LVAAS General Meeting

--- RE-RESCHEDULED !!! ---
Our presenter has a conflict for Saturday, so the meeting will be held on Sunday.

Sunday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m.

- Meeting will be held ON-LINE ONLY! -


IMPORTANT: This meeting will include a Business Meeting to finalize elections of 2021 officers,
and approve a change to the dues structure for 2021.



"Astro-Image Processing 101"


Warren Keller

Internationally known astrophotographer, author, and teacher, Warren Keller has the ability to reduce the difficult concepts of astro-imaging to the essentials and to effectively teach them to others. His video tutorial business, (named a Sky & Telescope Hot Product), has given thousands of clients the world over, a quick start on taking their own great images.

In 2016 and 2018, he wrote the definitive book(s) on PixInsight, Inside PixInsight for Springer Nature (Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy series). The first edition of the book was Springer's top seller in 2016, and was also named a Hot Product by Sky & Telescope in 2018. 

Warren is proud to have been published as an author and photographer in Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, Sky at Night, Astronomy Now, CNA (China), Amateur Astronomy, IDA's Nightscape, and many places on the World Wide Web, most prestigiously, NASA’s APOD. Three large format prints were chosen for 2012's Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography traveling exhibit, which opened at Maine's Bates College.

He was Atik/QSI Camera’s North American representative, and was a consultant to Celestron where he co-designed their AstroFX software. Warren has presented at the Advanced, the North East, the Midwest, RAW, and CAPS astro-imaging conferences, and was host and coordinator of SWAP in 2013 and 2014 in Tucson. In 2015, he was asked to the board of directors of the Advanced Imaging Conference, where he is VP of exhibitor sales. He continues to lead virtual workshops and provides one-on-one training in the art and science of astrophotography.

Warren's web links: - Astro artwork - Streaming video on astro-imaging - Free tutorials - Virtual workshops

Members will receive an invitation to the on-line meeting by email. Prospective new members who wish to attend on-line should contact our Membership Director ( to arrange to receive an invitation.


 Website Upgrade Complete!

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and welcome to your newly-remodeled LVAAS Website! Santa's elves -- actually, just one elf -- has been busy reconfiguring our website programming to work with the manadatory upgrade to PHP version 7.2. (See the latest issue of The Observer for more details.)

As you unwrap this shiny present, please be thoughtful of the presenter. You are pretty much guaranteed to not like everything about it, at least not right away, but please consider putting your protests back under the tree for a little bit, and see if you can accept the whole in the spirit it is given. We did not ask for this gift, but we are forced to take it, and I have done my best to make it acceptable. Unfortunately there was no easy way to keep everything the same (and it's not really obvious that we should.)

Tips on getting the most out of the new

One of the features of the updated software is that it tries to be more friendly for users of smart phones and other small screens. The way that it does this was not friendly to our old menu organization, so now we have a new one. The main navigation menu is moved to the bottom, so that on large screens, the Upcoming Events feature remains prominent.

You will notice a "Menu" link on the top left, and I have gone to some extra trouble to make sure that it is always there, although the rest of the horizontal menu goes away on devices. I've decided to keep a few items on the top menu to entice casual visitors to learn more about LVAAS. In any case, a quick click on the Menu link will take you to the complete menu, where you will find a "Back to Top" link to reverse the effect.

Also, notice that clicking on the Menu link and then scrolling up a bit is an easy way to get to the Clear Sky Clock. We could also move the Clear Sky Clock down into the footer area, if we want.

On mobile devices, the Login button on the upper-right corner disappears, but there is a Login link available in the second footer menu, which contains other member-specific choices.

I've removed links to a bunch of stuff that seemed mostly obsolete and neglected, but anything that we really need can be brought back.

Open Issues

The site will continue to evolve and improve, and we will continue to find things that need to be fixed. Hopefully, we'll also find things that we prefer over the old site. Those of us who edit content on the site should enjoy the updated, less buggy editing software.

If you notice a critical issue, please don't hesitate to let me know right away. But as I mentioned, if you have a minor complaint, I would prefer you hold back a bit to see if it's really something that you can't live with.

