Observatory Reports

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 02 Nov 2014 6:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    COE Star Party 11/01/2014
    James Hall
    6:30p-11:00p
    Guests: 30
    Temp 62 on arrival 55 degrees when leaving

    I arrived about 6:20 .pm. Grounds good, lights working, internet working, scopes working.  Couldn't get my iPad to connect to the Apple TV.  However, Jim Sheets reported that it worked fine the night before.  It might be my version of the iPad software, I'm looking into it.  Mostly clear skies.  About 10% cloud cover.

    Jim Sheets stopped by early and helped setup.  He put the Ealing on the moon, while I did the same with the Harlan.  He was also nice enough to help out during the first part of the night while I helped get a guest setup on a front table with their first refractor.

    I did the normal history of the observatory along with a little education on how telescopes work.

    We had a great time viewing the Moon, Andromeda Galaxy, Mars, and the ring nebula.   Many guests were also impressed with a couple of shooting stars and the laser sky tours.  About 3 of us also had binoculars and I pointed out some of the best objects for that type of viewing.

    Best moment of the night was several children going "Wow" when they saw the moon for the first time.

    The moon was about half full so it was a little bright, many guest said they would return on a darker night to see what else they can see.

    Secured the observatory and left just after 11 pm.  

    As I was leaving I noticed it looks like we might be missing a solar light near the exit in the parking lot.  I only saw 1 red light glowing as I was pulling out.  I may need to find a replacement.

    But all in all another great night of outreach..  :)


     
    - James Hall
  • 29 Sep 2014 10:27 PM | Anonymous member

    Friday, Sept. 26, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    8:00p-11:30p
    Guests:18

    Building good, grounds excellent, lights and internet working well. For my last night to run the observatory, the weather was overcast and never showed a single star, except for one plane flying below the cloud deck. The park had many guests and some began pouring into the observatory to see the telescopes and computer animations.  I showed the first arrivals the cool video of "Is Pluto a Planet?" and the current night sky, with simulations to Saturn, Mars, M51, M13, etc.  I think I sold some more iPad apps for those with Apple devices and geek husbands.

    Jim Sheets came in during the middle of my presentation to acknowledge my last night as CoE observatory host after so many years in front of the several seated guests and gave me a bid farewell.  So very nice of him and on behalf of the park management to award me and my wife a complimentary dinner at the restaurant.  I'm very grateful.  Looking back, my records show I've had 132 nights running the EEO for guests since 2010, tallying over 4,700 visitors.  I've had the pleasure of meeting many interesting people and children over the years and enjoyed them all, even if some were a little tipsy.

    To reiterate, I'm retiring from doing star parties for CoE guests to spend more time at home, with my wonderful wife working on restoration projects which will occupy so much of my free time.  I will still be on the field here and there from time to time doing the astronomy thing with my beloved friends.

    Regards, 
    Darin Koch


    Left at 11:30p
    Temp 68º

  • 02 Sep 2014 6:02 PM | Anonymous member

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    8:00p-12:00a
    Guests: 15

    Building good, grounds fair (some sticker stalks are getting high), lights and internet working. The sky started off partly cloudy with a thunderhead with lightning show (no thunder) off to the NE and growing clouds in the west. Everything fizzled out and finally cleared off by 11p. The Milky Way was very prominent toward the end of the evening. Seeing was horrible at first as the stars were twinkling greatly. The Double Double was easily split around 10:30p.

    First guests were a pair of ladies in their 50's and were very excited about looking thru the telescopes. Only a couple children were present later with other guests. What a pleasant night when it cooled off to the upper 70's....and very few (maybe 5) mosquitoes! Yeah! What a difference that makes. Best moment of the night was an incredible meteor that streaked across the sky from N to S in the west that left a good trail. One couple was still here and the man got to see that event. Wow, it was! I showed the last couple the 10x30 Canon Image Stabilizer binos to the lady first and she was totally impressed aiming them puppies at the Sagittarius part of the Milky Way.

