Friday night 6 members showed up on the hill at the main site. On arrival I got to work setting up my new CG5 mount performed the polar alignment and completed the scope alignment. Low and behold we have success!!!The goto is spot on and tracking is flawless!!!Needless to say I am very happy with my new addition.
We were joined by a group of about 30 scouts and their leaders,that happened to be camping at the park that night.This was the icing on the cake. Successful first light and public night.There were many holy cows, cools,that's sick,and insane man as we showed them views of the new crescent moon, saturn and some of the brighter messier's.
The scouts left us about 11:30 and we continued to observe till almost 1:30 even though we had some cloud that blew through about 12:00.The night was concluded at Tim's shortly after 2:00.
Hopefully the others present that night will add to this report.
Several members showed up at the alt. site last night. The skies were clear and the seeing was good but tech problems plagued the group all night. First Ann worked hard and got a great alignment on her mount only to have the focusing knobs on the scope break. Then I had my hand control break down for the second time in a month. Today I went to Cam Tec to see about a repair and of course it is going to take some time to get it repaired or replaced. So if the weather turns to rain and fog for the month blame me, as I have bought a new CG5 mount to jinx the weather and bend my mind to learn to polar align.
A couple of us are going out to the Alternate site tonight, so if any HAA members want to join us we would be happy to see you! We plan on getting there around 10pm. See you then!
Well, Janice and I saw the weather reports for Cherry Springs but decided to go anyway. We arrived on Thursday and Don helped set up our tents (Thanks Don). We wanted to thank all of those from the HAA who went for making us feel welcome!
In short as in Don's blog, it rained a lot. However on Friday evening we got to try out the new 12" under good skys for the first time. We didn't see anything new but we did have great views of the Ring, M4 and M13, the Double Double, Alberio (which showed the best colour contrast we have ever seen) and Saturn. The sky got muddy at about midnight and that was it.
I fell victim to the vendor's tent, and bought some dew zapping equipment. I then helped Steve spend some of his money which was much cheaper for me! Janice bought me an equipment vest to store things in while viewing, something I've wanted for a while. I guess it's an advantage to have your birthday while at a star party! Marg and Bruce brought a cake which became my birthday cake which was very nice of them.
Steve, Don and I stayed up late on Saturday night, trying to solve the outstanding questions regarding the evolution of the Universe, space elevators and asteroid mining. It was an interesting conversation for 2:00 in the morning and very enjoyable.
All in all we had a good time and hope to do it again soon.
To avoid any more of John G's posts (just kidding) I'm going to put up a bit of a report from Cherry Springs where a number of your fellow HAA members have been braving the elements.
I would have posted something earlier but for some reason (operator incompetence???), I haven't been able to connect to the internet here, even though everyone else could. After many hours of trying, I had given up. But now that everyone but Steve and I have left and we have some time, I borrowed his wireless card to try in my computer and we finally got it working (after disabling my built-in wireless). Strange that the only 2 places that I could not connect to a wireless access point has been here at Cherry Springs and at StarFest last year. Are the Wireless Astronomy gods conspiring against me?
As any of you who have been monitoring the conditions here know, it has been very wet. I arrived on Wed in hopes of an early start. But it rained most of the trip here and during set up. Even after set up, the rains and wind got worse. We had damage to Steve's tent similar to what happened to Jim's last Sept here. Fortunately mine survived.
Ann and Alex Tekatch, Matthew and Janice Mannering, Ed Smith, Steve Germann, Marg Walton and Bruce Peart arrived to join in on the fun and round out the HAA contingent. A few others who had indicated they might come, understandably changed their mind.
Wed and Thurs nights were complete wash outs with rain changing from light to heavy almost continuously through this entire time. Fri did improve and we had enough sun for some to get minor sunburns. I even got some solar observing in, but nothing of consequence to be seen. Fri night remained moderately clear to allow us to see Saturn, Vega, M57, Scorpius, M4, Scutum and various bits and pieces between the various clearings. The Milky Way was very nice - probably as good as it ever gets at Binbrook, but not the best we've seen here. It wasn't the best night we've seen down here in the past, but at least we got a few hours of real observing in. (But little astro-photography - just too unsettled and variable.)
