Stellafane 2019 by Guest Host: Mario Motta

Posted August 5, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

https://stellafane.org/

Entering Stellafane:  I always feel like I am going home. 

I have been attending Stellafane since 1967. This was my 46th (I missed 5 years due to medical school and internship, and 1999 when I went to an eclipse in Hungary), so…I have been attending for a 52 year span. 

My Children have been gong with me since birth, and still attend nearly every year, and this year my 4 year old granddaughter joined as well!, In fact also had a niece and her three kids, and “extended family event”.

There are many star parties these days across the country, all done very nicely….but there is one and only one Stellafane, whose focus remains telescope making, and which has a rich history. 

Stellafane was founded in 1926 by Russell Porter with the Springfield Telescope Makers and with help from the Boston ATMoB. 

Its purpose was to teach how to make telescopes for the common man.  And prior to that, if an American wanted a telescope, it had to be shipped from Europe at a huge expense. By teaching all how to make them, costs became less of a issue. 

Scientific American took notice and published a string of articles about this back then, launching American Amateur Astronomy (and to some extent professional astronomy!) With this success, Russell Porter was noticed, and hired to work on the famed 200-inch Mount Palomar Telescope in California. 

Stellafane is a registered historical landmark.

I learned how to make telescopes from this group, and was encouraged to excel at every turn, build them bigger and better. We still give out awards for homemade telescopes to this day.  (I am in fact one of the mechanical judges, as well as the camp physician, which is my way of giving back)

I plan on attending for the rest of my life, and will never willingly miss a year.  This year, there was over a thousand attendees, and 35 telescope entries for judging.

Photos: 

1. Stellafane: Entry

2. Next generation being enticed, my Josephine (note her t-shirt says: “Forget princess, I want to be a rocket scientist”

3. Pink Clubhouse, historical registered landmark “The heavens declare the glory of God” on the roof trim.

4. Inside the Pink, oozes with history:  Images from Mt Palomar construction, images from Mt Wilson, and much more…)

5. The porter Turret telescope, was built by Russell Porter for cold Vermont winters.  The mirror sits on the boom and the focus is Inside the building

6. Bert Willard inside the porter scope (In 1979 I bought my first large mirror blank at Stellafane from him, a 16-inch blank, spent 4 years as a resident grinding and building a portable 16-inch scope. I had built an 8-inch as a teenager, but this one cemented my love of astronomy

7. Flanders Paviliion:  Talks are held here. 

8. McGreggor Observatory with roll-off roof. 

9. Shupman Telescope: This is the largest Shupman in the world…a 13-inch marvel.  Nothing on this planet, I have ever viewed through equals this scope. It was designed and built by Scott Milligan, the same lens designer who designed my 32-inch telescope. You need to see Jupiter Mars and Saturn through this one. Voyager like viewing!

10 Simoni Observatory: Newest at Stellafane, a solar heliostat, you sit in the building and observe in H-alpha.

11. Many scopes observing field.

12. McGreggor, the field, and the relatively new dome for handicapped individuals. 

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next generation- (josephine and me)

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inside the Pink

the porter

 

bert willard in the porter

Flanders Pavillion

McGreggor

shupman

simoni observatory

observing field

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Mario Motta 

Stellafane 2019 by Guest Host: Glenn Chaple

Posted August 5, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

https://stellafane.org/

I had a nice time at Stellafane this year. Made it a brief day trip, as I brought my brother Bob with me and he’s not into astronomy like me. His wife died a month ago and I thought a Stellafane visit would get his mind off things for awhile.

We arrived at Breezy Hill around 11am and immediately went to the swap table. It was pretty well cleared out by this time and I wasn’t really in the mood for astro-goodies anyway. Amazingly, I found a guy who, besides astro gear, was selling brand-new fishing rods for just $10 each. Bob had broken his rod when we went fishing last weekend, so I bought him one as an early birthday present. That alone made the trip worthwhile!

Most of the day, I showed him around the Stellafane grounds and introduced him to friends I meet each time I go there. Among them was Sue French and her husband Al. I congratulated her on her success in taking over the “Deep Sky Wonders” column in Sky and Telescope.

The weather was surprisingly nice, despite predictions of afternoon showers. As darkness approached, I set up my 4.5-inch Orion Dob in the observing field next to ATMoB member Steve Clougherty’s 18-inch scope.

