Saturday 10/02/10 Black Star Canyon star party
By: Steve Short
September 29, 2010 2:55AM PDT
Views: 4074

BSC - Saturday 2nd October 2010

Hello Fellow OCA club members!

This Saturday I plan to open the gate about 6:15 pm, which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The
weather report for this Saturday indicates that Orange County will be sunny, warm (35% humidity) and
 clear.  The 3rd Quarter Moon will not rise until well after midnight giving us dark skies. 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 (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!


The ISS (International Space Station) will not make any visible evening passes this Saturday. However,
the HST (Hubble Space Telescope) will make a 3.2 magnitude pass starting at 7:28:16 pm 10 degrees
high in the South only rising to 11 degrees SSE at 7:29:19 and then dropping back to 10 degrees SE at
7:30:22 pm. There will not be any visible Iridium flares this Saturday at BSC, but I am sure we will see
a few dim satellites pass over as we are looking up in the sky.


~Mercury, (Mag -1.0) sets about 6:15 pm so will not be seen this Saturday evening. It is about 111
million miles from Earth in constellation Leo. Mercury rises just about 5:40 am so can be spotted in the
morning but is very low in the horizon.

 ~Venus, (Mag -4.5) still dominates the sky after the sun sets and can be spotted  in the West in
constellation Libra. It will set about 7:50 pm and is now only about 36 million miles from our planet and
getting closer. The Venus phase Saturday will be about 20% lit and will have a 45” diameter disk.

~Mars, (Mag 1.5) is now in Constellation Libra and will be seen just 6 degrees above Venus and to the
right this Saturday evening at BSC.  It is about 210 million miles away, getting further every day and is
only a small 4” disk. Mars sets about 8:10 pm but is still too far away to see any detail on the planet.

~Jupiter, (Mag -2.8) rises about 6:15 pm in constellation Pisces and will not set until 6 am. It now is
about 369 million miles from Earth getting a little closer every day. We should see lots of detail on the big
planet including the North Equatorial Belt (NEB) and only a thin dark SEB line, since the belt is
obscured. Closest moon Io will probably be behind Jupiter Saturday evening while moons Europa,
Ganymede and Callisto will be to the West in that order.

~Saturn, (Mag 0.9) sets about 6:50 Saturday in constellation Virgo so will not be visible at BSC. Saturn
is about 982 million miles away slowly moving further from Earth. Saturn can only be seen in the morning
later in the month between Bootes and Corvus.

~ Uranus, (Mag 5.7) will rise about 6:15 pm in constellation Pisces this week and be about 1.5 degrees

north of Jupiter so both planets can be seen in the same binocular view. It shows up as a small 3.7” blue-

green disc in a telescope and is about 1.776 billion miles away moving closer to Earth.

~ Neptune, (Mag 7.8) is in constellation Capricornus, about 2.719 billion miles away this week slowly

moving closer to Earth  It is seen as a bluish 2.3 degree disc in a telescope and we should see it at BSC

this Saturday evening as it does not set until after 3:30 am.


The Orionid meteor shower peaks October 21st but is active from October 2nd – November 7th so we might
see some late this Saturday.  The radiant is just above Betelgeuse in Orion. The meteors come from
particles left by the many passes of comet 1P/Halley. We also normally see a few stray meteors at every
BSC star party.

Comet 103P Hartley
(Mag 6.0) is in constellation Cassiopeia and is only about 18 million miles from
Earth. The comet has a 6.47 year period and is just a few degrees below star Shedir. This comet will
brighten to Mag 5 later this month and will pass through the Double Cluster October 8th.

Comet 10P Tempel 2
(Mag 9.9) is in constellation Cetus now 15 degrees below Jupiter and another 15
degrees east, just below the whale’s head so could be seen at BSC this Saturday. It is just 67 million
miles from Earth and has a period of 5.37 years. This comet travels between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter.

Minor Planet 6 Hebe
(Mag 7.8) is another object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of just over 120
miles. It was once much bigger but a collision formed many pieces that have fallen to Earth. Astronomers
think that 40% of Earth’s meteroites came from Hebe. It is in constellation Cetus just in front of the
Whale’s head. Hebe is about 289 million miles from Earth and has a period of 3.78 years.

Minor Planet 4 Vesta (Mag 8.0) is the 2nd most massive object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of just
over 329 miles. It is the brightest of all the asteroids and can be found along the neck of the Virgin just 10
degres east of  Mars in constellation Virgo. It is now is about 289 million miles from Earth and has a
period of 3.63 years.

Minor Planet 1 Ceres (Mag 8.8) can be found in constellation Sagittarius about 10 degrees above the
Scorpion stinger stars in a direct line between Antares and the Teapot lid’s top star (closer to Sagittarius). 
It is about 268 million miles from Earth and has a period of 4.60 years. This is the largest asteroid having
a diamater of about 580 miles.

Deep Sky:

This month, lets look at some globular clusters and objects inside the Summer Triangle in Sagitta:

(Mag  8.2) is midway between stars Delta & Gamma Sagittea but slightly south of that line. It is
13,000 light years away and has a diameter of 27 light years. The compactness of the stars are very loose
compared to other globular clusters as this was originally thought to be an open cluster. Messier discovered
this object in 1780.

Palomar 10  
(Mag 13.2) a faint globular cluster can be found under the Coathanger by finding a line of 5
10-magnitude stars just south of Palomar 10. It is 19,000 light years away and has a diameter of about 3
arc seconds. The Palomar clusters were discovered in the 1950’s from survey plates taken at the first
Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS).

 Leiter 4 (Mag 6.4) is an asterism near gamma Sagitta with a bright gold star that marks the point of the
arrow with 6 more stars that form the arrowhead. The arrow shaft consists of 7 stars that arc back on itself
to form a semicircle.

 Don't forget to bring your gloves, coats & sweaters because it might get cold after the sun sets and 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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