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Bill Sadowski Park

Deering Estate

Zoo Miami


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August 2017 - Coal Sack

Summer Issue 2017 - Coal Sack



Newsletter of the Southern Cross Astronomical Society, Miami, Florida Summer 2017



Weather permitting, Saturday evenings nearest to the New Moon SCAS members and public are welcome to meet SCAS Astros who will host a New Moon Star Party August 19, September 16, October 21, dusk - 11 p.m. at the D'Auria Observatory, 23325 SW 217 Avenue, Homestead, 33031. Under very dark skies, SCAS hi-tech equipment will focus on constellations, deep sky objects in moonless skies. Bring chairs, binoculars, bug repellent, and your telescope but not necessary. No lasers, lights, litter, alcohol or pets. SCAS Star Parties in Sadowski Park will be closed ONLY on those dates.



Weather permitting a partial solar eclipse will be visible from Miami MONDAY, AUGUST 21st. SCAS Astros will arrange hi-tech solar `scopes 1-4 p.m. at the Deering Estate at Cutler, east end of SW 168 Street, Palmetto Bay 33157. Never look directly at the Sun unless you wear proper protection. The remaining visible solar surface becomes more intense. Sunglasses are not safe to wear. The eye retina can be burned and blindness may occur quickly, silently and permanently.Solar glasses may be available. Deering 305-235-1668.

If you are lucky to observe the solar eclipse within the 70 mile wide shadow path that will zip across the U.S. at 1500 mph. then you could observe the 2 minute and 42 second totality safely. A few SCAS members will be out of town from the Carolinas to the Rocky Mountains to image and observe the totality. The FIU Dept. of Physics will plan a Solar Eclipse Event at the AstroScience Center, Main Campus. SCAS will plan a future Solar Eclipse program at FIU physics lecture hall CP-145.


FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27th, bring family, friends, your date and future astronomers to the free SCAS Hallowe'en Star Party, 7-10 p.m.Fruit & Spice Park, 24801 SW 187 Ave. Homestead 33031. SCAS Astros will arrange hi-tech equipment in the very dark outback to focus on star clusters, Andromeda Galaxy, nebulas and First Quarter Moon. The Park will offer tram rides, campfire, music and light refreshments. Free. 305-247-5727.


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10th dusk-10 p.m. to honor our Veterans and Wounded Warriors SCAS Astros and the National Park Service will have telescopes focused on winter star clusters, constellations and nebulas. Meet us on the concrete deck edge of the parking lot, Shark Valley, Tamiami Trail, Everglades National Park. Bring chairs, binoculars, bug repellent and cameras to record birds drifting in to roost by sunset. Arrive by mid-afternoon, take a tram ride through the Everglades. The new Shark Valley Visitors Center closes mid-evening. 



President Russ Brick

1st. V.P. Steve Van Ryn

2nd V.P. Tim Khan

3rd V.P. Sanford Schoolfield

Treasurer Victoria Van Ryn

Adm. Sec'y. Barb Yager

Parlimentarian Mike Smith

Carlos Heredero

Maria Marquez

Sergio Figuera,

Bob Torres,

Paul Buscher



It's Westwad Ho for SCAS Past Presidents Dr. Lester Shalloway and Family, R. Scott and Lou Ireland to image the total solar eclipse. They will focus on the eclipse from different sites somewhere in Idaho. SCAS members may scatter along the centerline in southeastern U.S..

SCAS President Russ and Marjorie Brick and V.P. Steve and Victoria Van Ryn presented three astronomy programs to boy scout troops at Camp Sawyer, Florida Keys last month. Sergio Figuera is busy as an editor at WPBS-Channel 2, N. Miami. Carlos Heredero is a popular broadcaster of astronomy news and SCAS events on Spanish radio and TV programs. Lucas Vigil, sophomore at Penn State University is the President of the PSU Astronomy Club and provides information to staff at the huge radio telescope, Greenbank, MD. After a long absence, we welcome back members: Ric Babcock, California, Ken Metts and Chad Cantrell, Miami and Sherry Mathieu, Coral Springs, FL.

