Akron Physics Club


Meeting Announcement: MONDAY, May 22, 2017 - TANGIER, 6:00 PM


Dr. Jay Reynolds, Vice President Cleveland Astronomical Society, Department of Physics, Cleveland State University

will be speaking on:

Our Evolving Universe

As the Cassini Mission nears “end of mission”, NASA begins to take more risk. This presentation will reveal the newest data of Saturn’s atmosphere, satellites and ring system. Then, hold on tight, as we will reveal, serious plans (and problems), for a “Journey to another Solar System!  (Some images in 3D & less than 5 days old).

The Speaker:
Since 2003, Dr. Jay Reynolds has served as Research Astronomer at Cleveland State University. 

In 2015 he worked in cooperation with WKYC to develop “In the Sky”, Northeastern Ohio’s only regular science broadcast of its kind. He serves as it’s co-host and creative producer.

This is also his 16th year providing media science content and will deliver his 700th interview, later this summer.

Minutes, May 22, 2017

We were delighted that our meeting room was filled by 22 attendees for this special astronomy lecture.  That included two the walk-ins (no dinner), Ian Abbot and Norma who was here for the second time.

Four University of Akron students also attended the meeting.

Secretary Bob Erdman was not present, so a secretary report was not offered

Treasurer Rick Nemer reported that our starting balance was $163.45

We had 15 paying members for the 22 dinners that were served.  Our income of $300 and expenditure of $374 for tonight’s meeting will leave us will a balance of $89.45

We are not completely broke but still have enough funds for moving forward. 

Program Chair Dan Galehouse then reported on our meeting line up for this coming fall (September) and winter.

For our September meeting Madeline Wade of Kenyon College will speak to us about LIGO, from a hardware detail standpoint, as opposed to gravitation wave data analysis which we heard earlier this year.

In October our Chair Ernst von Meerwall will give the lecture that he has held in reserve for many months, before it completely evaporates.

In November Gary Catella from Cleveland Crystals will speak, and next year possibly Walter Lambright and Charles Levan (not confirmed) to talk about the Aurora Borealis.

We have three openings, one that could be filled by members night as we did this year, and also we would like an astronomy lecture along with something on Bio Medicine.

Then the following proposed slate of officers for the 2017-2018 program year was presented by Chair Ernst von Meerwall; discussed, nominated, and unanimously approved:  

Officers 2017-2018


Bob Erdman

Vice Chair 

Darrell Reneker

Program Chair

Dan Galehouse

Program Vice Chair

Richard Elliot


John Kirszenberg

Secretary of Reservations

Carol Gould


Rick Nemer

Name tag Marshall

Carol Gould


John Kirszenberg

Notes on Dr. Jay Reynold’s presentation:

Our Evolving Universe

Ernst von Meerwall,
our Chair for this, his last presiding meeting, then introduced our guest speaker, Dr. Jay Reynolds.           

Dr. Jay Reynolds, returning to us once again for a new and delightful astronomy update, is Vice President of the Cleveland Astronomical Society and on the Cleveland State University faculty, Department of Physics.

Ernst then read from the abstract; as the Cassini Mission nears “end of mission”, NASA begins to take more risk. This presentation will reveal the newest data of Saturn’s atmosphere, satellites and ring system. Then, hold on tight, as we will reveal, serious plans (and problems), for a “Journey to another Solar System!  (Some images in 3D & less than 5 days old).

Since 2003, our speaker Dr. Jay Reynolds has served as Research Astronomer at Cleveland State University. 

In 2015 he worked in cooperation with WKYC to develop “In the Sky”, Northeastern Ohio’s only regular science broadcast of its kind. He serves as it’s co-host and creative producer.

This is also his 16th year providing media science content and will deliver his 700th interview, later this summer.

Dr. Reynolds started by introducing TV Chanel 3 programs “In The Sky,” in which he appears, and urged our Club members to watch whenever possible.  News from local astronomy clubs, science and sky observing events are presented.

He reminded us to not forget about the upcoming Aug 21st solar eclipse.  Here in the Cleveland area we will see a little over 80% of the Sun’s disc covering the Moon.  But in April of 2024, Clevelander’s will be treated to a full 100% Solar Eclipse.

Today’s topic, “Our Evolving Universe,” can be taken in two ways.  One, for the longest period of human existence all we had was our eyes.  And we didn’t know a lot about what was going on.  Or second, “Our Evolving Universe is us,” what we are learning.

