We had a total of 30 cars come to Black Star Canyon this past Saturday evening and everyone seemed to have a great time. Several long time club members, that usually go to Anza, came to BSC for the first time and felt like it was a fun & friendly star party. They plan to return often to cut down long drive times from Long Beach to Anza, and save a ton of money on gas.
Most everyone got to see the very bright (Mag -6) Iridium Flare at 8:43 PM and we did catch Saturn low in the sky before it set. We did not see Venus as the sun set but Val did try with binoculars. But Jupiter was bright and very clear and the belts showed up clearly even at 73X on my ETX125.
Travis brought out his son Brandon as usual but also brought his lovely wife for the first time, I think. She sat in a chair and looked through binoculars when not looking through their big DOBS. They are the best parents and have raised a young son (I think he is 7 now) to love astronomy. He has been given a smaller DOBS and can pick out many of the well known objects up in the sky just like an old pro.
No one took on the challenge of finding the comets as they would be very faint and hard to ID. But we did enjoy looking at some nice Globular Clusters including M4 & M13...Kyle Coker had a nice view in his big 10" Meade scope. He also used a web cam to take a movie of Jupiter and it came out great. He plans to use it in his lecture this Friday at the Beginners Class held at the Centennial Heritage Museum in Santa Ana.
I and others also looked at the Globular Clusters M54, M69 & M70 along the bottom of the "Teapot" and each one popped into view directly on my scope after having tracked Jupiter for awhile. Kyle had a meter that measured darkness and said that the readings he was getting were something like 19.9 and for comparison, he said Anza was 20.5 ( I think). We were even seeing the Milky Way around 10 PM.
We also had a car come down with headlights off with 5 teenagers that were attracted by the red flashers along the road. Since they had driven down slowly with headlights off, I invited them to park and come look at Jupiter and other objects like double star Alberio, M57 (the Smoke Ring), etc. I want to thank the other members who generously showed them many other objects. These 3 boys and two girls had a good time and we opened up some new horizons for them while keeping them out of trouble for a few hours.
The temp was 70 when I opened the gate and was just 64 F when I locked the gate at 12:30. This was one of the better BSC star parties...