Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Texas Astronomical Society Member

One of the first goals I set for this year and for participation in the International Year of Astronomy 2009 was increased networking with other amateur astronomers, in part through membership in the Texas Astronomical Society. Well, meet the newest member of TAS!

I attended my first TAS meeting tonight (well, first one as a member) and had the pleasure of listening to guest speaker David Dooling, Director of Education and Outreach for the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, talk about the next big NSO project, development of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST). When built, it will be the world's largest optical solar telescope with a 4 meter primary mirror. David also talked about his plans for the Sunspot Solar System Model, a 1:250-million-scale model of the solar system with the sun located at the NSO site in Sunspot and other planets and solar system bodies leading back along the highway towards Cloudcroft and spread across much of New Mexico. Both talks were engaging, informative and entertaining.

Speaking of entertainment, after the break one of the members, Tom Noe, provided music in the spirit of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, singing Did Galileo Pray? (by Paul Ellis) and Do You Really Wanna Know (by Peter Mayer). I didn't expect to hear music tonight but it was great fun. Listening to Tom sing brought to mind a favorite song of mine that also has an astronomy theme... more on that in a future post. Meanwhile, in addition to his involvement in house concerts I understand that Tom is a telescope maker - see his Teleport Telescopes web site for more information on what he calls the LTFWT (largest telescope factory in Wylie, Texas).

As for networking, I didn't get very far tonight - though I did run into someone I know, Chaz Hafey. Chaz was director of the Science Place Planetarium (now the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science Planetarium) back when Linda first started working there. It was good to see Chaz again, but at the next meeting I look forward to meeting other members who I haven't met before.

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