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SJAA Annual Meeting + Potluck = Stellar

SJAA Annual Meeting and Potluck

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Elections were held, food served, and a few members were recognized for making SJAA shine. Greg Claytor did an outstanding job of noting all that our clubs does – and his son took the above picture of SJAA members in attendance. The Elected Board members for open seats in 2015 were Teruo Utsumi, Ed Wong, Lee Hoglan and Michael Packer. The Board has one seat open. If you wish to nominate yourself or another member please contact any board member.

Below are the folks who were awarded for their SJAA efforts. Each recipient also got a bonafied astronomy cup that shows the constellations when it’s heated up with coffee, tea, coco, broth… you get the idea.

07-SJAA-2015AnnualTeri Rogoway given the SJAA Recognition Award by Greg Claytor for helping SJAA secure dark sky observing sites, late at night, and outside city lights. Much thanks Teri.

05-SJAA-2015AnnualGary Chock has showed up and shared the night sky at just about every dark sky event SJAA hosted last year – Wow – Thanks Gary!

06-SJAA-2015AnnualSukhada Palav has taken it upon herself to stock an Astronomy Library with books and magazines that both kids and adults can enjoy/utilize. Last year the Library really came to life! Thanks Sukhada.

04-SJAA-2015AnnualGreg Claytor and Teruo Utsumi receive awards on behalf of Marianne Damon and Tom Piller (not pictured). In addition to her outreach, Marianne was the reason every SJAA meeting had coffee and snacks last year. SJAA recognized Tom Piller for his outreach last year his editorship of the SJAA Ephemeris News Letter. Thanks to you both! Below is a pic of three recipients in attendance – you might call these mug shots – seeing as they are holding their cups!

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We also retroactively handed out constellation mugs to SJAA’s last year award recipients:

03-SJAA-2015AnnualLeft to Right: Jim Van Newland, Teri Kahl, Paul Mancuso, Bill O’Neil, Carl Reisinger

Below are a few more pics of the evening. Thanks to all of you for making SJAA a fun place to reach for the stars. And great food btw!08-SJAA-2015Annual09-SJAA-2015Annual10-SJAA-2015Annual

Posted in Articles, Blog, General Meeting


SJAA 3rd Year Solar Party

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.
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SJAA’s 3rd Year Solar Anniversary A Big Hit

Today with a Sunspot Count of 193 (NOAA) and one huge massive H-Alpha flare, SJAA shared some stellar views with the public along the Los Gatos Creek Trail at Campbell Park.  

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 Above Left Today’s Sunspots and Active Regions And Above Right Malika Carter Setting Up Her Eyepiece Projection System

003-3dyear-solarJustin Gallegos stopped by and snapped this iphone 4s image of today’s massive H-Alpha Flare. Thanks for sending our way! And below are more pics of today’s event. All in all, we had about 60 folks stop by.

004-3dyear-solarAbove Bill at Clubs H-Alpha

009-3dyear-solarKevin Lahey explaining the twisting of solar magnetic field at is 12″ Dob. A lot of bikers put the breaks on to take a view.

008-3dyear-solarMark McCarthy’s scope was a big hit

005-3dyear-solarVeteran SJAA member and solar observer Terry Kahl at her grab and go Coronado H-Alpha. This scope revolutionized Solar Observing from an obscure hobby to popular astronomy

006-3dyear-solarWolf Witt explaining Solar Fusion. He brought out a 100mm Lunt H-Alpha.

007-3dyear-solarBill O’Neil with a Mother And Daughter who stopped by.

010-3dyear-solarSolar Chair 3 Years Running Michael Packer

It is hard to believe SJAA and I have done Solar Astronomy for 3 Years. Every type of H-Alpha Flair observed – even ones yet classified, along with the biggest sunspot in 24 years, a transit of Venus no soul will see again in their lifetime and a rare California Anular Eclipse. We have a Transit Of Mercury to Look forward to along with a Partial Eclipse which is a Total Eclipse of the Sun from Oregon to South Carolina.

