2007 in Review

July 13-15, 2007






After dinner at the Smokiní Hippo, we met at the Northfield Mountain Environmental Center's Fuller Pasture for some observing.  Unfortunately, clouds came and went the entire night, leading to less-than-spectacular conditions.  Many of us hung tough until about midnight, when the stars lost their battle with the clouds.





click on the image above for a hi-resolution copy of the poster



Saturday morning program

Richard Sanderson: The Conjunction at 25.  Richard presented a great slide-show retrospective on the 25-year history of the Conjunction.  Were you there in the early days?  If so, you probably saw yourself in some of Richard's slides!  Click on the thumbnails below to see full-size images
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Richard today Jack Megas at first Conjunction, 1982 Russ Hawn (center) was our chef and bottle-washer at the first Conjunction.  We dedicated the 2007 Conjunction to Russ, who passed away in 2006. Coordinator Ron Woodland at an early Conjunction Many of us early Conjunction attendees fondly remember Jack Welch and his 1960s VW camper. Some early audience members.  Phil Harrington is seated in the center.
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  Dave Kelly (left) and the late Dick Gerry look at one of Dave's great homemade telescopes, circa 1984. Greg Bohemier, an active member of the Springfield (MA) STARS Club, did a morning presentation on observing back in 1988. Mike Rudenko (left) shows us and Dan Green how many comets he had discovered up to that point.  Mike's 3rd discovery came just the day before the Conjunction that year. Dave Gallup goes spelunking at America's Stonehenge, one of our Sunday field trips. Three of our coordinators: Dave Gallup (left), Phil Harrington (center), and Jack Megas (right) in 1992.  


Carl Lancaster: The Lancaster Observatory.  Carl detailed the design, construction, and function of his automated backyard observatory.  With a push of a button(s), Carl can open his observatory, initial his computerized telescope, and begin CCD imaging without ever leaving his upstairs office.  Sounds just like a professional astronomer -- he never has to look at the sky!  :-)

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Jack Megas: Who Are Those Guys?  Jack interviewed Phil Harrington and Richard Sanderson about their new book The Illustrated Timeline of the Universe as well as the 4th edition of Phil's book Star Ware, which just came out in April.  What inspired them to write the book?  Why did Richard have to write 80% of the contents?  These and other thought-provoking questions were answered in this lighthearted interview.

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Saturday afternoon program

The afternoon program got underway at 1 PM with three of our best presentations ever.

John BriggsThe Adventures and Confessions of a Large Telescope Collector
  • John gave an excellent presentation on some of the antique telescopes that he owns, as well as some confessions on how he came into their possession.  Just don't buy a used car from this man!  Seriously, John's presentation was both educational and entertaining, and wonderfully illustrated by several small refractors that he brought along for show and tell.

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  • John is well known as an expert in observatory instrumentation and engineering.  Johnís experience with telescopes and observatories spans nearly three decades and extends over the globe. Before the age of 20, as an employee of Wesleyan University, John was selected for deployment as a visiting observer for objective prism spectroscopy with a 1-meter Schmidt camera at the remote Venezuelan National Observatory. Afterwards he joined the staff of Sky & Telescope magazine and was promoted to assistant editor. His employment history features astronomical work at Maria Mitchell, Van Vleck, Chamberlin, Harvard College, Apache Point, and National Solar observatories, including a year in residence at Mount Wilson and a 1994 winter-over at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
Prof. Peter Schultz, Brown University: Digging a Comet: Results from the Deep Impact Mission
  • As you know if you attended the 2004 Conjunction, Peter Schultz is a dynamic speaker who is passionate about his role in the Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel 1.  In his previous appearance with us, Peter told us of things to come.  Now, he returned to tell us of things that occurred and how the successful 2005 mission unlocked many surprises about the comet.  The surface of comet Tempel 1, hit by NASA's Deep Impact space probe during a spectacular July 4, 2005, experiment, bears evidence of impact craters, suggesting that the comet has collided with asteroids or other space travelers in its journeys around the Sun. "This comet is a geologic wonder," says Schultz, a co-investigator on the mission team. "There are smooth surfaces, filled-in craters, ridges, cliffs. Tempel 1 also features an area marked by innumerable bumps and valleys. This all suggests a long history of evolution."  You can read the mission's findings on NASA's Deep Impact web site.

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William Andrewes: A History of Time
  • In 2004, we also invited Dava Sobel to give a fascinating account about her book Longitude.  Continuing that theme during Conjunction 2007, we had William Andrewes, creator of the Longitude Dial and her co-author for the book The Illustrated Longitude.  The editor for The Quest for Longitude , William makes exquisite time-measuring instruments for a wide variety of customers, both institutional and individual consumers.  You can see his amazing work on his web site.

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  • William was born and educated in England. He trained as a clockmaker and designer, graduating from Kingston College of Art in 1972. During his career in the history of time measurement, he has worked at Eton College (1973-1977), the Old Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum (1974-1977), The Time Museum (1977-1987), and Harvard University, where he was the David P. Wheatland Curator of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments (1987-1999).


Saturday evening program

Father Doug McGonagle, PhD: Science and Religion: Two Sides of the Same Coin
  • A favorite son of the Conjunction, Father Doug McGonagle returned on his birthday to present a thought-provoking evening talk with the premise that, unlike much popular thought,  science and religion are not at odds with each other.  Rather, they can work with one another to give each further meaning.  Regardless of your personal persuasion, Fr. Doug's talk gave you much food for thought and reflection.  (What's with the gorilla?  In honor of Fr. Doug's birthday on the day of the Conjunction, he received a surprise visitor, who presented him with a birthday balloon bouquet, to the delight of the audience.)

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  • While pursuing his undergraduate degree in astronomy at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Fr. Doug was one of the founding members of the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomersí Association and served as its president for several years. He received his PhD from the University of Massachusetts in 1995 and specializes in radio observation of nitrogen-bearing molecules in space. After working on the Large Millimeter-Wave Telescope Project as a post-doctoral fellow, Fr. Doug entered the Pope John XXIII National Seminary, where he received his Masters of Divinity and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in June of 2000. He is currently Director of the Newman Catholic Center at the University of Massachusetts.


2007 Conjunction photo album

Photos by Phil Harrington:

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Photos by John O'Neil:

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Photos by Rich Sanderson:

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