar eclipse visible here occurs in May 2021.
Look for Mars (magnitude 0.9) in high the southwestern sky as darkness falls. The red planet remains visible until setting in the west around midnight.
Mercury returns to the evening sky in mid-February, shining at magnitude -1.1. The innermost planet makes its best evening sky appearance of the year later that month, but it dims to magnitude -0.1 by the end of the month.
Venus (magnitude -4.1) and Jupiter (magnitude -1.9) dominate the early morning southeastern sky. Through January 22, brighter Venus rises first with Jupiter following soon after. Venus rises a bit later with each passing day, while Jupiter rises a bit earlier. The two planets make their closest apparent approach on January 22 when Venus passes 2° north of Jupiter just before dawn. After that, Jupiter rises first with Venus right on its tail.
The moon passes about 0.1° north of Venus the morning of January 31.
Saturn (magnitude 0.6) returns to the morning sky in February, rising after Jupiter and Venus. Venus passes 1.1° north of Saturn the morning of February 18.
Full (1/21), last (1/27), new (2/4), first (2/12), full (2/19), last (2/26).
Messier of the Month – M79
M79 is a magnitude 8.6 globular cluster in the constellation Lepus the Hare. It is about 42,000 light years distant, contains about 150,000 mostly red giant stars, and has an estimated age of 11.7 billion years. M79 appears as a fuzzy star through binoculars, and as a comet-like patch of light through smaller telescopes. Larger telescopes will resolve the cluster’s outer regions.
Click the link below to view or download this month's newsletter.
Happy New Year and thank you Longview!
We had a terrific turnout Dec. 21 for our first-ever Solstice Lantern Walk through the Solar System.
We brightened the longest night and celebrated the return of longer days and met great people. Here are some highlights.
Under clear skies and a nearly full moon, we estimate that 400 - 500 people walked from the Sun to Pluto. What a great bunch of happy people - many walkers were dressed up with lanterns and lights.
Our route followed the Solar System Walk given to the City of Longview by the Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club in 2001. The walk is a series of granite markers showing the relative distances between the Sun and the planets. The markers follow the path on the west side of Lake Sacajawea, over 1.64 miles.
(Map of Solar System Walk)
We had passports for people to take to each planet to get a stamp. The event was so popular we ran out of passports. Thank you to Pat and Rena at Copies Today / Speedy Litho for donating the printing for our passports! They looked great!
We had a variety of community groups sponsoring planets or otherwise helping with this event.
The planets were lit up in a small way or in a big way. Kids got candy at several planets, and people got to know some of the great clubs in our community.
Our judges Marin, Ava and Noel walked the whole route and judged each planet on these criteria:
We had online votes as well, for the People's Choice Award.
We will announce the winner of the Out of This World Award at our next club meeting (details below).
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If you walked the whole Solar System (3.7 billion miles!), you saw:
The Sun - Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club started off the event with lanterns and passports and candy for the kids.
Mercury - Kelso Freemasons Lodge #94 demonstrated that Masons are solid people. We had sponsors who had physical difficulties setting up and taking down - thank you Mike, Don, Craig, and Katie for jumping right in to help.
Venus - Girl Scouts of Western Washington made Venus one of our most popular planets. They even had line ups! It might have had something to do with cookies. And thank you, Girl Scouts, for also helping other sponsors.
Earth - Longview Garden Club had an interesting projection on the inside of their canopy. Did you see it?
Santa Claus - He traveled between the Sun and Mars. Ho ho ho!
Mars - Shinju Dojo Aikido was our first planet sponsor! A lot of people were interested to learn about a low-impact, non-competitive martial art, taught right here in Longview.
Jupiter - Longview Freemasons Lodge #263 sure added a lot of light to a dark evening, with an antique lantern collection.
Saturn - The Lilac Academy for Bright and Curious Girls did a terrific job with a booth - and with lighting up the path for hundreds of feet. Well done, home schoolers!
(They're awesome and really should make a web site)
Uranus - The Boy Scouts of America, Cascade Pacific Council didn't just have a good set up and interesting information about their planet ("12 Facts About Uranus"!), they added s'mores and a warming tent! Both were very welcome at that point in the walk.
Sacajawea - Stageworks Northwest Theatre definitely had the largest planet team. Check out their plays - maybe next time we can talk them into short performances during the Solstice Walk.
Neptune - Even with TWO astronomy clubs involved in this event, the Mount St. Helens Hiking Club was the only one to bring along a telescope.
Pluto - Four members of Rose City Astronomers came all the way from Portland to set up at the far end of the solar system. Check out their calendar for events next time you're in Portland.
The Space Shuttle
Friends of Galileo member Chuck Ring drove a van between the Sun and Pluto for those unable to walk the round trip. Phil Sari of Columbia Ford generously loaned us the van. Thank you, Phil and Chuck!
Thank you also to
- Andrea Horton of Gyros Gyros Restaurant for your generous financial donation
(Gyros-Gyros on Facebook)
- Emiley Siters for loaning us canopies from Youth and Family Link
Most of all, thank you everyone who came out for a new event!
You got a chance to meet some of the terrific people here in Longview and to learn about local clubs.
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Do you want another Solstice Lantern Walk in 2019?
Come to the next meeting of Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club and help make it happen.
7:00 PM, Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Mark Morris High School, Physics classroom D8
(Directions and map on our About page)
Happy New Year!
Friends of Galileo
We are astronomy enthusiasts who love to learn and to share our wonder at the amazing sights right overhead.