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Observing Intents / Re: Observing at Montebello on Wed July 19
« Last post by Mark on July 18, 2017, 09:20:31 AM »
There looks to be one of the largest crowds complete with a few special guest TACos  heading up to Montebello this Wed.
This just may be an epic get together for good old Montebello gravel crunchin astro fun

Thanks to Marco for announcing this week's Montebello here on TAC.  I'm in, either with my 10" or 18".

This site is an original TAC hangout, where beginners get to meet more experienced observers, check out equipment, and enjoy a night under darker suburban skies close to home.  Casey Fukuda has gathered the gang at Montebello Open Space Preserve ( ongoing for years now, and James Turley's been keeper of the flame (our group permit for Wednesday nights) for over 15 years - thanks to them both for keeping this a vibrant astro-site!

This event is highly recommended for any and all who are interested or curious.  Big globulars, great double stars, Summer Milky Way rising full of visual treats.  If we're lucky enough, fog will mute the bay area lights.

Bring warm clothes just in case, red flashlight or cover a regular flashlight with shopping bag paper (so you can see in the bathroom).  Arrive before dark as the parking lot gate will be closed once its dark (sunset 8:30).  We'll help people drive out when you want to leave.

I've returned to Montebello after an almost 8 year absence - can't wait - see you there!


Dan Wilkins, KIPAC (Stanford/SLAC)
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at 7:30 PM

Panofsky Auditorium
Science and User Support Building (BLDG 53)

Black holes are some of the most exotic and extreme objects in the universe. Though they sound like the stuff of science fiction, they are real and much more common than you might think.  Every galaxy has a black hole lurking at its center!  Also, these black holes are not actually black, because matter falling into black holes liberates energy that can power some of the brightest objects we see in the night sky. In this lecture you will find out exactly what a black hole is, how we can find them, and how they can flare intensely — giving rise to impressive firework displays and launching vast jets of plasma at close to the speed of light.

Dan Wilkins is an astrophysicist in the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University and SLAC.  He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2013.  He held a postdoctoral position in Halifax, Nova Scotia, under a fellowship from the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. In 2016, he joined KIPAC as an NASA-supported Einstein Fellow. Wilkins works on both observational and theoretical aspects of black hole physics. He is a member of teams at NASA and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) that are developing next-generation X-ray observatories to study energetic cosmic sources powered by black holes.

Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis

We will also be streaming the lecture live on our Facebook page a few minutes before the start time.
Observing Intents / Lake Sonoma Monday July 24?
« Last post by dnsmiley on July 18, 2017, 06:23:25 AM »
Hi, I'm considering observing at Lake Sonoma for the first time Monday July 24, wondering if anyone else might want to come. It sounds like a nice site, my only concern is driving home late to Mill Valley since there is no overnight access. If anyone knows a decent observing site closer to Marin county, would appreciate hearing about it.

Is San Francisco ready for another night of space spectaularness? Astronomy on Tap San Francisco is back for the summer, and it’s one you won’t want to miss! Come to DNA Lounge on Tuesday, July 25th for another night of talks from local scientists, Astronomy in the News, trivia and prizes! This month’s event will feature Dr. Daniel Gruen, an expert on weak lensing, Dr. Christina Hedges, a scientist working on exoplanet detection, and Ben Westbrook, who will share “The History of the Universe through the History of Man!” SETI scientist Franck Marchis will also describe the Laser SETI project and its fundraising campaign. We’ll also be telling you everything you need to know for this summer’s upcoming solar eclipse, and handing out free eclipse glasses! Doors open at 6:30 and the event starts at 7:30. For updates, follow our twitter and our event on facebook! Remember, space is always better with beer!
Observing Intents / Observing at Montebello on Wed July 19
« Last post by Marko on July 17, 2017, 04:38:07 PM »
There looks to be one of the largest crowds complete with a few special guest TACos  heading up to Montebello this Wed.
This just may be an epic get together for good old Montebello gravel crunchin astro fun

Thanks to Casey for his continued efforts in keeping Montebello Wed events going.  I am but a messenger to this board.

