Stary Party at the KOA

The August 7, 2010 KOA star party was a success even though there were only 4 telescopes. Dave was there with his 12″ Intelliscope, Kent with his 20″ Starsplitter and Reed with his and Chris’s homebuilt 22″. A 6″ Newt on a German equatorial arrived after dark and was set up at the north end of Star Hill.

Guests began arriving well before dark and David got the show off and running with the Sun. He had brought his 4.5″ off-axis solar filter and lo and behold-there was actually solar activity to be seen. Three large , well defined and separated sunspot groups were visible.

Even before the Sun set Kent spotted Venus. Still appearing as a half moon – Venus is just past Eastern Elongation and is beginning to move between the Earth and Sun on its inferior orbit. There was enough atmospheric turbulence that the planets could not take much magnification but it was nice to see Venus in a bright sky minus the usual glare.

Saturn followed as soon as it started to get dark and there were a lot of requests to see Mars despite the lack of detail on the Red planet. We got some “Wow’s when people realized that the little speck to the side of Saturn was Titan with it’s methane lakes.

There was a large public turnout. At one point during the evening there were at least 12 cars parked at the base of Star Hill and the overflow parking area. Quite a few visitors were staying at the campground including Julio from the SJAA. At any given time there was a group of 6 or so people at each of the telescopes with all the astronomers showing their showpiece objects as well as the usual constellation tours and explanations.

There were a lot of requests for individual stars such as Mizar/Alcor, Polaris, and Albireo. And one for Herschel’s Garnet Star. This is of course Mu Cep which is a supergiant star that would reach out to the orbit of Jupiter. It did not appear quite so red last night.

Once again M51 was a highlight of the evening. Even through Dave’s 12” there were a number of “OH!”. And Reed pulled out the 17mm Ethos eyepiece for “The Scope”. The Whirlpool filled the eyepiece field of view with individual knots visible.

Kent and Reed were also able to do some reviews of some of the coming fall attractions such as M 31 and the Owl Cluster.

The evening finished off with Jupiter rising in the east. Although in the mud it was apparent that the South Equatorial Belt is still missing. Io was in transit across the face of Jupiter although it was too low in the sky to see it or the shadow transit. As the party was finishing up Reed detected Io just popping into view after exiting the giant planet’s disk.

The guests appeared happy and pleased as they left. Thanks to the astronomers for a successful party.

The next KOA Star Hill Party is scheduled for Sat Sep 4 2010. Sunset at 7:25 PM PDT

Dark skies and good hunting,

Dave Majors


From Reed Estrada:

Saturdays star party (Aug 7, 2010) was well attended thanks to Wednesday Tribune  article on the CCAS Santa Margarita Lake star parties.  We had three CCAS member telescopes in attendance and one new comer.  David Majors added a “Solar Filter” to his new 12 inch Orion dob.  We had some fine views of solar sun spots appearing on the surface of the sun, following a long sun spot hiatus.  Kent Wallace and Reed Estrada’s large 20 inch and 22 inch dobsonian telescopes dominated the hill again offering the large public gathering excellent views of Venus, mars and Saturn in the early evening.  Later as the sky’s darkened, the crowds lined up to see a host of galaxies and nebulas and double stars while listening to brief descriptions of the significance of the night sky observations.  We noticed the absence of monthly regular CCAS members due to the Pine Mountain Oregon research event and the Oregon Star Party scheduled for this week and the next. This was a relaxed  enjoyable week end event with good weather and friendly folks.

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