August 2018Four Planets Sparkle in Early Evening Skies


August 2018Still Time to Enjoy Mars





August 2018Sirius and the Dog Days of Summer





Two Star Gazes in September

Continue to check this home page as weather and road conditions could change the venue or postpone and possibly cancel a star gaze. Check-in again after 5:00 p.m. on the afternoon of the observing session for the latest info and update. (image credit: Alan Davis, taken at Grassland Mountain Observatory)


1 September 2018 – Saturday night – The location for the star gaze will be Grassland Mountain Observatory in Madison County. The weather backup date is Sunday, September 2nd. The star gaze is free and open to the general public — registration is not necessary to attend.  A temporary gate code, required for entry, will be posted on this club website home page by 5:00 p.m. on the day of the star gaze.  Directions to Grassland Mountain Observatory can be found here.  Sunset occurs at 7:57 p.m.

7 September 2018 – Friday night – The location for this star gaze will be Lookout Observatory on the UNC Asheville campus. The weather backup date is Saturday, September 8th. While the event is free and open to the general public, pre-registration is required to attend. To learn more about how to register, please visit the UNCA Lookout Observatory website here. Sunset occurs at 7:49 p.m., with shuttle service beginning at 8:00.

6 September 2018 – Meeting

Thursday night, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. – In the Manheimer Room at the lower level of the Reuter Center on the UNC Asheville campus. This meeting is free and open to the general public.

“The Lambda Boötis Stars:  A 75-year-old Mystery” presented by Richard Gray, Appalachian State University







The Lambda Boötis stars (Lambda Boo for short) were discovered 75 years ago by one of the founders of the MK Spectral classification system (the system that astronomers use for classifying stars by their spectra), W.W. Morgan.  What was special about these stars was that nothing other than strong spectral lines of hydrogen appeared in their spectra. Compared with other stars of the same temperature and age, the Lambda Boötis stars, at least in Morgan’s photographic record, showed no signs of metals or any other element other than hydrogen.

Modern digital spectra show that metals and other elements are present in the spectra of Lambda Boötis stars, but at very low levels.  The most extreme Lambda Boo stars show metal abundances down by a factor of 100 or more from the Sun.  And this is very curious, because for all other stars, metal abundance is correlated with age – old stars have low abundances of metals, whereas young stars have high abundances.  So, that must mean Lambda Boo stars are really old?  No!  Read more…