Observatory Reports

  • 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
  • 01 Sep 2013 9:53 AM | Anonymous member
    Eagle Eye Observatory
    31 August 2013
    Jim Sheets
    95f > 83f
    7:30pm - 12:20am
    Total guests: 42
     
    When I arrived at the observatory, the temp was at 95f and humidity at about 82%. The Clear Sky Clock indicated transparency 2/5 (below average) and seeing at 3/5 (average).
    Indeed, the visuals through the scopes while targeting Venus during set-up were very fuzzy and nebulous. As the evening progressed, the conditions did not improve much.
     
    Shortly after my arrival, three club members came out and set-up their equipment:
    Tim Kenyon (10" Neut), Mike Ruiz (10" Dob), and Patrick Holland (Meade LX50 10"). These guys stay until the wee hours of the morning, as far as I know. It was nice to get acquainted with them.
     
    Guests started arriving around 8:00p and came/went in groups until the last ones left at 11:40p. I counted 42 in all. With the sky conditions being what they were, we were restricted to viewing the brightest objects, as the deep sky targets were nearly impossible.
    (Example: while viewing M51, only the two core's were barley discernible, without any detail). The guests were able to view Venus, Saturn, M13, M8, M20, double-double, Albireo and M31. I spent a great deal of time with a laser pointer touring the sky and repeated this on 3 occasions as the folks came and went. All in all, it was a good viewing night for the City folks who had never looked through an eye piece.
     
    After the guests all left I spent a little time talking to the club members and instructed them to be sure and lock the gate as they left.
  • 25 Aug 2013 2:30 PM | Anonymous member
    Saturday 24 August 2013
    COTE Star Party
    Jim Sheets
    8:00p - 11:30p
    Guests: 16
     
    I will start with a 2 for 1 report.
    On Wednesday 21 August 2013 the total count was 5 guests (one family).
    I did meet them at the gate and we proceeded to the observatory. The sky was completely overcast and remained that way all evening.
    My entire program was done on the big screen TV and describing the telescopes to these guests. We had about a 2 hour interchange. The sky remained overcast.
     
    Saturday 24 August 2013
    Upon arriving at the observatory at 8:00pm I noticed that the Ealing had been left plugged in and the front dust cover was still off. (left on top of the white cabinet). I searched the building for "critters", then proceeded to set up the scopes for viewing. In contrast to Wednesday night, the sky was pristine and clear and remained cloudless all evening.
    Guests began arriving soon after 8:00 pm and I had a total of 16 most of the evening. We viewed Saturn with both scopes until the sky darkened sufficiently for deep sky targeting.
    We then viewed M13, M51, M57, M81-82, alberio, double-double, M8, M20, M31-32-110 and the milkyway was vivid showing dark lanes contrasting with the star cloud. This turned out to be one of the better viewing evenings all summer.
    The last 2 guests departed at 11:30p, so I closed and left also.
    Thanks, Jim S.
  • 24 Aug 2013 10:06 AM | Anonymous member
    Fri August 23, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    7:30p-11:50p 
    Guests: 15 

    Grounds excellent (freshly mowed), both scopes worked very well. No internet, all other systems working. 

    Early on a small 4 yr old girl got stung by a scorpion while standing in front of the donations box, complaining first that she was being bitten by a bug either on the wrist or her chest. I thought a horsefly may have got her, but after she started squirming greatly and crying and shuffling about I saw a scorpion fall to the floor and it crawled away, but it got stomped dead by the girl’s dad. They took her to the lodge to get any treatment available and they didn’t make it back. We have a first aid kit, but no bite ointment, but some burn ointment. The girl’s mother asked if I had any treatment on hand and I said, not for that I don’t think and told them to seek the lodge desk asap. 

    Skies were pretty good, but lots of star twinkling. Lots of mosquitos, so beware when you come out next time. Saturn was quite nice considering the atmospheric turbulence. Moons of Saturn were very easy. We viewed M57, M51, M13, M17, Albierio, and the Moon rose about 10:20p and I showed its rising through the trees to the last couple thru my binos and they were simply amazed. 

    I found a yellow jacket nest underneath the middle south table on the eastern field. Had only one hornet. I sprayed and killed it. I also installed a cane rod positive stop system on the Ruof Shed, so the 4 tie down straps are no longer needed. I drilled 2 5/8” holes, fore and aft so that the building is nicely anchored from rolling in the wind. I bought 2 units, but only one is necessary, so’ll I take that one back. 

