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2014 Eclipse Pics: Send Us Yours!

Members – Send us 1 or 2 Eclipse pics

We will Post Below

Send People Shots, Equipment Gear Shots !

Send Eclipse, Sun Spots, and H-Alpha images !

Please send jpg format – [1200 x 675] pixels or smaller to m.packer@yahoo.com

!! CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE !!

First Contact Alexey Bobkov:

Alexey BobkovCredit to Glenn Newell BelowPlanetary_Tv1-125s_100iso_1056x704_20141023-14h32m37sCredit to Glenn Newell BelowPlanetary_Tv1-250s_100iso_1024x680_20141023-015Below Image Credit Michael PackerEclipse-2014-packer-006bEclipse-2014-001CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGEEclipse-2014-002

Credit to Frank Geefay for below time lapse.

Eclipse-2014-003

Eclipse-2014-004  

2014RobertD1BTwo (above and below) Credited to Robert Duvall 2014RobertD2BTwo below images credited to Hsin I Huang

2014Oct_Eclipse_Hsin-I HuangCLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE2014Oct23_Eclipse_Hsin-I HuangCLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

2014Oct23_Solar Eclipse_8Credit for above and below images: Manoj Koushik 2014Oct23_Solar Eclipse_9smfriedman_shivak2192_final-c113ee9c06da0ceca01e6ae66e346ab04c69c204-s40-c85

AR 2192 NASA Image Click to enlarge

Must see Full Screen! 1 minute video of entire eclipse using 200 HR images

Click icon  lower right for full screen – credit R. Duvall

Posted in Blog, Observing Reports, Solar


1st Sunday Oct 5th Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Click Here For Details

Another SJAA Member goes H-Alpha – 3 major prominences – notable filamentary “proms” – Sunspot Count 106 (NOAA) – unusually good seeing
Please welcome Paul Mancuso to the H-Alpha wave where one casually observes the 4th state of matter. Paul still uses his vintage Questar but he out fitted it with a front and back H-Alpha Filter system. Notable Companies that sell these filter sets are Lunt, Day Star and Coronado. Below is Paul M. with his scope and Michael P. showing off the Magnetic Sun Poster.
CLICK ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE

 

Wolf brought his recently acquired 100mm Lunt. Wolf dropped a washer and Terry pulled out her metal detector – no joking! Well OK there was lots of joking. The washer was found under Wolf’s car.
03Wolf
Terry and Bill are Solar Sunday’s regulars as is “Calcium K” Carl. Below is a pic Carl (foreground) Bill (background) and a pic of Terry at her scope with more of today’s visitors. About 20 folks both public and SJAA members stopped by to take a gander at the Sun.
04-Carl-BillSolar
 05-Teri-Scope-Solar

Below is Bill’s scope which showed today’s sunspots. Much thanks to Bill. That’s not him at the scope
Bills-SCope
Below is another pic of Bill’s scope. That’s not Bill either.
BillsScope(3)
And of course Telescope Fit-it was going on inside. Here are a pics of Dave, Ed, and Phil.
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 09-Phill-FixIt
That’s the news from Lake Wobegon. Stay Stellar, stay bright, stay warm and check out the stars at night.
Posted in Blog, Observing Reports, Solar


Grandview Campground – Trip Report – July 2014

The following is an observing and site report submitted by SJAA members Jose Marte and Gary Chock

sign_grandview

(From Gary)
Here’s a report on our visit to Grandview Campground on Tue & Wed July 22-23, 2014.

Grandview Campground is in Inyo National Forest on the way up to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. It is about 8 to 9 hours from the Bay Area depending on your driving pace. It is at 8560′ elevation. There are 26 campsites nicely spaced with trees between offering privacy and shielding from other camper’s lights and campfires. No water, pack your trash. At least 3 vault toilets. At this altitude, the only wildlife problems seem to be squirrels (no bears).
http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/recreation/recarea/?recid=20268

Weather-wise, we were lucky. A monsoonal weather pattern was in place over the Sierras for ~2 weeks and dissipated just before we left the Bay Area. It reformed Sat July 26 after we left.

