Author Topic: OR: 10/4/14 SFAA in-town star party; Exploratorium  (Read 1045 times)

Lumpy Darkness

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OR: 10/4/14 SFAA in-town star party; Exploratorium
« on: October 06, 2014, 10:12:33 AM »

Here's a quick catch up on my first observing event with the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers.

I am not yet a member of the club, but subscribe to their Facebook page, and have had a bit of interaction with the more active members.  I attempted to go to this star party last month, but my back (tweaked) would not allow much lifting of a telescope.  So, when I saw the event again this month I was in.

Any trip to San Francisco should include a few stops.  My wife (Mina) and I decided on cooling off at Crissy Field. 

Temps, even in Pacifica where we live, were over 90F.  On the coast, that's sweltering.  At Crissy Field I could have actually used a sweater.  Mark Twain was right about San Francisco!

Then into the City where we enjoyed a quick drink and light meal outside at Liverpool Lil's, which was packed with Giants fans unknowingly watching what would be an 18 inning marathon!  We finished and headed to Pier 17, where the astronomers were on Embarcadero outside the Exploratorium.

I unloaded my 10" f/5.7 CPT Dob, and parked.  Several scopes were already set up, ranging from a 5" Mak to a home-built 10" Dob that looked like an Earl Watts blue-tube special (it wasn't).  The location was about as bright an "observing site" (this really does not qualify, of course) as I've ever set up at.  Even brighter than my years in downtown San Jose.  The tall white front wall of the Exploratorium building was to our north, and did an excellent job of reflecting the street lights back onto us. And, along the Embarcadero, there are plenty of street lights.  But still, I could see some objects in the sky.

Of course, there was a waxing gibbous moon. Easy to see! Then there was the summer triangle.  Then there was... ... uh.... there...

I had to squint and shield my eyes to find Alberio.  By then there were crowds of people.  Lots of crowds.  So may pedestrians walking by... this is indeed a big very busy city.  I had to move quickly as they engulfed me, wanted to look through the scope.  So, it was the moon.  First at low power, about 74X, and looking very nice.  Then up to about 190X for "high power" views of walled craters and rilles.  So many people, so many languages.  Fortunate my wife, who aside from english also speaks spanish (native language) and french, was able to help.

During the crush of viewers, I noticed all other telescopes looking, not surprisingly, at the moon.  So I swung over to Alberio.  Lots of smart people, intuitively grasping the significance of the color differences between the stars, figuring out which was hotter, and should burn out sooner.  Questions about binary vs line of sight doubles.  Questions about which orbits which, leading to descriptions of barycenters.  It was fun!  The sheer pleasure of visual observing aesthetic once again leading to intellect, and discussion of physics.  Who could not enjoy an evening like this?

After an hour, another amateur astronomers showed, up, and put up a very nice 8" truss Dob.  Beautifully built.  The owner looked at my scope and immediately an ATM discussion ensued.  This fellow showed some of his ATM work in photos on his phone, and we exchanged contact info.  He's afraid though, that our possible collaboration will be a challenge, since he already spends every spare moment doing ATM, but his wife also requires some attention!  I understand "the disease".

Shortly after that, another scope arrived, and its owner Doug Smith (VP of the SFAA) came over to introduce himself.  Nice guy, but that scope... a 16" f/7.  That's a lot of focal length!

I moved my scope to Eta Cassiopeia.  Anything other than the moon or bright double stars seemed ridiculous from this spot.  And Eta did not disappoint.  Its always fun showing people what our sun would look like from another star.  And the copper penny along with it is such a beautiful sights.

Around 9 o'clock we had a fun surprise, with fireworks lighting the sky to our west.  The finale was a great show! And 10 PM, we'd had enough.  Well, not me, really.  But I knew my wife was wearing down, as work requires her to be an early riser.  So, we packed it in, and went for a quick drive, for the fun of it, through the crowded insanity known as San Francisco on a Saturday night.

It was great fun at the SFAA event, I'll be there again!
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 01:45:10 PM by Lumpy Darkness »