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Packer

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Articles


Send us your pics! Comet LOVEJOY

Send Pics of Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) To
mDOTpackerATyahooDOTcom – We’ll Post Below

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Isaak Cruz, Canon T5i 16/30s images on Astrotrac Mount, 200mm f/2.8

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ricky Pan, Cupertino, Olympus OM-D E-M5 60s ISO 800 221mm f/6.3

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Marilyn Perry, Sunnyvale, Tue 01/0615 9:20PM, Canon T3i, 8s ISO 800 200mm f/3.2.

 

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Michael Packer, Los Gatos, Wed 01/07/15, Nikon D300s 4s ISO 2500 480mm f/6.3

With a pair a binoculars look for Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). Folks with good skies can just make it out naked eye.  In binoculars some folks have said it looks like greenish cotton ball. See below for its path in the sky:

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Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


First Sunday Jan 4th 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.
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BIG SUN, HUGE SUNSPOT AND ONE CLOUD BLANKET
Today January 4, 2015 at 6:36 UTC (04:36 a.m. PST) the Earth was at perihelion, closest to the sun!** Also on this day a sunspot, AR2253, equal in width to the diameter of Jupiter was about smack in the middle for prime-time viewing!! But, alas, a blanket of clouds covered the sky made for a sparse viewing of this celestial culmination of events. Eh – not quite magical. In fact we did not pull out the club’s H-Alpha, though Michael P. had his duel refactor set up, one side a H-Alpha 80, and Carl R. and Bill O had their SCTs. We, and about 10 visitors, did get to see the sunspots, all 78 of them (SIDC)*** and prominences but we had a few problems along the way aside from the clouds. Michael in his zeal to show Carl where he screws on his continuum green filter, screwed up is duel scope alignment. He’s lucky he didn’t loose a binoviewer to the effects of gravity at the scopes’ flip downward. And then Terry K. arrived. Now she correctly decided to not to bother pulling out her scopes but it wasn’t like she had a choice. Her trunk decided to lock along with her car keys inside. Nothing AAA could not handle in under 5 minutes. So even if first Sunday’s show was not entirely skyward we had enough entertainment here on Earth at Houge Park. Here are some pics of the day. And if you have time – Check out Sunspot 2253!! !! !!
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Michael Checking out Sunspot with Solar Glasses. The Sun was not bright enough through clouds for 2253 to pop. Look for this behemoth Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday if you got solar glasses and a patch of clear sky.
2015Jan3rd-MichaelBelow Carl and Bill shooting the breeze.
2015Jan3rd-Carl-BillBelow Bill and Wolf – not shooting the breeze at the moment.  2015Jan3rd-Bill-Wolf
**The word perihelion is has Greek roots: peri meaning near and helios meaning sun.
*** SDIC is Solar Influences Data analysis Center.  SDIC is the keeper of the International Sunspot Number. If you write in the comments where the SDIC resides, 1st commenter get a pair of solar glasses free.
****Look for Comet Lovejoy over the couple weeks! Big Hint: Use binoculars and this link: https://www.sjaa.net/wp-sjaa-content/uploads/2015-Comet-Lovejoy.jpg
Posted in Blog, Solar


SETI TALK: Philae landing & 1st Results

SETI Colloquium

The Rosetta Lander (PHILAE) mission: landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Tuesday, December 16 2014 – 7:00 pm, PST

Jens Biele
DLR German Aerospace Center

The Rosetta Lander, Philae, landed on 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014. Before this could happen, a landing site had to be selected within just 2 months, based on data from the Rosetta Orbiter instruments and analyses on flight dynamics and illumination profiles. Philae was programmed to perform a First Scientific Sequence, immediately following touch down, and then enter its long term science mode.

The paper will report on the actual landing and the very first results. The landing was successful, though the operational sequences had to be modified ad hoc:  Philae did not anchor upon first touchdown at 15:34:06 UTC but rebounded at least once, finally settling – fully operating all the while – at a place not ideal for long-term science. A wealth of science data has been received. 

Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI.