    We saw the 18% lit waning crescent Moon, Saturn, Mars, M57, M13, M22, M16-17, M8, M16, Albireo, Double Double, M31.

    Left at 12:15a Temp 77º

  • 19 Aug 2014 11:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Saturday, Aug 16, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    James Hall
    8:00p-12:00a
    Guests: 30


    I arrived about 8:00 .pm. Grounds good, lights working, internet working, scopes working.  Mostly cloudy skies.  But large pockets of clear sky still provided viewing opportunities.

    Several guests arrived early to walk the grounds and look at the observatory while I setup.  Akarsh setup in the field and invited guests to check out his scope.

    During cloudy skies, I just did the normal presentations off astronomy apps and videos on the large display.

    We were able to see Saturn and Mars through various pockets of sky throughout the night.  No moon during the evening.

    Mostly viewed Saturn, Mars, and the ring nebula.   Many guests were also impressed with the parts of the milky way that we were able to see.

    Best moment of the night was a bunch of wow's from adults and children alike when shooting stars zipped across the sky during the laser tour of the constellations.

    Secured the observatory and left just after 12 am.  The temp was 84 degrees.  Another great night of outreach.. :)


     
    - James Hall


  • 16 Aug 2014 12:40 PM | Anonymous member

    Friday, August 15, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    8:00p-12:30a
    Guests: 20

    When I arrived I found the N green ropes not tied down and hanging near the ground. Grounds were fair, stickers are growing, they need weed whacking around the entrance so that the pipe stops are free and clear of stickers. Skies were mostly clear, seeing was poor.

    After opening the building, cooling the scopes, I set up my 16” dob and 25x100 binos on the field and I had 10 people right away. Gave them the history of our club and explained our mission. Everyone was impressed with my 16” dob and the views of Saturn, Mars was quite tiny at 7” but still could see some land features. With the 16” and DSC working, I was able to pull up quickly and see more objects like globulars M13, M22, M4, nebula M17, M57, Whirlpool M51, Andromeda M31, and Albireo. Clouds came and went, but each one was seen thru the binos also for the guests to compare the two views. I explained the sizes of our sun compared to some of the giants in the sky and had them visualize two grains of salt separated by 7 miles as our sun and Omega Centauri.

    I had the Forrest on Saturn and Harlan on M51 for anyone wanting to venture into the observatory to see the scopes.

    Many meteors were seen, some with good long trails, others quick and short. Oohs and ahhhs were heard. My green laser was a hit, many asked where do I get one?

    Ok, best moment of the night was when mom and 9 yr old daughter who arrived late got to see a low and boiling Saturn and was completely taken in, the daughter had questions about black holes and what are they? They stayed till midnight, so very interested in what they saw in M31, M13, Saturn, Alberio. They were from Tennessee and had to leave at 6a for their long journey back to start school on Monday.

    I noticed the south solar walk path entrance was off its perch laying on the ground lit up. I put it back. Needs glue.

    Left at 12:30a temp 86º, quite warm.

  • 10 Aug 2014 11:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Saturday, Aug 09, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    James Hall
    8:00p-12:00a
    Guests: 40

    Arrived about 8:00 .pm. Grounds good, lights working, internet working, scopes working. Mostly clear skies.

    Moon was already rising in the east and 2 cars pulled up same time I did. It was a nice couple of families who drove up from Austin area.

    While waiting for it to get darker, I entertained guests with moon on the Forrest Scope and many presentations on the large display with videos and astronomy apps projected from my iPad. Also did several Q and A's and explained about AAS history and public star parties. We discussed how telescopes work and what objects are popular this time of the year.

    As it got darker we got both scopes up and running. Most guests started arriving by this time. We saw Saturn, Moon, Mars, Hercules Cluster. Guests were impressed with all the various sky targets and the laser light tour of the constellations.

