01/12/08 BSC star party recap

Posted On January 13, 2008

What a great group of people we had out at BSC this past Saturday…most of the BSC star party regulars were there and we all shared objects in our scopes. I opened the gate at 4:30 pm and it was a mild 64 F but did get cold enough later (50 F) that we put on coats & gloves. At 10 pm, we had a surprising warm Santa Ana wind start up that brought the temps back up to 62 F all the way until I closed the gate just after midnight. A total of  20 cars come out, which is more than usual at this time of year.

There were a few clouds in the sky as the sun set so we couldn’t see Mercury but Mars was blazing bright…too bright and small for us to make out any details on the planet. We did get to see the Hubble Space Telescope pass over but it was very dim magnitude 4. For some reason, we could not see the Iridium flare when the satelite was scheduled to pass? However we did see a large number of satellites…and even a few meteors.

Orion was up early and looked magnificent. We were able to see the Trapezium in the Orion nebula very clearly at 100X power. I was not able to see either comet, even after the moon went down,  but Hassi and others did see both, saying they were very faint. In the vicinity of comet 17P/Holmes, we could see bright star cluster M34 in Perseus and even the dumbell M76 nebula.

Saturn came up about 9 pm and we were able to see all 5 major moons…Titan was by itself far west from the planet. At that time we were able to see galaxy M81 up by the Big Dipper and some say they could even see M82. We saw many other objects Saturday night and everyone had a good time