All posts for the month December, 2012

“Thomas Jefferson: His Interest in Astronomy in His Own Words.”

Presented by Dr. Edward Murphy, Associate Professor, UVA Astronomy Department

Thomas Jefferson was an avid astronomer. He conducted observations at Monticello and corresponded with many of the most important astronomers of his day. For the University of Virginia, he include astronomy in the early curriculum, he drew up plans for a permanent observatory, which would have been the first in the western hemisphere, and he proposed painting the night sky on the inside of the Rotunda Dome. In this talk, I will discuss Thomas Jefferson’s interest in astronomy and how it influenced the study of astronomy at the University of Astronomy since its founding.



“Observing at Steward Observatory’s 90″ Bok Telescope on Kitt Peak”

David Whelan, Doctoral Candidate, UVA Astronomy Department

I’ll give you the low down on what it’s like to observe for six nights running in the “bleak midwinter” (a.k.a. the longest nights of the year). The Bok telescope is a world-class, 2.3-meter reflecting telescope on the top of Kitt Peak. Situated in the saddle between two rises, it experiences straight winds across the desert in laminar flow and, therefore, excellent seeing. I’ll show some pictures of the telescope, the instrument I’m using, and then show off some cool science pictures, along with a brief description of what we are investigating.

Bill PhillipsTelescopes 101

Bill Phillips, CAS Member

We are going to talk about the basic optical principles that come into play when you use a telescope, including, most importantly, the optics of your eye. We will also cover the basic types of telescopes available today and the pros and cons of each. Lastly we will look at the process of imaging with a CCD camera, and how it leads to demands on the optical system that differ from a visual telescope. Fortunately there are some scope designs that do both jobs well.

JMU PlanetariumSpecial Meeting at the John C. Wells Planetarium at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA


Shanil Virani – director of the John C. Wells Planetarium at James Madison will be our host.

Shanil will provide an overview of the facility, a full dome video and a star talk using the planetarium skyball.  See planetarium website for details and directions.  2 pm to 4:30-5:00 pm.