Observatory Reports

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  • 19 Jul 2014 9:08 AM | Anonymous member

    Friday, July 18, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    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

  • 14 Jul 2014 6:23 PM | Anonymous member

    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    CoE Star Party Darin and Dana Koch
    Guests: 60

    Grounds good, building good, lights working, internet working, water faucet working. My wife decided to come along (not all that often) and we arrived to clear skies and they stayed clear all night long. The seeing was kinda poor at first, but probably due to heat in the mirrors. Views of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn turned out very good later on in the evening. What a crowd here from a full park! Many excited children running around and hollering, dad I see there's a satellite up there! That kid was full of energy. Last couple stayed till 11:30p and the wind started picking up greatly and still rattling the doors quite a bit as i write this.

    I brought my 25x100 binos and was a great crowd pleaser for whomever got to use them while the lines were long on the observatory scopes. We later got a chance to move the telescopes to M51, M13, M3, M81-82, M57. Two satellites were spotted close together following the other was seen directly overhead around 10:45p while i was at the binos. Very interesting pair. The view thru the 14mm 100º eyepiece of M81 in the Forrest was outstanding! Yes, even thru the very dirty mirror. 

    Left at 12:10a Temp 70º and wind howling.

  • 14 Jul 2014 6:21 PM | Anonymous member

    Friday, June 6, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    Guests: 25

    Building- good, grounds-great, mowed yesterday, lights- all working, Telescopes and equipment- good shape, internet- working. Skies were quite clear at first by started to lightly cloud over around 11p, and stayed that way. The Moon showed thick halo but still visible. We viewed Jupiter, the waxing gibbous Moon, Mars, Saturn, M13, M57, M81. 

    I set up my 25x100 binos and mount for the guests and the kids and adults were very impressed at what they could see, as mostly the Moon was aligned in them. I also setup the Televue 101 on the Orion Atlas mount and actually got it to track on the Moon. It stayed in the field of view all night with a 31mm T5 Nagler, which was about 17x with only a 540mm focal length. Very sharp image of the Moon. The mount's hand controller has instant response in all 4 directions. Nice. I cleaned the optics before I left for TSP with the intention of bringing it with to TSP to better familiarize myself with it over the week only to not find where the DEC shaft was, so I unpacked it and left it at home. This past week, I discovered the DEC shaft slides up into the DEC axis and is released by a lever clamp! Dang! I totally forgot about that part when I first brought it home, as the SolarMax 90 Orion Mount screws on and off. So what a relief that was and kinda embarrassing.

    Left at 1a
    Temp 79 degrees

    ADDENDUM-I replaced the jammed front gate lock with another old one that came off there previously, it’s still the same entry code. It’s working, but at one time would not lock back except on actual open code and then scrambled. So James, if you’d like to go get another one, they’re about $14. They carry a lifetime warranty, but that means packaging it up and sending to correct Master Lock return address and paying postage and waiting however long for a replacement. I wish there was an easier way with where they’re sold to just exchange it. They seem to last about a year or so. 

    I forgot to add that the mosquitoes were totally awful there. So bring with you a fresh can of repellant on your next visit. They went thru my tshirt on my back and was constant. So you must spray your clothes too! 

    When I rolled back the Fred Ruof shed, there were also 3 medium sized red wasps nests at the apex of the ceiling of which i first saw only one to then see the other two behind a roof truss. So a word of caution to those authorized and who know the combo to inspect around each roof truss for wasp nests, black widow spiders and/or possible coiled snakes before rolling back the shed. There were 3 field mice spotted also in the shed and a couple crawled up to the rear truss beams. Anything that goes in the Ruof shed for storage must be properly secured/stored for mice proofing. No exposed wires/cables please. Put away in locktite containers.

    The wind did pick up severely after about 10:30p. Apparently there were strong thunderstorms way up to the north, I did not see any lightning whatsoever. I put the Televue 101 and Atlas mount/tripod back into the Fred Ruof shed.