    Best moment of the night was two children that saw Saturn for the first time going "Wow!.. Mom you got to see this!" and another great moment was a woman who was genuinely excited about what she was learning and seeing about our tiny spot in this universe. She stayed until almost midnight trying to find out as much as possible before she left.

    Secured the observatory and left just after 12 am. The temp was 85 degrees. Another great night of outreach.

    Saturday, Aug 09, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    James Hall
    8:00p-12:00a
    Guests: 40

    Arrived about 8:00 .pm. Grounds good, lights working, internet working, scopes working.  Mostly clear skies.  


    Moon was already rising in the east and 2 cars pulled up same time I did.  It was a nice couple of families who drove up from Austin area.


    While waiting for it to get darker, I entertained guests with moon on the Forrest Scope and many presentations on the large display with videos and astronomy apps projected from my iPad.  Also did several Q and A's and explained about AAS history and public star parties.   We discussed how telescopes work and what objects are popular this time of the year.


    As it got darker we got both scopes up and running.  Most guests started arriving by this time.  We saw Saturn, Moon, Mars, Hercules Cluster.  Guests were impressed with all the various sky targets and the laser light tour of the constellations.

    Best moment of the night was two children that saw Saturn for the first time going "Wow!..  Mom you got to see this!"  and another great moment was a woman who was genuinely excited about what she was learning and seeing about our tiny spot in this universe.  She stayed until almost midnight trying to find out as much as possible before she left.


    Secured the observatory and left just after 12 am.  The temp was 85 degrees.  Another great night of outreach.

    Saturday, Aug 09, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    James Hall
    8:00p-12:00a
    Guests: 40

    Arrived about 8:00 .pm. Grounds good, lights working, internet working, scopes working.  Mostly clear skies.  


    Moon was already rising in the east and 2 cars pulled up same time I did.  It was a nice couple of families who drove up from Austin area.


    While waiting for it to get darker, I entertained guests with moon on the Forrest Scope and many presentations on the large display with videos and astronomy apps projected from my iPad.  Also did several Q and A's and explained about AAS history and public star parties.   We discussed how telescopes work and what objects are popular this time of the year.


    As it got darker we got both scopes up and running.  Most guests started arriving by this time.  We saw Saturn, Moon, Mars, Hercules Cluster.  Guests were impressed with all the various sky targets and the laser light tour of the constellations.

    Best moment of the night was two children that saw Saturn for the first time going "Wow!..  Mom you got to see this!"  and another great moment was a woman who was genuinely excited about what she was learning and seeing about our tiny spot in this universe.  She stayed until almost midnight trying to find out as much as possible before she left.


    Secured the observatory and left just after 12 am.  The temp was 85 degrees.  Another great night of outreach.

  • 09 Aug 2014 2:27 PM | Anonymous member

    Friday, Aug 8, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    8:00p-12:00a
    Guests: 20

    Grounds excellent, bldg good (boy was it hot inside!), lights working, internet working, scopes working. I swept the floor upon arrival, vacuumed out the rope buckets, setup my 25x100 binos on the field and proceeded to clean the Harlan Smith primary mirror and secondary mirror with the help of my first two guests, a husband and wife from Houston who've never been here before. I cleaned the mirrors and put them back in and collimated perfectly. What nice sharp images of Saturn now. The collimation was off a bit at first sight before removing the primary.

    The shed was not properly locked when I got the vacuum out, the top lock latch was not engaged at all, but the lock was locked. I noticed the Forrest Telrad was still on the scope, but turned off. Should be properly housed in the steel cabinet when not in use. No harm really, just gets dusty.

    We saw Saturn, 95% lit waxing gibbous Moon, Mars, M51 (at least tried with the binos, but too faint), M4 in the binos, Albireo in the Harlan. Showed Starry Night and how the sky turns and revealed moons around Saturn. I saw 5 total. Mimas is just too hard to see.

