Tag Archive for Loveland

Public Star Night at the Little Thompson Observatory

Friday, May 17th, 2013 — 7:00 – 11:00 PM

Little Thompson Observatory

Little Thompson Observatory

Public Star Night at the Little Thompson Observatory, 850 Spartan Ave at Berthoud High School (park east of the high school; directions are posted on our website, www.starkids.org).

Our guest speakers are William Murtagh and David Stone, from the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, CO. The title of their talk will be: “Space Weather Storms: Are we ready for a ‘Space Katrina’”.

Our Nation is embarking on ambitious plans to modernize infrastructure which will be based on advanced technological resources vulnerable to space weather. Space weather impacts everyday life, including national security, emergency response, electric power grids, aviation, communications, global positioning system (GPS) applications, and satellite operations – technology we have come to rely on for our day-to-day activities. These recent advances in our technological infrastructure drive emerging space weather service needs undreamed of just a decade ago.

Extreme space weather

Extreme space weather

Extreme space weather storms are rare, but these low frequency events have significant consequences. Recent reports suggest the greatest natural disaster perhaps facing the Nation would be an intense geomagnetic storm. In December 2012, the U.S. National Intelligence Council presented solar geomagnetic storms as an event that could change the future course of human history. Building hazard-resilient communities is a national priority, but can we ensure the security of our high-tech community during an extreme space weather storm?

Bill Murtagh is the Program Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colorado. He is NOAA’s space weather lead in coordinating preparedness and response efforts with industry, national and international agencies, emergency managers, and government officials around the world.

Bill is a member of the White House Working Group on geomagnetic disturbances, guiding national policy in response to space weather storms. He regularly briefs the White House and members of Congress and their staff on vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure. He is a regular guest speaker at universities, government agencies, and national and international conferences. Bill has provided numerous interviews to major media outlets and is featured in several TV documentaries on space weather, most recently on the Discovery Channel ‘Sun Storm’, and the NOVA show ‘Secrets of the Sun’.

Solar weather forecasting

Solar weather forecasting

Before joining NOAA, Bill was a meteorologist and space weather forecaster in the U.S. Air Force. He coordinated and provided meteorological support for national security interests around the world. Bill transferred to the SWPC in 1997 as a space weather forecaster and liaison between NOAA and the U.S. Air Force. He joined NOAA in 2003 after retiring from the Air Force with 23 years of military service.

David Stone is responsible for developing the software which currently ingests and processes the GOES-13/14/15 telemetry and creates the space weather instrument data plots and imagery that is used by Space Weather Forecasters.  Modeled after NASA/JPL’s Mars Rover ingest architecture, the success and complexity of this system earned him an Outstanding Performance Award from the University of Colorado.

As a PMP certified project manager, he now leads software development teams at SWPC developing critical forecaster tools and transitioning space weather models into operational weather products.  His latest team efforts focus on designing, implementing and re-hosting a new public Space Weather website for SWPC – targeting growth from the current 5 million visitors per day to over 50 million. He has a BS – Computer Science from USMA, West Point (1989) and a MS – Computer Science (in Artificial Intelligence) from Stanford (1996).

The doors will open at 7:00pm and the presentation will start at 7:30pm.  Weather permitting after the presentation (around 8:30 PM), visitors will be invited to observe various celestial objects through our 6” Astro-Physics Refractor, and 18” Tinsley and 24” Cole Reflector telescopes.

Public star nights at LTO are held the third Friday of each month (except July, when we are closed for annual maintenance). No reservations are necessary for these nights. Just come and join us for the talk and some observing afterwards.

If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at: www.starkids.org

Public Star Nights at the Pioneer Museum, 224 Mountain Avenue in Berthoud, home of the historical 6” Brashear Refractor from John Bunyan, are held on the first Friday of each month. If you have any questions, please call the Bunyan observatory information line at 970-532-2147 or check the museum web site at: http://www.berthoudhistoricalsociety.org/bunyan.htm

 

Sincerely,

Meinte Veldhuis, President, Little Thompson Science Foundation

None so blind as those who will not see

I couldn’t help but laugh at the insights reported after the fracking accident near Windsor that released greenish fracking fluid for 30 hours on what looked like agricultural land. To the Loveland firefighters, the lessons learned had to do with the speed and accuracy of reporting such spills, compounded by the fact that nobody knew whose wells were spilling. Not mentioned are the even more important lessons that could have been learned:

1) The released fracking fluid is toxic (Halliburton’s safer CleanStim fluid imbibed by our governor is expensive and rarely used). No telling what the effects of this release will be on the adjacent land. What if this spill had occurred next to a home, school or park?

2) Accidents and spills are exactly the problems citizens are worried about.

3) Regulations (or city rules) do not make fracking safe.

4) Fracking poses dangers to workers, including local firefighters and hospital staff.

5) Local communities have to cover the costs of training for emergencies and for clean-up.

6) No one knows the long-term effects of fracking because the high-pressure systems now in use are relatively new.

Loveland Fire Chief Randy Mirowki is reported as concluding, “The more we work together with these companies, from an emergency response side, the better off we are.” I would come to a different conclusion: The more we resist the lure of so-called economic benefits and statewide pressure to extract oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing, the better off we will be.

Thank heavens Longmont residents had the foresight to vote to ban fracking within our city limits!