Observatory Reports

  • 26 Jun 2013 9:18 AM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    24 June 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Guests: 6
    This evening I opened the observatory at 8:30pm and soon had 3 couples on hand. The sky
    was mostly overcast... so I explained the scopes features and fired up the Big Screen. I kept them entertained with SkySafari Pro until the sky began to clear.
    We viewed Saturn with the Forrest scope and spotted a few more targets with the Smith. Targets successfully viewed were, M57,M51, M13. Albireo and Epsilon Lyrae (Double Double). The Moon rose in a very hazy eastern horizon, but was bright enough to wash out any more faint targets.
    We finished the evening with both scopes targeting the Moon. Every one departed at 11:00pm.
    Thanks, Jim
  • 23 Jun 2013 6:40 PM | Anonymous member
    COE Public Star Party
    Saturday June 22, 2013
    6:30pm to 11:30pm
    James Hall & Tara Heine
    Total Guests: 30

    Tara and I arrived to EEO about 6:30.  Sky was about 30% overcast.  Nice breeze coming in from the south.  Grounds looked good.  Some ant hills but looks like it was mowed recently.  Only minor stickers and weeds around doors, but not too bad.

    Opened the observatory.  All equipment and lights were fine.  Large brown spider on north rope of the observatory, but Tara easily delt with it using a broom.  

    I've now donated a router and iTV to the observatory.  It is kept in a desk drawer in a red bag.  I'm doing some pilot testing with some of the other operators who do outreach programs at the EEO.  But soon will have instructions in the drawer as well for others to use.  Jim Sheets came out and we went through some training on how to setup his iPad with the wireless connection to the observatory display.  It worked out well on his latest iPad (4th generation).  That means we now know it works well on iPad2, iPad3, and iPad4.

    I forgot to ask Jim before he left about something I noticed on the observatory doors. When I opened North and South doors I noticed damage to both of them.  The South door has a clean hole poked through it.  It looks like something impacted the door from the outside.  (Maybe a mower?)  New large dents also noticed in North doors that looks like it mostly poked through as well.  Pictures attached email. 

    We didn't get our first guests until around 9:30pm.  

    The super moon was in full effect.  I put the moon filter on the 40mm EP and inserted it in the Forrest scope.  The Forrest scope tracked well all night long.  Tara worked with the Harlan.  She had the 8mm EP on Saturn.  With that level of zoom it still did a pretty good job of tracking with only minor corrections all night.

    There was a wedding at the resort and a large group of people there, but none seemed to make it down to the observatory. However, there were small groups of couples that began arriving.  Then large group of 14 people arrived from Austin.  Everyone loved looking at the moon.  But most "Wow's" were heard from looking at Saturn.  Venus was clouded over and didn't get to see it.

    I did normal laser sky tour of what we could see in the sky.  History of AAS, and public star parties as well as upcoming events such as comet ISON and the next upcoming star parties.  We also did a presentation of exoplanets and video of "Is Pluto a Planet".  Many guests impress with what they saw and promised to return again.  Donations in box.

    Last guest left just before 11pm.  We closed up and left observatory at 11:30pm.

    Temp on wall = 82 degrees

    - James Hall
  • 21 Jun 2013 3:16 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    19 Wednesday 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Guests: 2
    I started the evening at 8:30 with the skies looking iffy.  By 9:30 I still had no guests, so I was filling time by trying to get a look at Omega Centauri (NGC 5139). Between the gibbous moon and the heavy haze in the southern sky, it was impossible to locate, even with my 10x50 bino's.
    A father and son arrived about 9:45. Through the haze, we viewed the Moon and Saturn. We spent some time looking at my new graphics apps.  I recently acquired an iPad 4 and the linkage to connect with HDMI on the wall TV.  The app that I enjoy the most is "SkySafari Pro" an extremely detailed sky atlas and all around info center. Also, "Exoplanet" wonderful graphics and zooming capabilities.
    The guests left about 11:00 and I continued to play with my iPad until Midnight. closed and went home.
  • 19 Jun 2013 2:59 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    16 June 2013
    Jim Sheets
    Guests: 16
    I arrived at the EEO at 8:30pm and was able to observe both Venus and Mercury just after the Sun had set. Had to use my 10X50 Bino's to see Mercury. Sky conditions were hazy with high thin clouds upon my arrival. Seeing continued to improve as the night progressed.
    Soon 14 guests arrived and I showed them the moon with the Forrest telescope while it was cooling down. I put the Smith scope on Saturn and got several "WOW's" from the group. as the haziness improved we were able to glimps M13, M81 and M82, and make out only the cores of the M 51 combo. The northern part of the sky gave the best opportunity to point out some asterisms.
    Two additional people from the CoE lodge came to the field with a 10" Dob. that they set up,
    but soon put away again and joined the rest of us in the observatory. This brought the total # of Guests to 16.
    We chatted until about 11:30... then I closed up and went home.
  • 19 Jun 2013 2:37 PM | Anonymous member
    As this was a Members Only night at EEO I presented a Fireside Chat for the Canyon of the Eagles Guests.
    It was not a very good night for star viewing at the observatory or at CoE so most of my time
    was devoted to explaining to the guests about the Solar System and Time/Distance factors in
    astronomy. I fielded several questions from the group which was only 6 adults and 2 children.
    Starting time was about 8:30 pm and we finished the discussion around 10:30 pm.
  • 18 Jun 2013 11:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sat. June 1, 2013

