THE BROOKLYN COLLEGE OBSERVATORY ------------------------------ John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc firstname.lastname@example.org www.nyskies.org 1991 January 1
Introduction ---------- I was first introduced to the Brooklyn College Observatory at Brooklyn College in the 1950s by members of the Junior Astronomy Club who were students at the college. It is on top of Ingersoll Hall, the science pavilion of the college. They arranged frequent visits for various celestial events like eclipses and planetary configurations. The facility then was also in use for variable star observations and had a complete set of the AAVSO charts for hundreds of the more interesting stars. During my years at Brooklyn College in the 1960s I assisted with the operation of the Observatory. At that time I with other home astronomers around the country were enrolled in a special study of the Orion Nebula. The theory of star formation was still new but it was thought that stars condense from nebulae like that in Orion. I with other local astronomers monitored certain stars in the Orion Nebula to accumulate baseline data about their brightness variations in support of the theory. When I transferred to City College and then graduated from there, I continued to stop at the Observatory from time to time but there was no continuous management of it. My visits were usually part of my trip home from City College, being that the train station for my home was next to the College. By the mid 1980s the place was totally inactive. In October 1990 the new director, Dr Peter Brancazio, contacted the Amateur Astronomers Association, a leading astronomy club in New York in the 20th century. He wanted the club to resume service at the Observatory. I was named the chair of the Brooklyn Observatory committee of the Association, returning me to place I last was in charge of some 25 years earlier! Since 1995 the Observatory was idle. From time to time, the latest being in 2006, the College looked at rehabilitating the Observatory, usually as part of a general fixup of the campus. All plans fizzled so far. The articles here chronicle the activity of the Observatory from its resumption of service in 1991 until it was forced to close in 1995 for health hazards. They are treated with minor editing. The file issue date is that of the initial piece in 1991 January
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NEW LIFE FOR OLD SCOPE -------------------- 1991 January 1
The Association concluded agreements to use and operate the observatory at Brooklyn College, bringing it to activity after about seven years of dormancy. The observatory, part of the College's campus in Brooklyn, was enjoyed over the decades by individual AAAers and the College's physics department, but this new arrangement is the first time the Association as a body was engaged for running it. According to the observatory curator Dr Peter Brancazio, interest in the facility flagged in the early 1980s due to shifting demography of the student population and diversion of the school's efforts to other academic needs. He, and a few vestigial astronomy students, maintained the equipment in good order and prevented its decay. In effect, the observatory was kept in cold standby. Dr Brancazio contacted the Association in October  and spoke with Barry Levin, of the Brooklyn Chapter, about turning over the entire place for AAA use. Of course, property and title remain with the College. Dr Brancazio took Barry Levin and John Pazmino on a walkthru of the rooms in early November to acquaint them with the state and condition of the apparatus. All in all, the instruments are in good working order with only punchlist items that need attention. The structural parts of the observatory were maintained rather well by the College's buildings and grounds department in spite of the stretchout and cutback in general upkeep performed around the campus. John, Barry, and two new crew, Vincent Morada and Arthur Kunhardt, did a smoketest of the instrument on Thanskgiving Eve under one of November's exquisitely clear and calm nights. On the whole the telescope and its accessories function surprising well. Mars gave firm sharp images at 350 power, showing strong maria structure over his southern hemisphere. The Orion Nebula exhibited deep texture in it and the fifth Trapezium star was plainly visible. With a richfield converter the entire Pleiades nestled in one field of view with hundreds of its littler stars. A visit on 4 December captured high magnification photographs of Mare Crisium in white and infrared light. The images, tho blunted by air turbulence, were very satisfying and encouraging. Jenny Worsnopp examined Mars on 12 December under a hazy but rather stable sky. With 546 power the planet showed his rich southern maria activity and a barren north polar region. The main instrument is a 175mm f15 refractor of the classical preWar boilerplate design on a German mount and pier. A 50mm f10 finder and 75mm f15 guider allow simultaneous experiments with the main scope on the same object. A quart of eyepieces, filters, tools, gadgets, and furniture round out the apparatus. Being that as yet these peripherals are not cleaned and tuned, AAAers should bring their own eyepieces and accessories. The main refractor is covered by a wood and iron dome, about 4m across, large enough fo 3 or 4 persons working at a time or about 10 standing as spectators. Other rooms in the facility are a transit room, foyer, and two store rooms. The transit room is entirely out of commission, being that its fliptop is disabled and the