We had a great night in Blackstar Canon, with surprisingly dark skies due south and west from the coastal marine layer. It stayed nice and warm all night, and 20+ cars quickly filled both the parking lot and the usual observation spots.
We had some visitors from the beginner’s class the evening before who browsed the available telescopes in search for the best fit for themselves. They had a great time with a little loaner scope, figuring out how to use the red-dot finder to find Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Albiero, among others. It was a great opportunity to compare the different ways the various types of scopes rotate and flip images, how different sized mirrors effect the view, etc.
Apart from the planets, the comet C/2006 VZ13 LINEAR showed up as a surprisingly bright apparition, M5, M13, and several other clusters were browsed, and with a really dark southern horizon all the gems in Sagittarius were nice and bright. The Milky way slowly rose out of the south and east with the dust bands visible.
The dew started descending on us around 10 PM, but most scopes with dew caps made it through in one piece, and the interested skunk who lurked at the periphery luckily wasn’t too interested. The evening ended at midnight when the clouds in one final swift move closed in and put an end to all further observations on this otherwise clear night.
After locking the gate I drove the two miles up canyon to Silverado, gained a few hundred feet, and emerged in the darkest, most star studded night I can remember, with the rest of Orange County under a blanket of fog and clouds...
Thanks all for a great star party.
Your stand-in host,
Lost and found:
(Returned) A Celestron(?) hand control holder.
From last month's star party:
A yellow toy car, a straw doll.