Revised August 28,  2019

Information on this page will be updated as it is confirmed for AHSP 2019! Some content remains  tentative.

Current speakers for AHSP in the Main Yurt

Dates, times, and additional speakers will be added when confirmed.

2019 Daily and Full Schedule (pdf to come) and Electronic Calendar

Friday, August 30, 2019

Richard Wright  / Software Bisque 

6:30 p.m. — Embedded imaging: The future of astrophotography

Summary

The world of Astrophotography is being invaded by “The Internet of Things”. Small, but powerfully flexible computers such as the Raspberry Pi are making inroads in education, industrial automation, and embedded device control in dozens of industries, and even our homes. Astronomy is no exception. An embedded computer is a computer that “disappears” into the device it is controlling until you no longer think about or are concerned with what kind of computer or operating system is behind your “smart appliance”. How long before your laptop disappears behind your imaging workflow? That transition has already begun.

Biography

Richard S. Wright Jr. is the Imaging Evangelist and a Sr. Software Engineer for Software Bisque where for over a decade, his focus there has been graphics and cross platform technologies. He is currently responsible for Software Bisque’s mobile products and cross platform imaging solutions. A frequent contributor to Sky & Telescope magazine and astrophotography webinars, Richard also authors a monthly Sky & Telescope Blog “Imaging Foundations”, and has written a book, “The Evening Show, Revealing the Universe Though Astrophotography”. Richard’s image gallery is at www.eveningshow.com. Richard was diagnosed with an incurable case of the imaging virus nearly two decades ago. Ongoing treatment takes place primarily in Central Florida or at his dark sky site in South Florida.

 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Matt Campagna  / NOVAC 

9:30 a.m. — Automating astrophotography with single board computers

Summary

This topic relates to astrophotography. In the last 5 years or so, single-board-computers (SBCs) have become increasingly popular with all kinds of hobbies and astrophtography is no exception. In fact, just in the last 12-18 months we’ve seen commercial SBC solutions such as StellarMate, ASIair, and AtikBase all offering users ability to add automation to their astrophotography rig with relatively minimal investment. However, compatibility and capability can vary significantly – adding confusion to the mix.

Additionally, this there are also relatively new solutions on the traditional mount PC end. The new Intel NUC computers are small and powerful and have been adapted by many astrophotographers as remote control units for their rigs. On commercial side of this we have things available like the Primaluce lab EAGLE3 units. 
All of these things ultimately are targeted to serve the same purpose and there are a lot of things for an astrophotographer to consider when choosing a control solution that will benefit their rig and imaging needs best. 
Most people start out with their personal laptop and a rats nest of wires running between that and their mount. Implementing some type of on-mount remote control system is a logical next step for many imagers and I think a discussion to compare and contrast the available options could be useful. I have experimented on my personal setup with several different SBCs and NUC type computers (experimenting with both Widows ASCOM and Linux INDI) and I think I have a pretty good handle on what considerations are important.

Biography

Bob Traube  / NOVAC 

11:00 a.m. — The Strasbourg Astronomical Clock

Summary

Biography

Dan Ward  / NOVAC 

1:30 p.m. — AHSP2019 Binocular Challenge

Summary

NOVAC is sponsoring a Binocular Observing Challenge. There are 20 objects on the list. Those
who view at least 15 of the 20 objects during AHSP 19 are eligible for the AHSP Bino Challenge
lapel pin. Dan will review the list and offer tips and suggestions about binocular observing for
attendees who are interested in tackling the list. He will also briefly describe other formal
binocular observing programs and bino observing resources,

Biography

Dan Ward joined NOVAC when he moved to Virginia in 2003. His first telescope was a 3”
Gilbert reflector Christmas present during the sputnik era. His lifelong passion for astronomy
has been nurtured via participation in astronomy clubs and events in Texas, North Carolina,
Connecticut, Illinois, Arizona, and Virginia. Dan has been a regular astronomy topic speaker for
area camera clubs, astronomy groups and local parks. Warned by his wife not “add any more
items to the optical density of the Ward household,” Dan is painfully purging his telescope
collection down to a dozen or so most beloved telescopes and binoculars.

Dr. Ed Takken  / NOVAC 

3:00 p.m. — Small telescope object-finding skills for beginners

Summary

-Hands-on experience with sights (Telrad, Rigel, Red Dot, finder scopes) on easy telescopes (8×42 monocular, 3.5” birding scope, 4.5” Newtonian) with a variety of tripods.  A duplicate of the 4.5” Newtonian we use with easy adjust tripod and red dot finder will be given away at the raffle.
-Familiarity with object locating & learning aids as star wheels, Stellarium, EZStars.info
-Then after dark Saturday & Sunday:  Get some time on the NOVAC loaner 16” Dob with Ed after manually locating  Jupiter, Mizar-Alcor and maybe Andromeda on an easy scope.
Ed has posted reference material for this workshop at largeloanerdob.ezstars.info. You might want to review or download before the workshop.

Biography

BS Florida State 1961, PhD Ohio State 1967 in theoretical physics.
47 years R&D at the Naval Research Laboratory working on analysis, modeling, & prototype infrared sensor development, including helicopter self-protection.
Became interested in astronomy on when my 6 yr old grandson won a beginner telescope.  I like all the strange astrophysics, and try to get straight where in the sky the impressive pictures come from.  Know basics and hope to locate many of the Messier objects at AHSP2019.
Don’t have room for a 16” Dob and greatly appreciate NOVAC offering one on loan.