  • 14 Jul 2014 6:18 PM | Anonymous member

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

    AAS Public Star Party 
    Darin Koch 
    7p - 12:45a 
    Guests: 60+ 

    Grounds were just mowed, they look great, stickers are present so be prepared. The skies kinda looked they were going to part and show some planets, and yet the cloud cover allowed Mars and Saturn to shine through the soup. Then it clouded over again and at times we showed Vega, Double Double and Albireo. Both scopes worked well. Internet/lights working great. Mosquitos are terrible. You must bring plenty of repellent. The guests were constantly fanning them off. We had a floor fan going on high most of the evening which helped a little. But dang, this is pathetic. They'll get you thru the shirt and it stings. 

    There were only 2 telescopes on the field belonging to Brian Lippincott and Dawn Davies. 

    We had a boy scout troup come through and they were great. Many other families came through, but very few small children though. Joyce recorded over 60 signatures. A couple that came by last night was so impressed, they brought a friend and the skies completely clouded over by that time that all we could do was show animations and videos on the big screen. Dawn Davies showed a great animation of what the earth would look like if a huge meteor struck the earth. Pretty neat. 

    Quite warm and a muggy, but comfortable temperatures, very little wind. We MUST do something about these darn pesky mosquitoes and I believe, the magnet is the way to go. 

     Left 12:45a temp 79º.

  • 14 Jul 2014 6:12 PM | Anonymous member

    Friday, June 20, 2014

    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    8:15p - 12:00a
    Guests: 12

    Grounds freshly mowed, they look great, stickers are rising so be prepared and now wear open towed shoes. Both scopes worked well. Internet working great. Mosquitos were overwhelming again. The guests were constantly fanning them off. By the end of the night they are now in my face and ears after having sprayed my whole face and body of repel. I wish we had one of those mosquito contraptions called Mosquito Magnet. The low end model is $330, the high end $999 (wireless internet control) and all models can rid up to 1 acre of land of mosquitoes. However, it runs on propane and I wonder if that'll pose a problem should we seriously this. So for tomorrow night, those who're coming be prepared. They will get into your cars and not leave.

    The skies started out as mostly cloudy, but did clear off a little to show Mars, Saturn. I later showed a couple some stars and Albireo. They were awestruck and will be back tomorrow evening for the Saturday night star party. HDTV worked great to show the crowd some animated visuals on the sky and some movies.

    Quite warm and a litte muggy, but comfortable temperatures, very little wind. We gotta do something about these mosquitoes and I believe, the magnet is the way to go.

    Left 12:15a temp 78º.

  • 13 Jul 2014 1:46 AM | Anonymous member

    Saturday 7/12/2014

    COE Star Party
    Eagle Eye Observatory
    Guests: 40

    Arrived about 8 p.m to COE.  Sky was clear.  The resort let me know they were about half full.  Several guests expected due to Super Moon.  The road to the observatory is starting to get washed out.  (Jim Sheets let me know they have put in a request to LCRA about it).  Lots of rabbits on the road.  More than I usually see.

    I was happy to see fellow AAS friend David Ault setup with his astrophotography equipment next to the observatory.   Roof open, Scopes up, Red Lights On, Display and internet working.  

    This was my first time back since the re-arrangement of the observatory.  I must say I like it.  The cabinets were very convenient for retrieving equipment and I loved the new benches.  I forgot to bring my tape measure to get the dimensions for the displays dust cover, but between Jim Sheets and i, one of us will get it measured soon.

    Guests began arriving immediately. Ran several videos on the large display about Hubble, Saturn, and the moon until it was dark enough to view objects.  Soon put the Harlen Scope on Saturn and Forrest Scope on MARS.  Then switched Forrest to the Super Moon.

    Did normal sky tour and AAS history and upcoming event information.  Guests were able to see Moon, Saturn, Mars, Ring Nebula, and Hercules Cluster.  They were also very impressed with the astrophography that David was doing.   Jim Sheets also stopped by and helped us for a while.

    Best moment of the night were all the children who would go "Wow!" at Saturn.

    Lots of fun questions about the super moon and which best astronomy apps to download.

