President’s Message

The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn apparently caught the attention of a lot of people! Many were drawn to it as another cool astronomical event, since it was the closest we’ve been able to see the two largest planets in almost 800 years. (The 1623 conjunction was even closer to the setting Sun than on De-cember 21.) Having it happen on the solstice was a fun coincidence, but I’m sure it drew even more attention because it was being called the Christmas Star. I mentioned the possibility of a great conjunction being the inspiration for the Star of Bethlehem. This article discusses more possible astronomical connections.
It was a relief that we had enough chances to observe this instead of being clouded out the whole time. There were lots of blurry smartphone photos posted to social media. Some people shared images from a planetarium show, thinking it was a photograph. I also had a few inquiries about renting telescopes from the planetarium, so I hope more people got telescopic views on their own.
I was amused to see that the Galilean moons were in line with a background star. With the naked eye, I could tell them apart, but it was honestly hard to no-tice Saturn next to Jupiter since Jupiter is over ten times brighter. That in itself is a little surprising. Saturn is only slightly smaller, but at roughly twice the distance from the Sun, it receives about four times less less sunlight, and the twice the distance to Earth means that reflected sunlight is four times more diffuse.
The December club social was a fun time! We actually chatted for about two hours. I really enjoyed seeing the great information shared by attendees. It’s amazing to see what you are all working on, and I hope it inspires more people with this hobby.
Please join us for the next club meeting on January 14 at 7 p.m. CST. Dave Leake is going to continue our tradition of previewing the night sky for the year. Unfortunately, we won’t have the dome overhead, but he will present some sim-ulated views over Zoom. The link will be the same all year, but I hope we will be able to meet in person as well in a few months.
In addition to the club meeting, we are holding an officers meeting on January 7 at 7 p.m. CST. It will also be on the same Zoom link, and everyone is welcome to attend. I am looking for input about meeting topics and club activities over the coming months.
Clear skies!

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