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Saturday 04/06/2013 Black Star Canyon star party
By: Steve & Bonnie Short
April 3, 2013 7:12AM PDT
Views: 2077


BSC Star Party notice - Saturday April 6th, 2013

 

Hello Fellow OCA club members!

 

This Saturday, I plan to open the gate around 6:45 pm, which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday indicates that Orange County will be partly cloudy with humidity at 50%.  So with all the bad weather we have had lately, you might want to keep an eye on the OCA website “Home” page (below the next speaker info) where I will post a notice should the star party be cancelled for any reason.

 

We should have fairly dark skies as it is just 4 days after the 3rd quarter Moon , so it doesn’t rise until late. First time visitors might want to get to the star party site while it is still light so they can find their way down the dirt road and into the parking area. Remember that you take the 2nd farm gate on the left after turning on Black Star Canyon Road (the 1st farm gate is the Xmas Tree farm). If you come in after dark, you should drive in with your headlights off!!! The dirt road will be marked with red flashers and you can hold a flashlight out the driver’s window to light up the road directly in front of your car.

 

Warning:  No Pets allowed!  (This is an OC Parks and Nature Conservancy rule).

 

Satellites:

  The ISS (International Space Station) will make two visible passes this Saturday evening. The first pass will be a magnitude -2.5 starting at 7:59:28 pm 10 degrees high SSW rising to 30 degrees SE at 8:02:23 and then dropping to 12 degrees ENE at 8:04:58. The second pass will be a magnitude -0.4 starting at 9:36:24 pm 10 degrees high W rising to 18 degrees WNW at 9:37:51 where it will fade out of sight.

  The HST (Hubble Space Telescope) will also make one visible evening magnitude 2.7 pass starting at 9:14:50 10 degrees high WSW rising to 22 degrees SW at 9:17:18 where it will fade out of sight.

  We won’t get to see any Iridium flares Saturday evening at BSC but I am sure we will see a few dim satellites pass overhead as we are looking up in the sky.

 

Planets & Pluto:

~Mercury, (Mag 0.4) sets about 4:30 pm in constellation Aquarius so will not be seen the BSC star party. Mercury will be about 86 million miles from Earth Saturday and could be seen early mornings after it rises about 4:30 am.

~Venus, (Mag -3.8) will not be seen Saturday evening as it sets just after 6 pm in constellation Pisces. Venus is now about 160 million miles from Earth and is too close to the Sun to be seen in April.

~Mars, (Mag 1.3) is now in Constellation Pisces, so is too close to the Suns glare to be seen this month. It rises at 6:15 am and sets at 6:15 pm and is about 225 million miles away right now.

~Jupiter, (Mag -1.9) will rise about 10 am Saturday in constellation Taurus and will not set until almost 10 pm. Jupiter lies inside the Taurus Bull “V” and is the brightest object in the sky. It now is about 516 million miles from Earth getting a little further every day with a diameter of about 36”. When it gets dark Saturday evening, moon Callisto will be far east of Jupiter while Ganymede and Europa will be next to each other and about 3 planet widths east of the big planet. Only moon Io will be west of Jupiter. As the hours pass and approach midnight, Ganymede and Europa will stay together and move closer to the big planet.

~Saturn, (Mag 0.8) will be in constellation Libra this Saturday so can be seen   Saturday evening after it rises about 7:45pm. This planet is about 830 million miles away slowly moving closer to Earth. Saturn doesn’t set until 7:45 am. The 5 major moons should be visible starting off with Titan north of the planet and all the other moons below the planet. Dione will be farthest east with Tethys next followed by Enceladus just west of the rings followed by Rhea.

~ Uranus, (Mag 5.9) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening setting about 5:45 pm. It shows up as a small 3.6” blue-green disc in a telescope but we won’t be able to see it Saturday evening. Uranus is now a morning object rising at 5:45 am. It is about 1.960 billion miles from Earth.

~ Neptune, (Mag 8.0) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.860 billion miles away this week slowly moving closer to Earth. It is seen as a bluish gray 2.3” disc in a telescope. We will not be able to see it at BSC this Saturday evening as it sets about 3:30 pm. It rises just after 3:30 am so can be seen in the early morning sky.

 ~ Pluto, (Mag 14.1) does not rise until midnight so can not be seen Saturday evening.  It is 3.010 billion miles from Earth in constellation Sagittarius. Since it is so dim, you will need a 10” or larger telescope to see it visually when it does rise.

-------

Meteors/Comets/Asteroids:

The Lyrid meteor shower peaks in the early morning hours April 22nd but we usually see a few stray meteors during a Saturday evening BSC star party.

Brightest visible Comets:

This month it is hoped that Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) may brighten to a magnitude 5 when it passes a few degrees from the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). This comet will be only 2 degrees from M31 Saturday evening so should be easy to find, even with binoculars. It will be 123 million miles from Earth Saturday evening. The April 2013 Astronomy magazine shows this comet’s path on page 42.

 

Brightest visible asteroids:

 

Bright asteroids Ceres and Vesta are in Taurus the Bull this month so can be seen Saturday evening.

 

Minor Planet 4 Vesta (Mag 8.3), the 2nd most massive object in the asteroid belt, can be found in constellation Taurus, at the open end of the “V”.  Vesta has a diameter of about 330 miles and was discovered in 1807. It is about 254 million miles from Earth at this time and has an orbit period of 3.63 years. It will become visible shortly after sunset so might be seen at the BSC star party. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was in orbit around this asteroid and sent back stunning close-up pictures.

 

Minor Planet 1 Ceres (Mag 8.6) is the biggest object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of about 590 miles. It is in constellation Taurus and can be found about 5 degrees past the open “V” of the horns like it had been shot out of the horns. It is about 248 million miles from Earth now and has a period of 4.61 years. It was discovered in 1801 and for 50 years was classified as the 8th planet. It will be visible Saturday evening shortly after sunset so might be seen at the BSC star party. But don’t expect to see anything more than a small dot. This asteroid will be the next stop for the Dawn spacecraft.

 

Deep Sky:

This month let’s consider looking at some of the galaxies under the hind quarter of Leo the Lion:

 

M65 is a magnitude 9.3 spiral galaxy in constellation Leo. It is about 29 million light years away and is 84,000 light years in diameter. You can find it about 2.5 degrees below 3rd magnitude star Chertan in Leo. This spiral galaxy is seen slightly edge on. Messier observed this object in 1780 and logged it on March 1st.

 

M66 is a magnitude 9.0 spiral galaxy in constellation Leo. It is estimated to be from 25 to 39 million light years away and is thought to be somewhere between 65,000 to 100,00 light years in diameter. You can find it about 2.5 degrees below 3rd magnitude star Chertan in Leo. This spiral galaxy is seen more face on than M65. Messier observed this object in 1780 and logged it on March 1st.

 

NGC 3628 is a magnitude 9.5 spiral galaxy in constellation Leo. It is about 35 million light years away and you can find it about 2.5 degrees below 3rd magnitude star Chertan in Leo. This spiral galaxy is seen edge on and was discovered by William Herschel in 1784.

 

All three of these galaxies are in a triangular group and fit within a .6 degree view. That means all three can be seen in one eyepiece view which is commonly called the Leo Triplet.

 

 

Don't forget to bring your gloves, coats & sweaters as it gets cold now after the sun sets and even colder as the night approaches midnight when we close. After you set up your telescope, there are three picnic tables where you can sit and eat food you might bring, while waiting for the sky to get dark. Please remember to cart off all your trash as there are no garbage cans at BSC. There is also one portable restroom on site should nature call.

 

Hope to see you there.

 

Your OCA star party host,

Steve

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