Category Monthly Meeting

MAS January Monthly Meeting

IceCube Computing Systems

Steve Barnet MAS January 2022 Speaker

Science is heavy! Teasing out faint signals from the most remote and extreme places in the universe is challenging scientifically, and technically. It takes tons (literally) of data storage, and a lot of computational capacity to collect and sift through the data looking for interesting signals. Steve Barnet has worked on the computing and data collection systems for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory for over 15 years. In this talk, he will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the computing systems powering one of the most unique instruments ever built.

Steve Barnet earned his B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1994...

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MAS December Monthly Meeting

Telescope Buying Clinic

MAS Telescope Clinic
If it’s December, it’s time for the telescope clinic. Gift-giving season means you may be on the giving or receiving end of a telescope gift soon. Let’s make sure you can avoid the most common mistakes when purchasing a telescope.

We’ve been doing this event for years, usually live. This meeting will be our second consecutive virtual version of the telescope clinic. We’ll do our best to share the critical info with you, and then allow plenty of time for questions and answers.

We hope you can join us!
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MAS November Monthly Meeting

Adventures in Science Outreach: From Comets to Star Gazing and Everything In Between

Kay Kriewald

Whether you are speaking to a third grader or an adult, understanding science can be easy when the ideas are communicated effectively. I will give a brief history of my time as outreach specialist with the UW Space Place and explain why I think outreach is a vital part of the UW’s mission. I will then list the top ten things I have learned over the past 20+ years about presenting science to the general public.

Kay Kriewald has a background in teaching and tutoring elementary and middle school students in science and math. She has been an outreach specialist at Space Place since 1995. She hopes to retire soon but she is still having too much fun.

Due to the continuing high levels of infectio...

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MAS October Monthly Meeting

Modeling Global Light Pollution

David Lorenz, October 2021 MAS Speaker4

In this talk, I discuss my light pollution atlas, light pollution modeling, and recent trends in light pollution across the world. A light pollution atlas (artificial night sky brightness) is distinct from the maps that show the lights as they would appear from orbit in space looking down. These space-view maps are the input data to a model of the propagation, extinction, and scattering of light in the atmosphere. The output of the model is the estimated artificial light pollution at zenith...

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MAS September Monthly Meeting

Solar Imaging 101

Bob Hamers September MAS meeting

Our nearest star – the Sun – offers an ever-changing variety of astronomical phenomena, including prominences, sunspots, filaments, and prominences, that reveal the sun’s weather and can be observed from earth. As we come out of the solar minimum, solar activity is already rapidly ramping up with sunspots and solar storms. In this talk, I will give an introduction to solar imaging, some of the equipment and techniques involved used by amateur astronomers, with some examples from my own work.

Bob Hamers is a professor of chemistry at UW-Madison with a longstanding interest in space and astronomy. At UW his research centers on using light and electrons to characterize solids and nanomaterials...

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MAS August Monthly Meeting

Can the Milky Way Cast a Shadow?

Milky Way Shadow

Stories of the Milky Way casting a shadow are common but details are elusive. Whenever someone wants to brag about the great dark skies they experienced they often trot out the “it was so dark you could see your shadow by the light of the Milky Way” line. Asking follow-up questions results in repetition and hand-waving.

But could it be true? Is it possible? After all, the Milky Way is large, diffuse, low contrast, and faint. The sun and moon cast shadows. Bright point sources cast shadows. It’s even said that Venus or Jupiter can cast shadows. Can the huge Milky Way, spread across 90 degrees of sky (or more), cast a shadow? In this talk, we move beyond hearsay, legend, and myth and attempt to nail down some facts and experimental results...

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MAS July Monthly Meeting

Selecting Camera Lenses for Astrophotography, and their use in Narrowband Imaging

Martin Mika July 2021 MAS Presentation

Telescopes for astrophotography can be large and heavy instruments, costing thousands of dollars. For those who own DSLR cameras, there are a wide selection of available lenses that make an excellent lightweight, low cost, and easy to use platform for starting in astrophotography. We will look at some advantages (and disadvantages) of using camera lenses when photographing the night sky and examine characteristics of lenses ideally suited for astrophotography. In the second half of the presentation, we will take an introductory look at using narrowband filters for astrophotography, with emphasis on wide-field astrophotography...

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MAS June Monthly Meeting

Computational Imaging, One Photon at a Time

Dr. Mohit Gupta

Single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) are an emerging sensor technology capable of detecting and time-tagging individual photons with picosecond precision. Despite (or perhaps, due to) these capabilities, SPADs are considered specialized devices suitable only for photon-starved scenarios, and restricted to a limited set of niche applications. This raises the following questions: Can SPADs operate not just in low light, but in bright scenes as well? Can SPADs be used not just with precisely controlled active light sources such as pulsed lasers, but under passive, uncontrolled illumination like cellphone or machine vision cameras?

I will describe our recent work on designing computational imaging techniques that (a) enable single-photon...

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MAS May Monthly Meeting

Science or Spycraft? How Astronomers Helped Conquer in the Age of Discovery

James Barnes

In a modern world whose immediate history remains informed by the Cold War, it is easy for us to see the ways in which science and geopolitics intermingle. It is no secret, for example, that the rockets that power our modern space missions are products of Cold War weapons programs, nor is it a secret that the Apollo program was itself a direct response to the Soviet Union’s own triumphs in space exploration. Just as one cannot speak of the Cold War without conjuring the specter of nuclear weapons, one likewise cannot speak of the Cold War without remembering an era when espionage and spycraft came fully into the modern age. But espionage and the guarding of scientific secrets is not unique to modernity...

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MAS April Monthly Meeting

Theory and Observation in the Pseudo-Annular Eclipse reported near Vienna on 17 June 1433

Prof. Michael Shank

This talk analyzes a solar eclipse that is described as annular, but that other reports and modern calculations show to have been very total. I explore the reasons for this odd state of affairs, since most eclipse observers are impressed by the darkness, not what’s happening immediately around the Sun. I argue that the report comes from a theoretically sophisticated observer with access to a 14th c. annular eclipse report that shaped his observation, which was then used to refute the concentric-sphere astronomy of al-Bitruji, an influential 12-13th century Arab astronomer.

Michael H...

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