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Atlanta Astronomy Club

Peach State Star Gaze 2019

26th Anniversary

October 20thto October 27th




Program and Speakers

* * * * * * Information is subject to change * * * * * *




John O’Neal, NC Stargazer

Solar astronomy techniques, solar telescopes, solar imaging capture software and stacking routines as well as methods of calibrating solar images have improved dramatically over the past few years and amateur solar astronomers are routinely capturing images today that rival what the pros are doing.

 Thanks to devices like the Solar Scintillation Monitor we can image only during those fleeting seconds of superb seeing. Thanks to the advent of extremely fast, high dynamic range & low QE CMOS imagers, our image quality is continuously improving.  More advanced computing power allows us to capture thousands of 16 bit serial images in mere seconds. High speed ports, busses and SSD drives allow us to download & store large amounts of digital data.

The face of solar astronomy is changing rapidly, yearly, monthly, & sometimes day by day. Keeping track of it all is sometimes a daunting task. Join Ambassador John O’Neal, NC Stargazer, an avid amateur solar astronomer & imager and NASA Solar System Ambassador. Discover what you will need to learn and to purchase to start your own personalized solar observing/imaging program.

Topics covered will include:

Radio Astronomy at Deerlick Astronomy Village
Ed Albin, Dave Lacko, and Jim Roberts - DAV Residents

We report on radio astronomy activities at Deerlick Astronomy Village. Two styles of instrument are
currently in operation, a dipole array and a parabolic dish-type radio telescope. These instruments are
operated by DAV residents / observatory owners Ed Albin, Dave Lacko, and Jim Roberts. Such telescopes
have proven valuable for both astronomical research and especially educational purposes at the Village,
allowing for day-time and cloudy-day observations. The dipole array is based on the “Radio JOVE”
project, with a radio telescope kit provided by a NASA affiliate. Two key components of the Radio JOVE
telescope are an antenna array and a radio receiver designed to operate at 20 megahertz. Such an
instrument is ideal for observing Jovian / Solar storms as well as the transit of our Milky Way galaxy. The
second type of radio telescope in operation at DAV is a pair of three-meter dishes, operating at 1.42
gigahertz. These instruments were built from surplus satellite communication dishes and in the spirit of
the SETI League’s “Argus Stations,” dedicated to the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.
These telescopes utilize a combination of digital SDR dongle and analog ICOM-7000 receiver
technologies. Future plans call for connecting the dishes for higher resolution radio interferometry.



The PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE of the NASA Parker Solar Probe

John OíNeal, NC Stargazer

The NASA Parker Solar Probe has embarked on a seven year mission to the Sun's inner atmosphere armed with a payload of scientific instruments to measure the solar wind and atmosphere up close & personal. These measurements will revolutionize our understanding of the mechanisms that drive the solar wind and space weather, and will provide insights into methods of mitigating the sun's potentially catastrophic effects on technological advancements and on life on Earth as we know it.

Join NASA SOLAR SYSTEM AMBASSADOR John O’Neal on this journey of discovery… Hear the history of the mission and learn about Dr. Eugene Parker, the first person in the history of the space program to have a craft named after him. Ride along as the craft takes off on a whirlwind journey to the center of our solar system to a place beyond our wildest imagining.

This comprehensive presentation will highlight the science behind the Parker Solar Probe and provide a closeup look at the instrument packages and their purposes. It will reveal the human and social reasons for visiting the sun, as well as the science objectives, the launch, the voyage from Cape Kennedy, the journey around Venus to the Sun, and will culminate in what we expect to learn from the probe and how it could conceivably save our entire species and world from the next solar extinction event.


J O'Neal 

John OíNeal, NC Stargazer

John O'Neal has been an avid AMATEUR ASTRONOMER and astrophotographer for over 45 years.

John is a NASA Solar System Ambassador and a member of and contributor to the ALPO and the AAVSO and several Amateur Astronomy Associations around his home in Statesville, NC. He is also Co-Founder of the facebook group, SOLARACTIVITY which boasts a 24,000 strong membership worldwide.

