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Topics - Peter Natscher

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Equipment Discussions / Cell Phone Supplier Choices
« on: September 12, 2017, 02:54:45 PM »
It's time for me to review my cell phone supplier choice as I'm shopping for a new cell phone.  I've been using AT&Tas a supplier the past five years with poor results (no voice connection) from our more remote observing sites.  Could some of you chime in regarding how well your cell phone voice connections are working from locations such as: GSSP (Adin, CA), CalStar (Lake San Antonio, CA), Panoche (Mercy Hot Springs, CA)?

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TAC Visual / Congrats Mark McCarthy!
« on: August 26, 2017, 07:07:20 PM »
In the September Astronomical League "Reflector", Mark McCarthy is awarded two achievements. One for completing the Herschel II Observing Program as the No. 101 award AND for completing the Planetary Nebula Observing Program and as No. 70.  Congrats Mark!

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TAC Visual / Jupiter Double Shadow Transit, May 25, 2017
« on: May 23, 2017, 06:25:21 PM »
There will be another Jupiter double shadow transit from Europa and Io between 10:50pm and 12:10AM, with Europa leading.

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TAC Visual / Jupiter Double Shadow Transit Tonight, May 18, 2017
« on: May 18, 2017, 12:36:31 PM »
There's going to be a double shadow transit on Jupiter tonight from 8:52pm until 9:40pm.  The shadow's of Io and Europa will be seen traveling westward across Jupiter, with Europa leading.  Brighter moon Io will be transiting westward over the darker North Equatorial Belt if you can pick it out.

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Observing Intents / Observing This Week and Weekend?
« on: May 17, 2017, 11:16:16 AM »
The skies have cleared and I'm planing to observe at a local dark site the next few days.  Initially I would like to get out Thursday and Saturday nights.  Anyone game for one of our choice locations?

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Observing Intents / OI - Fremont Peak -- FPOA Area 4-29-2017
« on: April 28, 2017, 07:59:05 PM »
OI - Fremont Peak FPOA area. Last chance April observing ;)  Wx forecast looks great!  4 day old Moon sets by 11:45pm but there's still darkness after that.

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Observing Reports / Planetaries In Puppis
« on: March 29, 2017, 10:54:04 AM »
The weather was very good Tuesday night for observing a few planetary nebula with my 16" f/4.5 Dob from the FPOA Observatory on Fremont Peak last night, March 28, 2017.  Temperature was in the 50°F range with no dew, 70%RH, and light occasional wind that didn't affect the seeing.  The SQM by 10pm was 20.94. The seeing was very good at 1 arc-sec and transparency good for viewing my target objects positioned at -14°, -18°, -27° declination.I wanted to capture three small and medium size planetaries lying in Puppis before this winter time constellation disappears for another nine months.  Manually located and observed were:

NGC 2438 Puppis; RA 07 41 Dec -14 44; mag 11; 73"x68".
Moderate size circular ring nebula, ghostly grey in appearance with slightly darker center. Nebula easily spotted at 100X. At 350X, ring appeared uneven in brightness. A faint field star positioned at nebula's dark center but not the central star. Northern side of ring appeared brighter. NPB and OIII narrowband filters similarly enhance nebula shape and ring uneveness.

NGC 2452 Puppis; RA 07 47 Dec -27 20; mag 12.2; 31"x24".
Smaller disk shaped nebula among many field stars, grey in color and spotted at 100X. At 350X, uneven in brightness with north and south ends being brighter.

NGC 2440 Puppis; RA 07 41 Dec -18 12; mag 9.4; 74"x42".
Nebula was easily located at 100X as a small grey hazy oval patch with brighter center. With 350X, much detail was seen within the core as two small bright knots (NW-SE orientation) connected by a "U" shaped bridge bending north-westward between the two.  The elongated halo was finely extended at least 80 min in length. Use of NPB and OIII filters both enhanced the core area and halo.

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Observing Intents / Observing Tuesday NIght?
« on: March 27, 2017, 07:45:40 AM »
The weather forecast looks good for Tuesday night at our observing sites.  It’s New Moon on Tuesday!  The Moon sets too late for Friday and the weekend observing.  Anyone interested in getting out to observe Tuesday night?

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TAC Visual / Mars MRO Video
« on: March 21, 2017, 06:57:48 PM »
An inspiring video from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to enjoy during our rainy weather.  View full screen!

https://www.dpreview.com/news/0910986466/real-3d-images-of-mars-make-up-this-video-of-a-simulated-flight-over-the-red-planet

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Observing Intents / OI - Fremont Peak Tuesday 1/17/2017
« on: January 14, 2017, 02:28:25 PM »
I might observe from Fremont Peak, in the SW Lot or the FPOA Observatory gated area on Tuesday night.  I'll watch to see if the Wx remains favorable. Right now (Saturday), the Wx forecast is for clouds and rain Wednesday and through the weekend so Tues. might be the last chance to get out for observing this week.

