Observatory Reports

  • 17 Oct 2013 10:08 AM | Anonymous member
    Canyon of the Eagles Star Party
    Sun. Oct. 13, 2013
    Jim Sheets
    6:30 - 9:30
    Guests: 11
     
    Upon arrival at 6:30, everything on the grounds looked ok, but still needs mowing.
    I opened the observatory on Sunday since this was a Holiday weekend (Columbus Day). The sky was broken clouds so I opened the roof and set up the scopes in hopes of doing some viewing. The Harlin was aimed at the Gibbous Moon and the first guests were able to view it for a while. We caught a few glimpses of Venus with the Forrest scope, then the clouds socked in and we had complete overcast skies. The rest of the evening was devoted to TV presentations.
    The guests tonight were come n' go. never more than 4 at a time.
    Thanks, Jim S.
  • 17 Oct 2013 9:53 AM | Anonymous member
    Sat October 12, 2013
    Canyon of the Eagles Star Party
    Jim Sheets
    6:30 - 10:00
    Guests: 70
     
    Upon arrival, I noticed that the grounds were getting shaggy and needed mowing. I swept the floor and noticed the Harlin's finder scope dust covers were missing, but located them in the metal cabinet.
    The sky was overcast and rain was expected, I opened the roof and side doors, but did not set-up the scopes. By 7:15 there were 70 guests in the building, as we had 3 Scout Troops in house at COTE and this was a mixture of Scouts, Leaders and parents. I spent some time describing the telescopes and their operation to the group, then did a sky tour on the big screen. I had just switched to "Exoplanet" to explore the Universe when the first rain drops began... I closed the roof quickly (just in time) as a gust front hit us, then the rain started in earnest.
    We were in a serious thunder storm. The wind was pushing rain into the observatory sideways, so I quickly closed all of the side doors. For the next 30 minutes communication with the guests was impossible as the noise on that tin roof was deafening. Finally, the rain let up somewhat and I continued the presentation in a loud voice. The guests indicated that they could hear ok.
    After the TV presentation at about 9:30, most of the folks left, only 2 remained and we talked for a while.
    For those of you who think that our observatory is rain proof, well you're wrong!
    There are a few leaks in the roof, one of which is right in the middle of the north desk. For the most part, the roof did a good job of protecting the telescopes, but in a wind driven rain storm, it is not completely water proof.
    At 10:00pm I made sure everything was put away properly and departed, somewhat soggy.
    Thanks, Jim S
     
  • 12 Oct 2013 9:12 PM | Anonymous member
    Fri Sept 13, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    7:30p-12:30a
    Guests: 20

    Building good, grounds excellent, both scopes worked very well. INTERNET IS WORKING very well, plus the skies were very clear, against the CSC predictions of gloomy. I'm writing and sending this from the iMac G5 computer in the observatory. I tested a direct wired connection to the router with a 50' ethernet cable and got a max reading of 21.30 mbs down, and a max of 4.0 mbs up, but averages around 2.0. The ping averages about 750ms compared to 60ms of cable modem connections. It's really not as bad as one would think. Pages load rather quickly, and out here...well that is just fantastic! With the iMac set to wireless, i get a reading just now of 14.44 mbs down and 1.37 mbs up....with 10 of 15 bars signal strength showing. I will get a wired exterior grade ethernet cable into the observatory. Question is do we want maybe two lines, with one serving as an extra for times when another user needs good access? I'd say yes on that one. We'll see what the EC may say. 

    I tested my 17" G4 Mac Powerbook laptop from the south field tables and got about 4-5 bars of 15 and registered a max of 2-4mbs down, .7-1.5 mps up. This is quite good considering the distance. So the whole field is covered. There were times of dropped connections, but this could be related to the router hardware as it is an aged unit. Replacing with a better unit should prove more reliable.

    All other systems working. We saw the waxing gibbous Moon, Saturn, but a 6.4 mag star (SAO 161754) was occulted by the Moon at 10:40p.Two lucky guests (a man and a woman) got to see the star dissappear right before their very eyes while viewing thru the eyepiece. I had them yell out for all other guests to hear when it vanished and it was very exciting for both guests and the crowd. Also saw M57, M31, M13, Albierio, Double Double.

    Skies very good. Seeing was 5/10, much twinkling in Antares. 

