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Topics - DDK

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Found a good peaceful spot well within the totality band, a wide double turnout on hwy 26 NW of Prineville, just on the south edge of the Crooked River Nat'l Grasslands. Good for 1:30 of totality. At 7 am there was me and a young woman who'd slept in her car; there were around 20 of us there by the time things got serious.

Serious indeed. I'm still soaking in what I saw. Rozerman wrote up a succinct report, which more or less captures what I saw - "Temperature drop of 20 degrees. High contrast double shadows of everything. Twisted asymetric Corona. Two naked eye prominences at 12:00 and 3:00. Brilliant diamond ring at 3rd contact."

There were those cool sun crescents all under the trees, those I'd seen before. And like a lot of us, I've read a lot about total solar eclipses all my life. Cripes, the first time I heard about this 2017 eclipse, I was just around 6, 60 years ago!

It did get chilly, I went and put a hoodie on. We were on a rise, so as totality approached, we could see the big shadow of the Moon swoop up along the grasslands from the west. Fwoo. That I'd been told to expect.

But when that last thin stripe of the Sun disappeared, I was completely caught off guard. Instead of that bright Sun that's there even in a big partial, there was a very black round disk where the Sun had just been. Searched for a full day afterward for a descriptor, came up with "fucking arcane." Not believable.

What I saw was a corona close around the Sun, with several spikes at different angles that looked like broad-based diffraction spikes in a telescope. No wonder it got named "crown." Like Wagner, I did note that there weren't the spread-out wings that show in some totals. Off the eastern edge, I did see one extended piece of corona that shimmered.

There was a brilliant prominence at 3 o'clock, that was garnet-colored! And there was another one to 1 o'clock. Those would have been at around 210 and 280 degrees on the sky. And the Sun first reappeared in a very bright point, what Rozer named as that brilliant diamond ring at 3rd contact.

When I first learned, swear 60 years ago, that the next total eclipse in our part of the world would be in 2017, that was scifi future, colonies on the Moon, flying cars. I do remember deciding at the time that I might not have to memorize the date, it might come up.

Like Rozer, I'm glad this is finally done with. Still, it was so completely worth the trip. Thoroughly unforgettable.

Observing Intents / CalStar continues to ride again
« on: July 10, 2017, 10:41:58 PM »
DDK will be there with bells on, Thursday to Sunday. All praise to our glorious and diplomatic Potentate.

Observing Reports / Peak 18 June, outreach night, good and dark
« 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 Reports / 24 May Pinnacles, caught that supernova
« on: June 20, 2017, 09:49:37 PM »
Just want to log that I did get to see the supernova in ngc 6946, sn2017eaw.
Partly to thank Steve Gottlieb for the timely prompt. And partly to go about the wonder of seeing a supernova. This one was showing at about 13.0 magnitude, so not hard to see in a medium-sized scope.

This was from the Pinnacles with Johannes, my 13" Albert Highe-built grab and go scope. Was a nice night, limiting magnitude 6.2, seeing good 4/5. Now here's this thing showing as bright in the scope as several of the foreground stars, which would be in our arm of the Milky Way, a few hundred lightyears away. 6946 is 15 million lightyears away, at least 20,000 times more distant. Throw in the inverse-square law, and you get the idea that one of these things really puts out as much energy as its whole host galaxy.

6946 is a mondo face-on galaxy, always worth the trip, along with its neighbor, 6939, a bright spangly open cluster, some 4,000 lightyears away, just for comparison.

That night I got to see Omega Centauri well above the horizon. It was vast, imposing and overwhelming in the 9mm at 165x.
Also took a downtown Virgo tour. And Jupiter was fancy, with 2 brown barges in the NEB, and a sharp fat GRS with round distince edges.
Had the coyotes and the crickets for company. Good sound field.

Observing Intents / Peak SW lot stargazing!
« on: June 18, 2017, 04:02:26 PM »
Back to the ole well-regarded longtime default spot.

We've had a couple dark nights with good stars and a visible Milky Way here in Salinas. Time to head for the dark hills. Will be there well before sunset.

Observing Intents / Pinnacles for supernova hunting
« on: May 23, 2017, 04:49:19 PM »
Will be at that open lot well by sunset. Just spent a pleasant week in Philly and DC, would yes like to see any stars.
This is tomorrow, Wednesday the 24th.

Observing Reports / New Moon April, Peak and Pinnacles
« on: April 27, 2017, 06:08:03 PM »
Saturday night the 22nd I hit the SW lot at the Peak for observing. Between the Pinnacles and Dinosaur Point, I’d gotten distracted and away from the Peak; last time I was up there was June. This past weekend it was amazingly green everywhere, with lupines blooming across the park.

Got to visit with Derek the cool ranger, with his wife Hali and their two kids, Logan and Penelope. Lovely happy family. Also while hanging out around the Observatory, got to see Ron Dammann and Rob Hawley who are both flourishing to all appearances.

There were campers and astro visitors all over the park, but back at the SW lot it stayed quiet. High clouds played tag with the low fog that comes out of the little valley there around Carmen’s Trail. Did get more than a couple hours of decent skies though, with 5.8 limiting magnitude for a stretch.