Here is a list of some known issues that I think we must fix soon, although I elected not to let them cause a delay in bringing the  site back on-line:

  1. If you get the size of your browser window and the text magnification just right, the full-month Calendar is rendered as if there are six days in a week, with no Saturdays, creating extra weeks and assigning the dates to different days. It is hard to trigger this but it is atrocious, and could mislead someone if they didn't notice it happening.
  2. Pages that have images distort the aspect ratio when displayed on small screens.
  3. On small screens, the Menu button briefly highlights in a really ugly, misaligned fashion when pressed.
  4. The main navigation menu does not appear on some pages, which makes the Menu link superfluous on those pages.
  5. We need a better way to render our monthly events calendar for publication in the newsletter.
  6. There are some security issues which will cause notices which you may see when you are logged in. These issues have been the same since before I took over the site, but the updated software is being more aggressive about complaining about them.

I have a complete list including many picayune defects that I have noticed, and there will be more.

-- Rich Hogg, December 19, 2019; email



Transit of Mercury on November 11

Next Monday, Novermber 11, the planet Mercury will pass in front of the sun, beginning at about 7:30 a.m. and lasting until just after 1 p.m. This will not happen again until 2032!

LVAAS has arranged for a viewing opportunity at the Da Vinci Science Center, outside the main building on the east side (which is to the left as you come in the main entrance from the parking lot.) We are planning to have members there with solar telescopes for the entire event. Stop by and take a look, and then check out the fascinating exhibits that Da Vinci Science Center has to offer!

The weather forecast is "partially sunny." We will be there, to take advantage of the sunny parts!

2006 transit of Mercury

NASA photo from the 2006 Transit of Mercury.


 Is That Saturn?

It seemed too bright, and too early for Saturn to be so clearly visible! Once it was brought into focus by Chris Kiely in LVAAS' 12" Newtonian Reflector, it turned out to be a very beautiful high-altitude balloon, hanging in the sky like a Christmas tree ornament, a rare special treat for visitors to our Star Party on Saturday, October 5.

A later search on flightradar24 indicated that it was most likely HBAL024, an experimental balloon for providing Internet service belonging to Loon LLC, formerly a Google X project. It was launched from Winnemucca, NV on Wednesday afternoon, and drifting at 16 kts at an altitude of 67,800 ft. over Plymouth Meeting, PA, easily visible from our South Mountain HQ.

This shaky, almost-focused photo was taken by Rich Hogg's smartphone held up to the eyepiece. The image shown is how it would look to the naked eye; in the telescope it was turned upside-down.

 The Construction of LVAAS HQ

YouTube video!

This fascinating 33-minute film has a history that is almost as long and convoluted as LVAAS itself, and its colorful facilities and people. Originally shot on black and white film by Walter W. Leight, it was later transferred to videotape by Dan's Camera City, and narrated by Paul Shenkle, Bill McHugh, and George Maurer. From there it found its way (in 3 versions) onto a DVD possessed by LVAAS Programs Director and club historian, Sandra Mesics. Now, we have taken the longest, unedited version (the one without any music) and uploaded it to Youtube, which has enhanced it to make it more enjoyable than ever.

Featuring many of the founding personalities of LVAAS, this film reveals the very bones of our organization as well as our headquarters building. Enjoy a rarely-seen view into the beginnings of LVAAS!

—    LVAAS    —

THE LEHIGH VALLEY AMATEUR ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY -- 620B East Rock Road -- Allentown, PA 18103 -- 610-797-3476 --


Founded in 1957, the Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society (LVAAS) is one of the oldest continuously-operating amateur astronomy organizations in the U.S. The mission of LVAAS is to promote the study of Astronomy and to maintain a meeting space, observatories, and a planetarium.

LVAAS operates two astronomy sites: The South Mountain site in Salisbury Township is the headquarters of the Society. It has a planetarium with a Spitz A3P projector, a 21 foot dome, meeting space, the Red Shift store, library, workshop space, and three observatories. The Pulpit Rock site near Hamburg is LVAAS's members-only dark sky site. At 1600 feet above sea level, the site features five observatories and a pad for member's scopes.

Members who receive training on the scopes may obtain keys to the observatories. LVAAS also maintains a rental "fleet" of telescopes that members may rent at low cost. Members also receive access to The Observer, our online newsletter, as well as reduced subscription prices to Sky and Telescope and Astronomy Magazine. If you want to learn more about astronomy and LVAAS, please join us at our next public star party.


South Mountain Clear Sky Chart  image

Pulpit Rock Clear Sky Chart         image