Archive for July 2020

National Moon Day, 51 Years Later: By Guest Host, James Mullaney

July 20, 2020


National Moon Day on July 20th commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969. NASA reported the moon landing as being “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.”

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 carried the first humans to the moon. Six hours after landing on the moon, American Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface. He spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft. Buzz Aldrin soon followed, stepping onto the lunar surface. After joining Armstrong, the two men collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material. Their specimens would make the journey back to Earth to be analyzed. 


In 1971, President Richard Nixon proclaimed National Moon Landing Day on July 20th to honor the anniversary of man’s first moon landing. However, no continuing resolution followed.

Enter Richard Christmas. He took up the baton by launching a “Christmas Card” writing campaign. The Michigan native wrote to governors and members of Congress in all 50 states urging them to create National Moon Day. He achieved some success, too. By July of 1975, 12 states sponsored bills observing Moon Day.

Another modern-day supporter of National Moon Day is Astronomer James J. Mullaney. He knows a few things about the moon, too. As a former Curator of Exhibits and Astronomy at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium, Mullaney is on a mission. He says, “If there’s a Columbus Day on the calendar, there certainly should be a Moon Day!” His goal is a federally recognized holiday.

In 2019, President Donald Trump proclaimed July 20th as the 50th Anniversary Observance of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing. However, no National Moon Day has been declared. 

Comet NEOWISE: July 16, 2020

July 17, 2020

I received the following digital images and visual description of Comet NEOWISE as following.  

Thank you for sharing…Roger Ivester


By Mario Motta from Massachusetts:   

My images of Comet NEOWISE, which I took last night (July 16th) after waiting two weeks for a clear sky!  

The wide field image was taken from my deck facing north, across the Ipswich bay, 10 sec exposure with a Nikon 7100 DSLR camera and a 70mm lens.  

The “close up” image was made using a 200mm lens for 15 seconds, as the comet has a two degree tail…actually two tails!  

One is the dust tail which has a yellowish/golden color, and the other being the ion tail which appears bluish.   

The comet was higher in sky last night (July 17th) so I was able to get a darker background. The following image of comet NEOWISE was stacking 10 images, and some light processing

Taken with a Nikon DSLR camera and 130mm telephoto lens, 10 sec subs at 5000 ASA

I managed to tweak out the blue ion tail in the image with the dust tail being yellow. 

Visually:  I could not see the ion tail, but with binoculars…only a hint. 

Mario Motta 


This following image from Monday night (7-20-2020) shows that the comet is clearly getting dimmer…last night even hard to see.

Stack of 25 images 15 sec each through Nikon at 130mm focal length asa set 5000.

Stacked and lightly processed. Image a bit noisy in the distant dust tail, because getting dimmer and S/N lower. If it gets a bit higher, I will switch to getting images of the comet head through my scopes (so far in the one part of the sky hidden by the peak of my roof in the north side of my observatory!)

Should have made the observatory 10 feet higher… 🙂

All images were taken with a camera mounted on a portable mount for tracking on my deck.   Mario Motta 



By Richard Nugent from Massachusetts

The following two Comet NEOWISE photos were made using a Sony DSC-HX1 camera. The wide field view had these settings: ISO 125; +0.3EV; f/2.8 and 15 second exposure. The closeup shot had these settings: ISO 800; +2.0EV; f/4.5 and 10 second exposure. 

As darkness fell, the comet became visible in 10 x 50 binoculars and then to the unaided eye. Visually, the comet appeared as a short, faint gash of light with a brighter, but still a faint head was visible. My best views were with the binoculars. The binoculars showed the prominent head and the tail which extended 3 to 4º’s upwards from the horizon.

I also had on hand a 3-inch Unitron refractor. While the comet’s head was quite prominent, but could not discern any detail. The dust tail was yellowish orange, likely due to the tail reflecting sunlight and the comet’s low altitude. I couldn’t see a shadow from the head, nor could I detect any fine detail in the tail. As the comet climbs higher in the sky, I’m hoping it will remain bright.

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