Posted in Articles


Santa Cruz 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.
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The Return of Sunspot AR-2192 — Yet
A Santa Cruz Solar Day was 1/2 hour of bliss followed by Vader clouds

It would have been a glorious day had that sun just been around a bit longer but views turned to checking out scopes and talking to folks – with an ocean view in the background however. Here’s proof the sun was briefly out. Thanks Bill Seiler for this photo.
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Full solar disc with a B&W crop to see AR2209
Along with Sunspot AR2192, re-numbered to AR2209 for its second trip around the sun, were two massive prominences – 100,000 by 80,000 miles easy in size. About a dozen folks got views of this stellar solar face before the clouds rolled over. Along with Bill Seiler we had Michael Packer, Jeff Gose and John Pierce. But I have to say it was great to have both clubs viewing together and collectively being able to do outreach for any Californian who walked by from Ocean Shores to North and South Bay. The Bike/Walking path is a great place to set up scopes for passerby’s.
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Posted in Articles


Fall 2014 Swap Happiness

Remember Friday Night Observing This Nov 14 at Houge Park weather permitting. See Calendar
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2014 Swap made many a stargazer happy!

There is something beautiful about a swap meet that beckons back to the day of selling a sheep for wool coats. Shear Poetry Ha Ha Ha! Well OK – anyway folks sold equipment that they no longer need to folks who can’t believe they’re walking home with telescope, eyepiece, tripod, binocular. On the club side of things – SJAA provided pizza and drink – and we got donations. Stellar Cheers, Stellar Gear – Thanks go to all.
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2014-SWAP-01 More Pics 2014-SWAP-02 2014-SWAP-03 2014-SWAP-04
And don’t forget – Houge Park Star Party  coming up Friday – Mag 7’s
Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


First Sunday Nov 2nd 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.
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Terrific Folks and a So Long for AR-2192 – See you on the spin around?

Last month the eclipse and sunspot AR-2192 were superb – unlikely but perhaps the sunspot will last a month, long enough to spin back in view. If it does look for it on ~ Nov 18th. Here’s a nice image of today’s sun from the handy site SolarMonitor.org

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Solar Sunday Regulars Bill, Kevin, Jack (relaxing), Carl

Solar Sunday saw about 15 folks stop by – Join us next month December 7th (Dec 14th is back up date in case of low sunspot count or weather)
Posted in Blog, Solar


23rd October 2014 Partial Solar Eclipse

RASC_handbookThe Royal Astronomical Society of Canada publishes each year its Observer’s Handbook, which is a wonderful reference of astronomical data and phenomena of the year. Its target time period is mainly relevant for the year of publication, but much of its content is a wealth of information applicable to any time period of the epoch.  The 2014 RASC Handbook noted four eclipses of the year, a total lunar eclipse in mid-April followed by an annular solar eclipse two weeks later (which was visible only in the far southern and eastern hemispheres), then another total lunar eclipse in early October and finally a partial solar eclipse on 23 October. This last solar eclipse was well situated for us observers in the western edge of North America.

direct view
The San Jose Astronomical Association hosted an event at its base camp, San Jose’s Houge Park for this partial solar eclipse. The objective is to allow people to safely view the eclipse, share views with each other and the public, and to simply socialize.  The club’s solar workhorse of a telescope, a 100mm hydrogen alpha scope made by Lunt, was doing its thing. A host of other telescopes were set up by club members and other people, many of which had filters attached for safe viewing, or projection systems installed so that the image could be viewed by many people at once, not unlike viewing the event on a small smartphone screen. Some people even brought out colanders, ie, spaghetti strainers, the holes of which act as numerous pin hole cameras, projecting numerous crescent sun images onto the ground, a white piece of paper, or even a hand.
long focal length imageSpecial solar viewing glasses, which make it safe for people to look directly at the sun, were made available to all attendees.  Kids and adults alike were able to wrap these glasses across their eyes and have a safe, direct view at anytime.  And when we did, we were treated not just to a portion of the moon covering the sun, but there was also an additional treat: An unusually enormous sunspot was clearly visible to the naked eye.  Everyone who knew what they were looking at could easily spot the aberration on the face of the sun.  What made this special is that sunspots are typically much smaller, and not visible without some amount of magnification.  The eclipse today was accentuated by this sunspot, which did not at any time become obscured by the moon’s limb, and whose size is fairly rare.
During the roughly three and a half hours of the event, an estimated seventy five people attended. Some were seasoned amateur astronomers who were ready with their own equipment, while others were families that stumbled across the event and were invited over by friendly volunteers of the SJAA.  Kids and retirees alike viewed the eclipse (and sunspot) in amazement, while everyone enjoyed the mild autumn weather of northern California.
This will be the last solar eclipse that will be visible in California for the next few years. In August of 2017, however, a large swath of North America, in particular the United States, will host a total eclipse come through.  This will be a highly anticipated event, so now is the time to plan for seeing this total eclipse, which should be on everyone’s list of thousand-things-to-do-before-you-die!
Posted in Articles, Blog


