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Personal Star Party - 11/26/16 - Long Island, NY

Discussion in 'Star Parties, Clubs, and Outreach Events' started by aeajr, Nov 27, 2016.

Personal Star Party - 11/26/16 - Long Island, NY

Started by aeajr on Nov 27, 2016 at 10:22 AM

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  1. aeajr

    aeajr Well-Known Member

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    Saturday 11/26/16 - 7:30 to 9:30 Stillwoods park 45 degrees with moderate breeze.

    Orion XT8i, 38 & 25 mm 2" 70 degree, Celestron zoom (with moon filter) and EX 82 6.7 mm, Mead HE60 4.5 mm 10X50 binoculars

    Friend’s equipment - 76mm Tasco reflector, Celestron LCM 114 w/Celestron zoom

    I had one of my private star parties last night. 3 newbie friends joined me for a couple of hours of star gazing. I had prepared two observation lists for myself but never got to them as I was having more fun working with my friends and helping them learn about the sky.

    When I left my house around 7:15 pm the sky was completely clear. I drove 1.5 miles to the observation site and when I got out of the car the sky was completely covered in clouds. WHAT? But I could see a clear line to the clouds and in 15 minutes the sky was clear again and stayed clear all evening.

    This site was pretty good up to this visit. All the leaves were off the trees and the street and building lights of the building complex next door were no longer blocked. While this is still better than my house it is no longer a worthwhile place to come. Too much light. But in the spring, when the leaves come back it will be good again.

    New target - Uranus- One of my friends asked if we could see planets. I said Mars and Venus had gone below the horizon but Uranus was high and that I have never tried for that one. So I set up the XT8i Intelliscope and we went after it. It took a few minutes looking at star after star and eliminating them and then we found it. This little blue dot that did not twinkle. I worked my way up to about 266X with the 4.5 mm.

    At 266X it was still quite small but it was almost perfectly round and a lovely shade of light blue. Clearly not a star. Everyone wanted to see. I was pretty pleased with myself. I explained that it is about 1.5 billion miles away so that the light we were seeing had traveled over 3 billion miles and that was pretty incredible. We all agreed that astronomy is quite cool when you start to understand what you are really doing.

    Off in the distance someone was running a HUGE fireworks display. Didn't occur to turn the binoculars or the scope in that direction but we stopped to watch for a couple of minutes.

    We looked at the Orion Nebula, Pleiades and I demonstrated the difference in eyepieces, brightness and field of view. Then we went for the Andromeda Galaxy noting that this was 2.5 million light years away.

    After that we shifted to my friend's Celestron LCM 114. He had never gotten this GoTo aligned before. He did the set-up while I was working with my scope so I don't know how he did it but he said he got a successful alignment. So, now to test it. I entered M42 and the scope began a VERY VERY slow slew over to Orion. It was no where near the nebula but he had just put a Telrad on the scope and that helped me manually position the scope with the hand set.

    He liked my Celestron zoom so he had gotten one. We spent time looking at the nebula and talking about eyepieces, barlows and such. I brought over a 2X barlow to demo that. We admired the nebula at various magnifications from about 40X to about 125X.

    He also liked my Celestron 15X70s binoculars so he got a pair of those too. Mine are on a Monopod. He was hand holding them and having trouble. He will get used to using them.

    Another wanted to discuss AP equipment, not my strong suite. But while we were talking, a meteorite fireball went off. Bright red. He was looking directly at it. I just caught it out of the corner of my eye. That is the second time I have seen one of these while out observing and again, around 9:30 pm. Pretty spectacular but nothing that is going to make the news.

    9:30 and I started to pack up as the dew was forming and I told my wife I would be home around 10. As I was putting away I noticed that I had the moon filter on my zoom. Stupid! I had used that when we were looking at the supermoon and forgot to take it off. No wonder the views all seemed much darker than what I had expected. A 25% ND moon filter is going to absorb 75% of the light. Oh well. Still had fun.

    Saturday night was not about serious astronomy. This was much more about being out with friends enjoying an evening under the stars. I had my first view of Uranus ( love the Intelliscope) and helped friends learn about the sky and about their equipment.

    Another great evening!
     
  2. PXR-5

    PXR-5 Member

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    Sounds like fun, I'm also having a personal Star Party :) having about 10 friends over for a fire in the pit, some very lite drinks and show a few things in the sky :)
     
  3. aeajr

    aeajr Well-Known Member

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    Sounds great. What time should I arrive? :D
     

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