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Messages - Jonathan Sabin

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Heads up!

The International Space Station (ISS) will pass directly over Florida early on the evening of Sunday, October 13th.

Approaching our state from the NW, it will rise on the northwest horizon at 7:09 p.m., although depending clouds, horizon obstructions, sky-clarity etc., you probably won't spot it until around 7:11 or 7:12 p.m., several degrees above the northwest horizon.

As it climbs higher and higher in the sky, it will look like an *extremely* bright white star, with no blinking or colored lights. The closer it gets to "overhead" the faster it will appear to move, although this has everything to do with how far away it is from you... much like a car moving at a fixed speed looks like it's moving faster when it's closer to you than when it's far away.

No matter where you are in Florida it will pass very high overhead a couple of minutes after that--and in fact, along that yellow line (see the image) that runs from the Panhandle down to the Keys, it will appear literally straight up.

From the Tampa Bay area this "maximum height above the horizon" will occur just after 7:14 p.m.

In the Florida Panhandle expect it to reach it's maximum height at about 7:13, and from the Keys, it'll be overhead at 7:15. Which means that at a speed of 17,500 mph--it takes just about 2 minutes to get from Tallahassee to Key West! 😱

The ISS will continue in a straight path towards the southeast where it will disappear from view not quite 3 minutes after it passes overhead.

Enjoy the view... in the Tampa Bay area at least, it should be clear skies tomorrow night, making this very easy to spot with the naked eye!

Good(ish) news everyone! 😉

I'm calling this evening's Sidewalk Astronomy event at Robinson Preserve a GO! (With caveats)

The forecast for this evening is likely to include some pretty heavy cloud cover (though almost zero chance of rain) in the first part of the evening... at least until 8:00 p.m. or so.

After 8:00 p.m., and until we've wrapped things up around 10:30, we should have enough of a clear sky (with scattered clouds thrown in) to be able to observe.

Keep your fingers crossed that I'm at least somewhat close with this forecast, and we'll see you out there!

Weather permitting, on Saturday, October 5, 2019 starting at 7:15 p.m., and continuing until at least 10:15 p.m., we will set up our scopes for public observing at the Robinson Preserve Expansion Area in Northwest Bradenton.

The event will be held in the parking area accessed from Robinson Preserve's 9th Avenue NW entrance (10299 9th Avenue NW in Bradenton), a location that enjoys an incredible wide expanse of the nighttime sky. (The Preserve's main entrance at 17th Avenue will not be open or accessible during the evening.)

Observing highlights include the spectacular ringed planet Saturn, as well as the planets Jupiter and Neptune. The first quarter moon and other deep-sky wonders will also be viewed through the member's telescopes.

As always, Sidewalk Astronomy is free of charge and is open to people of all ages.

See you there!

Equipment for Sale/Trade / Complete Astrophoto setup w/Nikon P1000
« on: September 12, 2019, 12:07:40 pm »
The following is a nearly-new (purchased in December, 2018 and used three times) camera-based, portable astrophoto setup.
Please respond directly to the owner, Jeff Sisk, if you have an interest in purchasing, making an offer, or have any questions. (Contact info below)

This package includes a Nikon P1000 and a Skywatcher AXZ-GTI Alt-Azimuth mount for video and pictures. I have only used this 3 times (haven't had a lot of time), so even though it is a great (very portable) setup, I have decided to sell it. I just started a new business recently, etc. This would be perfect for somebody just getting started and/or a dad with some kids, etc. that wants to learn the basics. I don't want it to just sit in a case.

I was getting ready to list this on ebay or take up to Johnson Photo Imaging, but thought I would look first to see if anybody in the local astronomy clubs might be interested. Photos are attached.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 Superzoom camera (Read a detailed review of this camera at the link:
Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote
Veatree 77mm Lens Hood Set
Nikon Bluetooth ML-L7 Wireless Remote
Two 1020 mAh Extra Batteries/Charger
Tiffen 77mm 12 Moon Filter (Yellow)
Threaded Black Polymer Solar Filter 77mm (excellent filter)

I am amazed at the pictures and video... the moon, mars, jupiter, saturn... I wish they had this when I was a kid! (I am 55). The camera has an HDMI out, so as you can see in the pictures, I had mounted a 1080p monitor on the tripod for live viewing with a group (monitor not included but somebody could get this for $49 at walmart). It also comes with its own version of autostar.. it is very easy to aim, and the tracking works great. I have original box, manuals, etc. It also has an iphone app that works great also.

Paid $1,545.18 in December, 2018.

Asking $1,060.66 for the complete package.

Regards, Jeff Sisk

Jeffrey Sisk
(352) 220-2440

I just posted the "GO" notice under the original Sidewalk Astronomy post.

Hope to see many of you out there tonight!   :)


Good news!

I've checked several forecast sources and we are GO for tonight's astronomy event at the Celery Fields!

It appears that we'll be fairly clear at sunset, with the possibility of some high, thin clouds drifting in over the area between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. That said, I'm not expecting them to create much of a problem with regard to our ability to observe.

Hope to see you there!

Local Group members won't need this level of detail... I'm just copying my post from FB for your info.

On the up-side, as I write this, the weather conditions for Saturday are looking fairly promising.  Too early to call a definitive "go-no-go", but I've definitely seen worse forecasts than this!  ;-)

The return of Sidewalk Astronomy!
Join us when we resume our events on September 7th!
I am pleased to announce the return of another great season of Sidewalk Astronomy events following our annual summer hiatus.

