Welcome to the Tri-Valley Stargazers Astronomy Club's web site. There is a lot of information here on the many activities of the Tri-Valley Stargazers (TVS). Learn why you should join the club to get the most out of your amateur astronomy hobby in the east San Francisco Bay Area.

rule

Next Public Meeting

Speaker: Dr. Ruslan Belikov
Beyond Kepler: Direct Imaging of Earth-like Exoplanets

Friday, May 15, 2015
Doors open at 7:00 p.m.
Show & Tell starts at 7:30 pm
Talk follows

Unitarian Universalist Church
1893 N. Vasco Rd., Livermore

Next Board Meeting

Monday, May 18, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Round Table Pizza
1024 E. Stanley Blvd, Livermore

Members are always welcome at board meetings. Pizza is optional.
rule

The Latest News & Upcoming Events

May's meeting

Is there another Earth out there? Is there life on it? People have been asking these questions for over two thousand years, and we finally stand on the verge of answering them. The Kepler space telescope has already revealed that many stars have planets close to Earth size in regions close to their habitable zones. The next natural step after Kepler is spectroscopic characterization of exo-Earths, which would tell us whether they possess an atmosphere, oxygen, liquid water, as well as other biomarkers. In order to do this, directly imaging an exo-Earth may be necessary (at least for Sun-like stars and small planets).

Directly imaging an exo-Earth is challenging and may require a 4m flagship-size optical space telescope with a high contrast imaging system (a coronagraph or starshade) capable of achieving contrasts of 1e10 very close to the diffraction limit. Such a telescope will probably not be launched until the 2030s. On the path towards that mission, NASA may launch smaller missions, ranging from Explorer class to coronagraphic instruments on a 2.4m telescope. In addition, if there is an Earth around Alpha Centauri (the closest star system to the Sun), it may be possible to detect and take its spectrum with a telescope as small as ~25cm. The Ames Coronagraph Experiment group at NASA Ames has been successfully maturing high contrast imaging technologies and mission concepts, which Rus will describe in his talk.

Ruslan Belikov has been active in the field of exoplanets since 2005 after graduating from Princeton and Stanford Universities. He is currently the lead of the Ames Coronagraph Experiment (ACE) research group at NASA Ames which has been pushing the state of the art and developing technologies for direct imaging of exoplanets, especially potentially habitable ones. Belikov is the principal investigator for the Alpha Centauri Exoplanet Satellite (ACESat) mission concept capable of directly imaging Earth-like planets around Alpha Centauri; a member of the WFIRST-AFTA mission as well as the EXCEDE and Exo-C mission concepts; and a member of the executive committee for NASA’s Exoplanet Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG). He has over 100 publications, 2 patents, and his work was featured on Gizmodo, Future Talk TV, and other news outlets. He has also recently received the "Outstanding Early Career Space Scientist" award from NASA Ames.

H2O Open House

Our next open house is scheduled for Saturday, May 9 at the club's dark sky site, Hidden Hill Observatory, aka H2O.

Anyone can come to our open houses, not just club members; but you cannot go there without an escort. We will meet at the corner of Mines and Tesla Roads at 6:30 PM, then caravan to the site on a drive that takes about 50 minutes. The admission is $3/car; please bring the exact amount. There is no gas on the way, so be sure to gas up before leaving. The site is essentially in the wilderness, so there is no electricity and water, and there are only a couple of pit toilets. Cell-phone reception is iffy at best. While there is a picnic table there, you really should bring your own chair. If you need a flashlight, bring a red LED flashlight, not a white-light flashlight. And use masking tape over your car door and interior lights, or pull the fuse. If you don't have a scope, you can always find someone who is willing to let you look through theirs. And don't forget to bring your binoculars. Expect to stay until about midnight and get back to Livermore at around 1:00 AM.

Gert Gottschalk took some nice photos at a recent open house.

Upcoming star parties

We have tentatively planned the following star parties: Please contact for further information.

What's Up for February

Roland gave February's What's Up presentation. You can see it here

TVS Logo Wear

You may have seen some TVS members wearing shirts and jackets embroidered with the TVS logo. If you are interested in obtaining an embroidered logo item, you can do so by ordering whatever you would like through Land's End's Corporate Sales section and specifying TVS logo #0118948. You will need to set up an account, which will ask for the logo number and the TVS customer number (3452021).

TVS has also set up shop at Cafepress for members to buy non-embroidered TVS logo wear. You can have the TVS logo put on t-shirts, mugs, buttons, hats, coasters, etc. You buy through Cafepress, and Cafepress sends TVS a portion of the proceeds. Visit the web site to see all the TVS logo possibilities.