This year's CalStar was without questions one of the best. Kind of a throwback to the old days in some respects. It was easily the most laid-back CalStar I've been to in many years. All the prep had been well planned out and attended to by Rob Hawley, who organized and coordinated the event for the SJAA. But, beyond the advance work, there was little if anything "official" about the event. Old school CalStar. The group was with very few exceptions considerate and well behaved, only once did a park visitor drive through the observing site at night, and nobody pulled a "Sterngold" and freak out... and only once did I notice someone leave during the night. Very well behaved group, most of whom I assume are long time CalStar attendees and know the etiquette.
It was a blessing in disguise this year that we did not have a caterer, as yellow jackets were attracted to anything edible. A big BBQ of chicken and beef would have resulted in a huge attack of the "meat bees". Chez Dan even had problems due to the flying critters, a few people getting bit. Dan and friends persevered regardless. I enjoyed the fresh brewed Kona coffee, others the scrambled eggs, pancakes, OJ, sausage, fruit and who knows what else the menu offered. Awesome job again by Dan.
Temps were hot during the day, as usual. Canopies offered a respite, but nothing worked better then heading to the Redondo Vista campground and showering down after the heat peaked around 4 pm.
Nights were pleasant early on, requiring layers only late in the evening. Skies were the best I've seen them in years. On the "official" nights for the event Thursday and Saturday had some softness to the seeing, with Friday later in the evening being exceptional.
Even the morning temps were cooperative, staying cool enough that I was able to sack out in my truck until around 9:30 a.m. each day. Getting some decent sleep makes a huge difference at this sort of event. However, as I write this I do feel fatigue.
I don't think there was a single cloud any of the three nights.
The largest scopes were some 25" Obsessions, at least two I saw, Paul Alsing's and Jon Ruyle's, both coming to the event from the San Diego area. Lots of aperture there though. Plenty of first time attendees as well. It was a fun mix. Nothing better than hearing "noobs" getting excited at the sort of views a darker sky affords, seeing their gear show its capabilities.
I was set up between Richard Ozer, Richard Navarrete (two Richards made things difficult at times.... "no, the other Richard"...) Pete Santangeli and Paul Sterngold, with Bill Porte, Marsha Robinson and Alvin Huey nearby. People were spread all over the place, like small astro-enclaves. Again, it was very fun.
I suppose the best things I saw in the scope were some of the toughies. Abell Planetaries, Palomar 12, suspecting Palomar 13, the big arm on NGC 7479. Alvin convinced me to try Shahkbazian 317, which broke into two distinct and perhaps three galaxies, and at other times just a long linear glow. The galaxy trios were lots of fun, as they invariably turned into galaxy hopping beyond the listed targets.
I also enjoyed looking through Alvin's 22" Dob, as he'd come by whenever he had something interesting. Alvin is without doubt another astro-animal. Sterngold was having fun too, doing visual, having turned away from the dark side. Wonderful to hear Paul and Pete working on objects together like Navarette and I often do.
I'm sure that was going on all over the field.
I had plenty of visitors during the night, too. Like the hornets and their attraction to anything edible, I had an attractant as well... I'd offer up my Mexican Coffee during the night, and it seemed quite popular. Friends from all over the field would stop by....
Thanks again to Rob Hawley for his work in organizing the event again this year. It was great - had (IMO) just the right atmosphere, and couldn't have turned out better. Thanks again to Dan Wright, for his generous community building "Chez Dan" breakfasts. I know he enjoys doing it, but it is obvious that it is the enjoyment of others that's the real reward. Dan, Rob, good job.
Oh, and not to forget Jeff Gortatowski for bringing me some of his wife's outstanding chocolate chip cookies. They were the perfect late night snack on the last night...
Below is a list of what I observed, aside from eye candy that were targets of opportunity. I was using an 18" f/4.5 Obsession. Friday night I did a star count in Finnish Triangle 6 (Pegasus) and got 53 stars. If anyone has any questions, let me know.
