Astronomy

Astronomy Club

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Astronomy Club

Our Astronomy Club is open to all ages and experience levels!


If you enjoy astronomy, then the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club is for you! We invite you to attend one of our meetings and experience it first hand.

Just some of the benefits…

  • Learning & Interaction with Fellow Members
  • Monthly Newsletter
  • Monthly Meetings
    • Meetings are typically held on the first Friday of most months at the Bays Mountain Nature Center and are free to attend.
  • StarFest – Our Annual Astronomical Convention / Star Gathering Event
    • Every Fall, our club hosts this regional gathering of amateur astronomers from around the Southeastern United States. It’s an enjoyable, long weekend of talks, observing, food, and fun. Please see the “StarFest” tab for all the details.
  • Astronomical League
    • Full BMAC membership includes membership to the national organization of the Astronomical League. This opens many more benefits and observing programs as well as a quarterly journal. Visit their site for all the details.
  • BMAC Youtube!
    • The BMAC has a Youtube channel. Click here to see what’s on!
  • BMAC Astronomy Knowledge Compendium Test!
    • The BMAC invites you to learn more about the basics of astronomy. The following link is a take-home, open-book test. There is no time limit on taking the test. Once you complete it, you will have a better understanding of astronomy and can enjoy more of our monthly meetings. BMAC members who complete it can turn it in to the planetarium director for grading. If you receive a 90% or better, you will receive your choice of a BMAC collectible. If you receive less than 90%, you are given the opportunity to correct your answers.
    • Take the test!
  • Join our BMAC Yahoo! Group
    • Current members of the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club can communicate with one another via a Yahoo! group called BMASTRO. If you are interested in becoming a part of this e-mail list, the instructions are listed below.
    • Visit http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/bmastro/. This is the webpage for the group.
    • In order to post messages and receive message digests, you must have or create a Yahoo! user ID.
    • Once you create and sign-in with you Yahoo! ID, you can then request to become a member of the group. You should be added within a week.
    • From the group page, select Edit Membership near the top. This is where you can edit how you would like to be notified of messages and how often.

Join the Club


So you want to learn about astronomy? Participating in the Bays Mountain Astonomy Club is a great way to enjoy astronomy and to meet others with similar interests. We recommend that you come to a meeting or two and see what we do, meet some of our members, and check out our latest newsletter. If you decide that you would like to be part of our organization, joining the club is easy. All you need to do is come to the next meeting, pay your dues, and you’re in. It’s really that easy!

See the “About the Astronomy Club” tab for membership benefits.

Yearly Membership Dues

Regular Members: $16 / year

Addt’l Family Members: $6 / year / each

Bays Mountain Park Association Members receive a 50% discount!

Meetings & Events


The Bays Mountain Astronomy Club holds monthly meetings at Bays Mountain Park. Meetings are normally held inside the Discovery Theater on the first Friday of most months at 7 p.m.

All are welcome to attend the club meetings. Each meeting is unique and will include an interesting keynote speaker that presents a topic that is of astronomical interest. All of these programs should be of great interest to the general public and are lots of fun. We hope to see you at a future meeting!

Upcoming Meeting Schedule

July 21, 2018 at 6 p.m.

Location – A member’s house. If you are a full member of the astronomy club, you will be contacted by the club chair with the address.

Topic – Annual club picnic. BMACers and their families are most welcome to enjoy the evening along with a potluck dinner. Please bring a dish to share. Bring your own chair.

August 3, 2018 – CANCELLED

NOTE – This meeting is cancelled due to the conflict with the scheduled “Planet Party” public viewing on the same night.

September 7, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

October 5, 2018 at 6 p.m.

Location – BMP Observatories (notice the earlier start time)

Topic – Observatory Cleaning & TBA. Please remember to bring cleaning supplies like rags, shop-vac, broom, elbow grease, et al. to help. And, remember, it starts at 6 p.m.

November 2, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

December 7, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

January ?, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. – if severe snow, then the dinner will be January ?, 2019

Location – TBA

Topic – Annual club dinner.

February 1, 2019 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

March 1, 2019 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

April 5, 2019 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

May 3, 2019 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

June 7, 2019 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

Newsletters


There are two formats for the newsletter:

iBooks Format. This is for iPads, Macs, and iPhones (iOS 8.4 or later) that have the iBooks App. The benefit is that it is dynamic, animated and interactive. Some editions include extras like movies, audio, and even 3-D models that you can twirl about. You can even highlight text and add notes, both of which can then be accessed through “My Notes” for later study with your very own study cards.