In the past we didn’t know why solar eclipses occurred, and why does the wandering star Venus drop in the night sky. But thanks to the invention of binoculars and telescopes, we have learned allot about these objects.

Galileo was first to systematical use a telescope to draw sunspot, Venus and Jupiter with its four moons.

Today even backyard telescopes with attached cameras do valuable astronomy.

In the history of humanity, the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most scientifically productive instruments ever.  We download 885 gigabytes of data from Hubble each month.  It will take decades to review and analyze all of it.

Thanks to space probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 which are now currently leaving our solar system, we have extended our views with close-ups of Jupiter, Saturn, Saturn’s rings, and some of their moons.  The Mars exploration rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) in 2004 showed us the first glimpse of that planetary surface while researching its geology.

The Mission Status of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 is available here, real time:

The Mars Opportunity rover was originally designed for 90-days of surface operation.  But as of today, Opportunity is still functional after spending more than 4,500 days exploring the Martian surface. Although it is somewhat arthritic and limp, Opportunity is still sending us amazing pictures and information.  What a monumental achievement for humanity.

Now we put on 3D glasses and were treated to spectacular space pictures.  Red lens on the left eye. 

Dr. Reynolds continued, we have sent space probe emissaries to Mercury, the Russian probe to Venus, and Dawn to asteroid Vesta.  We have visited comets and the dwarf planet Ceres, which has a protruding white salt dome in crater Occator. 

The New Horizons spacecraft photographed Jupiter’s rings, and 152 active volcanoes on the Moon Io.  Its blue eruption material travels upward of 200-miles above its surface before spewing downward.  This activity is the result of Jupiter tidal forces acting on Io. 

The Hubble Space Telescope first showed us that Pluto has some of the darkest, and some of the most reflective areas in the solar system.  No other solar system body has such a contrasting surface as Pluto.  New Horizons found a young surface with fresh nitrogen ice coupled next to very old surface.  We see craters and flat areas.  This is a living planet as things are changing.  It took over a year for New Horizons to download its Pluto data, via a 7K (not even 56K!) speed modem.   Pluto and its principle moon Charon, which in itself is half the size of Pluto, are tidally locked contributing to this geological activity.  With the quick flyby we were not able to explore the far side of Pluto.

New Horizons is now headed to Kuiper belt object 2014MU69.  It gets there in 2019.  At a visual optical brightness magnitude of 25 (bright star Sirius in magnitude -1.46), it is far too faint to be seen by Earth based telescopes.  The visual magnitude scale is logarithmic.  

Cassini as a very large space craft represents a great mission success for NASA and their many partners.  It contained the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe, which after a 2-hour descent on January 14, 2005, successful landed on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan.  Pictures of the surface of Titan were returned to us along with other valuable data.

Cassini left the Earth, flew around the Sun, got slingshot by the Earth to pick up more velocity, then went around Jupiter taking spectacular photos of the great Red Spot and other features.

Dr. Reynolds then showed us a picture of a crescent Jupiter, something that we would never see at that angle from the Earth.  He commented, “his is the highest resolution photo shot of Jupiter to date.”

Cassini then went on to explore Saturn’s satellite Phoebe.  It is a captured asteroid that moves in the opposite direction to everything else.  The spacecraft had only one opportunity to study Phoebe on the flyby, and that was at the close distance of 20,000 miles.  There are fresh craters, old craters, and darker areas of powdered carbon on Phoebe.

Cassini performed a risky maneuver.  While traveling thru Saturn’s ring plane, the satellite turned around to use its 13-foot reinforced communications disk to point at the rings, serving as a battering ram against dust particles in the ring.  There is also a lot of water there.

Dr. Reynolds then played an electronic recognition version (not acoustic) of the impacts hitting the disk.  We then heard crackly sounds every time something hit the spacecraft as it traversed thru the ring plane. No one expected to see such a huge number of rings to be there.

The satellite Mimas looks like a sponge.  The moon Hyperion tumbles as it moves thru its orbit.  Pan, which looks like a ravioli.  This satellite travels in the ring system itself, so its picking up lots of stuff.

Enceladus looks like it has tiger stripes near its south pole.  Plumes of water and dust ejected from cracks in its south pole. Thus Enceladus is actively contributing material to the rings of Saturn.  This is one reason why the rings are not disappearing.  

Cassini has been in space since 1997, with 22 orbits around Saturn itself.  Cassini was not designed to detect organic molecules.  It has 3 plutonian canisters.  Hydrazine thrusters are used for movement changes.

