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Messages - Jonathan Sabin

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I am calling tonight's Sidewalk Astronomy at Robinson Preserve a "NO GO" due to the weather forecast.

It's rarely an easy decision because of our incredibly fickle weather, but the following seemed pretty likely:

The last of today's showers would potentially extend up until around the time most of us would either be heading out and/or setting up our equipment.

The odds of it being mostly overcast at least until 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. are fairly high.

Once the skies do start to clear up nicely (which likely won't happen until almost 10:00 p.m.), there is a good chance that we'd be subject to unacceptably-windy conditions. I saw that there could be sustained 23 mph winds from the NW out there in the latter part of the evening.


I am calling this event a "go" with an enormous caveat:

There is very little chance that the sky will be anything close to excellent.
The best case scenario I see is that from the time we've set up the scopes around 5:30,
we'll have a little bit of clear skies--and we may end up clouded out by around 8:00 p.m.

If you're planning to attend this one, it would be better to go earlier than later.

I could be wrong, and we might get unexpectedly lucky,
but the odds favor this event starting to shut down
a couple of hours prior to the "scheduled" end time of 10 PM.


Equipment for Sale/Trade / *RARE* Kern Aarau Binoculars for Sale
« on: December 02, 2019, 02:45:38 PM »
Kern Aarau Focalpin 10 Binoculars for Sale  -  $250

I have not seen these in person, but I've come to discover that the Swiss-made Kern Aarau binoculars are pretty highly sought-after and quite valuable.
Posting these as a courtesy for the seller... if you have any questions about the them, please direct them to her (e-mail and phone number below).
  - Jonathan

I would like to sell these to an appreciative buyer. 
From what I have researched, these do not come along very often as they were made in the 50s-70s in Switzerland. 
They have been in my family, kept in the case mostly and not used often. 

Everything is original except the leather strap on the case which was quite worn so I replaced it with a leather one put on by a shoe shop.

I live in Venice FL so can show in person if near. 
I think a fair price for these collectible and rare binoculars and case is $250.

I do not do online sales but feel that I would get this or higher on a site.

Thank you. 

Beverly Polk
(859) 421-4424 

Equipment for Sale/Trade / Solar observers! Televue "Sol Searcher" tool
« on: November 24, 2019, 02:41:07 PM »
Televue Sol-Searcher - - NEW IN BOX  $20

You would think that pointing your telescope at the Sun would be a piece of cake, but it's actually a bit harder than it looks.

This nifty little item from Televue mounts to your OTA and not only makes pointing to the Sun easy, but you do it while facing away from the Sun! (See the images to see what it looks like when you're both near, and centered on the Sun)

This item is brand-new and in the box with all the mounting tools/instructions/etc. it sells right now on Amazon for $33.00 


It's never been used, never been mounted to a scope, and the only time it's even been out of the box is when I opened it to take the attached photographs. (The top image shows the Sun "almost" centered, and the second shows what it looks like when it is centered). The first time you set it up, you need to tweak it, as you would any finderscope to make sure the devise is aligned with your optical path.

If you're interested or have questions, you can either send me a message (, or give me a call at 941-518-8695.

HEADS UP for a potential (naked-eye!) celestial event!

WHAT: The Alpha Monocerotid Meteor Shower

WHEN: Thursday, November 21, 2019

TIME: 11:15 PM (start watching no later than 11:00, if you've seen nothing by around 1:00 a.m., the particles in the meteor storm have probably passed by the Earth without slamming into our atmosphere...or it's cloudy. That'll also keep you from seeing any meteors!  ;-)

WHAT TO EXPECT: Always keep your expectations in check--especially with meteor showers! But unlike many meteor showers (even "decent" ones) that may produce up to a few dozen visible meteors per hour for a casual observer in the suburbs--this event may turn out to be rather intense.
During "outbursts" from this meteor shower in the past, observers counted HUNDREDS of meteors during a relatively short period of time.
It may not be that good... but it's definitely worth heading outside to check it out!
Also, the outburst is predicted to be very brief--anywhere from about 15 minutes to possibly three-quarters of an hour.

HOW TO OBSERVE IT: You don't want a telescope, or even binoculars. (I'm quite serious... the only thing you'll accomplish by using optical aids like that is that you'll severely limit the amount of sky that you can see.) All you need is need a comfortable chaise or lawn chair or blanket to be able to lay back and take in as much of the sky as possible.
Get as far from any bright lights as possible and face the east. Although they may appear anywhere in the sky, all of the meteors associated with this shower will seem to radiate out from a point very close to the bright star Procyon, which will be about 20 degrees above the eastern horizon at 11:15 p.m.

FYI... the Local Group of Deep Sky Observers is not planning a formal observing event for this meteor shower.


Last night's Telescopes 101 event at the Bishop Planetarium, led by LGDSO member Ed McDonough, was a big success!

I don't have the final count, but when I was up in front talking to the audience, I'd estimate there were easily somewhere between 70 and 80 people in attendance.

And even though we had a handful of members who had planned to set up their scopes on the sidewalk outside the planetarium's entrance, the weather was totally uncooperative--so all of the telescopes that were there were set up inside the lobby for demonstration and Q&A, both before and after the scheduled program.

And WOW, did that go well! I think the people who came in order to learn about telescopes got far more than they ever expected.

Thank you to all who participated in this great event!


Mark your calendars!

On Tuesday, November 19th FOX 13 News - Tampa Bay will air a special segment about the Local Group of Deep Sky Observers during their 10:00 p.m. broadcast!

Corey Beckman, their Special Projects Producer, spent several hours under some very dark skies observing with our club members a couple of months ago and has been distilling the video footage and interviews into what I'm sure will be a great feature story.

The air-date and time is not likely to change, but if for some reason it does, I will re-post with the updated information.


Although there are some conflicting forecast models regarding cloud cover, none of the models are predicting rain... so our event tonight is a "go."

Most of the models are showing rather overcast skies until sunset, and possibly for a short while thereafter--but for the bulk of the evening, it looks like we may enjoy partly clear skies.

This will be the last chance to get a look at Saturn's rings at a Sidewalk Astronomy event until next fall, so if you're on the fence about going, this would definitely be a good time to try!

Hope to see you out there!

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!


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