Roger Ivester:  You’ll be proud of me.  I took your advice about observing future Observer’s Challenge objects and viewed the July, 2021, target NGC 6572 – a PN in Ophiuchus. I checked it out first in Steve’s scope, then with the 4.5-inch, making a sketch using that scope. There was enough haze to add some murk to the normally clear and dark Stellafane skies, so Steve and I showed Bob a few showpieces – Jupiter and Saturn, some bright doubles (beta Sco, Mizar, and Albireo through my scope), and M3 through the 18-inch before Bob and I left Breezy Hill at 10:30pm.

Bob didn’t become an addicted backyard astronomer after his Stellafane trip, but he did enjoy himself. As he told my friends there, he came because he wanted to see what this place I constantly talk about is like,​ and he was impressed by the scenery and the camaraderie.

James Mullaney:  To answer your questions:

Camping areas are scattered all around Stellafane East. Stellafane West is the heart of the convention and is comprised of the pink clubhouse and Porter Turrett Telescope and is the site of the telescope-making competition. Stellafane East was added after the 1980s when the farmer who let us use a field near the clubhouse as a camping area died, and his sons wanted to use the area to build condos. They were thwarted when the Springfield Telescope Makers had the Stellafane site designated as a national historical site. In spite, the farmer’s family turned the field into a Christmas tree farm, but the Springfield Club was able to purchase nearby acres, and -voila!- Stellafane East. There isn’t a banquet pre se. A local vendor sets up a large tent and seating area, and lobster and chicken dinners are served (ordered in advance when registering for Stellafane). Hot dogs, hamburgers, and Italian sausage grinders are also offered. In its heyday, about 2000 people would attend the Stellafane Convention. I didn’t ask for a count, but those of us there estimated perhaps as much as a thousand.

I’ve attached two pictures which I took at Stellafane. The first is the view you get when you leave the wooded trail leading up to the clubhouse and reach the clearing at the top of Breezy hill.

Each year I come to Stellafane, I take a shot of this view, then take individual shots of the telescopes entered in the competition (didn’t “shoot” the scopes this year).

In the pic is the pink clubhouse and the Porter Turret Telescope. Back in 1996, I notified the Springfield Telescope Makers that September was the 50th anniversary of Walter Scott Houston’s first “Deep Sky Wonders” column in Sky and Telescope. Sadly, the magazine didn’t mention the fact. Scotty was a regular at Stellafane and, in appreciation, they invited me to join them on Breezy Hill on a clear September evening. What a difference from the clamoring crowds! It was just me and a few dozen club members. We used the Turret Telescope to view the objects Scotty had featured in that September, 1946, column. M11, M27, and M57. The real thrill came when we turned to the moon for a close-up view of Clavius Crater. A large crater invading its wall was named after Porter. Imagine looking at Porter Crater through a telescope designed (and possibly worked on) by the man it was named for!

The second photo shows me and Bob standing in front of the pink clubhouse. The guy in the red T-shirt and white cap to my right is Phil Harrington who has written several backyard astronomy guides and is the binocular columnist for Astronomy. I told him and the guys sitting next to him (friends who run the Astronomer’s Conjunction Convention in Northfield, MA) that they didn’t need to move. I’d just Photoshop them out of the picture!

A final observation. I walked the entire half mile up and down the wooded path to the clubhouse with no difficulty at all – a good sign that my heart has improved over its condition during the previous two  years.

Clear Skies,

Glenn Chaple

NGC 5377 – Galaxy – Canes Venatici – June 2019 Observer’s Challenge Object

Posted July 3, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

Observer’s Challenge Report:

JUNE 2019 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-5377

Pencil sketch:  10-inch reflector @ 160x 

Image by Mario Motta – 32-inch reflector 

NGC5377-

NGC 6482 – Galaxy in Hercules – July 2019 Observer’s Challenge Object

Posted April 30, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Observer’s Challenge Report:  JULY 2019 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-6482

In an attempt to observe the July Observer’s Challenge object, galaxy NGC 6482, a bit early to avoid the heat and high humidity of June and most of the summer months, here in the foothills of North Carolina:  

Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 reflector.  I went out last night at about 2:00 AM (May 30th) only to find a not so transparent sky, with a NELM of about 4.6, temperature 55º and with 99% humidity.  The high moisture mixed with high-pollen created a bright sky for sure!

However, while outside, I thought I’d make the best of it and give the galaxy a try.  At 2:00 AM the object was still too low in the east, but I wanted to find the “spot” and work on the object.  At about 3:30 it was high enough to get serious.  

