Author Topic: CalStar 2017  (Read 161 times)


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CalStar 2017
« on: October 01, 2017, 08:26:38 PM »
observing report, CalStar 2017

Wednesday September 20th through Sunday September 24th 2017 at Whisper Canyon Campground near Lake San Antonio, Monterey County, California

Thanks to DDK for getting the ball rolling on CalStar reports!

First a big thank you to Charlie and the organizers. Thanks to Dan for doing the amazing camp out breakfasts which provide such a wonderful place to meet and bring a sense of community to the event.

First and last observation: Dark skies. Possibly the first night was the best. Stayed up until the Orion nebula became visible over the trees at approximately 2:30 but then gave in to fatigue after a long drive and stressful setup. The first two nights were very humid after midnight. Temperatures fell into the 40s pre dawn.

Over the four nights we saw plenty of eye candy in the 10". M17 the swan, M8 the lagoon, M20, M11 wild duck, M22, M16 eagle, M31, Alberio, the Veil, M13, M33, M42, M1 crab, Double cluster, and a few more.

Saturn was particularly nice early in the evenings, sporting a clear Cassini division when the seeing allowed. The crescent moon was gorgeous on Friday and Saturday evenings, a nice reward for uncovering the telescope.

Finding the Crescent nebula NGC 6888 in Cygnus and the Saturn nebula NGC 7009 in Aquarius were personal highlights. Plus one new Herschel, NGC 1023 a 10th mag galaxy in Perseus. I'm starting the list over by the way, so it was also the first Herschel on my list. After four years without observing, it felt really good.

Stand outs highlights:

Many gorgeous views through Joe Doyle's 18" especially the Saturn nebula and Veil nebula.

Seeing M42 and the Horsehead in Rick's 32". Hearing all the excitement over Andromeda's parachute, a quad lensed quasar. On the third night it was much searched for, but not found. The last night, it was found accompanied by much jubilation, followed by discussions about whether one, two or three lobes were seen (no one claimed all four). Just before it was my turn to scamper up to the eyepiece, the scope bumped into the ladder and due to technical problems, it wasn't possible to find and track it again. Those who saw proclaimed it the highlight of the star party. Rick was very apologetic, but I had fun just listening in from the periphery and I thank Rick many fold for all his efforts to show as many people as possible.

This was Ulrike's first star party. Getting her to point the telescope and find Saturn on her own was very special.

I really enjoyed moving from imaging central in the middle of the field over next to Steve Gottlieb on Big Dog row at the end of the field on the third night. Much quieter and far less light issues. Plus, being next to Steve provided the nostalgia of being near an original Taco.

Seeing the Atlas V launch from Vandenberg Saturday night with our new friends Edie, Tom, Joe, John and Paul. This put our hearts into orbit for sure!

Riding the zip line with Rashi, Lucy, Marsha, Patrick and Emanuelle (not all at once!).

Observing until 4:30 on the last night. M81 and M82 riding higher and higher was the last hoorah for the 10". A few imagers were still going strong, shaming us visual types, but I had to call it a night and catch some sleep. The imagers cheat, it turns out. They program in observation runs and catch a few hours sleep here and there. In fact, at one point three imaging setups were going strong, whirring away whilst their owners were in their tents snoring! :-) Very nice guys though.

Last but not least, seeing many old friends and meeting new ones. That is the real highlight of any good star party. This was my first CalStar, but it won't be my last!


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Re: CalStar 2017
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2017, 09:41:25 PM »
"Plus one new Herschel, NGC 1023 a 10th mag galaxy in Perseus."

Hey Brad, I named myself after that galaxy, serious favorite. Looked at it a bunch of times in a range of telescopes. In Felix, my 11", it's shown long arms and dark lanes around the core, more than once. It has a very bright core, in fact an AGN (active galactic nucleus).

1023 has a satellite partner, 1023A, that I caught once up on the Peak. My gmail account has been ngc1023jd for a long time.

It was fun meeting Ulrike and catching up with you again after all these years.
Jamie, also DDK
TAC - astro anarchy at work <*>