President’s Message February 2023

If you were at the January meeting, we sort of “unveiled” solar power at the Prairie
Winds Observatory! Pretty exciting stuff! And all thanks to several people who put in
the time and effort to research the project, purchase the materials, and do the work.
My personal thanks to (in alphabetical order): Ken
Chapman, Jan Cocatre-Zilgien, Scott & Leanne Glick,
Norm Knicl, Mike Lockwood, Sarah Lyon, Mike
Rosenberger, Bob Rubendunst, Jim Wehmer and of
course our anonymous donor who wrote the check
for the entire project. Sort of nice to go to the
observatory and just flip on a light without flipping
any switches or starting a generator. We’re in the
process of updating opening and closing procedures
as even the long-time users will need retrained.
Also, look for an email, maybe in mid-March, for a
work day where we can clean-up the observing
area. It’s still pretty crowded as much of the stuff
taken out of the warm room is there. The warm
room is just a bit smaller now so we’ll have to reevaluate what we want in there. More details
appear in the club news section.
We also want to have some sessions to train others how to use the facility at Prairie
Winds. To be blunt, it’s pretty stupid to have a nice observatory and then no one uses
it! Give me an electronic yell if you’re interested in a training session
([email protected]) and we’ll start a list. If you’re interested in giving a presentation at one of the club meetings, I’d like to talk to you, too! In a club like ours, interest
runs across a wide spectrum. We try to have talks that help beginners navigate the
night sky and find things but then others want to hear about detecting neutrinos at the
South Pole Telescope. We try to keep everyone happy. But even a simple talk is welcome!
If you get a minute, look over the many Astronomical League observing programs that
are listed online at:
AlphabeticObservingClubs.html It’s not required, of course, but sometimes people go
outside and don’t know what to look at or look for. These programs provide targets
AND there are prizes! If you see one (or more) that interest you, let me know. Maybe
we can do a couple of them as a group. CUAS is a member of the Astronomical League
with Audrey Ishii as our AL coordinator. Give it a look.
If you’re like me, I’m pretty $%^&* frustrated by all the cloudy weather we’ve been
having. I’ve been outside to try to see Comet ZTF. The sky was just too hazy each
time. I was finally successful on January 27th! I needed binoculars but I could see it
from my front porch in northwest Champaign! It was above and right of the Little Dipper’s bowl. All things considered, it has been a pretty mild winter but I could use some
more clear skies. Here’s keeping our collective fingers crossed.

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