While Bishop was baking in 105 degrees in the daytime, Grandview was in the 80’s in the daytime and in the 50’s overnight.

IMG_Grandview_Site4_000_NorthTo the left is a photo of the north horizon at campsite 4.

Seeing and transparency was excellent for the nights we observed. Great horizon-to-horizon views of the Milky Way. We easily viewed dark nebula. Barnard’s E near Altair. Also the cloudiness around the Sagittarius Star Cloud was well defined. M31 Andromeda Galaxy was wide and ethereal with M32 and M110 in view.

We met up with some astronomers from Southern California – visual and imagers. They visit regularly, traveling from Orange County and Tehachapi. While we experienced great weather, seeing, and transparency, they mentioned times it got down to 16 degrees. Other times windy.

I will keep in mind Grandview for a revisit, planning on keeping things flexible and check the weather a lot. Hopefully synchronizing excellent weather, seeing, and transparency. Here are convenient links for checking.
http://cleardarksky.com/c/GrandVCAkey.html?1
http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?textField1=37.3333&textField2=-118.1889#.U9qQ42Nhu6I
http://mammothweather.com/
http://bishopweather.com/

There are two observations I enjoyed that exemplified to me the excellent dark skies we had at Grandview Campground.

Viewing M7 Ptolemy’s Cluster with my 20×80 binoculars, the stars of this splendid open cluster were brilliant points in a dark field that seemed to be suspended in three dimensions. The binocular-mind integration effect seemed to connect the star-vertices with faint blue filaments. Stunning.

Viewing M13 The Great Hercules Cluster with my 10″ Dob, the stars of this spectacular globular cluster were fine pinpoints in a velvety dark field. My mind connected these points, arranging them in three dimensions as facets of a diamond. Wondrous.

(From Jose)
I joined Gary Chock for a visit to The Grandview Campground (GV) in the Inyo-White Mountains, nearby Big Pines in California. Gary’s comments regarding the seeing/transparency darkness accurately describes just how terrific conditions were for observing. I’ve only been involved in the hobby for just over a year, but the couple of nights we camped were easily the best sessions I have experienced.

I’m an observational astronomer using a 14″ Orion Dobsonain telescope. I don’t use computer guided tools just a Telrad, 9×50 finder, and usually paper finder charts. Basically, I was able to find everything that I intended to see. The only limiting factor was the fact that I needed to sleep and plus my inexperience at being in a premium dark site. It is hard deciding what to look for when everything seems possible to find. My enthusiasm probably caused me to waste some time and energy because I found myself swooping from one side of the sky to the other, feasting on eye-candy, rather than honing in on a particular location.

To describe the conditions I will elaborate on one object. Just about every astronomy book points out the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, as being “bright” and “spectacular”. To me this has been a source of frustration, and even a minor disappointment, since it is invisible from my driveway in San Jose. At our local, semi-dark sites (Mendoza Ranch or RCDO) M51 is readily available and appears to be a low-contrast, lop-sided figure-eight. It is brighter and larger but still a “faint fuzzy” without detail. At the Grandview, however, (~165x) I could see its spiraling arms and I didn’t really need to use averted vision! Very cool and yes, spectacular. In fact, and this could be from the delirium of lack of sleep, I thought I saw M51, naked-eye, as a fuzzy, dim star.

This trip was actually my second time to the White Mountains. Last August, during the Perseids, I spent a night at the Patriach Grove, one of the areas where the amazing Bristle Cone Pines grow. (FYI camping is not allowed at the Patriarch Grove.) It is just a few miles away from the Grandview Campground but at 11,000 feet. Again, observing conditions were fantastic, but I didn’t bring enough warm clothing and spent most of the night, uncomfortably cold in my car.

