Hello Fellow OCA club members!
It looks like we will have a clear warm night for the Black Star Canyon star party this Saturday, according to the latest weather report. The moon won't rise until after we have cleared out at midnight, along with Jupiter (Mag -2.4). Sunset will be 7:15 pm so I plan to open the gate about 6:45.
Bright (Mag -4.0) Venus (about 105 million miles away) will be up high, about 30 degrees above the western horizon near M45 (Mag 1.2) famous Seven Sisters star cluster Pleiades (380 Light years distance) as the sun sets. Venus will be about 75% illuminated Saturday evening on it's way to 68% by month end while (Mag 0.3) Saturn (about 814 million miles from Earth) will be up high all night long. Moon Triton (Mag 8.6) and moon Rhea (Mag 10.0) will be to the East of Saturn while the other three less bright moons will be to the West very nearby the planet.
Comet Petriew (Mag 8) rounds the sun every 3.3 years and can be seen in Aries in the vicinity of Venus an hour after sunset. Try and find it now as it will not be possible after April 15th when it dives toward the sun. Asteroid 11 Parthenope (Mag 10.3) passes through Virgo near bright star Xi Virginis Saturday and in a few days (The 9th) will occult star HIP57258 (Mag 9) for a few seconds in some locations. The ISS (Mag 0.4) will become visible at 10 degrees SSW at 8:31:34 pm and pass overhead 26 degrees South dropping out of sight at 08:33:07.
This month lets try to find galaxies around the Big Dipper like (Mag 7.7) M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy) which is at the point of an equilateral triangle with handle stars Alkaid and Mizar. How about (Mag 8.1) M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy) which forms a right triangle with stars Alkaid and Mizar on the inside of the dipper handle. Spiral Galaxy (Mag 9.8) M109 can be found a moon's width from Mag 2 big dipper bottom bowl star Phad. We might even find spiral galaxy (Mag 10.0) M108 just 1 1/2 degrees from bottom bowl star Merak (Mag 2).
Although it will start off warm, don't forget to bring sweaters and coats to put on after the sun goes down. We had 26 cars out last month so come early to get a good spot. It won't get real dark until 8 pm which will leave us just 4 hours of viewing until we close at midnight.
Your OCA star party host,