PDF Format. This is a PDF version of the iBook file. It is dynamic in layout, but is in a universal form for any reader that can open a PDF document.


iBooks Format

2018   Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

2017   Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

2016   Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

PDF Format

2018   Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

2017   Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

2016   Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

Opportunities & Rules


Opportunities & Rules

How you would like to learn how to run one of our telescopes in one of our observatories? If so, that’s great! You need to be a BMAC member in good standing (see rules below) and qualified to do so. In order to run any of our equipment, you’ll need to learn on your own the basics of pointing and using a telescope. A great opportunity for that is during our public StarWatch night viewing programs. A fellow club member can show you the basics with a scope they are using. Over time, you’ll learn these basics. You’ll also learn how to help the public understand what they are seeing in the telescope. Then, you can contact the planetarium staff to set up a one-on-one training session during the daytime to learn the specifics of our observatories. Contact here.

Volunteerism

This is not the same as being a member of the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club. Anyone of any age can be a member of the club.

If you want to do more and provide help with public events such as StarWatch or Astronomy Day and engage with the public, use City equipment, or be the club chair, then this is considered volunteerism. We really appreciate your desire to help out! But, this will require you to fill out the volunteer form and visit with the Park’s volunteer coordinators for an orientation meeting. The form is simple and should only take a few minutes. Part of the form is a background check, but there is NO COST to you for this. Please bring the completed form to a club meeting, mail in, or bring to the Park in a sealed envelope. After the form is processed, the volunteer coordinators will then contact you to attend an orientation meeting. They will then contact the planetarium director about your status.

Please note, if you volunteer for only one thing per year, say give a presentation at a meeting or such, then you do not need to fill out the form.

If you are younger than 16, then you won’t be able to “volunteer,” but we still want to offer the opportunity for you to learn directly from one of our volunteers or staff on astronomy, how to use a telescope, and how to find celestial objects in the night sky. If this occurs during a StarWatch, you won’t be able to bring in your own equipment as we can’t exclude visitors from wanting to look through your instrument. But, you can be instructed and use the instrument the volunteer is using.

Volunteer Form for Adults

Volunteer Form for Ages 16-18

Rules

In order to enjoy the full benefits of being a member of the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club, like earning the opportunity to run a scope in one of our observatories or even help at a public event, one needs to understand that being a member is akin to volunteerism to Bays Mountain Park. As such, a member needs to be in good standing, of good character, and doesn’t abuse this privilege.

The Park is enforcing some long held basic, good behavior guidelines regarding volunteers. If a volunteer (that has successfully been accepted into the volunteer program) does not play well with others, then they will not be a part of this volunteer effort. Again, it is a privilege, not a right, to be a member of the club and volunteer.

Not to put a negative tone to this page, but it is important to establish guidelines that we can all work by. Here is a short list of unacceptable behaviors:

  • Being rude and/or abusive to another member/public/staff person. This includes verbal, unspoken, online and physical methods. Abuse also includes micromanaging, passive/aggressive behavior, high type-A behavior, and more.
  • Theft.
  • Damage to equipment/property through gross negligence or on purpose.
  • Shirking responsibilities.
  • Being intoxicated, even by the smallest amount, by alcohol or drugs.

This is not an absolute list, but it should get the point across.

StarFest


StarFest is the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club’s annual astronomical convention/star gathering held each October. Situated in the heart of the Appalachians, it is three days and two nights of astronomical heaven!

During the day, our delegates enjoy many keynote speakers, planetarium programs, activities, solar viewing, and the splendor of autumnal colors. The night brings more speakers, activities, night viewing, and crisp, cool air. Attendance can only be attained by pre-registration with payment. Sorry, to be fair to our registered delegates, NO walk-ins nor “visits.” Your one, low cost includes everything: access to all speakers, all activities, five scrumptious meals, free access to the Park’s public programming, the opportunity to sleep/camp on Park grounds at no additional cost, AND a unique, commemorative T-shirt with custom artwork.

Initiated in 1984, the Bays Mountain StarFest is still one of the finest astronomy events in the nation.

StarFest 2018 will be held October 12-14, 2018. If you would like to be added to the StarFest mailing list, please click here.



StarFest 2018

“Celebrating 200 Years of American Women in Astronomy”

Greetings Everyone!

The 35th annual  StarFest at Bays Mountain Park is soon upon us. Expect beautiful fall colors, cooler weather, and lots of astronomy fun for this astronomical convention/star party. The event is hosted by the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club (BMAC) and the staff of Bays Mountain Park. It is being held on October 12-14, 2018. It is run as a non-profit event, so registration is as low as possible.

