Comet Hale Bopp




Friday, December 12, 2014
7:30 PM

Open to the public!


Our new site is Wildwood School, 11811 W Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90064.

The entrance is on Mississippi Avenue, one block north of Olympic (at the back of the building) at the intersection of Mississippi and Westgate.

Westgate Avenue is between Barrington Avenue (to the east) and Bundy Boulevard (to the west). The parking garage is on the SE side of that intersection.

Please request to be added to our e-mail list or check this web site before the meeting.

Click here to see a map.

About CaliforniaSky


How large is the observable universe? How do we measure its scale? Tim Thompson (retired from NASA/JPL) gave a talk on this expansive subject at our meeting in Novemer 2014.

Our guest speaker in October 2014 was Sami Asmar, a project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He described how radio signals between spacecraft on solar system missions allow us to remotely investigate the interiors of planets and satellites. Also discussed were the interiors of the moon, Vesta, and the icy satellites of the outer planets, and the latest space breakthroughs from Mars Curiosity and ESA's Rosetta.

Our guest speaker in September 2014 was Steve Levin of JPL. Dr. Levin is Project Scientist for NASA's Juno Mission to Jupiter. Juno's experiments will tell us about the interior structure of the gas giant. Dr. Levin also works on GAVRT, a radio telescope that can be operated remotely by students and non-professionals.

In June 2014, Roger O'Brient from Caltech spoke about the major news story creating waves in the astronomy world lately - the possible detection of gravity waves from the Big Bang.

In May 2014, Chris Bang explained how his company is pursuing plans do do space exploration with unmanned flying vehicles, which might one day be used to explore Mars and other planets or moons with an atmosphere.

In March, 2014, Fabio Altenbach discussed the bizarre notions of distance and space in modern cosmology, in a way that harkens back to some of our ancient cosmic concepts.

In November 2013, Phil Korngut (Caltech/JPL) showcased recent research - including his own -on measuring the Cosmic Background Radiation, the relic energy from the Big Bang. He traced the progress of our understanding, and explained how he is pushing forward on a new frontier - the near infrared signals from the early universe.

In October 2013, Tim Thompson gave a talk about the history of photography. (Tim Thompson received his degrees in physics from California State University at Los Angeles; B.S. in 1978 and M.S. in 1987. He joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory technical staff in January 1981, and retired from JPL in November 2008).

In August 2013, Josh Simon, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution, gave an introduction to stars, including the Sun, and described how they are responsible for producing nearly all of the chemical elements in the universe today. Current theories, though, predict that the first stars, which formed 13 billion years ago, may have been very different from those being born now. He explained how the amount of heavy elements in a star can serve as a clock indicating its time of birth, and then described the results of recent searches for primeval stars in both the Milky Way and nearby dwarf galaxies. Dr. Simon has made fundamental contributions to the study of stars and galaxies in the early universe. He has found some of the "darkest" galaxies in the universe, so his work relates to dark matter.

In July 2013, Thor Dockweiler gave an update about the coming comet ISON. Reinhard Kargl presented picturs of our Mount Pinos expedition and gave a talk about the Chinese space program and the success of China's manned flight in June 2013.

In May 2013, Tim Thompson spoke about our deepest images of the cosmos: The Hubble Deep Fields. One of the Hubble Space Telescope's "greatest hits" was an image aimed at nothing in particular -- just a typical slice of the sky.

In April 2013, Dr. David Meier of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory gave a talk entitled 'Black Holes: Nature's Ultimate Engines'. Dr. Meier has just written
an expansive book on black holes.

In March 2013, Jed Laderman talked about the recent Russian meteorite impact near Chelyabinsk, and we reviewed video footage of the event.

In February 2013, Dr. Kenneth Phillips, Curator for Aerospace Science at the California Science Center, talked about the challenges and plans associated with bringing Space Shuttle Endeavor to Los Angeles.

In December 2012, Jeremy Amarant gave a presentation of how various civilizations around the world related to the same night sky in different ways.

In November 2012, former "Telecsope in Education" 24-inch telescope operator and Astronomy historian, Matthew B. Ota told the story of Edwin Emerson Barnard, a 19th Century Astronomer who pioneered astrophotography. Barnard came out of a destitute childhood in Civil War ravaged Tennessee to become one of the most celebrated and respected astronomers of his time. The lecture featured over 88 photographs of Barnard from childhood to adulthood, including the telescopes he used, the observatories he worked at, family photographs and his astrophotography.

