A little late in getting this posted. I tried to provide an update while still at Cherry Springs, but the wireless internet connection there is very sporadic and finicky. The few times it works, we're often focusing on getting the latest weather reports.
Any way... we had another good contingent turn up at Cherry Springs. Matthew and his wife Janice, Les and his wife Terri, Ed, Jim, John and myself were all there representing the HAA. We also met a number of other Canadians from the Niagara and the Bolton areas at the event.
We were blessed with clear skies from Wed to Sat night. As the week wore on, the skies took a little longer each evening before becoming clear, but they did get good every night. It was one of our best visits with respect to clear skies and the ability to observe each night.
The usual schedule ran with presentations on Fri and Sat. The keynote speaker Sat afternoon was David Eicher from Astronomy Magazine - not surprising he was very good. They held a public observing night Sat evening in which many area residents, and those from much further away came to enjoy the skies. A good selection of vendors were on hand and it was probably one of the best years for door prize donations - so lots of prizes to be won, but sadly none by me.
I didn't get a lot of imaging in for various reasons, but one evening I did a bit of an experiment. I set up my DSLR with a fish-eye lens and an electronic timer to take a shot every 10 minutes over the course of the night. I combined the shots into a time-lapsed video showing the Milky Way as it marched across the southern sky over 6 hours. The link below should open the video in another window with your default video player (at least I hope it does).
Milky Way video
I also had a second purpose in attending. This year I had been asked to do a presentation. Wanting to do something a bit different and new, I combined my astronomy with my other hobby of amateur radio, and talked about amateur radio astronomy. This was an introductory presentation, mostly talking about some simple ways to get started and some kits available to go a step further. I also briefly highlighted some of the more advanced methods one can pursue if time and money permit. It appears to have been well received and I had a lot of fun doing it. One of the perks is that they pay for your registration and provide a small honorarium which I donated to the Dark Sky Fund.
I think I can safely speak for everyone who attended and claim it was one of the best star parties at Cherry Springs in quite a few years. A lot of fun. Don't forget we get a chance to repeat it in Sept with the Black Forest Star Party.
Update: I got a note from Larry McHenry which some of you will know from the Kiski Astronomy club near Pittsburg we often meet while at Cherry Springs. He posted a PDF report of the event. You might enjoy the read and additional photos he included links to.
Cherry Springs Report
Watched the Eclipse from 2:25 to 2:50 this morning. At 2:37 I was looking through my binos and a brilliant meteor passed directly in front of the moon. It was startling as the contrast of the white flash against the orange background made me blink. We had partially clear skies in brantford and the seeing at times was very good. Easily saw the 3 globs in Auriga. M35 in Gemini and the moon just fit into the same field of view in my binos. Hope any who stayed up had clear skies! By the way, the time on the site is off by one hour so it looks like I posted this before it actually happened.
Follow up: It turns out that there was a meteor shower scheduled for last night; the Ursids. I guess I just got lucky being in the right place at the right time!
I checked the Clear Sky clock around mid day and it was indicating potentially fair conditions for the evening. So I decided to load up the car with my astronomy gear before heading off for various day activities with the hope of heading up to Binbrook upon my return to town. While I was out of town, I tried to check my email to see if there was going to be any observing, but I couldn't get in, however the CSC was indicating that conditions were improving.
I decided to head up to Binbrook around 10pm in the hopes of running into other observers. After checking the main gate and the various alternate locations, I set up at our Tyneside alt location. The air was still and you could feel some dampness trying to make its presense. It meant the mosquitos were likely going to be a nuisance - I was prepared for them.
By 10:30, I was set up with the 6" reflector, the binos, chair and table prepared for several hours of observing. Fortunately the sky was cooperating and the earlier clouds had finally vanished. To the north was the glow of Hamilton, but it was further ruined by an additional glow from a ball field in Binbrook. To the south however, was clear skies and a good view of Sagittarius and Scorpius. I decided to focus on all the Messier object around the teapot.
I started off with the easy and bright globular cluster M22 which I had seen before. Then scanned along the bottom of the teapot and picked up M69, M54 and with a little difficulty, M70. In my binos I could see the fuzz of M7 and M6 so I trained the scope on them to reveal 2 nice clusters twinkling away. Unfortunately the Jewel box was obstructed by trees nearby so I moved higher above the horizon to look at clusters M28, M25, M18, M24 and M9. I also enjoyed the paired cluster/nebula M21 & M20 (at least in the wide field of my scope). And of course the nebulas M8, M16 and M17.
Unfortunately by 12:30, the dew was getting bad, affecting my view finder, binos and even my reading glasses. Hercules was emerging from the Hamilton/Binbrook glow (they still hadn't turned off the lights at the ball field), and I could visually make out the smudge of M31. I swung the scope around to take a look, but by then even the eyepieces were dewing up and all I saw was a brighter smudge. If I needed any encouragement to pack up, that was it. While it was a quiet night without any fellow observers, it had been rewarding in it's own right - the most Messiers bagged in a single evening so far.
By 12:45 I was ready to leave, however I noticed that the car's engine light was on which gave me a bit of a scare whether I was going to be stranded for the night. Fortunately all the fluid levels were fine, so I chanced the trip home. I'm sure the trip to the garage is going to put enough of a dent in the pocket book to delay some astronomy purchases. But that will be a story for a different blog.
Looks like the clouds over Hamilton are blowing away and skies should be clear by dark. A couple of us are heading to the Binbrook alternate site for some observing tonight. Probably be there around 9:30pm - it's on Tyneside Rd - if coming from Hwy 6 - turn onto White Church (heading east) - it's about 3 roads down - turn right (it's the only way to go anyway) and go about 2.5km - we'll be in a little parking lot on the left - if coming from Hwy 56 turn on to White Church or actually I think it's called Binbrook road from this side (heading west) - turn left on Tyneside (again - it's the only way to go) - same directions from here.
Update: The skies cleared - although there was a very slight shimmer when viewing Jupiter the visibility was otherwise good. Only 3 of us showed - so it was a quiet night except for the occasional passing car. I did some visual observing of Jupiter before turning my attention to imaging - capturing only 2 sets - starting with a few shots of the Ring Nebula in Lyra and then turned to M8 - the Lagoon Nebula. It is late and I have to work tomorrow - I will post the stacked and processed images to my gallery tomorrow evening.
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