WAA News

  • March 13th Meeting & Lecture (2/12/2020) by lfaltz


    Microquasars: What Can We Learn From Them (and Why Bother)?

    Diana Hannikainen, PhD
    Observing Editor, Sky & Telescope Magazine

    Friday, March 13th, 7:30 PM
    Wilcox Hall, Pace University, Pleasantville

    Most of us are familiar with quasars – supermassive black holes in galaxies far away – and their iconic jets that spew matter at relativistic velocities into intergalactic space. Less well known are their smaller cousins, the quasars’ miniature counterparts that we call – for reasons that shall become obvious – “microquasars.” What does unite the two classes of object is the process of accretion around a black hole and the subsequent ejection of matter at speeds approaching that of light. In this talk, you’ll hear about the history of microquasars, how we use X-ray and radio observations to understand them better, and what they can tell us about the behavior of matter in extreme gravitational fields.

    Diana Hannikainen studied for her BSc in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and then moved to Finland, in part to explore her Finnish roots. While there, she embarked on graduate studies at the University of Helsinki, and received an MSc followed by a PhD in Astrophysics, the latter in conjunction with the University of Sydney in Australia. The subject of her PhD thesis was multiwavelength observations (X-ray, radio) of microquasars, a topic she continued throughout her time in research. A couple of years ago, she switched careers and moved to Cambridge, MA, to take up the position of Observing Editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.



  • February Meeting (1/25/2020) by lfaltz


    February Meeting and Lecture, Friday Feb. 7th at 7:30 pm

    Lienhard Hall, 3rd floor
    Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

    Methane on Mars

    Br. Robert Novak, CFC, PhD
    Iona College

    February is Mars month at WAA. Brother Novak is a member of the team at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Solar System Exploration Division, studying the Martian atmosphere using large terrestrial telescopes in Hawaii. He will bring us up to date on exciting recent findings from his group and from the Mars Curiosity rover that may suggest a biologic origin to atmospheric methane on the Red Planet.

    Brother Novak is a member of the Congregation of Christian Brothers (Latin: Congregatio Fratrum Christianorum), an order within the Catholic Church dedicated to the education of youth, especially the poor. Iona College was founded by the Christian Brothers in 1940 specifically to provide higher education opportunities for the disadvantaged. Br. Novak recently retired from the Chairmanship of the Physics Department at Iona. He is also a member of WAA.

    Pre-lecture socializing with fellow WAA members and guests begins at 7:00 pm!


  • WAA January 10th Meeting (1/1/2020) by lfaltz


    Lecture Friday, January 10th at 7:30 pm

    Lienhard Hall, 3rd floor, Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

    Why Go Back to the Moon?

    Andy Poniros

    NASA Solar System Ambassador

    Andy has been a NASA volunteer since 1997 and a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador since 2004. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering and has worked as a Medical Imaging Engineer for 45 years. He is certified by NASA to handle Lunar samples, is a science correspondent for radio station WPKN in Connecticut where he produces astronomy and space mission radio shows and podcasts. He’s also an amateur astronomer and telescope maker.

    Pre-lecture socializing with fellow WAA members and guests begins at 7:00 pm!



  • Star Party Saturday November 30th (11/30/2019) by Daniel

    As of Saturday morning 11/30, decent observing conditions are expected. It will be quite cold, so dress accordingly – think sledding. Sunset is at 4:30 pm so observing will start around 5:00-5:15 pm.


  • WAA December Meeting (11/21/2019) by lfaltz

    Friday, December 6th at 7:30 pm

    Lienhard Hall, 3rd floor
    Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

    The History of Glass: The Power Behind Discovery

    Alan Witzgall
    Senior Optician, ESCO Optics

    Alan is an active member and officer of several amateur astronomy societies in New Jersey. In his professional life, he is a Senior Optician for ESCO Optics of Oak Ridge, NJ. His career in optics started with building telescopes in his basement during his high school and college years. In 1977, one of them, a 10-inch reflector, took first award at Stellafane, the birthplace of the amateur telescope-making hobby in America.

    Mr. Witzgall has been “pushing glass” for a living for over 40 years, and will speak on how his favorite material has built the modern world and opened up all sciences and technologies.