The theme of this year’s event is “Celebrating 200 Years of American Women in Astronomy.” 2018 is the 200th birth anniversary of noted American astronomer Maria Mitchell. Our celebration though, has more to do with women in astronomy today. What better way to do this then by having all of our keynote speakers be women who do astronomy!

This year includes four distinctive keynote speakers; five great meals; door prizes; the ever popular swap shop; solar viewing; night-time observing (both private on Fri. and with the public on Sat., so bring your favorite scope); and the exceptional planetarium will be open.

In addition to all the StarFest activities, there are public programs and activities available at the park, such as the wildlife exhibits, planetarium shows, barge rides, and plenty of trails to explore.

A unique facet of StarFest is a commemorative T-shirt with one-of-a-kind artwork that is included with each registration. Cassy Rose, from the Park’s exhibits staff, has created a special design to represent this year’s theme. I know you’ll be pleased with the art.

This three-day long gathering is filled with great activities, but also makes sure there’s quality free time for you to explore the Park and enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow StarFesters. Attendance will be limited and registration must be received prior to the deadline, September 21, 2018. To be fair to our registered delegates, there are no walk-ins nor “visits.” Please complete the registration sheet for each person and mail, fax, or e-mail it in so we can see you in October. If you use a credit card, you can write it on the sheet or call me or Jason Dorfman and we can process it for you.

Adam Thanz – StarFest 2018 Chair


Note: At this point, we have most everything established but are still missing a few final points. That information will be posted soon.



Keynote Speakers / Activities – in chronological order:

Jennifer Sieben

Friday Night: Jennifer Sieben, Associate Instructor, Indiana University

Title:

“Extending Our Reach”

Abstract:

The field of astronomy is a quest for knowledge, for understanding our place in the Universe. Different scientists approach it in different ways. My goal is to reach to the very earliest time in our Universe. From nearby asteroids, out to galaxies our telescopes can barely see, I am reaching further every year.

My current project involves studying the star formation of galaxies at different distances to understand how the rate at which stars are forming has changed across cosmic time. By tracing this change, we can study the teenage years of our Universe and learn how it grew into the gorgeous Universe we see today. Using the WIYN telescope, we are learning more about galaxies already known to us, and discovering distant galaxies never before studied by any human.

Bio:

Jennifer Sieben is currently a graduate student at Indiana University. She is studying star formation across cosmic time. This involves using the WIYN telescope to take optical and spectroscopic data of wide swaths of the sky. In addition to her research, she is also an editor-at-large of ScIU, a peer-edited, grad student run science blog on campus. (http://blogs.iu.edu/sciu/author/jsieben/) Outside of her scientific interests, she enjoys writing fiction and longing to return to London.


Friday Night: Twilight Soirée

Rental facility image – Pavilion at Lily Pad Cove

A big part of the StarFest experience is to be at and enjoy the Park. What better way than to have a relaxing time at the Park’s brand new Pavilion at Lily Pad Cove! We’ll enjoy twilight on the lake along with a drink from local breweries. Three hand-crafted choices include beer, hard cider, and non-alcoholic root beer, all on tap!


Saturday Morning: Patty Seaton, Planetarium Specialist, H.B. Owens Science Center, MD

Patty Seaton

Title:

“The Power of Immersive Education in the Planetarium”

Abstract:

Textbook astronomy is what I primarily encountered when obtaining my bachelor’s degree in astronomy from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1990. Trying to understand concepts such as spherical coordinates provided some challenge to me as a visual learner. It wasn’t until I started teaching in the planetarium and could immerse myself under the coordinates that I actually started to understand how they worked. The planetarium is a natural teaching environment that allows the audience to be immersed in what they are learning. We’ll demonstrate the value of immersive observations of moon phases versus textbook moon phase diagrams. We’ll look at constellations from multiple points of view, using the power of the planetarium technology. Together we’ll start to meet some of the Next Generation Science Standard’s Performance Expectations in one of the most interactive and enjoyable venues available: the planetarium!