At 5:00 AM, I called it quits, as the sky was beginning to brighten.  This might be a difficult object from my backyard with a 10-inch reflector.

On a better night in June.  Pencil sketch with the colors inverted.  Roger Ivester

Rogers NGC-6482 Inverted 

NGC 6482

The following Notes and image by Mario Motta from Massachusetts, 32-inch telescope:

NGC6482, is a small lenticular galaxy.

I can see why the visual observer would have difficulty….due to having a star just off center of the galaxy center, and just as bright!   So…the slightly fainter outer galaxy would be hard to see by the contrast, a bit of sort or similar to the blinking planetary. 

I had to do some special processing to enhance the star, and slightly de-enhance the galaxy so both can be seen.  Mario Motta 

NGC6482

NGC 6482:  Observation Notes and Sketch by Sue French:

I  took a look at NGC 6482 on Friday, May 24 at 12am EDT with my 254/1494mm (10-inch f/5.8) Newtonian.  The seeing was below average, and the transparency was fair.

At 43× NGC 6482 is just a little fuzzball.  It dangles beneath (south of) the base of a slender, 6.3′-tall trapezoid made by four 11th-magnitude stars.  At 115× the galaxy presents an oval glow tipped northeast by east and sports a superimposed star near the galaxy’s center. 

The sketch was made at 187×, at which this petite galaxy wears a fainter fringe and appears roughly 0.7′ long.  The galaxy showed no core, and I’ll be interested in finding out whether anybody else spotted one. 

Perhaps the proximity of the superimposed star hid the core, or maybe one would show if viewed higher in the sky.  It was about 52° above the horizon when I observed it.   Sue French 

NGC 6482 inv.jpg

 

It’s Important To Make Notes and Photos To Preserve The Past: by Roger Ivester

Posted April 21, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

April 21st 2019:  Easter Sunday 

After church, Debbie and I had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in Boiling Springs.  And afterwards, we decided to take a drive out into the country, mostly upper Cleveland County, where I grew up.  

Lunch at the Italian Garden:

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First Stop:  A hidden pond not far from Polkville.  I found out about this pond in the spring of 1968.  I was sick one morning and my cousin, Steve Ivester, must have been sick also.  

However, we both must have started feeling better, as Steve came by to pick me up for some fishing at several local ponds.  

It was absolutely amazing, but my headache was miraculously now gone, and I was suddenly feeling great!  I was too young to drive, but Steve had his drivers license and a car!     

The first was the hidden woodland pond, pictured below, which I never knew existed and have not been back since…until today!!!    

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Second Stop:  The creek where my brothers and I spent many hot summer afternoons, when I was “really” young.  Note the pillars on each side.  This was where the original bridge crossed the creek on Tan Yard Road.  When I was a little kid, this tiny creek seemed like a raging river.  

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Third Stop:  The Tan Yard Cemetery, which has many old graves, some of them being my ancestors. 

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On May 5th 1989:  

Upper Cleveland County and many other adjoining counties encountered an F4 tornado (an F5 tornado is the most powerful category)  that destroyed many homes and causing much damage.  There was also many injuries and a few deaths.  

The following is a hole in a mortar joint at Kistler’s United Methodist Church, just off the Lawndale-Casar Highway.  

The tornado came very close to the church, but for most part, damaged only the steeple.  

Amazing!  but the tornado seems to have split into two separate funnels, and spared the church from its complete fury.  A splinter from a piece of wood, propelled by the tornado, penetrated the mortar joint by 3/4-inch, as my car key illustrates.   

The splinter remained in place for the longest time, until someone pulled it out.    

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In what I called the weedy field (pictured at the bottom) was just to the west of my childhood home, and is the place I made my first astronomical observation in the fall of 1966, at the age of 13.  I used  my brother Jim’s, small equatorially mounted 60 mm refractor telescope.      

This spawned my interest in astronomy.  I’ve been a serious student ever since and have quite a few published astronomy articles.  

And purchasing many telescopes over the years, however, at this time, I’m down to only five.  

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In 2009, I became the co-founder of an international observing report, which celebrated 122 consecutive reports as of March, 2019.  At that time it was called the Las Vegas Astronomical Society Observer’s Challenge report.  However, due to the participation of so many from all across the country, and even as far away as Finland, the name was changed to “simply” the Observer’s Challenge. 

My co-founder in this endeavor was/is Fred Rayworth of Las Vegas.  