Those of you who attended CalStar '08 know how much fun and how good it was. Those who didn't make the short trip, you missed out. Make sure to attend next year...
Abell 78 Cyg PN 2.0'x1.7' 16.0P 21 35 29 31 41 44
9/25 12mm NPB, dim haze around a star. Averted vision only.
NGC 7217 Peg GX 3.9'x3.2' 11.0B 22 07 52 31 21 33
9/25 12mm round galaxy, large, bright, bright core with nearly stellar nucleus.
Mu Cyg Double 1.4 4.8/6.1 21 44 00 28 45
Tight double, nearly same color and nearly same magnitude.
Abell 74 Vul PN 13.8' 12.2P 21 16 52 24 08 52
9/25 20mm NW edge is an arc, E edge has a small glowing area.
N7177 Peg GX 3.1'x2.0' 12.0B 22 00 41 17 44 18
9/25 - bright core elong NNE/WSW offset to elongated arms E/W. Core seems almost stellar but split.
Arp 169 Peg GX 0.6' 14.6P 21 14 45 13 50 46
Picked out two brightest easily, third was iffy.
N7042 Peg GX 2.0'x1.7' 12.8P 21 13 45 13 34 31
9/25 7mm slightly elong e/w with brighter core taking up most of galaxy, hint of stellar nucleus.
M15 Peg GC 18.0' 6.3 21 29 58 12 10 01
9/25 12mm, intense very bright small core, with small highly populated area, falling off quickly to sparse stringers.
N7156 Peg GX 1.6'x1.3' 13.1B 21 54 33 02 56 34
9/25 12mm, round without detail.
M2 Aqr CG 16.0' 6.6 21 33 27 -00 49 12
9/26 - 12mm , dense core slightly offset nw in busy central area. More stars to N than SW.
S 2838 Aqr Double 17.6 6.3/9.1 21 54 36 -03 18
9/26 12mm, nice easy split of gold and blue/gray pair.
HCG 89 Aqr GX4 0.9'x0.5' 15.4B 21 20 01 -03 55 19
9/26 7mm - A, B and C seen, B first, then A. C is most difficult.
N7171 Aqr GX 2.6'x1.5' 12.9B 22 01 01 -13 16 09
9/26 7mm, ne/sw elongations 3.5x1, dim star at SE end, very dim small core and mottling to SE of core.
N7184 Aqr GX 6.0'x1.4' 11.7B 22 02 39 -20 48 50
9/26 7mm, great galaxy, elong 8'x2' mostly wsw/ene with 2' bright core and dim stellar nucleus. Extensions dim out evenly.
Arp 325 Aqr GX 0.3'x0.3' 16.0 22 06 21 -21 04 07
9/26 7mm and 5mm radian, pair sometimes splits with 7, stays split with 5. Nice little dim pair!
Palomar 12 Cap GC 2.9' 11.7 21 46 38 -21 15 03
9/26 7mm, approx 3' diameter, granular with some stars resolving. Next to tight group of three stars pointing at the glob.
M30 Cap GC 12.0' 6.9 21 40 22 -23 10 45
9/26 20mm, nice tight glob with two distinct streamers of stars to the N and a detached part of cluster to the E.
Abell 81 Cep PN 32.0" 14.8P 22 42 25 80 26 28
9/26 7mm 1' or more in size, annular with brighter sw edge, center is not clear.
N7354 Cep PN 36.0" 12.9P 22 40 20 61 17 06
9/26 7mm, round, bright, mottled with possible annularity.. With NPB shows more hints of mottling or annularity, and a dimmer extended but close envelope on N side.
N7419 Cep OC 6.0' 13.0 22 54 19 60 48 47
9/26 12mm, elong n/s with bright star on n end. About 20 stars mostly same mag, over many dimmer members. Nice shape, stands out well as a distinct small cluster.
