Roper Mountain Astronomers


  • 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

  • October 14, 2020 8:09 PM | Anonymous member

    Club Members

    Hello and we hope you are all doing well.  At our last board meeting we discussed the annual Christmas Party.  Although this has been a tradition for many years and participation has always been very good, the board decided unanimously not to have a Christmas Party this year.  With the safety of all club members we felt this was the right thing to do.   

    We have a few loaner scopes that are in need of use.  We have an awesome 10" Meade LXD75 Newtonian that needs a home.  If you want to borrow this scope or any of the ones on the web page, by all means let one of the Board members know.  We will provide training on how to use them as well.   This is a great opportunity to try a larger more sophisticated scope before purchasing a new one. 


    Bill Michaud

  • October 01, 2020 4:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Over the next week, we will have many great opportunities to observe (or photograph) the International Space Station. Highest altitude passes are in bold. The cooler weather also seems to be bringing in some clear skies, which means our chances of seeing the ISS are greatly improved from over the summer. We also have the Spot The Station widget on the main page for the daily passes. If you have any questions about observing or photographing the ISS, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. - Josh

    Date Visible Max Height* Appears Disappears
    Thu Oct 1, 9:20 PM < 1 min 10° 10° above NNW 10° above NNW
    Fri Oct 2, 8:33 PM 1 min 13° 10° above N 13° above NNE
    Sat Oct 3, 9:22 PM < 1 min 15° 10° above NW 15° above NW
    Sun Oct 4, 8:35 PM 3 min 30° 10° above NNW 30° above NNE
    Mon Oct 5, 7:48 PM 4 min 20° 10° above NNW 13° above ENE
    Mon Oct 5, 9:25 PM < 1 min 17° 17° above WNW 17° above WNW
    Tue Oct 6, 8:37 PM 3 min 74° 13° above NW 73° above SSW
    Wed Oct 7, 7:49 PM 6 min 57° 10° above NW 16° above ESE
    Wed Oct 7, 9:28 PM < 1 min 10° 10° above WSW 10° above WSW
    Thu Oct 8, 8:40 PM 2 min 20° 18° above WSW 15° above SSW
    Fri Oct 9, 7:53 PM 3 min 37° 35° above WSW 11° above SSE
    Sun Oct 11, 7:55 PM < 1 min 11° 11° above SW 10° above SW

  • September 27, 2020 6:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In response to the fantastic presentation given by Dr. Ludovic Ferrière, we have added a new site page featuring Dr. Ferrière, the Natural History Museum of Vienna, and the opportunities for Citizen Science. In the coming weeks, Dr. Ferrière has graciously offered to provide additional information about South Carolina meteorites in his collection. Stay tuned! Until then, enjoy the new page, the video recording of his tour, and consider helping with the hunt for meteorites through citizen science or direct financial support. 

  • September 25, 2020 1:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator),great%20phase%20for%20evening%20observing.

    International Observe the Moon Night is a time to come together with fellow Moon enthusiasts and curious people worldwide. Everyone on Earth is invited to learn about lunar science and exploration, take part in celestial observations, and honor cultural and personal connections to the Moon. Note that we encourage you to interpret “observe” broadly.

    International Observe the Moon Night occurs annually in September or October, when the Moon is around first quarter ― a great phase for evening observing. Furthermore, a first-quarter Moon offers excellent viewing opportunities along the terminator (the line between night and day), where shadows enhance the Moon’s cratered landscape.

    You can join International Observe the Moon Night from wherever you are. Attend or host a virtual or in-person event, or observe the Moon from home. Connect with fellow lunar enthusiasts around the world through our Facebook page, #ObserveTheMoon on your preferred social media platform, and join the International Observe the Moon Night Flickr group. Outdoors, at home, online, or wherever you may be, we’re glad to have you with us. However you choose to observe, please follow local guidelines on health and safety.

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