Bio:

I was in the fifth grade when I first experienced a program in a planetarium. I remember the amazement I felt when I sat under a sky full of more stars than I ever remembered seeing. I felt that same wonder in 9th grade when I looked at a then-recent Voyager picture of Jupiter. At that point, my career path was chosen, as I read everything I could on Jupiter and entered into the realm of astronomy. I eventually received a B.S. in Astronomy from the University of Maryland, College Park. While in college, I began working part-time on weekends at the very same planetarium I had first visited in fifth grade, at the Howard B. Owens Science Center (HBOSC). By the time I graduated with my astronomy degree, I knew that I wasn’t going to get a PhD in astronomy which was needed for most jobs in the field. I worked in industry for eight years, continuing to work part time at the planetarium and even joining the weekend staff presenting star lectures at the Einstein Planetarium at the National Air and Space Museum. During this time, I decided that I wanted to work full time at HBOSC, but as it was part of the school system, I needed to be a certified teacher to be hired to work there. So I returned to school and obtained an M.A in Science Education, Curriculum and Instruction. I passed the Praxis exams. I was hired on a Provisional certificate to teach as a science resource teacher at Ardmore Elementary School in Prince George’s County Public Schools, the district of which HBOSC was a part. After two years, now fully certified and tenured, I was offered the job full time at HBOSC, and two years later, took over the responsibilities of Planetarium Specialist. I am active in the Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society, having served as President of the organization and now as an executive board member. I am also an active presenter at International Planetarium Society conferences, where I also serve on the Education Committee. I have now come full circle, being the one to provide moments of wonder for students similar to what I first experienced in fifth grade. And hoping it sparks someone’s imagination and future career path as the planetarium experience did for me!


Saturday Morning Planetarium Show: Bays Mountain Productions

Title:

“Comets & Discovery”

We are proud to show one of our in-house planetarium productions to all of you. The show takes the viewer on a journey of discovery. We follow two intrepid comet hunters in first-person. One, a modern explorer. The other, Caroline Herschel. The famous 18th century huntress who ruled the skies for many generations. With both, we learn how they each searched the skies, made their discoveries, and reported them for other astronomers to bear out. We also learn about, depending on the century of the observer, what people thought comets were and their importance to them.

We are also incorporating two live sequences to enhance the learning and fun. The first will be an activity to involve and engage the audience to learn more about the parts of a comet, the path a comet takes, and the dust and ion tails that splay out in their correct directions as the comet orbits the sun. The second sequence will use our Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector and focus on Comet ISON.

Saturday Afternoon: Panel Discussion

This presentation will be a guided discussion with our keynote speakers. It will be quite interesting to see how each responds to the questions posed.


Saturday Evening: Caroline Simpson, Professor of Physics, Florida International University, Miami, FL

Caroline Simpson

Title:

Star Formation in Dwarf Galaxies

Abstract:

Star formation is how galaxies change, or evolve, over time. Dwarf irregular galaxies are the closest analogues to the first galaxies that formed after the Big Bang and are also the most abundant type of galaxy in the Universe, so studying how they form stars is one way to study the evolution of the Universe. However, the processes that lead to star formation in dwarf galaxies, and thus their evolution, are not yet well understood. I will discuss two projects undertaken as part of a survey of 40 nearby dwarf galaxies. One project uses a catalog of holes and shells in the atomic hydrogen gas in the sample to study the effect of previous episodes of star formation on current and potential future star formation; the other looks for mechanisms that might trigger large amounts of star formation in some dwarf galaxies (blue compact dwarfs), such as accretion of intergalactic gas.

Bio:

Dr. Caroline Simpson obtained her B.S. in Astronomy and Physics from the University of Massachusetts, followed by work at the Hubble Space Science Telescope Institute for four years. She then attended graduate school at the University of Florida, and was awarded a Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1995.

Dr. Simpson’s research is on star formation in dwarf galaxies. As star formation is how galaxies evolve, and because dwarf galaxies are the most abundant type of galaxy in the Universe, studying star formation in dwarf galaxies helps us understand how the Universe has evolved over time.

Dr. Simpson is currently a full professor in the Physics Department at Florida International University, which is the fourth-largest university in the country. She was awarded the Richard H. Emmons award for Excellence in College Astronomy Teaching by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 2016.


Sunday Morning: Carolyn Collins Petersen, Science Writer, CEO, Loch Ness Productions

Carolyn Collins Petersen

Title:

“Inside the Mind of the Science Writer and Her Audience”

Abstract:

Science writing explores some of the most fascinating and complex subjects in nature. It requires the author to either know a LOT about a subject or know who to ask about it. Then, she has to communicate it well to the audience. Writing itself is a talent that must be developed and honed for each type of audience. For example, a full-dome show or a documentary video requires a very different style of writing than for a book or an article. To paraphrase commentary from science-fiction writer Lois McMaster Bujold, the writing is not just words on a page or in a show. “It’s an event in the reader’s mind. It’s a process, through which an idea in my mind triggers an idea, more or less corresponding, in yours.”

