Saturday Nov 19th BSC star party
By: Steve & Bonnie Short
November 15, 2016 10:43PM PDT
Black Star Canyon Star Party notice - Saturday November 19th, 2016
Hello Fellow OCA club members!
This Saturday, we plan to open the gate around 4:15 pm, which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday night indicates that Black Star Canyon should be warm with partly cloudy skies and humidity at about 20%. So please keep an eye on the OCA website “Home” page (below the next speaker info) where we will post a notice should the star party be canceled for any reason.
With a 3rd quarter Moon Saturday, the Moon will not rise until after midnight, so our star party should have a dark night sky. 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 any front headlights off!!! The dirt road may 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. Or just park along Black Star Canyon Road and walk down to the star party site.
Try to park two cars in each slanted slot between the rock turning circles so we can get 20 cars into that area. I will help guide the first cars into the slots and then expect that others will follow that pattern. The first car in each slot must stay back, about a foot, from the road that leads out of the parking area so cars that leave early with headlights off will not accidentally bump into parked cars
The BSC star party site has a Latitude of 33.7520N, Longitude 117.6745W and Elevation 297'.
Warning: No 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 not make any visible passes this Saturday evening.s
Iridium flares: There will not be any visible Iridium Flares this Saturday evening. But I am sure we will see a number of other satellites pass over in the early evening.
Planets & Pluto:
~Mercury, (Mag -0.3) sets about 5:20 pm in constellation Ophiuchus this Saturday evening so might be seen at the BSC star party after a 4:45 pm sunset. Mercury will be about 126 million miles from Earth and will not rise until about 7:30 am which is an hour after sunrise.
~Venus, (Mag -4.0) will set about 7:20 pm in constellation Sagittarius so should be seen this Saturday evening. Venus will be about 99 million miles from Earth Saturday, very bright with an almost fully (80%) illuminated disk of about 14”. It will not rise until 9:45 am well after sunrise.
~Mars, (Mag 0.5) will be in Constellation Capricornus far to the left of the “Teapot” so should be easily seen Saturday evening as a bright reddish object to the naked eye. It will be about 128 million miles from Earth Saturday evening not setting until about 9:40 pm. Mars will have a diameter of about 7” which is still big enough to see some detail on the red planet in very dark skies with a big scope.
~Jupiter, (Mag -1.6) will not be seen Saturday evening as sets about 2:30 pm in constellation Virgo. Jupiter could be seen about 25 degrees below the rear end of the sleeping Lion. It will be about 570 million miles from Earth and will have a disk size of 32”. Jupiter rises about 3 am so can be seen low on the horizon before sunrise.
~Saturn, (Mag 1.4) will be in constellation Ophiuchus this Saturday so should be seen this Saturday evening low in the SW sky as the Sun goes down. It sets about 6 pm and will be about 1.021 billion miles away Saturday evening. Look for Saturn 7 degrees above Antares behind the top star of the head of the Scorpion. It will have a diameter of 16” while the rings span 36” and tilt 26 degrees, just 1 degree less than the maximum they will achieve next year. Being so low in the horizon, you will not be able to see much detail on Saturn or any moons except maybe Titan.
~Uranus, (Mag 5.7) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening rising just after 3 pm so should be seen at the BSC star party Saturday evening. It shows up as a small 3.4” blue-green disc in a telescope. Uranus will be about 1.781 billion miles from Earth this Saturday and can be seen all the way until it sets at 3:30 am.
---The October issue of Sky & Tel Magazine page 50 shows the paths Uranus & Neptune are following.
~ Neptune, (Mag 7.9) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.767 billion miles away this week. It is seen as a bluish gray 2.2” disc in a telescope and should be seen at BSC this Saturday evening as it rises about 1 pm and does not set until 15 minutes after midnight.
~ Pluto, (Mag 14.2) will rise in constellation Sagittarius about 10 am so could be seen Saturday evening high in the sky after sunset It is about 3.151 billion miles from Earth and is so dim, you would need a 10” or larger telescope to see it visually. Pluto will not set until about 8 pm.