The Cassini mission is scheduled to end on September 15, 2017, as it plunges into Saturn.

The pictures that Dr. Reynolds showed us of these planets and moons, are spectacular. 

Our attention then turned to current events.  Dr. Reynolds then told us about the Trapist 1 Star System, with 7 Earth like planets.  Those planets are so close to Trapist 1, as an analogy to our system we could say they would all fit inside the orbit of Mercury.

The James Web infrared space telescope is expected to be launched in October 2018, and will give us a closer view of the Trapist 1 system.

Our nearby neighbor Proxima Centauri (4.24 light years’ distance), a red dwarf star, has an exoplanet called Proxima B which is in the habitable zone. But unfortunately, Proxima B appears to be tidally locked (like our Moon that keeps the same face toward the Earth) making the possibility of life very remote. 

Voyager 1, the fastest spacecraft right now, would take 73,000 years to get there.  But Operation Breakthrough Starshot aims to use gigawatt lasers to propel spherical sails (4-meters across) with a micro-chip processor payload (1cm by 1cm) to Alpha Centauri (4.37 light years).  It would accelerate to 20% the speed of light and get there in only 13-years.  Since it can’t slow down, it will have only two hours during its rapid flyby to measure and collect data, which will then take about 4-years in total to send back to us here on the earth.

That concluded the talk by Dr. Reynolds, and the floor was then opened to questions.

We then thanked our local astronomer Dr. Reynolds for tonight’s wonderful presentation.

John Kirszenberg, secretary

Podcasts and Speaker PowerPoint Presentations

On October 24, 2016, Dr. Rob Owen presented a wonderful lecture to us entitled, The Detection and Analysis of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes.

His material backing up the lecture can be found at www.black-holes.org

Click on the link to visit and exlore his great web site.

Physics in the news

These chip-sized spaceraft are the smallest space probes yet 

Spacecraft have gone bite-sized. On June 23, 2017, Breakthrough Starshot, an initiative to send spacecraft to another star system, launched half a dozen probes called Sprites to test how their electronics fare in outer space. 




ACESS – Akron Council of
Engineering and Scientific


~ New and Improved ACESS
website!! Check it out at www.acessinc.org

~ Motion passed to create two
positions to fill executive director
role: Administrator (internally
focused) and Executive Director (externally focused)

~ Brent Sisler was named as Administrator and Mike Dowel was named as Executive Director.


Large Hadron Collider experiment nabs five new particles - March 2017

Physicists have snagged a bounty of five new particles in one go.

Members of the LHCb experiment, located at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, reported the prolific particle procurement in a paper posted online March 14 at arXiv.org. The five particles are each composed of three quarks — a class of particle that makes up larger particles such as protons and neutrons. Each of the new particles comprises two “strange” quarks and one “charm” quark.

The five particles are in various excited, or high-energy, states — giving each particle a different mass and a different arrangement of quarks within. Such particles are expected to exist according to the theory of the strong nuclear force, which bundles quarks together into larger particles.

The five excited particles are named after their low-energy relative, Ωc0or omega-c-zero. Their rather uninspiring monikers are Ωc(3000)0, Ωc(3050) 0, Ωc(3066) 0, Ωc(3090) 0and Ωc(3119) 0. Each number in parentheses indicates the mass of the particle in millions of electron volts.



The University of Akron and Cleveland State University, along with California State University at Los Angeles, have joined together to work on some projects for NASA and the International Space Station, according to a University of Akron news release (Dec 1).

The universities have received a $840,000 grant through NASA's Physical Sciences Research Program for the projects, the release stated. The research will focus on the way materials solidify in space when gravity is lacking.



University of Akron, Sandia pair up to bring new polymers

The University of Akron has a huge new partner (Sandia National Laboratories ) with big plans for what it views as the nation's top school for polymer science research and technology.



EXL Center at The University of Akron has just informed us (ACESS) recently of an up-coming event that is planned by Launch League in Akron led by Courtney Gras.  They are preparing for a big event the first weekend in December called Flight.  It is a Start Up Conference (http://www.launchleague.org/flight/) that may be of specific interest.


View this stunning video of surface of Mars




Colorful Animation Shows Simulated Flight over Dwarf Planet Ceres

Dr. Jaumann and his colleagues used 2,350 images to generate a realistic view of Ceres.  Shows a simulated flight over the surface of Ceres, based on images from Dawn’s high-altitude mapping orbit (900 miles, or 1,450 km).