Observatory Reports

  • 20 Jul 2013 4:08 PM | Anonymous member

    Fri July 19, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    Guests: 35

    Grounds fair, high stickers around the building, building good, ropes are getting frayed, but still ok to use, lots of grass burrs and dry grass inside, scopes good.  Still no internet.  I swept the entire observatory floor and vacuumed along the west wall as much as I could.  I found a live Black Widow spider below one of the chairs on the east wall near the Forrest scope.  Attention to all observatory operators:  please inspect underneath each chair for these type critters before guests arrive.  I’d hate to think someone could get bit by one of these things while doing a star party. 

    Mostly adults and teenagers in tonight’s crowd and boy they were just too silent than the norm.  No one made much sound or anything about Saturn, and the first group I had was a family who never been here before and they too were just a quiet family group.  Oh well, I’m just not used to this especially when Saturn is at its finest.  It is getting lower and lower in the sky and it won’t be too much longer before we’ll have to wait till next year.

    We saw the 90% waxing gibbous Moon, Saturn, M13, M51, M57, Double Double, Albierio. The seeing was poor to fair, but improved after 10:30p. I used the HDTV to Starry Night, show movies and pictures of these objects.  Everyone enjoyed what they saw.

    Left at 11:45p 79º 

  • 19 Jul 2013 2:23 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    Wednesday 17 July 2013
    Jim Sheets
    9:00p - 10:30p
    Guests: 2
    The Rain Did come. Weather at the EEO was quite inclement during the entire day and evening. Over a 3 day period we received about 8 inches of rain at the Canyon. The road to the observatory is quite rutted... small cars could get lost in the abyss.
    The alternate location afforded the guests at CoE was to use the "Perch" activities room at the resort. I connected my iPad to the big screen at the Perch and presented a tour of the night sky with SkySafari Pro software and did a tour of the Universe with Exoplanet software for the 2 guests that were in attendance.
    Jim Sheets
  • 11 Jul 2013 10:39 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    Wednesday 10 July 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Total Guests: 12
    The sky was nearly clear upon arrival. I opened and set up the scopes and by 8:30p 4 guests had arrived. I targeted Venus and the crescent moon while they were still above the west wall of the building. In the waning twilight the moon was a pleasant sight through the Forrest scope. It was just bright enough to clearly see detail while not being so bright as to need filtering. By 9:00p the remaining 8 guests had arrived. I then swung both scopes to Saturn so everyone could have a leisurely look at it. 
    After a TV presentation (Exoplanit) it was dark enough to do a laser tour. The transparency was good while the seeing was average. The sky was dark and the stars popped. The guests were very involved and asked many questions... we toured several Messier objects along with albireo and the double-double.
    The last guests departed at about 11;35 and I continued viewing until midnight, then closed.
    Jim Sheets 
  • 11 Jul 2013 4:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Sat. July 6, 2013

    COE Public Star Party

    Joyce Lynch


    Guests: 134

    There were quite a few clouds when I arrived shortly before 8:00, but there were already a dozen or so visitors.  One couple was there to get information for a book they are writing about nature tourism. 

    Visitors kept streaming in; there were 134 on the sign-in sheet, and I always figure there were a few more who didn't come by the welcome table.  The clouds came and went, off and on, but by the end of the evening the sky was mostly clear. 

    There were about 10 scopes on the field, and I believe some of them belonged to visitors rather than members.  I know at least some of them were looking at Saturn, because I got the not uncommon comment (half kidding) about how we must have put a photo of Saturn on the scope to show people because the view just couldn't be real. 

    The temperature must have been close to 100 when we started, but it turned into a pleasant summer evening.  The grass was a reasonable length, with a few stickers, and I didn't notice a bug problem.

    COE Resort personnel had said the new internet service might be installed by now, but there was none yet.

    By 11:15 all the visitors were gone, although some members stayed around for a while after that.

  • 09 Jul 2013 10:12 AM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    Monday 8 July 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Total Guests: 8
    Upon arrival, I noticed that the 3 red pathway lamps (at tables) had been left on from the Public star party on Saturday. In the circle of viewing tables was several bits of trash, empty soda and water bottles, candy wrapers, Subway food containers, napkins and bags. (Someone had a picnic while there). Other than that, all was well with the facility.
    While cleaning up, 4 guests arrived and we talked while I opened the building and sat up the instruments. The sky was about 50% cloudy. I checked the Cleardarksky clock and confirmed that the transparency & seeing were both below average. (not a good night for viewing).
    Four more guests arrived about 9:15 and I did visuals on the TV while waiting for better sky conditions. Both scopes targeted Saturn so folks could see something. The sky did clear somewhat... we were able to see most of the brighter stars, so I did a laser tour of the major asterisms. Targeted Albireo to show contrast of color. M57 was barely visible.
    The folks seemed to appreciate what was available.
    Every one left just before 11:00.
    Jim Sheets
  • 08 Jul 2013 7:35 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    Happy Independence Day
    04 July 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Total Guests: 14
    Upon arrival the grounds and building looked in good shape. My first guests arrived shortly after
    I opened the roof. The sky was mostly clear, but the transparency and seeing were only average.
    I sat up the Smith scope and pointed it a Saturn. Then did a TV presentation with Exoplanit until darkness. While the Forrest mirror was cooling, I targeted Albireo to show the colors. Did a laser tour of the constellations then targeted sever Messier objects for the folks.
    We were able to observe flashes from fireworks that appeared like distant lightning.
    Temperature was in the upper 70's all evening.
    Jim Sheets
  • 07 Jul 2013 2:32 PM | Anonymous member
    Fri July 5, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    Darin & Dana Koch
    Guests: 40

    Grounds good for the most part, but some high stickers near the EEO entrance so use caution, building good, scopes good monitor good, all lights working. Sill no internet. So I will leave the router turned off and try again next time. Until we get a signal it will be turned off. I found the Harlan tailgate end not covered. The cover was found on the floor near the front end of the tube. Forrest finder missing eyepiece cap. Later found in the south cabinet.