John has authored numerous tutorials on solar imaging as well as equipment reviews and has recently been named as a Contributing Editor for Amateur Astronomy Magazine and his article, THE PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE OF THE PARKER SOLAR PROBE can be found in Issue 102.

Since retiring, John and his lovely wife, Dorothy have taken to traveling and he has given countless presentations to the general public and to amateur and pro astronomers across the US.

Most recently he has presented at the Terrestrial Earth Sciences Seminar in Indiana, at SOLARFEST 2016 & 2018, in Missouri, at The Regional Gathering of Amateur Astronomers, or BOBFEST 2017, 2018and 2019 in NC, at The North East Astro Imaging Conference or NEAIC, 2017-18 in NY, at The Okie-Tex Star Party in 2018, the Peach State Star Gaze in 2019 and at the Charlotte Amateur Astronomy Club & Greensboro Astronomy Clubs in North Carolina in 2019..

His most recent solar star party contributions were at The Astronomy on the National Mall event in Washington DC which drew over 10,000 guests, at the SOLARACTIVITY Solar Star Party and Eclipse Presentation in Smiths Ferry, Idaho with over 4,000 participants in attendance.

In 2020 John has already committed to giving several presentations on Astrophotography topics and on Solar outreach and Star Parties throughout the U.S, including BoBfest, Tri-Star & the AAC in North Carolina and The Annual Aurora Summit in Minnesota.

You can visit Johnís website to learn more about his upcoming schedule, available programs, image galleries, videos and more. http://www.ncstargazer.com

We will update the information as soon as we have confirmations.

If it happens to be cloudy we will run movies in the Club House.



Apollo at the PSSG

Tom Faber

For the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing my talk will cover the events and steps that lead up to that momentous event.  I will mention the early firsts by the Soviet Union and the early Mercury flights by the US - some of the events that led to President Kennedy's call for the United States to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth before the end of the decade. I will then move on to the Gemini missions that allowed the US to gain experience several areas of spaceflight before Apollo was ready to fly:  long duration space flight, rendezvous and docking, and skills needed to work outside of a spacecraft (EVA) - all needed to carry out the moon landing. I will then move on to the tragedy of the Apollo 1 fire, the recovery from that event, and the early Apollo test missions that progressively led to Apollo 11's landing on the moon in July 1969. I will then briefly cover what was done on the other five lunar landings and the near tragedy of Apollo 13. I will then wrap up by talking about the post lunar Apollo missions - Skylab and the join US-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight.

J O'Neal 

Tom Faber

Tom has been an active member of the Atlanta Astronomy Club for many many years. He currently holds the executive position of Focal Point Editor, our montly newsletter.

Tom has had a great passion for all things space related. Rumor also says he has a telescope.


Ed and Dave

Ed Albin is a DAV part-time resident and retired planetarium astronomer, having spent 30 years teaching in Zeiss Planetariums at Fernbank Science Center (Atlanta, GA) and the Louisiana Arts and Science Center (Baton Rouge, LA). In addition to dabbling in radio astronomy, Ed maintains an observatory at DAV where he views the skies with his C-14 and 18-inch dobsonian telescopes.

Dave Lacko has been part-time resident at the DAV since 2006. As a devoted visual observer he has completed several Astronomical League list including the Solar, Globular, and Lunar -- recently finishing the Nebula list, and just started the Carbon Star list. He expanded into radio astronomy three years ago and many may know him as the meteorite enthusiast / dealer at DAV.

Jim Roberts is a part-time DAV resident. He operates an observatory which houses a CGE-14 and an Orion EON 5-inch triplet refractor. Jim observes with a 14-inch dobsonian telescope and a PST solar scope when he is at home. Jim is a licensed ham radio operator (KM4RTP), and he has very recently finished repurposing a 10 ft. satellite TV dish for radio astronomy observations.

We will update the information as soon as we have confirmations.

If it happens to be cloudy we will run movies in the Club House.


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This page was last updated on Wednesday, October 16, 2019