I Hear There’s Something Celestially Special Happening this Month?

Just in case you’ve missed it on the multitude of news and social media outlets, there will be a total solar eclipse happening on Monday August 21st. Due to it’s path, slightly south of Salem,OR to just north of Charleston,SC, the entire United States will be able view this eclipse in some degree depending on each location’s distance from the center of totality. If you are not along the path of totality you will experience a partial solar eclipse; which will be the case locally for Winston-Salem. Here we will have 95% coverage of the sun. This means AT NO TIME is it safe to look at the eclipse directly without a proper filtering device. The moon will make “first contact”, when the moon’s disk and the sun’s disk first touch, with the sun at around 1:13 pm that day and will proceed to block the sun until it’s maximum coverage at around 2:41 pm. The moon will then recede from the sun’s disk until “fourth contact”, when the moon and sun’s disks are at last contact, at around 4:03 pm. Yes, we skip second and third contact due to our locale only having a partial eclipse. Second and third contact are references to when the moon enters total blockage of the solar disk and when it is soon to start to reveal the sun. You can get the exact time for eclipse specifics for your location via this interactive map. Zoom in and click your approximate location for details specific to your locale. Times are in Universal Time which can easily be converted via a web based time converter you can find using your favorite internet search engine, just remember to use Eastern Daylight Time instead of Eastern Standard.

To celebrate this momentous event, we have a few public outreach and education opportunities coming up to get you prepared and enjoy the event the day of.

First, on Wednesday August 16th at 6:30 pm, we will host an educational presentation at the Reynolda Manor Branch Library Auditorium, located at 2839 Fairlawn Drive, Winston-Salem, NC. This presentation is a recap of the program from last month’s club meeting given by club VP Roy Doron, associate professor of history at Winston-Salem State University, and club librarian Bruce Mellin, retired lecturer of Astronomy and Earth Sciences at Northeastern University and Cambridge College. The presentation looks at some of the most historically significant eclipses and at the evolution of human understanding of this exciting astronomical phenomena. We will discuss the different perceptions of eclipses and what they’ve meant, and continue to mean, for societies around the world. After Mr. Doron’s portion of the presentation, club librarian Bruce Mellin will do a short informational session on proper safe solar observing techniques. Concluding the presentation portion, there will be a Q&A session where attendees can win one of a limited number of solar eclipse viewing glasses for correct answers being given, or exceptionally thoughtful questions presented to our hosts. I will post, here, a link to the Winston-Salem Libraries website as soon as it is available.

A similar program was hosted at the Elkin Public Library last week. You can read an article on how it was received at the Elkin Tribune website.

Mr. Doron has also been interviewed by local news personality Briana Conner from local affiliate WXII. You can view that segment here.

Edit 8/11:
Here is the link to the Forsyth Library website about the eclipse program.


Now, What’s happening the day of the eclipse? We will be hosting/co-hosting two separate events in Winston-Salem on that day.

One event will be hosted on the Winston-Salem State University campus near the clock tower. We will have solar-safe telescopes and other indirect viewing apparatuses on site for you to see the stages of the partial eclipse. We will be distributing a limited number of solar eclipse viewing glasses on a first come first serve basis to those that need them. There are a limited number available. IF we run out, we ask that you please share with others that they may enjoy the event as well. This is not a quickly happening event, and glasses can easily be shared amongst a group. I will update this post for the specifics for time and other pertinent details as they become final. There will also be a final weather call the day before for this location.

Our second event will be held at our home base, Kaleideum North, formerly Sci-Works from 11 am until 4 pm, though we won’t be set up for viewing until closer to the first contact time. Again, we will have solar-safe scopes and other viewing apparatuses  available for your use so you can enjoy the stages of the eclipse. We will also have solar eclipse glasses for distribution, first come first serve, at this location too and again we ask that you share with others in the event that we run out. You can find details about other Kaleideum related happenings that day HERE. They have some fun activities planned for kids and a workshop to make your own solar viewing device. Check out that link for details. The Kaleideum related activities are rain/cloud or shine. In the event of inclement conditions, the solar viewing outreach portion may be canceled but Kaleideum will then make a arrangements to stream the NASA feed of the eclipse. Follow this post or the club’s Facebook page for updates as the event draws near.

Facebook events will be created for each of these separate events, for easy sharing on social media.


Public Eclipse Presentation at Elkin Public Library 8/7

Monday August 7th at 6:30 PM in the Elkin Public Library the FAS will host an encore of their presentation about the upcoming solar eclipse entitled:

The Eclipse: Science, History and Spirituality

Astronomers Studying an Eclipse painted by Antoine Caron in 1571

The presentation, by Roy Dorone, the society’s vice-president and associate professor of History at Winston-Salem State University, looks at some of the most scientifically important eclipses and at the evolution of human understanding of one of the most exciting astronomical phenomena. We will discuss the different perceptions of eclipses and what they meant, and continue to mean, for societies around the world.

After Mr. Dorone’s portion of the presentation club librarian Bruce Mellin will do a short informational session on proper safe solar observing techniques.

For contact information and directions please visit the Elkin Public Library Website. To register, please call the Elkin Library at 336-835-5586 or email Kasey at knowalk@nwrl.org. The first forty registered attendees will receive a free pair of solar eclipse viewing glasses.

Solar Eclipse Glasses

Stone Mountain Observation 7/1 Cancelled

The scheduled observation at Stone Mountain State Park for this Saturday July 1st has been cancelled due to weather conditions.  Our next scheduled public observation event is Saturday July 29th at Stone Mountain State park as well. A final weather call will be made the Friday before. Hopefully we will have better conditions then.