If you intend to go the Inyo-White Mountains be prepared for extreme cold and heat. But also be prepared for extreme natural beauty. Even if you encounter the misfortune of a cloudy night, you will still be in one of the most spectacular landscapes on earth. The view of the Eastern Sierra peaks, rising upwards of 10,000 feet from Owens Valley is absolutely magnificent. Aside from the great astronomy, there is fantastic hiking, birding, fishing, geology, and even archeology to experience in the Eastern Sierras. It is only about eight hours away from San Jose and plus you’ll have the pleasure of driving through the backcounty of Yosemite National Park and seeing Mono Lake. Furthermore, this area is vast. Finding a campsite or lodging is very easy compared to Yosemite.

Editor’s Note: Documenting your visits to dark sky sites or any other astronomy related place is a good way to help you remember your visit, as well as help you develop your observing skills.  Just as writing and rewriting your class notes in college in itself helped you study and master the material, writing and keeping notes of trips helps you become a better visual observer.  Please consider submitting any site notes or observing reports to the SJAA for posting on the blog or for publishing in the newsletter, The Ephemeris. You’ll be glad you did!

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports, Trip Reports


Galaxy Quest at Hunting Hollow

Hi All,

This is my observing report from Sat. 4/19 at Hunting Hollow Lot. On Sat 4/19 was the Starry Nights event at RCDO. With the event growing in popularity, the turn out for the event has been overwhelming to the point that there have been not been enough parking spaces for astronomers or the public. In an effort not to have to turn away astronomers coming to support the event we provided an overflow at Hunting Hollow Lot last night in order to give astronomers an opportunity to view there to minimize over crowding at RCDO.Last night we had 7 people at Hunting Hollow. I arrived by 8pm at there were people who were setup and ready to go. We had a pretty good assortment of scopes there a 14’ dob, several nice refractors, and binoculars. I was on a quest to find galaxies so I brought my 12” SCT

The evening started with most of us starting looking at Jupiter. I could see Europa just peeking around the left side of Jupiter which was pretty cool. As it got dark by 9:30pm I started to look for the galaxies. First up was the Leo Triplet. Had a great view of M65, M66 in the view. NGC3628 was out of the field of view. The long focal length of the SCT only provides .92 degee field of view with a 40mm 72 degree eyepiece. From there I went to another nice triple in Leo M105, NGC 3371, NGC 3373 this time all 3 galaxies in the FOV. M95, M96 was just over slightly so I look at the pair too.Next up was the fabulous Markarian Chain in Virgo which includes M84, M86. Moving over to it, it was fantastic! 5 galaxies in the same FOV. This object has 13 galaxies in it. I was to see about 7 of the 13 galaxies moving around that area.

Other galaxies view were M51, nice view including the companion and the spiral arms visible. M64 fantastic view showing the spiral clouds off of the galaxies. M63, M81, M82, M94, M101, M106, M108 M109. One other bonus object to mention, I also seen the C/2012 K1 (Panstarrs) comet (mag 8.9), it was in the constellation of Bootes. The best SQM meter reading of the night was 20.93. We packed it up by 11:30 as it the conditions started to get bad and clouds were on the way from the west. Overall it was the most galaxies I have viewed in one night.Thanks,
Ed

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports


April 2014 Lunar Eclipse Photos

Did some of your eclipse shots look turquoise?

The source of the turquoise is ozone. Prof. Richard Keen, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Colorado explains: “During a lunar eclipse, most of the light illuminating the Moon passes through the stratosphere, and is reddened by scattering. However, light passing through the upper stratosphere penetrates the ozone layer, which absorbs red light and actually makes the passing light ray bluer!” This can be seen, he says, as a turquoise fringe around the red.

