Member’s Astro-Photo featured on!

Member Terry Hancock recently had the honor having one of his photos featured on is recognized as one of the leading space news websites. This isn’t a first for Terry, who regularly has his astrophotography featured in magazines such as Astronomy and Sky & Telescope. We are glad to have him as a member of the Western Colorado Astronomy Club!

Terry is the founder of the DownUnderObservatory website and co-author of The Armchair Astronomer. He also directs the Grand Mesa Observatory.

Celebrate Mole Day!!!

Mole Day is a great day to bring the wonder of mathematics and science together for your friends and family!

This year’s theme for Mole Day is The Molevengers! You can encourage someone in science by taking some time with them to create a Molevengers project while you both learn about chemistry, science, and math! Checkout some projects from previous years.

Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro’s Number (6.02 x 1023), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry. Mole Day was created as a way to foster interest in chemistry. Schools throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Mole Day with various activities related to chemistry and/or moles.

For a given molecule, one mole is a mass (in grams) whose number is equal to the molar mass of the molecule. For example, the water molecule has an molar mass of 18, therefore one mole of water weighs 18 grams. Similarly, a mole of neon has a molar mass of 20 grams. In general, one mole of any substance contains Avogadro’s Number of molecules or atoms of that substance.

This relationship was first discovered by Amadeo Avogadro (1776-1858) and he received credit for this after his death.

Come Gaze with Us!

Come and gaze with us at our to a public viewing event! Bring your telescope or binoculars or just show up to see the sights.  WCAC members will be on site to help the public. Many members bring telescopes larger than those available to the general public.

Our viewing events are loved by all and gazers of all ages are welcome.

Highlights include:

(read more)

Location: Colorado National Monument, Saddlehorn Picnic Area (map)
Date: Saturday 21 October
Time: The sun will set at 6:26 P.M. Viewing starts around dusk.




Orionid Meteor Shower

The Orionid Meteor Shower will peak the evening of October 20, 2017.

Because meteor showers occur when the leading night side of the earth passes through a field of dust, the best time to view meteors is after midnight in a viewing location with a dark sky, but you may still see some bright meteors from your own backyard.

The term “meteor shower” is a great exaggeration! The Orionid meteor shower typically results in about 10 to 15 meteors per hour. Still, this is a higher rate of meteors that an average night. Still, meteor showers have occurred in the past that had hundreds of meteors per hour, so we can all hope!

Meteors (aka “falling stars”) are caused by dust and small particles (meteoroids) that hit the atmosphere and burn up. As they burn, then leave a trail of hot gas. If the meteor is large enough, it may land on the ground, becoming a meteorite.

A meteor shower is the result of a trail of dust that has been left behind by a comet. These trails of dust have a higher concentration of particles than normal space, and the result is that more particles hit the atmosphere. As the Earth to passes through this lane of dust, the middle of the lane will have a higher concentration of dust, and this is known as the peak. If you happen to miss the peak of a meteor shower, you may still catch a glimpse of it the night before and after.

Since the Earth is rushing into a lane of meteoroids, all of the meteors appear to be coming from the same central location in the sky (much like the headlights approaching you on a long highway appear to recede to a point in the distance). The Orionids are so named because they all appear to be coming from the constellation of Orion.

Ada Loveless Day

Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) is an international celebration day honoring the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The observance aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.

Ada Lovelace, born in 1852 England, was a mathematician with a brilliant mind. She became interested in Charles Babbage’s mechanical computing machine, the Analytical Engine. Lovelace wrote the first algorithm for the machine. As a result, Lovelace is considered the world’s first computer programmer. 

World Space Week 2017 October 10 Space Fact

On October 10, 1846, William Lassell discovered Triton, a moon of Neptune. Lassell was a merchant by trade and an amateur astronomer. He is known for making significant improvements to the design of the reflecting telescope. It was the improved optics of his 48 inch scope (and its location) that allowed him to discover Triton.

Other events that occurred on October 10 include: 

1980: The Very Large Array (VLA) was dedicated
1983: The Venera 15 probe orbits Venus
2007: The ISS Expedition 16 crew was launched

World Space Week runs from October 4 – 10, 2017.

Check back tomorrow for another great World Space Week Space Fact.

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World Space Week 2017 October 9 Space Fact

On October 9, 1604, the world was astonished by what appeared to be a new star shining bright in the sky. What they were seeing was a supernova, which is s star that has exploded increasing its brightness by a thousandfold. This star became known as Kepler’s Supernova after Johannes Kepler who was the astronomer at the imperial court at Prague (though Kepler was not the first recorded observer).

Other events that occurred on October 9 include: 

2009: The LCROSS mission detected water on the moon.

World Space Week runs from October 4 – 10, 2017.

Check back tomorrow for another great World Space Week Space Fact.

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World Space Week 2017 October 8 Space Fact

On October 8, 1873, Ejnar Hertzsprung was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Herzsprung calculated the distance of several nearby Cepheid variables. Since Cepheid variables have such a consistent luminosity, they can be used to determine the distant of objects where they reside. In 1913, Herzprung used this technique to estimate the distance to the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that orbits the Milky Way galaxy. He is well know for his part in developing the Hertzsprung–Russell Diagram which classifies stars by age and  luminosity.

World Space Week runs from October 4 – 10, 2017.

Check back tomorrow for another great World Space Week Space Fact.

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World Space Week 2017 October 7 Space Fact

On October 7, 1885, Niels Bohr was born. Bohr was a Danish physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 for his made research in atomic structure and quantum theory. Bohr was also a philosopher and a promoter of scientific research.

Other events that occurred on October 7 include:

  • 1959: Luna 3 returned the first images of the lunar far side
  • 2002: STS-112 Atlantis launched
  • 2010: Soyuz TMA-01M launched carrying ISS Expedition 25/26 crew

World Space Week runs from October 4 – 10, 2017.

Check back tomorrow for another great World Space Week Space Fact.

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World Space Week 2017 October 6 Space Fact

On October 6, 1992, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) signed an agreement with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (RASA, now known as Roscosmos) to cooperate in space. The Human Spaceflight Agreement established collaboration and sharing of astronauts from each agency. This paved the way for American and Russian cooperation on the International Space Station. When the Space Shuttle program retired, the United States became totally dependent on Roscomos for taking humans into space.

Other events that occurred on October 6 include:

  • 1990 – STS-41 Discovery was launched.
  • 2008 – The MESSENGER probe made its second flyby of Mercury

World Space Week runs from October 4 – 10, 2017.

Check back tomorrow for another great World Space Week Space Fact.

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