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Messages - John Pierce

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TAC Visual / Re: An observation about observation.
« on: July 26, 2017, 02:29:56 PM »
I was chalking the incredible views of the Veil up to the 30mm 82 deg. eyepiece (6mm exit pupil, 85X, ~1 deg. actual FOV) and NPB filter, neither of which I'd used before ... but yeah, the seeing and transparency in that part of the sky was stunning.

Observing Reports / Re: The Pinnacle of Dark Skies
« on: July 25, 2017, 04:32:51 PM »
yeah, a bunch of us noticed that really warm air current around midnight or 1am, and I do think things deteriorated after that ....  I reverted to lower power things after that, and  about 1:30 or 2 I'd had enough and packed it in as Sunday was my wife's birthday and she wanted to go somewhere like SF for the day and if I'd come home at dawn, that wasn't going to happen.  as it was, getting home at 3am was bad enough.

Observing Reports / Re: Pinnacles West with SCAC
« on: July 24, 2017, 01:12:34 PM »
I was going to look for galaxies over in the northwest part of the sky, and started at the Whirlpool (m51) and found the contrast too low to bother trying to find fainter stuff lower down.  this was around 10 pm, it was at least 45 degrees up in the sky.

Yeah, the ISS pass was awesome.  I missed the first one that was south to east, but certainly caught the 2nd that was west to north.

one of these days I want to try and catch the MODIS satellites, either Aqua or Terra, these are polar earth measurement satellites that are each part of a train of a dozen other measurement satellites.   they aren't terribly bright but it would be fun to try and 'catch the train' in a wide field eyepiece.

Observing Reports / Re: Pinnacles West with SCAC
« on: July 23, 2017, 12:09:17 PM »
oh, one guy told me he counted at least 16 telescopes in the westside visitor center parking area around twilight.  he didn't count people.    several of the old TAC gang were there, as well as a goodly number of SCAC folks.

Observing Reports / Pinnacles West with SCAC
« on: July 23, 2017, 04:59:17 AM »
awesome night tongiht at Pinnacles West.

I had the club's 20" Obsession, and my pelican case of nearly complete set of ES 82 wide eyepieces (I don't have the 11mm).   I was especially interested in evaluating a borrowed DGM NPB 'nebula' filter, and wow, that was some fun stuff...    the veil was WAY brighter and had WAY more detail with my ES 30mm and the NPB than I've ever seen with O-III filters.

I've *never* see the Triffid look so awesome.  Ditto Lagoon/M8.   I tried pulling big power on the Dumbell M27 again like I had at GSSP, but the seeing was pretty sketchy much above 290X, and even at 290X it wasn't as detailed as it was at this year's GSSP.

The north/western quadrant of the sky sucked a bit with light pollution from the salinas valley and/or BA, so I spent more time in the south and northeast.    Saw some cool new things I'd never looked for before... Fireworks Galaxy NGC 6946 (flat on spiral, faint but distinct).   Iris Nebula NGC 7023 (faint bright nebula around a fairly bright star).   Tried various powers on the Catseye planetary near Sadr, again, much over 290X was kind of mushy.  at 290X, the central star was fairly distinct.

I'm forgetting what else I wandered around. 

Again, anyone is welcome to join us SCAC goobers on the wild west side, and bring a scope if they want, there's plenty of room.

Observing Intents / Re: TAC members in my area
« on: July 13, 2017, 04:05:51 PM »
A former President of the SCAC (Santa Cruz) now lives just east of Sacatomatoes, and is active with the SVAS (I think that's their name?), and yes, goes to Blue Canyon regularly.

TAC Visual / Re: Mark Loves The Moon
« on: July 13, 2017, 04:00:47 PM »
I've got a 2" moon filter on order to go with my 18mm 82* wide ... does that answer your question?  :-p

NGC/IC Project / Re: Observing List Generator not working?
« on: July 12, 2017, 09:00:19 AM »
We were only able to restore 'static content' from the Wayback Machine... all of the server-side scripts are lost and will need to be recreated.

Rants and Off Topic / Re: Juno GRS images?
« on: July 11, 2017, 08:54:26 AM »
NASA site says around July 14th.  But of course, now I can't find the page with that date on it :-/

Annual Star Parties / CalStar 2017
« on: July 03, 2017, 11:22:08 PM »
Looks like the dates have been set for CalStar 2017, its September 20-24, at Whisper Canyon again, in South Monterey County...

Full details:

Observing Intents / Re: Santa Cruz Astronomy Club at Pinnacles West
« on: June 30, 2017, 04:37:08 PM »
note those permanent senior passes go up to like $80 on august 1st.   my wife turns 63 on July 23rd, so we've got to figure out how to get somewhere where we can buy it within the next week.

Observing Sites / Pinnacles
« on: June 28, 2017, 02:55:13 PM »
dunno why this wasn't listed before!

Pinnacles is a National Park.    visitors, including astronomers, must pay day use fees (unless you have a national park pass).   West side entrance has an automatic gate that closes to incoming traffic at 8pm, but allows leaving at any time.  is a handy map for the whole park.

setup areas on west side include the parking lot near the Visitors Center, as well as the Chaparral Trailhead at the end of the road.

GPS Coordinates of Visitor Center Parking:  36.478425,-121.2276078    access is from Soledad on highway 101, take state route 146 to the park.

East Side has steep ridges on both sides of entrance, there is, however, a campground (privately operated park concession), which requires reservations.  Campground itself is rather sandy, but there's a few places to setup telescopes in the parking lots farther up, specifically the Bear Gulch parking lot and trailhead.

SCAC is planning on going to Pinnacles West on July 22 for a star party...   As usual, anyone else who wants to show up is welcome.   I believe the entrance gate auto-locks at 8pm, so be sure to arrive well before that... the gate will allow exiting at any time.    I'm not quite sure where we're going to setup, probably in the main parking lot near the Visitors Center.

minor nit.... 'single track' refers to hiking/motorcycle trails, too narrow for a car/truck/jeep..    south coast ridge and prewitt ridge road are 'double track' roads, one lane with pullouts for passing.

the condition of these roads varies wildly with the season and weather...   at times they can be serious 4x4 only, at other times, you could take a subcompact car over them.   they are considered completely impassable when wet (even if the weather has cleared, the roads can stay muddy for weeks)

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