Stellafane 2006

Stellafane 2006

Postby Pete » Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:06 pm

Stellafane 2006

Friday, 7/28

The weather forecasts weren’t promising, and I figured I wouldn’t attend. It was only when I looked at the satellite pix on Friday AM and saw a huge clear area heading toward Breezy Hill that I decided to attend Stellafane. So packing was hurried and last-minute. I arrived at Breezy Hill at 12:30 after a 3-hour 179-mile drive. The layout’s very spread out and quite confusing to a newcomer. I never would have located the ASSNE campsite without directions via George’s loaner walkie-talkie. Thank you again George.

Setup took a couple of hours. The weather was very hot and muggy, but the rain held off until around 16:00 hrs. Setup included a tent, a fly and the scope.

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With our crowd, we occupied a site that was 30 yards long by about 15 yards wide.

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Just as I finished setup the rain started. Heavy.

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Brian's big vehicle tent was a godsend.

Brian and I appear to be the only dedicated cooks – everyone else took off to the slop tent while Brian cooked something fancy and I did steak, beans and corn.

The rain stopped and the sky had cleared nicely by 20:00, and everyone else set up their scopes. Counting noses we had Mark, Manny, George, Lou, Bruce, Rob, Paul D, Paul F, Dave, Bob Magnuson, Brian, Daten and myself – all with our own scopes.

My fly and Manny’s truck occupied some of the area originally scheduled for scopes, so the scopes were split into 2 or 3 groupings. As usual, the computerized go-to was one group and the Dobs a second group. With Mark and Brian on the other side of the road across from the Dobs.

Even with the dark sky I was spectacularly unsuccessful at finding 3 or 4 asteroids I’d plotted several days earlier. As I write this log a few days later I noticed that the dates on the plots I was working with were for JUNE 21st, and not July 28. Well, that does explain it. It had been a busy week and apparently I hadn’t found the time to develop an observing plan. But I thought I had, and that’s what I thought I’d grabbed.

The smallest details of the Milky Way were easily visible, and we had a very low southern horizon. But the darkness wasn’t much better than Arunah Hill. I could still see everybody else, and the black tree line stood out against the lighter sky. Perhaps that was due to the moisture in the air?

Through the 12â€
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Postby Dan Chieppa » Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:18 pm

Hi Pete,
Nice report on Stellafane. I like the pictures. Can't figure out how to post them yet or I would have included a few I took in my Stellafane post.
I was out on Monday night from 9PM until the clouds rolled in around 11:25PM. It wasn't a real clear night but I was itching to get some EP time. I'm gonna set up the 80mm now and check out the Monn for 30-45 minutes.
Clear skies,
Dan
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Stellafane post mortum

Postby Mark G » Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:43 pm

Good Job Pete! Nicely writen.

As far as the seeing on Friday night goes it was not a great night to judge how dark it is at Stellafane. The moisture in the air was brutal and killed contrast up to about 45 degrees. :x It was a good night for Zenith work, but even that was effected by the humidity. :( It was not the darkest or best i've seen at Stellafane by any stretch. The company we kept sure was! 8) Thanks all for a great time.
:D

As for Saturday night I struck by how the Milky Way was illuminating the clouds beneath it. 8) Later on in the evening as it cleared up I did note that I couldn't see faces next to me, and the Milky Way was casting a shadow on my chest as I was sitting watching ther metoers. Pretty cool I thought. That was a first for me. All the years going to Stellafane since 1995 and I never thought to check that. :)
Clear skies,

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Postby Galactus » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:40 pm

It was a lovely weekend and great companionship. From Breakfast
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the Zucchini and sausage to the Tale of the Twinkie,

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And getting our own Porta-Potty Delivered to our Camp Site:Image

it was a laugh riot and a memory that moved me as well. I will remember riding the bus with Brian and Pete as Brian was hitting on little old ladies and

when I first saw the Pink ClubhouseImage

And made new friends like Andrew and his grandfather Richard
Image

Lots of Scopes, but fewer than the past I'm told. This one won Second Place in All three Categories
Image
Image
The most interesting thing I found out about Stellafane is all the friendly and great folks from all over with the same interests as I and a "good Morning" or smile was on everyone's lips.

I had a great time and I thank this great group of guys I went with for my first Stellafane. I enjoyed touring the grounds on Saturday with Pete and Brian and Dan. One cannot avoid all the Historic Signifigance ImageImage

Although Pete has been a mentor to me in many ways upon joining this club, it was fun to watch his childlike enjoyment of all of the grounds as it was his first Stellafane too. It is wierd, because we've all seen pictures of Stellafane and much of it--especially around the Pink clubhouse seems smaller than I imagined, but as Pete mentioned, the grounds are huge and spreadout, but we felt pretty secluded at our campsite.

One more Picture, cuz I'm hot and its time for a shower.
Image
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Postby Bruce D » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:54 pm

Great reports guys, the club is fortunate to have some people who have the talent to chronicle our adventures in an interesting and informative fashion. Good work, great weekend! :D
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Re: Stellafane 2006

Postby RobCos » Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:04 am

petep wrote:Stellafane 2006



The smallest details of the Milky Way were easily visible, and we had a very low southern horizon. But the darkness wasn’t much better than Arunah Hill. I could still see everybody else, and the black tree line stood out against the lighter sky. Perhaps that was due to the moisture in the air?