Dr. David DeVorkin  / Curator of Astronomy, Smithsonian Institution 

6:30 p.m. — George Carruthers and the first observatory on the Moon

Summary

Biograph

David H. DeVorkin is senior curator of history of astronomy and the space sciences at the Smithsonian Institution. DeVorkin’s major research interests are in the origins and development of modern astrophysics during the 20th century and the origins and development of the space sciences from the V-2 rocket to the present. He is the author/editor/compiler of 16 books and more than 150 scholarly and popular articles. He has spoken many times at AHSP and at NOVAC.

 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Arlen Raasch / NOVAC 

9:30 a.m. — Telescope alignment

Summary

Biograph

Skip Bird  / Westminister Astronimcal Society

11:00 a.m. — Phun with Physics TOO — young people’s program in the tent

Summary

Have you recovered from last years Phun? Has your Shrink Wrapped body finally returned to its original shape? Are people running away from you because you still have the wrapping of a mummy hanging off you? Want to try and reach the cars with your Rocket this year? Then join Skip Bird for round two, as we explore some of the more FUN ways to abuse the properties of Physics.

Biography

Alan Goldberg  / NOVAC 

11:00 a.m. — Introducing the Questar 7 and the Schmidt family of telescope designs

Summary

NOVAC received a donation of a Questar 7 which will be at AHSP for shared use (location and times TBD). This will be an opportunity to examine the scope in daylight, and to learn about the optical concepts that make catadioptric (mirror + lens) telescopes useful and popular.

Biograph

Dr. Darrin Todd  / NOVAC 

1:30 p.m. — Weather-wise for astronomy

Summary

I will discuss weather that may affect the operation of telescopes (e.g. dew point, effects of weather on viewing condition, terrain, wind, sunlight).  I will also go into depth regarding cloud types and behaviors as well as various preparedness, predictive,  preventative and safety measures.  

Biography

I’m a retired Air Force Combat Weather officer (23 years).  As well, I worked for the NOAA for several years and I am also a qualified storm spotter with the National Weather Service.  

Skip Bird  / Westminster Astronomy Club 

3:30 p.m. — Transit of Mercury, November 2019

Summary

Biograph

Wayne “Skip” Bird is a NASA Heliophysics Ambassador, and presently the Outreach Director/Night Sky Network Guru for the Westminster Astronomical Society, an outreach fanatic (definition of fanatic: someone who will not change his mind AND will not change the subject). He is also a “MAD” Science teacher for TGIF a home school group. He is the world-renowned author of “Night Flying Astronomy Bird” articles (OK, maybe world-renowned is being a little modest), and the World’s Greatest Dad — he has the button to prove it, but enough about me.

 

 

 

Dr. Carey Lisse  / JHU/APL 

6:30 p.m. — New Horizons at Pluto and MU69/Ultima Thule

Summary

Biography

 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Alan Goldberg  / NOVAC 

9:30 a.m. — Cosmic zoo: nature of the objects you can see at AHSP

Summary

A brief photo tour of  the nature of types celestial objects you have seen or will see through telescopes at Spruce Knob. What they are and why they are interesting and improtant in astronomy. Not every object, but classes of objects: solar system objects; strong colors; binaries and clusters; types of nebulae; and galaxies. This is a survey and discussion for beginners and those who want to check their understanding. 

Biography

 

Bob Traube  / NOVAC 

1:30 p.m. — PixInsight image processing for comets

Summaryimage1.jpeg

Comets are wonderful astrophoto targets. While they are somewhat rare, they have beautiful color and often have detailed tail structure.  

However, as they orbit the Sun they move across the background star-field!  Even a 30 minute series of exposures can reveal that motion.  The usual strategy of taking a sequence of sub-exposures and combining them in post processing will reveal the cometary motion by showing streaked stars or streaked comet. 

PixInsight has a very innovative means of separating the comet from the stars, and then recombining them to produce a clear image of the comet on a background of pinpoint stars.  Bob will demonstrate this tool on a recent comet. 

Biography

Bob Traube has been an amateur astronomer and NOVAC member for about 20 years.  During much of that time he has explored the complexities of astro-photography beginning with hand guiding film images, moving on to digital imaging, and now probing the deep mysteries of Pixinsight image processing.  Bob is our site coordinator for the monthly observing sessions at Spruce Knob Mountain Center.  Contact him at SKMC@NOVAC.COM to reserve your space from April through October.  

When not capturing or processing images, Bob can usually be found rehearsing and performing music with the Lake Ridge Chorale.  They are a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that performs free concerts with all donations going to selected, worthy, local charities.  This confluence of hobbies has been great fun.

Dr. John Kroon / NOVAC

3:00 p.m. — Narrowband astrophotography

Summary

Traditional, or broadband, astrophotography is at least as enjoyable as it is challenging. With our suburban lifestyle comes a bright, light-polluted night sky which only adds to the difficulty of collecting dim light from tenuous nebulae thousands of light years away. Entire volumes are dedicated to addressing the challenges of broadband astrophotography. However, in this talk we examine the craft in a new light by narrowing our focus to Hubble palette tricolor imaging. We will see the benefits and nuances of narrow bandpass filters centered on emission lines of various gases and discuss the difficulties associated with doing so. We will also look at some stunning images produced by this method. This talk serves as a summary for advanced imagers, a recap for intermediate, and accessible to the beginner.

Biography

John Kroon studied physics at James Madison University and earned his BS in 2010 focusing on particle physics. He continued studying experimental particle physics in grad school at George Mason University where he had the opportunity to travel to CERN in Switzerland to further develop his career in that field. Despite the allure of the megalithic accelerator, he decided to switch to astrophysics. He got his PhD in computational astrophysics in 2016 and then went on to the Naval Research Lab as an NRC postdoc for two years. Currently, he is working as a data scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) in Arlington. He enjoys astrophotography whenever it is clear on the weekends.