July 2019

Each month I described sights of interest in the night skies of South Carolina.  These sights were broken down into three sections; what you can see with the naked eye, with binoculars, and with a small telescope. The best time to view the night sky is at and around the times when the Moon is not visible, what is known as a New Moon; which will occur this month on July 2nd.  For July, your best viewing nights will be from July 1st to the 7th and the 20th to the end of the month. The Star chart below is set for Florence, SC on July 15th at 10 pm.

Good Bye:

Everything comes to an end.  I expected ScienceSouth to end sometime in the distant future, but sadly we closed down as of June 30, 2019.

I retired from a long career as an organic synthesis research chemist twelve years ago, left snow country, moved to Florence, then totally unplanned, one month later I joined ScienceSouth. 

This has been for me the absolute best possible part time retirement job.  Each summer it was a full time job teaching summer camps along with Erin. 

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Before retirement, in addition to my research positions, I was an adjunct faculty member at a local community college for 23 years.  At the college, I taught physical science to students from 18 to 60 years old.  Now at ScienceSouth I had the enjoyable experience to fill in the age gap by teaching science to students from 4 to 17 years old.  Throughout these 35 years of teaching, my goal was to always make science interesting, exciting, and fun.  Astronomy has been my hobby throughout my life, and at ScienceSouth I have been able to share my hobby and bring telescopes out to the public on many occasions, both night time and daytime solar viewing.

In addition, I was able to share my hobby by writing this monthly astronomy column.

Some of the astronomy viewing highlights I shared with you over the years were:  Comets, a Venus transit of the Sun, a Mercury transit of the Sun, a total solar eclipse (mostly rained out for us at Monck’s Corner), observing sunspots, observing eruptions off the surface of the Sun (prominences), the craters and mountains of the Moon, the rings of Saturn, the bands on Jupiter, a blue and gold double star, star clusters, remnant of exploded stars, and more.  My favorite is still our public viewing at Lynches River of Comet Holmes when it exploded on its way out of our solar system; it became larger than our Sun! 

ScienceSouth is gone, but I feel the need to continue public astronomy viewings.  I, and a few friends, have enough personal telescopes to continue astronomy nights.  The summer humidity makes for poor viewing, so I am looking ahead to October through December. I still have to work out suitable viewing locations, and an easy means to notify the public of the viewing events.  In addition to the normal public viewings at somewhat dark local sites, I plan to return to Sidewalk astronomy viewings.  For sidewalk astronomy, a few telescopes are set up in well-lit areas such as malls or restaurant parking lots.  In these situations, a Dobsonian telescope can “punch” through the bright lights to allow the viewing of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and the mountains of the Moon.

But now at ScienceSouth it is over.  However, what is left are wonderful memories of teaching science to the next generation of scientists.  I always tell our students that one of them may be the first person to walk on Mars.  Teaching science is easy, but challenging young minds to think outside the “box” has been rewarding for all of us.  Of course for me, teaching also requires telling my many stories.  How many stories?  I never counted, but I have yet to run out of another personal story to tell that relates to my science lessons. The youth I have taught have on several occasions given me nice compliments, such as; “Mr. Tony, you are the best science teacher I ever had, even though you’re so old”.

Of course as a teacher of science I have answered many many questions, but the one most asked over the years was; “Did anyone ever tell you that you looked like Einstein?”

Good Bye my friends.

Naked Eye Sights:  From this point onward, you are on your own.  Be sure to take the time to go outside at night and enjoy the night sky.  Follow these suggestions:  Make sure the Moon is not out and bright.  Walk outside and see how clear the stars look.  If it seems to be a better than normal night, then go in a get your binoculars and/or telescopes.  Remember, for the Moon and planets, almost any backyard is suitable to view the Moon and planets through a telescope.  To enjoy the deep sky objects, you need to find a dark sky site in the Florence area.  Example:  Its autumn, the sky looks great, go to Lynches River Park and rent a campsite next to the baseball field.  Park at your site and observe from the baseball field, when you are done drive home.  Remember, the park is closed after dark, but not to paid campers.

Binocular Sights (7 to 10 power):  Binoculars are your best astronomy viewing tool. Light weight, easy to use, take along on vacations.  The best tool to locate the Messier Objects.  In the summer scan the area of the Milky Way from horizon to the zenith.

Telescope Sights (60-100mm):  Basic refracting telescopes are not overly expensive, but limit you to the Moon, planets, and double stars.  Only buy from a telescope store.  I personally recommend Orion Telescopes.

Dobsonian Telescope (6 -8 inch):  If you finally decide to buy a telescope, your best choice is a Dobsonian reflector.  The best sizes are 8 and 10 inch; price range $400 to $600. (Buy the basic model.)

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