transit is in safekeeping. This room the AAA will use as a work and office room. The store rooms actually are not part of the observatory but are accessible only thru it. They contain the HVAC works of the school building but they can be used to stow furniture and equipment. Restrooms are on the next floor down and for special projects, overnighting in the observatory is possible. Midwood and the entire southern plain of Brooklyn are a low lying residential bedroom district with a clear horizon in all directions. The skies are surprisingly dark for an urban zone due to the absence qf large carparks, shopping complexes, industrial works, and other seats of abusive light. On the Thanksgiving Eve night, for example, transparency was 4-1/2 to 5. Figure, however, 4 for a good night and 3-1/2 on an average one. The City itself is about 10Km to the north and northwest and does light up that corner of the sky. On the whole, however, it offers interesting entertainment on cloudy evenings with people in the office towers discernible in the main scope. To accommodate members who want to visit and casually use the observatory the Association beginning in January  will hold sessions on the third Wednesday of each month. Doors open at 7:30PM, allowing for travel time from the City and a light supper. Because the accommodations are cozy and warm and dry, the sessions are convened rain or shine. The dome is at all times kept at ambient outdoor temperature, tho in inclement weather it is not opened, so you do have to dress for the season! Also, if the Wednesday falls on a college campus-closed day the session is rescheduled. See each month's EYEPIECE for up-to-date details. Brooklyn College is in Midwood, a camelotic quarter of Brooklyn, straddling Avenue H between Nostrand and Ocean Avs. It is a small but airy campus in the Gregorian style and if there is the chance to come in daylight the place is quite scenic. Onstreet parking is available in the surrounds and a city carpark is at Nostrand Av and Av H on the east edge of the campus. The main campus gates are at Bedford Av and at Nostrand Av (or Flatbush Av, since these two street cross here); There are others but they close at erratic hours. By transport the most direct route is the red line (IRT 7th Av) to the last stop Flatbush Av. The routing varies with the hour and season, so be sure the train goes to Platbush Av, not to any other terminal in Brooklyn. Occasional service to Flatbush Av is operated on the green line (IRT Lexington Av), mainly in rushhours. This station is one block from the Nostrand Av gate. The orange line (BMT Brighton Beach) is a poor alternative, tho it may have better connections in the City. Make sure you get a local (usually the D route), not an express, for the College's stations are local stops. The station Av H puts you about 10 blocks west of the Bedford Av gate and, hence, is suitable only during walking weather. The station Av J connects to busses that pass the Bedford Av gate. Take either of the two routes B6 or B11 from the stop outside the station, in front of a pharmacy. The stop across the street, in front of a cleaners, is for busses coming from the College. The red and green lines have transfer between them at Nevins St, Atlantic Av, and Franklin Av, all in Brooklyn. They transfer as well to the orange line at Atlantic Av. All these lines are heavily trafficked and the exit stations are in entirely peaceful areas. Local busses run in Flatbush Av, Nostrand Av, Foster Av, Ocean Av, and Glenwood Rd, all passing by or a few blocks from the campus. Interboro bus service to the College is operated by Command Bus until about lO:30PM and there is a car service on Glenwood Rd between Nostrand and Flatbush Avs. In asking direction on the trains, refer to the stations. On foot or the bus, refer to Brooklyn College. At this time there is no phone in or near the observatory. Eateries are spread along the junction of Flatbush and Nostrand Avs ranging over all tastes and purses. Once on campus go to Ingersoll Hall, the science hall, and enter thru its front & center doors. From the lobby slap left and enter the long hall leading off from it. Just into that hall is a stair and elevator bay. Take the elevator (if it be running) or the stairs to the top, fifth, floor. From the fifth floor stair landing take a short extra stair, narrow and stepped, directly into the observatory. Should by chance the observatory door, on the left over a nasty sill, be locked, there is a doorbell to signal inside. The observatory can be used for casual purposes on the,schedule4 sessions and for special projects on other prearranged nights. For the initial operations, access is available only when the.campus is open, which pretty much precludes Friday thru Sunday nights and school holiday nights. Dr Brancazio will obtain campus entry permits for the Association in a month or so. Inquiries are handled by John Pazmino at AAA HQ or his work phone 212-337-2618.
PLEIADES OVER BROOKLYN -------------------- 1991 March 1
The March open session at Brooklyn College Observatory offers us a super extra treat: an evening occultation of the Pleiades! That's right, on Wednesday 20 March  the Moon glides over the Seven Sisters for all of us at the Observatory that evening! Of course, the occultation is visible from anywhere in the City area, but it's not the same without the group synergy. The table here gives the circumstances for the Pleiades charter stars nicked by the Moon in New York. The chart [omitted], from Zigel's "Wonders of the Night Sky", shows the Pleiades field and the Moon discsize.
