Saturday May 9th Black Star Canyon star party

Posted On May 6, 2015


Black Star Canyon Star Party notice – Saturday May 9th, 2015


Hello Fellow OCA club members!


This Saturday, I plan to open the gate around 7:15 pm, which is about a half hour before the sun sets. The weather report for this Saturday indicates that Orange County should be mild (72F), have partly cloudy skies and humidity near 50%.  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.


The 3rd quarter moon begins April 12th 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

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 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 visible magnitude 2.5 pass Saturday evening starting at 9:13:57 pm 10 degrees high WSW going to 19 degrees high SSW at 9:16:55 pm and then dropping out of sight at 9:17:18 pm.

  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 0.7) sets about 9:20 pm in constellation Taurus this Saturday so can be seen at the BSC star party. Mercury will be about 73 million miles from Earth and rises about 7 am. Mercury reaches greatest elongation May 6th when it is 21 degrees east of the Sun. It will have a disk that spans 8″ and be about 34% lit. Look for Mercury just 5 degrees from bright Taurus star Aldebaran.

~Venus, (Mag -4.0) can be seen over 3 hours after sunset Saturday evening as it sets about 11 pm in constellation Gemini. Venus will be about 87 million miles from Earth with a disc size of 18″ and 64% lit. Look for it less than 2 degrees from the fifth magnitude M35 open star cluster.

~Mars, (Mag 1.7) will be in Constellation Taurus and on the far side of the Sun from Earth so will not be seen again until late summer. It will be about 158 million miles from Earth Saturday evening.

~Jupiter, (Mag -1.9) will rise about noon Saturday in constellation Cancer so can be seen high in the sky Saturday evening. It will be about 498 million miles from Earth getting a little farther every day with a diameter of about 36″. Look for Jupiter in front of Leo the Lion’s head and it does not set until 1:30 am. At 8:45 pm we should see moon Callisto far west of Jupiter while moon Ganymede will be passing behind the big planet and just coming into view on the east side of Jupiter. Next will be moon Io and farthest to the east will be moon Europa.

~Saturn, (Mag 0.9) will be in constellation Scorpius this Saturday so should be seen Saturday evening after it rises about 8:30 pm. It has a disk measuring 18″ with rings spanning 42″ and tilting 24 degrees. Saturn will be about 837 million miles away Saturday evening and will not set until 7 am. Saturn looks like a 4th star on top of the Scorpion’s 3-star head.

—–Both Uranus & Neptune are low in the morning sky so would be better viewed in June.—–

 Uranus, (Mag 5.9) will be in constellation Pisces this Saturday evening setting about 7 pm 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 1.940 billion miles from Earth this Saturday. It might be seen in the early morning sky when it rises at 4:30 am.

Neptune, (Mag 7.9) is in constellation Aquarius, about 2.818 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 pm. It could be seen early morning as it rises about 3 am.


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