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Roper Mountain Astronomers


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  • October 22, 2023 3:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our annual board elections were conducted last Thursday evening. The membership voted to accept the continuation of our current board. Thank you all for your support and continued trust in our leadership team. We hope that the coming year will be an exciting time for the club, with new opportunities to share our love of astronomy with our community, while support that passion within our membership.

    The elected leaders are:

    President: David Quattlebaum
    Vice-President: Scott Stevens
    Treasurer: Casey Amarnek
    Secretary: Bill Linton
    Members at Large:

    • Sam Horton 
    • Mark Stanford
    • Dave Hoyt

    Thank you again for your support!


  • October 15, 2023 5:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Yesterday we had a special StarParty day, beginning at lunch time, observing the partial annular eclipse of the sun. Lots of clouds early, but they broke in time to have some very nice views of the moon's shadow crossing the sun.

    Later in the evening it was windy, but extremely clear. With the club's EdgeHD C14" scope we viewed the Dumbbell nebula, the Phantom Galaxy (M74), the Ring Nebula, and Saturn and Jupiter.

    Other club members viewed and imaged the Veil Nebula, Sirius, and several star clusters.

    If you have not yet attended a Star Party, please join us! It is a wonderful time for getting help with your telescope, enjoying the naked eye views of the Milky Way of getting to know other astronomy enthusiasts!

  • July 23, 2023 9:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Yesterday was an amazing day! As most of your know we have been raising money to install a Celestron 14" EdgeHD telescope with a brand new Skywatcher EQ8R Pro Mount into the observatory. Yesterday, we did it! 

    I just want to thank everyone who contributed to this effort! Without even one contribution, this would not have been possible. First, thank you to our membership who donated generously to help us with extra-budgetary funds for this project. Secondly, we would not have had a project like this without the donation of the telescope by Furman University and spearheaded by David Moffett. Also, one of our club members purchased our prior observatory telescope, the Meade 14". Finally, I want to thank Sam Horton and Allen Hill for helping with the installation yesterday!

    All of these contributions were necessary for our club to make this investment in the future, and I personally, and more importantly the board as a whole thank you for your contribution! 

    David Quattlebaum

  • April 09, 2023 11:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week while I was in Chicago I decided to spend a few hours at the Adler Planetarium. The facility is beautiful architecturally and as it is located on the lake, affords excellent views of the city and the shore line. There are great presentations for kids, explaining the basics of our solar system and the universe in general with interactive displays and videos.

    I took in a couple of shows while there as well. The first was Skywatch Live which simulated the actual date of the night sky in Chicago, dimming the light pollution to zero, and allowing those who do not have an opportunity to view the sky in a dark location the wonder of a truly dark location. I also viewed Planet Nine which simulated views of the Kuyper belt and explained the reasoning behind a Planet Nine hypothesis. Excellent visualizations and narration. Additionally and the end, we got to see a view of awards being presented to David Jewett who has been a speaker for our club a couple of times!

    Finally I really enjoyed viewing the Adler’s telescope collection. They have a cousin to the Roper Mountain Science Center’s Observatory telescope, also made by Clark. While the objectives are no longer housed in the scope they have restored and preserved the OTA and mount beautifully. Also in the collection was the oldest telescope in the USA.

    If you are ever in the Chicago area, the Adler Planetarium is definitely worth the visit!

  • March 11, 2023 10:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Roper Mountain Astronomers have joined the International Dark Sky Association

    as a member. The IDA actively promotes the protection of our night sky from excessive light pollution. Our immediate past president Bill Michaud serves as an ambassador for the IDA. If you are interested in the IDA mission and would like to help or would like to learn more, please feel free to look up Bill in the membership section of our site and reach out!

    Additionally, consider participating in the Globe At Night Citizen Science project. Each night you are out observing, take a couple of minutes to use their online app to note your observation conditions. Click here to visit the app.

  • October 22, 2022 9:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    First I want to begin by thanking members of our club who have been and continue to be interested in serving through leadership. We are very lucky to have an engaged and active board who genuinely has the best interest of our mission at heart.

