January 21, 2019

13.10.09:A Hawaiian Mega-scope?

The green light was given earlier this year in mid-July as to the site selection for a telescope that if built, will be the largest in the world. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be parked atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, home to a collection of scopes, including the Keck, Subaru, and Gemini instruments. As its name suggests, this telescope will sport a reflecting 30 meter mirror comprised of 492 hexagonal segments and operate in the near infrared as well as visible light. Its to be seen whether this will move the environmental lobby to protest as construction on Mauna Kea did in 2002. A point often missed in these debates is that the telescopes themselves need pristine dark skies to operate; this assures that over-development in the form of Costcos and subdivisions won’t visit the slopes of Mauna Kea anytime soon. A follow-up contender for the TMT is Mt. Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert in Chile, also dubbed the “most eligible mountain without an observatory.” The seeing is also a bit better in the Atacama, but of course that would mean the exodus of more American science (and dollars) overseas. The European Union is also eying Armazones for a possible site for its two main contenders: the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) at 24.5 meters, and the European Extremely Large Telescope (EELT) at a whooping 42 meters. Its sobering to think that these mega scopes may be the final say of large aperture on Earth; at a proposed 2 billion dollars to build the TMT, it becomes more cost effective to carry on further “aperture wars” in space!

05.10.09 The 3rd Annual Great World Wide Star Count!

Tired of the deteriorating sky conditions in your neighborhood? Remember a childhood when the Milky way was visible in your backyard, such as it was in our native rural northern Maine? Now there is something that you can do about it. The Great World Wide Star Count wants you to measure the limiting magnitude from your locale in an effort to document light pollution. Its simple; if you can locate the constellation Cygnus in the northern hemisphere and Sagittarius in the southern, then you can participate. No equipment is required, just your eyes, and a tutorial is included on the site. This is the third year around for the Star Count, and we’ve participated here at Astroguyz for the last two years running. It’s great fun to see the reports from various areas, as well as were the astronomers are! This year, the dates run from October 9th to the 23rd, and you can enter reports from multiple sites…put your town on the map! Post Anti-Light Pollution slogans! Show the neighbor the damage that vintage “Battle of Britain” anti-aircraft spotlight is causing! We prefer to document our impressions of the sky for later entry via digital voice recorder, but you’ll no doubt settle on your own system. Now is the time to try a “dry-run” a night or two before the Count starts Friday…anyone thought of posting observations via Twitter? What would be really great is to get reports from such off-the-wall locales such as Thule, Greenland or Poipet, Cambodia…do your part to raise light pollution awareness in your neighborhood!