The events and objects and processes that make up science are conveyed from me to the audience member in a creative and stimulating way. This talk takes a look at the process of science writing by way of examining the life and work of astronomer Maria Mitchell, celebrating her many contributions to astronomy. In particular, I will focus on how I am shaping my current book project to tell the story of Ms. Mitchell in the context of a larger look at how observatories do their work.

Bio:

Carolyn Collins Petersen is a long-time science writer whose work has appeared in full-dome videos, museum and science center exhibits, books, magazines, and online. Her latest book, “Space Exploration: Past, Present, Future” was released in the UK November 2017, and is now available worldwide. Her popular book “Astronomy 101: From the Sun and Moon to Wormholes and Warp Drive, Key Theories, Discoveries, and Facts about the Universe” is in its second edition, published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

In 1992 and 2002, Carolyn and co-author Jack Brandt published “Hubble Vision” and “Visions of the Cosmos,” respectively, through Cambridge University Press in England. She also served as co-editor on “The New Solar System,” published jointly by Sky Publishing Corporation and Cambridge University Press. Her first kids’ book in science, “Jupiter,” created with artist Don Davis, was published in 1989. Carolyn is currently writing a new astronomy book, due out from Amberley Press in late 2019.

In addition, she served as the senior author for the Griffith Observatory exhibits, NASA/JPL’s “Planetary Exploration” exhibition, a short-term exhibit called “California’s Altered State” for the California Academy of Sciences, and “Electricity and Spaceweather” for the Acton Children’s Museum in Massachusetts. She is currently working with two other observatories on their outreach programs.

Carolyn has authored more than 50 full-dome shows, numerous articles, and is the on-staff writing expert for ThoughtCo.com, covering astronomy, astrophysics, physics, and planetary science. She has served as onboard expert for Smithsonian Journeys, offering lectures on more than 20 cruises over the past nine years. Carolyn is currently at work on a new book about observatories, due out in 2019.

Carolyn obtained a masters’ degree in science journalism at the University of Colorado, where she also studied astronomy and astrophysics. While there, she worked as part of an instrument team for the Hubble Space Telescope and lectured at the Fiske Planetarium. After graduation, she worked at Sky Publishing as editor of books and products, editor-in-chief of SkyWatch Magazine, and associate editor for Sky & Telescope. She left there after four years to concentrate on Loch Ness Productions’ products and continue working with observatories and planetarium facilities on content projects.

Carolyn is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Planetarium Association, served as Publications Chair for the International Planetarium Society (1985-1990), and is currently a board member for IMERSA.org and serves as its communications officer.

Some useful links:

https://www.lochnessproductions.com/books/books.html

https://www.lochnessproductions.com/lnpages/ccp.html

http://thespacewriter.com/wp/ (my blog)



Meals

What’s StarFest without great food? We think you’ll be excited about our menu. Please pay attention if you want the vegetarian option for any specific meal in case you don’t want the main dish.

Friday Dinner

Panko Breaded Champagne Chicken w/ Champagne Mustard Sauce – Vegetarian: Eggplant Parmesan

Rice Pilaf, Honey Glazed Carrots, Rolls, Chocolate Brownies, Sweet & Unsweet Iced Tea

Saturday Breakfast

Pratt’s Honey Glazed Ham – Vegetarian: Egg, Cheese & Potato Casserole

Mini Biscuits, Homemade Mini Cinnamon Rolls, Fresh Seasonal Fruit, Coffee, Milk, OJ

Saturday Lunch

Delicious deli sandwiches on freshly baked authentic New York sesame, whole wheat and plain bagels with Boars Head brand roast beef, turkey, or black forest ham. All with cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. – Vegetarian: vegetable cream cheese spread on a bagel, topped with thinly sliced cucumbers lettuce and tomato

Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Special dessert, Sweet & Unsweet Iced Tea

Saturday Dinner

Texas Style Beef Brisket – Vegetarian: Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

Tossed Spring Mix Salad with Asst. Dressings, Jonathan’s Smokehouse Beans, Corn Muffins, Special celebratory dessert!, Sweet & Unsweet Iced Tea

Sunday Breakfast

Pratt’s Tennessee Breakfast –Vegetarian: Egg, Cheese & Spinach Casserole

Eggs, Fresh Fruit, Bacon, Ham, Hash brown casserole, Grits, Biscuit, Gravy (no meat), Coffee, Milk, OJ



