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Roper Mountain Astronomers


  • October 07, 2021 9:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congratulations Cathy Z on winning our club raffle. We hope you enjoy your SkySync GPS and we will be in touch with you to deliver your prize!

  • September 17, 2021 8:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The weather cooperated and we were able to hold our July Star Party at the Observatory site as planned.  We experienced clouds and some rain in the area until 9:30pm when it started clearing.  By 11:00pm the western and northern skies were very clear and the east/south skies had patchy clouds.

    We had an unusually large turnout this month.  A lot of first time visits from members that have joined since we had to quit using the dark site last year.  It felt very good to be back in our "home" star party site.  The security of the site and the comfort of the training room has been missed!  Before darkness, we were able to meet and greet each other.  We also shared a lot of snacks and camaraderie during the evening.

    The younger visitors really enjoyed themselves with nature and other activities along with the exposure to astronomy. It was great to see the kids enjoying the beauty of the darkness and night sky with no game machines or phones glued to their faces!

    Everyone appreciated the opportunity to be surrounded by our fellow club members and to be able to enjoy the skills of our talented members.  Many members enjoyed casual observing with binoculars and telescopes. We were also treated to see Josh Palmer's obtain real time video of transiting satellites and David Quattlebaum's capture of nebula and galaxies!

    Thanks to David Moffett, Kepler Tumler, and David Quattlebaum, we were also able to remove the Meade 14" SCT from the Observatory and store it safely in the training room.  There will be a lot of maintenance activity in the Observatory this summer and we wanted the telescope to be safely stored. 

    We will post some photos in the members Photo Gallery area so you can be treated to some extremely nice smiles and happy faces.

  • August 12, 2021 9:00 PM | Anonymous member

    Have you ever wished upon a star? Now is your chance!

    August 12, 2021
    9:00 pm
    - 11:00 pm

    Have you ever wished upon a shooting star? Now is your chance! Join PARI from 9-11pm on August 12, 2021 for evening viewing of the Perseids Meteor Shower and the night sky at our historic, mountaintop, Internationally certified Dark Sky Park.

    Grab a picnic blanket or bring your own lawn chair and sit back and relax while enjoying the show that space provides as meteors rain down throughout the night!  Expected to be the brightest with the most meteors all year, so wrap up your summer with the experience of a lifetime at PARI.  PARI astronomers will also be on hand with telescopes for you to experience the night sky.

    REGISTER HERE for AUGUST 12, 2021 9-11pm

    Arrival time for this event is 8:30-9pm.  Please make arrangements to arrive during this time.  Late arrivals will not be permitted.

    Want more PARI?? Check out our OVERNIGHT CABIN  and OVERNIGHT CAMPING packages for the Perseids Meteor Shower that PARI will host on August 13-14, 2021.

    For additional information please contact PARI at 828-862-5554 or

    Perseids Meteor Shower - Evening Viewing ONLY - PARI
  • July 04, 2021 12:28 PM | Anonymous member

    Club Members

    Summer is here and so is our unpredictable weather.  The star party portion of our recent picnic at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site was cancelled.  However, the picnic portion with Bucky’s BBQ did take place.  If you haven’t done so check out the pictures on our website.  Thanks to all who helped make this event happen! 


    We do have some great news!  The Furman Observatory is reopening.  Our July 10th Star Party will be held at the Furman site. Additionally, the Roper Mountain Science Center is reopening.  Our July 15th Club meeting will be in person at the Science Center in the conference room, at 7:30pm.  We intend to broadcast this meeting via Zoom as well!   July’s topic is practical astronomy.  Based on our club survey there was a request for more hands on observational topics.  This is the first meeting of this topic and we hope to have more in the near future.  Randy Cockrill will demonstrate “Electrically Assisted Astronomy”. Josh Palmer will cover “Satellite Observing and Photography”.  Ed Overstreet will discuss “Permanent Outdoor Telescopes With Wireless Remote Access”.  We had a successful rehearsal broadcasting on Zoom from the science center this last week. 


    Josh Palmer has created a Private Discord Server for our club.  Discord is a free platform that allows communities and special interest groups to come together to chat and hold video meetings.  Check it out on our website under the Forums tab.


