Saturday March 14th Black Star Canyon star party

Posted On March 11, 2015


Black Star Canyon Star Party notice – Saturday March 14th, 2015


Hello Fellow OCA club members!


This Saturday, I plan to open the gate around 6:30 pm, which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday indicates that Orange County should be unseasonably warm, have clear skies and humidity near 25%.  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.


The 3rd quarter moon begins March 13th so the Moon will not be up during our star party. 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 your 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.

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.


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 X-37B (Air Force Boeing space plane) will not make any visible passes as it has landed.

  The HST (Hubble Space Telescope) will make one magnitude 2.4 visible pass Saturday evening starting at 8:26:35 pm 10 degrees high SSW rising to 20 degrees S at 8:29:17 where it will fade from sight.

  Iridium flares: There will be no 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 5 pm in constellation Aquarius this Saturday so will not be seen at the BSC star party. Mercury will be about 112 million miles from Earth and rises about 6:15 am so might be seen an hour before sunrise, but very low in the horizon.

~Venus, (Mag -3.8) must be seen early Saturday evening as it sets about 9:30 pm in constellation Pisces. Venus will be about 122 million miles from Earth with a disc size of 12″ and 80% lit.

~Mars, (Mag 1.4) will be in Constellation Pisces about 20 degrees high an hour after sunset so might be seen at BSC this Saturday evening in the southwestern sky. It will be about 215 million miles away with a disk size of about 4.0″, about the size of a star so don’t expect to see any detail on the red planet. Mars sets about 8:45 pm so better view it early.

~Jupiter, (Mag -2.2) will rise about 3:30 pm Saturday in constellation Cancer so can be seen Saturday evening. It will be about 425 million miles from Earth getting a little farther every day with a diameter of about 42.5″. It can be seen almost all night as does not set until 5:15 am. At 8:30 pm we should see moon Ganymede far to the East of Jupiter while moons Callisto & Europa will be grouped together about a planet width to the East. Moon Io will be just west of Jupiter. After passing in front of the giant planet.

~Saturn, (Mag 1.1) will be in constellation Scorpius this Saturday so will not be seen Saturday evening as it does not rise until just after midnight. It has a disk measuring 17.5″ with rings spanning 39″ and tilting 25 degrees. Saturn will be about 895 million miles away Saturday.

 Uranus, (Mag 5.9) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening setting about 8:30 pm so we might see it at the BSC star party when it gets dark. It shows up as a small 3.4″ blue-green disc in a telescope. Uranus will be about 1.947 billion miles from Earth this Saturday.

Neptune, (Mag 8.0) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.876 billion miles away this week slowly moving closer to Earth. It is seen as a bluish gray 2.3″ disc in a telescope but we will not see it at BSC this Saturday evening early as it set about 5:30 pm. It could be seen early morning as it rises about 6:30 am.

 Pluto, (Mag 14.2) sets about 1:30 pm in constellation Sagittarius so will not be seen Saturday evening. It is about 3.086 billion miles from Earth, rises about 3:30 am and is so dim, you would need a 10″ or larger telescope to see it visually.