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Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by Mark on April 04, 2017, 10:12:14 AM »
4 nights is great.  I am curious, why not 9/16 start, depart 9/20 - putting the event starting between 3rdQ and NM, with more dark each night?  As is, every night the young moon is up later through the event.

The only real risk is, earlier in Sept means potential for hotter days.  I'm going to do my best to make it this year.  Lots of people I haven't seen in ages.
Observing Reports / Springtime galaxies ...finally!
« Last post by sgottlieb on April 03, 2017, 06:35:12 PM »
Last Tuesday (March 28th), with the new moon observing window starting to close, Mark McCarthy and I observed at Kevin Ritschel's ranch in the hills southeast of Hollister (Willow Springs).  The drive south from Berkeley in the afternoon was pretty brutal due to accidents and slowdowns and the usual 2 ½ drive took me an extra hour.  Still, I arrived about an hour before sunset and had plenty of time to set up my 24-inch and eat dinner while it was getting dark.  Mark arrived about a half hour after me and set up his 20-inch before I was finished.

About a half hour after sunset I started scanning in the west looking for Mercury but instead noticed an extremely thin arc, nearly lost in some low clouds and haze along the western horizon -- it was the crescent moon just 25 hours old!  Quite an exquisitely thin sight and totally unexpected.  About 15 minutes later I found Mercury, which was surprisingly bright and high -- both of us were initially unsure it was Mercury as it was so (relatively) high in the west.  But a quick look in Mark's scope (just a non stellar "blob") confirmed it was Mercury.  Turns out it was close to its maximum elongation (about 10° when we viewed it).

By 9:00 it was fully dark, but we could see some illuminated clouds along the western horizon and northern horizons.  Mark measured an SQM reading of only 21.2 or so (subpar for this site), but I believe it hit 21.5 or 21.6 sometime after midnight.  Early on we took a peek at comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak near the Ursa Major/Draco border in Mark's scope.  This relatively bright and large comet seemed around 8th magnitude and contained a very prominent nucleus.  I also took a quick look at the planetaries NGC 2438 in M46 (Puppis) as well as NGC 2818A in the cluster NGC 2818 (Pyxis).  Neither of these planetaries are physically associated with the associated cluster.

I worked on three different programs in the evening -- each for a couple of hours.  First up was a number of IC galaxies in Gemini, Cancer, Canis Minor and Hydra.   The middle part of the evening was a survey of the central region of Hydra I galaxy cluster, which includes NGCs 3285, 3305, 3307, 3308, 3309, 3311, 3312, 3314, 3315 and 3316.  I took notes on 19 galaxies for a planned article in Sky & Tel next spring.  The cluster is a near twin of the downtown section of the Virgo cluster -- just 3 times as distant!  Late at night I focussed on a number of new (for me) Arp galaxies.  All in all, about 50 objects were viewed over 7 ½ hours.

One interesting galaxy was NGC 3067 in Leo, about 70 million l.y. distant.  The galaxy itself had lots of subtle structure -- logged as fairly bright, moderately large, elongated 5:2 WNW-ESE, mottled elongated central section with a sharp light cut-off (dust lane) on the northern flank.  The eastern end of the galaxy has a lower surface brightness, probably due to dust.  A very faint 16th magnitude star was easily visible 2' north.

This unassuming star is actually a super-luminous quasar (3C 232) at a distance of 5 billion light years and involved in one of Halton Arp's controversies.  A neutral Hydrogen "bridge" appears to connect the quasar and NGC 3067.  Arp proposed the QSR was ejected from NGC 3067, a theory which was rejected by mainstream astronomers.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by DDK on April 01, 2017, 12:13:12 AM »
4 nights, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Last year a small set of folks stayed Sunday night, that might be an option this year. Might. Maybe. New Moon is on the Tuesday night.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by gdjsky01 on March 31, 2017, 04:43:59 PM »
Does that mean
3 nights or does the 24th count (aka 4 nights)?
TAC Astro Classifieds / For Sale: HighPower 5x Barlow Lens 1.25"
« Last post by ldsheridan on March 31, 2017, 12:33:04 PM »
Hello all.  I bought my first telescope last year and mistakenly bought this 5x Barlow 1.25" which turned out to be way over-powered for my 8" Dobson. I paid $150 at Orion for it and wish to sell it for $100. I live in San Francisco in SOMA.

Not being aware of needing different eyepieces I only have the 25mm that came with the scope. Obviously I was disappointed viewing planets as tiny dots, but now know I need other eyepieces. Am willing to trade the Barlow for an eyepiece/eyepieces which will give me a much better view of the planets or possibly deeper space objects.


Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by John Pierce on March 30, 2017, 03:04:08 PM »
gotta say, those *were* some of the funkiest and most beat up portapotties I've ever seen.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by Mark on March 30, 2017, 02:39:57 PM »
Are there people here who miss the outhouse rides?
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by John Pierce on March 30, 2017, 02:12:45 PM »
k... I was just curious.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by CharlieWicks on March 30, 2017, 09:09:58 AM »
The official closing date for LSA is still one week before our event, so we need to use Whisper Canyon. That date may change, but we need to get a firm commitment from the park that we can actually hold the event before we can plan on going back, and at this point they're unwilling to commit to anything.
Observing Reports / Re: Planetaries In Puppis
« Last post by DDK on March 30, 2017, 12:03:01 AM »
2818 and 2818a, where the cluster is diffuse enough it's smarter to hunt for the planetary.
For a longish time as I know you know, astronomers scratched their heads over that pair of objects, as it appeared that the PN really was imbedded in the cluster. Serious problem, stars still in an open cluster are way too young to form planetary nebulae. Took years of careful astrometry to show that 2818a is in the foreground.
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