Light rains returned at about 3am and then it was wet most of Sat. Sat night did have a few breaks which allowed us to play Name That Constellation in the Least Number of Stars (one of our observing director's favourite games). We also got a chance to celebrate Matthew's birthday!
Since it was a star party, there were a number of interesting talks. Among them, we had a 3D tour of Mars (complete with the glasses), exploring extra-solar planets and how amateurs could and were contributing to the real science in their discoveries, updates on the Hubble, and interacting galaxies. They were all quite good and well received - plus as a bonus, it got us out of the rain. The big thing I really enjoy about these type of events is meeting people we've met before, making new friends and contacts, promoting the HAA and checking out the toys that vendors bring. (Honest I didn't spend too much.)
Considering the weather, many from other clubs did not arrive, and some decided to leave early since the forecasts obviously were not improving. Attendance was down due to the weather, but those who stuck it out had a good time.
Steve and I are planning to stay at least one extra night (and being hardy Canadians) didn't leave early. As of Sun afternoon, there are only about 7 or 8 others remaining to wait for the better conditions which are forecast for Sun and Mon.
Hopefully some more reports and photos will follow.
During these rainy days you can check out some of these spectacular videos and images from the Japanese lunar orbiter, Kaguya.
Here is a spectacular sequence made as the spacecraft spiraled down to the surface at the end of its very successful mission. It feels like you're flying over the surface of the moon!
The crater Copernicus from the Kaguya spacecraft
Ok, so there seems to be very little acitivity in the club or on the blog right now (frankly, I'm tired of checking in and seeing my old blog posting from 2 weeks ago!), so I am going to provide some interesting trivia (well, some trivia; you may find it interesting or you may find it annoying, or, worst of all, just plain dull). You can discuss this in the comments section, and when finished I will provide a new piece of trivia for your perusal. I'll keep this up until somebody goes out and observes something and posts it on the blog. So please people, spare the club from my ramblings and go out and oberve!
Today's trivia; The Galaxy and Your Brain.
There are about 100 billion (that's 100,000,000,000!) neurons in your brain and about 100 billion stars in our Galaxy, the Milky Way. That sounds like a big number, but just how big is it? Well, when we look up at night we see only about 3000 of those stars (from a really dark site, so, not my back yard). How does that translate into neurons in your brain? You lose about that many neurons every few hours of your life, without ever noticing (the author may be losing more).
So that means that if we can lose as many neurons as there are stars in the sky, then those stars must really be a negligable amount compared to the whole galaxy. 100 billion stars is a really big number. Amazing!
Use your brain next time you observe, and think about what you're seeing.
Saturday night (June 6th) the Moon will occult the bright star Antares.
Antares is a first magnitude star and the brightest in the constellation Scorpius. As the moon travels in its orbit, it will first cover the star and then a short time later it will uncover it. Although the event will take place low in the south-southeast (15 degrees above the horizon at the start of the occultation) it will be visible to all.
The moon will be full, and easy to find. Antares is occulted at about 10:40pm, so a little before that look for a bright star to the upper left of the moon. Binoculars or a telescope will certainly enhance the view. When the occultation occurs, Antares will instantly disappear behind the limb of the moon. At approximately 11:18pm it will reappear to the upper right of the moon. Again, it will be a sudden event.
Occultations can be lots of fun and very exciting. The times given here are approximate (since times are location dependant), so be sure to keep a close eye on Antares as the moon approaches. You can time the occultation accurately for your location if you have a shortwave radio capable of picking up CHU time signals ( http://inms-ienm.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/time_services/shortwave_broadcasts_e.html ). Keep an ear on the radio while you keep an eye on the star. A telescope will give you the best view, but binoculars will provide a very aesthetically pleasing view. Antares is bright enough that you should even be able to see it with the unaided eye.
Have fun, and feel free to share your observing experiences here on the blog, or by contacting email@example.com.
The occulation will take place low in the southern sky.
Antares will disappear behind the upper left limb of the full moon.
This is from Mike Jefferson.
As part of the Origins Institute's Public Lecture Series, Dr. Brian P. Schmidt of The Australian National University is going to be the speaker at The Origins Institute at McMaster University this Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 8:00pm. The talk will take place at the Michael DeGroote Building, right behind the McMaster Medical Centre. You can park on King Street for free.
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