Haven’t had a chance to report on the last 2 days of the conference, now 3 weeks ago, which was really a ground breaking event all around. I met a lot of great people from literally all over the world! Many were inspired to hopefully get started in this fascinating “subspecialty” of amateur astronomy. For myself, I learned a ton and was able to get started on a couple of research projects with the professional astronomers in attendance. Probably as a direct result of the information presented at this event, I was able to have my first spectrum accepted into the Be star global database (called BeSS) which is a resource used by astronomers worldwide.
Attendees at the recent workshop. I am in the back (arrow) . People came from as far away as Australia and New Zealand!
Francois Cochard, one of the co-owners of Shelyak Instruments discussed the challenge of finding dimmer stars when doing spectroscopy observations.
Dr Katie Devine from the College of Idaho gave a presentation on her focus of interest which is the study of massive star forming regions and spectroscopic observations of these areas in the radio frequencies
My favorite talk was by Drew Chojnowski, graduate student from New Mexico State University ,on the spectroscopy of giant emission binary systems or those with a type B emission star (B star with a surrounding disk of gas) and also containing a small type O star orbiting, called an O “subdwarf”. These are much dimmer than regular type O stars but still have a brightness 10-100 times that of the Sun!
Drew presented spectroscopy data he obtained using the Apogee 3.5m scope and Echelle spectrograph (not far from here!) from another exotic binary star consisting of a Be star and a probable OB subdwarf. Using emission lines in the spectra he was able to resolve the orbital parameters of the binary system!
Olivier Garde, also from Shelyak Instruments in France presented a fascinating talk on how to identify new planetary nebulae with spectroscopy!
Inspired by the fascinating talks at the event, I obtained this spectrum of HD51354 the second night, when the weather was good. It is a magnitude 7.2 Be star with suspected O companion which is not readily detectable with any of the usual absorption or emission lines but apparently it was directly observed in the ultraviolet region. This is just showing the H alpha peak emission which is split because of the orbiting disc component. My future task is to observe Silicon emission a little more to the blue side of this so that the orbital parameters of the binary can be calculated! I was pretty excited that this spectrum was accepted into the BeSS database (see above) because it kind of confirms that you “probably” know what you are doing and can now focus on the science!
And here is my very first entry into the database. Many more to come!
Thanks for reading!