Longmont Astronomical Society

      Astronomy Resources

The shadow created by a total eclipse of the sun.

Websites about astronomy and observing

The Astronomical League is an umbrella organization for astronomy groups around the country.

The Astronomical League Observing Programs are challenging and educational.  These programs are a fantastic way to enhance your knowledge of the night sky.  

The AL also offers Citizen Science opportunities for those who would like to help further scientific knowledge. There are three levels, each involving a different kind of participation.

Longmont Astronomical Society members automatically become Astronomical League members and are eligible to participate in AL activities. 

For articles such as an Introduction to Astronomy, Binocular Observing, Observing Clubs and more, try www.mikehotka.com

Sky and Telescope is a great resource for astronomy news, tools, basics and more.

Tonight’s Sky is a video series of constellations you can observe in the night sky.

Astronomy Now bills itself as the United Kingdom's largest astronomy magazine.

Space provides news ospace exploration, innovation and astronomy.

Universe Today is non-commercial space and astronomy news website.

Heavens Above shows predictions of satellite passes, eclipses, and more.

The Astronomy, Science and Physics Guide has many more links to resources for learning and using astronomy and physics.

Cloudy Nights is a tremendous resource for amateur astronomers.  It has articles, forums and classifieds.  If you are new to astronomy, the Beginners Forum is a great place to start learning.

Solar Eclipses and Observational Astronomy offers links to astronomy topics for readers of a range of ages. It was assembled by Legacy Power, and represents just one of a series of guides by them intended to help further science education. Big shout out to Carol and Amelia for suggesting this resource!

There are more resources on our Educational and Community Outreach page.



'No observational problem will not be solved by more data.'

         -Vera Rubin, Astronomer who in 1980 provided evidence for the existence of dark matter

Vera Rubin, 88, Dies; Opened Doors in Astronomy, and for Women - The New York Times

Podcasts about astronomy and other science topics

Space Boffins

Winner of the Sir Arthur C Clarke award for Space Media, the monthly Space Boffins podcast is for space enthusiasts everywhere.

Astronomy Cast

Fact-based, weekly discussions on topics ranging from planets to cosmology. Hosts Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela L. Gay explore what is known and being discovered about the universe around us.


Quirks and Quarks

CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks covers topics from the quirks of the expanding universe to the quarks within a single atom... and everything in between.


Observing the Night Sky

Choosing a Location

Pick a place with broad horizons, e.g. reasonably clear views to the southeast, south and southwest, no tall trees or buildings blocking the lower views. There should be no street lights less than a block away in the viewing direction.

If you want to travel a bit, the Light Pollution and Dark Skies page has articles about where to find Dark Skies in Colorado, and Colorado’s IDA-designated Dark Sky Sites. This article from Colorado.com suggests 15 places to go in our state.



Will the Skies be Clear?

The National Weather Service has a very helpful weather forecast page, usually up to seven days out, and includes latitude, longitude and elevation information.

Clear Sky Charts predict cloud cover, transparency, seeing and more, all of which will affect your viewing. The link here takes you to a chart for Longmont, but links to Other Charts are in the left margin of the page.

Jet Stream Forecast This is one of several sites that shows the location of the jet stream.

Related: How does the jet stream affect stargazing? A very informative article about what can come between you and good stargazing


What to Bring

It’s not absolutely necessary to have a telescope to do stargazing. A lot can be learned with binoculars or the unaided eye. But if you do want to use one and don’t have your own, the Library Telescope Program is your friend. You can check out a telescope, just like you borrow books and stuff, at several libraries in the northern Front Range.

Might be a good idea to bring bug spray. And a snack, some water, a jacket, a compass…



What to Look For

The Tonight’s Sky and What’s Up videos show what’s visible in the night sky each month.

The Astro Calendar shows what can be seen in the sky each day of the month. You can change the month and your location. Clicking on the links opens a page with a detailed explanation of the event.

The LAS Newsletter also features a very educational map with stargazing tips for each month.

Sky View CafĂ© has lots of images and numerical data about what's happening in our solar system, when planets and stars are visible, images of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, and more. 


