Saturday June 24th Black Star Canyon star party

Posted On June 22, 2016

Black Star Canyon Star Party notice – Saturday June 25th, 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%.  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 Saturday evening.
  The HST (Hubble Space Telescope) will not make any visible passes Saturday evening.
  Iridium flares: There will be one visible magnitude -1.1 Iridium Flare this Saturday evening 24 degrees high ENE at 59 degrees from Iridium Satellite 57 at 10:33:33 pm. I am sure we will also see a number of satellites pass over in the early evening.
Planets & Pluto:
~Mercury, (Mag -1.0) sets about 7 pm in constellation Taurus this Saturday evening so will not be seen at the BSC star party. Mercury will be about 115 million miles from Earth and will rise about 4:45 am so can be seen in the morning sky. It should be 7” across and more than half illuminated.
~Venus, (Mag -3.7) will set at 8:24 pm in constellation Gemini close to the Sun so will not be seen this Saturday evening. Venus will be about 160 million miles from Earth Saturday. We won’t be able to see Venus again until July.
——————Mars viewing should still be great!!!——————
~Mars, (Mag -1.4) will be in Constellation Libra rising about 5 pm so should be easily seen Saturday evening. It will be about 52 million miles from Earth Saturday evening not setting until 3 am so could also be seen in the morning southwest sky. Mars will have a diameter of 16.5” which is just 2” less than last month when it was the biggest in a decade. 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 telescope should show significant surface details including the shrinking (as it is summer time on Mars) white North Pole ice cap which will be slightly tilted towards Earth.
~Jupiter, (Mag -1.8) should be seen Saturday evening after dark as it rose about 11:30 am in constellation Leo, so can be seen about 10 degrees below the rear end of the sleeping Lion. It will be about 530 million miles from Earth getting a little farther every day. Jupiter will have a disk size of 34”. It will be visible all star party long as does not set until midnight. At 9 pm, moon Europa will be touching the west side of Jupiter and it’s black shadow will be seen on the eastern side of the planet. Then Callisto will be less than a planet width to the west of Jupiter while Io will be about two planet widths to the west of Jupiter. Ganymede will be about twice as far west of the big planet as Io. An hour later at 10 pm, Europa’s big black dot shadow will be smack in the middle of Jupiter.
————-Saturn at it’s best this month—————–
~Saturn, (Mag 1.0) will be in constellation Ophiuchus this Saturday rising just after 6 pm so should be seen this Saturday evening high in the sky as the Sun goes down. It sets about 4:15 am so can be seen in the Southwest early in the morning too. Saturn will be about 846 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. Look for the dark Cassini Division that separates the outer A ring from the brighter B ring.
~Uranus, (Mag 5.9) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening rising about 1:40 am so will not be seen at the BSC star party. It shows up as a small 3.4” blue-green disc in a telescope. Uranus will be about 1.885 billion miles from Earth this Saturday. It can be seen early morning in the East all the way until sunrise.
~ Neptune, (Mag 7.9) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.748 billion miles away this week. It is seen as a bluish gray 2.2” disc in a telescope and but will not be seen at BSC this Saturday evening as it does not rise until almost midnight. Neptune can be seen in the morning sky in the Southeast all the way until sunrise.
 ~ Pluto, (Mag 14.1) will not rise in constellation Sagittarius until about 8:40 pm so could be seen Saturday evening. It is about 2.988 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 6:45 am.

I would expect to see a few stray meteors Saturday evening as we always do at every BSC star party. But there are no major Meteor Showers in June.

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 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 6.5 (according to the Heavens-above website) and will be 62 million miles from Earth Saturday in constellation Telescopium just 20 degrees below the Tea Pot and 10 degrees to the left and below the Scorpion’s stinger. 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. It will be very low in the horizon as its path takes it closest to the Earth.
Comet 252P Linear will be shining at a magnitude 9.0 (according to the Heavens-above website) and will be 68 million miles from Earth Saturday in constellation Ophiuchus just 30 degrees above the 3 stars of the Scorpion’s head and almost 30 degrees directly over Saturn. This comet was discovered on April 7th, 2000 by the LINEAR (Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research) survey and passes quire close to both the Earth and Jupiter. It has a period of 5.33 years.
Comet C/2014 S2 Panstarrs will be shining at a magnitude 11 (according to the Heavens-above website) and will be 312 million miles from Earth Saturday in constellation Leo just 20 degrees above Jupiter and maybe 5 degrees above the Lion’s back. This comet was discovered on September 22nd, 2014 by the Pan-Starrs 1 telescope (Haleakala). It looks like this comet has a period of 2,315 years so is periodic.

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 Taurus this month, just a few degrees behind and below Mercury. It can not be seen Saturday evening as it is too close to the Sun. Vesta has a diameter of about 330 miles and was discovered in 1807. It is about 328 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 9.2) 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 and and 10 degrees above the back of the Whale’s head. Ceres will be about 290 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 will not be visible Saturday until 1 am. The Dawn spacecraft has reached this asteroid and will be orbiting it taking pictures for at least a year.

Asteroid 8 Flora (Mag 9.5) is a large, bright main-belt asteroid and the innermost largest asteroid. It will be in constellation Ophiuchus Saturday evening about 30 degrees directly above the lowest line of the Scorpion and 5 degrees above the Ecliptic, so might be seen at the BSC star party. Start your search for Flora from Saturn and move back along the Ecliptic 5 degrees and then move 5 degrees above the Ecliptic. This asteroid has a mean diameter of about 80 miles and is about 132 million miles from Earth. Flora was discovered on October 18, 1847 by astronomer J.R. Hind, his 2nd asteroid discovery after 7 Iris. It has an orbit period of 3.27 years.

Deep Sky:
This month let’s consider looking at some globular clusters in the Scorpion:
M4 is a magnitude 3.1 globular star cluster, known as the “Cat’s Eye” as it looks like a bit like the eye of a cat. It is in constellation Scorpius, is about 14,000 light years away and spans 107 light years. You can find it about one degree west of bright star Antares. Its age is estimated to be 10 billion years old and has a looser compactness than average. Messier observed this object in 1764 and logged it on May 8th.
M80 is a magnitude 7.3 globular star cluster in constellation Scorpius. It is about 33,000 light years away and spans 86 light years. You can find it just above and about half way between bright stars Antares and the center star of the Scorpion’s 3 star head. This is a very tight cluster of well over 100,000 stars. Messier observed this object in 1781 and logged it on January 4th.
NGC 6144 is a 10th magnitude globular star cluster in constellation Scorpius, about 33,000 light years away and spans 24 light years. It is a very large cluster of small stars in a very tight cluster. You can find it just north of bright star Antares and its brighter famous neighbor, M4. William Herschel discovered this object in 1785 with an 18.7-inch F/13 scope. .
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 host,