    I also replaced the gate lock with a new lock, same combo. The old lock went defective and would not lock on any number. 

     Left at 11:50p, temp 79º
  • 18 Aug 2013 9:00 PM | Anonymous member
    COE Star Party
    Saturday Aug 17, 2013
    Number of Guests: 22
    Operator: James Hall & Tara Heine


    Tara and I had stopped by the front desk and found out that COE was at about 40% capacity.  So expected a slightly slow night.

    We arrived at the observatory about 7:30 p.m.  The moon was about 80 percent full.  Clouds about 10%.  Temp 85 degrees with slight breeze.

    Some large ant hills near south doors, but no other major insect concerns other than some gnats that buzzed around us through most of the night.

    Some minor trash around south doors easily picked up.  Otherwise grounds looked good.  Roof and doors opened well.  We cleaned and swept out under the chairs and scopes.  Observatory lights and table lights turned on.  Display working.  Scopes working. Forgot to test internet.

    Both scopes tracked well all night.  Tara did a great job working the Harlan while I kept the guests engaged through normal green laser sky tours, AAS history, Public Star Party dates, explanation on how telescopes work, and fun things to see this year like the upcoming comet ISON.  I was also able to hook up the iPad wirelessly to the large display for showing guests several apps such as Exoplanet, Moon HD, Pocket Universe HD, and short videos on "Is Pluto a Planet?" , "Star Size Comparisons", and "Black Hole at the center of our Galaxy".

    The Forest scope was on the moon all night with 40 mm EP and moon filter.  

    Tara slewed the Harlan to Venus, and then Saturn and other objects for guests.  We also viewed Mizar/Alcor, and a couple of other bright stars.  

    Lots of questions from Children and adults and many "wows" heard when looking at Saturn and the moon.

    Donations in box.  

    Last guest left at 10 p.m.   Tara and I started hunting around a bit and were able to barely pull in the Ring Nebula, but I really enjoyed seeing Double Double as my favorite part of the night.    We packed up and secured the observatory at 11  p.m. 

    Temp 75 degrees.

     
    - James Hall
  • 17 Aug 2013 6:49 PM | Anonymous member
    Friday 16 August 2013
    COTE Star Party
    Jim Sheets
    8:30p - 12:00a
    Total Guests: 19
     
    The skies were clear this evening, transparency (medium), seeing (medium) upon arrival at 8:00 pm. I opened the observatory and began setting up the scopes. Guests began arriving right away so I targeted the Gibbous Moon with the Smith 12.5 inch, with a 40mm & polarizing filter. The guests enjoyed the view. 
    The Forrest 16 inch was targeted at Venus which gave a view of a fuzzy blob. It was useless during the first part of the evening.
    The guests came in three waves which gave an opportunity to reacquire the same targets. We were able to view Saturn, Albireo, M57, M13, and the Double-Double.  
    The Moon obscured all faint objects, it was even difficult to do a constellation tour and the Milky Way was absent.
    The late arrivals stayed until about 11:40p and then I closed, leaving at Midnight.
    Thanks, Jim Sheets
  • 16 Aug 2013 2:18 PM | Anonymous member
    Wednesday 14 August 2013
    COTE Star Party
    Jim Sheets
    8:30p - 10:30p 
    Guests: 9
     
    The evening started with a completely overcast sky. My Guests all arrived between 8:30 and 8:45.
    Venus showed its self occasionally through "sucker holes" (aviation term) in the clouds as well as the Moon and Saturn. We had fun catching glimpses of these objects. I then gave a presentation on the scale of the Universe with the TV using Xoplanet which prompted a few questions and more lively interaction with the guests.
     It was impossible to do a laser tour of the night sky... so, we did one using SkySafariPro on the TV. The sky continued to be mostly overcast except for a small clearing overhead and we got to target the M13 cluster, a visual for the folks.
    At home prior to this event, I located a spare 2" yellow dust plug that I had in my accessory case and donated it for the Ealing focuser.
    I was surprised to see the grounds and building in such great condition (no trash) following the public event on Saturday. Cudo's to the clean-up crew. Thanks!
    The guests all left together at 10:30 so I locked up and went home. Good night.
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