In 2012, I was fortunate to have been able to facilitate a donation of a $50,000 telescope and robotic mount to the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.  The donor was North Carolina doctor, Dr. James Hermann, MD of Lincolnton, NC.  

This telescope is now operational on top of Mount Potosi in Southern Nevada,   only thirty miles SW, but quite a few mountain peaks from the lights of Las Vegas.  

Mount Potosi has quite the history:  

Both Debbie and I were given honorary lifetime memberships to the Las Vegas Astronomical Society for this facilitation.  An article concerning was featured in Astronomy Magazine, several newspapers, including the Las Vegas Review Journal and other publications.   

https://rogerivester.com/2016/12/04/mount-potosi-observing-complex-las-vegas-astronomical-society-an-aerial-photo-by-james-yeager-pilot-american-airlines/

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Where were you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated?   For me, I was at the ball field at Polkville School.  

 Polkville School: At that time it was 1st thru 5th and then 9th thru the 12th grade.

On that fateful day, Friday, November 22nd 1963 @ 12:30 PM EST, I was in the 5th grade, and with my classmates, playing near the ball field backstop.  

When we when inside, the news of the assignation was playing on a walnut colored “wooden” speaker in the corner of Mrs. Elliott’s classroom.  We were all looking up at the speaker, as if it were a video.  

The following is a “current photo” of the backstop where my 5th grade class had been playing at recess, before coming inside to hear the news of the events of that fateful day in Dallas, Texas. 

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It was November 1965, and my oldest brother Richard, took me, my brother Phillip, and Charles Hicks (Richards brother-in-law) to the drive-in to see a Nascar movie, titled “Red Line 7000.”  

It became really foggy on our trip back home.   

When we turned off highway 226, and headed up the hill heading toward Lawndale on Shelby Road, we saw spotlights and emergency vehicles on the left, just beyond the crest of the hill.  

There was a yellow Piper Club which had crashed within 50 yards of the highway.  We stopped and found out the pilot was killed.  

If you look at the photo below, the plane crashed just beside the tree line, on the edge of the field.  Maybe just to the right of the largest tree and behind the two outermost fence posts.     

Charles (Charlie) Hicks would later have a distinguished career in the Air Force, flying A-10’s, Stealths and other fighter planes.  

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My second witnessing of another Piper Cub crash:  

I was about six or seven years old?  My daddy took me for a BBQ sandwich in Shelby.  The location was in the curve going north on highway 18, just beyond the hospital.  

The BBQ restaurant had a circle “gravel drive” with curb service.  It was a favorite hangout for teenagers at that time.  Actually somewhat like the movie “American Graffiti” when cruising was the most popular thing to do.  

When we pulled into the restaurant drive…just on the other side of the road, there was a Yellow Piper Cub, standing right on its nose in a completely vertical position.  The pilot was killed.  It was said or “alleged” that he ran out of fuel, after departing the Shelby Airport.  

A photo of the crash location:  When looking across the road from “now” Bernhardt Furniture, the plane was vertical in the yard, between the two houses.  The year was about 1960-1961?  So I would have been in the first or second grade.  

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Airplane crashes, got me thinking…..

This got me thinking about the man who fell out of a DC-3, and falling into the cemetery at Zion Baptist Church.  Something I’d heard about for so many years while attending Polkville Elementary School.  (1959-1964)  

The date of this tragic event can be seen below:  

June 13, 1956.  There are lots of stories that have been told about this, but the man “allegedly” opened the door and fell out.  No one will ever know the full story.   

Debbie and I had searched the cemetery this afternoon for the longest time, looking for the marker, indicating the exact location of where Mr. Pruett, died upon impact.    

Without any luck, we were leaving, but as luck would have it, we met Dennis Wright and his granddaughter riding in a golf cart in the church drive.  

Dennis has been a member of Zion Church for many years, and he and his granddaughter took us to the spot.

Dennis said that the church custodian “on that fateful day in June 1956” heard the sound of Mr. Pruitt descending from the sky, and also impact.   

Dennis said:  “I’ve taught a men’s Sunday School class at this church for thirty years, and twenty of my class members are now in that cemetery.  And I’ve often told them how many untold stories lie in the cemetery.  I’ve encouraged them to write down their stories to pass-on to the next generation.”  Dennis Wright 

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Not necessarily a fond memory, but I remember being sick in the late 50’s and very early 60’s, visiting Dr. Edwards, who was my great-uncle (my grandmothers brother.)  