Members, send us one of you lunar eclipse photos (m dot packer at yahoo dot com) and we’ll post here. People shots welcome too

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE

Michael Eclipse TrioAbove Michael Packer Moon Spica Mars

PackerElcipseMoonEAbove Michael Packer Full Eclipse At Maximum

Mark StriebeckEclipse1bAbove Mark Striebeck: Lunar Eclipse with Spica

Mark StriebeckEclipse2bAbove Mark Striebeck Image of Near Full Eclipse with Spica

EDeclipseBEd Wong Full Eclipse

TerryEclipseBAbove Terry Kahl Eclipse Shot

TerryEclipse2BAbove Terry Kahl Eclipse Enhanced

Marilyn Perry12-06Marilyn Perry Partial Eclipse 12:06AM

Marilyn Perry1-01Marilyn Perry Full Eclipse 1:01 AM

Paul SummersPaul Summers: Eclipsed Moon with star Spica and planet Mars at upper right

Hemant AgrawalHemant Agrawal Full Eclipse

PjmahanyPaul Mahany: Full Eclipse using 6″ @ F 4.85 ISO 400, 15sec

Chris AngelosChris Angelos Lunar Totality

Mark ScrivenerMark Scrivener: Eclipse with Spica. 80mm F/7 refractor, no tracking.

MarionMarion Barker & Paul Colby: Canon 3Ti 4sec ISO400 & SCT 1sec ISO 800.

PaulK1Paul Kohlmiller: Eclipse and Spica

PaulK2Paul Kohlmiller: Eclipse, Spica, and Mars

Bob Taylor: 5DIII at 560mm (200-400 1.4x Canon) 

CLICK ABOVE  PICS TO ENLARGE

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Observing Reports


Exploratory Trip to Henry Coe State Park – Hunting Hollow Lot

This is my report of an exploratory trip to Henry Coe – Hunting Hollow Lot. I have been interested in exploring this parking lot as a potential site that club members could visit for dark sky viewing and imaging. I came across this lot when I was out scouting for new sites to view and image from back in January and wanted to bring some members back with me to an Exploratory Trip. On Fri. May 21st. Lee Hoglan, Gary Chock and I met at this site to explore it and do some observing. First view of the lot, it is big. It is 265 feet by 171 feet. For comparison, RCDO is 146 feet by 70 feet.

We setup our gear as the sun was going down. Lee brought the “son of the beast” scope, a 16 inch Dob, Gary had his Astro72 refractor and 20×80 Celestron Binoculars and I had my Oberwerk 28×110 Binoculars. As sun went down, we started to look at the objects in the west, The Pleiades, The Orion Nebula, Double Cluster. There was a light dome in the west, the Orion Nebula in the 16” dob was very bright and impressive but, so was the sky glow behind it. I wanted to see how it would in my binoculars. I put in my DGM Optics NPB filter in the binoculars and the view was quite good, not quite as bright as the dob but, very nice. The difference was that with the filters in the binoculars, the skyglow was cut down quite a bit and the contrast and detail on the nebula really popped out.

Then we went on a galaxy hunt. In both the Dob and the 28×110 binos we had pretty good views of the Leo Triplet, M95, M96, M105, the Markarian Chain, M51, M101, M106, M108, M109, Owl Nebula, M81, M82, M64. Gary was having some nice views of the bigger star clusters like the Hyades, Beehive and Mel 111. We ended up wrapping up about 10:30pm. We all agreed it was one of the best nights of observing we have had in a long time.

As far as the site:
The Good – This site is big, all of the regular SJAA members who come out to view on a regular basis could fit in that lot with room to spare. There is no lock or gate at the entrance so it’s 7/24 hour access. You pay for use via dropping $6 into a slot in a metal pole. Easy drive within 1 hour from HP. 10 mins from Mendoza Ranch. The road ends shortly after the lot so there is not too many cars going on that road. The site is pretty dark, SQM meter reading of 21.1 around 9:30pm. Overnight camping if you want to stay overnight.

The Bad – The is no lock or gate at the entrance so it’s 7/24 hour access so, we have no control other cars driving in while we are viewing. Horizons not that low. From center of the lot, the south is about 30 degrees, east, west about 20 degrees, north is about 15 degrees. Elevation is about 600 feet so there could be fog on some nights.

