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Messages - Jonathan Sabin

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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.

Just a brief word about tonight's (SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16th) Sidewalk Astronomy at Riverview H.S.

It's a "go."

Expect overcast skies in the late afternoon to break up by 6ish.

We should have *mostly* clear skies until around 9, and from 9 to 10, we may get a bit of high, thin clouds moving in.

At least, that's the way I'm reading it!  ;-)

See you out there!


The interview went pretty well, I thought... and I got a full three minutes of air time! (Interesting side note: Einstein's time-dilation theory is at play, because when you're sitting there in the studio on-camera, it only takes about 10-15 seconds to get three minutes of video!)   ;-)

If you didn't happen to catch it, I've uploaded it here:

In case anyone’s interested, I’ll be talking about this weekend’s Sidewalk Astronomy event with John Scalzi, on ABC7 Sarasota - WWSB for a couple of minutes during their noon broadcast on Thursday. (January 10th)

My understanding is that we’ll be live around 12:20 p.m.

Hi Randy,

As Ed mentioned, we welcome everyone with a scope and/or binoculars who's willing to set up for the public, as every additional piece of equipment out there makes it better for those in attendance. We usually get a minimum crowd of about 100--though we've had as many as 400-500 show up on some of our busiest nights. Needless to say, the more scopes we have...the better we can accommodate the crowd!

We look forward to seeing you out there... and brace yourself for handling all the "oohs" and "aahs!"


Our first public celestial event of 2019 takes place on January 12

We are pleased to announce that weather permitting, on Saturday, January 12, 2019 starting at 6:00 p.m., and continuing until at least 10:00 p.m., the members of the Local Group will set up high-quality telescopes for public viewing at the Robinson Preserve EXTENSION in Northwest Bradenton. This event is held in partnership with the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, as well as Robinson Preserve.

Our telescopes will be set up in the parking area accessed from Robinson Preserve's new 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 wintertime favorite, the Great Nebula in Orion, as well as the planets Mars, Uranus and Neptune. The first quarter moon and other deep-sky wonders will also be viewed through our telescopes.

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


Despite the fact that it's currently *completely* overcast, tonight's event is a GO!

With one caveat.

It appears that there's a good chance the clouds will start to break up between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., so even though we scheduled this to start at 5:45, chances are we won't even have telescopes set up until an hour or so later---and that's assuming it shows evidence that the clearing is actually happening.

If it does clear, it looks like we may have some decent observing for a couple of hours--and you'll get a chance to see the comet 46/P Wirtanen, which is just one day away from its closest approach to the Earth!

The weather forecast for tonight's Sidewalk Astronomy at Riverview High looks good.

High, thin clouds possible during part of the evening, but otherwise clear.

The event is a "GO!"

(And if you do go, you probably want to bring a light jacket or sweatshirt. The forecast low will be near 60, so it's going to feel a little chilly out there!)


Saturday, September 17, 2018 
5:45 - 10:00 p.m.

Riverview High School
1 Ram Way
Sarasota, FL


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