His office or practice was in Toluca, only a few miles from the crossroads of Belwood, just off highway 18.  

The rock building is still there, but as the photos indicate, it’s in really bad condition with the roof collapsing in many places.  The once waiting room has an open sky.

Note the “black” front door in the second photo, which was the original door from at least the 50’s

I remember that alcohol and sanitary smell, and dreading that “most of the time” a penicillin shot in my hip.  Ouch!  

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Next to come:  The “Delight Alligator” (Delight is a small community, mostly just a crossroads) between Polkville and Casar.  Yes, there was an alligator, about 7-8 feet in length in Paul Whisnant’s pond.  How did an alligator get in that fish pond?  A pond that my school bus traveled by so many times going to Polkville Elementary School, and back home in the evenings.  

And who would ever have thought that an alligator could live and apparently thrive in the upper foothills of North Carolina?  

I’ll write more about this, if I can find out more specific information.  

Beaver Dam Baptist Church and a falling tree: 

About twenty years ago while getting out of my car at Beaver Dam Baptist Church, near the cemetery, I noticed a granite marker under some oak trees.  It was a marker to locate the exact spot where a man named “David B. Green” was killed by a falling tree on January 20th 1925.  

I was told by a source today (May 12th 2019) that he had heard the following “alleged story” years ago:  

When the man cut the tree, it twisted on the stump and a large limb “apparently” hit him in the head causing his death.  

I’ve always found this marker very interesting, and on many occasions while coming and going over the years, would find myself stopping at the site and thinking about this event that happened 94 years ago this year (2019). 

The marker is located only fifteen-feet or so feet from Beaver Dam Highway, as shown in the second photo.  

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Please check back, much more local history to come.  I’m hopeful to add more interesting entries whenever time allows.   Roger Ivester

AMA Light Pollution Study Concerning Highway Safety and The Heath Hazards: By Guest Host, Mario Motta, MD, FACC

Posted April 16, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

     I have been a light pollution advocate for many years. Certainly 30 years ago I was most interested in the skyglow that affects our view of the starry sky, and though that remains a major concern, I have since learned of the many medical, safety, and environmental concerns that are paramount. On an energy committee on my town, I was able to show that poorly lit intersections with severe glare by unshielded lighting had the highest accident rate.  

      Further review of published studies has shown that as the eye ages, it becomes much more sensitive to disability glare, impairing safe driving. That led to my 2009 AMA resolution that suggested that all streetlights be properly shielded to prevent such glare to make streets safer, allowing elderly to drive in the evening safer. This resolution is still cited by lighting companies.

     In 2012 knowing the research activities of many scientists in the world on the effects of night time lighting on human physiology, I invited 4 prominent researchers to help me write a CSAPH report “Light Pollution: Adverse health effects of Nighttime lighting”.

     This 27 page report with 134 peer reviewed references highlighted the adverse health effects of circadian rhythm disturbance. Suppressing melatonin production by excessive night lighting, especially blue light, leads to myriad health deleterious health effects. 

      The most stunning is an increase in certain endocrine related carcinomas. It is now well known that circadian disturbance causes a 15-20% increase in breast cancer rates, and a similar increase in prostrate cancers. Indeed, this past year (2017) the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Young, Rosbach, and Hall, the groundbreaking research that elucidated the biochemical pathways that lead to increased illnesses by melatonin suppression. Cancer rates, obesity, diabetes, metabolism issues, and immune system are all affected by melatonin suppression. The World health organization has even listed shift workers, who have repeated melatonin suppression as a “known Carcinogen, level 2”. 

      After the 2012 report came out there was some pushback from the lighting industry, however, in 2014 General Electric wrote its own “white paper” on this subject, and not only agreed with the AMA report, by liberally quoted from my report, stating that corporate policy would change to take note of melatonin production in its lighting policies and products. Shortly after that Apple developed a blue reduction in its phones and computers for late night. Many other companies have since adopted this practice. Again, with the Nobel Prize, and over 1000 peer reviewed papers, this now settled science! The last section of the 2012 report also raised the alarm that excessive outdoor blue light was also causing environmental harm, as all living creatures have a circadian rhythm, even one celled organisms!