Important Information:

Welcome

The fun starts in the Farmstead each day. That’s the large log structure at the top of the parking lots. But, we will be in other areas of the Park during the three-day event, so pay attention to the tentative schedule. Check-in will start at 5 p.m. on Friday, and no earlier. You are welcome to visit the Park earlier on Friday and take advantage of the Park’s programming, trails, and gorgeous fall colors. For those setting up for the swap shop, there will be tables on the main level of the Farmstead. There is no additional fee for the swap shop, but let us know so we can reserve a table for you. You will be able to leave your content out for the full event as the Farmstead will be locked when we are not inside. But, access will NOT be available UNTIL 5 p.m. on Friday.

Please park in the main lots and NOT in the small staff lot by the lower back door of the Nature Center. The Park does not have showers and camp fires are not allowed in the Park.

T-shirt

Included with each registration is the unique T-shirt designed and made for this StarFest. The artist this year is Cassy Rose. You’ll remember that she created the iconic female astronaut design for SF2014. This year’s shirt is black with fabulous original art on the front. It really fits the theme. The back has an unique StarFest logo. The shirt is cotton, so consider a little shrinkage after washing when choosing the size. The shirt is available from S – 6X [size range not formally set yet]. Additional shirts can be pre-ordered and are $16 each. They are only available through pre-payment with registration.

Observing

Observing is easy at Bays Mountain. Solar viewing will be at the dam and night viewing will be at our observatory area. We have a number of scopes, but they will not be available all night. If you want to observe into the wee hours, please bring your own equipment. Some rules: do NOT park at the observatory area and definitely NOT on the access road. You can leave your scope out all day unattended, but it is not recommended. The grounds are open to the public during the day and for the Saturday night StarWatch.


Sleeping Arrangements

If you want to sleep within the Park grounds (at no additional charge!), you can bring your sleeping gear and find a space in the Nature Center, but it must be put away before the building opens to the public at 8:30 a.m. Pitching a tent or using a hammock is fine and a great area is back behind the Farmstead up towards the Maintenance Building. This space will be out of the way of the general public and more secluded. Please, do not pitch a tent anywhere near the parking lots nor observatory. Also make sure tree damage does not occur. You can also sleep in your car or bring a small camper/popup. Please don’t park your camper near the Farmstead, but the side lots near the Amphitheater is a great place. Be aware that parking is very limited, so please do not use up many spots with a camper/popup. StarFest is the only event of the entire year in which we allow non-primitive camping.

For those wanting a little more comfiness in the evening, we have arranged for a special rate of $103+tax/night at the Marriott MeadowView Resort. This is the closest and also the most luxurious amenity in the Tri-Cities region. It is a four+ star facility. Call the MeadowView (423-578-6600) and ask for the StarFest rate or see the website to use the link to get the special rate. This rate is guaranteed up to September 21, 2018. Here’s the link:

http://www.marriott.com/meeting-event-hotels/group-corporate-travel/groupCorp.mi?resLinkData=Bays%20Mtn%20Starfest%5Etricc%60sttstta%60103.00%60USD%60false%604%6010/11/18%6010/14/18%609/21/18&app=resvlink&stop_mobi=yes

   

Pets

If you have a dog, we are puppy-friendly, but they must be on a leash at all times, cleaned up after, and not allowed near any of the animal habitats.

Public Park Activities

As always, the schedule allows for many opportunities to enjoy the other park programming. Note, with your StarFest badge, you can receive free, on Oct. 12-14, entrance to the Park and passes to planetarium shows, nature programs and barge rides. Yes, you need your stinkin’ badge! Public planetarium shows are offered at 4 p.m. on Fridays and 1, 2, and 4 p.m. on weekends.

We have a brand-new lake vessel! Barge rides are a 45 min. tour of the lake and its natural habitats. They are at 3 p.m. on Fri. and 1, 2, & 5 p.m. on weekends. Nature programs are offered at 3 p.m. on weekends and the topic varies with each offering.

Note: the zip line is not included with registration. That is $10.

Please note that if your family arrives with you, they MUST be fully registered if they also want to partake of any of the meals or attend any of the StarFest talks.

The Bays Mountain Astronomy Club and Bays Mountain Park staff look forward to seeing you for StarFest 2018! Please contact me if you have any questions.

Adam Thanz; StarFest Chair; 423-224-2532


Astronomy Club

Our Astronomy Club is open to all ages and experience levels!

If you enjoy astronomy, then the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club is for you! We invite you to attend one of our meetings and experience it first hand.

