The Lagoon Nebula (also M8, and NGC 6523) in the constellation Sagittarius is well-known to amateur astronomers. It is a giant star forming region with an open cluster of stars embedded within (visible on the right side of the image). A giant O-type star pumps out massive amounts of ultraviolet light that energizes the gasses in the nebula and cause them to emit light in their distinctive characteristic colors. By taking images through emission line filters, astronomers can see what elements are contained in the nebula. In this image made with Hydrogen-alpha, Sulfur II, and Oxygen III filters, the bluish glow of ionized Oxygen predominates in the center of the nebula.
We got a call into the office a while back from the “Philly Moon Men.” The caller identified himself as one of “Moon Men.” He told us of their astronomy outreach project in the city of Philadelphia and would we like to be part of it in any way? Al has been a sidewalk astronomer since a teenager and David was more than happy to listen to their ideas and help guide them towards their goal. They’ve setup scopes on street corners and vacant lots in the inner-city to show people that they live in a Universe. Because every human being that has ever lived has looked at the same Moon, all humanity is connected by the sight of this celestial object.
We were intrigued by their youthful enthusiasm and dedication to using telescopes as a means of bridging socioeconomic gaps. We invited them to meet us at the Northeast Astronomy Forum at the beginning of April to make connections with other outreach groups and see how other ideas meshed with their own. Two smartly dressed Moon Men showed up and told us more about their adventure with astronomy and how the NEAF experience was invaluable to furthering their understanding of what’s going on in the outreach community. Frankly, they were quite surprised at how much was already going on!
Last week we heard of the sudden passing of our friend Tom Trusock. The numbing disbelief still comes in waves. We can only imagine the terrible grief his wife, daughters, and the rest of the family are feeling. We hope they are in some way consoled knowing how much Tom meant to so many as they move on from this tragedy.
Our blog often profiles an imager employing one of our scopes. But this week we have a twist: we profile a single Tele Vue scope used by many imagers! It all began when we started spotting deep space images, posted on-line, created with our Tele Vue-NP127fli dedicated astrograph. All the images were made from Australia by different people. It turns out this scope is part of iTelescope.net’s collection of robotic scopes at Siding Spring Observatory. Labeled as the “T9” scope, it does wide-field imaging with the FLI ProLine PL16803 (52mm diagonal CCD) camera.