Astronomical Society

of Long Island


NOTICE:  All content on this site is Copyright ©2016 by Ken Spencer, The Astronomical Society of Long Island, and the respective photographers.  All Rights Reserved.  Reproduction is forbidden without express written permission.


March 1 - Charles Messier and his Objects and How to Observe Them - By Ken Spencer.  Most of us have heard of the Messier Objects because they are some of the most interesting objects to observe for beginners, and many of them are the easiest to find.  Who was Charles Messier, and why did he find these beauties of the sky?  And what resources are at our disposal for finding these objects ourselves, when using our binoculars and telescopes?  Come find out!

March 8 - Observing the Constellations of Leo and Coma Berenices - By Ken Spencer.  In March, as the brilliant constellations of the winter sink in the western sky, the constellations of spring ascend in the east. Leo, the herald of spring skies is followed by Coma Berenices.  There are wonderful objects to observe with a number of beautiful galaxies, double stars and one long-period variable star, all worth hunting for.  Let this talk pique your curiosity and get you out beneath the stars with your telescope.

Mar 15 - Observing Planning Software Part 2 - by members of ASLI. This will be the second presentation on the subject of planning observing sessions using applications for smartphones, tablets and small, portable laptops both at home, and in the field. Members will connect their phones and laptops to the projector, and demonstrate how the programs look and how they work. This week we will cover two applications for Android phones, Sky Tools on Windows, AstroPlanner for Mac, Sky Safari for iPhone and iPad, Sky View Cafe. Field of View Calculator.  Telescope, eyepiece, and camera simulator website to show the field of view for different equipment. 

Mar 22 - Light and Motion - by Dave Bush. Using the capabilities of the planetarium theater we’ll take a tour of the night sky and the celestial highlights of the season. There will be a brief discussion of the properties of light and how the human eye works. Additionally, we’ll have a chance to see a demonstration of motions within the cosmos as well as a presentation of the Milkyway in various wavelengths of light. . 

Mar 29 - Observing Night - Cross your fingers and just MAYBE we will manage to have our first observing session in more than six months!  We will only observe if the skies are clear. Bring your own telescope or binoculars, or come and observe through our instruments.

Messier 27 - The Dumbell Nebula

This is a magnificent image of The Dumbell Nebula done recently by ASLI member Jonathan Nelson.  This object was the first planetary nebula to be discovered; by Charles Messier in 1764. At its brightness of visual magnitude 7.5 and its diameter of about 8 arc minutes, it is easily visible in binoculars, and a popular observing target in amateur telescopes.  However, in amateur instruments it only appears as a black and white image because of the inability of the human eye to see color in very low brightness.  Doing long exposure astrophotography like this is a very demanding process.  The total time of all exposures exceeds one hour and thirty minutes!  Here are the technical details:

Scope: Explore Scientific 102ED Triplet Essentials Series

Mount: Celestron AVX

Guiding: Orion Magnificent Mini AutoGuider Package

Camera: Canon Rebel T5

Other: Explore Scientific Field Flattener and Orion SkyGlow Imaging Filter

Capturing Software: BackyardEOS (with dithering), PHD2

Processing: Entirely in Pixinsight 1.8

Light Frames: 19 x 180" (57 min total)

Dark Frames: 10 x 180"

NGC 4216 in the Virgo Cluster by Dave Barnett

Our intrepid astrophotographer Dave Barnett apparently needs no sleep at all, judging by his latest handiwork.  In the center of the frame is the galaxy NGC 4216 in the Virgo Cluster.  It is 40 million light-years distant, and is an edge-on spiral galaxy.  It is nearly 100,000 light-years across, about the size of our own Milky Way galaxy.  It is flanked by fellow Virgo cluster member NGC 4222.  If you are thinking of trying astrophotography, you should know this is not a simple trick.  He used an 8” f/4 Newtonian, and this final image is a stack of 4 minute long sub exposures with a total time of 92 minutes.