    The October Club Meeting will feature Executive Committee Board elections.  There are seven Board positions.  All positions are open for election.  Any club member can nominate someone for a position.  You can also nominate yourself for a position.   The seven positions are President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and three each Board Members at Large.  If you are interested in serving in anyone of these positions please contact me.  It is highly suggested that you attend a board meeting prior to nominating yourself.  Board meetings are all done via Zoom the second Thursday of each month. 

    See you soon!

    Bill Michaud


    Roper Mountain Astronomers Club

  • June 21, 2021 9:00 PM | Anonymous member

    Enter IDA’s ‘Capture the Dark’ Photography Contest

    on JUNE 21, 2021

    Capture the Dark Photography Contest

    Photography plays a powerful role in the dark sky movement. A photograph of the naturally dark sky connects those who’ve never laid eyes on the naturally dark sky to a universe hidden behind the veil of skyglow. Similarly, images of wildlife and the night impacted by light pollution can spark conservation awareness and action. Photography has the power to transport us and inspire us to connect with and ultimately protect the night. 

    In celebration, the International Dark-Sky Association is hosting the second annual Capture the Dark Photography Contest! It is free to enter and open to entrants worldwide. Winners of each category will receive a prize package that includes a Peak Design field pouch and camera strap, a PhotoPills license, a feature in our Nightscape publication, the IDA blog and social media, an IDA membership, and IDA swag.


    Entry Period:

    The contest submission window opens on June 21, 2021, at 12 pm PDT, and closes on July 23, 2021, at 12 pm PDT. To participate in the contest, please carefully review the submission instructions located here and use the submission links below.



    One winner will be selected for each categoryLimit one entry per category per person.


    • Connecting to the Dark – Experiencing a natural night provides perspective, inspiration, and leads us to reflect on our humanity and place in the universe. Share a photo that illustrates our connection to the night. 
    • International Dark Sky Place – Over 170 protected lands and municipalities around the world have been certified by IDA as an International Dark Sky Place creating havens for astrophotographers. Share a photo taken in one of these locations.
    • The Impact of Light Pollution – Light pollution can have significant impacts on the environment, human health, and our access to the night sky. Share a shot that demonstrates the impact of light pollution. This category also includes images of terrible lighting, glare bombs, etc. 
    • The Bright Side of Lighting – Light pollution can give artificial lighting a bad reputation, but lighting that follows IDA’s Principles for Responsible Outdoor Light can be beautiful, healthy, and functional. Share a shot of lighting that respects the dark. 
    • Creatures of the Night – Light pollution doesn’t only erase our view of the stars, scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on wildlife including amphibians, birds, insects, and mammals. Share a photo of a creature that is impacted by light pollution. 
    • Deep Sky – For thousands of years, humans have looked to the night sky and wondered what is out there. Today, we can take photos of deep space objects from our own backyards. Share a photo of an object(s) such as nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters.
    • The Mobile Photographer – No big camera? No problem! Share a shot from any of the above categories taken with a cell phone, tablet, or GoPro. No DSLR, mirrorless camera, or drone shots. 
    • Youth – Share a shot for any of the above categories taken by someone 17 years old or younger. 



      To judge submissions, IDA has coordinated a panel of astrophotographers from around the world:

      Entrants will remain anonymous to the panel during the judging period. 

      We want to extend a special thank you to the sponsors of the 2021 Capture the Dark Photography Contest for their generous support.


      Peak Design Logo

      Contest Details: 

      • Be sure to carefully follow the submission instructions located here. Failure to do so may result in disqualification.
      • You must include ALL of the required information in the caption section including camera settings (lens, shutter speed, ISO, aperture, etc.), technical category, and connection to the category. More information on what is required here.
      • The contest is free to enter. There is no purchase necessary. 
      • One entry per category per person.
      • The same photograph cannot be submitted to more than one category.
      • Submissions must be received between June 21, 2021, at 12pm PDT and July 23, 2021, at 12pm PDT using the submission form. 
      • The photo must be in JPEG format. 
      • Entrants applying to the Youth category must be 17 years of age or younger at the time of submission. 
      • Entrants must be the sole and exclusive author and owner of the photograph and have the full and exclusive right, power, and authority to submit the photograph to IDA’s Capture the Dark contest. 
      • All photos should follow ethical dark sky and wildlife photography practices and be taken legally (see below). 
      • In order to keep the judging process blind, submitted photos cannot be watermarked or be otherwise marked.


