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A Fine Night For Stargazing At Little Roundtop

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by LoyaltyOfDogs, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. LoyaltyOfDogs

    LoyaltyOfDogs Sergeant

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    We enjoyed this National Park Service event presented by the Westminster (Maryland) Astronomical Society on Aug. 10: a stargazing outing at Little Roundtop. As we waited for dark, a scattered light cloud cover dissipated, and Ranger Brian Henry set the stage by discussing astronomical events during the Civil War, including the "war comet" of 1861, the appearance of the aurora borealis on Dec. 14, 1862, during the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the fateful position of the moon that prevented soldiers of the 18th North Carolina from recognizing Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville. The Westminster astronomers had several telescopes set up, and I saw Jupiter and three of its four moons. (The fourth, passing in front of the planet, was obscured by Jupiter's brightness.) It looked as close to us as our own moon! We didn't stay long enough to see what the Gettysburg Times reporter said, next day, was a passing International Space Station (Friday was, unfortunately, a day to be up early to go to work) but it was a great opportunity to join a crowd of history and nature enthusiasts for a view from Little Roundtop that we otherwise wouldn't get to see. The Gettysburg Times reports that Ranger Henry suggested the Park Service may offer a similar program again, based on the turnout. If they do, be there!

    (Moderators, if I have posted this in the wrong forum, would you kindly redirect it. Thank you!)
     

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  3. spongebob

    spongebob Private

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    We go the Gettysburg all the time and I am a amateur astronomer. I always travel with my 6" SCT. I would absolutely love the opportunity to observe from the Battlefield.
    Did you happen to see any early Perseid's? Its just amazing to me that they saw the aurora from Fredricksburg. So far south. What an huge CME there must have been, not to mention the lack of light pollution.
     
  4. LoyaltyOfDogs

    LoyaltyOfDogs Sergeant

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    You should have a great viewing opportunity at Little Roundtop, @spongebob. Unfortunately, no Perseids were spotted while we were there. I don't know whether others might have seen them after we left. What are CMEs?
     
  5. spongebob

    spongebob Private

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    Sorry, its basically the material that's thrown off by the sun, which travels through space and hits the earth causing the aurora. Usually confined to the very northern latitudes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  6. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    My understanding is that there's a regular cycle involved, and that as we approach the peak year of that cycle, the aurora can be seen much further south. In the winter of 1989-90, for example, I saw it from central Kansas one night -- and that same year, it was seen as far south as Arizona!
     
  7. LoyaltyOfDogs

    LoyaltyOfDogs Sergeant

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    I believe that was around the same time that I saw a brief small pale green shimmer in the sky north of Gettysburg one evening, @KansasFreestater. Although I don't recall specifically when it was, it was likely that winter. What I do recall is that Mr. LoyaltyOfDogs was driving near the Distelfink restaurant when I spotted it. I believe I waited a few seconds until we got to the stop sign to call his attention to it, and just as quickly, it faded away.
     
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  8. spongebob

    spongebob Private

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  9. civilken

    civilken 2nd Lieutenant

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    that is certainly a great spot.
     

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