11/07/09 BSC star party

Posted On November 3, 2009

BSC - Saturday 07 November 2009

Hello Fellow OCA club members!

This Saturday I plan to open the gate at 4:30 pm, about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday indicates that Black Star Canyon may have clouds but we are several days off and I am hoping the reports are wrong. The 3rd Quarter Moon will not rise until about 9:45 pm giving us dark skies until then. First time visitors might want to get to BSC 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. 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.


There will be one bright (Mag -3.5) evening ISS (International Space Station) pass starting at 5:54 pm 10 degrees high SW, rising to 82 SE at 5:57 and then dropping to 28 degrees NE at 5:58. The HST (Hubble Space Telescope) will make a dim (Mag 2.5) pass at 6:18:46 starting at 10 degrees WSW rising to 39 degrees S at 6:22:46 and then dropping to 31 degrees SE at 6:24. We won't see any Iridium flares this Saturday but I am sure we will see a few satellites pass over as we are looking up in the sky.



~Mercury (Mag -0.5) sets about 5 pm next to the Sun so will not be seen this Saturday evening. It is 133 million miles from Earth in constellation Libra. Mercury rises about 6 am so can best be seen just before sunrise this month,
~Venus (Mag -3.8) rises about 5 am, in constellation Virgo and is very bright and easily seen before sunrise. It is about 90% illuminated so looks like the moon in a telescope. Venus is getting further from Earth and will be about 150 million miles away on Saturday. Venus will not be visible Saturday evening as it sets about 4 pm.
~Mars (Mag 0.4) is now in Constellation Cancer traveling eastward getting closer to Earth and is now about 108 million miles away. Mars sets about an hour after noon and doesn't rise until around 10:45 pm so can be seen late this Saturday evening at BSC.
~Jupiter (Mag -2.3) rises about 1 pm in constellation Capricornus so the big planet will stand high in the sky as the sun sets, but will set about 11:30 pm. It now is about 448 million miles from Earth and getting further every day. The big Red spot will be visible early in the evening from about 7 pm until about 10 pm. Ganymede (the largest moon in the entire solar system) will be the moon farthest to the west with Calisto half way to Jupiter. Moons Europa and Io will be to the east of Jupiter in that order. Europa will start off very close to Jupiter and rapidly move away covering Io about 10 pm while Calisto will move closer to Jupiter as the hours go by.

~Saturn, (Mag 1.1) sets about 3 pm Saturday in constellation Virgo so will be washed out by the sun. It is about 947 million miles away getting closer to Earth. It can be seen in the morning sky as it rises about 3 am. We will now see the northern side of the rings for the first time since 1996.
~ Uranus (Mag 5.8) will rise about 2:40 pm in constellation Pisces this week so can be seen high in the sky Saturday evening. It shows up as a blue-green disc in a telescope and is about 1.807 billion miles away moving farther from Earth. This planet reached opposition September 17th.
~ Neptune (Mag 7.9) will be in constellation Capricornus about 2.772 billion miles away this week slowly moving farther from Earth. It is seen as a bluish disc in a telescope and we should see it this Saturday as it rises about 1:15 pm and sets about midnight. It will be just a few degrees behind Jupiter along the Ecliptic.
Later this month on the 17th just before dawn you can expect to see 100 meteors an hour from the Leonids meteor shower. The radiant is in Leo the Lion's head and the meteors are from tiny dust particles from Comet Tempel-Tuttle's many passes through the Earth's orbit. These small particles hit our atmosphere at 41 miles per second creating pretty streaks in the sky.
Comet 22P Kopff (Mag 12.9) will be just 10 degrees east of the Ecliptic in Aquarius half way between Jupiter and Uranus. It is now about 146 million miles away slowly getting further from Earth and has a period of 6.44 years.
Other comets are even dimmer so would be next to impossible to find in any of our scopes.

Minor Planet 1 Ceres (Mag 8.8), the very first asteroid ever discovered, is now floating near Virgo. It will be impossible to see due to being about 5 degrees from the setting sun. This asteroid has a period of 4.6 years and is about 339 million miles away. It was discovered back in 1801 and is the largest asteroid we have found, having a diameter of 580 miles.
Minor Planet 3 Juno (Mag 8.5) reached opposition in September and is brighter than it has been since 2005. It is only 1/4th the diameter of Ceres yet was one of the first 4 asteroids discovered. It can be found between Aquarius and Cetus this month just 7 degrees under Uranus. It is only about 124 million miles from Earth.
Minor Planet 89 Julia (Mag 9.5) has moved up the main Andromeda strand and is just a degree NE of the Pegasus corner star. It has a period of 4.07 years and is now about 117 million miles from Earth now moving away from us.
Deep Sky:
Lets look for some objects this month around Capricornus, near where Jupitor is hanging out.

Globular Cluster M30 (Mag 7.2) is just below the tail of Capricornus near 5th magnitude star 41 and close to 3rd magnitude star 36. It is 26,000 light years away and has a diameter of 83 light years. This is a fairly tight cluster of stars that Messier observed clear back in 1764.
Globular cluster M72 (Mag 9.3) in Aquarius approximately forms a right triangle with stars Theta Capricorni and Dabib. It is thought to be 55,000 light years away and has a diameter of 96 light years. M72 is one of the faintest Messier objects so is a challenge to see. Messier observed this object in 1780.
Open cluster M73 (Mag 10.5) is an asterism of four stars that form a small equilateral triangle. It is only about a degree east of M72. This cluster is a very tight group of stars that Messier observed back in 1780.

Globular Cluster M75 (Mag 8.5) is on the opposite side of Capricornus from M30 and is a bit hard to find. It is about 61,000 light years away and is 106 light years in diameter. Messier observed this object in 1780.

Don't forget to bring your gloves, coats & sweaters because it will probably get cold (summer is over) as the night approaches midnight 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 it to get dark. Please remember to cart off all your trash as there are no garbage cans at BSC. Hope to see you there.
Your OCA star party host,