We’ve managed to get 2 stories in the local papers about the Mid Hudson Astronomical Association in the last week. The first came from the New Paltz Times:
Since 1985, a group of professional, amateur and the simply curious-to-learn astronomy buffs formed The Mid-Hudson Astronomy Club — which now boasts 75-plus members, a monthly outdoor “star-gazing party” and a monthly indoor meeting where a wide range of astronomy experts provide the group with compelling lectures and timely cosmic matters.
The second came today in the Daily Freeman:
MILAN — Since the days of antiquity, man has been fascinated by the star-filled heavens.
Religions were built around the worship of the heavenly orbs and temples and pyramids have been built in their honor.
Ancient mariners used the stars to chart their courses in unknown territories and it was a star that is said to have led the three wise men to Bethlehem for the birth of Christ.
The fascination with the stars continues today to draw mankind’s eye’s upwards to the night sky.
Locally, a group of amateur astronomers follows in the footsteps of those who came before them — the ancient Greeks, who developed astronomy; Copernicus, who proposed the theory that the planets revolved around the sun rather than the earth, and Galileo, who was among the first to use a telescope to inspect the night sky.
Nice to get this level of exposure for the club.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been redoing the Mid Hudson Astronomical Association website. It looks like this:
Yes, it’s dark, but that’s when astronomy happens. The site is built on Drupal, as I’ve gotten some experience there recently doing sites for the Poughkeepsie Farm Project and MHVLUG. For people that want to know more about the tech side, I’ll be giving a talk in January at MHVLUG.
I did come across one really odd thing in working on the three boxes (I was calling them chicklets, but they look less like that with content in them). Round corners in CSS are awesome (thank you w3c). IE9, at least the version in Adobe Browser labs, still doesn’t support it (really Microsoft? I thought you were getting down with the standards). While a TD can have a round background, it’s border is always square (I almost understand why, but it definitely limits what you can do. It also took me a while to realize this was happening as the round is subtle enough on the front page). Div height 100% doesn’t work inside a TD (it seems like it should, but no one implemented it that way).
So the only way to get 3 columns that correctly degrade to 2 columns (50% of screen each) when one is missing (there will not always be a special event), have round borders, and be the same height is…. jquery. While on the one hand, it seems crazy, on the other hand, yay for jquery. You can view the source on the website to see how I did it.
Last night was our monthly star party for the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association. It was just about a perfect August night, not too hot, not too humid, and with very clear skies. Apparently the effort that I’ve been spending on publicity for the group has been paying off, because we got at least a dozen new folks there last night.
Once we got enough dark to start seeing things, Bill managed to give a nice tour of the night sky, which people really loved. This hit some of the major high lights of the big dipper, the little dipper, lyra, cygnus, scorpio, sagittarius, the the milky way, which was in quite full force last night. Rick and I managed to effectively hide from the building lights behind a few trees, which left us in a nice dark environment.
With so many folks, and Sagittarius in good striking zone, I spent the first half of the night hitting globular clusters and the lagoon nebula over there. My new ultra high contrast filter got it’s first work out on the lagoon nebula, which was striking.
As the evening wound on we saw two waves of people head out, until just Rick, Bruce, Ray and I were left. Jupiter popped up to greet us, and we got a few views of that, though through that much atmosphere you were hard pressed to get it above 100x and still see anything. I randomly found (only identified this morning) the Omega Nebula and the Wild Duck Cluster as I was just exploring around Sagittarius.
About 12:30 the four us decided to call it a night. I got home at about 1, too wired to go to sleep for the next 45 minutes. It was a great night.
Thanks to John Lesica with helping on some of the design. Also available as PDF for printing.