Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

 

GENERAL ASTRONOMY

WHAT IS THE SAFEST WAY TO LOOK AT THE SUN?

The Sun can be extremely dangerous to view!! Improper observing techniques will lead to permanent eye damage in less than a second. Never look at the Sun through a digital camera, binoculars, or telescope without appropriate protection which is safely attached. Never allow unattended children to view the Sun. Safe methods to observe the Sun use solar filters mounted on the front of the instrument that are specifically made for this purpose. These filters reject over 99.999% of light coming from the Sun. Caution: Don’t use a filter designed for photography, a negative, or filters made with homemade filtering material (e.g. smoked glass) for visual observation of the Sun. Another Caution: Some department store telescopes, at one time, were sold with Solar filters that screwed into the eyepiece. These filters are no longer made because they can fail without warning. If you own one of these filters, please destroy it and purchase a solar filter that fits over the front end of the telescope. This information is designed for awareness and does not constitute advice or a manual on solar observing and is not a substitute for the proper equipment or training.

WHAT IS THE SAFE WAY TO WATCH A SOLAR ECLIPSE?

The Sun can be extremely dangerous to view!! Improper observing techniques will lead to permanent eye damage in less than a second. Never look at a Solar Eclipse through a digital camera, binoculars, or with the naked eye! A solar eclipse can be viewed with a mirror reflecting onto a secondary surface, pinhole camera obscura or with a proper solar viewing device (UL or CE approved for that purpose). Never allow unattended children to view the Sun during a solar eclipse. Caution: Don’t use a filter designed for photography, negatives, or filters made with homemade filtering material (e.g. smoked glass) for visual observation of the Sun at any time. This information is designed for awareness and does not constitute advice or a manual on solar eclipse observing and is not a substitute for the proper equipment or training.

WHAT PLANETS ARE UP TONIGHT?

Please see our observing resources page.

I AM THINKING ABOUT GETTING INTO ASTRONOMY, HOW CAN I DECIDE IF THIS HOBBY IS FOR ME?

We recommend that you either attend one of our classes, a RAC indoor meeting, or observing session. There is no substitute for actually trying!

DO YOU KNOW OF DARK SKY SITES IN THE AREA?

Most of the RAC observing sites are either at state parks or on private property via special arrangement. Unfortunately, we can’t recommend any specific sites. You can check our links page for some links to state parks that our members have used in the past.

WHAT DOES THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB THINK OF ASTROLOGY, UFO’S, THE ELECTRIC UNIVERSE, ET. AL.?

The Raleigh Astronomy Club is scientific/educational organization dedicated to promoting amateur astronomy in the triangle area. Please direct inquiries on other topics and alternative theories to the appropriate venues.

I GOT AN EMAIL ABOUT THE DRAMATIC MARS OPPOSITION LAST/THIS/NEXT YEAR. IS THIS TRUE?

The first time this inaccurate email was published a Mars Opposition was occurring on August 27th, 2003. As a consequence this email seems to take on a rebirth around every summer regardless whether or not Mars is anywhere near opposition. In fact, every 28 months Mars passes close to Earth (when we get between Mars and the Sun). Due to irregularities in orbits, the distance between Earth and Mars varies by several million miles. It is true that Mars will appear large, through a telescope, but it is still a red dot to the naked eye and on average will appear approximately 200 times smaller than the Moon.

I GOT AN EMAIL ABOUT SOME AMAZING ASTRONOMICAL EVENT? IS IT TRUE?

RAC recommends checking out things like this at either Snopes ( http://www.snopes.com ) or Bad Astronomy ( http://www.badastronomy.com ). These sites have extensive and reliable information on many popular topics (like chain emails).

I WANT TO BUY A TELESCOPE. CAN YOU HELP?

There are several good resources on our web site for selecting a telescope. RAC recommends getting a telescope made by an established company that specializes in astronomical telescopes. Some compnaies sell substandard equipment, as a result, we recommend coming to an observing session to understand the ins and outs of specific telescope types before buying one. With a paid club membership, we offer a telescope loaner program so members can “try before they buy”. Of course, our members will also be happy to provide various opinions on the best type of telescope as well!!

