Saturday August 27th BSC star party

Posted On August 23, 2016

Black Star Canyon Star Party notice - Saturday August 27th, 2016

Hello Fellow OCA club members!

This Saturday, we plan to open the gate around 7:00 pm, which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday night indicates that Black Star Canyon should be warm with clear skies and humidity about 50%. But please keep an eye on the OCA website Home page (below the next speaker info) where we will post a notice should the star party be canceled for any reason.

With a 3rd quarter Moon Saturday, the Moon will not rise until well after midnight, so our star party should have a dark night sky. 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 any front headlights off!!! The dirt road may 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. Or just park along Black Star Canyon Road and walk down to the star party site.
Try to park two cars in each slanted slot between the rock turning circles so we can get 20 cars into that area. I will help guide the first cars into the slots and then expect that others will follow that pattern. The first car in each slot must stay back, about a foot, from the road that leads out of the parking area so cars that leave early with headlights off will not accidentally bump into parked cars
The BSC star party site has a Latitude of 33.7520N, Longitude 117.6745W and Elevation 297'.

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 (Hubble Space Telescope) will make one magnitude 2.8 visible pass Saturday evening. Starting at 8:51:51 pm 10 degrees high WSW going to 16 degrees high at 8:54:24 SSW and then dropping to 15 degrees high at 8:55:13 S.
Iridium flares: There will not be any visible Iridium Flares this Saturday evening. But I am sure we will see a number of satellites pass over in the early evening.

Planets & Pluto:

~Mercury, (Mag 1.1) sets about 10 pm in constellation Virgo this Saturday evening so might be seen at the BSC star party. It will be very low in the west, only 5 degrees high 30 minutes after sunset so may not clear the hills at our BSC site. Mercury will be about 69 million miles from Earth and will not rise until after 8 am so cannot be seen in the morning sky.
-------------Venus & Jupiter will be within 2 degrees of each other.---------
~Venus, (Mag -3.8) will set at 8:21 pm in constellation Virgo so might be seen this Saturday evening. Venus will be about 145 million miles from Earth Saturday but will be just 6 degrees high 30 minutes after sunset so must be spotted earlier at BSC.
------------------Mars is still close to Earth!!!------------------
~Mars, (Mag -0.7) will be in Constellation Scorpius near bright star Antares so should be easily seen Saturday evening. It will be about 81 million miles from Earth Saturday evening not setting until just before midnight. Mars will have a diameter of 11 which is still big enough to see some detail on the red planet. It will be easy to see Saturday as a bright reddish object to the naked eye 10 degrees behind the Scorpion's 3 star head. A big telescope might show significant surface details including the shrinking white North Pole ice cap (as it is summer time on Mars) which will be tilted 15 degrees towards Earth.
~Jupiter, (Mag -1.5) should be seen Saturday evening after dark as it rose about 8 am in constellation Leo. Jupiter can be seen about 20 degrees below the rear end of the sleeping Lion. It will be about 593 million miles from Earth getting a little farther every day. Jupiter will have a disk size of 31. It should be viewed early as will set about 8:20 pm. At 8 pm, moon Callisto will be far east of Jupiter while moon Europa will be 2 planet widths to the east of the big planet. Moons Ganymede & Io will be about 1 planet widths east of Jupiter.
-------------Saturn will still look good this month-----------------
~Saturn, (Mag 1.2) will be in constellation Ophiuchus this Saturday rising about 2 pm so should be seen this Saturday evening high in the sky as the Sun goes down. It sets about midnight and will be about 881 million miles away Saturday evening. Look for Saturn 10 degrees behind the top star of the head of the Scorpion just above Mars. It will have a diameter of 17 while the rings span 42 and tilt 26 degrees, just 1 degree less than the maximum they will achieve next year. Look for the dark Cassini Division that separates the outer A ring from the brighter B ring. You should be able to spot brightest moon Titan north of Saturn as it circles the big planet every 16 days.
~Uranus, (Mag 5.8) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening rising about 9:30 pm so might be seen at the BSC star party late in the evening. It shows up as a small 3.4 blue-green disc in a telescope. Uranus will be about 1.793 billion miles from Earth this Saturday. It can be seen early morning in the East all the way until sunrise as does not set until just after 10 am.
~Neptune, (Mag 7.8) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.693 billion miles away this week. It is seen as a bluish gray 2.2 disc in a telescope and might be seen at BSC this Saturday evening after it rises about 7:30 pm. Neptune can be seen in the morning sky in the Southeast all the way until sunrise as does not set until 7 am.
~ Pluto, (Mag 14.2) will rise in constellation Sagittarius about 4:30 pm so could be seen Saturday evening high in the sky after sunset It is about 3.024 billion miles from Earth and is so dim, you would need a 12 or larger telescope to see it visually. Pluto will not set until about 2:30 am. You may use the Pluto finder chart on page 48 of the July Sky & Tel Magazine to help find this dim magnitude 14 object through November.