hour Pleias event ----- ------- ----- 17:50 Electra immer 18:20 Merope immer 18:38 Electra emer 19:02 Alcyone immer 19:31 Merope emer 19:45 Atlas immer 19:52 Pleione immer 20:00 Alcyone emer 20:47 Atlas emer 20:53 Pleione emer
The hours are the EST moments of each event, approximate to about two minutes. These came from graphically interpolating the hours in predictions for other cities, being that there were none for New York. Doors open at 17:00, in time to see the first event and also to catch Venus and, maybe, Mercury in the west. The campus gates should all be open, being that it is a regular school night. If they be locked, for a sudden closure like for the January open session, go to the entrance on Campus Rd and East 27th St. Enter Boylan Hall there thru the stoop and door and pass thru the checkpoint inside. Tell the guard you are going to the Observatory and show this article to him if necessary. Then walk thru Boylan Hall, exit into the Quadrangle, and procede to Ingersoll Hall and the Observatory. Do not even think of leaving for a supper break during this exciting evening! Before coming into the campus stop at any of the several take-aways in the Junction area. You may eat and drink in the observatory foyer and transit room but not in the very dome. Litter baskets are spotted in the foyer. Review the January 1991 EYEPIECE article on the Observatory for travel directions. During that evening's push & shove the green line sends certain #5 trains to Flatbush Av terminal. This supplements the normal red line #2 service. Make sure the train goes to Flatbush Av and not to any other terminal. Both the D and Q orange line services work the Brighton Beach line. However, to reach the College's proper stations you must end up on the D train, which is normally the local service. The Q route is normally an express during this period and it skips the College stations. Listen at Prospect Park for any switcheroos; they do happen from time to time. Onstreet parking and the municipal carpark on Flatbush Av and Av H are available if you motor to the College. Approach via Flatbush Av, the Prospect Ey-Ocean Fy, or the Belt. Note well that you are in the forewave of the evening rushhour traffic. Keep your radio tuned to traffic alerts, particularly those regarding the montonicly corroding Manhattan Bridge. The guidescope has a camera for wide-field photos of the Moon and Pleiades. We count off our shots and I send the pictures to you within a week. They are color slides from which you can get a regular colorprint, laserprint, or cibachrome at larger photo and copy shops. The mainscope and finderscope are for eyeballing or attaching your own accessories. A timecube and a tripod are on hand. The timecube is for timing the various events or just keeping track of the hour and weather. The tripod is for thru-the-dome skyscape photos with your own camera and film. Bring a cable release. If you shoot pictures thru the telescope bring also a T-ring to couple to our eyepiece adaptor. What happens if it's cloudy? The session is on for rain or stars! If the occultation is terrestrially occulted we have alternate entertainment.
PROJECT SESSIONS AT BROOKLYN COLLEGE OBSERVATORY --------------------------------------------- 1991 August 1
The Brooklyn College Observatory is available to you, as an AAA member, for individual project sessions. A project session is a session at the Observatory operated by you for a specific defined project at a date and time other than those of a regular open session. You request a project session from the Chairman of the Observatory Committee. This may be by voice or writing. You can discuss the project with anyone you wish, including the Chairman, other AAA members, and outside astronomy resources, but the official solicitation is made only thru the Chairman. You apply as far in advance as possible, particularly for predictable celestial events. Requests less than one week prior to the session may be missed out or approved only at the last moment. You may apply for and get as many sessions as you want, subject to the assessment conditions noted elsewhere. Your application for a project session contains: date and hours for the session; description of the scheme of work during the session; itemization of the required apparatus and equipment of the Observatory; description of apparatus, equipment, supplies you are bringing to the Observatory; names of your crew members. The dates and hours are specific calendar dates and clock hours. They are not conditional, contingent, or relational instances. You may include several sessions in your request if your project calls for them, but the confirmation and cancellation provisions apply to each one separately and distinctly from the others. Allow time for setup, testing, checking, cleanup, takedown and so forth in addition to the actual project work. The Observatory will normally be opened already for you when you arrive. Do not include overnighting hours in your request; a note that you may stay overnight is sufficient. The scheme of work does not have to be 'innovative', 'original', or 'scientific'. It must, however, be sensible and practical. Remember, for casual, vague, or curious schemes we already have the scheduled open sessions. Do not request project sessions for such work. The results of your project, the photos, drawings, measurements, charts, discs, and so forth are yours to distribute and dispose as you wish. Naturally, you credit the Association and the Observatory for the facility and faculty of accomplishing your project. The Chairman has ready for you the apparatus of the Observatory you specify in your request. If you miss out an article it may still be on hand but not for sure. It may be in storage or out for repair. You may bring with you any outside apparatus, equipment, and supplies. These you obtain from whatever sources you can draw on. You may attach items to the Observatory's telescope only in a completely safe and harmless manner that leaves the telescope entirely unaltered after their removal. You can use attachments such as adaptors, clamps, straps, and nonmarring tape. Your crew are members of the Association, who then work under your general charge and direction. Crew who are inexperienced with the