Forsyth Astronomical Society’s Astronomical April

The FAS has a hectic April in store for all of our friends and followers. We have four public observations scheduled at different venues, Kaleideum North (Sciworks), Yadkin County Park, Pilot Mountain State Park and Stone Mountain State Park. Most are being held in conjunction with the NC Science Festival and their Statewide Star Party events. As per usual these events are weather dependent each event in this post and the club’s Facebook page will be updated with a final weather call by 5pm the day before the event.


UPDATE: 4/7/17

We are a GO for tomorrow’s observation at Kaleideum North. 

Conditions should be clear with temps in the high 50’s to low 60’s. Dress accordingly.


Our first public event will be held on April 8th at the Kaleideum North (formerlySciworks). This is our home base of operations. We hold our monthly meetings here and it’s our most used site for urban public observations. The sun will be setting around 8pm this day. We’ll start observing as darkness falls and targets become available in the waning twilight. Objects we hope to show will include the Moon, several star clusters or varying types, binary stars, the Great Orion Nebula and Jupiter (later in the evening), and possibly even a galaxy, though faintly, through some of the larger member scopes. We will remain set up until around 10-11pm depending on conditions and public interest.


Update 4/20: The FAS observation at Yadkinville Park on April 21st has been CANCELLED due to adverse weather conditions.

Our next event will be held on April 21st at the Yadkin County Park located behind the Yadkinville YMCA. We will be set up on the lower soccer field. Click the attached photo to the left to be taken to Google Maps for navigation directions. Sunset is around 8pm for this event as well and as with our earlier event this month we’ll observe similar targets as they become available as it gets dark. Albeit targets should be better due to the moon setting earlier that day. When conditions cooperate observing is great.


Update 4/20: The FAS observation at Pilot Mountain State Park on April 21st has been CANCELLED due to adverse weather conditions.

We will have another observation on April 22nd at Pilot Mountain State Park in the upper
parking area. This is our premier public dark sky observing site. It really doesn’t get better for astronomical observing in the piedmont than atop Pilot Mountain. When the conditions are right it rivals some locations on the Blue Ridge. As with our previous observations, we will begin observing as darkness falls and targets are available. The observation will conclude at 10:30pm. Atop the mountain the temperature can be as much as 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding area. Please keep in mind that when planning attire for coming out, especially concerning little ones.


Update 4/28: The Stone Mountain observation has been CANCELLED as well. We just can’t seem to catch a break with the weather. Our next scheduled public even is on June 27 at Stone Mountain again. Stay tuned to our website or Facebook page for more info as the date draws near.

Our last observing event for the month will be at Stone Mountain State Park on April 28th. This observation will kick off our 2017 observations for campers at the park. This is an excellent venue probably second to Pilot but still very good.  As with all of our observation at the site, THIS IS A LOCK-IN EVENT. If you attend as a non camper you will be required to stay the entire length of the observation and leave as the club members leave. The park gate will be locked at 8pm. We typically stay set up until Getting set upbetween 10:30-11 pm depending on conditions and interest. For a map marking the observation site in the family camping area click the image to the left. Access to the site can be gained between campsites 35 and 36. Please be respectful of others camp setups. As with Pilot this location can be cooler than you expect. Plan your attire accordingly.


If you attend any one of these events you will see similar night sky objects at each but if you attend multiple events you will definitely get a feel for how viewing conditions can change dramatically with light pollution, particulate pollution, elevation, weather conditions and how each effect astronomical observing. We hope you have opportunity to attend all venues.  If any of these events are not in your area or you’re interested in finding other STEM related activities held in conjunction with the NC Science Festival, click the graphic below to be taken to the NC Science Festival events page to find an event near you.

Pilot Mountain Public Observation Saturday February 18th

Update 2/24: We are a GO!!!! for our observation tomorrow evening. The weather forecast is calling for showers early tomorrow but clearing off by day’s end and clear skies tomorrow night. If the weather forecast changes abruptly or drastically we will make an emergency cancellation call, so check this page or the club’s Facebook page before heading out.

Update 2/17: Due to poor conditions projected for tomorrow evening the Pilot Mountain observation has been canceled and rescheduled for Saturday February 25th. Fingers crossed for better conditions on that date. A final weather call for the 25th will be posted on the 24th.


The Forsyth Astronomical Society will be hosting a public observation on Saturday February 18th in the upper knob overlook parking area of Pilot Mountain State Park. This is our premier public observation site due to its dark skies. We will be able to show you more dark sky objects at this location than any public event site we use. Sunset is at 6:07pm. As dusk falls Venus and Mars will be easily seen. As darkness ebbs on a plethora of star clusters, nebulae and even galaxies will be available if sky conditions allow. You will especially want to see the Great Orion Nebula, M42 it is the crown jewel of the winter skies and can easily be seen with the most modest telescopes and binoculars. New objects will be rising as the night progresses . If you visit and see “all there is to see”, give it a couple of hours and we can show you more. We will continue with the observation until 10pm.

Forecasts as of this post have the lows for the 18th to be in the low 40’s for the surrounding area. Being that we will be atop the mountain the temps are likely to be as much as 10 degrees cooler, possibly more if the wind is blowing, so please dress appropriately, especially the little ones. This event is a weather dependent event so stay tuned to this post or the club’s Facebook page for a final weather call the Friday before the event. You can also call Sciworks after 5pm on Friday for the weather call via their automated voice message system. In the event of inclement weather there is a rain date of February 25th. We hope to see you all there.

Pilot Panna