Binocular Basics: What do the Numbers Mean?

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In the Sky - Click for more details: July 2017 
July will be a very special month in the night sky for it will be the best month to observe both of the very bright planets, Jupiter and Saturn, in the evening sky. Click the link above and read more details.

Local Star Parties:
July 22nd:
Sponsored by Hoover Middle School, at the Observatory, 630 Hillcrest Rd, Waterloo 9-10:30 p.m.

July 29th: Sponsored by the Grout Museum and The Black Hawk Astronomy Club, Prairie Grove Park, Waterloo 9-10:30 p.m.

In addition... it is time, or past time, to plan for observing the eclipse of the Sun on August 21 that will occur at about midday in the central US.  Since the Moon orbits eastward, the eclipse will happen first on the west coast at about 10:15 a.m. PDT.  It will exit the US on the South Carolina coast at about 2:50 EDT, so it will take the shadow of the Sun about 1 1/2 hours to race across the country, with each spot along the path receiving about 2 1/2 minutes of totality.  An internet search will turn up a tremendous amount of information, but you might want to check out and Orion Telescopes (  One caution I have read is to scout the area where you want to view the eclipse in advance because the crowds will be huge. You should make special note of where there are restrooms because you will want to be in place early.
If you are not traveling to the eclipse path, you can view a partial eclipse almost everywhere in the US, but eye protection is required. You can buy inexpensive glasses with solar filters from many vendors including the Grout Museum in Waterloo.  You can also put a pin hole in a piece of stiff paper and project the eclipse onto the ground.  I have seen directions that say you should use a thumb tack sized hole and also directions that say to use a 1/4 inch hole. I would make several holes of different sizes to use.
At any rate this will be an event to remember.  Enjoy.
Another event to enjoy is Iowa’s biggest star party, the Iowa Star Party, September 14 – 18, at the Whiterock Conservancy, Coon Rapids, IA.  Cost is $40/person and $50/per family.

-David Voigts