F1940 History of the Universe, Part 2: Modern Cosmology
Preferred: compressed Powerpoint presentations
Alternate for those who do not have Powerpoint: degraded PDF form
Discussions by LLI members in class.
From Linda Curtis:
The [Leander McCormick Observatory at UVA] telescope is an astrometric refractor, originally given to the University as a gift from Leander McCormick and dedicated in 1885. The telescope was the primary research instrument and was used for astrometry into the 1990s. In recent years, however, extensive hardware upgrades and instrumentation efforts have transformed the observatory into a more modern facility (while still preserving the historical integrity of the observatory) capable of optical CCD imaging and spectroscopy in conjunction with courses and public outreach programs, with most research being moved to the Fan Mountain Observatory located south of Charlottesville.
McCormick Observatory Public Night Program
Leander McCormick Observatory is open on the FIRST and THIRD Friday nights of every month (except holidays) year round. Visitors can view celestial objects through the historic 26-inch McCormick Refractor and other smaller telescopes (weather permitting), tour the Observatory, hear a presentation by an astronomer, and see the exhibits. All faculty, postdocs and graduate students participate through a rotating schedule.
No tickets are required and advanced reservations are not necessary.
The Observatory is open from 9:00-11:00 p.m. during daylight saving time (mid March to early November) and 7:00-9:00 p.m. during eastern standard time (early November to mid March).
Fan Mountain Observatory Public Nights
Fan Mountain Observatory is open to the public twice a year, once in April and once in October. The Fan Mountain Observing Station is located 13 miles south of Charlottesville at the end of a 3 mile long gravel road. See website the for the exact dates for a particular year. Tickets, which are free, are required for Fan Mountain public nights (see web site for ticket info).
From David Pace:
The Sky Meadows events which Mark Dodge first mentioned are monthly events on the Saturday night nearest the new moon. The dates of these “Astronomy for Everyone” events for the rest of 2019 are Oct 26, Nov 23, and Dec 28. See https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/park-events-list?srchloc=SK&eventtype=all&BDate=09/21/2019&EDate=12/31/2019
The observing events at Great Meadow Park near The Plains, VA for the remainder of 2019 will be on Oct 25, Dec 1, and Dec 29. See https://www.novac.com/wp/observing/great-meadow/
There was also a discussion about the peculiar system we use for star brightness in which the brightest stars have negative magnitudes. That dates back over 2 millennia to people like Ptolemy and Hipparchus. They divided the stars that they could see into 6 groups. The brightest group they designated as being 1st magnitude and the dimmest were 6th magnitude. These were, of course apparent magnitudes. But when people learned the distances to stars and were therefore able to calculate absolute magnitudes, they realized that some stars were even brighter in absolute magnitude than the 1st magnitude stars. What to do when it is less than 1st magnitude? They used zero and negative numbers for magnitudes, which we still do today. The apparent magnitude of our sun is -26.7.