    COE Public Star Party

    Joyce Lynch


    Guests:  40

    The sky was cloudy throughout the evening, but there were still about 40 people who came out, including a small busload from a senior center in Austin.  We talked about the telescopes, showed Stellarium on the big screen, and answered questions.

    In attendance:  Jim Sheets, Alan Carruth, Dawn Davies, Jim Lynch, David Lynch, Joyce Lynch


  • 17 Jun 2013 9:04 AM | Anonymous member
    Sat Jun 15, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    James Hall
    Guests: 40

    I was staying in the RV part of COE this weekend with Tara.  So we just stopped by the office to let them know what we would be seeing that night.  We left to open the observatory about 7:15 p.m.  It was slightly cloudy.  Maybe 40% at dusk and cleared to about 30% by 9 pm.

    Grounds were good.  No trash to pick up.  Grass and thorns not to bad.  Some trouble getting the table light turned on that is closest to the entrance. I think the switch is just tricky. There was a very large owl out in the north field just sitting in the freshly mowed grass.  There were several smaller birds dive bombing it trying to get it to leave.  When Tara approached to take a picture it flew away.

    Observatory Area and Equipment: 
    Observatory opened.  Roofs Opened.  Lights on. Noticed a small brown scorpion on the ropes when opening.  Took care of it.  Computer on desk.  I confess I forgot to bring the instructions for turning it on and testing it and the internet connection.  But I was having internet problems at the resort, so I doubt we would have had connection at the observatory.  The display worked well all night. Hooked it wirelessly to iPad through iTV.  40mm EP in the Forrest scope.  17mm EP in the Harlan.  The Forrest tracked the moon all night very well.  About 95%.  Only needed minor adjustment with joystick.  The Harlan kept drifting off Saturn all night every few minutes.  I tried with tracking switch turned and off, but It didn't seem to help much.  I think last time it did that the Harlan was unplugged, but I noticed the light was on, so I don't think that was it this time.

    Tara setup her dob in the field and gave views of several objects.  I had Harlan set on Saturn and the Forrest scope on the moon. I also gave a presentation on iPad when clouds covered the moon and Saturn.  Mizar/Alcor double.  Also showed Exoplanet App for closest planets to us.  Moon HD for landing sites on the moon.  Pocket Universe HD for position of Saturn's moons.  Showed videos of the black hole in our own milky way, information on Pluto, and Star Size comparisons.  I gave Sky tours and spoke on AAS History. Great mix of Children and Adults.  Lots of wows heard throughout the night.

    Observatory Secured. Closed up and left about 11:30pm
  • 11 Jun 2013 5:08 PM | Anonymous member
    Sat Jun 8, 2013
    CoE Members Only Star Party
    Darin & Dana Koch
    Guests: 2 

    Dana and I were the first to arrive just inside 5 pm.  The grounds were not that great as high stickers loomed the east observing area.  The Forrest/Ealing telrad had a broken battery holder inside and I fixed it at home with krazy glue and will return it soon.  The interim telrad also in the cabinet works ok as I was told by Dana.  The combo lock on the front door still works, but now does not lock when when tumblers are scrambled.  IT WILL ONLY LOCK WITH COMBO SHOWING, then push in and scramble.  I must take this lock back into town and get another one.

    Conducted observatory training for 1 AAS member, Rob Pettengill.  Installed the G5 iMac computer for the EEO, complete with new custom heavy duty cardboard dust cover which covers the keyboard also.  Instead of a mouse, the Kensington Turbo trackball will always be disconnected and placed in the drawer below when not in use.  Only two buttons out of the four on the trackball are programmed for left click and right click and features a rotary trackball ring for quick ring finger srolling.

    When powered on from the right rear pwr button, the desktop features the Eagle Eye Observatory official logo against a black screen for nighttime benefits.  It has a 1/8" red plastic filter installed.  It can be removed by tilting the monitor forward and catching it when it falls out.  

    There are three icons are on the desktop for: 
    1. EEO Visitor Count GRAND TOTAL.xls 
    2. 2013 EEO Log.doc 
    3. EEO Maintainance.doc

    Each operator will power on the computer and enter their log on the 2013 EEO Log.doc and then EEO Visitor Count GRAND TOTAL.xls.  