    Everyone seemed to have a great time.  Donations in box.

    Several guests said they would show up one of the public star parties.  A couple people seemed really interested in joining and getting trained on the scopes.  I gave them the web site address.  I'm working on a training plan based on what we have so far and tweaking it a bit.

    Last guests left about 11:30pm.  Closed the observatory and left at 11:45.  Temp 87 degrees.

    - James Hall
  • 17 Jun 2014 11:34 PM | Anonymous member
    Saturday June 14, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Eagle Eye Observatory
    James Hall
    Guests: 20

    Arrived to mostly clear skies. Maybe 10% cloud cover which lasted that way most of the night.  Grounds were good, but could use a slight mowing.

    Red lights on, scopes up. Internet working. Apple TV and Large Display working well with iPad. 

    Started with Jupiter on the Forrest Scope and alternated Mars/Saturn on the Harlan.  Went over history of the observatory and how telescopes worked.  Showed several videos on Saturn, and size comparisons of Stars.  Was able to show guests a good sky tour of satellites, planets, Hercules Cluster, and the Ring Nebula.  Also saw a few shooting stars.

    Best moment of the night was the last family that showed up fairly late.  But had a great time going "Wow" to everything they saw.

    It was a small crowed, but a fun group.  Overall a great night of outreach...  :)

    Closed up and secured the observatory about 11:30 p.m.

    Until next time.. Clear Skies..

    - James
  • 11 Jun 2014 9:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Saturday, May 31 2014
    CoE Monthly Public Star Party
    Joyce Lynch

    Guests: 67-100

    There were a lot of clouds before dark, but the sky cleared, and it was a great night of observing. There were 67 people signed in, including 2 Girl Scout troops, but the actual number was probably closer to 100. Visitors were treated to the sight of 4 planets, including the elusive Mercury, which was dimly visible for a while before getting lost in the haze on the horizon. The Moon near Jupiter was an awesome sight, and the setting crescent was beautiful.

  • 14 May 2014 12:31 PM | Anonymous member
    Friday, May 9, 2014
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    Guests: 20

    Building- good, grounds- good, lights- all working, Telescopes and equipment- good shape, internet- working.  I’m very pleased to report that the new pulleys are a great improvement, making it easier and smoother to roll off each roof section.  You have to watch carefully when you near the end of roof travel as before, the rope conflicted with the I-beam with friction causing a braking sensation towards that last foot.  It is a steady roll now all the way to the steel stop.

     I managed to get there ahead of time to view the setting Sun thru the Forrest and the 40mm Solar PST.  However, the PST image was very dim.  I could not detect any prominences at all.  Very difficult to make out texture within the solar disk. There may be an issue inside that may be a defect. For one, it does not even show the little white dot finder for centering the sun.  There may be some kind of blockage inside and should be much brighter than it is.  Skies became overran with clouds, just barely enough to glimpse the 77% Waxing Gibbous Moon, and Mars.  A few got to observe it well at times.  Only a portion of the NW sky was in good shape and I was able with luck to lock in NGC 2392 (The Eskimo) in <5 sec and was a good thrill for all.  The seeing was very poor and Jupiter and Mars had no detail to offer.  A good small crowd that enjoyed everything they saw.  After the last guests left the skies became completely clear!  I was tired and packed it all in.

     Left at 12a  Temp 64º

  • 06 May 2014 3:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    AAS Public Star Party

    Darin Koch & James Hall - Observatory Operators
    Larry Martin & Dawn Davies on the field
    Guests: 50

    Darin and James arrived early to carry out some work on the observing field and ran the scopes through the night.  Early evening clouds attempted to thwart our observing endeavors.  However, from 8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. the skies behaved and gave us large pockets of clear viewing overhead despite poor transparency.  The crowd was think through the night but with a consistent flow of visitors from as far away as Virginia.  Jupiter and Mars were a draw for the evening along with the usual stellar subjects.  Saturn managed to rise just as the last of the haze settled in.

    Left at 11:50p  Temp 65º
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