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Wednesday, February 7th 7:00 pm.
Madelyn Helling Library
Community Room


       Update on "The Red Planet"
                      by Alan Stahler


Alan Stahler has graciously agreed to make a presentation on Mars.  Alan has stepped in on 'short notice' to give us an update on Mars and what we can expect from the red planet this next year.  Our original speaker, Larry Harrison had to cancel at the last minute.  Thank you Alan for your help.

Bring a friend ... bring the kids!

President’s Rant

Hello stargazers,

It’s February, the month with no full moon. I guess that with two in January, one being a “super blue total eclipse” we should be good until March. After all, the last one of those was in 1866!

Another milestone worth noting is that on January 25th, Opportunity rover celebrated 14 years on Mars. That’s pretty good return on a mission that was only expected to run 90 days or so, certainly not past the first winter. And it’s still doing useful science! Good job Opportunity!

Finally, 10 years ago March, the NC Astronomers held our first meeting. I guess that we must be doing enough things right that we have hung on. Way to go members, let’s keep it going!

I’ll see you at the meeting on February 7th. Alan Stahler will be giving us an update on Mars. That seems appropriate to catch up on the latest science from the red planet.

In the meantime, don’t forget to keep looking up.


Outreach - David Buchla 

This month we had no new outreach events added to our calendar; Scotten School is still on for March 22. The STEM (or STEAM) expo is April 7 from 9 to 3 - we need tto arrive about 7:30 to set up. Both events will involve making star wheels and setting up displays, so help is always appreciated. I'll send a reminder to all members when there is an upcoming event.

I hope everyone went out to see the beautiful lunar eclipse. Here is a composite photo (2 photos put together} that I took.


Astronomy on Tap

NC Astronomer members continue to enjoy the beer  and 'blather' at the Ol' Republic Brewery.  Their beer selection is quite comprehensive and they seem to enjoy naming beers after astronomical topics. 

Our discussions in February will begin with the topic 

"Magnetic Secrets of Mysterious Radio Bursts

In a Galaxy Far, Far away (3 billion light years)"


To prepare for this discussion, please follow this link for background information

We will meet on

Wednesday, February 21st at 5pm

Ol' Republic Brewery!


Secretary/Treasurer - Paul Bacon


Our Mission is:

'Bringing' Astronomy to the Public'

a BIG Thank You

to all our members who join and make our programs possible!

I will be collecting 2018 membership contributions

($20/year for member or family)

at our meeting on February 7th,

If you can't make the meeting, send your check to:

          NC Astronomers, %Paul Bacon,                    
10572 Oak St., Grass Valley, CA 95945


This article is provided by NASA Space Place.
Visit to explore space and Earth science!

Sixty Years of Observing Our Earth
by Teagan Wall

Satellites are a part of our everyday life. We use global positioning system (GPS) satellites to help us find directions. Satellite television and telephones bring us entertainment, and they connect people all over the world. Weather satellites help us create forecasts, and if there’s a disaster—such as a hurricane or a large fire—they can help track what’s happening. Then, communication satellites can help us warn people in harm’s way.

There are many different types of satellites. Some are smaller than a shoebox, while others are bigger than a school bus. In all, there are more than 1,000 satellites orbiting Earth. With that many always around, it can be easy to take them for granted. However, we haven’t always had these helpful eyes in the sky.

The United States launched its first satellite on Jan. 31, 1958. It was called Explorer 1, and it weighed in at only about 30 pounds. This little satellite carried America’s first scientific instruments into space: temperature sensors, a microphone, radiation detectors and more.

Explorer 1 sent back data for four months, but remained in orbit for more than 10 years. This small, relatively simple satellite kicked off the American space age. Now, just 60 years later, we depend on satellites every day. Through these satellites, scientists have learned all sorts of things about our planet.

For example, we can now use satellites to measure the height of the land and sea with instruments called altimeters. Altimeters bounce a microwave or laser pulse off Earth and measure how long it takes to come back. Since the speed of light is known very accurately, scientists can use that measurement to calculate the height of a mountain, for example, or the changing levels of Earth’s seas.

Satellites also help us to study Earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere is made up of layers of gases that surround Earth. Before satellites, we had very little information about these layers. However, with satellites’ view from space, NASA scientists can study how the atmosphere’s layers interact with light. This tells us which gases are in the air and how much of each gas can be found in the atmosphere. Satellites also help us learn about the clouds and small particles in the atmosphere, too.

When there’s an earthquake, we can use radar in satellites to figure out how much Earth has moved during a quake. In fact, satellites allow NASA scientists to observe all kinds of changes in Earth over months, years or even decades.

Satellites have also allowed us—for the first time in civilization—to have pictures of our home planet from space. Earth is big, so to take a picture of the whole thing, you need to be far away. Apollo 17 astronauts took the first photo of the whole Earth in 1972. Today, we’re able to capture new pictures of our planet many times every day.

Today,  many satellites are buzzing around Earth, and each one plays an important part in how we understand our planet and live life here. These satellite explorers are possible because of what we learned from our first voyage into space with Explorer 1—and the decades of hard work and scientific advances since then.

This photo shows the launch of Explorer 1 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 31, 1958. Explorer 1 is the small section on top of the large Jupiter-C rocket that blasted it into orbit. With the launch of Explorer 1, the United States officially entered the space age.
Image credit: NASA

To learn more about satellites, including where they go when they die, Check out NASA Space Place:

Click to Contact
President John Griffin
Vice President Rick Bernard
Secretary/Treasurer Paul Bacon
Outreach Coordinator David Buchla
At Large Greg Ouligian
At Large Dan St. John

NC Astronomers
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First Wednesday Of The Month
Madelyn Helling Library
Community Room
980 Helling Way
Nevada City 95959

10572 Oak St.
Grass Valley, CA 95945

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