      In the ensuing years the lighting industry has developed LED lighting with plans to replace all outdoor lighting with LED’s over the next 10 years, but were poised to use excessive blue producing 4000K LEDs. Given my 2012 paper, and many reports of environmental damage by excessive blue, I was able to move the CSAPH to let me lead on one more report “Human and Environmental  Effects of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Community Lighting” adopted at the AMA annual 2016 meeting by the HOD. This particular report hit a nerve with the lighting industry. The report actually says however that we should indeed replace outdoor lighting with LED lights to save energy, but still shield all streetlights to prevent glare, that was widely accepted. The last resolve stating that blue light should be limited in outdoor lighting and streetlights should use low blue emitting 3000K or lower color temperature led to severe consternation in the lighting industry. 

     The issue was many companies were trying to sell 4000K lighting, as those were the first type of LED’s that were manufactured. They had inventory already made. LED lights use a blue LED and coat it to absorb the blue and re-emit at lower “warmer” color temperature, eg 3000K. 4000K lighting is 30-34% blue light. The 2012 paper and thousands of studies have already shown this is bad for humans and the environment in general.  The AMA report suggested no higher than 3000K. Nowadays, there is good 2700K lighting, and even 2400K lighting as well, and the trend is lower. There is evidence that high blue leads to severe insect, bird, and mammalian effects in nature. It has even been shown to affect salmon runs, and even plankton!

     When this AMA report came out it was hailed by researchers, and many cities paused to study it closely. They came to the same conclusion, and demanded warmer 3000k or even 2700K lighting. Many companies changed their products and are now thriving, others are still fighting.  

     To date most large cities now have adopted the AMA recommendation, and in fact some (like Toronto) state in their lighting that they are “AMA Compliant Lighting” !! To date, New York, Chicago, Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Georgia, Toronto, Montreal, and many others have changed their lighting plans and demand 3000K or lower. This is helped by the fact that wherever 4000K lighting was installed, citizens immediately complained about the harsh glare bluish light.

     Some cities such as Monterey and Davis in California even sued their cities, and demanded a switch to 3000K or lower. Just a few weeks ago (March 2019), the city of Seattle, an early user of 4000K lighting, announced that all 4000K lighting which was recently installed, will be removed and replaced by 3000K lighting due to multiple citizen complaints. 

     Any town contemplating installing LED lighting should take note of the fact that essentially everywhere 4000K and excessive lighting has been installed, they are universally detested and abhorred. Don’t make an expensive mistake and install this type of lighting.

      The 2016 report has in the words of many lighting engineers “revolutionized” the lighting industry. This would not have occurred without the AMA putting this report out there forcing lighting companies to address the human health and environmental effects of the lighting they produce. This would not have happened without our AMA report.

Mario Motta, MD, FACC  

https://www.mariomottamd.com/

 

 

Improving My Backyard Deck Into a Better Observatory, a Nice Comfortable Nook For Debbie and I. The New Privacy Fence and Storage Shed Shields Ambient Lighting When Using My Telescope.

Posted April 12, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

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Back side close up: 

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New Shed for deck storage:

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Deck before renovation, modifications, and additions.  

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Now back to my privacy fence:   

The majority of my astronomical telescopic observing, for the past 35 years has been from my backyard deck.  It received a major renovation and enlargement about 15 years ago.  My NELM from this deck is normally about 5.0-5.2 on an excellent night.  On a cold and crisp winter night on occasion, the NELM can reach 5.5 at the zenith.  

For at least the past five or more years, I’d thought about adding a bit of privacy for both my observing and when my wife and I choose to just sit, relax, and talk.  

During the day, I can use my computer to write astronomy articles, emails to my many astronomy friends across the country and beyond. I can work on the Observer’s Challenge report, which just celebrated 123 consecutive months, as of April 2019.  

The Observer’s Challenge report is an international amateur astronomers report, which allows any and all serious amateurs the opportunity to share their observations…being notes, pencil sketches or images, of a predetermined  deep-sky object each and every month.  I co-founded this with the Las Vegas resident, Fred Rayworth of the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.  

Back to the privacy fence:   

The fence blocks the sun until late morning, and with Debbie’s new outdoor umbrella, we can enjoy it….should we choose.  The other day, it became a bit too warm, so we now have a fan that works extremely well.  So much breeze, that paper weights are necessary for books and related.  

On selected nights, when it’s clear and without a moon, I can use one of my many telescopes to observe deep-sky objects, galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters from this suburban deck.    

I also like to make eyepiece/telescope pencil sketches.  An example as following:  A few sketches of faint and distant galaxies.   

Rogers NGC-2300 Inverted

Rogers NGC-2964 Invereted

Rogers NGC-4236 Inverted b

Roger Ivester