The Ugly – Possible that night hikers could pull into the lot, happened to us. They had some lights on for about 15mins as they were gathering their stuff to hike into the park. This site I would say is more suited to viewing then imaging for this reason.

Overall impression of the site:
I think this is a good site for viewing. It is the darkest of the sites that club members currently go to (RCDO, Mendoza Ranch) It’s good to know that this site is available for use on a 7/24 basis. While it’s not perfect, neither are the other sites that we have access to. I think overall the good does outweigh the bad on this site.

The GPS location of the site is: 37°04’33.6″N 121°27’59.4″W

-Ed Wong

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports, Trip Reports


SJAA member image: Supernova In M82!

The Supernova in M82 (a galaxy that is over 11 million light years away) is now visual magnitude 11 – still bright enough for a moderate sized scopes (6-8 inches) under moderate skies.

By Paul Colby with Marion Barker (photo credit: Paul Colby and Marion Barker):

SN-M82-PaulColbyCrop

I’m up at 3:00 after a super pot luck at SJAA Houge Park! We had a chance to show our picture of the recent super nova in M82. We took the data on 01/25/2014 at RCDO from about 10:30-10:50. Our setup was a Orion Sirius EQ mount, Celestron C8 and Canon T3i SLR back and no auto guiding. We’ve been evolving our technique which now includes operating the camera from our Mac iBook Air using a USB cable and the free Canon camera software utility. Controlling the camera from a laptop was a big step forward for us. Finding the right camera scope connection was the hardest bit. There is a lot of things we tried that didn’t work. We settled on a T-ring/Cannon adapter ring connected to the SLR back with a short celestron 1-1/4 inch t-ring adapter found with the help of an SJAA star party neighbor who loaned us one to try. We took about 15 shots mostly at ISO of 800 using 30 sec exposure time. A couple ISO 6400 shots were also taken. I used about 12 images (JPEGS) stacked with FIGI (ImageJ on my iMac) which is free. ImageJ has an interface that is kind of like talking to space aliens but worth the effort to figure out (might make a nice SJAA class). It also allows you to create the label art like seen in the photo.

Posted in Articles, Blog, Observing Reports


First In-Town Star Party of the Year Was a Blast

On Friday night, 03 January, I was scheduled to both open and close for the first in-town star party of the year. Being early January, the weather had been hazy all day, and though it was cold, it wasn’t arctic, so not bad enough to cancel.

I arrived at Houge Park about 15 minutes before the official start time of 7PM. It was already dark, and as expected, there were scopes already set up. As I parked and got our of my vehicle, a man and his son asked where the star party was going to be held. I pointed him to the row of scopes lined up near the tennis courts, then led the two of them over there and began introducing them to everyone. We had Paul, Richard, Gary and others already set up, pointing at Jupiter or the Pleiades.

Throughout the night, members of the public came and went. Some came with just the family and a healthy curiosity, others came with family and complete with a scope to set up. All told, we saw about seven scopes set up and perhaps 35 individuals stream through. That’s not a bad count, given the conditions and time of year.

One celestial phenomenon that repeatedly caught people’s attention was the fact that Jupiter’s four Galilean moons appeared to be moving quickly. Indeed, there were two that were approaching the gas giant from opposite sides, appearing to be ready to hit the disk at nearly the same time. A quick look at an app on my smartphone, an app called Where is Io, showed that indeed, Io and Ganymede were approaching and both would duck behind the planet’s disk.

Io winked out as expected, and since Ganymede has a longer orbital period, it took a few minutes longer for it to near the limb of the disk. As it neared the disk’s edge we were fascinated with a visual sensation that the moon was pushing into the planet, flattening it out. But as the seconds, then minutes, ticked by, we began to realize that instead of retreating behind Jupiter, the moon was moving in front of it. Either my app was incorrect, or it was simply difficult to tell in the app, with its small image on a small cell phone screen. As the Ganymede’s image pushed further into the disk of Jupiter, several of us observers detected a faint 3-D effect, where the moon stood out from the disk; apparent depth perception. We determined this must have been an artifact of the moon’s shadow being so close to the image of the moon.