Did an eye candy tour, featuring Jupiter with some fancy equatorial bands. The seeing was good enough to let the 4 Galilean moons show little disks. Saw M5 for the first time this year. Stared and gawked at M51, the Leo Trio, caught Cor Caroli and 24 Com for color.

Some time around 11, I had two excellent visitors, this little 6-year old Jack and his mom. Jack got to see Jupiter and M3, and showed off to his mama where the North Star is. Sharp kid.

Then last night, Wednesday, I headed to the Pinnacles for precisely New Moon. There were dense low dark curdly clouds over the whole sky at sunset, stayed that way till 8:50. Looked very skunking-like. A couple stars peeped thru after 9, then the whole sky opened up. For about an hour. Swear it was fun watching those stars come out in the quiet, with crickets and peepers and a low bass wind. Far as I could tell, I had the western half of that entire national park to myself.

Had serious detail on Jupiter, best in a long while. Great Red Spot, all kinds of festoons and curlicues along the main bands.
Still have all kinds of spring galaxies to hunt down. More of this.

Observing Intents / Pinnacles Wednesday night the 26th
« on: April 18, 2017, 05:27:46 PM »
Will be set up by the visitors center. Sure like our new national park.

Observing Intents / SW lot for Saturday fun, yes the 22nd
« on: April 18, 2017, 05:26:02 PM »
Haven't been to the Peak in way too long. Time to hit the old default spot.

TAC Visual / Moon and Aldebaran
« on: March 04, 2017, 06:30:03 PM »
Right now the Moon is in the clear overhead. That occultation is due not long after 7, far as I can discern. I do remember how very cool this looked last time we saw the Moon occult a bright star, both on disappearance and on coming back out.

Observing Reports / Dinosaur Point what a night, 23 February
« on: February 28, 2017, 08:11:46 PM »
Thursday night, 23 February, looked like our best weather window for observing this new moon cycle, 3 of us showed up at Dinosaur Point. Boy were we right. Somehow there was no dew, all the clouds dropped by 8 pm, transparency was at 6.3 limiting magnitude for me, and the seeing was sharp, 5/5, which is rare for Dino.

Peter Natscher brought his snazzy 16”, to which he continues to remain true. Mark McCarthy had his 10” Springsonian comet hunter, just an amazing telescope mechanically and visually. As usual he left his Terminagler in the focuser most of the time, for an actual field of view around 2.5 degrees. For fun, I drove my two-seater del Sol and brought the trusty Orion Ultraview 10x50s with a parallelogram mount. You shoulda seen Peter’s moon eyes when I drove up - “How’d you fit Johannes (my 13) in there?” No packing magic, just brought the 2”.

We swapped views back and forth, along with all manner of banter. Highlights included Peter sketching a little blue planetary, which showed bright color in his scope. If I were a better person I’d remember its name. The picture in McCarthy’s scope that sticks in memory was a sharp view of the Leo Triplet, all in the same eyepiece field and all distinct. M65, M66 and ngc 3628, always interesting.

I spent most of the night scanning around in Monoceros and Canis Major. The winter Milky Way there is endlessly fascinating in any aperture. This time I kept coming back to this big fancy dense open cluster, with other bright ones ranging off to the west. Matching the field on the chart, surprise it was M46, with of course no planetary (2438) superimposed to cinch the ID. M47 right next to it, then 2374 and 2360 looking fancy, within 6’ marching due west.

Jupiter was up high enough by midnight for some oohing and aahing, with all 4 big moons in close, along with the GRS. Here comes Jupiter.
And by 1 am we were packed and rolling. We wore enough layers to stay warm with the temps in the mid-30s.

Here’s to Dinosaur Point, with one more winter season in the bin. And good company.
And here's to TAC. There's reason people call us the hardcore observers. And we're here for the fun!

Looks like Thursday night might be our best weather window this new moon. There are 3 gatekeepers rarin' to go, talk about wretched excess. There's a good chance of fancy starfields, with the sky freshly washed and all. I'll definitely be there before dark.

Waited a bit to let someone else in on the yellow jacket question from Lassen - "Anyone remember the trip with all the Yellow Jackets?"

The reason the yellow jackets came out in force that one year, aside from it being their season, is that was the year we over-advertised the Lassen jaunt and filled up Lost Creek campground. There were many city people there who had no idea of camping - trash and food scattered around everywhere. Saw something unforgettable - one person hadn't liked their dinner, so dumped a potful of stew onto the drain rock under one of the water spigots. The yellow jackets went mad there.

Yes I cleaned that mess up; it might be just as well I never found out who was the culprit.
Under the genius label, that was the year I remembered everything else for a Lassen trip but my shoes. 2007.

Observing Intents / Dinosaur Point Saturday night
« on: January 24, 2017, 07:00:08 PM »
Two nights will be open at Dinosaur Point this week, Thursday the 26th as posted, and Saturday night the 28th as well.
You can see the regs on the Thursday post, if you're new to Dino. Beautiful spot, deep southern horizons, can have very dark skies.

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