Observatory may operate the facilities only under your immediate supervision. Nonmembers of the AAA may be on your crew if they have a proper expertise and interest in your project. You actualize the session by deliberately confirming it with the Chairman by the noontime before the session. This is an act wholly separate and distinct from any previous discourse you have with the Chairman regarding the session. You never, but never, assume a confirmation based on such prior discussions. The very confirmation is a written or oral statement given to the Chairman by delivery, visit, telephone, fax, or other means. It is definite and affirmative; a simple declarative sentence does fine. You may cancel your session for any reason by the noontime before the session, including from prospective adverse weather, delays in preparation, unavailability of crew, and changes in your outside engagements. You also may cancel a session which you already confirmed earlier, subject to the noon deadline. To cancel a session you: present to the Chairman a declarative cancellation, this being the way to undo a previously confirmed session; or offer in the stead of a absolute confirmation only an encumbered, conditional, or equivocal one; or simply do not confirm the session. A cancellation, by any of the three above methods, is final. If you go to the Observatory anyway you find it closed and locked and your trip is totally wasted. You have no alternative but to turn around and go back home. With a confirmed session in hand you just show up at the Observatory at the appointed day and hour and go thru the work for your project. With you are your crew and outside articles. If you complete your project within the allotted time the remaining time is yours for other astronomy use of the Observatory, including casual starbrowsing. If the project is defeated thru no cause of yours, typically a bad turn of weather or a breakdown of some apparatus, you also have free use of the remaining time. The Chairman or a delegate superintends the session and normally opens the Observatory for you before your arrival. Altho he can offer general advice and help, he can neither operate the project for you nor be on your crew. Except for trivial things like a pen or a coin, he can not furnish any items you missed out in your request or forgot to bring with you. Failing to present yourself for your session or coming so late as to impede your project is factored into assessments of future session requests. A showing during the session of incompetence or ineptness with the Observatory or your project is factored into assessments of future requests for sessions. You and your crew observe the houserules of the Observatory and the regulations of Brooklyn College. You and your crew maintain good deportment and demeanor during your session. Behavior unbecoming of an astronomer and member of the Association is factored into future requests for sessions.
[Due to intense demand there will be open sessions at the Observatory in August and September. Check the Events on the Horizon. The present Chairman of the Observatory Committee is John Pazmino; c/o AAA-HQ; 212-337-2618 work; 212-337-2624 fax; 718-CL2-0388 home]
LUNAR ECLIPSE AT BROOKLYN OBSERVATORY ----------------------------------- 1992 December 1
The Brooklyn Observatory is open for the lunar eclipse on Wednesday evening 9 December 1992! Tho the eclipse is visible from anywhere in the City (and rest of the country) having a clear view to the northeast and east, we still expect a big turnout at the Observatory! One of the scopes -- yes!, there are four on the instrument! -- is reserved for photography. If you have a camera, eyepiece or T adaptor, and cable release, do bring them. Film may be any you are used to; there is no need for special or hi-speed emulsions. There is no open outside area; please do not bring your floorbased telescopes. There is ample room for viewing the eclipse thru the dome slit with binoculars. Doors open at 16:00 for early comers. Being that the eclipse begins in the evening crushhour, try to break away early from work or school. (Go and puke on the boss's desk.) The schedule of events is as follows and details are in the December 1992 S&T:
Doors open . . . . . 16:00 (4 PM EST) | Full Moon . . . . 18:42 Moonrise . . . . . . 16:08 | Midtotality . . . . 18:44 Sunset . . . . . . . 16:28 | Totality ends . . . 19:22 First paenumbra . . 16:45 | Partial phase ends 20:29 Partial phase begins 16:59 | Last paenumbra . . 20:45 Twilight ends. . . . 18:07 | Moon culminates . . 00:30 Totality begins . . 18:07
The Observatory is in BrooklYn College in Midwood, Brooklyn. The simplest and quickest route to the Observatory from the City is by the red line's route #2. Ride it to the last stop Flatbush Av, which is two blocks from the College campus. In the evening crushhour, before the eclipse, the green line's route #5 also goes to Flatbush Av. Going home after the eclipse only the red line serves Flatbush Av; the green line service lapses following the crushhour. Running time from Times Sq is 45 minutes; from Fulton St (MH), 30 minutes. Allow an extra five minutes for possible perturbations. At Flatbush Av station exit to the intersect of Flatbush Av and Nostrand Av. A short street Hillel PI leads from this junction westward to the College gate. On the campus go to Ingersoll Hall. If you come by automobile, onstreet parking is easier to find south and west of the College and you can walk onto the campus from Bedford Av, Bast 27th St, or Hillel Pl. There is a municipal carpark at Av H and Nostrand Av on the east side of the College. In Ingersoll go to the center lobby and turn left (back toward the entrance doors) into a long hallway. Just off the lobby is a stair and lift bay. Ride the lift to the top, fifth, floor. Then walk up the adjacent stairs one more floor directly into the observatory. (If the lift be defunct, you must huff & puff all the five floors by stairs.) Do dress for the weather. The dome is at ambient temperature but you can warm up in the other rooms at the Observatory Around the Flatbush-Nostrand junction are many eateries for sitdown or takeaway supper. You may eat in the Observatory but not in the dome itself. The Observatory is a smoke and drug free zone.