Wait a minute, I thought. Didn’t the opposition of Jupiter just recently pass, perhaps in December? I turned to Sky Safari Pro, also installed on my phone, called up Jupiter for the current time, and read through the details. Opposition, it said, was scheduled for February 2015. Hmm, it must be referring to the *next* opposition. I rewound time in the app to August 2013 then looked at Jupiter’s stats once again. Aha! Opposition is predicted to be 5 January 2014, less than 36 hours of our current time! No wonder Ganymede’s shadow was so close to the moon! What we astronomers more typically see is the moon well away from its shadow, so this was certainly an unexpected treat.

Our night at Houge Park in early January again demonstrated that amateur astronomy is not some placid, dare I say, boring pastime.  Rather, it’s unyieldingly dynamic, things are always happenning, and being on the front lines at any given moment allows you to see the universe in action, even from our own little corner of the solar system, galaxy, or universe.  From happy surprises provided by local planets to unexpected releases of massive amounts of energy, local or millions of years ago, getting out under the stars, day or night, is a constantly fulfilling endeavor that never fails to amaze.  This is astronomy.

Image credit: ched cheddles on Flickr via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports


Second Exploratory Trip to the Pinnacles

This a report on my second exploratory trip to the Pinnacles. (Please see the earlier blog post on the first trip for some of the details on the Pinnacles itself)

On Sunday 12-1, me and 4 others from the SJAA met down at the Pinnacles (Nhan Nguyen, Guna Purushothaman, Sanjaya Srivastava and Srinivas P) For me, this was a second exploratory trip. On the first trip I did some imaging, but on this trip my goal was to see how good the viewing could be at this dark location. Guna, and Srinivas were imaging and the rest of us were viewing.

I brought my 6 inch scope to see what could be seen with a modest size scope under the dark skies. As the sun went down, the Milky Way and other stars began to light up the night sky. Venus again was so bright it was casting a glow over southwest. As Venus set, I started to do some observing on some of the objects I have never been able to see from RCDO with my 12′ SCT. Here is a list of some of the objects.

NGC6960 – The Veil Nebula, Using a OIII filter and my 40mm 72 degree eyepiece both east and west sides of the Veil Nebula easily seen with shape and detail.

NGC7000 – The North American Nebula, Using a nebula filter and my 40mm 72 degree eyepiece this nebula was easily visible, showing the shape and some detail to it. I’ve tried many times from RCDO with the 12″ to see this but, never was able to, so I was quite happy to see it this time.

IC1396 – Elephant Trunk Nebula, Using a nebula filter and my 40mm 72 degree eyepiece I could barely make out some outline of the object. Need bigger scope for this one.

IC1318 – Gamma Cygni Nebula, Using a nebula filter and my 40mm 72 degree eyepiece I could barely make out some outline of the object. Need bigger scope for this one.

IC1805 – The Heart Nebula, Using a nebula filter and my 40mm 72 degree eyepiece I could make out outline of the object. A bigger scope is needed to see more detail of it

M74 – A nice face on galaxy Mag 9.39, Using my 14mm 100 degree eyepiece, I could easily see the object and the spiral arms. I’ve tried many times from RCDO with the 12″ to see this but, never was able to, so I was quite happy to see it this time.

M33 – Another nice galaxy, Using my 14mm 100 degree eyepiece, I could easily see the object and the spiral arms. I’ve tried many times from RCDO with the 12″ I could see a smudge, but never was able to see the spiral arms, so I was quite happy to see them this time.

IC342 – A nice face on galaxy Mag 8.39, Using my 14mm 100 degree eyepiece, for some reason, I could not see this one, even though it’s supposed to be brighter then M74. Might need a bigger scope to see this one.

