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Observing Intents / Re: Santa Cruz Astronomy Club at Pinnacles West
« Last post by DDK on June 29, 2017, 10:09:20 PM »
Hey Wags. The west side of the Pinnacles is 45 minutes from Salinas, so you can do your arithmetic from there. Sure you pay the national parks entrance fee. No one is figuring on staying till morning. But you know, the rangers there are very relaxed.

That night you could go to the SJAA starparty on the east side of the park off of hwy 25, only they won't let you bring a telescope. It's a thing, will take me still longer to get my head around that.
Observing Intents / TAC members in my area
« Last post by Stardust Dave on June 29, 2017, 07:01:56 PM »
Hello members.
Id like to say hello and be active on this forum. :)
Do we have any fellow TAC members in my area ? - (the greater Clearlake area.)
That would include as far North as Ukiah, & the lakeside communities close to or around CLK
Would include Hidden Valley Lake ,Middletown,Cobb ,Lower and Upper Lake ,Lucerne...Clearlake Oaks,Spring Valley.
Having seen some reports referencing Bear Vally and Mendocino National Forest, so some of you had been out there before -both of those locations are very close to me.
Id been to Lake Sonoma about 10 years ago ,thats about 1hour 30 minutes SW of my location.

Thanks TAC ,
Observing Intents / Re: Santa Cruz Astronomy Club at Pinnacles West
« Last post by Mark on June 29, 2017, 10:38:46 AM »
I will be in the south bay instead of Pacifica, so am possibly interested in this trip.  Google Maps says its 1hr30m - 1h50m drive early Sunday which is much like like times for Willow Springs.  Is there an entrance fee coming in late afternoon/evening time frame, and are Santa Cruz folks staying till morning?


Observing Reports / Legitimate Peak observations
« Last post by mccarthymark on June 28, 2017, 10:50:10 PM »
So, to prove I was doing more than just seeing weird things in the sky last Friday night, here’s some of the other observations.  I did mostly free-range observing, just picking an area of the sky and finding what I could from my chart.  Starting out with various DSOs around Vega:

MCG+6-41-6: Small, very faint, slightly elongated with an irregularly bright core. [14.6B, 0.667” x 0.560”, 370mly]

NGC 6685: Very faint, small, stellar nucleus, slightly elongated N-S.  With IC 4772 to the north, extremely faint, round and very small.

NGC 6675: Moderately large and bright, brightens with averted vision, especially the central part.  No distinct core or nucleus.  Oval with diffuse edges.  3-2 NW-SE.

NGC 6663: Very faint, irregularly bright, irregularly shaped oval patch.  Near STT 356.

NGC 6646: Moderately large, fairly bright, round-to-oval, brightens with averted vision.  IC 1288 to NE, small elongated 3:1 N-S, brighter in middle.

UGC 11228: Just stellar nucleus and very small faint oval halo [LINEAR type active galaxy nucleus. 14.5B, 1.013”x0.689, 265 mly]

NGC 6703 & 6702: 6703 is Brighter, with bright core and diffuse halo, mostly round -- spiral? in an arc of stars.  6701 is smaller, fainter, round, with a brighter core and elongated halo with averted vision.

NGC 6711: Fairly faint, need averted vision to notice it.  Small. Seems to have two brightenings in the diffuse oval halo SE-NW.  -- it's a face on spiral which accounts for the brightening -- these are the arms.

UGC 11376: Very faint, averted vision needed; small oval glow. [14.3B, 0.84”x0.386” 299 mly]

NGC 6742: PN.  Fairly uniform small smoke orb, a little brighter on the south side.  No central star.  A little better with OIII, 205x

NGC 6732-1 & -2: Two glows.  One to south (-1) is brighter and slightly elongated W-E; other is faint and very diffuse, no core.

Watson 2, open cluster: Seen as a small star clump in the 80mm finder.  In the scope it is a poor group a half a degree large.  Seems a double is in the middle of a group of stars forming a square and some others scattered, all similar brightness and no nebulosity.  Orange star makes the SW corner of the square.  Not listed in Archinal's Star Clusters book

STF 2368: Near equal white, close, ~1.5".  Hair split at 205x, clean at 333x.  To SSE is a faint green-blue star further south. P.A. 320 SEP 1.9 MAG 7.63,7.77

UGC 11292: Extremely faint small glow with star superimposed; oval very diffuse. [14.3B, 0.7” x 0.47”, 379 mly]

UGC 11202: Excessively faint glow, small oval with some stars involved. [14.4B, 1.103”x1.015”. 361 mly]

HU 674: Split with seeing at 333x, near equal white. (!! 0.47", my first double under 0.5" separation, woohoo!) P.A. 208.6 SEP 0.47 MAG 7.68,8.63

After a break I went to Gamma Cygni and have a look around, using the detail star chart in Interstellarum.  A number of very close pairs, and some exotic planetary nebulae.