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I was able to observe for 4+ hours (7-11:30pm) from Pinnacles National Park - West Entrance main parking lot. It was my first visit to Pinnacles West and I concluded that it is a darker site than Fremont Peak with similar driving time of an hour from Monterey. I was using my 16" f/4.5 JP Astrocraft Dob and was observing with Jamie Dillon and Steve Winston.  The night turned out to be very nice for astronomy with pleasant winter conditions: no wind, very good seeing and transparency and slight dew on my paper maps that disappeared by 10pm. By 8:00pm, the temperature bottomed to 40°F and 72% RH but warmed to 45°F/65%RH by 10:30pm.  The SQM read 21.45 at 8pm. The winter Milky Way was sugary in appearance stretching from Cassiopeia overhead and southward through Orion and Canis Major. with dark zones very apparent.

With the favorable sky conditions, I was able to spot to the south the large and very faint galaxy IC 1613 in Cetus, (the dwarf member of the Local Galaxy Group); a beautiful pair of close galaxies NGC 1531/1532 in Eridanus at -32°DEC; NGC 1808 in Columba at -37°DEC, a striking long edge-on galaxy with sharp opposing halo ends and prominent elongated core; and a interesting pair of galaxies very unequal in size NGC 1888/1889 in Lepus.  My best showpiece object shared with visitors who arrived that night was the best open cluster in Auriga - M37.  This large cluster fills the low power eyepiece field of view with countless young bluish-white stars, and interestingly one orange star at its center.  I will definitely return to Pinnacles National Park - West Entrance again for observing, and for daytime hiking!http://smf.observers.org/Smileys/default/wink.gif

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Observing Intents / OI - Dinosaur Point, Thursday, December 1st
« on: November 24, 2016, 12:49:20 PM »
OI for Dinosaur Point next Thursday, December 1st. Four to five of us are planning to be there to kick off the Dino observing season.  Mag 6.2 skies and great southern horizon to catch all those southern fall season galaxies and arriving winter milky way objects.  Dress warmly for forecasted low 40's temperatures by midnight.

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Observing Reports / OR: Fremont Peak, Sunday, May 29, 2016
« on: June 01, 2016, 12:10:34 PM »
Last night (Sunday night, May 29, 2016) from the FPOA area, Mark McCarthy, Dave Cooper and I observed a nice variety of celestial wonders from the three most popular outer planets to galaxies and globular clusters.  The Wx forecast from Weather.com and Clear Sky Clock for the evening was ominous: 100% humidity and dew by 11pm and poor transparency from very high sky moisture. None of this occurred! Instead, we enjoyed warmer and dryer conditions with no dew and very good seeing, no wind and a fairly dark sky reminiscent of fine summertime conditions. I was observing with my 16" JP Astrocraft Dob with tracking. The seeing so good we were able to sharply watch a Io shadow transit on Jupiter, a tack sharp Saturn, and a feature rich Mars at 350X with brighter polar regions, fine darker surface markings and white atmospheric limb haze.  I followed Io's transit across Jupiter's face with its shadow trailing behind.  I was using my bino's for my planetary observing.  I also was able to discern magnitude 14-15 galaxies in Hickson 61 (ComaBern) and 68 (CanesVen) as well as studying the complex Hercules Galaxy Cluster Abell 2151 featured with images by Steve Gottlieb's S&T  July 2016 article. Steve's S&T article with labeled photos were very helpful in finding the many galaxies.  I also was able to see the distant and obscure globular cluster Palomar 5 in Serpens.  A satisfying evening!

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Observing Intents / Fremont Peak Tonight - Sunday May 8, 2016!
« on: May 08, 2016, 09:33:59 AM »
I'm going to try Fremont Peak tonight with my 16" JP Astrocraft dob.  I can do the FPOA area (I have a gate combo number) or the SW Parking lot.  Any takers?

A not so bright 2 day old Moon sets by 10:30pm, sunset by 8pm.  The skies are forecast to be clear enough for observing brighter objects and planetary.  It's the last night to observe deep sky until next new Moon. Maybe Mars will show something so near to its 2-yar opposition.

See you there!
Peter

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The weather break from El Nino to  a week of clear skies in mid-winter and around the new Moon has me excited to get out and observe.  I'm going to Fremont Peak (FPOA area on the Pads) Saturday night and Dino on Sunday.  Perhaps watching the great planetary line-up all week has me stoked.  With Mercury moving west out of the Sun, the five planets are visible in a line all week and now this morning a crescent Moon moves from east from Saturn next to Venus and Mercury.

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