Just some of the benefits…

  • Learning & Interaction with Fellow Members
  • Monthly Newsletter
  • Monthly Meetings
    • Meetings are typically held on the first Friday of most months at the Bays Mountain Nature Center and are free to attend.
  • StarFest – Our Annual Astronomical Convention/Star Gathering Event
    • Every Fall, our club hosts this regional gathering of amateur astronomers from around the Southeastern United States. It’s an enjoyable weekend of talks, observing, food, and fun.
  • BMAC Youtube!
    • The BMAC has a Youtube channel. Click here to see what’s on!
  • BMAC Astronomy Knowledge Compendium Test!
    • The BMAC invites you to learn more about the basics of astronomy. The following link is a take-home, open-book test. There is no time limit on taking the test. Once you complete it, you will have a better understanding of astronomy and can enjoy more of our monthly meetings. BMAC members who complete it can turn it in to the planetarium director for grading. If you receive a 90% or better, you will receive your choice of a BMAC collectible. If you receive less than 90%, you are given the opportunity to correct your answers.
    • Take our Astronomy Test
  • Join our BMAC Yahoo! Group
    • Many of the current and past members of the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club communicate with one another via a Yahoo! group called BMASTRO. If you are interested in becoming a part of this email list, the instructions are listed below.
    • Visit http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/bmastro/

Opportunities & Rules

Opportunities

How you would like to learn how to run one of our telescopes in one of our observatories? If so, that’s great! You need to be a BMAC member in good standing (see rules below) and qualified to do so. In order to run any of our equipment, you’ll need to learn on your own the basics of pointing and using a telescope. A great opportunity for that is during our public StarWatch night viewing programs. A fellow club member can show you the basics with a scope they are using. Over time, you’ll learn these basics. You’ll also learn how to help the public understand what they are seeing in the telescope. Then, you can contact the planetarium staff to set up a one-on-one training session during the daytime to learn the specifics of our observatories. Contact here.

Rules

In order to enjoy the full benefits of being a member of the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club, like earning the opportunity to run a scope in one of our observatories or even help at a public event, one needs to understand that being a member is akin to volunteerism to Bays Mountain Park. As such, a member needs to be in good standing, of good character, and doesn’t abuse this privilege.

The Park is enforcing some long held basic, good behavior guidelines regarding volunteers. If a volunteer (that has successfully been accepted into the volunteer program) does not play well with others, then they will not be a part of this volunteer effort. Again, it is a privilege, not a right, to be a member of the club and volunteer.

Not to put a negative tone to this page, but it is important to establish guidelines that we can all work by. Here is a short list of unacceptable behaviors:

  • Being rude and/or abusive to another member/public/staff person. This includes verbal, unspoken, online and physical methods. Abuse also includes micromanaging, passive/aggressive behavior, high type-A behavior, and more.
  • Theft.
  • Damage to equipment/property through gross negligence or on purpose.
  • Shirking responsibilities.
  • Being intoxicated, even by the smallest amount, by alcohol or drugs.

This is not an absolute list, but it should get the point across.

Volunteerism

This is not the same as being a member of the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club. Anyone of any age can be a member of the club.

If you want to do more and provide help with public events such as StarWatch or Astronomy Day and engage with the public, use City equipment, or be the club chair, then this is considered volunteerism. We really appreciate your desire to help out! But, this will require you to fill out the volunteer form and visit with the Park’s volunteer coordinators for an orientation meeting. The form is simple and should only take a few minutes. Part of the form is a background check, but there is NO COST to you for this. Please bring the completed form to a club meeting, mail in, or bring to the Park in a sealed envelope. After the form is processed, the volunteer coordinators will then contact you to attend an orientation meeting. They will then contact the planetarium director about your status.

Please note, if you volunteer for one thing per year, say give a presentation at a meeting or such, then you do not need to fill out the form.

If you are younger than 16, then you won’t be able to “volunteer,” but we still want to offer the opportunity for you to learn directly from one of our volunteers or staff on astronomy, how to use a telescope, and how to find celestial objects in the night sky. If this occurs during a StarWatch, you won’t be able to bring in your own equipment as we can’t exclude visitors from wanting to look through your instrument. But, you can be instructed and use the instrument the volunteer is using.

Volunteer Form for Adults

Volunteer Form for Ages 16-18

Meetings & Events

The Bays Mountain Astronomy Club holds monthly meetings at Bays Mountain Park. Meetings are normally held inside the Discovery Theater on the first Friday of most months at 7 p.m.

