Welcome to everyone interested in the skies above!!

The East Central Minnesota Astronomy Club is dedicated to outreach, education, and hands-on learning experiences for everyone. We are a collective group of astronomy enthusiasts with all levels of experience, from seasoned observers to absolute beginners. Our interests in the sky include solar, planetary, lunar, and deep space object observation. We invite you to come out and join us, and share in the wonders above.

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. Sarah Williams, poet (1837-1868)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Space rocks land in Mora

ECMAC has been busy pursuing our mission of spreading the science of Astronomy, and during that journey we have been fortunate enough to ally our club with Nasa's Night Sky Network.  One of the wonderful benefits to this partnership is the quarterly educational tool-kits that are sent to those clubs that fulfill the requirements set forth in the guidelines.   Well, ECMAC has earned its first tool-kit already and we enjoyed a great evening meeting exploring the Space Rock kit.  First, I must say that the thoughtfulness that went into assembling this kit is tremendous, the activities are great for all ages, and the quality is first-rate.

The central presentation tonight was to run the club through the Space rock/ Earth rock game.  Our junior astronomers took to this with ravenous delight and were eager to examine every sample with the magnifying glass and magnet.  Our members gained great knowledge on the origins of asteroids, different classes of meteorites, methods for differentiating different rocks, and terrific hands-on experience with actual rocks from space!  Thanks Night Sky Network!!  This was truly  a great time for all ages.

While the adult members conducted the meeting, the junior members busied themselves playing Space Bingo (and to hear them calling out the astro-terms  was a hoot!) .  To close the meeting we were extremely proud to present three of our members with Certificates of achievement for completing the First Observation Club, a certificate requiring independent hands-on demonstration of the use of a telescope to locate several different classes of celestial objects.

Another fun-filled meeting is under our belts, and we are pleased to announce the upcoming events:
Dec 20 lunar eclipse independent observation and astrophotography session
Jan 8, 2011  "Hardy Minnesotans" star party at the Jaycee ball field at 5:30 PM,
Jan 25, 2011 Public meeting featuring more great Night Sky Network educational materials

Please join us if you can attend!!

Club meeting tonight!

Please join us at James M Williams' dental office tonight from 7-8:30 for the bi-monthly ECMAC meeting.  We will be presenting observation awards to our young astronomers and learning about space rocks and the Universe.

We hope to see you there!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday Dec 4th Party Cancelled

Sorry folks, but the weather isn't going to be cooperating for this one, so we will have to cancel.  Be sure to join us on Dec 14th for our bi-monthly meeting.  We will have some fun topics to share!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Weather looks questionable for Saturday Star Party

Hi all!  We currently have a star party scheduled for 5:00pm at the Jaycee Ball Field on N. Grove in Mora, MN.  Right now, however, the forecast is calling for a 30% chance of snow and mostly cloudy skies.  If that is accurate and it doesn't look like it will clear up, I will post to the blog, Twitter, and send out an email by 3:00pm so that you have time to make other plans for the evening.

Here's hoping the forecast is wrong!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

IMAX Hubble is a must see film!!

This past weekend we ventured to the Minnesota Science Museum and took in the new Hubble film on the IMAX screen and we were totally blown away.  It is spectacularly filmed and has computer simulations of flying through space that completely exceeded our expectations.  Imagine seeing a typical image of Orion and then zooming in a bit on the sword and seeing the  great Orion Nebula.  Very cool, but wait, now we will begin flying through space and seeing all the stars in this familiar constellation shift as our angle of view alters their apparent position.  Then, as our flight continues we descend into the midst of the nebula through layers of gas until we see, at the heart of the nebula, the Trapezium.  This stellar nursery sits just an arms length away and the view almost brought tears to my eyes!

How often have I sat at the eyepiece of one of my scopes and dreamed of traveling this way to see all the gems of our Universe?  The few minutes of this simulation were totally worth the price of admission for me.

The film gives some good background info necessary to acquaint the public with the importance of the work the space telescope has performed, and also has some nice footage of the various servicing missions along with some candid footage of the astronauts.  The entire film is only 45 minutes long and I would have sat there gladly for another two hours, but the length was perfect for the children viewing it.

I would highly recommend this film to anyone with an opportunity to experience it.  A+++


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Night Sky Network Teleconference Wrap

Well what a fun and interesting event we just enjoyed!  Dr. Alan Harris of the Boulder, CO Space Science Institute gave a fascinating presentation on near earth objects (asteroids), their detection, their statistical probabilities of collision with earth, and the future of NASA's detection program.  The teleconference worked by having the Night Sky Network ECMAC coordinator (aka me) call in and log into the program and then we simply sat back and enjoyed the previously downloaded Powerpoint presentation while listening to the VERY knowledgeable speaker.   The topic of neo's was meant to tie-in with the NSN's latest educational giveaway, the space rock toolkit.