ARE THERE OTHER ASTRONOMY CLUBS IN THE AREA?

I WANT TO GO TO A STAR PARTY. HOW CAN I DO THIS?

It’s very easy. Most star parties have web sites with information on registration. Simply register for the event and then go to the location. Most events are very organized and will help you get checked in and be able to answer any questions about setting up. If you want some tips for attending a star party, see this article.

Some star parties attended by RAC members are:

Further listings can be found here.

RAC EVENTS

I WANTED TO COME TO AN OBSERVING SESSION, BUT IT WAS CANCELED THAT AFTERNOON!! WHY?

Observing is dependent on weather conditions, including atmospheric transparency, steadiness (seeing), and cloud cover. Even if the weather forecast is for mostly clear weather, it can mean that there are thin high clouds that will ruin astronomical observing. RAC considers multiple weather models on the day of an observing session and makes a “go / no-go” decision based on them. Rarely, other factors which may pose a potential danger to attendees or the observing site may also force cancellation. Always check the web site, email list, or phone message for the current status on an observing night.

DO YOU HOLD PUBLIC OBSERVING SESSIONS?

Yes, we hold observing sessions that are scheduled in various places in the area where club members provide telescopes for open public viewing. Please check our schedule here for the upcoming events.

CAN I COME TO A MEETING OR AN OBSERVING SESSION WITHOUT JOINING THE CLUB?

Yes, we welcome non-members to our meetings and RAC Observing Sessions (RACOBS) on most occasions.

I CAN’T FIND THE DIRECTIONS TO YOUR OBSERVING SESSION?

Please email RAC at [email protected] to get directions. RAC does not publish directions because our observing site has a limited capacity.

I HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT ASTRONOMY DAYS.

The Raleigh Astronomy Club is a cosponsor of Astronomy Days. More information can be found on the dedicated Astronoym days web site at http://astronomydays.org Inquires regarding Astronomy Days can be sent to [email protected] or the Curator of Special Events at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

ARE THERE BATHROOM, PHONE, OR OTHER SERVICES AT RAC OBSERVING SESSIONS?

No, there are no services of any kind (even electric power) at our observing site. Please plan accordingly if you attend.

RAC INFO

I AM AN EXECUTOR FOR AN ESTATE AND NEED TO ESTABLISH A VALUE FOR SOME ASTRONOMICAL EQUIPMENT. WHERE I CAN GO FOR HELP?

The Raleigh Astronomy Club is not in a position to provide valuations of any kind of equipment. In cases such as these, we recommend going to Astromart ( http://www.astromart.com ) or Cloudy Nights ( http://www.cloudy nights.com ) and looking for similar equipment in their Classified Ads section. This should help establish the current market value for used equipment.

DOES THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB HAVE A CHILDREN’S PROGRAM?

Although RAC encourages family participation, we have no dedicated children’s program at this time and cannot be responsible for any unattended minors. Interested children are always welcome to attend with their parents and siblings.

DOES THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB PROVIDE SPEAKERS FOR CLASSROOMS?

On occasion we have one or two members who may volunteer to do this on their own time but these are usually private arrangements they commit to on their own initiative. RAC generally does not seek volunteers for daytime classroom speakers due to our member's conflicting work schedules.

DOES THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB PROVIDE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS?

Our present educational program consists of scheduled public observing events held several times each year, weather permitting. Requests for specific school or community events are now redirected to our web site home page (link) for the purpose of following it for announcements of public observing sessions. These are very popular programs that draw substantially larger participation than possible at individual school events. If requests are received prior to a known scheduled public observing event we will reply with the specific date, time, and location.

I HAVE AN OLD TELESCOPE THAT I WANT TO SELL. WHERE CAN I DO THIS?