    Closed up and 74º.
  • 12 Oct 2013 9:10 PM | Anonymous member
    Friday, Oct. 11, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    7:35p - 12:00a
    Guests: 20

    Grounds fair, stickers are getting high, must get cut again soon. Both scopes did well. Internet working well. Mosquitos were overwhelming, my Repel brand was not working all that well, maybe due to it's 7 yr old stage? I will buy some fresh Repel and put in steel cabinet next trip. These are monsters tonight and affected the crowd greatly.

    The skies actually cooperated and cleared eventually to a mostly clear sky. Last couple left inside 10pm, so I started fiddling with Excede Satellite Internet rep on the phone trying to find out the account settings to put in my computer for outgoing mail server. No can do without name on account and no EC member names worked, so now tomorrow morning I'll have to make some more calls to the installers.

    A little more testing on the internet, I tried two computers simultaneously for bandwidth performance and it was equally split in the down mode 8 Mbps ea, but both upload was at near 3 Mbps! Awesome performance considering where we are.

    We saw the 1st qtr Moon, Venus, Albierio, M57, M13, M31. HDTV worked great to show the crowd some animated visuals on the sky and some movies.

    Quite warm and a litte muggy, but comfortable temperatures, very little wind.

    Left 12a temp 75º.
  • 11 Oct 2013 10:50 PM | Anonymous member
    Friday, 04 October 2013
    Canyon of the Eagles Star Party
    Jim Sheets
    6:30pm - 10:30pm
    Total Guests: 10
     
    After setting up the telescopes and getting the observatory ready, my first guests arrived at 6:50pm and I showed them the fuzzy image of Venus, looking through miles of atmosphere and a very warm mirror in the Ealing scope. I am looking forward to colder weather and nicer images. The planet Saturn was still above the western horizon at sundown, however it is now below the wall of the observatory and not able to be viewed. We will have to wait until next year to view this Jewel in the sky.
    As this was night of the New Moon and the sky was clear we were in for a treat, and sure enough as dusk disappeared into darkness, the view overhead became a true wonder to behold! The Milkyway popped as viewing conditions were excellent.
    We were able to do a messier marathon with several of the bright ones exhibiting more detail than usual. It was a great night to point out that you can see M31 with no magnification (naked eye) if you know where to look.
    At about 9:30 my first guests were leaving and shouted back from near the parking lot that there was a snake near the path. They heard it rattle but did not see it. I took a bucket and tongs along with a brave guest to hold a flashlight and we found the 4 foot Diamond-Back next to the path. After securing the critter and calming the folks down, we were able to continue viewing.
     
    Note: A reminder that our observatory location is in a wilderness area and caution should always be used while roaming around the viewing field in the dark.
     
    After the excitement, we did a laser show of the constellations and also pointed out the summer triangle and the northern cross. I then offered a tour of the Universe using "Exoplanet" software.
    The last of my guests went back to their resort digs at about 10:30 so I closed up shop and departed.
    All in all, it was a pleasant evening with the folks,
    Thanks, Jim
  • 27 Sep 2013 3:12 PM | Anonymous member
    Canyon of the Eagles Star Party
    Thursday, 26 September 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Temp: 78 - 74
    Guests: 17
     
    This evening started out great with clear skies and a good view of both Venus and Saturn just after sundown.  My guests started to arrive as the sun was setting. The group of 13 were very impressed with the view of Saturn as Titan and Phoebe were visible plus more moons were in and out of sight with the use of averted vision. Venus clearly mimicked the last quarter moon with one
    side sliced off.
    The remaining 4 guests arrived at 7:55 and I started giving sky tours with the laser pointer. As the evening progressed the Milkyway became vivid with pronounced dark lanes visible, This was becoming one of the better viewing evenings of the season. I proceeded to show the objects that were most impressive in the eyepiece for novice stargazers. The Double-Double was easy to separate into all 4 components with the 17mm 1-1/4 eyepiece. M-13 was bright and got lots of comments from the group. I was excited to have these good viewing conditions and continued showing objects until about 9:30, one of the guests said that they were on the go from early morning and were tiring rapidly... this group all left together at 9:35, leaving me all alone to enjoy the night sky for myself. I continued for another hour. I locked the gate at 10:40 and was gone.
  • 26 Sep 2013 5:51 PM | Anonymous member
    Canyon of the Eagles Star Party
    Saturday, 21 September 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Guests 16
     
