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Skywatch for the week of January 27 , 2020

Tue Jan 28, 2020 ASTRONOMY CLUB MEET/ASTRONOMY DAY At tonight’s meeting of the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society, club members will discuss astrophotography, and how to take really good pictures of the moon, planets, stars, nebulas and galaxies using a camera and a telescope. This astronomy club is made up of amateurs, but the quality of their photograhs is amazingly professional. I’ve even seen them get good moon images just by holding up a smartphone to the telescope eyepiece. Everyone is welcome to attend this panel discussion, which will start at 7:30 pm at the Science Center on Indian River State College’s Fort Pierce campus on Virginia Avenue. Besides astrophotography, there will be lots of planning for the upcoming astronomy day event that will take place this coming Saturday, on February 1st, from 3 o’clock pm until 9 pm. The Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will even be giving away three telescopes that afternoon. Astronomy Day will also be at the Science Center and the Hallstrom Planetarium.
Wed Jan 29, 2020 HEVELIUS The Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius was born on January 28, 1611. His family had money, as they owned the largest brewery in Gdansk, then known as Danzig. He used his fortune to build an observatory and study the moon, planets and stars in the heavens. Hevelius’ eyesight was so good that he could make better measurements of star positions than was possible with many of the telescopes available at the time. He made the first moon atlas, and named many lunar features, such as the Ocean of Storms, the Sea of Rain, the Sea of Tranquility – all in Latin, of course – Mare Imbrium, Mare Tranquilitatis, and so on. He also took the names of various mountain ranges on earth, such as the Alps, the Appenines, and the Caucasus, and applied them to the mountain-like walls of lunar craters. And Hevelius made up many new constellation patterns that we recognize today, such as Lynx the Bobcat, Vulpecula the Fox, Scutum the Shield, Lacerta the Lizard, Leo Minor the Little Lion and the hunting dogs called Canes Venatici.
Thur Jan 30, 2020 EDGAR ALLAN POE AND THE EVENING STAR The American writer Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 18th in the year 1809. Most of us are familiar with his stories, such as, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” which have even been made into movies. But in 1848, the last big work that Poe wrote before his untimely death was something called, Eureka, in which he discussed astronomy and the universe. While Poe was no professional astronomer, he kept up with the latest discoveries and theories, and in Eureka he suggests that the Universe is expanding, which was confirmed over 70 years after his death. And in his poem, “Evening Star,” he compares the cold, heartless light of the moon to the warm light of Venus appearing in the western twilight (always makes me think of that bit of poetry at the end of the Moody Blues album, Knights in White Satin: “Cold hearted orb that rules the night…” This evening, you can compare Venus to the moon yourself: Venus is that brilliant “star” off to the west of the moon.
Fri Jan 31, 2020 ASTRONOMY DAY The Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will host Astronomy Day at Indian River State College this Saturday, February 1st, from 3 pm until 9 pm, at the Planetarium and Science Center. There will be meteorite displays, telescope clinics, safe, filtered guided views of the sun, weather permitting, plus guest speakers, star talks in the planetarium theater, and much more. Bring your telescope to the telescope clinic and the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will show you how to make it work! And when it gets dark that evening, we hope to provide telescopic views of the moon, as well as the planet Venus plus a few stars and deep sky objects. This astronomy day event is free, no tickets are necessary. So come on out tomorrow, dress warm, bring a lounge chair for viewing the sky and we’ll see you at the Hallstrom Planetarium and the IRSC Science Center at 30th Street and Virginia Avenue on the Fort Pierce campus.