RAC does not broker sales of telescopes. If you have a telescope for sale, you can contact [email protected] and we will let our members know of your equipment sale. Please furnish your direct contact info so any interested member can contact you privately. Please note that RAC will only accept notifications from individuals selling astronomy gear, but no commercial/business offers will be accepted. Astronomical equipment can also be listed for sale on Craig’s list, Astromart http://www.astromart.com or Cloudy Nights http://www.cloudynights.com

HOW CAN I LEARN HOW TO USE A TELESCOPE?

The Raleigh Astronomy Club holds regularly scheduled telescope clinics that teach the basics of using a telescope at no charge. Anyone can bring a telescope to these clinics and RAC members will help set it up and provide other basic instruction in its use. Preregistration (for planning purposes) is required to attend the clinic. More information can be found here .

I HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT A STAR PARTY…..

The Raleigh Astronomy Club s not affiliated with the Mid-Atlantic Star Party or the Staunton River Stary Party. although, many of our members individually attend the event. Please see the MASP web site at http://www.masp.us or the Staunton River Star Party site http://www.chaosastro.com/starparty/ for information and contact details for these events.

IS THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB ON FACEBOOK/TWITTER?

Yes!! Updates on observing session status and other information are posted to these services, as well as our web site.

DO YOU HAVE HANDICAPPED ACCESS?

All meetings at the museum have complete handicapped access. Some of our observing sessions are in undeveloped fields, which may present challenges to navigate because of soggy ground or uneven terrain. Please contac tthe the club with questions and please use your best judgment.

I WOULD LIKE TO GET PRIVATE LESSONS/TUTORING IN ASTRONOMY AND AM WILLING TO PAY.

This is not a service that RAC offers.

WILL THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB COME TO MY EVENT?

RAC will consider supporting educational or non-profit events where it is appropriate. Generally, RAC does not participate in events that charge a fee or in support of a for-profit activity. Please note that as a volunteer organization, our resrouces are limited and we get a lot of requests, so sometimes we are unable to support everyone. Additionally, RAC is not in a position to provide financial support to any organization.

I WANT TO PAY THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB TO OFFER A PROGRAM FOR A MEETING/COMPANY.

Our present outreach program consists of scheduled public observing events held several times each year, weather permitting and regularly scheduled classes in astronomy. Requests for specific school or community events are now redirected to our web site home page (link) for the purpose of following it for announcements of public observing sessions. These are very popular programs that draw substantially larger participation than possible at individual events. If requests are received prior to a known scheduled public observing event we will reply with the specific date, time, and location.

CAN I JOIN YOUR EMAIL LIST WITHOUT JOINING RAC?

Our email list is a service for current members only. To participate on the list, you must join the club.

DOES THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB PROVIDE ITS MEMBER LIST OR OTHER MEMBER INFORMATION?

RAC does not provide its member list or any information, except to the Astronomical League for membership purposes.

HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO BECOME A MEMBER?

Because of current privacy laws, you must be 13 years or older to join RAC.

IF I DROP OFF MY CHILD FOR A MEETING, WILL THERE BE SOME SUPERVISION?

RAC cannot be responsible for unattended minors at any of our events. We encourage parents and guardians to attend RAC meetings with their children.

DOES RAC DO ANY POLITICAL EVENTS OR ENDORSEMENTS?

RAC ‘s mission is promotion of astronomy and astronomy outreach in the community. RAC do not engage in any political advocacy.

DO I HAVE TO OWN A TELESCOPE TO JOIN THE RALEIGH ASTRONOMY CLUB?

No, membership is open to anyone, even those who don’t own telescopes.

I’M BUSINESS OWNER. AS A RAC MEMBER CAN I MARKET ITEMS TO CLUB MEMBERS?

RAC maintains a NO solicitation policy and does not allow businesses to market items to RAC members via list services, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube. Individual members may advertise onetime equipment sales via club resources.

I WANT TO OFFER A DISCOUNT TO RAC MEMBERS. IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?

Yes, any business that wishes to offer an unconditional discount to our members is welcome to do so. RAC will publish the discount information to its membership. However, RAC will not solicit on behalf of or provide advertising/promotion for any service for any business.