    Pre-lecture socializing with fellow WAA members and guests begins at 7:00 pm!




  • Star Party Saturday October 19th (10/18/2019) by lfaltz

    As of Friday morning 10/18, excellent observing conditions are expected. It will be cool, so dress accordingly. Sunset is at 6:07 pm so observing will start around 6:30-6:45 pm.


  • WAA November 1st Meeting (10/18/2019) by lfaltz

    Friday, November 1st at 7:30 pm

    Lienhard Hall, 3rd floor, Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

    Christopher Clavius & the Gregorian Calendar

    Paul R. Mueller, S.J., Ph.D.

    Superior of the Jesuit Community and Vice Director, Vatican Observatory, Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and Tucson, Arizona

    In this year marking the 480th anniversary of the birth of Christopher Clavius, S.J., it seems appropriate to focus on his life and legacy. That legacy ranges from the Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar that we all use today, to the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It ranges from popular textbooks to worldwide curricular reform. And it ranges from the history of science in China to the Vatican Observatory, which Pope Gregory XIII established in 1580 to help confirm and refine astronomical observations made in support of Clavius’ reform of the calendar. Paul Mueller, S.J. will explore Clavius’ life and work in their early and modern contexts and illuminate his enduring legacy for modern science, religion, and culture.

    Pre-lecture socializing with fellow WAA members and guests begins at 7:00 pm!


  • Next Lecture: September 13, 2019 (5/6/2019) by lfaltz

    Members’ Night, Friday, September 13th, 7:30 pm

    Lienhard Hall, 3rd floor lecture room, Pace University, Pleasantville

    Members are invited to present short talks on their experiences, astronomy trips, techniques, images, equipment or other topics of interest to fellow club members.

    Please contact Pat Mahon at waa-programs@westchesterastronomers.org if you are interested in speaking.

    Members’ Night is always a terrific program and one of the highlights of the year.

    Pre-lecture socializing with fellow WAA members and guests begins at 7:00 pm!




  • WAA May 3rd Meeting & Lecture (4/19/2019) by lfaltz

    Investigating asteroid impacts using three-dimensional petrography of ordinary chondrites.

    John Friedrich, Fordham University

    Friday, May 3, 2019, 7:30 pm

    Lienhard Hall, 3rd floor, Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

    The imaging technique known as x-ray microtomography allows geologists and meteorite researchers to probe the internal structure of solid materials in three dimensions at extremely detailed resolution, up to 1 micron (1/1000th of a millimeter) per voxel (cubic pixel). Dr. Friedrich will discuss how this technique works and how it is used to investigate physical structure of meteorites and to reconstruct their impact history. This can provide information on the meteorite’s parent body. In the case of ordinary chondrites, these parent bodies are the earliest relics of the newly formed solar system.

    Jon Friedrich is a Professor of Chemistry at Fordham University. He studies the chemical and physical processes shaping the early solar system. He earned a Ph.D. from Purdue University and is a Research Associate of the American Museum of Natural History.

    Pre-lecture socializing with fellow WAA members and guests begins at 7:00 pm!



  • WAA April 5, 2019 Lecture (3/12/2019) by lfaltz

    7:30 pm, Lienhard Hall, 3rd floor, Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

    Astronomy and the Ancients: A Classical Journey through the Stars

    Matthew McGowan, Fordham University

    This lecture offers a historical survey of astronomy and astronomical texts from the classical period through the renaissance including Homer, Plato, Aratus, and Copernicus. It considers the science of astronomy in light of its relation to literature and philosophy, in particular to Stoicism.

    Matthew McGowan is a classical philologist with research interests in Latin literature and ancient scholarship. He has published broadly on a variety of Greek and Latin topics and his books include Ovid in Exile (Brill, 2009) and Classical New York: Greece and Rome in Gotham (Fordham University Press, 2018). He teaches a wide range of courses, from classical myth to Latin prose composition, and regularly leads tours where Latin can be found: Rome, Paris, the NY Botanical Garden, and the Bronx Zoo. He was President of the New York Classical Club (2009-2015) and is now Vice- President for Communications and Outreach for the Society for Classical Studies (2016-2020).

    Free and open to the public.

    Pre-lecture socializing with fellow WAA members and guests begins at 7:00 pm!