With weather looking wet and wild for the 2019 Cherry Springs Star Party and things looking slightly less soggy at Calhoun we decided to cancel on Cherry Springs and gamble on Calhoun. Good thing we were setup on the top of a ridge so we never had to deal with muddy conditions considering all the rain we didn’t know was coming.
Unfortunately we were mostly clouded out for the star party. From the sounds of it some of the other big star parties going on concurrently were also clouded out. It just wasn’t a good weather weekend for a large portion of the eastern US. Regardless of the clouds, the rangers at Pickett put together some good food and speakers for the event to keep it entertaining. I stayed for only one night and snapped a few pics of the hazy skies with the Milky Way trying to peak through.
I made the 13 hour trip up to Cherry Springs State Park for the Annual CSSP Star Party hosted by the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg PA, Inc. I went up a few days before the star party since it’s always helpful to get a good spot. Those of us that were there early on Monday night were treated to a fabulous night with SQM measurements >21.9! Overall it was an amazing streak of clear weather for PA with a total of 4 imaging nights. I was hoping for one or two so as not to set my expectations too high so I was very pleased with four nights!
I even did a little visual at low power with a 4″ refractor. LDN 1795 (large 50’x50’dark nebula in Scorpius) looked absolutely amazing to me at 19X. First time I had a WOW moment visually.
A couple images from last years 2017 CSSP that I finally got around to looking at. It wasn’t a very productive astrophotography trip but enjoyable none the less.
If you’re going to come to a star party like this please follow the rules and don’t be a rude jackass like the following guy. We all understand and tolerate some light issues, car alarms, and emergencies but when you light the place up over and over without any regard for your neighbors I would suggest staying home and not ruining everyone else’s vacation!
Just getting around to publishing some pictures from the 2016 Black Forest Star Party at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. What a great stretch of weather for PA! The nights weren’t the darkest or most transparent (SQM 21.4-21.5) nights I’ve had at CSSP but clear and a little murky was way better than the alternative after driving up from Knoxville TN. Had a great time with some old friends and good to see some old club members too.
Had a few imaging problems related to dithering and settle time / settle criteria that made me lose a fair number of shots but I got two images which, I have to be honest, I’m not real pleased with. They are however, more challenging objects, but would have come out better had the sky conditions been closer to the SQM 21.8 that I’ve seen before at CSSP. But, we take whatever quality of clear sky we can get during a pre-planned star party!
Messier 63 (also known as M63, NGC 5055, or the Sunflower Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici consisting of a central disc surrounded by many short spiral arm segments. M63 is part of the M51 Group, a group of galaxies that also includes M51 (the ‘Whirlpool Galaxy’). M63 is an active galaxy with a LINER nucleus.
In 1971, a supernova with a magnitude of 11.8 appeared in one of the arms of M63.
Friday night was fantastic without a cloud to be seen. Saturday night was less pristine with a lot of thin cloud moving through. I thought we had some clearing later but a lot of the images from Sat night showed very inconsistent background values which leads me to believe we had thin stuff moving through all night. Still, how many clear nights can you ask for? It was a great TSSP and looking forward to the Fall Star Party.
SQM measurements topped out around 21.3 on Friday night and 21.4 on Saturday night.
On April 1st through April 3rd Pickett State Park, a newly designated IDA Dark Sky Site, held its first Astronomy Weekend Star Party. We were clouded out Friday night but clouds on Saturday finally yielded to clear skies albeit with some very gusty winds until the wee hours of the morning.
My buddy and I drove up to Pickett State Park which recently was designated a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. The night wasn’t perfect; cold, little too windy, and high thin clouds to the south that at times mucked with our images. I had wanted to test out a new widefield camera tracker from StarSync LLC. Unfortunately, I forgot my intervalometer so I was limited to 30 second exposures which isn’t the best test. Still, I think it’s the tracker I’ve been waiting for. I love the design.
This enigmatic formation of gas and dust lies in the constellation of Monoceros (the Unicorn) not far off the right arm of Orion. This is a close-up of a small section of a much larger complex, generally known as the Christmas Tree cluster. The mysterious Cone Nebula is also a part of this same cloud.
The red regions of this nebula are caused by hydrogen gas that has been stimulated to emit its own light by the copious ultraviolet radiation coming from the hot, blue stars of the cluster. The blue areas shine by a different process: they are mainly dust clouds that reflect the bluish light of the same stars.
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) is an Oort cloud comet discovered on 31 October 2013 by the Catalina Sky Survey at an apparent magnitude of 19 using a 0.68-meter (27 in) Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope. As of September 2015 the comet is around apparent magnitude 6.
When discovered on 31 October 2013 observations from another object from 12 September 2013 were used in the preliminary orbit determination giving an incorrect solution that suggested an orbital period of only 6 years. But by 6 November 2013 a longer observation arc from 14 August until 4 November made it apparent that the first solution had the wrong object from 12 September.
By early May 2015 the comet was around apparent magnitude 12 and had an elongation of 60 degrees from the Sun as it moved further into the southern hemisphere. The comet came to solar conjunction on 6 November 2015 when the comet was around magnitude 6. The comet came to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 15 November 2015 at a distance of 0.82 AU from the Sun. At perihelion, it had a velocity of 46.4 km/s (104,000 mph) with respect to the Sun which is slightly greater than the Sun’s escape velocity at that distance. It crossed the celestial equator on 17 December 2015 becoming a northern hemisphere object. On 17 January 2016 the comet will pass 0.72 AU (108,000,000 km; 67,000,000 mi) from Earth and should be around magnitude 6 while located in the constellation of Ursa Major.
C/2013 US10 is dynamically new. It came from the Oort cloud with a loosely bound chaotic orbit that was easily perturbed by galactic tides and passing stars. Before entering the planetary region (epoch 1950), C/2013 US10 had an orbital period of several million years. After leaving the planetary region (epoch 2050), it will be on an ejection trajectory.
I’ve cut a few more trees and have updated the horizon survey accordingly. The local light domes for Clinton and Oak Ridge are easily visible in the East and South.
This was my first visit to Fall Creek Falls for the 2015 Tennessee Fall Star Gaze. It’s a casual get together held at a clearing within walking distance from the Inn. The site is reasonably dark measuring 21.42+ on Friday and 21.31 on Saturday after some thundershowers upped the humidity level. Both nights were good so long as you were prepared for dew.
I spent both nights gathering data on SH2-155; the Cave Nebula. It’s a fairly dark object and I’d like more than the 4.5 hours of exposure time I got on it but a couple technical issues coupled with the early moon rise limited my time….
S 155, also known as the Cave Nebula, Sh2-155 or Caldwell 9, is a dim and very diffuse bright nebula within a larger nebula complex containing emission, reflection, and dark nebulosity. It is located in the constellation Cepheus.
Visually it is a difficult object, but with adequate exposure, makes a striking image. The nebula gets its name Cave Nebula from the dark lane at the eastern side abutting the brightest curve of emission nebulosity which gives the appearance of a deep cave when seen through a telescope visually.
This was my first time to Fall Creek Falls and I was not sure what to expect in terms of amenities. For those of you considering going: Restrooms are a 1000+ ft walk from the site. There are no restrooms at the field, nor is there any power, water, etc. The only things available at the site are trashcans. The Inn, as I mentioned before, offers restrooms, along with buffet meals, vending machines, and accommodations on the lake.