Saturday July 30th Black Star Canyon star party

Posted On July 27, 2016

Black Star Canyon Star Party notice – Saturday July 30th, 2016
Hello Fellow OCA club members!
This Saturday, we plan to open the gate around 7:30 pm, which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday indicates that Black Star Canyon should be warm with clear skies and humidity about 40%.  Latest weather reports say there is a possibility of rain. So 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 make one magnitude 0.3 visible pass Saturday evening starting at 9:19:09 pm 10 degrees high NNW staying low above the Big Dipper, Polaris and then Cassiopeia NNW through 9:19:54 pm.
  The HST (Hubble Space Telescope) will not make any visible passes Saturday evening.
  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 -0.1) sets about 9 pm in constellation Leo this Saturday evening so might be seen at the BSC star party. It will be very low in the west, only 6 degrees high 30 minutes after sunset so may not clear the hills at our BSC site. Mercury will be about 106 million miles from Earth and will not rise until about 8 am so cannot be seen in the morning sky.
~Venus, (Mag -3.8) will set at 8:39 pm in constellation Leo just ½ degree from bright star Regulus so might be seen this Saturday evening. Venus will be about 154 million miles from Earth Saturday but will be just 2 degrees high 30 minutes after sunset so must be spotted earlier at BSC.
——————Mars is still pretty close to Earth!!!——————
~Mars, (Mag -0.7) will be in Constellation Libra rising about 3 pm so should be easily seen Saturday evening. It will be about 67 million miles from Earth Saturday evening not setting until 1 am so could also be seen in the midnight southwest sky. Mars will have a diameter of 13√¢‚Ǩ¬ù 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 in front of 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 -1.6) should be seen Saturday evening after dark as it rose about 9:30 am in constellation Leo. Jupiter can be seen about 20 degrees below the rear end of the sleeping Lion. It will be about 571 million miles from Earth getting a little farther every day. Jupiter will have a disk size of 33”. It should be viewed early as will set about 10 pm. At 9 pm, moon Europa will be 2 ½ planet widths to the east of Jupiter and moon Io will be passing in front of the big planet. Moon Ganymede will be a planet width to the west of Jupiter with Callisto far to the west. An hour later Io will be just touching the western edge of the big planet with its shadow in the middle of the planet.
————-Saturn will look great this month—————–
~Saturn, (Mag 1.1) will be in constellation Ophiuchus this Saturday rising at 3:45 pm so should be seen this Saturday evening high in the sky as the Sun goes down. It sets about 2 am so can be seen in the Southwest in the midnight sky too. Saturn will be about 881 million miles away Saturday evening. Look for Saturn 10 degrees behind the top star of the head of the Scorpion. It will have a diameter of 18” 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.
~Uranus, (Mag 5.8) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening rising about 11:20 pm so might be seen at the BSC star party very late. It shows up as a small 3.4” blue-green disc in a telescope. Uranus will be about 1.831 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 noon.
~ Neptune, (Mag 7.8) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.706 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 9:30 pm. Neptune can be seen in the morning sky in the Southeast all the way until sunrise as does not set until 8:45 am.
 ~ Pluto, (Mag 14.1) will rise in constellation Sagittarius about 6:20 pm so could be seen Saturday evening high in the sky after sunset It is about 2.996 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 4:20 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 there is the Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower active from July 12 √¢‚Ǩ” August 23 peaking July 29th which might produce 16 meteors per hour. They seem to radiate from a point 15 degrees above bright star Fomalhaut in the east.

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√Ǭ†√Ǭ†for more information.

Brightest visible Comets:
There are several dim comets in the sky this month but the brightest one that might be visible Saturday evening is Comet C/2013 X1 Panstarrs.

Comet C/2013 X1 Panstarrs will be shining at a magnitude 7.5 (according to the Heavens-above website) and will be 145 million miles from Earth Saturday in constellation Centaurus just 20 degrees below the Ecliptic and 30 degrees to the right of the bright star Antares in Scorpius. So it will be low in the southern night sky. This comet was discovered on December 4th, 2013 by the University of Hawaii’s automated Pan-STARRS 1 system when it was a 20th magnitude wisp.

Other comets 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 8.5), the 2nd most massive object in the asteroid belt is the brightest asteroid again this month. It is found in constellation Orion this month, just a few degrees above and to the right of the Moon. 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 310 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 8.8) 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 “V” in Pisces pointing right at the asteroid. Ceres will be about 246 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 a few degrees directly above bright star Enif and a few degrees to the left of M15, so might be seen at the BSC star party. This asteroid has a mean diameter of about 318 miles and is about 231 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.

Deep Sky:
This month let’s consider looking at 3 of the most fabulous globular clusters in the night sky:
M13 is the most famous, a magnitude 5.8 globular star cluster, known as the “Great Hercules Cluster”. It is in constellation Hercules about 21,000 light years away and spans 104 light years. You can find it along two cornerstone stars, about 1/3 of the way down from the most northern, right-side corner star. Its age is estimated to be 14 billion years old and the estimated 500,000 stars have a tighter compactness than average. Messier observed this object in 1764 and logged it on June 1st.
M3 is a magnitude 6.2 globular star cluster in constellation Canes Venatici. It is about 35,000 light years away and spans 165 light years. You can find it about half way between bright star Arcturus and the bright “corner” star of Canes Venatici. The cluster contains about 50,000 stars and its compactness is considered average. Its age is estimated to be 6.5 billion years. Messier observed this object in 1764 and logged it May 3rd.
M5 is a magnitude 5.7 globular star cluster in constellation Serpens, about 26,000 light years away and spans 132 light years. It is slightly oval in shape and the compactness is tighter than average. There is a bright 5th magnitude star 5 Serpentis ½ degree from the cluster. You can find it along a line from Arcturus to Antares, about 1/3 of the way to Antares. Its age is estimated to be 13 billion years. Messier observed this object in 1764 and logged it May 23rd.
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√Ǭ†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 host,