Welcome, spring, and AoT Seattle this week

It’s a busy week ahead on the area astronomy calendar as four club events, a seasonal observance, and a monthly get-together are on the docket.

AOT Seattle March 24Astronomy on Tap Seattle observes its second birthday this month, and will celebrate with a rare Friday gathering at 7 p.m. March 24 at Peddler Brewing Company in Ballard. The evening’s talks will be a retrospective of the last year and updates of what’s happened in a variety of areas. Topics include gravitational waves, keeping stars weird, exoplanet discoveries galore, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, when a star is not really a star, and more! There will be a trivia contest and cool prizes as always. It’s free, but buy a beer or three.

Club events

GottliebThe Rose City Astronomers plan their monthly meeting for 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 20 at the OMSI auditorium in Portland. Guest speaker Steve Gottlieb has a fascinating story to tell. Gottlieb recently completed observing the entire New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (NGC for short.) That project took him more than 35 years to finish—the NGC lists 7,840 deep-sky objects!

The NGC was compiled by astronomer John Dreyer in the late 19th century, but there were various errors on between 15 and 20 percent of the objects. Gottlieb will discuss the NGC/IC Project, a joint amateur-professional effort to re-examine the 100 to 200 year-old source material used by Dreyer.

The Eastside Astronomical Society will hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 21 at the Lake Hills Library in Bellevue. EAS member Tom Hager will continue his look at Burnham’s Celestial Handbook. He’ll focus on the constellations Canis Major and Canis Minor, and the dim constellation Monoceros (the Unicorn) that lies between them. Emphasis of the talk will be on what we’ve learned in the 40 years since Robert Burnham published this classic astronomy reference collection.

The Tacoma Astronomical Society will hold one of its public nights at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25 at the Fort Steilacoom campus of Pierce College. The indoor, all-weather presentation will be about ancient astronomy. If the sky is clear they’ll break out the telescopes for some observing.

The Island County Astronomical Society plans a star party at dusk Friday, March 24 at Fort Nugent Park in Oak Harbor.

Welcome, Spring!

Join Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info to watch the first sunset of spring from Solstice Park in West Seattle. Gather at the park at 6:45 p.m. Monday, March 20 for Enevoldsen’s 32nd seasonal sunset watch. The official charts put sunset at 7:23 p.m., but Enevoldsen has found it’s typically about 10 minutes earlier at that location.

Wrapping Mars Madness

The fourth and final presentation of Mars Madness will be given at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25 at the Museum of Flight. Guest speaker Dr. Sanlyn Buxner, an education specialist and research scientist from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, will give a lecture titled, “Mars 201: Mission Accomplished.” Buxner will highlight the outstanding achievements and magnificent failures of more than 40 years of Mars mission science and engineering.


The Washington State University Planetarium in Pullman will run a show titled, “Other Earths” this weekend. The presentation highlights the ongoing search for planets in the Milky Way. How many planets are there? How many could support life? Is there life out there? How much we know might surprise you. Shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, March 24, and 5 p.m. Sunday, March 26. Tickets are $5 at the door, cash or check—no credit cards.

The Willard Smith Planetarium at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle offers a variety of shows each day. Their complete schedule is featured on our calendar page.

Futures file

Plan your astronomy fun by keeping an eye on our calendar. Recently added items include:

  • Astronomy night at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline April 4
  • Table Mountain Star Party registration opens April 1
  • Battle Point Astronomical Association’s next planetarium shows April 8
  • Astronomy Day at the Museum of Flight May 4

You can also learn of events from our postings on Facebook and Twitter.

Up in the sky

Saturn slides up close to the Moon in the predawn hours on Monday. The Sky This Week from Astronomy magazine and This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope offer more observing highlights for the week.