I would expect to see a few stray meteors Saturday evening as we always do at every BSC star party. But we just missed the Perseid Meteor Shower which was active from July 17, August 24. This is usually one of the best showers of the year showing up to 150 meteors/hour at it's peak on August 12th.
If you ever wanted to do some real scientific meteor counting, the International Meteor Organization (IMO) always needs more observers. You will need to follow the IMO's standards so your counts will be meaningful. See for more information.
Brightest visible Comets:
There are no comets to see this month as all are just too faint to be seen at the BSC star party.

Brightest visible asteroids:

Finding an asteroid is always very challenging as they are dim and are just small dots.
Minor Planet 4 Vesta (Mag 8.4), the 2nd most massive object in the asteroid belt is the brightest asteroid again this month. It is found in constellation Gemini this month, just 5 degrees above and to the right of the Moon between the Gemini Twins legs. It can not be seen Saturday evening as would not be visible until after midnight. Vesta has a diameter of about 330 miles and was discovered in 1807. It is about 285 million miles from Earth at this time and has an orbit period of 3.63 years. NASA's Dawn spacecraft was in orbit around this asteroid and sent back stunning close-up pictures.
Minor Planet 1 Ceres (Mag 8.5) is the biggest object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of about 590 miles. It is in constellation Cetus just 10 degrees below the Ecliptic with the in Pisces almost pointing right at the asteroid. Ceres will be about 212 million miles from Earth Saturday and has a period of 4.61 years. It was discovered in 1801 and for 50 years was classified as the 8th planet. But don't expect to see anything more than a small dot. It should be visible Saturday starting at 9 pm. The Dawn spacecraft has reached this asteroid and will be orbiting it taking pictures for at least a year.
Asteroid 2 Pallas (Mag 9.4) is the third largest asteroids in the Solar System estimated to have 7% of the mass of the entire asteroid belt. It will be in constellation Pegasus Saturday evening just five degrees right from bright star Enif (the nose of the Winged Horse), so might be seen at the BSC star party. This asteroid has a mean diameter of about 318 miles and is about 224 million miles from Earth. Pallas was discovered on March 28, 1802 by German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers. It was thought to be a planet at that time but became the 2nd asteroid discovered. It has an orbit period of 4.61 years.
The August Astronomy Magazine has a finder chart on page 43 showing the path Pallas is following during the month of August.

Deep Sky:

This month let's consider looking at some objects in Sagittarius just above the Teapot lid:

M22 (NGC 6656) magnitude 5.1 Globular cluster called the Sagittarius Cluster. It is 10,000 light years away with a diameter of 70 light years. M22 is estimated to have about 70,000 stars and is the 4th largest Globular in the sky, much bigger than M13. It was discovered in 1665 by German Abraham Ihle. It is found just a few degrees east of the top of the Teapot lid.

M28 (NGC 6626) is magnitude 6.8 Globular cluster just a degree above the center of the Teapot lid. It is 19,000 light years away and has a diameter of 62 light years. It is a very compact set of stars tighter than most clusters. Messier logged this object after observing it July 29, 1764.
M8 (NGC 6523) is a magnitude 6 Emission nebula called the Lagoon Nebula. It is 4,800 light years away and has a physical size of 126 X 56 light years. It is fluorescent due to a 6th magnitude star that stimulates atoms producing light like a neon sign. It is found west from the top of the Teapot lid. Messier logged this object after observing it May 23, 1764.
Don't forget to bring your gloves, coats & sweaters as it can get cold after the sun sets and even colder 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 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.

Hope to see you there.

Your OCA star party hosts, Steve & Bonnie