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

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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.

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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


iSUN & iMOON Member images

iSUN & iMOON Member Images

Two remarkable pics from iphones submitted by members:

This first one is crazy good for an iphone and 80mm – Dare iSay lunar crazy good:

Photo Credit: Gary Pappani

Gary Pappani-10-2014

This second image is the best iphone shot I’ve seen from the sun in H-alpha held at the eyepiece of a 100mm Lunt – and I’ve seen a lot of them (taken by me) 

Photo Credit: Wolf Witt on October 1st Sunday Solar

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Wolf_Witt-10-2014

Posted in Articles


Partial Solar Eclipse Party

Partial Solar Eclipse Party

Partial Eclipse3

When: The Eclipse Time is Thursday, October 23, 1:30pm – 4:30pm

SJAA will set up Solar Filter Scopes ~12:30pm an hour earlier

Where: Houge Park, San Jose, CA 95124, United States (map)

The moon will cover up to 38% of the sun this afternoon.

SJAA will be there with telescopes to see it.

Join us, it’s free and open to all!

That means kids and you!

Posted in Articles


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.
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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.
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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.
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Below is Bill’s scope which showed today’s sunspots. Much thanks to Bill. That’s not him at the scope
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Below is another pic of Bill’s scope. That’s not Bill either.
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And of course Telescope Fit-it was going on inside. Here are a pics of Dave, Ed, and Phil.
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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


New arrivals in SJAA Library!

Hello there,

Thanks to generous donation by some nice people in our community, SJAA library now has few more interesting books –
Star Ware – Philip S. Harrington
Norton’s 2000.0 Star Atlas and Reference Handbook – Arthur P. Norton
The Cambridge Star Atlas – Wil Tirion
Uncovering the Secrets of the Red planet – Mars – Paul Raeburn
365 Starry Nights – Chet Raymo
Astronomy – Fred Hoyle
Looking at the Earth – Priscilla Strain & Frederick Engle
A Dictionary of Astronomy – Dr. Robert Maddison
Don’t Know Much About The Universe – Kenneth C. Davis
The Accelerating Universe – Mario Livio
Thursday’s Universe – Marcia Bartusiak

And thanks to Eric Randall, we also have some fantastic new DVDs in our collection –
Astronomy Magazine – Infinite Cosmos DVD Series
Episodes available –
Biggest Things in Space
Astrobiology
Can We Make it to Mars?
Catastrophes That Changed the Planets
Colonizing Space
Constellations
Cosmic Collisions
Dark Matter/Dark Energy
How Big, How Far, How Fast
How the Solar System was Made
Life Beyond Earth
The End of Earth: Deep Space Threats to Our Planet
The Journey to Palomar
The Search for Cosmic Clusters
To the Moon
Unexplained Mysteries
Wildest Weather in the Cosmos

Stop by and check these out!

As always, if you have any questions/suggestions/comments/feedback, please email me at librarian.sjaa@gmail.com.

Thank you!
Sukhada

Posted in Anouncements, Blog


1st Sunday Sept 7th 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.
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Great Weather, Terrific Scopes and Folks, Spectacular Prominences and 170 Sunspot Count (NOAA) =
Could not ask for More

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Sola-Sept2014-01A

5 Scopes and 20 Folks at 1st Sunday Solar Observing at Houge

A grab and go spotting scope and Questar scope filled the need to see the plethora of fantastic sunspots and solar faculae today. And 3 H-alpha scopes filled the bill to see a prototypical loop prominence, a 200,000 mile hedge row prom and several tree branching proms.  Here’s a pic of the spots from Solarham.com:
9-7-2014-SolarHam

Note the white webbing of Solar Faculae around the sunspots. Teruo’s Pentax Spotting scope equipped with a glass filter @30x caught all the major hot regions on today’s Earth facing photosphere.