    The evening started with above average sky conditions and the observatory grounds and building were in good shape. I configured the Forrest scope for Venus and the Smith for Saturn as they were already low in the western sky. Four guests arrived shortly after sundown and were treated to descent views of these planets. It seemed to take extra time for the sky to darken enough to show any deep sky objects.
    Between 8:30 and 9:00 the remainder of the 16 guests came in so I did a sky tour with a laser pointer. Objects found were: M13, M57, Alberio, Double-Double.
    The temps were pleasant in the low 80s and upper 70s (hurray for fall weather).
    By 10:30 half of the guests had left and the Gibbous Moon had started to wash out the faint objects so we concentrated on viewing the moon and discussing the universe.
    Overall it was a good night to be under the stars.
  • 18 Sep 2013 4:55 PM | Anonymous member
    Saturday 14 September 2013
    Jim Sheets
    COTE Star Party
    Guests: 12
     
    On this evening, I opened the observatory at 7:45pm and had 6 guests arrive by 8:00.
    The sky conditions were not great, as it was somewhat hazy... the dewpoint and humidity were very high, but only a few clouds in the south.  We were able to view Venus as a waning gibbous along with Saturn only about 4 deg. above it. These targets were already low in the west and were not visible for very long. Clouds began moving in and as twilight ended the remaining 6 guests arrived. We caught a faint view of M57 just before the clouds covered it. We were able to see asterisms in the north sky for a while, then the sky was opaque.
    The remainder of the evening was spent viewing aps, on the big-screen TV and answering questions. Overall these were a curious group of guests and were fun to work with. I hope they had as good of time as did I.
    With the sky view gone, people were leaving around 10:30 and the last were gone by 11:00
    I closed the building and was gone by 11:20.
    Thanks, Jim
  • 02 Sep 2013 11:10 AM | Anonymous member
    Canyon of the Eagles Star Party
    01 September 2013
    Jim Sheets
    7:30p - 12:30a
    Total Guests: 50 - 55
     
    There were guests waiting at the gate when I arrived at 7:30. Because of the Holiday weekend, there were more attendees than usual for a Sunday viewing. The sky conditions early on were not good. Thunder storms had just rolled through and the sky was mostly overcast, humidity high (82 - 85) and the temp was in the high 90's. Fortunately the western horizon cleared first and gave me a chance to set the scopes on Venus for set-up.
    Soon, Saturn was visible also and I targeted it with both scopes to allow for the 25 or so guests that had arrived between 7:30 and 8:30. Images through the eyepieces were not clearly defined again tonight due to low transparency. We were restricted to viewing just bright objects most of the evening. Folks kept coming and the obs. building got quite crowded for a while. I concentrated on alternating targets in each scope and fielding questions. Gave a laser tour of the sky at 10:15, by then the entire sky was clear and the milky-way was vivid and defined.
     
    A few guests stayed until around midnight and were treated to some of the fainter deep-sky objects, as the conditions were improving.
     
    It was kind of a party crowd... some clean-up was necessary after everyone left. Several beverage containers were scattered here and there. (probably should have placed the trash container at the front door.) I will have to scan the area during daylight to see if any were missed.
    Good Holiday weekend crowd.
    Thanks, Jim Sheets
  • 02 Sep 2013 10:52 AM | Anonymous member
    Fri August 30, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    Darin & Dana Koch
    8:00p-12:40a
    Guests: 28

    Grounds good, both scopes worked very well.  No internet, all other systems working. AAS member Jeff Clark came out with his 18" Obsession and nice Oberwerk 45° 100mm Binocular Telescope to observe on the south eastern table with his children.

    New member John Stone came out to see how the scopes work in the real setting with guests.  He will take next scheduled observatory training to make it official. Considering the Labor Day weekend, the park was somewhat full, but only 25-30 guests came out and all were very pleasant.  No drunks, thank God.  I used the 52" TV for a little while until it got totally dark and turned off for dark adaption.

    Skies were clear, but all stars were twinkling.  Saturn was another show pleaser.nice considering the atmospheric turbulence.  We viewed M57, M51, M13, M17, Albierio, M22, the Veil, M31.

    Left at 12:40a, temp 79º
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