Observatory Reports

  • 08 Jul 2013 7:35 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    Happy Independence Day
    04 July 2013
    Jim Sheets
    8:30p-11:30p
    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
    8:00p-12:00a
    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
    7:30p-12:40a
    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
  • 27 Jun 2013 1:31 PM | Anonymous member
    CoE Star Party
    Canyon of the Eagles
    Jim Sheets
    26 June 2013
    8:30 pm - 11:20pm
    Guests: 0
     
    Arrived at EEO, opened and set both scopes up and pointed them at Saturn. By the end of civil twilight, the sky conditions were great, cloudless, transparency: good/excellent, seeing: 4/5, temp was a comfortable 81 deg., winds 4-5 knots. These were some of the best conditions that I have witnessed at EEO. No guests yet.
     
      While the Forrest was cooling down, I used the Smith to view a few objects: Saturn was exquisite, (could make out 5 moons), M57 (great view), Epsilon Lyrae (clear separation of the doubles), Albireo was a gem... Brilliant amber A and exquisite sapphire B. Still no guests.
     
    I continued with a Messier marathon...M13, M10, M12, M14, M80, M107, M9, M19, got my fill of globulars... where were all the guests?
     
    By 11:00 I had conceded that I was destined to be alone. Closed up shop and headed down the road and just then I realized that I had forgot to look for Omega Centauri.
     
    Oh well... there will be another time.
     
    see ya,Jim
  • 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 (Administrator)
    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.
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