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The TAAS Files

Like the X-Files, only this is real science. TAAS has many, very talented members. This is a place for them to show their stuff. Whether it be presentation material from our General Meetings, photos of TAAS events or anything of astronomical interest, details and tips on observing or bulding astro equipment, or documentation covering any topic of interest to amateur astronomers, you can find it here.

Well, you probably won't find it here just yet. There is some great amterial here but this area of our website is new and growing. Send your submittals to and share your talents with the rest of TAAS and the world-wide astronomy community.

Just click on any of the images or text to see the associated submittal. With some of the splendid graphics, some files may be large and take a while to download, but it will be worth it.

Kepler - Barry Spletzer
Johannes Kepler was a lone genius who changed our understanding of the cosmos. He discarded millenia of tradition and dogma, struck out on his own path with unparalleled insight and discovered the laws governing planetary orbits, thus helping to launch the scientific revolution. Yet little is written about his work. In this presentation, sets the record straight, discussing the false starts, incredible persistence, and final success of this amazing man. Oh, and along the way, he invented something that's part of every amateur's telescope today.

Note: This presentation is not a pdf and is not readily downloadble. It is designed to run in a web browser.
The Open Cluster Story - W.P. (Phil) Fleming
The vast majority of open clusters do not rouse much visual interest. They are likely to be described as boring, ho-hum, or not worth a star-hop. This TAAS Astronomy 101 presentation was formulated to imbue the amateur observer with an enduring appreciation of open cluster systems.
Determination of Lunar Feature Heights from Shadow Lengths - Boris Venet
We give the details of a method for determining the height or depth of lunar surface features, such as mountains or craters, using measurements of shadow length in a lunar photograph taken through an earth-bound telescope. We apply the method to several feature examples in a photograph captured with a typical amateur telescope and DSLR camera.
Observing Planetary Nebulae - Jon Schuchardt
Most amateur astronomers know about the Dumbbell Nebula (M27) and the Ring Nebula (M57), but what about less-famous planetary nebulae? This Astronomy 101 presentation explores how planetary nebulae form and their place in stellar evolution. Also described are how to find these diverse objects in the night sky, what to look for, what equipment aids observation, and how to satisfy Astronomical League requirements for an observing certificate.
Observing a Total Solar Eclipse - Mike Molitor
In this General Meeting presentation, Mike gives you lots of great information on the upcoming 2017 total solar eclipse. The videos in the original presentation are not included here, but Mike has provided web addresses for all of them.
Observing Globular Clusters - Jon Schuchardt
In this TAAS Astronomy 101 program, we explore what globular star clusters are and how studying them helped to expand our understanding of the universe. We look at how to classify globular clusters, how to star hop to find them in the summer night sky, and how to make the most out of observing them with binoculars or a telescope.
Photographing the Night Sky - Dale Murray
Dale really brought his subject down to earth in his presntation at a TAAS General Meeting. He shows how to take great nightscapes with common equipment. Along the way he gives lots of advice and pointers to making memorable photos and shows you plenty of stunning shots of his own.
Gravity Wave Detection - Dale Ouimette
Deep inside Dale Ouimette's General Meeting presentation on gravity wave detection was a graphic that explains it all. Well, not "all" but enough to give you a handle on this very complex subject. Several members requested a copy of the graphic and Dale kindly submitted it. Take a look.
History of Star Catalogs - Rick Thurmond
Throughout the history of astronomy there have been star catalogues. A page from the first printed edition of Ptolemyˇ¦s Almagest is shown here. Different catalogues reflect different interests, as well as changes in technology. A star catalogue is a major undertaking, and likely needs strong justification as well as the latest instrumentation. This paper describes some star catalogues through history and explains the reasons for conducting them and discusses the technology used.
How Did the Moon Get Inside My Telescope? - Barry Spletzer
This is a TAAS General Meeting presentation from several years back. It explains the basics of how a telescope works, what is an image, how lenses and mirrors make an image, and how that image is magnified. Along the way topics like focal length, calculating magnification, and eyepiece basics are discussed.