Montebello is not the darkest of sites but it certainly is quite convenient and wonderful for summer with the center of our galaxy due south in the darkest part of the Montebello skies.

There is an active TACo permit going on so you don't need to have any special clearance from the Open Space Preserve for this gathering.

Observing Reports / Two Very Different Nights At Lick Observatory
« Last post by Mark on July 16, 2017, 09:50:25 AM »
I had a terrific time at Lick Observatory over the weekend. Friday night we had very clear steady skies and a great lineup of telescopes.  Eric Z. was showing Jupiter in daylight to the early arrivers in his AP 155.  Al Howard had an identical scope, Kurt Kuhlman brought a C14 Fastar, I had my 18" Obsession, and a relative beginner and his son who had just attended GSSP a 10-inch SCT. As the sky darkened Saturn was rock steady and commanded views in most telescopes. I showed it briefly and moved on to some interesting double stars, settling on Albireo (which voice recognition wants to call El Burrito), explaining the idea of binary stars and what the colors mean to the public.  After some time people moved on to the big globular clusters and in a few cases M51. I eventually began showing the Neil Nebula, Witches Broom section, which with an OIII filter glowed as a subtle neon blue-gray tube extending away from 52 Cygni, which I kept at the edge of the field of you as a reference point to describe the object and help first-timers see it. It was really a fine night with shirt sleeve conditions all night. I spent the night in the Rec Hall as I was staying for Saturday as well.

Saturday was hot and cloudy, not a good combination. I set up my telescope after watching the others who had arrived do the same. Eric was back, as was Marek Cichanski (voice recognition kitchen ski), who brought his 18' Obsession once owned by Michelle Stone, who sold it to me, for my daughter Mimi to use, eventually selling it to Marek. I didn't look through my telescope once Saturday night due to conditions. But the company was great! We also were treated to a spectacular sunset as well as seeing some very unusual mammatus clouds over the observatory. Here are photos of both the clouds and tremendous sunset. The photo is from Rick Baldridge, whose shot turned out better than mine. I sat outside the observatory doors which were open to keep things cool and listened to the Grammy award-winning duo of Tingstad and Rumbel, guitarist and wind instrument players.  I loved the tune Chaco (, hearing the alto and tenor clarinet, and sweet potato.  Great setting for a concert.

All in all volunteering at Lick Observatory is a fun way to spend a weekend. I did it last month and I'll spend two nights there again in August.

Next up will be a Wednesday trip to Montebello for observing then to the Pinnacles on Saturday for some Dark Skies. Hope to see other observers out this week.

Clear skies,

Observing Intents / Observing at the White Mountains - week of July 17th
« Last post by sgottlieb on July 15, 2017, 12:16:45 PM »
I plan to observe this upcoming week (July 18-22?), along with several other northern and southern California amateurs, at Grandview Campground at 8500 feet in the Pinyon Juniper slopes of the White Mountains, just a half hour paved drive from Big Pine into the Inyo National Forest.  It's roughly a 7 hour drive from Berkeley, but the skies can be magnificent.

If you're interested in more info, contact me at <astrogottlieb at gmail dot com>.

TAC Visual / Moon and Grav Wave Lecture
« Last post by mpacker on July 13, 2017, 09:30:26 PM »
1st here's the scoop on lecture:
Gravitational Waves from Astronomical Objects: Theory to Observation
Brett Shapiro
Please join us for the July Café Scientifique event on Thursday July 20th from 5-7pm at HanaHaus in Palo Alto (456 University Ave).  We'll be having a conversation about gravitational waves with Brett Shapiro of Stanford University.
If you are interested in attending please register online here:

Finally - welcome to "light side" Mark and nice image. Binoviewers give my setup away and I updated my Study the Moon pages with data to 2018:

Mag -26.74 Michael
Observing Intents / Re: TAC members in my area
« Last post by John Pierce 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
« Last post by John Pierce 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

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