    Had 3 new members, 2 of the members just paid their membership online today in order to enter.   Skies were fair, but didn't give great transparency, 30% obscured by thin clouds and mostly cloudy around the horizon in all directions.  Total of 7, including us that showed up all night.

    Maintenance to the observatory and grounds included: cleaning eyepieces, sweeping the observatory, sprinkling Fire Ant Shredder, weedeating around the path from parking lot to observatory.  Not a pleasant job with grassburs flying.  Grounds are needing mowing.  Grassburs are numerous.

    Left at 12:45a and about 78 degrees.
  • 26 May 2013 11:26 AM | Anonymous member
    Saturday May 25, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    James Hall
    Guests: 60

    Tara and I arrived at Canyon of Eagles Park about 6:15 p.m.  Checked in at the office and let them know to send guests to the Eagle Eye Observatory as soon as possible at sunset because of the 3 planets (Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter) that we were going to get a small chance to see right at dusk.  Sky was about 60% cloudy on arrival, but seemed to be starting to clear up, so I was getting optimistic.

    Grounds looked very good, best I've seen in a long time.  I'm not sure who did the mowing and edging this time around but they did an excellent job.  Sticker plants were edged out and gone from all around the observatory.  No trash anywhere.  Mild amount of ants and mosquitos. 

    We are out of paper towels at the observatory.  I'll have to get with Darin to see if their is a list of equipment and supplies that we need to check for on arrival.  I also need to get with him on greasing the Harlan to make it easy to move again.

    I forgot to test the internet.  All red lights working.  Display working. Scopes did pretty well all night.  The Forrest scope tracked about 90%.    Harlan about 90% as well.

    The Harlan still has the stiffness that Darin mentioned before, but otherwise tracked well.  

    Weather warm but nice breeze from south.  Sky was about 30 to 40 % clouds most of the night.  

    Guests began arriving immediately.  Nice mix of children and adults from all over the park.  Clouds covered most of the planets early on, but were parted just long enough to view most of them for those that arrived early.

    Viewed Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Mizar, and the moon.  Normal AAS history ans sky tour of constellations presented.

    Used the display hooked wirelessly to iPad for the following:
    • Used Pocket Universe HD App to show Positions of Saturn and Jupiter's moons and what they would look like through the eye piece
    • Used Exoplanet App to show closest Exoplanets in the Habitable Zone and where we are in the milky way.
    • Used Solar Walk App to show Solar System Models and why it was a great time to see Saturn.
    • Used Moon HD App for showing lunar landing sites and and how to spot them in the eye piece.
    • Used Star Walk and Distant Suns to show how the stars draw the constellations (always a big hit with families)

    Also presented "Minute in Physics" videos on "Why is Pluto not a planet"

    Many people wow'ed by what they saw in the scopes and would leave and return with additional friends/family.

    Last guests left about 11:00 p.m.

    Secured all scopes, lights, observatory

    Closed up and left at 11:30 p.m.   Temp 75 degrees.


    - James Hall
  • 19 May 2013 1:42 PM | Anonymous member
    Saturday May 18, 2013
    CoE Star Party
    James Hall
    Guests: 20

    Tara and I arrived about 6:15 p.m.  Grounds looked mostly good.  Sticker plants starting to popup everywhere but not too bad yet. Picked up a blue cup and thermos in the parking lot, as well as an old hand held video game. I assume those items got lost in the dark from last star party guests.  Jim Sheets stopped by and I gave the items to him.  He works for COE now and was happy to drop them off at office in case they have a lost and found.

    I cleaned the desks and all the glass in the observatory.  We are running out of paper towels, but otherwise everything cleaned up nicely.  I also picked up 1 chair out of the observatory that had most of the covering missing and took it to the dumpster with my truck. 

    Internet not working.  All red lights working.  Display working. Scopes did pretty well all night.  The Forrest scope tracked well all night.  Probably 90%.  Switched it between Jupiter and the moon.

    The Harlan still has the stiffness that Darin mentioned before, but otherwise tracked well.  

    Weather warm but nice breeze from south.  Sky was about 50% clouds on arrival and 10% cloud cover during final hour of viewing.

    Viewed Jupiter, Saturn, Mizar, Moon, and Hercules Cluster.

    Used the Display hooked wirelessly to iPad through first part of night to show Positions of Saturn and Jupiters moons, Exoplanets, Solar System Models, Moon HD for landing sites.  Then switched it off as night got darker to preserve dark adaption.

    Several "Wow's" heard throughout the night.

    Last guests left about 10:45

    Secured all scopes, lights, observatory

    Closed up at 11:15


    - James Hall
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