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Welcome to the Imperial Polk County Astronomical Society website! We are a group of amateur astronomers in Central Florida, dedicated to informing and educating the public about the art and science of astronomy. Come join us at one of our monthly “Astronomy Nights,” located at one of several state and municipal parks here in Polk County.

Upcoming Events:

< 2018 >
July
  • 27
    Friday, July 27

    7:00 pm-11:00 pm
    07-27-2018
    Sun-n-Fun Campus
    4175 Medulla Rd, Lakeland, FL 33811

    My experience in showing individuals planets through a telescope tells me that when it comes to viewing our solar system planets, Saturn is number 1. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that it’s the rings that make it so popular. Jupiter comes in second, with its equatorial bands and Galilean moons, visible with almost any telescope. And, of course, if you have a large aperture scope, you may catch a glimpse of the Great Red Spot. Venus seems to come in third due to being able to view it in phases, like the Moon. Uranus and Neptune look like small blue-green dots, unimpressive except for the color. Mars isn’t much better; its closer, but because It’s smaller, there’s not much difference except for the reddish color, unless you have a large aperture scope. The best you get with small scopes, is its reddish color.

    Well, suppose we move Mars up the list. How can we do that? Actually, we can’t, but Mars itself can, and will, I’m sure. On July 31st, 2018, Mars will be at opposition with Earth. This means that Mars will be in a direct line with the Earth and the Sun. Not only will it be at opposition, but it will be closer to Earth than it has been since 2003, but only by 1.2 million miles. And it won’t be this close again until 2035 and then again in 2050.

    So, what’s the big deal? Why the excitement? Just this: Mars will be close enough to see surface details with “large” (14” & up) amateur telescopes. Details like the polar caps and possibly, dust devils.

     

     

     

     

     

    On Mars, the polar caps are made of water ice, like here on Earth, but also includes frozen carbon dioxide, unlike Earth. But they both look pretty much the same. Now, what about the dust devils? They can be up to 1/2 mile high and 800+ ft. across @ 102 MPH. But don’t think they are similar to tornadoes. Tornadoes form from storm clouds, dust devils don’t. Actually, dust devils have been seen in the deserts of Earth and they form under the same conditions, without storm clouds, under clear skies.

    Now that you know what to look for, and when, let me tell you where you can go to see it “up close and personal”. Since our Circle B event has sold out, the Imperial Polk Astronomical Society will be at the Sun-n-Fun campus in Lakeland, FL on July 27, 2018 with a presentation about the event starting promptly at 7:00 pm in the Piedmont Hanger (see below for directions). We’ll have time for a Q&A session following the presentation. Then, weather permitting, our telescopes’ “focal point” (pun intended) will be Mars, but we’ll focus our scopes on other celestial objects also; Mars may be the “star” of the show, but it’s not the only thing out there. In fact, we’ll have 4 other planets to entertain us, along with other galaxies and star clusters.  What a lineup! If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll go online to a site streaming a live feed of Mars. One way or another, we’ll see Mars.

    Please note that seating is limited and will be by registration (ticket) only; registration can be done at www.eventbrite.com and typing “Mars Watch Sun-n-Fun” in the “search” box, then clicking “Mars Watch Sun-n-Fun” in the drop down box and clicking “Register” on the “Mars Watch Sun-n-Fun” page. There is no cost. So, register now to make sure you get a seat, and, be sure to print your ticket and bring it with you.

    Directions: Once at the Sun-n-Fun campus off of Old Medulla Rd., use the Rocky Road entrance onto the campus. You’ll see a plane on the right as you turn in. Turn right on the drive on the right, in front of the plane, as soon as you turn in. The Piedmont Hanger is the second bldg. on the left.

  • 28
    Saturday, July 28

    7:00 pm-10:30 pm
    07-28-2018
    Circle B-Bar Reserve
    4399 Winter Lake Rd, Lakeland, FL 33803, United States

    My experience in showing individuals planets through a telescope tells me that when it comes to viewing our solar system planets, Saturn is number 1. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that it’s the rings that make it so popular. Jupiter comes in second, with its equatorial bands and Galilean moons, visible with almost any telescope. And, of course, if you have a large aperture scope, you may catch a glimpse of the Great Red Spot. Venus seems to come in third due to being able to view it in phases, like the Moon. Uranus and Neptune look like small blue-green dots, unimpressive except for the color. Mars isn’t much better; its closer, but because It’s smaller, there’s not much difference except for the reddish color, unless you have a large aperture scope. The best you get with small scopes, is its reddish color.

    Well, suppose we move Mars up the list. How can we do that? Actually, we can’t, but Mars itself can, and will, I’m sure. On July 27th, 2018, Mars will be at opposition with Earth. This means that Mars will be in a nearly direct line with the Earth and the Sun. Not only will it be at opposition, but it will be closer to Earth than it has been since 2003, but only by 1.2 million miles. And it won’t be this close again until 2035 and then again in 2050.

    So, what’s the big deal? Why the excitement? Just this: Mars will be close enough to see surface details with “large” (14” & up) amateur telescopes. Details like the polar caps and possibly, dust devils.

     

     

     

     

     

    On Mars, the polar caps are made of water ice, like here on Earth, but also includes frozen carbon dioxide, unlike Earth. But they both look pretty much the same. Now, what about the dust devils? They can be up to 1/2 mile high and 800+ ft. across @ 102 MPH. But don’t think they are similar to tornadoes. Tornadoes form from storm clouds, dust devils don’t. Actually, dust devils have been seen in the deserts of Earth and they form under the same conditions, without storm clouds, under clear skies.

    Now that you know what to look for, and when, let me tell you where you can go to see it “up close and personal”. The Imperial Polk Astronomical Society will be at the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, FL on July 28, 2018 with a presentation about the event starting at 7:00 pm and, weather permitting, our telescopes’ “focal point” (pun intended) will be Mars, but we’ll focus our scopes on other celestial objects also.

    Please note that seating is limited and will be by registration (ticket) only. Sorry, tickets are sold out for this event, but we will be at the Sun-n-Fun campus on July 27th doing a “Mars Watch” there.  Please note that seating is limited and will be by registration (ticket) only.

Public-Events-Schedule

We “get around” to several different venues and events during the year. We hope to see you at as many of these events as you can come to. See our complete schedule for the year. click above to download. We add events throughout the year, so check back often for the most up to date info! You can also use the subscription form in the sidebar to receive the latest updates automatically.


So why the name “Imperial”? That goes back to the early years of our home, Polk County, Florida. At one time, Polk County boasted more paved roads than anywhere else in the southeast U.S., hence the “Imperial” moniker. It was probably more of a P.R. thing than anything else, but the name has stuck. We are still officially known as “Imperial Polk County,” and are proud of our heritage. If you look alongside several of the old roads crossing the county line, you can still see some of the old county line markers that were installed in the 1930’s.

For more information, visit http://www.polkcountyhistory.org/

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