The planetarium program entitled “The Sun, Our Living Star” will be featured at the December 6th meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society. This program vividly tells the story of our nearest star, our planet’s powerhouse and the source of energy that drives the Earth’s wind and weather. It is the ball of light that allows for the very existence of life on Earth. The program will begin at 7:30pm on Thursday, December 6th, at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers. The regular monthly business meeting of the SWFAS will be held immediately thereafter which will include the election of officers for 2019. We hope to see you at the planetarium on Thursday, December 6th.
Is there life out there?
If so, is it intelligent life? How rare are we? Are we a miracle of random naturalistic deterministic laws or the purpose of an intelligent designer? The Drake Equation, Fermi Paradox, and Rare Earth Hypothesis have provided data and insights that argue both for and against the possibility of life across the universe. Yet, if so, where are they and why haven’t they contacted us? Are they still evolving or have they evolved beyond our recognition. Or are we alone? If contact is ever made what will be our response and will our national sovereignty be lost? Is life a miracle? Cosmic evolution is shared across the universe but how rare is abiogenesis, the step from nonliving, inorganic matter to life?
Scott Flaig, accomplished author, lecturer, and member of the South West Florida Astronomical Society will discuss these topics and more at the Thursday, November 1st meeting of the SWFAS. Scott’s presentation will begin at 7:30pm at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers. The regular monthly business meeting of the SWFAS will be held immediately following this intriguing and thought provoking presentation.
Jayne Johnston, Vice-President and Education and Membership Chair of Audubon of SW Florida (Lee County Chapter) will be presenting at the September meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society. You may remember Jayne’s Panther Presentation given at the January meeting of the SWFAS when she was representing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Jayne’s September presentation is entitled “Birds of the Stars” and will focus on constellations and their avian namesakes. Her discussion will include bird navigation techniques and local birds related to the constellations of the night sky. Jayne’s presentation will begin at 7:30pm on Thursday, September 6th, at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium. The regular business meeting of the South
August 2nd 2018:
Fellow amateur astronomer and SWFAS member John MacLean will be presenting at the August meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society. John’s presentation entitled “From Pythagorus to Einstein; and How Much Older (or younger) is that Twin Brother anyhow?” will discuss Special Relativity and the Twin Paradox and will demonstrate the actual derivation of the equation for time dilation. If you are in the mood for some intense mental gymnastics you will not want to miss this presentation although, if you are like me, you may leave with a slight headache.
July 5th Meeting:
Clifford Mitchem, independent energy advisor and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate will be the guest speaker at the July meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society. The focus of Mr. Mitchem’s presentation will be solar energy and what it means to the south west Florida region. Included in the presentation will be information on how solar power works, the politics of solar energy, and the advantages of solar power and solar installations.
Professor Antonio Paris, Professor of Astronomy at St. Petersburg College and Chief Scientist at the Center for Planetary Science was our guest speaker at the June meeting. Prof Paris discussed his MARS studies and activities of his students. He introduced his new book “MARS – Your personal 3D journey to the red planet”, the sales of which help support research and student projects.
May 3rd Meeting
In lieu of a guest speaker for the May meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society we will be showing a new planetarium program entitled, “Explosions that Shape the Cosmos”. This program will be shown immediately after the regular business meeting of the SWFAS on Thursday, May 3rd at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium. The business meeting will commence at 7:30pm.
April 5th Meeting
The guest speaker for the April 5th meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society will be Mr. Charles (Chuck) McClinton. Mr. McClinton, presently an independent aerospace consultant, retired from NASA in July, 2005, after 38 years of service. His last assignment with NASA was as Hypersonic Technology Manager for the Hyper-X Program responsible for vehicle definition, wind tunnel testing, and all hypersonic technology development.
Chuck has authored numerous publications addressing all areas of hypersonic propulsion, propulsion airframe integration, and hypersonic vehicle synthesis. An aviation enthusiast, Mr. McClinton will discuss NASA’s history in scramjet vehicle R&D which culminated in the X-43 Research vehicle program and test flights reaching Mach 9.68 at 110,00 feet. Chuck will present details of the X-43 vehicle and its systems, movies and video taken during the flights, flight controller computer visualization of the flight characteristics and maneuvers, flight test measurements, and a vision for use of the fascinating technology.
Mar 1st 2018 Meeting
SWFAS Vice-President Bruce Dissette was the guest speaker at the March meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society on March 1, 2018.
Bruce will talked to us about Omega Centauri, a most impressive and massive globular star cluster in the southern sky.
Feb 1st 2018 Meeting
On Thursday, February 1, 2018 Park Ranger Fiona Southwell will be presenting “Seasons in the Swamp” to the South West Florida Astronomical Society. In an environment where the only constant is change, where birds arrive and depart, where water falls and then recedes, new life will be birthed as the seasons change. Join Ranger Southwell on a seasonal journey through one of the most interesting and ever-changing ecosystems in the world-the Big Cypress Swamp. Ranger Southwell’s presentation will begin at 7:30pm at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers. As usual, the monthly business meeting of the SWFAS will follow immediately thereafter.