VENUS AND MOON DANCE OVER BROOKLYN -------------------------------- 1993 April 1
The Moon occults Venus during the midday hours of Monday 19 April 1993 and you can actually view this live! How?! At the Brooklyn Observatory's special Venus-Moon session on that day!! We do appreciate this spectacle appeals to those not bound by other daytime matters but that's the way the stars work. On the other hand you see Brooklyn College in sunlight for a change and the trains run every five minutes or so. Don't plotz; we have the regular nighttime session for April as well. See the 'Events' page. The Moon and Venus rise in the morning twilight about four degrees apart. They quickly fade into the daylight and are lost to casual sight. We'll have them in view easily using the setting circles. We'll even have an antiblue glass on hand to suppress the sky background. After the Venus-Moon show, we'll see what the Sun is doing thru the Observatory's frontend filter. Schedule in EDT on Monday 19 April 1993 for New York is:
Observatory doors open . . . . 11:00 Moon transits meridian . . . . 11:10 Venus disappears behind Moon . 12:26 Sun transits meridian. . . . . 12:55 middle of occultation. . . . . 13:05 Venus reappears around Moon. . 13:44
Both bodies are in their crescent phase, about equally thin, with Venus being a 'moon' of the Moon. Venus is more reflective than the Moon and so is, per unit area, much brighter. Daylight is the best time to study Venus for she is so overly dazzling at night. We'll look for the elusive shadings often mentioned by earlier astronomers. The sharper eyed ones of you may spot her by eye -- and maybe the Moon, too -- in the daytime sky. Oh, yes!, bring your camera. There'll be lots of daylight for pictures. If you have a T-ring or eyepiece adaptor for your camera you can try a few shots thru the scope. What's more, we'll have a miniature astrovideograph showing the view continuously. The road to the College is the Interborough's Nostrand Avenue line, worked by route #2 in the interrush periods. Get off at the last stop Flatbush Avenue. Allow 45 minutes from Times Square. There are viable alternate routes; ask the Observatory Chairman. Altho from Flatbush Avenue station Brooklyn College is only a block away you must enter a few blocks farther around the campus at East 27th street and Campus Road. There show your AAA card and collect a visitor's pass. Then walk into the quadrangle, cross it, and enter Ingersoll Hall. Just off the center lobby of Ingersoll is a lift and stair bay. Ride the lift to the top (5th) floor and enter the stair bay. Walk up three short flights directly into the Observatory. Takeaway eats are available along Flatbush and Nostrand Avunues and Hillel (or Germania) Place. Lots of fast food and deli stuff. Sitdown meals are had at several coffee shops and luncheonettes. If you must really indulge the Aegean Isles offers comfortable restaurant service. Please don't eat in the dome; use the other rooms. Restrooms are on the 5th floor. When you go home you may leave thru any campus gate and keep the visitor's pass for a souvenir. The gate at Hillel Place leads directly to the train station
BROOKLYN OBSERVATORY SESSIONS --------------------------- 1993 October 1
The 1993-1994 season at the Brooklyn College Observatory opens on Wednesday 20 October . Sessions are convened rain-or-shine on one Wednesday each month thru next April, except November. In November we meet on Monday the 29th for the total lunar eclipse. In addition, on 10 May 1994 we have a day tine viewing for the partial solar eclipse! Sessions begin at 7:30 PM and last until 11 PM, which is when the campus closes for the night. However, for the lunar eclipse, being that it occurs in the midnight hours, we plan to stay at the Observatory overnight and go home in the morning. The Observatory, on the Midwood BK campus of Brooklyn College, is operated by the Association under agreement with the Observatory's director Dr Peter Brancazio. It has a 175mm classical preWar refractor with three sidescopes and a quart of eyepieces. You can operate it, under general supervision, for inspection and photography of the night's celestial offerings. To attach your camera to the telescope you need your own American (3l.7mm) eyepiece adaptor, obtainable from major telescope dealers in the City for your peculiar camera body. The Observatory is best reached by the red or green lines. The station is Flatbush Avenue, last stop on the Nostrand Av line, at the junction of Flatbush and Nostrand Avs, two short blocks from the Hillel Gate of the campus. (The orange line proved too dissuasive due to the extra bus ride from it to the campus.) The red line's #2 route serves this station at all hours from Downtown Brooklyn and the west side of Manhattan. The green line's #5 route comes to Flatbush Av only in the evening rush until about 7 PM. You may take it going to the Observatory but must use route #2 to go home. Route #5 comes from Downtown Brooklyn and the east side. If you motor to the Observatory there is ample onstreet