Monthly Archives: February 2013

SJAA Solar Picnic

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

SJAA Solar Picnic – Fun Under the Sun!

Double Trouble: Michael Swartz’s H-Alpha and Standard Filter duel scope setup 1

  Today’s Sunspots: small but with good distribution. Solar proms: Numerous and LargeClip_4

Relaxing Solar Picnic was the note of the day! 3

Bill O’Neil (Left) Sunspots views using 18Ga aluminum and powder coated white or
 “Baader” type white solar filter  2

Michael Packer checking out H-Alpha emission 4

 Next Solar Party is Sunday March 3rd
Volunteers with scopes and SJAA members get free hydration (water and soft drinks)

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YES PANSTARRS is Still Visible In Silicon Valley!
Use Binoculars Use a smart phone astroapp if you got one.
MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Packer at

How to view L4 PANSTARRS

PanSTARRS is high enough to see in Silicon Valley. Folks have seen it around the South Bay at Shoreline and at the March 15th SJAA Beginner Class. Kids got a 30 minute view at Houge Park before it set. Use Binoculars! It is now a superb small telescope object at places like Fremont Peak.

Where in Sky
 Click to EnlargePanstarrs-March-16vUT-chart

Seek out a good Western horizon and start looking with binoculars in the evening ~ hour after sunset. The comet is still just visible without using binoculars but is hard to find without them. And binoculars will let you see detail like the tail.


IMAGE OF COMET LEFT OF MOON FROM SKYLINE BLVD MARCH 12th Comet_L4_Pan-STARRS-CAbove image was taken by Michael Packer on March 12, 2013 Nikon D3s, 230mm, f6.0, ISO1000, 3/4s exposure.

Comet L4 PANSTARRS click image to enlarge

“The above image was taken by Ignacio Diaz Bobillo on Feb 15th through a telescope, I’m sure you will agree this is a wonderful capture and full of potential for nice show on the weeks ahead. The green colour around the coma (comet’s head) is the gas/ion envelope around the comet’s nucleus and the white/gold colour is the dust tail reflecting light from the sun. L4 Panstarrs sports a very high abundance of dust which indicates a fairly large and very active nucleus which should continue to brighten every day as solar heating and pressure increases.”

Comet PanSTARRS is named after the person or group that discovered it. In this case, the University of Hawaii’s Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System Pan-STARRS which is an innovative wide-field imaging facility developed for astronomy. It’s full name C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS is a non-periodic comet discovered in June 2011 that is expected to be visible to the naked eye when it is near perihelion in March 2013.


Most beaches along PCH close at sunset. Do you know of any places that are open late?



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Solar Sunday Report Feb 10th

Solar Sunday Report February 10th,  2013

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

A beautiful California day provided a good crowd and fun viewing of the solar disk. Malika’s projector showed the major sunspots. And Michael Swartz’s dual refractor set up (Neutral density and H-alpha – both with binoculars simultaneously displayed the sunspot and prominences in great detail.

Photo courtesy of Jag Sonti

With the Rotation of a new spot into field of view the Sunspot Count Jumped to the 40’s and solar viewers got to see the Wilson Effect – See below images.

Click Image For Larger View!


We have another Solar Observing Day this month on Feb 24th and as usual 1st Sunday March 3.  Come on out. (Folks with solar setups and scopes are provided with water.)

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