    Greatest moment was not from the any of the two only children present, but from one lady in her late 30's who'd never seen Saturn before and was awestruck at the eyepiece of Saturn at 230x. Oh...My...God! I never get tired of hearing that. Second memorable moment of the night was when a young man in his early 20's stubbed his left big toe coming in the observatory. He split his toenail open and was bleeding and I had to get the first aid kit out to bandage him up. He'll be feeling it more tomorrow.

    Left at 12a temp 86º nice breeze

  • 04 Aug 2014 7:16 PM | Anonymous member

    Saturday Aug 2, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    8:00p-1:00a
    Guests: 30

    Grounds excellent, Bldg and scopes good, internet working. I brought my 16" dob and 25x100 binos out and setup outside and ran mostly the 16"
    and binos for the first wave, and had the EEO opened and scopes pointed up, but on eyepieces so guests could look around. After another wave of guests started to arrive, I launched the observatory scopes and aimed the Forrest on the Moon and Harlan on Saturn.

    I forgot to mention last night's episode of the ISS at 9:50p was a huge hit. We couldn't really track it with anything except the binos and that would be impossible to show guests. Anyways, there were a couple good bright satellites that passed over tonight that never flared. So the guests got to see the Moon, Mars, Saturn, M51, M13, M22, M4, Albireo, Veil Nebula, M11 and some others.

    A great crowd, last two on the field were 2 women, 1 who i met yesterday at the front desk checking in said she was pumped up to see the observatory for the first time, but didn't make it out until tonight. She was so amazed and impressed with what she could see, also seeing the setting orange Moon thru my binos was so awesome she and her friend said.

    Mosquitoes still bad. I sure hope they go away soon!

    Left at 1:30a temp 72º

  • 04 Aug 2014 7:06 PM | Anonymous member

    Friday, Aug 1, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    7:15p-2:15a
    Guests: 40

    Grounds excellent, just mowed, everything working. Internet tested at 17.36mbs down/3.43mbs up. I cleaned up mud dobber nests on Forrest scope, swept the floors. I setup my 25x100 binos for the guests. David Abrams came out with his 20" and got his new Argo Navis pointing perfectly and showing some guests the night skies with ease.

    First family of 5 came in at 7:30p with 3 small very super-charged up children that had to touch anything and everything, taking the covers of the Harlan. Had to put my foot down on the parent and chaperone to keep them under control. Outside that, it was a very wonderful evening of good skies and Moon had very steady seeing for excellent sharp details.

    Last couple to leave is planning on joining the club and was totally impressed with what they saw in the telescopes and David's scope too, now that he has near perfect pointing on any object in the sky.

    The mosquitoes are terrible and so be sure to have adequate protection on hand. They are biting me right now and I sprayed myself earlier in the evening.

    Spent some more time with David's 20" scope after all visitors left and just marveling at how well tuned the Argo Navis DSC system is yielding and saw a dozen globulars in Sagitarrius. Impressive. I want to replace my 17 yr old Lumicon Sky Vector with one.

    Left at 2:16a Temp 70º

  • 19 Jul 2014 9:08 AM | Anonymous member

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    8:30p-11:30p
    Guests: 6

    Grounds, building, lights, internet all working. However, the building's porch lights need red repainting as they are cracking. Clouds were too thick and never cleared despite the possibility of clearing as I did see a bright horizon driving out on 2341 to the NW. CSC shows clearing at midnight. Just a little too late.

    So instead, I showed the 6 guests both telescopes, discussed history of AAS and showed them Starry Night animation of the skies and the planets that were visible, how everything rotates and showed a few movies of past astronomical events and simulations. Temps were very cool, 77º! Mosquitoes were still an issue, but not as bad as last time I was here. I actually forgot my green laser, but didn't need it afterall.

    Left at 11:30p 73º

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
Loading
Austin Astronomical Society
P.O. Box 12831, Austin, TX 78711

email: contactaas@austinastro.org

Supporting members of the Astronomical League, Night Sky Network and International Dark Skies Association.

For any questions or more information about AAS - please email us at contactaas@austinastro.org.

copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software