        Photo Entry Rules:

        All photos should follow ethical night sky and wildlife photography practices. Images that inappropriately add artificial light at night (such as light painting, shining white light towards the sky, etc.) will not be considered. Images must be taken legally, adhering to local access regulations such as nighttime closures or restrictions. Do not go to closed areas to photograph for this contest. 

        On the entry submission form in the caption section, you must indicate how your photo was taken or created! You must provide the correct information in the caption section when submitting your photo of your photograph will be disqualified. 

        In the caption section please tell us ALL of the following:

        • The camera settings you used for the photo (focal length, ISO, shutter speed, etc.) If submitting to the mobile category let us know what you used to take the photo. Be as detailed as you can. 
        • Which technical category your photo falls under (single exposure, blend, stacked, tracked, panorama). Select all that apply, more information on each can be found below.
        • The connection your photo has to the contest category (less than 100 words)
        • Any additional information you’d like to share about the photo

        The following is adapted from Royce Bair’s Nightscaper group.

        The following images are ALLOWED: 

        Single exposure: The image is a single exposure. In expression: the camera triggered only once to acquire the image. The image is a single light frame. 

        Blend: A digital combination of several images taken from the same tripod position, during the same night, with the same shooting direction and focal length.

        This includes:

        • Foregrounds captured during the blue hour/with moonlight, combined with a sky captured during astronomical night/without the moon in the sky.
        • Focus stacks for an increased depth of field
        • Tracked skies, blended with untracked foregrounds. In this case, small movement of the tripod position (i.e. to the backside of a foreground feature, to avoid too much blur in the tracked sky image) is acceptable but must be stated.

        Stacked: Noise reduction by stacking multiple images taken in immediate succession and with exactly the same settings, focal point, and length, field of view, and tripod position.

        Tracked: A tracking mount was used to capture the sky. These devices rotate the camera to counter earth rotation and thus allow longer exposures without producing trailed stars. Tracked & Blended images are allowed if they were both taken using the same tripod position as stated above. 

        Panorama: Multiple images stitched to produce a larger field of view. The individual images must be taken during the same night, from the same tripod position, and at the same focal length.

        The following images are NOT ALLOWED: 


        • Images merged together from different tripod positions/locations or with different viewing directions
        • Images merged together taken during different nights
        • Images merged together with different focal lengths
        • Images merged together with daylight foregrounds and night skies


        Make a Submission:

        STOP! Please carefully review the submission instructions located here to be sure that your submission is successfully received with all of the required information. If you do not put the correct information in the caption section your photo will be disqualified.  There is also a video walkthrough of the submission process located here. These instructions should help any answer questions that may arise during the submission process and ensure your photo is received successfully.

        Note: There are individual submission links for each contest category, be sure you are submitting to the correct category.

        Connecting to the Dark
        International Dark Sky Place
        The Impact of Light Pollution
        The Bright Side of Lighting
        Creatures of the Night
        Deep Sky
        The Mobile Photographer

        Help Spread the Word: 

        We have put together an outreach kit will all the tools you need to help us spread the word about IDA’s ‘Capture the Dark’ Photography Contest. Click here to get a copy.

        Questions about IDA’s ‘Capture the Dark’ Photography Contest? Please reach out to Lauren Scorzafava ( Note, submissions will not be accepted by email. 



        Looking for some astrophotography tips? We’ve got you covered! Check out this Astrophotography 101 YouTube video with Bettymaya Foott or check out her written guide.

        Like this post? Share. Email. Print.

        Enter IDA’s ‘Capture the Dark’ Photography Contest | International Dark-Sky Association (

      • June 17, 2021 3:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        Our picnic was held at Musgrove Mill Memorial Park on Saturday June 12.  Severe storms went through the Laurens area around 3pm but were out of the area by the time we stated at 6pm.  

