Black Star Canyon star party 09/20/08
By: Steve Short
September 16, 2008 10:26PM PDT
Views: 5132

Hello Fellow OCA club members!
This Saturday I plan to open the gate at 6:20 pm, about a half hour before the sun sets Saturday evening. Today's weather report for this Saturday indicates it may be partly cloudy...but the evening should be clear. The Moon should not rise until after midnight when we have shut down and gone home. First time visitors might want to get to BSC 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. 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. 


One dim (magnitude 0.8) visible ISS (International Space Station) pass will take place Saturday evening around 8:30 PM  10 degrees altitude WNW rising to 13 degrees or NNW and then dropping back to 10 degrees high due North at about 8:33 PM. There will not be any HST (Hubble Space Telescope) passes or Iridium Flares visible at BSC this Saturday evening.



Note: We can see Mercury, Venus & Mars all close together in the early evening sky. Don't be fooled by bright star Spica which will be a little higher and to the left.

~Mercury (Mag 0.3) sets about 7:45 PM with the sun in constellation Virgo and will be hard to spot unless you have a clear, flat horizon view. It is 83 million miles from Earth.

~Venus (Mag -3.8) sets at 8:08 PM, just after the sun, in constellation Virgo and is bright enough to be easily seen. It is now about137 million miles from Earth.

~Mars (Mag 1.7) has moved into Constellation Virgo and now is about 228 million miles away.  Mars sets about 7:55 PM so must be found early to be seen.

~Jupiter (Mag -2.3) sets just before 1 AM as it is creeping above constellation Sagittarius, and now is about 439 million miles away. On Satuday, all 4 Galilean Moons will be clearly visible in a telescope, Ganymede (the largest moon in the entire solar system) and Callisto will be seen far away to the right of Jupiter while moons Io & Europa on the left side will be very close to the planet.

 ~Saturn, (Mag 0.9) sets just at 6:39 PM and is about 960 million miles from Earth, still moving below the body of Leo the Lion. It will be passing into the morning sky where it becomes visible low in the East by month end.

~ Uranus (Mag 5.7) rises at 6:49 PM just as the sun sets, in constellation Aquarius this week 1.775 billion miles away.

~ Neptune (Mag 7.8) rises around 5:28 PM in constellation Capricornus this week and is still about 2.7 billion miles away.



Deep Sky:

Let’s look for a few more objects near constellation Sagittarius where Jupiter is hanging out, like M24 & M25 which are both above the lid of the “Teapot”. These objects were observed clear back in 1764 by Charles Messier.


Lets look at a thick patch of the Milky Way called M24 (Mag 2.5-4.6) which contains millions, maybe billions of stars clumped together in the same area or direction. It is up by the tip of the bow of Sagittarius and challenging to find in light polluted skies. It spans 1 degree by 2 degrees and is best seen at low magnification to give a wide field of view.


M25 (Mag 4.6) is just 4 degrees due East of M24 and is a good example of an Open Star cluster. It is 2,000 light years away and spans 19 light years. It contains about 30 stars and is estimated to be 89 million years old. It is also best seen at low magnification.


Don't forget to bring your gloves, coats & sweaters because it will get cold (50 F) 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 it to get dark. Please remember to cart off all your trash as there are no garbage cans at BSC. Hope to see you there.
Your OCA star party host,


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