Author Topic: OR CalStar XV, 25-27 September  (Read 1488 times)


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OR CalStar XV, 25-27 September
« on: October 02, 2014, 02:52:31 AM »
This CalStar was the 15th, yep CalStar XV officially. Once again we had a big ole time. Of course special thanks go the The Potentate, Charlie Wicks, who does a long phonetag song and dance with the county park people every year to book the overflow lot. And to Dan Wright, who Does It Wright Or Not At All year after year with Chez Dan. Casey Fukuda knocked himself out with a custom omelet bar there as well.

There were a bunch of my very favorite humans there, and if I were to try and list them, I’d miss somebody important. Also we missed several of the treasured regulars, as well as former regulars who sure add to the mix when they’re there. Terroir is terroir, after all, much like ownage.

Conditions could hardly have been better. The days were temperate, and only Thursday night did it get good and chilly. I was there Thurs-Fri-Sat nights, 6.3 limiting magnitude each night, seeing got to excellent the first night, 5/5, was good the other two, 4/5. The Milky Way was big enough to generate at least moderate awe every night. Got to show Carl Larson his first view of the Gegenschein on Thursday night.

I brought Uncle Albert, an Albert Highe made 16" f/4.5 scope. Was using a 24mm Panoptic, 16mm UO Koenig, 16mm Brandon, 9 and 7mm type 6 Naglers. This was Albert’s first missed CalStar, but a steady crew of us maintained the Albert Ghetto at the south end of the field. I started on my brand new Hicksons project.

In 1982, Paul Hickson, an astronomer at the Univ of BC, compiled a set of 100 compact galaxy clusters. Stephan’s Quintet is the prototype for these clusters. These are sets of 3-6 galaxies that are physically very close together. What makes them interesting in the eyepiece to me is how lumped together they are, and that they often show tidal tails between them, and disrupted bodies from the close interactions. I’d seen 6 of these clusters with Felix my 11 over the years, including the Quintet (which is the Trio in Felix under optimum skies), The Box (HCG 61), and HCG 44 in Leo, the brightest of the whole set of 100. Compiled a list of the 49 of these clusters that look plausible in a 16”.

Only other person I know of personally who’s systematically done a Hickson tour is ZZ bin Muller. So there’s an inspiration. Picked up HCG 2, 7 and 10 over the 3 nights. Spent about an hour on each cluster, from locating to studying the fields. Clearly not in a hurry. Hickson 7 was the coolest of these, with 4 galaxies in a tight field in the 7mm.

Also on this trip I hunted down a couple of the VV pairs of galaxies that Steve Gottlieb has been looking at thru this past year. He had a writeup in the September S&T. VV 254 was interesting, two ovals forming a close and messy V, with lots of visible interaction.

Had some eye candy fun too, sure enough. Friday night, Paul and Joey Duncan hung around. Joey, who’s a 5th grader, swung the scope around and we took a tour of goodies. On Saturday night, Casey the omelet man took a tour of the arm of Cassiopeia from delta to epsilon Cas, an inexhaustible favorite area, rich Milky Way field with bright open clusters, including M103, and 663, 654 and 659 in a close set. And yes we looked at Trumpler 1, a pretty little flight of geese that’s remarkable for how far away it is, ca 9,000 ly, 6 times farther from here than Orion’s Belt stars.

Coyotes were singing every night. Deer were hanging around crunching on acorns. Ground squirrels and their holes were everywhere, and the magpies were generally on top of things.

I just love CalStar as is, can’t find much to complain about. The skies are often first rate, the company and the place and the food and the level of humor are hard to beat. Up there with Christmas on the calendar.
More of this, please,
TAC - astro anarchy at work <*>

Dan Wright

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Re: OR CalStar XV, 25-27 September
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 10:36:14 PM »
Great write-up, Jamie!  My favorite part was your mention of people who gathered at the south end of the field to hold down the "Albert Ghetto" during this, the first Calstar that Albert Highe has ever missed.

Speaking of absent fellows: we made sure to toast James "Tips" Turley, another enduring character who had attended every Calstar until this year, and also we raised our cups to that great man, Jeffrey Gortatowsky.

The weather wasn't hot.  Instead, the daytime temps were perfect, and our nights virtually dew and fog-free, so we got the good weather this year.  The Bee Rocks store is closed, but now the Oak Hill Market is only 14 miles away and has everything you need, as we discovered, including tri-tip, maple syrup, white gas and extra hash browns.

Charlie and Susan Wicks had a fun-filled camp every night -- you could hear their crowd roaring and cackling all evening, having fun, and you wondered exactly how much observing they were doing.  Each year I get to know Eric and Vandy Shrader even better and realize what exceptional people they are.  And John Hoey from down south; he's an entertaining character.

I loved hanging with Paul and Debbie Alsing late at night, working Cepheus using their two big dobs and fine charts.  I was tickled to greet Inga Drepper and Jane Smith and Stacy Jo, and we had the "Rozer-man!" Richard Ozer himself the whole time.  Then also Jeff Crilly throughout the whole event including the +1 night.

Carl Larson arrived very early: the Tuesday before the event, also Carl was the very last person to leave Calstar, on the Monday following the event.  In addition, Carl had the honor of having traveled the farthest to attend Calstar -- he drove 930 miles each way from Albuquerque.

We had Marko Johnston, Marek Cichanski, David Kingsley, Mike Delaney, Peter McKone, Phil Manela, Stephen Migol, Rich Girard with his buddy Malcolm, Joe-Bob Jardine, Andrew Pierce and many others ... who am I forgetting?

By the end, Casey Fukuda had cooked a custom-order omelet for nearly everyone there, stylishly using an old-school Coleman white gas stove, and he made a lot of new friends in the process.  Also Casey grilled tri-tip steak Friday and Saturday nights, and he let me observe using his beautiful 12.5 dob originally bought from Albert Highe.

Calstar is over now, and I'm back wearing slacks and a button shirt in an office cubicle, but in my thoughts I'm actually back on the field, at dusk just after dinner, getting ready to observe again.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2014, 02:11:44 AM by Dan Wright »


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Re: OR CalStar XV, 25-27 September
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2014, 01:05:20 AM »
What can one add to those two ORs?   I think they said it quite nicely.
My own observations were going quite deep for my scope so I can attest to some very transparent skies for a fair percentage of the time.  Seeing came and went and came back again and so on so CalStar was well worth the trip.   I enjoyed the great company, great skies and great daytime temps as much as anybody else.   Good times, good friends, who could ask for more?     Marko   
Let me roam the deep skies and I'll be content.