Saturday 06/08/2013 Black Star Canyon star party
By: Steve & Bonnie Short
June 5, 2013 3:59AM PDT
Views: 2617


Black Star Canyon Star Party notice - Saturday June 8th, 2013


Hello Fellow OCA club members!


This Saturday, our guest host (Don Stoutenger) will open the gate around 7:30 pm, which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday indicates that Orange County will be sunny with humidity at 30%.  But please 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 canceled for any reason. With all the heat, there is concern about fire danger.


We should have fairly dark skies as we have a new Moon Saturday. 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.


WarningNo Pets allowed(This is an OC Parks and Nature Conservancy rule).



  The ISS (International Space Station) will not make any visible passes this Saturday evening.

  The HST (Hubble Space Telescope) will also not make any visible passes this Saturday evening.

  We should be able to see 4 Iridium flares Saturday evening at BSC and I am sure we will also see a number of dim satellites pass overhead as we are looking up in the sky. The first flare from Iridium satellite 59 will be a bright magnitude -6.4 occurring at 8:19:38 26 degrees high NNW (340 degrees). The second flare from Iridium 5 will be a magnitude -1.8 occurring at 10:55:02 18 degrees high WSW (243 degrees). The third flare from Iridium 6 will be a magnitude -2.2 occurring at 11:03:49 13 degrees high WSW (243 degrees). The forth flare from Iridium 4 will be a magnitude -0.7 occurring at 11:06:50 11 degrees high WSW (244 degrees).


Planets & Pluto:

~Mercury, (Mag -0.1) sets about 9:40 pm in constellation Gemini so can be seen at the BSC star party. Mercury will be about 92 million miles from Earth Saturday and will be 5 degrees higher and slightly left from Venus. It will have a diameter of about 7.6” and be about 45% lit.

~Venus, (Mag -3.7) might be seen Saturday evening before it sets about 9:15 pm in constellation Gemini. Venus is now about 150 million miles from Earth, is approaching 10” in diameter and is near 23% lit.

~Mars, (Mag 1.6) is now in Constellation Taurus, so is too close to the Suns glare to be seen until late this month just before sunrise. It sets at 7 pm and is about 230 million miles away right now.

~Jupiter, (Mag -1.7) will set about 8:45 am Saturday in constellation Taurus and can be seen just outside the Bull's horns. It now is about 568 million miles from Earth getting a little further every day with a diameter of about 32”. When it gets dark Saturday evening, moon Io will be west of Jupiter while Callisto, Europa and Ganymede will be east of the big planet in that order.

~Saturn, (Mag 0.8) will be in constellation Virgo this Saturday so can be seen Saturday evening just after sunset. This planet is about 840 million miles away slowly moving closer to Earth. Saturn doesn’t set until 3:50 am so is visible most of the night and the rings are tilted 17 degrees. The 5 brightest moons should be visible starting off with 8th magnitude Titan, followed by 10th magnitude Rhea, Tethys and Dione near Saturn with Iapetus much farther away.

 ~ Uranus, (Mag 5.9) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening setting about 3 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 2:30 am. It is about 1.907 billion miles from Earth.

~ Neptune, (Mag 7.9) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.775 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 noon. It rises just after 1 am so can be seen in the early morning sky.

 ~ Pluto, (Mag 14.0) does not rise until 9:45 pm so could be seen Saturday evening through a very large scope. It is 2.935 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.

We had a special planet trio lineup June 1st when Mercury, Venus and Jupiter were in a straight line spanning 9 degrees.



The Gamma Delphinid meteor shower is predicted to peak June 11th. This meteor shower has not been active since 1930 but the SETI Institute thinks it may happen again in 2013. We usually see a few stray meteors during every Saturday evening BSC star party.

Brightest visible Comets:

This month Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) is a dim magnitude 9.3 as it passes through constellation Ursa Minor. The path it is following is shown in the 2013 June “Astronomy” magazine on page 42. This comet might be seen with binoculars as it moves from the direction of the North Star Polaris towards the Beta “dipper star. It will be 181 million miles from Earth Saturday evening.

Brightest visible asteroids:


Bright asteroids Ceres and Vesta have wandered through Taurus the Bull and are now in Gemini this month so can be seen Saturday evening.


Minor Planet 4 Vesta (Mag 8.4), the 2nd most massive object in the asteroid belt, can be found in constellation Gemini, next to the waist of Pollux. Vesta has a diameter of about 330 miles and was discovered in 1807. It is about 308 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 8.8) is the biggest object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of about 590 miles. It is in constellation Gemini and can be found 1 degree from star Pollux. The June 2013 “Astronomy” magazine shows the path Ceres is following during the month of June on page 43. It is about 309 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 objects in Bootes:


Delta Bootis is a wide spaced double star 122 light years away. The brighter magnitude 3.5 deep yellow star with a pale yellow magnitude 7.9 companion that are separated by at least 10 times the distance Pluto is from the Sun.



Epsilon Bootis is a double star discovered by William Herschel in 1779 and is called Izar. The brighter magnitude 2.6 primary star looks golden while the secondary magnitude 4.8 star looks white but some see it as blue. It is a very close double 2.8” apart so might take 200X magnification to split.

NGC 5466 is a magnitude 9.0 globular cluster, the only one in Bootes. It is 52,000 light years from the Sun and is high above the plane of our galaxy.

NGC 5529 is a magnitude 11.9 flat spiral galaxy seen edge on from Earth but very challenging to find.





Don't forget to bring your gloves, coats & sweaters as it can get cold 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,


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