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Roper Mountain Astronomers


  • December 31, 2020 10:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I just wanted to personally wish everyone a happy and safe New Year! Thank you for sticking with us, not only through the transition to the new RMA Website, but also through the introduction of our virtual meetings and events. 2020 has been a very challenging year for everyone, but it also has been full of interesting opportunities: Seeing the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, watching all of the historic SpaceX launches, 4 consecutive "supermoons", a Lunar Eclipse, and more. I am convinced that 2021 will bring us together once again, where we can observe and share the night sky with each other in person. 

    Happy New Year! 

    Josh Palmer
    RMA Webmaster & Board Member at Large

  • December 22, 2020 10:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From Allen Hill:

    We had a good turnout for the Christmas Star event at the Blue Ridge RC field. RMA and flying club members took part. We had some guests come late as people went home and told their families about the event.  Also Jonathan Zrake (our last guest speaker) brought his wife and baby daughter out.

    I think we were the last people in South Carolina as Bob was showing the last guests the planets at 7:10pm as they were on the horizon!

  • November 29, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous member

    Upcoming Lunar Eclipses. 

    This sight has details about upcoming eclipses and where they will be visible from.  Very detailed!

  • November 24, 2020 12:02 PM | Anonymous member

    Some cool thinks from the European Space Observatory

  • November 23, 2020 10:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NASA has a rich selection of resources for anyone interested in Astrobiology in general or career opportunities in this field. One weekly series is an interactive meeting with leading astrobiologists at NASA.  Ask An Astrobiologist allows real time interaction and recordIngs are also onsite. 

    November 24, 2020 10AM PST

    Our guest is Dr. Melissa Trainer, a Deputy Principal Investigator (PI) for the Dragonfly mission to Saturn's moon Titan, and lead for the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer (DraMS), an instrument supporting the Dragonfly investigation of Titan's surface composition and characterization of potential prebiotic chemistry! She has spent more than a decade characterizing the chemical and physical properties of Titan and early Earth organic aerosol analogs.

  • November 23, 2020 10:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Star-gazers are in for a treat over Christmas, as Jupiter and Saturn will get closer to each other in Earth's night sky than they have been for nearly 800 years. Set up your telescope, hope for a clear night, and get ready.

    The celestial synchronisation has been in the works since summer as Jupiter and y have been moving closer together in the night sky, and between 16-25 December they'll be separated by only 1/5th the diameter of a full moon.

    While the planets won't physically be close to each other at all, of course, they'll look like a single point of bright light to anyone looking up at the night sky.

    "Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another," says astronomer Patrick Hartigan from Rice University.

    star g 2How the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction will appear to telescope viewers. (Patrick Hartigan/CC BY 4.0)

    "You'd have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky."

    To get the best viewing experience for this spectacular show, you're going to need to be somewhere near the equator – but if the skies are clear then the alignment should still be visible from just about anywhere on Earth.

    The pair of planets will show up in the night sky for about an hour after sunset each evening, according to astronomers. If you're hoping to catch a glimpse yourself, you'll need to point your telescope towards the western sky.

    "On the evening of closest approach on Dec 21 they will look like a double planet, separated by only 1/5th the diameter of the full moon," says Hartigan. "For most telescope viewers, each planet and several of their largest moons will be visible in the same field of view that evening."

    "The further north a viewer is, the less time they'll have to catch a glimpse of the conjunction before the planets sink below the horizon."

    The planets will be bright enough in the sky to be visible in twilight, which might be the best time to try and take a look at them if you're in the US. Websites such as Stellarium should help you work out where you should be looking from your vantage point.

    While this kind of alignment hasn't occurred since the Middle Ages, it will happen again fairly soon, in March 2080. After that though, Jupiter and Saturn won't get as close in our night sky until 2400.

    When we're dealing with these sorts of timescales, it always pays to keep up to date with what's happening around the Solar System – you don't want to miss something incredible

  • November 05, 2020 9:23 PM | Anonymous member
  • October 23, 2020 4:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you missed this event,  you can see a recording at:

    This lecture ("Schrödinger's Alarming Phenomenon") was recorded on October 22, 2020 as part of the UofSC Department of Physics and Astronomy's weekly colloquium series.

    Dr. Rocky Kolb is the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) as well as the Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.

    Abstract: The big bang is a laboratory to explore the properties of particles that cannot be created in terrestrial laboratories. In addition to thermal processes, there is another source of cosmological particle production. In 1939, Erwin Schrödinger pointed out that particle-antiparticle pairs could be created merely by the violent expansion of space. The spontaneous appearance of particles from the vacuum so disturbed Schrödinger that he referred to it as an "alarming" phenomenon. The phenomenon is now thought to be the origin of density fluctuations produced in inflation as well as a background of gravitational waves. Gravitational particle production is a rich phenomenon, which continues to be explored.

  • October 21, 2020 7:59 PM | Anonymous member

    If you missed this event, it is now on YouTube. 

    Link is at the bottom.

    This event was sponsored by the University of SC.

    Dr. Mario Livio is an internationally known astrophysicist, best-selling author, and popular speaker. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Dr. Livio has published more than 400 scientific articles. He has made significant theoretical contributions to topics ranging from cosmology, supernova explosions, and black holes to extrasolar planets and the emergence of life in the universe. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his research, including having been selected as the “Carnegie Centenary Professor” by the universities of Scotland in 2003, and as the “Danz Distinguished Lecturer” by the University of Washington in 2006.

    Dr. Livio is also the author of seven popular science books. His bestselling book The Golden Ratio won him the Peano Prize in 2003 and the International Pythagoras Prize in 2004, as the best popular book on mathematics. His book Is God A Mathematician? inspired the NOVA program “The Great Math Mystery,” which was nominated for an EMMY in 2016. His book Brilliant Blunders was selected by The Washington Post as one of the Notable Books of 2013. His book Galileo and the Science Deniers appeared in May 2020.

    Dr. Livio appears frequently in the media, including “The Daily Show,” “60 Minutes,” and multiple NOVA programs, as well as numerous radio programs such as “Science Friday,” “All Things Considered,” “On Being,” and “Studio 360."

    During the past three decades he has given hundreds of talks across the globe at venues ranging from the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and the Hayden Planetarium in New York, to the Royal Astronomical Society in London, Tel Aviv University, TEDx Mid-Atlantic in Washington DC, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Ciudad de las Ideas in Mexico, and the Berlin Planetarium. He has been a regular speaker at the World Science Festival in New York, and was selected five times as one of the “Nifty Fifty” scientists by the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC. He is also Science Advisor to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and has presented science-related topics in a number of their concerts. He has collaborated with composer Paola Prestini in the creation of the “Hubble Cantata,” which was inspired by Hubble images and discoveries.

     Click here to watch

  • October 20, 2020 12:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    (This is a great opportunity to jojn with U of SC Physics and Astronomy students and faculty for current topics and research)

    For those who may not know,  the department also offers a colloquium series on select Thursday afternoons at 4:15 pm EDT during the Fall and Spring semesters. 

    Our colloquia feature speakers from both U of SC and other institutions around the world. This semester, our colloquia are being held virtually on Zoom, which may allow some to attend that could not typically participate in past face-to-face Thursday talks.

    To be added to our colloquia email list (in addition to our separate public lectures and special events list), please reply to Sam Beals at  I will send the Zoom meeting infomation each Thurday morning

    For more information on our colloquia, feel free to visit this website.  

    Sam Beals -  Student Services Coordinator

    Department of Physics and Astronomy
    College of Arts and Sciences
    University of South Carolina

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