parking to the west and south of the campus; the meters die at 7 PM. Main roads near the Observatory are Nostrand Av, Bedford Av, Ocean Av, Glenwood Rd, Av H, Av I, and Flatbush Av. Bedford Av bisects the campus. Hillel Gate is two short blocks from the station but is impassable without a visitor's pass. In the stead, walk two more blocks and enter the campus thru Whitehead Hall, East 27th Street and Campus Road (four blocks from the subway). Show ID and sign out for a visitor's pass. The Observatory is on top of Ingersoll Hall. Go thru Whitehead, cross the Quadrangle, to Ingersoll Hall. Ingersoll is on the south side of the Quadrangle and you enter thru the center doors into the main lobby. To the left of the lobby is a stair-&-lift bay. Take the lift to the top (5th) floor. Turn into the adjacent stairs and go up one more floor directly into the Observatory. If the lift be dead you must walk up the whole six floors. When you go home there's a fair chance that groups will leave together so you'll have company for the ride. Or someone who motored to the Observatory may drop you off at a favorable station, perhaps on the orange line. You may leave the campus by any gate, such as Hillel Gate to reach the red line subway. You do not have to retrace your steps thru Whitehead Hall; also you may keep the visitor's pass. We convene rain or shine. You don't ever worry about wasting your trip and staring at a closed and locked Observatory door. Obviously in cloudy weather we can do no starbrowsing but if you arrive, in hopes of clearing skies, you are very welcome. In past years we enjoyed useful viewing on about half of the meetings.
OVERNIGHT ECLIPSE AT BROOKLYN OBSERVATORY --------------------------------------- 1993 November 1
The Brooklyn Observatory is yours, yours, yours for the big lunar eclipse on November 28th-29th ! Unlike the magnificent one we saw last December, this eclipse occurs in the midnight hours. No!, we will not kick you out at 4 AM when it's all over. You can stay overnight, catch a few winks, even do predawn observing!, and go home in the morning. This is the only Brooklyn Observatory session in November. We merely shifted the regular Wednesday date to that of this eclipse. Being that it's a Full Moon night we'll probably study the planets and double stars outside of the eclipse. But don't forget that the Full Moon under high power is itself a spectacular sight! If you bring your camera and adaptor you can get some amazing photos of everything! We'll have the astrovideoscope running, too. You can get eclipse shots merely by photographing the monitor! Remember how utterly dark the December eclipse was? Well, the Pinatubo Dustdeck dissipated or something in the spring [of 1993], so the atmosphere may impart to the Moon its textbook copper coloring. The schedule of events is:
Assemble in Whitehead Hall lobby . . . . 18:00 to 19:00 (6-7 PM) Doors open . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19:00 Moon enters paenumbra (Oth contact) . . . 22:27 First paenumbra stain . . . . . . . . . . 23:20 approx Moon enters umbra (1st contact) . . . . . 23:40 Totality begins (2nd contact) . . . . . . 01:02 Mon 29 Nov Mideclipse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01:26 Totality ends (3rd contact) . . . . . . . 01:50 Moon leaves umbra (4th contact) . . . . . 03:12 Last paenumbra stain . . . . . . . . . . 03:32 approx Moon leaves paenumbra (5th contact) . . . 04:25 Twilight begins . . . . . . . . . . . . . 05:21 Sunrise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 06:59 All over!, doors close . . . . . . . . . 09:00
October's EYEPIECE has complete directions to the Observatory. However, because the campus is buttoned down on Sundays, we meet in the lobby of Whitehead Hall, E 27th St and Campus Road, between 6 and 7 PM. Show ID and collect a visitor's pass. Before the eclipse you may go the several eateries in the Junction for provisions. A good idea is to get a hot supper in you first and bring to the Observatory sandwiches and drinks. The shops close around 10 PM and reopen at around 7 AM for the commuter trade. We'll sweep and mop the Observatory. However, figure on getting dusty and dirty anyway. Perhaps you may bring old clothes you don't mind soiling. This is in addition to an overnight kit and change of clothes for your Monday's business. Because the floor is concrete, you may want to lay out your coat or a thin blanket for comfort. The temperature in the rooms could be chilly but bearable. The dome itself is offlimits for sleeping. You'll be constantly distracted, annoyed, and stepped on. Restrooms are on the fifth floor where you can freshen up. Coin-op phones are on the fourth floor in roomettes along the halls. In the morning both routes #2 and #5 work Flatbush Av station to get you to any part of City on a two minute headway. Expect the trains to be quite crammed full. Command Bus runs service from Republic Bank, on the north end of the Junction, with exact fare of $3.75. It goes to Lower Manhattan and Midtown on a ten minute headway.