Overall, we had a good time on this trip, I did learn that dark skies really do make a difference as far as what is visible to you in your scope. Kudos again to Nhan Nguyen for finding this site. I think there is a possibility for this location for club members who want to view at a dark site within 2 hours of home base. I’m planning to go back again when I have the opportunity. If you would like to go view at this site with others, let us know hopefully we can get a group of people to go again.

-Ed Wong

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports, Trip Reports


SJAA’s first official new moon viewing/imaging night at Mendoza Ranch

This is my report on the SJAA’s first official new moon viewing/imaging night at Mendoza Ranch. Mendoza Ranch is a new location that the SJAA has been granted access by the Santa Clara County Parks to use on the new moon Saturday night. Access to the ranch requires one of the permit holders to be present, currently Ed Wong or Dave Ittner. The nights it will be opened are the new moon nights on the SJAA calendar which coincide the Henry Coe nights which will give people an option on different darker sites they can go to view or image at.

The event was held on Saturday, November 30th. We had a pretty good turn out, ten people total. For eight of those, it was their first time at Mendoza Ranch. We started at 6pm, there was about an equal mix of people viewing and imaging, five and five. As the sun was setting, I was able to get my mount aligned to do some imaging. I noticed that I was able to see the handle of the Big Dipper in the north. Mendoza Ranch has pretty low horizons. About 10 degrees in the north and the east, approx 12 degrees in the south and west. Overall the total visibility of the entire night sky is the best of all the places I have been able to view from so far.

As it got dark, the north, east and south views were pretty dark. The west had some glow from Gilroy and Morgan Hill but, Mendoza Ranch has some hills on the west blocking some of it, so it’s not that bad as some other sites I’ve been too. By 8pm the sky seemed pretty dark so I took a SQM meter reading using my app on my phone. It read 21.2 for comparison to other sites SJAA uses around the Bay Area, RCDO is 20.5. Pinnacles is 21.7.

Overall, it was a pretty good night, people seemed happy to be able to get out to view and image. I heard people say they like the site and were planning to come back. I think it was a successful first night. The next planned opening of Mendoza Ranch will be Saturday, January 4th, 2014. Come out and join us!

-Ed Wong

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports


One Huge Beginner Class

Last Friday night, 27 Sept 2013, was another session in the regular series of the SJAA Beginner Astronomy Class.  There is usually a free, public star party happening at the same time, right outside during these classes.

During this session, we were given advance notice that two third grade classes, and their families, would be coming to both the class as well as the star party. These classes came from one of the schools that is part of Rocketship Education, a charter school system operating in less affluent areas of San Jose.

rocketship beginner classWe’re not entirely sure if we did the math beforehand or not, but if we were to take the 30 to 40 third graders, then multiply that by, say, a family of four, we would get… well, one HUGE beginner class!  And that’s exactly what showed up: Attendance estimates were up to 160 people of students, younger siblings, older siblings, moms, dads and even a grandma or two. They showed up not in individual automobiles, but a charter bus.  Yes, that’s right not a yellow school bus, but a full size, dual axle charter bus.  These families were here on a mission, a mission to get some exposure to astronomy science. And that’s exactly what we gave them.

Our regular beginner class instructor, Mark Wagner, became unavailable for personal reasons at the last minute.  That left myself and Greg Claytor, another SJAA board member, to cover for him.  Neither Greg nor I have ever led a beginner class before, but there was no way we could let these families down.  We worked together earlier in the day to develop a game plan. What we came up with was a two-fold plan to first cover the basics of looking through a telescope, and second, what was up in the fall night sky.  rocketship beginner classGreg did a great job of explaining how to approach a telescope, which end to look through and how to make sure that people were able to see something through the eyepiece.  I proceeded to hand out a printout of the September Sky, that I downloaded from the Skymaps site.

After the class was finished, the teacher instructed the families on how to proceed to the telescopes, set up outside.  He split them into two groups, the first would go straight over to the scopes, while the other group would hang out at the playground until about 30 or 45 minutes had passed. He was good enough to recognize that over 150 people lining up at only a dozen (or less! We didn’t know what the turnout would be) telescopes would not make for a pleasant experience.