I would expect to see a few stray meteors Saturday evening as we always do at every BSC star party. But the Leonid Meteor Shower will be active from November 6 – 30 with meteors radiating from a point inside Leo the Lion's head. This is usually just a minor shower showing up to 15 meteors/hour at it's peak on November 17th.
If you ever wanted to do some real scientific meteor counting, the International Meteor Organization (IMO) always needs more observers. You will need to follow the IMO's standards so your counts will be meaningful. See www.imo.net/visual for more information.
Brightest visible Comets:
The website Heavens-above does not show any visible comets that could be seen at the BSC star party. However, the current drought of visible comets through small telescopes should end in a few months starting in December.
Comet 144P Kushida (Mag 12.0) might be seen after 3 am about 20 degrees below the hind end of Leo the Lion just 15 degrees to the right of Jupiter. It has a period of 7.58 years and will be 192 million miles from Earth.
Brightest visible asteroids:
Finding an asteroid is always very challenging as they are dim and are just small dots.
Minor Planet 4 Vesta (Mag 7.5 ), the 2nd most massive object in the asteroid belt is the brightest asteroid again this month. It is found in constellation Cancer this month, just a few degrees above and to the right of the Moon and left of the Gemini Twins right on the Ecliptic. It might be seen Saturday evening after 9:30 pm. Vesta has a diameter of about 330 miles and was discovered in 1807. It is about 185 million miles from Earth at this time and has an orbit period of 3.63 years. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was in orbit around this asteroid and sent back stunning close-up pictures.
Minor Planet 1 Ceres (Mag 7.9) is the biggest object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of about 590 miles. It is in constellation Cetus just 10 degrees below the Ecliptic and under the “V” in Pisces. Ceres will be about 187 million miles from Earth Saturday and has a period of 4.61 years. It was discovered in 1801 and for 50 years was classified as the 8th planet. But don’t expect to see anything more than a small dot. It should be visible Saturday all star party long. The Dawn spacecraft has reached this asteroid and will be orbiting it taking pictures for at least a year. You can see the path Ceres is taking this month in the November Astronomy magazine on page 43.
Asteroid 18 Melpomene (Mag 8.5) is a large, bright main-belt asteroid. It will be in constellation Cetus Saturday evening about 20 degrees below the Pisces “V”, so might be seen at the BSC star party. This asteroid is slightly elongated with a mean diameter of about 100 miles and is about 88 million miles from Earth. Pallas was discovered on June 24th, 1852 by astronomer John Russell Hind. It may have a satellite of about 22 miles in diameter and has an orbit period of 4.61 years.
This month let’s consider looking at some Messier Open Star Clusters near Cassiopeia:
M103 is a magnitude 7.4 open star cluster about 8,500 light years away that spans 15 light years. You can find it in constellation Cassiopeia just 1 degree from Delta Cassiopeiae. It is shaped like an arrow in a very thick area of the Milky Way and contains about 25 stars. Its age is estimated to be 22 million years. Messier’s friend Mechain discovered this object and Messier didn’t have time to observe it himself before adding it to his 1781 catalog.
M52 is a magnitude 6.9 open star cluster about 3,000 light years away that spans 11 light years. You can find it in constellation Cassiopeia along a line from Caph and Alpha Cassiopeiae, about the same distance from Caph as Caph is from Alpha Cassiopeiae. It is shaped like a triangle in a sparse area of the Milky Way and contains at least 100 stars. Its age is estimated to be 35 million years. Messier discovered this object in 1774 while observing a comet he discovered that year
M111 -112 (Honorary Entry) are the famous western (NGC869) & eastern (NGC884) open Double Clusters that are 7,500 light years away and each span over 60 light years. The western cluster contains about 200 stars and the eastern cluster contains about 115 stars. The clusters have a magnitude of about 4.0 and together, both span about 1 full degree. Easy to find halfway on a line between Gamma Persei and Delta Cassiopeiae. Evidence shows that Messier knew about these clusters clear back in 1772.
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.