Next couple of days we spent attending the Astrocon 2017 and enjoying some of the activities available in Casper. The Astronomical League is a consortium of maybe 10-20,000 or so amateur and professional astronomers nationwide. They hold a conference somewhere in the US every year. The conference is hosted and organized by the local astronomical society. We had one in Las Cruces a couple of years ago. It was nothing like this! Of course with an event like a total eclipse in the mix you are going to get a huge turnout. My guess is at least 2-300 attendees at this with almost as many vendors. The talks were mostly eclipse oriented but some very interesting non eclipse topics were covered as well. A lot of buzz regarding the anticipated crowds on Monday. A lot of folks sounded like they were staying put in their hotels and not venturing out. I have a reserved spot at one of the medical centers near here. Actually only a mile. I don’t see a reason to change plans right now.
A couple of other talk highlights:
Dr Fran Bagenal, professor of astrophysics and planetary science at U Colorado Boulder gave a very interesting presentation on the Jupiter Juno mission and updated us on new information about the planet. There is no solid core but a complex super dense hot plasma, mostly hydrogen. Amateurs and others have downloaded images of the planet taken by Juno and processed them revealing very complex structures at the poles and within the great red spot
Bill Possel, director of Mission Operations and Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at U Colorado Boulder talked about the Kepler mission which has discovered thousands of Earth like planets, at least 30 of those are in the so-called “habitable zone” of the galaxy but this is only within a 10 degree area of sky, so the projected number of planets that could very well support life can be extrapolated to be many thousand times that!
And that’s a wrap for Astrocon 2017! Am I prepared? We have 2 more days to find out!
Thanks for reading!