Saturday September 3, 2016 3:30 PM in the Yurt
Amateur Astronomy Online
Tom will discuss and demo several websites available to amateur astronomers interested in the growing capabilities of ‘online observing’. This area of interest has come so far in the past ten years due to commitments by NASA and the academic community to make professional astronomy available to the public.
In an effort to support our motto, “To Observe and Help Others Observe”, the presentation will include sufficient detail to get you started with access to automated telescope systems (all over the world from your laptop anywhere with Web access), space-based observatories, tools and curricula that allow an observer to learn at their own pace and dive as deep as desired to satisfy his or her curiosity.
There is no cost for NOVAC members to join a user group and access the basic functions of Skynet, operated by UNC Chapel Hill and funded by the NSF. Tom built a website using Yahoo! Groups in 2006 to follow Gamma Ray Burst activity real-time with the same satellite and ground-based resources used in the professional community.
The LIGO announcement regarding the gravity wave event discovered last September led to s search to discover any link between gravity waves and gamma ray bursts. Tom will discuss this search, time permitting. Recent publications from NASA, Penn State, UNC and Harvard about the GW/GRB ‘gold rush’ are available online.
Background on GRBs can be found with this interest group: https://beta.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/grbsig/info
Skynet is a network of remote telescopes available to NOVAC members www.skynet.unc.edu
Tom (right) at Zermatt
Tom has been a NOVAC member since 2002 and served the club twice as a trustee. His academic and professional background in engineering and communication systems during the explosive commercial growth of the Internet, in part, led to work with satellite systems. That work experience spawned an interest in automated observatories, whose use and availability grew with the spread of high-speed Internet access around the world, including remote and high-altitude observatories in California, Hawaii, Chile, Australia and the Canary Islands.
Access to the NASA satellite programs came by way of a fortunate undergraduate and graduate school experience at Penn State, and by reacquainting with the university through the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department. Tom completed his Messier Certificate in 2007, mostly at Camp Highroad, with a five-inch Televue APO and O’Meara’s well known book, “Deep Sky Companions: The Messier Objects”. He has presented at several AHSP events over the years, NOVAC monthly meetings, education groups, and by invitation at George Mason University.