Congressional Solar Viewing

Probably the only member of Congress with an asteroid named after her got some solar viewing in through AAA telescopes recently. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York’s 14th Congressional district saw the sun through telescopes set up by “Jupiter Joe” Martinez and Mauri Rosenthal at the Pelham Bay Nature Day on Sept. 7 at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. The event was highlighted by a backpack give-away to school children and the release of a Green New Deal poster featuring the Bronx park.

Invited to the Nature Day by the organizers, AAA was represented by President Irene Pease and members Mauri, Jupiter Joe, Faissal Halim, and Stan Honda. Between handing out backpacks, signing many posters, and posing for photos, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez headed first to Jupiter Joe’s duo of an Explore Scientific AR127 white-light-filtered and Coronado hydrogen-alpha scopes. Joe described the different views of our star to the congresswoman through the Explore Scientific that had an APM Herschel Wedge, additional 13%ND filter and Celestron 40mm eyepiece. The Coronado PST used a double stack and 8×24 Celestron zoom eyepiece.

Ocasio-Cortez is no stranger to science, having won second place in the microbiology division in the Intel Science Talent Search while in high school in 2007. At that time, the Lincoln Observatory Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program at MIT decided to name the asteroids the group had discovered up to that point after the first-, second-, and third-place finishers of the three major student competitions. In August 2007, Asteroid 23238 Ocasio-Cortez was named.

Moving on to Mauri’s Quark/Questar/TeleVue setup, the representative managed to get a look at a modest prominence jutting out from one side of the sun.

As Mauri described it on his Cloudy Nights post:  “Conditions were good for H-alpha viewing—there was a modest prominence that came and went with the high clouds and haze; [Ocasio-Cortez] was among about half of the folks who did get to see it. I was especially pleased that the congresswoman asked me about the equipment because it gave me a chance to tell her a few things about the three great U.S. manufacturers responsible: Questar, DayStar, and Televue (here in NYC we have particular pride for Al Nagler, who grew up in the city and who still participates in some of our outreach events).”