Tag Archives: Robert Reeves

Astronomy’s neglected stepchild

Robert Reeves has been an astronomer for nearly 60 years. The Moon was his first love; he shot his first photograph of it in 1959, and laments that it isn’t such a popular target for amateur astronomers any more.

Robert Reeves

Astrophotographer and author Robert Reeves was the guest speaker at the annual banquet of the Seattle Astronomical Society on Jan. 28, 2018. Photo: Greg Scheiderer

“The Moon is not just that big ball of light pollution in the sky,” said Reeves during his keynote talk at the Seattle Astronomical Society’s annual banquet last month. “The Moon used to be a target for American technology. The Moon was a place to be explored; it was a destination.”

Reeves was interested in the Moon even before there was a space program. We were all agog during the race to land on the Moon, but when the race was won many moved on to other things.

“Back then American heroes rode a pillar of fire and dared to set foot on another world,” Reeves said. “The scientific mindset, the desire to explore the solar system was there. That was a time when America was only limited by its imagination; we could do anything we wanted to do”

Alas, Reeves notes, politics is different now.

“America has lots its will, it’s lost the guts to go into deep space,” he said. “We’ve been rooted in low-Earth orbit for four decades.”

“Space exploration is not the same, but the Moon that we wanted to go to still beckons us,” he added.

Bringing the Moon back

Reeves’s talk was titled Earth’s Moon: Astronomy’s Neglected Stepchild. He aims to turn that around.

“I’m here to bring the Moon back,” he said. “The Moon is still a viable target; we can see it from our own back yard.”

Reeves is a prolific writer about astronomy. His first published article appeared in Astronomy magazine in 1984. Since then he’s written some 250 magazine articles and 175 newspaper columns about the topic. In fact, just days after his talk here the March 2018 issue of Astronomy arrived, including an article and photos by Reeves about hunting for exoplanets. His mug also appears, along with one of his lunar photographs, on a back-cover advertisement for Celestron.

Reeves has written five books in all, including three how-to manuals about astrophotography: Wide-Field Astrophotography: Exposing the Universe Starting With a Common Camera (1999), Introduction to Webcam Astrophotography: Imaging the Universe With the Amazing, Affordable Webcam (2006), and Introduction To Digital Astrophotography: Imaging The Universe With A Digital Camera (2012). All are from Willmann-Bell.

Reeves feels the webcam book helped launch a whole industry and trained a generation of astrophotographers. He points out that back in the 1960s you could count the number of good astrophotographers with the fingers of one hand. Now there are thousands of people turning out great images, and they all get to use superior gear.

“Amateur instruments off the shelf today just blow away what the pros used to do on the Moon, and it’s relatively easy to do this,” Reeves said. I asked Reeves if he laments the passing of film photography. He said he did, a little, noting with a laugh that he has four decades worth of photography that is obsolete! But he said the fact that he can turn out more better-quality images in less time with digital makes up for that.

Check out Reeves’s website for a image-processing tutorial, to buy prints and posters, and find lots of other lunar photography information.

Asteroid 26591 is named Robertreeves and asteroid 26592 is named Maryrenfro after his wife; Renfro is her maiden name. It is believed they are the only husband and wife with sequentially numbered asteroids named after them! Robert noted that his takes about four years to orbit the Sun, while Mary’s goes around in about 4.4 years.

“Every ten years I catch up to her,” he said, “so for eternity I’m going to be chasing Mary around the solar system.”

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Books by Robert Reeves:

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Calendar: SAS banquet and Astronomy on Tap Seattle this week

The annual Seattle Astronomical Society banquet and Astronomy on Tap Seattle are the highlight events for the coming week. The Museum of Flight kicks off Astronaut Remembrance Week, and regional planetarium shows cap the calendar.

SAS Banquet

Robert Reeves

Robert Reeves

The Seattle Astronomical Society banquet always draws an excellent guest speaker, and this year is no exception: renowned photographer Robert Reeves will keynote the annual banquet, and talk in particular about observing and imaging the Moon. The banquet gets under way at 4 p.m. Sunday, January 28 at the Swedish Club on Dexter Avenue North in Seattle. Reservations are $65 for the general public, $55 for SAS members. Don’t wait; there were only 18 spots left as of this writing. Reservations are available online.

Reeves will do a special master class on lunar photography for the SAS Astrophotography Special Interest Group. The class is open to the public and will be held at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, January 27 in the Red Barn Classroom at the Museum of Flight.

Astronomy on Tap Seattle

AOT Seattle January 2018The topic will be exploring alien moons when Astronomy on Tap Seattle holds its first event of the new year at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 24 in the beer garden at Peddler Brewing Company in Ballard. Second-year UW graduate student in astronomy and astrobiology Tyler Gordon will speak about his research on the search for exoplanetary satellites using current and future telescopes. UW Ph.D. student in oceanography Max Showalter will discuss looking for life when the trail goes cold, an update on his work using movement as a sign of life in icy places.

