Attilla Danko

Attilla Danko is a retired solfware developer and amateur astronomer living in Ottawa, Canada. After 35 years of writing industrial operating systems he prefers to concentrate on astronomy outreach with his 25" telescope. He is best known for the clear sky charts website which have become the preferred weather forecast for astronomers in North America. As a friend remarked: "He has done two services for the astronomy community: 1 deliver astronomy forecasts, 2: take the blame."


How To Use The Clear Sky Chart

Attilla Danko explains how to use the the clear sky chart forecast for planning astronomical observing sessions. (Well ... not really ... click here)

Marc Fusco

Marc A. Fusco has been a space cadet since childhood. He was fortunate to have watched Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon and has never been the same. Marc maintained his love of all things space throughout a career as an award-winning teacher and Shakespeare scholar, and later as a management consultant and business owner. Not content to be a bystander and fan of the space program, Marc left his life in business and returned to school for an MS in Space Studies at the University of North Dakota. He focuses on space history, commerce, and policy, but his knowledge and love of all things space stretch to planetary science, astrobiology, astronomy, orbital mechanics, among other things. He just likes to learn about, talk about, and teach about space.


The Future of Spaceflight

Marc will discuss spaceflight's next giant leap - the new launch systems and spacecraft that are about to come on line that will rocket us into the future. We'll discuss recent developments in both civil and commercial space, including NASA's Space Launch System, SpaceX's exciting plans for human spaceflight, and Boeing's new crewed capsule.

Amy Sayle & Mickey Jo Sorrell

Amy Sayle and Mickey Jo Sorrell are educators at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They are experienced star party hosts and founders and coordinators of the North Carolina Statewide Star Party, which is a signature event of the NC Science Festival. The 5th annual Statewide Star Party will be April 21 and 22, 2017, featuring 35+ public skywatching sessions from the NC mountains to the coast.


Snow White, Gasoline, and Saturn? - Connecting With Visitors To Your Telescope

When you talk to visitors to your telescope about things like white dwarfs, ionized gas, and planetary nebulae, some may conjure up incorrect images—of Snow White’s companions, of the fuel they put in their car, and of their favorite planet. How can you avoid confusing novice observers while helping them create personal connections to what they’re seeing through your telescope? We’ll demonstrate the use of a set of observing cards that can give you fresh ideas for explaining celestial objects in a way visitors can understand and that will spark their interest. Printed sets of the observing cards will be available at the presentation; you can also download a free red-filtered version for your mobile device.

Jim Pressley

After almost 40 years as a teacher and arts administrator at NC State University, Jim Pressley retired from directorship of the University's Crafts Center. Part of the Crafts Center's programs included classes in telescope building and mirror making. Over a 20 year period, almost 200 telescopes were produced.

Jim is a visual observer who enjoys mirror making, telescope building and star parties. He considers star parties to be one of the more delightful aspects of amateur astronomy. In addition to being enjoyable social events, star parties offer an excellent source of information and mutual inspiration. Darker skies and changing latitudes can deliver objects that cannot be seen from one's home site.

Jim's local favorites include the Staunton River State Park Star Party in Virginia and the “Southern Star Astronomical Convention” at Wildacres in western NC. He has attended events from Stellafane (+43rd north latitude) to the Winter Star Party (+24th north latitude). Six months ago, Jim joined Carl Moreschi, Al Hamirck and Michael Searle on a trip to OzSky Star Safari in Australia (-31st south latitude) to see the southern hemisphere for the first time. It was an extraordinary experience.

Last fall, Jim served as “Maker in Residence” for a telescope building class at UNC-CH where students completed an 8” Newtonian telescope to use for public observing. For more information visit this article.


Observing Upside Down - The OzSky Star Safari in Coonabarabran, NSW Australia

Every star party has its own character. This presentation reviews the experience of attending a premier observing opportunity in Australia...deep in the southern hemisphere. The Australian team who produces this exceptional gathering have nearly 30 years of experience in planning and executing OzSky. They make sure travel plans run smoothly, their equipment is top notch and the team members could not have been more friendly and helpful. OzSky could easily become your astronomy “trip of a lifetime”. This adventure ought to be on every amateur's bucket list. Participants bring away great memories, make new friends and see amazing things.

Jim Pressley and other OzSky attendees will discuss sights seen and things learned. Learn how OzSky compares with other star parties in our own hemisphere ... and how is it different. Did you know the Moon is upside down there? Find out what impressed us most!

If you haven't seen (or even heard of) the Homunculus Nebula, the Football Cluster, the Tarantula Nebula, 47 Tucanae, or witnessed the Emu rising in the heart of the Milky Way ... join us for a tour of the southern skies and a little touch of Australian culture.

Heather Teeter

When not consulting with Fortune 500 companies to better their marketing and brand loyalty through her "day job," or practicing her Lutz and Lay Back Spin for the next figure skating competition, Heather Teeter can be found enjoying astronomy, cosmology and mythology. She also crafts custom Truss Telescope light shrouds, carry cases and other fabric products under the banner of her company "Shrouds by Heather." She has outfitted telescopes from 8" to 40" of aperture, as far away as New Zealand, South Korea and India, and with fabric patterns as wild as fluorescent orange and tie-dye.


Connecting the Dots - Varied Uses of the Constellations Through History

We will discuss both practical and cultural uses of constellations that are common across cultures and how we can still use some of those skills and knowledge today.

Ian Hewitt

Ian Hewitt is NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, is an avid amateur visual astronomer and is a hack astrophotographer. He was an embedded computing engineer for Motorola for many years, but is now is currently working on a Masters in Astronomy and works with the Astronomy and Astrophysics Laboratory at the Nature Research Center of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. He was always very interested in the outer solar system and follows the latest published research on Pluto because it’s just so interesting!


Pluto - A Unique World

NASA New Horizons mission was the first mission to explore Pluto and we are still getting data back from this intrepid explorer, but it has already revealed Pluto to be a far, far more interesting place than ever suspected. We have had to update the textbooks with this new view of these dynamic outer solar system objects. Ian will discuss the latest scientific discoveries, theories, and images from Pluto.