Viewing Tips

Remember to not use regular flashlights or smart phone lights. It’s best to use red light filters or headlights with a red light setting.

NASA's Night Sky Network has some tips for viewing, too. They’re designed for teachers, but anyone new to stargazing can learn from this page about how our eyes work.

It can take up to 30 minutes for your eyesight to maximally adjust to the dark.






Library Telescope Program

You can borrow a telescope kit from the Longmont, Louisville, Broomfield and Carbon Valley public libraries. All you need is a library card. A kit includes a 4.5” reflector telescope, EZ-finder, eyepiece, red headlamp, instruction manual, guide book and a tote.

      

Articles from the LAS Newsletter Archives

Observing: How to locate the object you want to study; presentation by Michelle Blom and Sven Schmidt on using the star hopping method, from the April 2019 issue, page 10

All about comets and how to view them, with links to more information; summary of a talk given to the LAS by Paul Robinson in the July 2020 newsletter, page 27

Seeing, Transparency and Light in the Night sky, summary of presentation by Steve Albers, August 2019, page 4

There is a related article on page 2 of the July, 2019 newsletter with a helpful illustration of how turbulence affects seeing.

Observing the Moon, recap of a talk by author and LAS member Andrew Planck, from April of 2018, page 5, and from March of 2015, page 3


From Members of the Longmont Astronomical Society

Book

‘Exploring Amateur Astronomy; Goal Oriented Observing’, by Mike Hotka 

Mike became an amateur astronomer in 1965, and was awarded the Astronomical League’s Platinum Master Observer award in September, 2017. He has been an LAS member since 1995. His website, www.mikehotka.com  contains a wealth of knowledge on his observing adventures. There is a review of his book in the LAS newsletter of November, 2018, page 20.


Book

‘What's Hot on the Moon Tonight’, by Andrew Planck

Andrew plays several musical instruments, is a former middle school French teacher, and has been an amateur astronomer for over 50 years. In the words of one reviewer, the book tells you what to look at, what is interesting, and provides the observer with a challenge or two.


Astronomy Tech

‘Our Galaxy’ app, by Bill Tschumy

As described in the App Store: ‘Our Galaxy’ helps you visualize the 3-dimensional locations of deep sky objects in and around our galaxy, and provides you with an understanding of their physical properties. It addition, it illustrates the structural components of the Galaxy, including the thin disk, thick disk, galactic bulge and stellar halo…

You can read a review of the app here.

Just for fun

How many people are in space right now?  

     Who are they?

          And how did they get there?


‘‘Your angle of approach on a space toilet is important…it’s a docking maneuver.’             

-Mary Roach, author of ‘Packing for Mars’


What is a Stratobowl, and what is its connection to space science? (Hint: It’s not a guitar; that’s a Stratocaster. And it’s not a space-themed serving dish.)

Click here to find out

You might enjoy the story of the woman scientist who was the first person to see the famous picture of our planet as just a pale blue dot. 


“I became the producer of only one record in my career, and only two copies of it were made, and they were both hurled off the Earth.”


-Timothy Ferris, Voyager spacecraft record producer


Space-related movies that you might like

    The Last Man on the Moon: The story of astronaut Gene Cernan and his life as a Navy Pilot and astronaut, including rare archival footage and interviews with former astronauts.

    The Farthest: Voyager in Space. Fran Bagenal, a frequent presenter at LAS meetings, is featured in this documentary about Voyager I and II

    The Dish: True story! A TV crew in Australia and a NASA supervisor rush to fix a malfunctioning antenna in time to globally televise the Apollo 11 landing. Sam Neill, Patrick Warburton

    October Sky: The true story of Homer Hickam Jr. He’s the son of a miner, but wants to build rockets. Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper

    Contact: based on the book by Carl Sagan. Stars Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey

    The Martian: An astronaut gets left behind on Mars and has to figure out how to survive until a spacecraft returns. Based on the excellent book by Andy Weir. Contains adult language.


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    The Longmont Astronomical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O.Box 806, Longmont, CO 80502-0806, USA

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