Grand Mesa Observatory at TEDx GJ - "We Are Creators"

Grand Mesa Observatory was invited to exhibit at the 2nd. annual TEDx Grand Junction. This year's theme was "We Are Creators" and the day-long event featured a series of talks plus a display area in which GMO had a booth. 

"In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience". "The  difference between TED and TEDx events are that the former takes more of a global approach while the latter typically focuses on a local community that concentrates on local voices."

During breaks from the main speakers of the day, attendees of the event visited the booths in the display area. The Grand Mesa Observatory booth featured a rotating slide show about the observatory and its nonprofit mission, astrophotos taken at GMO, a telescope demonstration, a banner about our services, and both the director and assistant director who were there all day speaking with guests.

As one of the Western Slope's newest technological entities we were honored and proud to share our creative offerings with the attendees of this important TEDx event.

"The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars" Light Up Clifton Elementary"

On February 1st., "The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars" was presented to a group of 2nd to 5th graders with Significant Special Needs.The idea was to get them excited about astronomy with a preliminary presentation, then follow that up with a visit by the students to the observatory. The students participated by answering quiz questions and by asking questions. The one question from presenter, GMO volunteer Nancy, that always gets a lot of responses is "who thinks that they might want to be an astronomer or an astronaut someday?" Many hands always go up in the air! A number of teachers attended the presentation as well, along with enthusiastic questions of their own. As astonishing as details about the solar system and the universe are, the video of the GMO roof opening and the telescopes slewing, and astrophotos taken at GMO always prove to be the highlight of the presentation for the young audience members. Audible gasps can usually be heard. GMO looks forward to a visit by the group!

A Very Special Birthday Celebration for Danny

Grand Mesa Observatory was host to a very special birthday gift from the fabulous wife of "turning 35" Danny. Katie wanted to give Danny, who loves the stars, a very special gift for his birthday. To do so, she rented telescope time at Grand Mesa Observatory along with an astrophotography lesson from Director Terry Hancock. Katie and Danny had a private tour of the observatory complex, after which they spent a number of hours in the main observatory, enjoying hors d'ouvres, taking long exposure images of the deep sky object “Barnard's Loop” with Terry, learning how to process the data, and eventually celebrating with birthday cake, candles, and singing from the observatory staff.

A week or so later, Danny and Katie returned and Danny was surprised and thrilled that Katie had a second gift for him - a glossy print of Barnard's Loop from the data they had taken! This amazing picture is already proudly hanging in their home as a reminder of this unique birthday experience, and the couple has even reported back to observatory staff how enthralled they were with their experience at GMO. Danny has subsequently helped enhance the electrical setup in the PodMax research and science dome at the observatory, and the couple will no doubt be fantastic volunteers and friends to the observatory going forward.

Outreach on the Opposite Side of the Mesa

On February 9th, 2019 the Grand Mesa Observatory was asked to present at the Collbran branch of the Mesa County Library system! The presenter for this event was GMO’s assistant director Isaac Garfinkle, and for this particular public outreach event the topic was our general-purpose introduction to astronomy titled “Our Home the Milky Way and Beyond”. In addition to a couple local residents we were fortunate enough to have the members of a small local astronomy club in attendance, the members of whom are currently participants at the nearby Civilian Conservation Corps just down the road from the library. Our hostess for the event was the branch director, Julie, and we could not have asked for anyone better! In addition to getting the incredible space set up for visitors she gave a great overview of the historical significance of the property which is located in a very old bank building. Isaac brought some prints to show what the observatory does, as well as some equipment to show what a typical imaging setup would look like.

This was a very fun event with great participation and a great location, so hopefully we can make it back up to Collbran soon!

Galaxies, Star Clusters and Nebulae Fill the Hall at Mesa County Main Branch Library!

The Grand Mesa Observatory is thrilled to have an exhibit of astrophotography prints lining the hallway of the main branch of the Mesa County Library. The Library and Grand Mesa Observatory are both dedicated to bringing astronomy to the people of Western Colorado.

All of the stunning photos of deep space objects were taken locally right here on the Western Slope (many at Grand Mesa Observatory). Four of GMO's staff (Terry Hancock, Isaac Garfinkle, John Mansur, and Tom Masterson), plus Western Colorado Astronomy club member Victor Barton's talents are showcased at the exhibit. The photos cover a diverse range of deep sky objects and are done in color, Hubble Palette, and black and white. Something for everyone! The exhibit opened on February 1st. and will run through March 14th.