WEATHER PERMITTING, on Saturday, September 7th starting at 7:45 p.m., and continuing until at least 10:30 p.m., the members of the The Local Group of Deep Sky Observers will set up high-quality telescopes in the parking lot at the southeastern corner of Sarasota's Celery Fields Park.

Home to the Sarasota Audubon Society, located at 6893 Palmer Boulevard, Sarasota, parking will be available just west of the Nature Center building. The telescopes will be set up in the parking lot on the east side of the Nature Center. (Telescopes will NOT be set up at the top of the hill.)

Observing highlights that night will include spectacular views of the gorgeous ringed planet Saturn, as well as the giant planet Jupiter and the waxing gibbous moon. Other deep-sky wonders will also be observed as they become visible during the evening.

As always, Sidewalk Astronomy is free of charge and is open to people of all ages!

Hope to see you there!


LGDSO members and visitors:

I am pleased to announce a special summer event coming up in August before our regular season of monthly Sidewalk Astronomy begins in the fall.

On Saturday, August 10th, starting at 8:00 p.m. and running until 11:00 p.m., the Local Group of Deep Sky Observers, in partnership with the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, will offer an evening of Observing the Planets at the Robinson Preserve Expansion Area (10299 9th Avenue NW, Bradenton), to take advantage of the fact that the two largest planets in our Solar System will be observable all evening long. (map to observing location:

Like all of our events, this is weather-permitting. Be sure to check the local conditions before heading out... I will try to issue a "go-no-go" statement as early as I can on the day of the event... though as you know, Florida weather can often be tricky to predict!

In addition to Saturn's beautiful ring system, you'll be treated to views of Jupiter's equatorial cloud bands as well as all four of Jupiter's Galilean moons that night: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto that night.

And though a nearly-full moon will interfere with this summer's Perseid Meteor Shower--which reaches its peak just a couple of night's later--chances are you may spot one or two of the brighter meteors from that shower.

Equipment for Sale/Trade / Two scopes + accessories
« on: June 26, 2019, 08:06:19 pm »
Passing along this info for a member of the public who inherited a couple of scopes from their parents.
For what they're asking, (and depending the state of the optics), this may very well be worth a closer look.
Basic info that I gleaned from the images she sent:
Orion Short Tube 80 (80mm f5) Rich-field Acromatic Refractor (Model 9386)
Orion EQ-2 Equatorial mount
iOptron Smart Star Digital Scope (appears to be ~80mm aperture)
Several eyepieces (can't tell what they are from photos), PLUS...
Orion Color Electronic Imaging Eyepiece
Carrying cases

Asking $200 for the entire lot

Pickup only at the address below (vicinity of the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota.)
Interested individuals should contact the seller directly with any questions - - although keep in mind that this equipment was not theirs to begin with!
Laura Campbell
2325 Ixora Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34234
(203) 256-1515


I'm rarely eager to call any event a "GO!" more than a day or so out, but the forecast over the next several days looks as good as I've ever seen for late May!

Our Omega Centauri event (rescheduled from earlier this month because of the weather) will be held this Saturday, May 25th from sunset (shortly after 8 PM) until at least 11.

We'll have Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) reaching its highest point (about 14 degrees above the southern horizon) around 10:30 p.m., but it will be high enough to observe throughout the evening.

Jupiter will rise around 9:30, so it will also be a decent target later in the evening--and since we're approaching opposition early next month, it will be almost as good as it gets.

Hope to see a bunch of you with telescopes out there at the Robinson Preserve Expansion area on Saturday! 10299 9th Avenue NW, Bradenton  <MAP>>>



I'm pleased to announce that tonight's Sidewalk Astronomy at Riverview High School (Sarasota, Florida) is a "GO!"

While the forecast isn't calling for "crystal clear" skies, the conditions do appear to be favorable enough to get in at least some observing throughout the evening.

In addition, the Planetarium theater at the school will be open while we're there, and free shows will be offered with seating available on a first come, first serve basis.

Hope to see you tonight!

As much as it pains me to have to do this, tonight's Omega Centauri Observation event is canceled due to the prediction of thunderstorms throughout the evening.

The accompanying screenshot is the forecast for 9-10 p.m., and we'd be right in the middle of that weather.

Our next scheduled event will be next Saturday, May 11th at Sarasota's Riverview High School. That event is of course, also weather-permitting.

Weather update for tonight's (Saturday, April 13th) Sidewalk Astronomy at Robinson Preserve:

We are a "go!" 😁

Although we're expecting no rain, it's almost certainly not going to be a 'crystal clear' night. 😕

That said, my expectation is for a lot of high--but very thin--clouds throughout the evening, which will allow us to observe most of the brighter objects.

See you out there after sunset!

As frustrating as it is to cancel events due to unfavorable weather conditions, the forecast for tomorrow's (March 16th) Sidewalk Astronomy at the Celery Fields has given me no other option.

The cloud cover estimates for the entire evening range from 80% (lousy), to just over 90% (even lousier).

We will try again, next month (Saturday, April 13th) at Robinson Preserve in NW Bradenton.

Our next Sidewalk Astronomy event is scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 16th at the Celery Fields.

Sunset is just after 7:30 p.m., but the weather forecast (as I write this on Tuesday afternoon) is looking pretty grim.

So unless something changes rather radically between now and then, 90%-plus cloud cover for the entire evening may just turn this into a no-go event.

Keep your fingers crossed... and I'll keep you posted with updates.

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