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?
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!
The sun came out for today's work party.
We inspected and cleaned all the polished granite plaques which are part of the Solar System Walk at Lake Sacajawea. It was a gift to the City of Longview from Friends of Galileo in 2001.
The Walk is a scale model of our solar system, representing relative sizes and distances of the sun and planets.
In our model, the sun is 24" across. Pluto is 1/20" and 1.64 miles away. In reality, Pluto is 1,413 miles across and 3.7 billion miles from the sun, which is 864,000 miles in diameter.
As you enjoy Lake Sacajawea, keep an eye out for the sun and planets. The Walk is along the path on the west side of the lake.
You can download a self-guided tour to help you find your way through our solar system.
At our monthly meeting on the 19th, Greg Smith (FoG President, left) and Mark Thorson (right) presented webmaster Roy Gawlick with the 2018 Observer's Handbook as thanks for the new web site.
Mark figured it was the right book because it was published by The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He was right!
The Daily News had a story about Friends of Galileo watching the transit of Venus in 2012.
Click to read the story.
By Stephen Powell
I was the designer and primary creator of the Human Sundial at LCC. The inspiration for the project came from FOG member Margaret Miller, who had seen a human sundial during a trip to the American southwest. She thought it would be a great idea to put one at LCC.
Mark Thorson had heard of an organization that was selling low-cost human sundial plans, with a layout that was supposed to be based on the geographic location of the sundial.
In the spring of of 2005, the club purchased plans for a Longview-based human sundial. Mark and I decided to test the accuracy of these plans, prior to actually constructing one at LCC. In June of 2005 we used chalk to mark out part of the sundial on my asphalt basketball court. It failed miserably!
So I decided to do some online research on the mathematics for such a sundial.
Then I created a spreadsheet that calculated the positions of the various parts of the sundial.
One of the decisions I had to make was the relative scale to use, since the shadow cast by a person's body will vary throughout both the day and year. I used planetarium software to verify the validity of these calculations.
Margaret received permission from LCC for us to put the sundial near their (now former) physics/astronomy classroom. She also purchased stencils for much of the numbering and lettering (and printed out her own stencils for the accompanying signage, which I helped her to then cut out, using exacto knives).
Actual construction took place on Labor Day weekend of 2005.
In addition to Margaret and Mark, I think that several other club members assisted, possibly including Greg Smith, Chuck Ring and/or Bill Norvell.
The most critical measurement was marking out a true north/south line. I did this by marking the shadow cast at true solar noon by a vertically suspended cord. The time for true solar noon had been determined to the exact second with my planetarium software, and I used a watch that had been synchronized with atomic time.
We then used a laser level (that can cast two orthogonal laser beams) to mark out an east-west line. These two lines formed the axes of a Cartesian coordinate system that allowed us to find the positions of all of the time markers. (The laser level was also used to find these positions.)
I had used my spreadsheet to print out a diagram of the analemma that is used to establish where a person stands when casting a shadow.
I transferred this to a transparency and then used the overhead projector in my classroom to project this onto a large piece of paper, creating a stencil for the analemma we painted. It was a bit of a challenge to correctly position and orient this very large stencil.
During the course of construction, we also had to make decisions about aesthetics (e.g., the colors of paint for various parts of the sundial, the relative positions and orientations of letters and signs, etc.). We also had to create the proper techniques for spray painting the various stencils without creating a mess. Cardboard masks were the key.
When we were finally finished, we were delighted and relieved to see that the sundial was accurate to within a minute of the correct time. Not too shabby!
I estimate that the entire project required more than 100 man-hours of time. During the last 13 years, we've repainted it every two to three years.
Friends of Galileo
We are astronomy enthusiasts who love to learn and to share our wonder at the amazing sights right overhead.