Blackstar Canyon Star Party this Saturday
By: Hassi Norlén
March 16, 2006 7:59AM PDT
Hello fellow OC Astronomers,
The weather predictions say rain Friday and maybe some showers Saturday too but I am hoping it will clear up by evening and we can hold a good star party. Sunset is 6 PM so I plan to open the gate about 5:30 PM so those with big scopes have plenty of daylight to set them up. It has been terribly cold lately and temps that evening are supposed to drop near freezing so dress warm.
The only two planets we will be able to observe Saturday evening are Saturn and Mars. Saturn will be about 790 million miles from Earth in prime viewing location at Mag 0.0. Saturn is found in the middle of Cancer the Crab (just below the Gemini Twins Pollux & Castor) and most major moons (Rhea, Dione & Tethys) will be close to the planet except Titan off far to the left. Mars will be about 140 million miles from Earth at a prominent Mag .08, the same magnitude as reddish Aldebaran, a mere 7 degrees away in Taurus the Bull.
Asteroid 4 Vesta (Mag 7.6) should be just 1 degree above Epsilon Geminorum and is one of the brightest objects in that field of view. Comet 73P/Schwassermann-Wachmann 3 will be passing below Arcturus by about 3 degrees and may be at a 9th magnitude. Another comet C/2005 E2 (McNaught) will be floating about 4 degrees above galaxy M74 and they both are faint at about Mag 9-10 so easy to get confused.
We might want to go after a few deep sky objects in Cancer the Crab like the Mag 3.1 Beehive Cluster (M44) just to our left of Saturn or maybe the Mag 4.4 open cluster M47 near the claw of the Crab and below M44. The Beehive cluster is 580 light years from Earth and spans 16 light years containing over 100 stars brighter than our Sun. M47 is 1,800 light years from Earth and also spans about 16 light years.
Lets hope for clear skies and good viewing this Saturday. Don't let the cold weather keep you from joining all the fun out at Black Star. Remember, it is close to where most of us live being only 10 miles from the 55 Freeway turnoff at Chapman Avenue.
Your OCA host, Steve
For more info, see: Blackstar Canyon calendar event