All are welcome to attend the club meetings. Each meeting is unique and will include an interesting keynote speaker that presents a topic that is of astronomical interest. All of these programs should be of great interest to the general public and are lots of fun. We hope to see you at a future meeting!

Upcoming Meeting Schedule

April 6, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – The New Horizons spacecraft and the Kuiper Belt Object 2014MU69 – Steve Conard, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Steve is an optical systems engineer and has had a 35-year career building spaceflight optical instruments for astrophysics and planetary science missions. As a hobby, he measures the size and shape of asteroids for the International Occultation Timing Association. His presentation will be on the New Horizons spacecraft and the Kuiper Belt Object 2014MU69. The New Horizons spacecraft will perform a flyby of a small Kuiper Belt Object, 2014MU69, on January 1, 2019. Until the summer of 2017, very little was known about this object—its size was estimated to be between 10 and 40 km in diameter. Knowing the size of the object would make the pre-planned observations during the New Horizons flyby much more effective and lower risk. In this talk we describe two expeditions to Argentina, where a diverse team used off-the-shelf amateur astronomy equipment to both measure the size and shape of this body. The results obtained reveal an unusually-shaped body that has further raised scientific expectations for next year’s encounter on January 1, 2019.

May 4, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

June 1, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

July ?, 2018 at 6 p.m.

Location – ?

Topic – Annual club picnic. BMACers and their families are most welcome to enjoy the evening along with a potluck dinner. Please bring a dish to share. You’ll need to bring your own chair and telescope to share the night sky.

August 3, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

September 7, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

October 5, 2018 at 6 p.m.

Location – BMP Observatories (notice the earlier start time)

Topic – Observatory Cleaning & TBA. Please remember to bring cleaning supplies like rags, shop-vac, broom, elbow grease, et al. to help. And, remember, it starts at 6 p.m.

November 2, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

December 7, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

January ?, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. – if severe snow, then the dinner will be January ?, 2019

Location – TBA

Topic – Annual club dinner.

February 1, 2019 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

March 1, 2019 at 7 p.m.

Location – Bays Mountain Park – Discovery Theater Classroom in the lower level of the Nature Center

Topic – TBA

Join the Club

So you want to learn about astronomy? Participating in the Bays Mountain Astonomy Club is a great way to enjoy astronomy and to meet others with similar interests. We recommend that you come to a meeting or two and see what we do, meet some of our members, and check out our latest newsletter. If you decide that you would like to be part of our organization, joining the club is easy. All you need to do is come to the next meeting, pay your dues, and you’re in. It’s really that easy!

Member Benefits:

  • Monthly Newsletter.
  • Annual Membership in the Astronomical League, an organization providing support to over 20,000 amateur astronomers.
  • Attend special club events.
  • Discounts on astronomy magazines and special events such as StarFest, our annual stargazing event.

Yearly Membership Dues

Regular Members: $16 / year

Addt’l Family Members: $6 / year

Bays Mountain Park Association Members receive a 50% discount.

Newsletter

There are two formats for the newsletter:

iBooks Format. This is for iPads, Macs, and iPhones (iOS 8.4 or later) that have the iBooks App. The benefit is that it is dynamic, animated and interactive. Some editions include extras like movies, audio, and even 3-D models that you can twirl about. You can even highlight text and add notes, both of which can then be accessed through “My Notes” for later study with your very own study cards.

PDF Format. This is a PDF version of the iBook file. It is dynamic in layout, but is in a universal form for any reader that can open a PDF document.


iBooks Format

StarFest

StarFest is the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club’s annual astronomical convention/star gathering held each October. Situated in the heart of the Appalachians, it is three days and two nights of astronomical heaven.

During the day, our delegates enjoy many keynote speakers, planetarium programs, activities, solar viewing, and the splendor of autumnal colors. The night brings more speakers, activities, the use of a fleet of large telescopes, and crisp, cool air. Attendance can only be attained by pre-registration with payment. Sorry, to be fair to our registered delegates, NO walk-ins nor “visits.” Your one, low cost includes everything:  access to all speakers, all activities, five scrumptious meals, free access to the Park’s public programming, the opportunity to sleep/camp on Park grounds at no additional cost, AND a unique, commemorative T-shirt with custom artwork.

Initiated in 1984, the Bays Mountain StarFest is still one of the finest astronomy events in the nation.

© 2018 Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium
853 Bays Mountain Park Road, Kingsport, TN 37660
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Phone: 423.229.9447 | Fax: 423.224.2589
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