I rate the sky I experienced at Stellafane just a hair better than what we had at Arunah Hill last year. And Arunah Hill rated just a hair better than Little Compton. Arunah is ½ hour closer than Stellafane and it’s free.




Pete, Dan Silva informed me that when he arrived that Stellafane that evening...Springfield was enveloped in HEAVY fog. That would surely explain the brighter horizon in the sky. Last year it was much darker by comparison with great naked eye contrast in the sky. I would STRONGLY suggest you do not judge the sky conditions based on this year.

Last year was easlily the best night I've had observing-by FAR and this year did not compare-with good reason considering the atmosphere.

Just my two cents........

Thanks for the report, it was a blast to read!!!

Rob C.
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Postby Paul D » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:57 am

I second what Rob stated and want to add that last year it was so dark that people were walking into a flourescent pink fence that was right behind where Bob set up. If I also remember correctly the only light was a small dome to the South East where there was a prision or something?

This year I heard many of the same reports that said there was some seriouly heavy fog down over Springfield and that was what was causing the sky glow at the horizon.

The humidity was horrible and affected all objects I observed as the night went on. I thought several times that I had dewed over but it was just the very unstable air. If I rated last year a 10 on a scale of 1 - 10 I would rate this year a 5. It was dark at zenith but last year Andromeda, Double Cluster and M13 stood out clearly in the sky without visiual aid. Also many of the larger Messiers were naked eye in Scorpius and Sag last year and they were barely visible this year.

So for all you first timers it was a nice dark sky but far from the best I have seen it.

Paul D...
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Postby Galactus » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:37 am

Wow. So, what you experienced Stellafaners are telling me is that I have much better skies to look forward to in the future?

That is so cool.

I look forward to Arunah Hill. I must say that I was disappointed in all the objects I was told that I should see easily naked eye at Stellafane and didn't. Now I have a better understanding of why.

I look fprwrd to observing with all of you again. I have learned so much and more to come...
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Postby Bruce D » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:09 pm

Friday night definately wasn't the best I've ever seen there, but it was still good. When the Milky Way casts a shadow it can't be all bad! But I have seen the Milky Way there actually shimmer because it was so bright you were actually starting to be able to see that it was made up of millions of stars and see thousands of sparkles that were stars on the edge of being resolved by the eye. The veil nebula Friday was just a ghost of what I've seen there in the past, I couldn't see the pelican nebula, which I have in the past, and I couldn't make out as much structure in the triffid as I have other years. On the other hand I saw a huge feature of the Andromeda galaxy that I've never noticed before and that blew me away. It wasn't the best I've seen at Stellafane by a long shot, but in my opinion it was still a pretty good night. Beats 3 nights of rain!
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Stellafane