    I set up my 25x100 binos on mount outside and showed the guests how to use them and helped Dana in the observatory. A good group of people came down and inundated us with lots of enthusiasm. Almost all were complete newbies. Some told us they been here before remembering us as the hosts. The skies didn't really cooperate that much with thin cirrus here and there blanking out good parts of the sky that I wanted to show making objects difficult to see but we managed to poke thru in other places and had a real good time.

    I delivered a new pair of pliers, new vise grips, and some new ball joint allen wrenches to better tighten the Forrest RA clutch screw. I also tried to replace the front door lock with a new lock, but found one tumbler that was hard to turn as it sank down too far when turning. Will try again next time with another one.

    We saw Saturn, Venus, M51, M13, Double Double, and M57. All in all a good evening, no wind and bottomed out at 83º.

    Left at 12:20a
  • 04 Jul 2013 2:13 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    Wednesday 03 June 2013
    Jim Sheets
    8:00pm to Midnight
    Guests: 20
    At 8:00pm upon arrival, I inspected the grounds and building, Every thing looked good except we had a new Black Widow spider that had decided to make her nest on the inside of the south metal door. She had 2 cocoons of babies that she was tending... so I convinced her to relocate. She will not bother us any more.
    The sky was broken clouds with small areas clear. Guests started arriving and by 9:00-9:30 the count was 16. We talked about the scopes and explored the universe on the big screen until the sky was clear enough to do a sky tour with a laser pointer. The final 4 guests arrived about 10pm and we viewed Saturn, M57, M51 M13, double-double, Albireo and Trifid nebula (M20). The last guests left at 11:20 and I began closing. I was Just ready to lock the door when another car load showed up. I stayed in the parking lot with them and did another constellation tour. They agreed to come back tomorrow night. July 4th. I hope to see them again.
    Thanks, Jim
  • 02 Jul 2013 8:38 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    Monday 01 July 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Guests: 2
    The evening started with clouds. My guests were waiting when I arrived. We opened the building and I explained the operation of the telescopes to them. The sky began to clear overhead and at about 9:15 I targeted Saturn for them to view. Got "WOW" from both mother and daughter. Then they left explaining they would be back on Wednesday with Dad (Husband).
    That was it... no more guests.
    I continued to view Saturn and was able to identify it's moons: Mimas, Enceladus, Rhea, Dione, Titan and a glimps of Tethys (I think). I was using SkySafari Pro as a guide. That is a wonderful tool for ease of use and accuracy.
    Closed at 11:00
  • 29 Jun 2013 11:22 AM | Anonymous member
    Fri Jun 28, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    Darin Koch
    Guests: 35

    Grounds good, building good. I put the old MasterLock back on the latch with current combo. I’ll take the defective unit home to try and exchange it with a new one. I returned the Forrest Telrad repaired and in good working order. I see a brand new Telrad in the SE cabinet. Where did that come from? It’s not the old spare. I inspected all 3 table lights and they are functioning properly.

    I did not use the big monitor as no moon tonight. Good clear night seeing not so good and was very hot at a 104º hi today. Was 107.9º on the wall clock when checked into the observatory. Installed the Halpha PST on the Forrest and viewed the sun for a bit. Not too shabby at 2º above horizon. Nice sunspots, with one big one towards the edge.

    I setup my 16” dob and 25x100 binos outside so the public could experience multiple telescopes. Had one family group from New York state, Liz, Jules, Ed, who stayed until nearly 12:30a. Turns out Liz works for Camera Concepts who owner Jeff comes to the TSP every year. She was very ecstatic about the dark skies here.

    Mike Ruiz from the club setup on the south field and came over to look at M13 thru my 16”. The Harlan was fixed all night on Saturn, Venus thru the Forrest, then over to M13, and it tracked perfectly all night. In my 16”, we viewed M57, 51, 81-82, 27,19, 16-17, 8, 4, 7, 11, 64, NGC4565, 6543, Albierio, Double Double, M101.

    The seeing was about at 2.5” which was quite poor, but seeing the central star in 57 at 406x for brief moments was quite nice.

    I turned the router back on in the shed, had to give one small cooling fan a push to get started and checking the internet signal….and still no internet.

    As I’m loading up the 59% waning gibbous Moon rose at 1:15a and I saw the whole thing through the 25x100s. Wow! It’s just amazing how fast it appears to be rising thru the trees to the east. Then I see a bright star right on top at the terminator just 1.5 arc min from the limb. I went back to the EEO and check it out on Starry Night and it was a 4.5 mag star in Pisces called Lambda Piscium. Simply amazing that it was so bright right off the limb and at that magnitude and thru a lot of haze!

    Left at 1:45a 84º
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