SCAS has returned to ZooMiami Saturday mornings 10 a.m. - Noon. Weather permitting, Steve Van Ryn and Justin Lyden anchor the hi-tech solar telescopes at the new entrance to ZooMiami 12400 SW 152 Street. Let's go SCAS members! Bring your solar equipment to join the fun of showing the public the awesome power blasting off the solar surface. Neal Kleinman recently set up his solarscope at the Zoo. Groups of scouts, students, etc. are always welcome to view the Sun safely in SCAS solar equipment. If SCAS members want to assist Saturday mornings, contact


SCAS welcomes new members: from Homestead: Mario Fallon & Family, Roy Spallone & Family; Joe & Gay Haldeman, Gainesville, August Orlandi, Illinois, student Calvin Pell, Cutler Bay; from Miami: the Gandhi Family, MDC student Gerald Herrera, the Christine Klein Family, Ken Metts, Nilia O'Reilly, Joey Sankows, Judy & Seth Stopek and the Juan Vizcarra Family. We hope to meet you all soon.



Miranda Torres, graduate of Westminster Christian High School and lovely daughter of Bob and Myriam Torres, will soon dash off to Florida State University, Tallahassee, late August. She plans to major in Public Relations and minor in Business.

In February, the 2017 MIT Science Olympiad Invitational was held in Boston. Students at Archimedean Upper Conservatory, Sunset Drive, competed in the prestigious event. Riya and Neel Gandhi, youngsters of proud parents Pragnesh and Sapana Gandhi, collected some great prizes! Neel placed 2nd in Robot Arm, 17th in Wind Power, and 4th in Optics. Riya placed 4th in Optics and 8th in astronomy. Following that major event the school Science Team competed in the South Florida Regional Competition, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.


In July SCAS Honorary member Dr. James R. Webb, research astronomer, was invited to speak at an astronomy conference on a Caribbean island. His topic: "Turbulent Jet Model for Blazar Microvariability".He also presented a program "Life In The Universe" at the National Mensa Convention in Ft. Lauderdale.

In June 600 High School and Middle School students enjoyed solar viewing, tours of the buildings, Observatory at the Modesto Maidique campus SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE- weather permitting the FIU Observatory is open to students and the public 8 p.m.

SCAS & Smithsonian Scholarship winners Cynthia Nunez and Steve Revesz.

  1. a Dean's List student, has her focus on planetary format and galaxy evolution. She has a very busy schedule as President of the Society for Physics Students, V. President of the Physics Honors Society, and Secretary for Women in Physics & Astronomy and the FIU Astronomy Club.She led workshops for middle school girls, taught physics to very young students and interned at the Frost Science Museum.

Stephen, a Dean's List student, is aimed toward astronomy and propulsion technology. He collects data for Dr. Webb's astronomy research and is one of the few students qualified to open and operate the new 24" diameter telescope in the FIU Observatory.He is working toward his degree in Physics and Astronomy. While observing Quasar Bi.Lac, a luminous outburst occurred.His scientific knowledge provided valuable information to study the energy of the outburst for his research. His astronomy images are posted on the Stocker AstroScience Center Website.

We hope these two brilliant FIU "stars" will have time to present a future SCAS program together at FIU.




Supt. Pete Ramos reports that a new restaurant and lodging will be constructed to provide sweeping views of Florida Bay. In alignment with national standards, the proposed fee for the Annual ENP Pass will increase from $40. to $50. The pedestrian rate (walk-in, bike, paddle) will increase from $8. to $12. beginning in January 2018. New technology will allow for the purchase of park entrance passes via a smartphone or mobile device. Recent expansion of cellular service in the park will make this technology available to all visitors. Park Managers are proposing to eliminate more than a half dozen fees from its current fee schedule. In the next five years the former Flamingo restaurant may be converted to a new Visitors Center. We invite everyone to comment on the proposed fee changes and public meetings are scheduled with a 5 p.m. deadline September 15, 2017. Recommendations will be submitted to NPS in Washington, D.C. for final review and action.


Tuesday, 8/8th Murray Nelson Gov. Ctr. 10250 Overseas Hwy. Key Largo, FL 33037.

Wednesday 8/9th South Dade Gov. Center, 10750 SW 211 Street Cutler Bay, FL 33189.