Postby Rotorhead » Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:09 pm

Well, it has taken until Thursday, but here is my two cents worth on Stellafane. I only observed on Friday. Yes, indeed, last year was darker and the Milky Way more detailed by naked eye, but considering that the town was socked in with fog, we lucked into a very nice, but unusual, night.
I will use Andromeda for a benchmark. It was barely visible naked eye at some times, while last year there was no doubt as to where it was all night long. In the scope this year, using a set-up with my 1rpd 30mm ep, there was a distinct gap between the core of M31 and M32; last year M32 was completely enveloped by the outer regions of M31, just like in the photos you see in the magazines. I did note, however, that a number of objects seemed to fade in and out as the waves of moisture shifted and moved over our area. The zenith was always the better area to observe, while the horizons were hit-and-miss.
I have decided that I am a nebula guy, just like Pete with his asteroids. I simply love looking for the faintest extent of various nebulae. The Veil this year was good, much better than most times I've seen it this year, but last year showed festoons and swirls and 'lace curtain' areas that were not there this year. Nonetheless, over a period of a couple hours, I did find that Paul D's O-III filter darkened the Veil considerably over my UHC, and made some areas visible that I had never seen before. I was going to try the Orion Ultra-block, but had to quit viewing when I bummed my ankle again.
Before that, however, I did observe the Swan, and saw more extent in that nebula than ever before. I credit the darkness and my new mirror coatings and new secondary, since I found that the the Swan is actually a 'bubble nebula' with the Swan as the 'gemstone' on a much larger but faint 'ring' somewhat like the 'diamond ring' effect on a partial solar eclipse. I have reviewed a number of photos of the Swan in the past several days, and they confirm a faint bubble 'behind' the tail of the Swan. It actually showed up better in the eyepiece than in most photos I have looked at, although admittedly most photos concentrate on the Swan itself and do not show a wider view.
I hit the Lagoon twice, with one view being a great disappointment, but a half hour later the dust lanes were positively painted like black ink on the lovely nebulosity, with the stars like diamonds.
Swinging to M81/82, I was absolutely disappointed when M81 was so dim. Hunting around for M82, I suddenly ran into M81/82 together, as usual, and realized I had been looking at a small NGC (probably 3077) that never showed up before in any of the many times I have hunted for M81/82. My actual targets blew me away. I have never seen these two galaxies GLOW like they did that night. They were almost painfully bright, especially the central bands along the dust lane in M82.
I had the same experience as others, seeing spiral arms in M51, but not the bridge. Again, last year was better by a long shot, with the spiral arms last year standing out in very high contrast to the background sky.
However, I also saw spiral arms in M101, something I have not seen before in my telescope. I don't think M101 was on my list last year. I have always considered M101 to be a challenge to find in Rhode Island, yet in Vermont it stood out as big and bright as could be, on the edge of the field of view after I star-hopped up the chain of stars that runs away from Mizar. At home, only the core is dimly visible. This time I saw structure.
All night, we kept seeing Perseids and many random meteors from all parts of the sky. At one point, a fireball came out of Perseus and ran parallel to the horizon, right above the trees. I had the impression that I also heard this meteor, very faintly, something I have read happens in the high desert, but Paul D also said he thought he heard it. I actually thought someone had fired a bottle rocket, but this one did not explode, and I am sure it was a meteor. Since it left a persistent trail about 30 degrees long, it may have been close enough that we did hear it. I saw one meteor at the eyepiece, and satellites beyond count. Some of the satellites were dim, even in the eyepiece, so it may be that the dark skies help the satellite count, too.
Just for fun, I ran the Milky Way all along Cygnus with a wide-angle ep, just amazed to see stars like one would usually see in the Sagittarius star cloud. While I was engaged in this little flight of fancy, Paul D invited me to look for the North America nebula with a hand-held Hb filter. There was a bit of reflection off the near side of the filter, but by cupping it in my hand, I could definitely pick out nebulosity behind Deneb. I could not pick out any features that would identify the nebula, but by moving the filter away from my eye and back again, I am certain that I was seeing nebulosity. I had read that it should show up more when both eyes were kept open, with just one eye looking through the filter, but that did not work for me, at least partially because the Milky Way was so bright. I am anxious to try this with my new 2" Hb filter, which I picked up the morning after this episode. I intend to try threading the filter onto my 2" eyepiece extender, and use that for a light shield when I look through the filter. Since the North America nebula is quite large, it does not show up in its entirety in a typical telescope field of view, and I have read that the visual-with-filter method is the best for seeing the whole thing at once. I think that reclining in a chair may help, also.
Someone reported color in the Ring, and I hopped right to it. I ran the power up a couple of notches, but I think my telescope fogged over when I aimed it almost straight up. In running back and forth to get the hair dryer and climb up my ladder, I reinjured this ankle that has ruined most of my summer. I rested it for a few minutes, but it was obvious that my evening was over, so I covered the scope and called it a night.
Well, Stellafane may not be Nirvana, but it is sure worth the drive. At least part of its charm is the opportunity to observe with such a rich mix of friends. If anyone thinks astronomers are stuffy and stiff, they needed to be at Stellafane. I'll never hear 'Who's your daddy now?' without thinking of our very own 'Incredible Hulk' who seemed on the point of having his shirt rip open and truly endanger those poor folks on the hilltop. The authorities stepped in just in time.
There are not too many nights when you feel the adrenaline pumping over the brightness of the Milky Way, but that is the excitement that overwhelms me every time I see the inky skies of the North Country. I have friends on the other side of Vermont with even darker skies. I just may have to pay them a visit....
Thanks to all who helped me with my gear this weekend. I felt like I was not carrying my share of the load, but you all made it possible for me to be up there despite my bum ankle. You are all good friends.
Bob M
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Stellafane post Mortums

Postby Mark G » Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:16 pm

Guys great thread. :D Yes it's great have been up there with you all. Yes it's been better, darker, more transparent. And yes Bruce it sure does beat 3 nights of rain! :lol:

What strikes me about observing Friday night at Stellafane is that I saw something in my 8" f/5 Newtonian around M31 I've not seen before, at least like I did that night. I had my CVO 30 mm in the focuser at 33.3x and a 2.4 degree TFOV. Brian & I saw it. With Paul's help we think it seems to have been a Hydrogen emmision object in the extended disk of M31. An emission region in M31 is basicly a large nebula like M42 in the spiral arm of M31. It must of been. It looked like a forth irregular galaxy in the field with M31, M32, & M110. 8) I was either seeing Andromedia 1 at mag 13.2 and discovered photgraphiclly in the early 1970's, :? or a Hydrogen emmision object. Andromada 1 is out of the FOV much farther than I think I was looking but I was tired and it was late. M31 was just about striaght up at the time, and you would think by now I'd have learned to note the RA & Dec of the keypad. :oops:
Clear skies,

Mark
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Postby Bruce D » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:54 pm

Many posts seem to word wrap fine, and others seem to show only about 2/3 of each line and require signifigant scrolling to read. I finally had to copy/paste Bob's post into MS Word to be able to read it (it was worth the effort BTW). Is there a setting I missed or something?
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Postby Pete » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:38 am

I've noticed the same word wrap problem on another group I belong to BRuce. No one there was able to explain why.

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