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.

This area of our website is 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.

Multiple Mirror Telescopes

By: Boris P. Venet


Presented at the TAAS General Meeting on July 16th, 2022. A discussion of the basic concepts of Multiple Mirror Telescopes and Adaptive Optics.

Multiple Mirror Telescopes PDF

After Sunset: Nightscape Photography

By: James Carr


Presented April 24th, 2021. A guide to capturing a great night shot by learning and pushing your camera’s capabilities.

An accompanying cheat sheet for Basic Camera Settings For Nightscape Photography.

After Sunset PDF

Great Observing Sites of New Mexico

By: Alan Scott


Presented at the TAAS General Meeting on October 19, 2019

What makes a great observing site, where are they in New Mexico, and how to get there.

Great Observing Sites PDF

Biography of a Star

By: Dee Friesen


Presented February 23, 2019. Follow the life cycle of our own star, the sun. The various phases of this particular star, Sol, is examined, using the Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) Diagram, as it moves through its life cycle. Also discussed is the origin of the elements. Hydrogen and helium resulted from the original Big Bang, but the birth, life, and death of a star are described in terms of nuclear reactions, and the chemical elements that make up the matter we observe throughout the universe were created in these reactions.

Highlights the contribution of the female “Harvard Computers”, such as Annie Jump Cannon, who worked with Edward Charles Pickering on a system for classifying stars based on their temperatures, which eventually became the official classification system.

Biography of a Star PDF

Simple Experiments to Prove the Earth is Round

By: David Thomas


Presented March 3, 2018. This is a General Meeting presentation by Dave Thomas, president of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason. He entertained and enlightened our membership with the beliefs and fallacies of flat-earthers and showed simple ways to see the curvature of the Earth.

Simple Experiments to Prove the Earth is Round PDF


By: Dee Friesen


Presented February 3, 2018. This was presented at a General Meeting. Cosmology is the scientific study of the past, present, and future status of the universe. This presentation examines the scientifically accepted facts that support the current theory of the origin of the universe. The tools and new ideas that lead to the current theory will be examined.

Cosmology PDF

Total Solar Eclipse

By: Melissa Kirk


Presented August 21, 2017. TAAS member Melissa Kirk gives her account of the chromospheric and coronal features observed and environmental effects experienced during the eclipse witnessed from Glendo State Park, Wyoming.

Total Solar Eclipse PDF

Non-Tracking DSLR Astrophotography: A Fast Track to Becoming a Night Sky Photographer

By: Daly Murray


This presentation is based on a General Meeting talk that gave a high-level overview of DSLR astrophotography. This presentation is a more detailed presentation to introduce the new TAAS Special Interest Group (SIG) on DSLR astrophotography a foundation to start taking pictures of the night sky. This presentation was given at the kickoff meeting of the DSLR AP Sig on February 6 and that intro meeting may be repeated if there is enough interest to do so.

Non-Tracking DSLR Astrophotography PDF

Andromeda and its Place in the Local Group

By: Ylva Pihlström

UNM Professor Pihlström examines the Andromeda Galaxy in many wavelengths and shows its likely future of as it approaches and likely collides with our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Andromeda and its Place in the Local Group

The Open Cluster Story

By: 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.

Non-Tracking DSLR Astrophotography PDF

Determination of Lunar Feature Heights from Shadow Lengths

By: 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.

Determination of Lunar Feature Heights from Shadow Lengths

Observing Planetary Nebulae

By: 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 Planetary Nebulae

Observing a Total Solar Eclipse

By: 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 a Total Solar Eclipse

Observing Globular Clusters

By: 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.

Observing Globular Clusters

Photographing the Night Sky

By: Dale Murray

Dale really brought his subject down to earth in his presentation 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.

Photographing The Night Sky

History of Star Catalogs

By: Rick Thurmond

Throughout the history of astronomy, there have been star catalogs. A page from the first printed edition of Ptolemy’s Almagest is shown here. Different catalogs reflect different interests, as well as changes in technology. A star catalog is a major undertaking, and likely needs strong justification as well as the latest instrumentation. This paper describes some star catalogs through history and explains the reasons for conducting them and discusses the technology used.

History Of Star Catalogs

How Did the Moon Get Inside My Telescope?

By: 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.

How Did the Moon Get Inside My Telescope?

All About Globular Clusters

By: Jim Fordice

Presented October 28th, 2023. Globular Clusters (GCs) are beautiful star formations that are also very old. Jim explains what a globular cluster is, discuss their historical importance, and describes their physical characteristics. GCs are compared to stellar associations and open clusters.

Astronomers use a Color-Magnitude Diagram to classify a star formation as a GC or an open cluster. Jim explains how a color-magnitude diagram is used to make the classification and shows examples of color-magnitude diagrams that he created from his imaging data. Jim explains how these diagrams allow determination of the star formation’s age.

How GCs were formed and have evolved are discussed. It is generally assumed that all the stars in a GC were formed at the same time, but many GCs have more than one population of stars. How additional stars are formed and the interactions of stars in a GC are explained. Other aspects of GC evolution such as two-body relaxation time, disc shocking, core collapse, and cluster evaporation are covered.

All About Globular Clusters (2023-10-28)

Determining the Diameters of Stars

By: Boris P. Venet

Presented at the TAAS General Meeting on Nov 25, 2023.
Overview of methods used to determine the angular and linear diameters of stars. The methods include the application of radiation physics, occultation, interferometry, and direct imaging.


1960s: Decade of Serendipity

By: John Matthews, Professor of Physics, UNM

Presented at the TAAS General Meeting on March 23, 2024.
An overview of several serendipitous astronomical discoveries of the 1960s that greatly expanded our knowledge of the universe.