Saturday July 26th Black Star Canyon star party

Posted On July 23, 2008

Hello Fellow OCA club members!
This Saturday I plan to open the gate at 7:30 pm, about a half hour before the sun sets around 8 PM. Today’s weather report looks like this Saturday evening will be warm & clear and the 3rd quarter moon will not rise before midnight. 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. 


No visible ISS (International Space Station) or HST (Hubble Space Telescope) passes will take place this Saturday evening but we should see an Iridium Flare. It will be a bright (Mag -6) that will become visible 8:43 PM at 23 degrees altitude, NNW (346 degrees) .


~Venus (Mag -3.8) sets at 8:41 PM in constellation Cancer and is bright enough to be spotted in the evening sky as the sun sets.

~Mars (Mag 1.6) continues to slowly dim as it now is over 209 million miles away in constellation Leo.  It can be seen under Leo the Lion and will set about 10:04 PM.

~Saturn, (Mag 0.8) sets about 9:49 PM and is about 942 million miles from Earth and still moving below the body of Leo the Lion, inching ever farther from bright star Regulus (Mag 1.35). Several moons should be glowing bright enough to be seen.

~Jupiter (Mag -2.6) rises about 6:52 PM in constellation Sagittarius so will be visible for the entire star party and now is about 389 million miles away. Moons Calisto & Io will be very close together on the west side of Jupiter while Europa & Gaymede will be seen to the east.

~Uranus (Mag 5.8) will rise at 10:22 PM in constellation Aquarius.

~ Neptune (Mag 7.8) rises at 9:01 PM in constellation Capricornus.

~Mercury sets now in the evening at 7:35 PM but is too dim to see until the end of this month.  


Comet C/2007 N3 Lulin (Mag 11.9) will be just a few degrees right behind Jupiter about 156 million mles from Earth. Comet C/2007 G1 Linear (Mag 11.9) will be just below the 3 stars that make up the head of the Scorpion and is about 211 million miles from Earth. Comet C/2008 J2 Beshore (Mag 11.8) will be just above the Scorpion’s 3 star head. All these comets are very dim and will require an 8″ or bigger scope to see. There will also be Minor Planet 11 Parthenope (Mag 9.3) right along the top of Capricornus and 113 million miles from Earth. 

Deep Sky:

Let’s look at some objects near Sagittarius since Jupiter is hanging out just behind this constellation. There are three globular star clusters along the bottom of the teapot that were first observed by Charles Messier in 1778 & 1780.


First, lets find open globular star cluster M54 (Mag 7.6) located near the left “Teapot” bottom star. This cluster is over 50,000 light years away and has a diameter of at least 128 light years. It may be the largest star cluster attached to our Milky Way Galaxy.


Second, lets look for M69 (Mag 7.6) near the right “Teapot” bottom star.  This globular star cluster is 28,000 light years away and is 58 light years in diameter.


Third, let’s find M70 (Mag 8.1) in between the other two star clusters. It  is 29,000 light years away and has a 67 light year diameter. This is the faintest of the three globular star clusters at the bottom of Sagittarius.



Don’t forget to bring your gloves, coats & sweaters because it may get cold as the night gets later.   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,