YOUR OWN PROJECT AT BROOKLYN OBSERVATORY -------------------------------------- 1993 December 1
Besides the sessions scheduled monthly, you may enjoy the Brooklyn Observatory for your own project! This privilege is yours after acquiring and demonstrating your facility with the Observatory, so you can operate it alone or with others under your guidance. Bow to get such experience? At the monthly sessions you can operate the Observatory under our supervision. Even in cloudy weather -- the sessions are rain or shine -- you can learn about the apparatus and operating procedures. You do this at your own pace. You embark on a project only when you feel up to it. When you are ready you work up a project. A 'project' is simply a definite specific endeavor you want to accomplish at the Observatory. It does not have to be 'original' or 'scientific' or 'innovative'. It can be plotting Jupiter's moons, inspecting various double stars, or photographing star clusters. The project, however, must require the Observatory. You can not, for example, just sit at its front desk and read star catalogs. It must also be feasible for your experience and competence. Because someone else can try a certain project does not right off make it suitable for you. Likewise, a project rejected by an other may well be within your ability and volition. The project must specify actual calendar dates and hours. Which ones you stipulate, of course, derive from your project. They are based on the apparition, situation, aspect, and other factors of the target objects as well as your nonastronomy circumstances. Do your homework! It can be grossly self-shaming to seek out NGC4665 for photography on a February evening!! If the project extends over several dates, like a study of a lunar crater at different phases, each date must be purposely stated. Write out your project and send it to the Observatory Chair at AAA-BQ. The description can be an ordinary business letter to the Chair. There is no form to fill out or outline to follow. Just state what your project is, how you will accomplish it, the dates you need, what Observatory apparatus you need, your own apparatus you will use, the crew that works with you, all in a way that the Chair can know what you are trying to do. Altho you may discuss your project with the Chair before you finalize it in writing, never assume your project is booked based only on these discussions! Only the written description counts. The Chair may discuss the written description with you so he understands it and to fill in missing details. It may point out other ways to fulfill your project and suggest improvements and efficiencies. Unless the project is patently deficient, infeasible, or there is a date conflict with other projects, your project is booked into the Observatory schedule. The Chair tells you this. Naturally, you put in for your project as far in advance as possible, preferably no closer than one week prior to the first date in the project. You can do this for a project whose targets are predictable (conjunction of planets) or where the date is not crucial· (nebula photography). With your project booked you get about any preparations. You may need film, special charts, shortwave radio, laptop, and the like. You may draw on any resources in your reach for this preparation; you do not have to do everything 'all by yourself'. You may use any of the apparatus at the Observatory. but do ask for it in your project so the Chair can be sure it's on hand for you. You may use your own apparatus provided It does no harm of any kind to the Observatory. If you have a crew to work with you, specify it in your project description. All crew is under your immediate direction at all times in the Observatory. The crew may include nonAAAers. This allows you to bring in specialists from beyond the Association if required. Typicly your project runs in the evening hours. Assuming this, you must confirm the project session no later than the preceding noon of that day. The confirmation is deliberate and affirmative and may be given to the chair by voice, fax, visit, or any other positive and timely manner. Tossing a postcard to him into the mail at 11:50 AM will not work! All that's necessary is a crisp, "OK, I'm confirming my project for tonight at such-&-such hour. Ms So-&-So is coming along with her laptop and CCDqraph.". It can happen that you must cancel your project. You may cancel for any cause, including impending bad weather, failed preparation, outside contingency, and illness. There are three ways to cancel by the noon preceding the evening of your project. a) positively cancel, like, "Hi!, my car will not get out of the shop today like I expected. I better call off for tonight." or "I really need a really clear sky and it is getting too hazy. I'm scrubbing for tonight.". b) Offer an encumbered, contingent, equivocal, or trepidative confirmation, something like, ."I probably will show up tonight but maybe my sister wants me to mind her kid. However, it looks good if I can manage to avoid her until I leave home." counts as a cancellation. So does, "Let's wait until three o'clock and see what the weather looks like, OK?". c) Simply do nothing. You could be pulled away on some emergency and can't get to the Chair to cancel. Don't worry. If you do not give any word to the Chair, your session is cancelled. When your project calls for several sessions, you must confirm or cancel each session separately. With a confirmation in hand you just come to the Observatory and do your thing. Normally the Chair already opened it for you when you arrive. If you finish early or if your project is upset by no fault of you (bad turn of weather or a breakage of your apparatus) you may use the Observatory for other viewing. If you confirm your session and then don't show up for it, don't lose sleep about it. The Chair WILL speak with you in the morning. If you come to the Observatory after a cancellation -- by any of the three methods -- you plain wasted your trip. The Observatory is closed and locked and you can do nothing but turn around and go home. What happens to the results of your project? They are yours to do what you want. Write them up for EYEPIECE! Present them at an OG or RAS session. Use them in an outside lecture. Meld them into work done elsewhere. Show them off at work or school.