NGC 7510 Cep OC 4.0' 7.9 23 11 04 60 34 08
9/26 20mm, nice wedge of fairly bright stars mostly e/w, very obvious.
NGC 7380 Cep OC 12.0' 7.2 22 47 00 58 06 00
9/26 20mm, nice large wedge open to W with bent chain of stars on S edge - hard edge. Nebulosity throughout cluster and extending out to W, especially strong on S edge around middle stars in chain. W/ NPB filter, nebulosity is triangular throughout cluster, extending beyond to the W but with a distinct gap opening and widening to the N.
Abell 79 Lac PN 120"x90" 15.8P 22 26 17 54 49 40
9/26 12mm, NPB, faint, smallish, round, possibly annular, mostly averted with moments of direct vision. Not difficult.
Abell 80 Lac PN 2.7'x2.0' 15.2P 22 34 46 52 26 12
9/26 12mm OIII - entire disk of PN comes in dimly, averted. Annular but with distinct edges. Stars involved in Dim stars involved, in w and s edges of disk.
NGC 7296 Lac OC 4.0' 9.7 22 27 57 52 18 56
9/27 20mm, two chains of stars, three or more in each chain running parallel over dim haze.
U12064a/b/c Lac GX 0.7'x0.6' 14.5B 22 31.3 39 24 00
9/27 12mm, 100% with averted 12064, 12073, 12075.
N7445/46/49 And GX 0.7'x0.2' 15.6 22 59.7 39 06 00
9/27 12mm, all three members visible although dim. UGC 12298 also in field.
N7263/4/5 Lac GX 0.7'x0.4' 15.5P 22 22.4 36 12 00
9/27 12mm, 7264 is dimmest of four including 7263, 7265 and U12007. Nice field.
N7273/4/6 Lac GX 0.9'x0.5' 14.7 22 24.2 36 06 00
9/27 20mm, all three easily visible. Center one has tight double to wnw, closer galaxy to S, futher to N in 12mm.
NGC 7331 Peg GX 14.5'x3.7' 9.4V 22 37 04 34 25 00
9/27 12mm, 16x3, stellar core with bright elongated core. Arm exend out into increasingly dim points. Arms extend N/S. Core area appears wider on E side of nucleus. 7mm shows possible dark intrusion or swirl to N of core on W side.
Arp 319 Peg GX 2.3'x2.1' 13.2B 22 36 03 33 58 33
9/27 7mm, all six components visible.
N7270/71/75 Peg Trio 0.9'x0.5' 14.9P 22 23.6 32 24 00
9/27 7mm, 7270 is easy, other two pop in at higher power.
N7457 Peg GX 4.3'x2.3' 12.1B 23 00 59 30 08 41
9/27 7mm, large, dim stellar nucleus, dim core, exended NW/SE,.
Arp 278 Peg GX 1.7'x0.7' 14.4 22 19 26 29 23 53
9/27 7mm, very dim, indistinct, appear to be interacting. Elong wnw/ese.
N7463/64/65 Peg Trio 2.2'x1.8' 12.6V 23 02 01 15 57 53
9/27 7mm 7464 wsw/ese, 2 others are round, all three lie w/e. All bright.
Arp 13 Peg GX 2.5'x1.2' 11.6V 23 00 03 15 58 50
9/27 12mm, elong N/S with a very dim but pinpoint stellar core. Large and bright.
Pal 13 Peg GC 0.7' 13.8 23 06 34 12 46 19
9/27 7mm, WNW of a dim double star. Barely a haze with averted. Maybe 50% observation.
NGC 7479 Peg GX 4.3'x3.1' 11.6B 23 04 56 12 19 60
9/27 7mm, large bright barred spiral with primanent core. Bar extends N/S with arm extending around to W from S end most distinct, other end less distinct, but both seem to curve all the way around galaxy. Prominent large core without bright nucleus. Great object.
shkh 317 9/26 7mm, 2 and possibly three of the group observed. Mostly a linear glow below double star.