STF 2606: Close pair 2 delta mag. 333x (!! AB 0.67") P.A. 146.6 SEP 0.67 MAG 7.74,8.43

KjPn 1: PN. Stellar, blinks strongly with OIII.   333x

KjPn 2: PN.  Nearly stellar, blinked with OIII as a bloated green star. 333x

KjPn 3: PN.  Stellar, green with OIII and blinks slowly, very small disk 333x

STF 2663: ~5" equal magnitude white [AB seen, there are 5 visible; P.A. 324 SEP 5.4 MAG 8.2,8.66].  There is another double to the south!!  A very beautiful & delicate pair, dull orange and dull yellow, 3 delta mag, ~3".   Frustratingly I can't find it in Aladin... Does not seem to be part of the STF system

Kro 76: Plotted as an open cluster, but is it just a double?  Orange and very faint 4 delta mag B, PA to the south, ~2-3", plus another extremely faint star due west about 6"

NGC 6874: Large open cluster, fills half degree field, generally triangular shaped, rather rich with a wide range of brightness.  Nice.

And then I came to STF 2609, and the weirdness set in…
Observing Reports / Peak 18 June, outreach night, good and dark
« Last post by DDK on June 28, 2017, 09:20:09 PM »
Sunday night the 18th was fun at the SW lot. Turned out to be primarily for outreach, in a good way. There were plenty of stars, around 6.0 LM thru most of the night, with seeing at least good, 4/5, occasionally going to excellent.

Just after sunset, the two other cars in the lot had their occupants amble down off the Peak, a couple and a family. They were all thrilled and intrigued to be looking at Saturn and Jupiter and their moons. Just can’t miss with Saturn.

The SW lot is good for genial visitors. Around 10, this young woman showed up, whom David the weekend ranger had sent along from the main lot, “Yeah, there’s this guy up there with a telescope, he seems very friendly.” The kid went to the high school where Jo taught for 23 years, knows several of Jo’s buddies. She stuck around till 1 am, was fascinated with the sky and got the cook’s tour.

Reminded me of when Stacy Jo McDermott started showing up. She mentioned all these guys on dark hilltops, way out of town, being polite and reliably respectful. That’s us TACos.

For the person with the telescope, Saturn showed off 5 and maybe 6 moons. Titan, Rhea, Dione, Tethys and Encedalus were all there. Hyperion was where it was charted on my little Saturn phone app, but there were other candidates also in the same area.

There were a bunch of meteors after 1 am in the east of Pegasus, along what was the bottom edge of the Great Square. Two were bright and head-on, one of those had a double flash. At least 7 bright brief ones. Don’t know of a meteor shower that was happening that night, but they sure showed a pattern.

It was warm all night, around 70F. A screech owl was making good music. Looked at 7331 and M31 and friends for dessert before packing up.
Wasn’t able to get out last weekend, so am very glad to have gotten out to the Peak last Sunday week. It was a fun dark night.
Observing Intents / Re: Santa Cruz Astronomy Club at Pinnacles West
« Last post by DDK on June 28, 2017, 08:16:32 PM »
DDK will be there with bells on, and with a telescope!
Observing Sites / Pinnacles
« Last post by John Pierce 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.
Observing Intents / 2017-07-22 - Santa Cruz Astronomy Club at Pinnacles West
« Last post by John Pierce on June 28, 2017, 02:20:18 PM »
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.
Observing Reports / Re: Observing from the South Coast Ridge trail - 6/24
« Last post by DDK on June 27, 2017, 08:35:53 PM »
Jeff Blanchard discovered Prewitt Ridge for observing, over 18 years ago. He's an old surfer and swore anyone he showed the place to secrecy. I've been there twice, once with just Jeff and me, once with Jeff, Jon Ruyle, Albert Highe and James Turley. It's pretty much the hell and gone into the Santa Lucias, in terms of the road - hafta to be in coastal California for the Ridge to be filled up!

Pierce is right about the road, it's yes 8 miles from the pavement, narrow basic dirt with cliff on one side and precipice on the other, and often a shitty road surface. Bring your own water, dig a hole. Not a place I'd send city boys. And I absolutely would not go there without a buddy (can you tell I was a longtime Scout leader?). Twist an ankle when no one else is up there and be found much later.

That said, Steve's got it about the skies. Spring and fall are best to miss the winds there.
TAC Visual / Re: Advice needed for Pinnacles East
« Last post by DDK on June 27, 2017, 08:20:45 PM »
Where Jeff went is way past the campground. Bear Gulch is at the parking lot for one of the main trailheads, at the end of the road.
Glad you had a fun night, Jeff!
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