BROOKLYN OBSERVATORY SESSIONS FOR 1994-1995 ----------------------------------------- 1994 October 1
October 12th [of 1994] opens the 1994-1995 season at Brooklyn Observatory. Meetings thereafter are on the second Wednesday of each month thru April 1995. Doors open at 7:30PM and we can stay until the campus closes at 11PM. Sessions are convened rain or shine. The Observatory is at Brooklyn College, Midwood BK, near the junction of Nostrand and Flatbush Avs. Typicly you would ride out on the IRT Nostrand Av line to Flatbush Av, which is the last stop. In the evening crush both routes #2 and #5 work this line. When you go home only #2 trains come out to the college. When you leave the station you are at Flatbush and Nostrand Avs, the 'Junction'. If you hadn't taken supper yet, there are several eateries in the Junction. You may bring your grub to the Observatory. Please, eat only in the lower rooms, not in the dome. You then walk west (into the twilight glow) to the Hillel gate of the campus. However, you continue to walk around the campus, with your left hand trolling the fence, to the Glenwood gate at East 27th St and Campus Rd. Do inspect the starsafe illumination in the new checkpoints installed at these two gates in early 1994. At Glenwood gate tell the guard you are going to the Observatory and collect a visitors pass. Then procede to Ingersoll Hall. In Ingersoll go to the central lobby. From it lead out two hallways and the forecourt of a large lecture hall. Just off the lobby in the east hallway is a bay for stairs and a lift. Ride the lift to the fifth and top floor. From the lift go right into the stairs and walk up one more floor directly into the Observatory. If the lift be dead you huff & puff up all six floors. The dome communicates with the outdoors, requiring full dress for the prevalent temperature and wind. There is no opensky deck or roof, so you better leave your floor-standing instruments home. You can bring binoculars or compact tripod-mounted instruments for viewing thru the dome slit. The main instrument is a 175mm refractor on a German mount and electric drive. On it are attached a 75mm F10 guider, a 50mm F8 finder, and a 8X50 finder. Other rooms at the Observatory are for warmup and socializing, with plenty of chairs and tables. Do bring your camera fitted with cable release and an eyepiece adaptor/T-ring for astrophotgraphy. Superb lunar and planetary pictures are yours thru the main telescope! We may have the astrovideoscope hooked up, too! Bring along any favorite eyepieces, too, of 31mm ('American') shank diameter. If you fix to work on some project for yourself, these open sessions are the road to qualification. Once versed in the facilities you may arrange for personal sessions.
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BROOKLYN OBSERVATORY CLOSED ------------------------- 1994 November 1
The Brooklyn Observatory is closed until further notice due to sanitary hazards accumulated during the summer of 1994. Pigeons infested the facility and filled it with feathers, decayed food, trash, and other disgusting stuff. The hazards were discovered in the days before the first session of the season, set for Wednesday 12 October, but it was impossible to cancel that session. Dr Peter Brancazio, Observatory Director at Brooklyn College, is working to get the Observatory cleaned up. The pigeons infiltrated from under the lower rim of the dome, apparently all summer long when the Observatory was unused and untended. The mess will take several days to remove. However, the College facilities staff was decimated over the years and no definite appointment can be made for the cleanup job. Brancazio is emphasizing the health and safety concerns to the College authorities. All our monthly scheduled sessions are cancelled. All individual projects are also cancelled. Soonest the Observatory is returned to service we will reestablish the sessions.
BROOKLYN OBSERVATORY CLOSED ------------------------- 1995 February 1
The Brooklyn Observatory was forced out of service over the yearend holidays by a return attack of pigeon damage. The repairs done in late November 1994 were breached. This new invasion is not as severe as the first, but the observatory is plain unsanitary and hazardous to the health. Dr Peter Brancazio, Brooklyn College's observatory director, discovered the mess on Monday 9 January 1995 when preparing for the resumption of sessions on the 11th. He also found that chicken-wire netting was wrapped around both the dome frame and its wall tracks in effort to keep out the birds. This prevented the dome from rotating. Dr Brancazio already initiated formal complaints to the College's facilities and health departments. An other temporary fix is not acceptable because between the repair and Brancazio's inspection - comparable to the interval between the monthly sessions -- a disabling amount of pigeon debris and detritus accumulated. It is unlikely that a proper elimination of the pigeons can be done within the remainder of this season. To avoid another round of suspension-&-resumption, the Association and the Observatory cancelled all sessions for the rest of the 1994-1995 season.