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Most of our events happen at the Chabot Space and Science Center. Get directions here.
Next General Meeting
Our Speaker is Timothy Thompson, Mt. Wilson Observatory, JPL Science Division (retired)
Mysterious Visitors from Outside Our Solar System: Oumuamua and Comet Borisov
As of today, only two objects have been observed, which can be definitively identified as of interstellar origin & destination: I1/‘Oumuamua & 2I/Borisov. ‘Oumuamua was an enigmatic object, visible only for about 2 weeks. While the high eccentricity of its orbit certainly makes it interstellar, it cannot be pinned down as either an asteroid or a comet, and is even consistent in some ways with an interstellar solar sail. On the other hand, there is no doubt about Borisov being a comet. And Borisov will be around long enough to study in more detail. So we have now begun the era of serious observation of interstellar objects in the solar system. For my talk I will present what we know so far about these two interstellar voyagers. And if a third comes around before I get there, I will try to squeeze that one in too.
Tim Thompson received his B.S. (1978) & M.S. (1985) degrees in physics from California State University at Los Angeles. Tim joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory technical staff in January 1981, as a member of the Radio Astronomy Group. He retired from JPL in November 2008, just over a month shy of 28 years later. Along the way he earned two NASA Group Achievement Awards (for his work on the NASA SETI project, and for his contributions to the Advance Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) and a NASA/JPL Center Award (for his role in establishing the Center for Long Wavelength Astrophysics at JPL). His research experience includes planetary radio astronomy, atmospheric physics & chemistry, infrared geological remote sensing, and infrared astronomy, as well as the all-sky survey portion of the short-lived NASA SETI project.
Tim Thompson is also an amateur astronomer. Tim is the current President of the LAAS, the Los Angeles Astronomical Society(as of 2019), and has been elected President 12 times, serving more terms than anyone else, since the LAAS was founded in 1926. He received the LAAS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, and received the G. Bruce Blair Medal from the consortium of Western Amateur Astronomers, in 2015.
Tim was one of the founders of the docent & tour guide programs at Mt. Wilson Observatory, starting about 1982. He is also one of the founders of the public observing program on the 60-inch telescope at MWO, and acted as Session Director for the first public observing session, on 18 September 1998, for the LAAS. Tim has been an outreach volunteer for MWO since 1981, as one of the founders of the Mount Wilson Observatory Association. He was the last President of MWOA when it disbanded, and was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Mt. Wilson Institute in September 2015.
Tim Thompson has also been a prolific public speaker on astronomical topics for astronomy clubs, civic groups, and private functions for many years. In this capacity, he has addressed public & private audiences as young as kindergarten & pre-school, all the way up to college students, amateur & professional astronomers, and the interested public of all ages.
Telescope Makers Workshop
The Telescope Maker’s Workshop is one of few regularly scheduled such workshops in the world! Every Friday from 7 to 10 PM, amateur telescope makers from the bay area meet at the Chabot Space & Science Center and learn how to grind, shape, polish, and figure mirrors for reflecting telescopes, under the guidance of EAS volunteers. The workshop is free; participants pay only for the mirror blanks and grinding tools, which generally cost between $100-$300, depending on the size of the mirror. All the instruction, grinding grit, testing equipment, and camaraderie is free of charge! For more information, email Richard Ozer at email@example.com, or come by the workshop any Friday to see what it’s all about.
EAS sends volunteers to schools, libraries, and anywhere curious aspiring astronomers gather. EAS volunteers bring their own equipment or borrow telescopes. Students, parents, and teachers are always thrilled to look through the telescopes and ask questions. You’ll meet all sorts of interesting people and provide a unique and inspiring experience to kids and parents who may have never looked through a telescope before. Find our next event on the calendar above.
Members Only Viewing Nights (MOVN)
Once a month, we schedule a Members Only Viewing Night at the Chabot Telescope Deck for both EAS and Chabot members. This is our opportunity to look through Chabot’s historic instruments and research telescope, as well as bring our own equipment to share in a more quiet venue. The schedule for MOVN appears in the event calendar below.
Barcroft High Altitude Star Party
Reservations for the Eastbay Astronomical Society’s Barcroft High-Altitude Star Party are now open to members of both the EAS and Tri-Valley Stargazers clubs. This year’s event will be held from Sunday August 16 through Friday August 21 (with departure by noon of Saturday August 22). That’s six nights.
Before sending payments for reservations ($60 per night, per person), even if you’ve been there before, please contact Don Saito FIRST (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ensure the dates you wish to attend are available. You will also be asked to read the Barcroft Writeup, as it provides the information you’ll need to have a safe, comfortable stay, and what is expected of guests to this University of California research facility.
Space at Barcroft is limited to a maximum of 12 people per day, so to ensure you get the days you want, make your reservations early.
Barcroft is one the premier amateur astronomy view sites in the world, and it’s less than a day’s drive from the Bay Area to its location in the White Mountains.
Header photo by EAS member Alan Roche.