Below – Paul M. scope caught truly veteran solar views and Wolf W. 100mm catches its first plasma light.
Sola-Sept2014-02 Sola-Sept2014-03

Thanks to our volunteers Terry K, Teruo U., Wolf W., Paul M. and Michael P.. And special thanks to Dave Ittner would helped get the club’s scope set up today and Rob Jaworski for bringing cooler/drinks and also facilitating coverage of our Solar Sunday by a local newspaper.

 
Posted in Blog, Solar


NASA Ames 1st open house in 17 years

NASA Ames Open House

Saturday October 18

Check our Martian Landscape area, wind tunnels, labs….

Perhaps a SJAA Group Trip? Post us a note below…

More Details here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_26468180/moffett-field-nasa-ames-host-first-open-house?source=rss

 

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog, Education & Reference Info


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


Perseids – Fear Not the Moon – start now

Fear Not the Moon, Perseids Always a Great Show so look for it this weak starting now.

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Read more at: http://www.universetoday.com/113776/fear-not-the-moon-perseids-always-a-great-show/

Posted in Anouncements, Articles, Blog


1st Sunday August 3rd 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.
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We are *finally* past solar max. So is the Sun dead quiet? Not Quite!
Is Summer over as soon as the days get shorter? Nope – the sunshine hums along. It’s even more the case with the solar cycle. Sol Min is 5.5 years away! The sunspot count on the 1st Sunday of August was 158 (NOAA). Plus we had one spectacular prominence which stood out from the others and changed its shape over the course of the party (below are a few pics). Please do note though – as the sun does quiet down – the chance of seeing an active day on the 1st Sunday of every month will wane. So we now have a back-up date of the 2d Sunday for solar viewing. We’ll keep you tuned in through announcements!
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2014-08-02Wh9 IMG_4973Ha9Above is how the sun looked over the weekend in standard and H-alpha filters. Thanks to Robert Duvall.
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Again, please make a mental note. As the sun does quiet down the chance of seeing an active day on the 1st Sunday of every month will be lower. So we now have a back-up date of the 2d Sunday. We’ll keep you posted for the stellar views!
Posted in Articles, Blog, Solar


SJAA Yosemite Trip Report

Yosemite Trip A Success

We were concerned about the fire and clouds but the reality was we showed Saturn, Iridium Flares, the host of significant objects inside and outside our galaxy to folks from Europe, Africa, Oceania, the Americas and Asia.

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE

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Credit M. Packer

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Credit M. Packer

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Credit J. Jones

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Credit: G. Chock

One highlight of the weekend was an Iridium Flare passing over during pre-star party talk. Morris Jones asked “what’s the difference between astrologers and astronomers?” Answer: “Astronomers predictions come true” Where-in Morris told audience to look up for the flare and score – the satellite passed overhead to the delight and applause of audience.

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Credit M. Packer

Thanks to our SJAA volunteers. Left to Right: Morris Jones, Philip Lieu, Don Lieu, Jane Houston Jones, Jim Van Nuland, Terry Kahl, Gary Mitchell, Kenichi Miura, Paul Mancuso, Michael Packer,  Jose Marte, Greg Bradburn, Gary Chock, Rus Belikov

Other highlights of the weekend: scope views of climbers on Halfdome, M55 in a large dob, Swan and Veil (nice view Terry and Gary). Saturn of course – it rings but also it’s moons. M6, M7 and lots of planetary nebulae  in Aquila (thanks Rus). Also several shooting stars both nights along with the Crème de la crème – Pleiades “un-occulted” or rising over Half Dome in the wee hours. Below are some pics of the weekend.

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Credit M. Packer


 

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Credit G. Chock

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Credit G. Chock

Morris snapped this shot of a grouse that stopped by:

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Credit M. Jones

Posted in Articles, Blog, Trip Reports