Members of the community are encouraged to view the exhibit and are also invited to visit Grand Mesa Observatory for tours of the observatory and night sky viewing events. They are also invited to attend Western Colorado Astronomy Club meetings held at the library as well as special astronomy events to be held there. Information can be found at grandmesaobservatory.com and  wcacastronomy.org


GMO's Technology Shines at the Mesa County Tech Expo

On January 22, 2019, Grand Mesa Observatory set up a display table as part of the annual Tech Expo held at the main branch of the Mesa County Library. This was the second year that GMO was invited to participate in the event which features local technologies. As with the year before, GMO set up a table alongside the table of the Western Colorado Astronomy Club. A number of astrophotos taken at the observatory along with a rotating slide show about the observatory and the work that is done here were featured in the display. Many interested members of the public stopped by to chat with Terry, Isaac, Nancy and Don from GMO to learn about us. They were invited to attend planned public night sky viewing events. Some are interested in becoming volunteers or in learning astrophotography. But - all were impressed by the astronomy education that GMO provides to the people of the Western Slope and by the astonishing photos of space objects that are taken here. 

A Strong Start to 2019!

On January 15, 2019, Grand Mesa Observatory started the New Year off right with volunteer Nancy giving a presentation entitled "The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars" to a group of first graders at Glenwood Springs Elementary School. The enthusiastic group was excited to learn fun facts about our only moon, the sun that gives life to our planet, and the vast number of stars that populate the universe. A lot of photos in the presentation helped illustrate some of the science in a fun way! The students eagerly answered quiz questions. Teachers and students were encouraged to schedule a visit to Grand Mesa Observatory to see some celestial objects for themselves through our telescopes. 

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Parachute First Graders Ace Astronomy Quiz Questions

Question: What has 90 heads and a million questions?

Answer: The first graders in Parachute! 

On November 28, 2018, GMO volunteer Nancy gave a presentation to the first graders at Grand Valley Center For Family Learning entitled "The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars". The enthusiastic group of young people had been studying this topic for a number of weeks. The school hallways were decorated with fun posters that the first graders had created in this theme. They got to test their recently acquired knowledge by answering some fun quiz questions during the presentation. It is very gratifying to see so many young people be so curious about outer space and to have so many fascinating questions about what goes on there. Both teachers and students are looking forward to a subsequent trip to Grand Mesa Observatory to check out the night skies through our telescopes!

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Grand Mesa Observatory Astrophotos Earn 10 spots on Space.com's "100 Best Space Photos of 2018"

Each year the space themed website Space.com selects their choice for the top 100 astrophotos of the year. Grand Mesa Observatory was thrilled and honored that 10 of Space.com's "100 Best Space Photos of 2018" were taken right here in Western Colorado at the observatory!

Photos selected include:

  • The Triangulum Galaxy (M33)

  • The Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635)

  • The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules (M13)

  • The Constellation of Orion Mosaic

  • The Heart Nebula (IC1805-Melotte 15)

  • Bode's Galaxy (M81) and The Cigar Galaxy (M82)

  • Croissant in Cygnus; Sharpless 171 (SH2-171)

  • “A Rare Jewel (Hubble palette)

  • Horsehead and Flame Nebula

  • Lagoon Nebula (M8).

https://www.space.com/42653-100-best-space-photos-of-2018.html

Finishing The 2018 Night Sky Viewing Season in Style!

The last public night sky viewing event of the Western Colorado Astronomy Club's 2018 season was hosted by Grand Mesa Observatory on November 9th. Despite the cold temperatures there was another relatively large crowd, with approximately 100-150 people showing up throughout the course of the night. In addition to the usual cast of scopes belonging to WCAC club members, a bonus treat was the attendance of a number of members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society (BCAS), who brought along their very-impressive array of telescopes that included a 20" reflector, 10” reflector, and an enormous pair of binoculars. The public was just as eager as the other astronomers to get a look through those monsters, but with so many scopes present there were barely any lines! The planets that had graced the summer sky had mostly disappeared over the Western horizon, but quite a few people got good looks at Saturn and Mars through the variety of telescopes and binoculars on hand. The crowd was also treated the myriad deep sky objects now visible in the Fall skies, with some highlights including the Pleiades Star Cluster and the Andromeda Galaxy. And as always, a number of groups toured the observatory complex throughout the night, with director Terry Hancock putting on another impressive display of technology.

The astronomy club and Grand Mesa Observatory are already looking ahead to planning the 2019 public events!