In July, Jed Laderman gave a talk entitled "Bad Science Meets The Equator", about his recent trip to Central America and the pseudo-science presented to tourists there.

In May 2012, Steve Vance of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory gave a talk about Jupiter's moon, Europa, and theories about the composition of its oceans. Also discussed was the possibility of future missions to the icy moon.

How thick is the ice on this strange world, and what could be underneath it? What's the latest news about this exotic world?

In April 2012, Mona Delitsky talked about "New Chemistry on Titan".

In March 2012, Matt Ventimiglia gave a talk about the transits of Venus.

In February 2012, Tim Thompson (personal home page) gave a talk entitled "Planetary Aspects of Global Warming".

In January 2012, Mike Simmons spoke about Astronomers Without Borders, a non-profit organization he founded, and his many travels, during which he attempts to spread donated astronomical instruments and skills around the world.

In December 2011, Bade Uzgil from Caltech and the University of Pennsylvania spoke about: "Intensity Mapping during the Epoch of Reionization: A new approach to study the large but faint population of galaxies in the early Universe".

In October 2011, scientist Tim Thompson (JPL, Mount Wilson Observatory) gave a talk on exoplantets and The Kepler Mission.

In July 2011, science journalist Reinhard Kargl discussed his recent flight on NASA's new airborne observatory, SOFIA. He gave an overview of how this complex aircraft and telescope works, and what astronomers will experience while observing on it.

In June 2011, Club President Thor Dockweiler gave various updates, and science journalist and board member Reinhard Kargl spoke about SOFIA and his personal visit to the new airborne infrared telescope.

In April 2011, Jed Laderman presented: "Bohr & Einstein - The Quantum, Space Time, & Reality", Club President Thor Dockweiler gave a presentation about obersations of Mercury and the MESSENGER spacecraft, and journalist Reinhard Kargl gave a presentation about a social media event at NASA/JPL.

In March 2011: Dave Jurasevich, Superintendent of the Mount Wilson Observatory explained how he discovered the Soap Bubble Nebula, a "new" planetary nebula which was recently featured as the cover story of Sky and Telescope magazine.

In February 2011, Steven Furlanetto spoke about the earliest stages of our universe and about building novel detectors to pick up signals from the "Cosmic Dark Ages".

In January 2011 Jed Laderman gave a talk entitled “When Science Was New - Copenhagen: From Tycho’s Nose to Bohr’s Quantum”. (Denmark served as a center of freedom in Europe and a center of the burgeoning fields of science. Influential astronomy and physics were conducted by many, including Tycho Brahe a few centuries ago, and Niels Bohr in the most recent century).

Thor Dockweiler presented: “Comet Hartley”

In December 2010, we hoste internationally recognized astrophotographer Wally Pacholka, who presented his images of the night sky above U.S. National Parks.

In November 2010, Jed Laderman and Robert Lozano gave presentations about the summer sky and Saturn's moon Titan.

In October 2010, Tim Thompson spoke on the nature of our galaxy.

In September 2010, physicist and author Robert Piccioni gave a talk on Einstein and cosmology. In August 2010, Thor Dockweiler gave a talk about Galileo Galilei and his discoveries.

At our June 2010 meeting, Stuart Taylor spoke on "Observing Planet Destruction: Fast Bangs or Slow Whimpers?"

In May 2010, Dr. Alan Dressler presented "A Living History of the Universe".

In April 2010, Dr. Ben Zuckerman of UCLA discussed exciting new discoveries regarding planets and planet-forming disks around other stars.

In March 2010, Dr. Steve Levin spoke about the Juno Mission to Jupiter.

In February 2010, Jed Laderman reported from his recent trip to Iceland and put the volcanic activity on the island in perspective to volancoes on other celestial bodies in our solar system.

In January 2010, Tim Thompson of JPL talked about Globular Clusters.

More past meetings.


Interested in spending a night at the historic 60" telescope on Mount Wilson? Please inform Jed Laderman, our Program Director.


The mars rovers "Spirit" and "Opportunity" have are well beyond their original design life. The scientific output of this mission has been nothing but amazing. Follow this mission here!


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