Janurary 4th 2018 Meeting:
Jayne Johnston, Panther Outreach Specialist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, will be the guest speaker at the January 4, 2018 meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society.
The monthly business meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society will follow immediately thereafter.
With an increase in both human populations and Florida panther population, FWC wants to ensure the safety of both by spreading the word on what one can do to minimize negative interactions. Additionally, you will learn about panther biological information, their former and current range, past, present, and future impacts to their population, and how to keep safe on the roads where most panthers are killed. Also included will be information about interagency, public and private partnerships, and citizen science opportunities.
About our Speaker:
Jayne was born in New Jersey but grew up in Florida after moving here when she was 1.5 years old. She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and is a certified interpretive guide with the National Association of Interpretation. She has a keen interest in birds and volunteers with Audubon in her spare time. She enjoys teaching environmental education through public outreach, guided hikes, and afterschool programs.
In lieu of a guest speaker for the December meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society we will be showing the planetarium program entitled “Magnetism – Defending our Planet, Defining the Cosmos”. This is a full dome planetarium show that demonstrates how the earth’s magnetic field protects our planet from energetic particles from the sun and galaxy, and how the magnetic field also protects the water in our atmosphere from being swept away by the solar wind. It shows the first aurora seen simultaneously from the ground and the ISS, and tells about the MMS Mission (Magnetic Multiscale) and its quest to understand the magnetic connection between the earth and the sun.
David Feller will be our guest speaker at the November meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society on Thursday, November 2nd, at 7:30pm. Dave served on two submarines during a 20 year career in the U. S. Navy. While on active duty Dave earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University, a Master of Science degree in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Central Florida. Dave retired in 2002 and has taught a variety of courses in science, business, and algebra since he began teaching in 2003. He currently teaches introductory on-line courses in Meteorology, Oceanography, Astronomy, and Ethics at three community colleges in Florida and one in Pennsylvania.
Dave will speak to us about Plate Tectonics and Planetary Evolution. Surface features on terrestrial planets evolve over time. Some of these processes are catastrophic and act very quickly, while others are evolutionary and develop more slowly. Plate tectonics theory explains how heat generated inside a planet causes (usually) slow, evolutionary changes on a planetary surface.
Please join us on Thursday, November 2nd, and learn how events such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and the formation of new ocean basins are driven by plate tectonics here on earth, on what we can learn about the other terrestrial planets in our solar system by applying these concepts.
Dave’s presentation will begin at 7:30pm and will be followed by the regular SWFAS monthly business meeting.
In lieu of a guest speaker at the July 6th meeting of the South West Florida Astronomical Society we will be showing a new planetarium program entitled: Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter. This “visually stunning and scientifically fascinating” program has received rave reviews worldwide from its viewers. It covers everything from the Big Bang to galaxies, the Large Hadron Collider, and a deep underground experiment in the Homestake Mine in South Dakota. The Higgs Boson will be discussed as well.
This program will be shown immediately following the regular monthly meeting of the SWFAS which begins at 7:30pm on Thursday, July 6th, at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers. We hope to see you there…..
The South West Florida Astronomical Society is pleased to present SWFAS Vice-President Bruce Dissette as our guest speaker at our May 4th meeting.Â Anyone who has attended a star party with Bruce Dissette is well aware of his knowledge of the night sky and his passion as an accomplished amateur astronomer.Â Bruce will talk about Proxima Centauri, a low mass, red dwarf star located just 4.5 light years from earth in the Alpha Centauri star system.Â Aside from being the closest star to earth, Proxima Centauri made the news in 2016 when astronomers discovered Proxima b, a planet orbitingÂ inÂ its habitable zone.
We are pleased to announce that John Jardine Goss, Astronomical League President will be speaking at our Thursday November 3rd meeting.
Join us as John presents Sketching Lunar Features, a fun, hands-on workshop showing how to draw lunar features using the take away method. Sketching allows you to see more and become a better observer. After all, a crater is more than just a bowl shaped depression! You will quickly learn that you don’t have to be an artist to draw interesting lunar features such as craters and mountains.
He will also be talking about the Astronomical League and what it provides to Astronomy Clubs and amateur astronomers in general. These include observing programs/awards and conventions.
Celestial Navigation TechniquesOn Thursday, February 4, 2016 Ray Wlodyka, assistant education officer for the Cape Coral Power Squadron, presented to the South West Florida Astronomical Society. Ray’s presentation began with a discussion of the navigation techniques used by the ancient mariners including the development of the sextant and learning to determine longitudinal position on the high seas. He explained to us the technique of taking and reducing sightings for position determination. This presentation took the audience “full circle” as Ray discussed the rise of celestial navigation techniques and the present day demise of this skill as GPS tracking and other more sophisticated techniques replaced the need to read the stars.
January 2016 presentation:
Jack Berninger made a return visit to the Planetarium and our astronomy club on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to make a special presentation entitled “Understanding Einstein”.
As we all know, Albert Einstein forever changed our understanding of the universe. He produced many Nobel Prize quality papers and his ideas and insights to the cosmos are still being studied and applied today. Even 100 years after the publication of his Theory of Relativity his discoveries remain the backbone of modern physics, cosmology, and our future understanding of the cosmos.