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.
Partnering once again, Grand Mesa Observatory was the host site for the Western Colorado Astronomy Club's monthly public night sky viewing event which was held on August 10th, 2018.
Another large crowd flocked up to the Mesa in order to get a tour of the observatory complex, as well as to enjoy a night under the stars with the astronomy club members and their wide variety of telescopes. Director Terry Hancock reported on the event; "I want to thank our GMO volunteers and the members of the astronomy club personally for bringing equipment, showing the night sky to our visitors, and for making this a fun night to remember. Without you there wouldn't be an event. We at GMO are very fortunate to have you as volunteers, and this great alliance with the WCAC who have so many talented people helping to further the interest of astronomy in our region".
A friend of Terry's who was visiting from San Francisco assisted him with the observatory tours by manning the computers in the warm room, slewing the scopes, and capturing the M101 galaxy so folks could see a galaxy on the PC monitor. We counted at least 165 people through the door at jsut the observatory itself, and people were still coming in at 11:15 PM. Having an assistant for the observatory tours worked very well and Terry hopes to have a volunteer assistant to man the scopes for the next event in November.
GMO also tried to work out the bugs on a new addition to public events hosted there - a projector and screen that will be showing science short films and other items of interest during public viewing events. One of GMO's new volunteers (Don) is heading up that project, and with a little more work the new projector screen we installed last month should become a great asset for future events. Laser guided sky tours were also given during the course of the evening, and the planets ended up being the stars of the show as they shone brightly through both smoke and wind. It was another great event, and we look forward to seeing everyone for our third-and-final public viewing event in November!
Messier 81 (M81), or as it is also called, Bode's Galaxy, is a bright, swirling spiral galaxy located in the constellation Ursa Major just up and to the right of the top of the Big Dipper asterism. This image was captured at Grand Mesa Observatory by Tom Masterson and Terry Hancock, and it beautifully highlights the interesting and delicate structures of the spiral arms.
First discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1774, M81's relative brightness (apparent magnitude 6.94) and closeness (11.8 million light-years distant) makes it one of the most studied and photographed galaxies in the night sky. It contains an active galactic nucleus powered by a supermassive black hole at its center and was host to one of the brightest supernovae of the 20th century, SN 1993J. Also in this image, the blue blob above M81 is a satellite galaxy gravitationally locked to M81 called Holmberg IX, which is thought to have formed within the last 200 million years, making it the youngest nearby galaxy.
M81 wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messier_81
M81 in 60 seconds from NASA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39Sw0axqIBM
Holmberg IX: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmberg_IX#cite_note-sabbi-2
Grand Mesa Observatory System #2 https://grandmesaobservatory.com/equipment/
Telescope: AGO 12.5” Astrograph/Newtonian
Camera: QHY163M Monocrome CMOS
Mount: Paramount ME
LUM 25x 300sec 1x
RGB 25x 300sec 1x1 (4h10min total)
Processing/Stacking: PixInsight, PhotoshopCC, Registar, Straton
Location: Grand Mesa Observatory, Purdy Mesa, CO
One of the latest images of The Heart Nebula captured at GMO was just featured in the European Blog "Universe Of Magic" as a commemoration of Valentines Day!
Terry Hancock was quoted as saying "It is a real honor to be featured on Universe Of Magic which features work by some of the world's finest astrophotographers. This selection in particular has a real significance to me for 5 years ago on Valentine's Day one of my Heart Nebula images was chosen for my first NASA APOD!" (That APOD can be seen here: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130304.html)
Juan Carlos of Universe Of Magic also allowed Terry to write a dedication to his fiance, Nancy McGuire, and included that in the official Universe of Magic post (which can be seen here: https://universomagicojuanca.blogspot.com)
Once again the outstanding work of Observatory Director Terry Hancock's has been featured in the January 2018 issue of Astronomy magazine, and this time it was even a double feature! The first image, which features the the Southern portion of the Orion region, appears on page 8 in conjunction with an article titled "The Beauty of Nebulous Space". The second image is of the Pleiades and was titled entitled "Seven Isn't Enough". This second image appears in the Reader Gallery on page 71.
Both photos were taken using Grand Mesa Observatory's Takahashi 130-FSQ and QHY367c One Shot Color camera.
Observatory director Terry Hancock had yet another image published in Astronomy Magazine, this time in their November 2017 issue. The image can be found on page 73 in the Reader Gallery. Entitled "Blue on Black", it was photographed using Grand Mesa Observatory's Takahashi 130-FSQ and QHY367c One Shot Color CMOS camera with the Iris Nebula (NGC 7023) and the surrounding LBN 487 region being the featured targets.
Congratulations Terry! Great work as always!