I took my kids to this past Thursday’s South Jersey Astronomy Club meeting. We stopped at a Wawa prior to going so the kids could get a Hot Chocolate. Wanted to make it fun and they love Hot Chocolate. There were 2 other kids there which was great. 15 in all attended.
So what do I want out of a club meeting? Not sure, but I’m closer to figuring that out now. Every meeting the club does an opening, then they do what is called a “Roundtable”. That’s where each member gets to describe their astronomy activities over the last month. Listening to what others are doing is very educational. Some do very little, some spend an enormous amount. Some do visual without any binoculars, scopes etc… while others have home observatories! It makes me feel not as bad that I’m not out every night etc… Some nights I’m exhausted- especially after this last week. Here it is Sunday and I’m just getting back to normal sleep.
After the roundtable, then the more formal part of the meeting, Mike Keith leads us through the Universe. He does an enormous amount of observing each month, and shares his photos with us. Now most folks would just show the pictures. Not Mike. He takes his time and explains everything in the photo. What looks like to me, a rookie is just a bunch of stars, to him is planetary nebula, open clusters, globular clusters, galaxies, asteroids etc… And he knows how far away they are. We even got to see a Super-Nova that occurred in October this year. Amazing! My daughter took my December 2016 Sky & Telescope up to Mike to get an autograph. His photo was on page 73. Check it out.
We covered a cool topic TRUMPler Classification system (No Political Pun intended). This is a classification system for open clusters:
The Trumpler system requires the observer specify three features of the open cluster, the degree of concentration, the range of brightness (magnitude) of the stars in the cluster, and the number of stars in the cluster.
Degree of Concentration
I Detached clusters with strong central concentration
II Detached clusters with little central concentration
III Detached cluster with no noticeable concentration
IV Clusters not well detached, but has a strong field concentration
Range of Brightness
1 Most of the cluster stars are nearly the same apparent brightness
2 A medium range of brightness between the stars in the cluster
3 Cluster is composed of bright and faint stars
Number of Stars in the Cluster
p Poor clusters with less than 50 stars
m Medium rich cluster with 50-100 stars
r Rich clusters with over 100 stars
The Trumpler system denotes open clusters with any type of nebulosity (including light and dark nebula) with an “n” at the end of the classification. For example, a nebula surrounds the open cluster NGC 3293; therefore, the Trumpler classification for NGC 3293 is I3rn.
Learning with folks who have a common interest is the best part of the club for me.
Well, that’s all for now