        Bucky's Barbecue catered the event  with pulled pork and chicken barbecue, mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, cold slaw and drinks.  Everyone had plenty to eat and it was excellent as usual.

        Before eating, several of us took to one of the 2.5 miles of nature trails in the park and walked to the Enoree River where the old bridge used to cross it for many years.  Only the foundation pillars remain but the river is impressive at this site.  We saw a display with a photo of the last mill house on the site from 1908.  There is also a memorial commemorating the Revolutionary battle found at this location.  We did not get to see the Horseshoe Falls area as it closed at 6pm.

        After dinner, David Quattlebaum gave a talk on how to locate objects in the night sky using various coordinate systems, apps, and landmarks in the sky.   This talk triggered a great discussion of what everyone liked to observe and how they find objects.  The talk led into each person introducing themselves and relating how they got into astronomy as a hobby.  It was great to meet our newer members that have not been able to get together in person. 

        Josh Palmer held a raffle for some items and Su Devaraj won the Wonder Globe and Scott Stevens won the Telrad red dot finder.  Congratulations to the winners and we plan to have more raffles in the future.  

        After the raffle, Josh demonstrated how he track satellites and photographs then with his Celestron  11-inch f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.  The demonstration was held inside the picnic shelter due to the clouds.  Josh will be repeating this in the future when we will be able to see satellites being tracked.

        Overall we had a great picnic and only clear skies and a star party could have been better,  Thanks to everyone who participated to make this event happen.  Our members and board really work to make our club a success. Their passion for our hobby and our club is obvious with the participation we see in all our events.

        We owe a special "Thank You" to Dawn Weaver. Dawn is the Park Manager at the Musgrove Mills park.  She was extremely helpful in getting the Special Permit for our party to be held after hours.  Dawn also met with us and shared her in-depth knowledge of the park.  For instance, she informed us of the large bat population on the sire with two bat houses, the recent new births that were monitored, and the value of the bats in controlling mosquitos and other insects in the area. 

        Josh has added a folder to the Photo Galleries section for the picnic.  If anyone else has photos they want to post, let Josh know and he can setup a folder for you.

      • June 15, 2021 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        A new members-only page has been added on the website; Located under the Members menu, the Club Bylaws page now lists the current, amended Club Bylaws document. This new document was voted into effect this past Spring. 

        Also added is a members-only page for our new Discord server. This page contains a description of Discord, a list of active users, and a link to join our server. The page can be found under the Forums menu. More details can be found there. 

      • May 21, 2021 8:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        We just received some great news.  Furman is allowing visitors on campus and that allows us to get back  to our dark site at the Observatory on Hwy 11. We will have access to the air conditioned building just in time for our sweltering summer nights.  It will also  be great to have rest rooms again. 

        Anyone inside the buildings will  have to wear masks per the University rules and unvaccinated people should wear them outdoors as it can be crowded at this site.

        We have already scheduled the June Star Party and Picnic for Musgrove Mills Memorial Park, but the following dates will be at our home site.  

      • February 26, 2021 5:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

        The Raleigh Astronomy Club is having an online meeting tonight and is open to the public. 

        Register to get the ZOOM link at :!event/2021/2/26/indoor-meeting

        Meeting Time:  Friday 2/26 at  7:30pm (Meeting room opens about 7pm for informal chat)

        Meeting Topic: Pluto, Our Distant Cousin

        Abstract: Over the last few years, Pluto has turned out to be one of the most interesting places in our Solar System.  Far from being just a remote rock/ice lump at the edge of the Solar System, it turns out that Pluto is a cooler cousin of Earth/Mars.  The New Horizons mission transformed our understanding of Pluto and the data that was obtained is still leading to new questions and answers today.  This talk will cover some of the latest research and theories on Pluto. 

        Speaker: Ian Hewitt is a long-time RAC member and long time amateur astronomer.  He is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, teaches astronomy at Coastal Carolina University and is an Research Adjunct at the Astronomy and Astrophysics Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  Although his main efforts are in astronomical data processing, he hasalways been fascinated by Pluto.

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