This type of event occurs bi-monthly, and now that we have the first one under our belt, we will be heavily promoting the next event so that as many folks as possible can enjoy the high quality of the presentation.

Thank you to the good folks running the Night Sky Network!!  You are truly committed to excellence in the field of outreach and education.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Feature on the Blog

Night Sky Network: Astronomy Clubs bringing the wonders of the universe to you

ECMAC is now officially part of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Night Sky Network.  As one of the many benefits to our club, we now have a viewable calendar on the bottom of the blog page that will show the current month at a glance.  Scheduled club events will be viewable, and by clicking on the event, a new window will open to the Night Sky Network's site where more detailed information will be displayed.

Check it out!

Monday, November 8, 2010

AMAZING new image of the constellation Orion

This absolutely breathtaking view of Orion is, for me, one of the most wondrous astrophotos I have ever beheld.  The absolute clarity of all the nebulous detail is truly stagerring, and given the size of the wide-field image, this is a sight I never could have drempt of.  

Amateur astrophotographer Rogelio Bernal Andreo captured this panoramic image and you may visit more of his glorious works at his website: Deep Sky Colors 

It is because of the hard working professional and amateur astro-photographers that I personally became interested in astronomy, and with more images like this to compel me, the flame of my astro-passion is likely to burn intensely for a lifetime.

Jim Williams- ECMAC President

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nov. 6th Star Party Tonight!!

Join us tonight at 6:30 for the November Public Star Party at the Jaycee's Ball Park on N. Grove in Mora.  The weather looks like it should be mostly clear so we hope to get some great views!

UPDATE:  The party was great with clear skies, balmy temps, and enthusiastic learners.  Two novice adult members showed their observing prowess by finding objects using a Telrad for the first time, while the kids worked diligently to earn their "First Observation Club" qualifications.

The evening was thoroughly enjoyable, and we are looking forward to our next event on Dec 4th!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dec 4th Star Party is a go!

Come out and join the ECMAC group for a star party Dec 4th at the Jaycee's Ball Park on North Grove St. in Mora!  We will be providing great views of the skies from this moderately dark site.  We expect some cool temps so please dress warmly so that you can comfortably enjoy the evening with us. The event time will be determined soon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Next Public Star Party Saturday Nov 6th 6:30 at the Jaycee's Ballpark!

We are very pleased to announce our next evening under the stars for the public.  Members are encouraged to arrive 30min before the start to assist with the setup.  This will be a moonless night, so we hope to showcase many of the fainter deep sky objects not visible at our last star party.  You should expect excellent views of Jupiter, the Andromeda galaxy, the Dumbell nebula, and many other highlights of the sky.  All are welcome, so join us for some fellowship and education before the deep Winter sets in.

                       Members get set up for the October 16th Star Party at Trailview Elementary School.

Business Meeting Fun!

The kickoff meeting for ECMAC was a great time despite the howling winds that ravaged the Midwest today!  We had an informative meeting with great discussions, and fun learning about the different types of telescopes.  We hope you'll join us for our next meeting when we'll be featuring the Astronomical League's Observing Clubs.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuesday October 26th Meeting

Be sure to join us at Dr. James Williams dental office (620 S. Union St. across from the swimming pool) in Mora at 7PM, Tuesday, October 26th for the next ECMAC meeting.  A brief business meeting will be followed by a presentation by club President Jim Williams on the topic of "Understanding Telescopes."  The presentation will cover the basic history and designs of telescopes so that members can more fully understand the differing optical configurations of each style.    Refreshments will be provided.  We hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beautiful Day for a Star Party!

The star party scheduled for this evening at 7:00PM behind Trailview elementary school is definitely a go!  See you out there under the stars.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Local amatuers aim for the stars on October 16th!

Today we are pleased to announce the creation of the East Central Minnesota Astronomy Club.  Several locals have come together to form this group in hopes of sharing and spreading our continued love of cosmic observation.  Our club will have regularly scheduled star parties and,  to kick things off, we are pleased to announce that on Saturday, October 16th we will be meeting on the soccer field north of/behind Trailview Elementary school in Mora beginning at 7:00pm.   Several telescopes will be on-site and visitors can expect views of the moon (Luna), Jupiter, double stars, planetary nebulae, distant galaxies and more!  No prior knowledge is needed.  Just bring your curiosity and dress warmly in case the event goes into the late evening hours.  If you have a telescope and would like to bring it, we would enjoy the addition to the group.  If you have a telescope and need assistance, bring it along and we will do our best to get you up and viewing.  We hope to see you out there enjoying the views!
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East Central Minnesota Astronomy Club Event Calendar from the Night Sky Network.