Hello Fellow OCA club members!
This Saturday should be a perfect warm clear summer night for our August star party. Since the sun will be setting just before 8 pm, I will open the gate around 7:30 pm. Bring food, drinks and join us if you can.
As the sun sets, Venus (Mag -4.4) will be about 31 million miles from Earth and be illuminated 50% but will drop out of sight about 8:30 pm. We better quickly try to spot Saturn (Mag 0.5) too about 9 degrees to the right of Venus at a distance of about 930 million miles away. Jupiter (Mag -2.3) will be about 455 million miles away and visible shortly after sunset just behind the Scorpion's head. Moons Callisto, Europa & Io will be to the left of Jupiter in my ETX Meade telescope while moon Ganymede will be just to the right.
Pluto (Mag 13.9) will be challenging to find above Sagittarius without using a 10 inch scope, being 2.85 billion miles from Earth. Neptune (Mag 7.8) will be a bit easier to see, even though it is 2.7 billion miles away up in Capricorn later in the evening. Uranus (Mag 5.7), 1.7 billion miles away, Mars (Mag 0.4), 116 million miles away and Mercury (Mag -1.1), 105 million miles away will not be visible before midnight when we close the gate.
The 300 mile wide, Arizona sized Asteroid 4Vesta (Mag 6.1) has faded from naked eye brightness on it's arc into the head of Scorpius, but can be easily seen with binoculars. At the end of this month it will be visible below Jupiter along with Jupiter in a low power eyepiece. Comet C/2006 VZ13 (Mag 11) will be headed between Spica and Corvus this month and can be spotted about 10 degrees East of M49 & M61. It was surprisingly bright at last month's BSC star party.There will not be any Iridium flares visible this Saturday evening nor the HST (Hubble Space Telescope) but the (Mag -2.2) ISS (International Space Station) will fly over at 8:11 pm at 10 degrees SW rising to 77 degrees NW and dropping to 10 degrees NE at 8:17 which should be spectacular.
For deep sky objects this month we might consider looking at double stars in the Serpent Bearer constellation Ophiuchus, found above Scorpius and just west of the Milky Way. Take a look at double stars Rho, Lambda, Omicron, Tau and 61 Ophiuchi. Just north of Scorpius is 36 Ophiuchi which is a pair of identical orange dwarfs (Mag 5.1) that are only 19.5 light years away. Try and find 70 Ophiuchi which is a double star system that is only 16.6 light years away which is a yellow (Mag 4.2) star and rose-colored (Mag 6.2) star that take 88 years to revolve around each other. Their separation ranges from 12 to 35 times the Earth-Sun distance.
Don't forget to look for the Perseid shower of sand sized to pebble sized meteors next weekend perfectly timed on a dark, moonless night. Best viewing on this coast will be between midnight and dawn. The radiant point will be northern Perseus near Cassiopeia.
Remember, Black Star Canyon is only 10 miles East of the 55 Newport Freeway at the Chapman Avenue East off ramp out Santiago Canyon road near the Silverado Canyon exit. We usually have fairly dark skies protected from lights in a big bowl canyon.
Your OCA star party host,