The call for scopes I had put out the night before was a success. I counted at least thirteen scopes and binoculars lined up at ‘telescope row’. Though there were lines during some points that night, they were manageable and everyone seemed to have a great time.  As I had noted in the call out for scopes, there were plenty of oohs and ahhs from people who had never looked through a telescope before.  And that’s what many of these amateur astronomers like to do: We love to share the beautiful views of the night sky and the wondrous objects they contain. That makes it all worth it.

Big thanks go out to those SJAA Members and Friends who heeded the call. Without them, we would not have been able to make this evening a success.

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports, Programs


Rancho’s Fireball

Last night (Sunday 9/8) I opened up Rancho Canada del Oro so folks can do some observing under semi dark moonless skies.   We had perfect weather – warm and no wind.  The lot filled up by 8:30 as we had 15 scopes set up.   There were a couple of families that came out and set up their scopes to show their kids the night sky.   Rancho continues to attract beginners as folks find out that all of us are very receptive and helpful.   Everyone comments on how nice it is to see the band of the Milky Way.

One of the highlights last night was the huge blue-green fireball that streaked across the sky around 11:30 pm.  It looked like it had a NE to SW path that took it just above Capricorn.  One person commented that it probably was space debris of some type since it was moving so slow.

A number of folks made comments throughout the night that they were seeing some nice meteor streaks.  I saw 4 good ones and a few brief flashes.   To my knowledge the next major meteor shower is the Draconids with a peak scheduled to happen October 7th-8th.

We finally wrapped up around Midnight.   Overall it was a darn good turnout for a Sunday night!

A big thanks to all who showed up – a lot of new friends were made and all had a good time.

Clear skies,

Dave Ittner

Posted in Articles, Observing Reports


Jupiter Venus Mercury

 Planet Conjunction May 26th — at Houge Park

Jupiter Venus Mercury

DSC_0165cNikon D3s ISO 250, 1/5 sec f/11 230mm

Posted in Blog, Observing Reports
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Dedicated Astronomers

Dedicated Astronomers hang out till all hours of the night in freezing weather ….

Frosted

A very frosty XT8 OTA at Rancho Canada del Oro Saturday January 12th.   Temperatures dropped to well below freezing.

Posted in Blog, Observing Reports


Shuttle Endeavour Flyover

Lots of folks gathered at NASA Aimes for the Flyover of Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Beautiful Day  – Beautiful spaceship.

Flyover Video and Crowd Cam Here:
https://plus.google.com/photos/115436722413756146284/albums/5790716943897359409

Clip_02

WomanOnShoulders

Flybye

Shot2Flyover

Support+Jet

Pilot

FlybyTower

Michael

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Great Education and Outreach Booths:

Clip_3

Posted in Articles, Blog, Observing Reports


Public Star Party and Astronomy Class Friday, 24 June 2011

Rob Jaworski

Hello SJAA Members and Friends,

Happy Summer Solstice!  The San Jose Astronomical Association will be holding a public star party this Friday, June 24 at Houge Park from about 9:30PM to midnight.

Saturn and showy objects of the summer sky will be featured.

The weather has been great, but there might be some increasing cloudiness, but it should not deter us!  Keep an eye on it here:
http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?site=mtr&smap=1&textField1=3…

ALSO: We will hold a beginners astronomy class that same night, starting at 8:30PM.  The topic will be about gear: Eyepieces, filters, finders and accessories. Perfect timing, to help you get ready for GSSP next week!

Bring your friends, family and neighbors, it’s fun and it’s free!

Directions to Houge Park are on the website, we set up near the tennis courts.
Coordinates: 37.2575,-121.9423

See you in the dark!
Rob Jaworski
San Jose Astronomical Association

twitter: sj_astronomy
http://sanjoseastronomy.blogspot.com/

Posted in Blog, Education & Reference Info, Observing Reports, Programs