Thursday 8/10th UF/FAS Extension M-D County 18710 SW 288 Street, Homestead, FL 33030.


Dead trees have been removed and trees will be trimmed near the Southern Cross Observation Deck.

Despite many weather cancellations Saturday evenings the visitor attendance totals 1, 207 January-July 2017.




-Barb Yager, IDA Sponsor

The Southern Cross Astronomical Society is a proud member of IDA. Dark Sky Parks, certified by IDA, have sprouted across the U.S. in recent years. In 2016 Florida added IDA Dark Sky Parks: Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochoee, FL on the Tamiami Trail. In March 2016 I had the opportunity to attend the National Park Service Star Party at BCP. About 200 astronomers and families were spread across the ground or in long lines behind very impressive telescopes. They drove from the Palm Beach Club, Fort Lauderdale, Key Largo, SW Florida and Naples Astronomy Clubs. Skyglow was visible far to the east above Miami, to Ft. Myers in the northwest and Marco Island to the southwest. Overhead the very dark night sky became a stunning, hypnotic vision. Dazzling diamonds in all sizes seemed to be scattered across black velvet. It was totally captivating and forever branded in my memory. Mosquitoes had not yet hatched, a gentle breeze and a chance to meet the Park Ranger Luke Gommermann who kept me informed by email, (transferred to Utah NPS this year) and a reunion with my dear friend Diana, Pembroke Pines, who rose in ranks from Secretary to President of IDA last year.

Successful IDA chapters are located in Australia, the Orient, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, UK, Greece, Netherlands, and Turkey , etc. To fight growing light pollution It takes teamwork, determination and a push to propose new lighting ordinances in communities. Everyone benefits: migrating birds, wildlife, trees, plants, sea turtles AND astronomers!

An added bonus is a huge saving in city utility expenses. You can find dark skies with full cutoff street lights, etc. at Sanibel Island and Harmony, Florida..



Meteor Showers-

  1. predawn NE Aug. 11-13 50 per/hr. Comet Swift-Tuttle moonlight
  2. late eve. N Oct. 9 8 per/hr. Comet Giacobini-Zinner
  3. predawn S Oct. 20-22 15 per/hr. Comet Halley
  4. predawn SE Nov. 17-19 12 per/hr. Comet Tempel-Tuttle
  5. eve.'predawn NE Dec. 13-14 30 per/hr. Asteroid Pantheon


Early August Earth enters the dust tail of long-gone Comet Swift-Tuttle. A zillion specks of space dust will smash into our upper atmosphere at 110,000 mph and incinerate into colorful celestial fireworks radiating from the constellation Perseus rising in the NE after midnight Bright moonlight may reduce the total meteor count. The peak of Perseid activity occurs August 11-14 and lingers for a few nights after. will have tips and sky maps. Weather permitting, Perseids may be visible from Bill Sadowski Park Saturday August 12th.


Christian Huygens, a Dutch astronomer, discovered Saturn's largest moon Titan in 1655. NASA launched the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft October 1997. ESA (European Space Agency) built and managed the Huygens camera assembly which deployed to photograph Titan as it dropped into the satellite's surface January 2005. Cassini continues to send awesome images and data. September 15, 2017 Cassini will end its illustrious imaging career and drop into Saturn's atmosphere. It will join the line up in NASA's Hall of Fame!


NASA-JPL launched the Juno Spacecraft August 2011.Following a risky 35-minute descent above Jupiter the spacecraft began its computerized orbit above the gigantic planet July 4, 2016. The awesome close-up images continue to stream back to Earth.


NASA's solar-powered NEW HORIZONS arrived at Pluto July 14, 2915. Historic first close up images finally streamed back to Earth in 2016.The space craft continues to cruise through the Kuiper Belt to accumulate more data.

SCAS guest speaker Dr. Scott Bolton, NASA scientist at SWRI (SW Research Institute, San Antonio, TX ) and #1 investigator of New Horizon and Juno Missions, presented his NASA program March 2015 to an overflow crowd in the FIU lecture hall CP-145. Scott is often quoted in the media re: these two successful missions.



About the Author - Southern Cross Astronomical Society
Southern Cross Astronomical Society

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