    Thursday evening was our annual board election. We began with a contested election for two Member at Large positions, and just before voting one of the candidates graciously withdrew, leaving the election uncontested. As a result we took a yes/no vote and approved the board. Below is our list of board members for the coming year:

    David Quattlebaum - President
    Scott Stevens - Vice President
    Casey Amarnek - Treasurer
    Bill Linton - Secretary
    Sam Horton - Member at Large
    Dave Hoyt - Member at Large (New)
    Mark Stanford - Member at Large (New)

    I would like to especially thank the two members who stepped down this year, Bob Brauer and Ed Overstreet. Thank you for your time serving the club!

    Clear Skies! (Please)

    David Quattlebaum

  • September 17, 2022 2:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Oftentimes we retire an old laptop because it has become out of date or the hardware no longer meets our needs. I have found that converting an old laptop to a Linux operating system commonly adds life to a piece of equipment which would normally be sent to be recycled. Such was the case with my small HP Laptop which had seen better days. Instead of getting rid of it, I decided to convert it to a Linux Mint OS laptop. This is a variety of Ubuntu Linux which includes a ton of native drivers (which can sometimes be an issue with Linux) and has a user interface which feels a lot like Windows or a Mac.

    My intent was to use this laptop as a secondary Astrophotography laptop for my smaller rig. Equipment I was interested in running:
    1. Skywatcher HEQ5 Equatorial GoTo Mount
    2. ZWO 533 MC Pro Cooled multi-color camera
    3. Orion StarShoot Autoguider Camera
    4. RedCat51 Telescope

    Functionally I needed to have Planetarium Software to drive the mount, guider software for my guide scope/camera, plate solving, and imaging software to capture images for stacking.

    Here is the software I installed:
    1. KStars (Planetarium as well as INDI Server software (Replaces ASCOM)
    2. EKOS Plugins for KStars. This is the backbone of the system for imaging, as it interfaces the mount, guiding, and image sequencing into one interface
    3. Caffeine (Keeps laptop from going to sleep)
    4. X11VNC Server (Remote desktop software that allowed me to control the laptop from inside my house)
    5. Discord (So that I can chat with my fellow Astronomy enthusiasts while imaging)

    A couple of things I learned:
    1. The internal EKOS guiding software is very good. So much so that I uninstalled PHD2 in favor of the internal guiding
    2. Take time and install ALL of the index files for plate solving. The solving software is quite good as well and allows for incremental solving to a ratio of accuracy
    3. Using the Startup wizard in KStars was key to success. It finds all the drivers and asks you all of the questions the system needs to know. You will manually need to set up Aperture and Focal length to have successful plate solves.
    4. If you want your planetarium experience to be similar to Stellarium, take the time to download the enhanced view files.

    As a bonus, if you are a fan of EAA, or you are a planetary imager, the ZWO Studio suite is available natively on Linux.

    For processing, nothing beats Pixinsight, and guess what....Pixinsight is built originally FOR LINUX. In fact, when you use Pixinsight on your Windows laptop, it is a PORT of the software from the Linux Version.

    Feel free to message me on Discord if you have specific questions about this configuration. Most of this software is available from the package manager located in the start menu of Linux Mint.

    Clear Skies!

  • September 17, 2022 8:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, making the planet appear larger and brighter than any other time of the year. But that’s not all. Jupiter will also make its closest approach to Earth in the last 70 years! This happens because Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles – meaning the planets will pass each other at different distances throughout the year. Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, which means this year’s views will be extraordinary. At its closest approach, Jupiter will be approximately 365 million miles in distance from Earth. The massive planet is approximately 600 million miles away from Earth at its farthest point.


  • April 14, 2022 7:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Our RMA speaker from last month is featured in several articles about the confirmation of the largest known comet. Last month David Jewitt discussed with the club details of comet discovery, and this month he is one of the team that used the Hubble telescope to confirm the size of the largest know comet to date. Check out the article on NASA's website
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