Observatory Reports

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  • 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

  • 14 Jul 2014 6:23 PM | Anonymous member

    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    CoE Star Party Darin and Dana Koch
    7:50p-12:05a
    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
    8:05p-12:30a
    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.

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