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Saturday 01/05/2013 Black Star Canyon star party By: Steve & Bonnie Short January 2, 2013 3:37AM PDT Views: 2155
BSC Star Party notice - Saturday January 5th, 2013
Hello Fellow OCA club members!
This Saturday, I plan to open the gate around , which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday indicates that OrangeCounty will be sunny with humidity at 20%.But with all the bad weather we have had lately, you might want to keep an eye on the OCA website “Home” page (below the next speaker info) where I will post a notice should the star party be cancelled for any reason.
We should have fairly dark skies as it is the start of the 3rd quarter Moon. First time visitors might want to get to the star party site while it is still light so they can find their way down the dirt road and into the parking area. Remember that you take the 2nd farm gate on the left after turning on Black Star Canyon Road (the 1st farm gate is the Xmas Tree farm). If you come in after dark, you should drive in with your headlights off!!! The dirt road will be marked with red flashers and you can hold a flashlight out the driver’s window to light up the road directly in front of your car.
Warning:No Pets allowed!(This is an OC Parks and Nature Conservancy rule).
The ISS (International Space Station) will not make any visible passes this Saturday evening.
The HST (Hubble Space Telescope) will make one (magnitude 3.0) visible pass Saturday evening starting at 6:11:30 10 degrees high WSW, going to 21 degrees high SSW at 6:14:43 and then dropping to 10 degrees high SSE at 6:17:57 where it will fade from view.
We won’t get to see any Iridium flares Saturday evening at BSC but I am sure we will see a few dim satellites pass overhead as we are looking up in the sky.
Planets & Pluto:
~Mercury, (Mag -.3) sets at about in constellation Sagittarius so would not be seen at BSC.It will rise at so could be seen early in the morning at dawn this month. Mercury will be about 131 million miles from Earth Saturday.
~Venus, (Mag -3.7) will not be seen Saturday evening as it sets about in constellation Ophiuchus. Venus is now about 145 million miles from Earth and can be seen early morning as it rises about .
~Mars, (Mag 1.3) is now in Constellation Capricornus, so is visible at sunset until setting at . The red planet will swing through Capricornus in January heading directly towards Neptune. Mars is about 207 million miles away now with a 4” disk so none of our scopes should be able to see any detail on the red planet until it is closer.
~Jupiter, (Mag -2.5) will rise about in constellation Taurus Saturday evening about 6 degrees northwest of 1st magnitude star Aldebaran. It now is about 393 million miles from Earth getting a little further every day with a diameter of about 46”. At Saturday, Moon Callisto will be far west of Jupiter with largest moon Ganymede half way closer. Moon Europa will be about 5 planet widths west of Jupiter. The only moon to the east of Jupiter will be Io about 2 planet widths away.
~Saturn, (Mag 1.1) will be in constellation Libra this Saturday but cannot be seen as it sets at about . This planet is about 950 million miles away slowly moving closer to Earth. Saturn rises about so can be seen a few hours before dawn.
~ Uranus, (Mag 5.9) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening rising at so will be up high at sunset. It shows up as a small 3.6” blue-green disc in a telescope. This planet reached opposition on September 29th, when it was opposite the Sun in our sky. It will remain visible from sunset to and glows bigger and brighter than at any other time of the year. It is about 1.875 billion miles away from Earth.
~ Neptune, (Mag 7.9) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.848 billion miles away this week slowly moving farther from Earth. It is seen as a bluish gray 2.3” disc in a telescope. We should be able to see it at BSC this Saturday evening (it is bright enough to even be seen through binoculars), as it does not set until .
~ Pluto, (Mag 14.2) sets about so can not be seen Saturday evening.It is 3.101 billion miles from Earth in constellation Sagittarius. Since it is so dim, you will need a 10” or larger telescope to see it visually when it rises early morning about .
The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks January 3rd. The radiant is in northeastern Bootes and this Saturday we might see a few as this meteor shower is active through January 12th. In dark skies one can see up to 120 meteors an hour.
Brightest visible Comets:
This month all the comets orbiting the Sun are very dim so will be extremely difficult to find and see.
The magnitude 12.6 Comet C/2012 K5 Linear might be seen Saturday at the BSC star party in constellation Auriga using a 10” or bigger telescope. Look for it between the beta and theta stars in Auriga. It is about 28 million miles from Earth at this time.
Brightest visible asteroids:
Bright asteroids Ceres and Vesta are in Taurus the Bull this month so can be seen Saturday evening.
Minor Planet 4 Vesta (Mag 6.9), the 2nd most massive object in the asteroid belt, can be found in constellation Taurus, less than 2 degrees northeast of bright star Aldebaran. Vesta has a diameter of about 330 miles and was discovered in 1807. It is about 155 million miles from Earth at this time and has an orbit period of 3.63 years. It will become visible shortly after sunset so might be seen at the BSC star party. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was in orbit around this asteroid and sent back stunning close-up pictures.
Minor Planet 1 Ceres (Mag 7.2) is the biggest object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of about 590 miles. It is in constellation Taurus and can be found about 2 degrees south of the 2nd magnitude beta Tauri star that marks the Bull’s northern horn. It is about 159 million miles from Earth and has a period of 4.61 years. It was discovered in 1801 and for 50 years was classified as the 8th planet. It will be visible Saturday evening shortly after sunset so might be seen at the BSC star party. This asteroid will be the next stop for the Dawn spacecraft.
This month let’s consider looking at some Messier Open Star Clusters below Cassiopeia in Perseus and one just a few degrees above the Double Cluster:
NGC 869 is a magnitude 4.5 open star cluster about 7,100 light years away that spans 62 light years. You can find it about half way on a line between Gamma Persei and Delta Cassiopeiae. It contains about 200 stars and is the western half of the Double Cluster with NGC 884 which is only a few hundred light years away. Its age is estimated to be 13 million years old. Hipparchus first recorded these clusters but they have likely been known since antiquity.
NGC 884 is a magnitude 4.5 open star cluster about 7,600 light years away that spans 65 light years. You can find it about half way on a line between Gamma Persei and Delta Cassiopeiae. It contains about 115 stars and is the Eastern half of the Double Cluster with NGC 869 which is only a few hundred light years away. Its age is estimated to be 12.5 million years old. Hipparchus first recorded these clusters but they have likely been known since antiquity.
M103 is a magnitude 7.4 open star cluster about 8,500 light years away that spans 15 light years. You can find it in constellation Cassiopeia just 1 degree from Delta Cassiopeiae. It is shaped like an arrow in a very thick area of the Milky Way and contains about 25 stars. Its age is estimated to be 22 million years. Messier’s friend Mechain discovered this object and Messier didn’t have time to observe it himself before adding it to his 1781 catalog.
Don't forget to bring your gloves, coats & sweaters as it gets cold now after the sun sets and even colder as the night approaches when we close. After you set up your telescope, there are three picnic tables where you can sit and eat food you might bring, while waiting for the sky to get dark. Please remember to cart off all your trash as there are no garbage cans at BSC. There is also one portable restroom on site should nature call.