Williamson County Astronomy Club

Past Meeting Program Subjects

The Williamson County Astronomy Club offers meeting programs covering subjects of interest to both armchair astronomers and observers alike.  Listed here is a sampling of our past meeting programs.

January 5, 2017

"Detecting Gravitational Waves"
A century after Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves with his general theory of relativity, they were finally detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in Louisiana and Washington in 2015.  The decades-long search for gravitational waves, and how LIGO was able to detect them, will be discussed by club member Mark Zell.

February 2, 2017

"Lessons From Relearning the Constellations"
About a year ago, club member Bob Beal embarked on a personal project to relearn the outlines of the constellations in the sky. In addition to just refreshing his memory of the outlines, he is also looking at the naming and ordering of stars in each constellation. During this process, he discovered a number of interesting facts about how stars are named and labeled within each constellation. (Traditionally, stars are labeled in order of their brightness in the constellation. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule.) He will highlight some of these exceptions and how they came to be.

March 2, 2017

"Building a Remote-Controlled Observatory"
Club member Dr. Ed Wiley will talk about his experiences in having an observatory built and then outfitting it for fully remote operation.

April 6, 2017

"Binoculars and Binocular Astronomy"
Binoculars and their use in astronomy will be the subject of a moderated discussion. A brief introduction to binocular types and their application to astronomy will be presented followed by general questions / answers / discussion of observing tips and techniques by all attendees. All members and visitors are encouraged to bring any binoculars they may own. Be ready to ask questions and share your own techniques for making binocular astronomy fun and rewarding. Following the discussion, we will move outside, if the skies are clear, and practice finding interesting objects in the sky.

May 4, 2017

"Astronomical Filters: Why These?"
Filters are a common accessory for visual observers and an indispensable necessity for astrophotographers. We commonly see Oiii, Ha, Hb, and others being used. Buy why these filters? What is it about the nature of the universe that requires us want to view with these common filters? Dr. Mark Bottorff of Southwestern University will discuss the processes that lead us to choosing certain filter wavelengths over others for particular objects.

June 1, 2017

"Hubble's Variable Nebula"
Club Member David Ault will present the preliminary results from an amateur-based study of Hubble's variable nebula. A group of wide-spread amateurs have been imaging this object over a period of months (and sometimes years) to document the changes that are going on. David has spearheaded the data reduction and present an overview of the project and early results.

July 6, 2017

"Hidden Deep Sky Gems of the Summer Skies"
Club member Pete Wehner will survey some of the often overlooked deep sky objects awaiting observers in during the summer months. All too often we get stuck in a rut looking at the same summer-time objects repeatedly. There are some real gems hiding in plain sight if we venture off the beaten path.

August 3, 2017

"Safe Solar Eclipse Viewing"
Members will share methods for safely viewing the sun and the solar eclipse which occurs on August 21. We will review safety procedures and demonstrate some of the many methods for watching the solar eclipse using both telescopes and safe easily-constructed Do-It-Yourself viewers.

September 7, 2017

"Using The Strasbourg Catalog"
Club member Ed Wiley will discuss the wealth of data contained within the Strasbourg Astronomical Data Center catalogs. He will provide an overview of how and why amateurs might want to use the data and also give a tutorial for accessing and searching the data archives.

October 5, 2017

"The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017"
Multiple club members will show results and describe their experiences in observing the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017.

November 2, 2017

"Eldorado Star Party Trip Reports"
Multiple club members will describe their experiences from attending this years Eldorado Star Party at the X-Bar Ranch in Eldorado, Texas.

December 7, 2017

"A Hubble Retrospective: My Favorite"
A short video retrospective of the Hubble Space Telescope will be shown. This will be followed by multiple club members showing off their favorite HST image explaining why it's their favorite and then describing a little background about the main subject of the image.