Showalter did a talk at Town Hall Seattle almost two years ago. Check our recap of that talk and learn how SHAMU is helping hunt for ET.

Planetarium shows

The Washington State University Planetarium in Pullman has a new show this week titled, “Millions of Miles to Mars.” The show explores the whats, hows, and whens of Mars visits. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, Jan 26, and 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan 28. Tickets at the door are $5 cash or check; they don’t accept credit cards. Kids under six get in free.

The Willard Smith Planetarium at the Pacific Science Center has a variety of shows for all ages every day. Check their website for the complete calendar.

Astronaut remembrance

America’s three great spacefaring tragedies all occurred at this time of year. To honor the sacrifices of the fallen astronauts, the Museum of Flight holds an annual astronaut remembrance week. The event runs from Friday, January 26 through Sunday, February 4 and features displays and exhibits about the fallen astronauts and their accomplishments. Solar System Ambassador Ron Hobbs will give a presentation about the tragic missions, and about the risks and successes of space travel, at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 27. It’s free with museum admission.

Future file

A total eclipse of the Moon will be visible in the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 31. The event begins just after 3 a.m. PDT, the partial eclipse starts around 3:45, and it will be total from just before 5 a.m. until a little after 6:00. All you really need to do is go outside and look up, but if you want to watch with others, the Seattle Astronomical Society plans a group viewing event at Solstice Park in West Seattle.

You can always scout out future events on our calendar.

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Our favorite astronomy events from 2017

Happy New Year from Seattle Astronomy!

As 2018 gets under way we take a look back at our five favorite stories from last year.

1. Total Solar Eclipse

Well, duh. We spent nearly two years previewing the greatest celestial observing experience one can have. We did some 28 posts and more than a dozen podcasts about the Great American Eclipse. Seattle Astronomy publisher Greg Scheiderer even appeared on KING-TV’s New Day Northwest to talk eclipses.

To top all of that preparation off, we had gorgeously perfect weather for the eclipse from our viewing point in Monmouth, Oregon at Western Oregon University. Check our dispatches from Monmouth.

2. Apollo exhibit at Museum of Flight

Used engines

To anyone who grew up obsessed with the race to the Moon in the 1960s, the Apollo exhibit that opened in May at the Museum of Flight is about the coolest thing there is after total solar eclipses. And it’s lasted more than two minutes! This is another event that came with great anticipation. Bezos Expeditions found some actual F-1 engines that rocketed Apollo missions into space. They fished them out of the Atlantic Ocean in 2013. Some were donated to the museum in 2015—a story that made our top-five list for that year!—and the exhibit was in the works for nearly a year and a half. While the engines are a commanding centerpiece of the exhibit, there’s a ton of other cool Apollo stuff there as well. Check our podcast previewing the exhibit and article about the opening.

3. Finding ET at Pacific Science Center

Mission: Find Life!The Pacific Science Center had a couple of events during 2017 that highlighted the search for extraterrestrial life. The exhibit Mission: Find Life! ran from March through September in the science center’s Portal to Current Research space. Finding life was also the subject of one of the center’s Science in the City lectures in December. UW professor Erika Harnett participated in both, and Astronomy on Tap Seattle co-founder Brett Morris spoke at the latter as well. Check our podcast with Harnett and articles about the exhibit and the lecture.

4. Astronomy on Tap Seattle

Astronomy on Tap Seattle has been putting on monthly astronomy talks for almost three years now; they debuted in March of 2015. From Bad Jimmy’s to Hilliard’s to their current home at Peddler Brewing Company, graduate students in astronomy at the University of Washington put together monthly talks by students, faculty, and visiting dignitaries. The events also include astronomy trivia, prizes, and good beer. From astronomy art to polarimetry, we got a bit of everything this year. This month’s topics and date haven’t been announced just yet, but look for them around the fourth Wednesday each month.

UPDATE: No sooner did we publish this than the word came out that the next AOT Seattle will be at Peddler Brewing on January 24. Topic: Alien Moons.

5. Kelly Beatty talks Pluto

Scheiderer and Beatty

The Seattle Astronomical Society always lands great keynote speakers for its annual banquet in January, and 2017 was no exception as Sky & Telescope magazine senior editor Kelly Beatty told the story of the history of Pluto. Though Pluto wasn’t discovered until 1930, Beatty noted that the hunt really dates back to the 18th century.

Writer and astrophotographer Robert Reeves will speak at this year’s banquet on January 28.

Up next: our favorite books and author talks of 2017!

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