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Sunday, July 19, 2015

COW STAR PARTY 2015

Location:  Mactaquac Provincial Park, NB, Canada

Date Time:  July 17-19, 2015  

Weather:  Friday -very hot, humid and sunny through the day, clouded over just before sundown.  

Saturday - cloudy, warm some light showers through day.  Heavy rain through the night.  

Sunday - clouds and light rain. 

Many, very disappointed astronomers.  Someone said it was the first time in eleven years that both nights were clouded out.  Although, it did clear for 45 minutes early Saturday morning from 0130-0245hrs.

Attendance:  Chris C., Mike P., Mary and Peter J., Adrian B., Curt N., Paul O., Ed O., Stephen T., Junior P., Don K., Allen H., Tim D., Someone from Sackville University, plus many more who I didn't know, Carla and Myself.  Approximately fifty in total is my estimate who attended.

Equipment:  Ed and Stephen brought "Big Ass" a 20" Dobsonian, Chris C brought his 11" SCT,  Adrian B brought his 14" Dobsonian which he sold to Junior, Allen, Peter, Mike and many more people brought telescopes.  My 8" Meade LX 200 with telerad, an 80 ED/APO on Vixen Mount, 19mm, 12mm and 6mm eyepieces, 20x80 binoculars, and Canon Rebel Xsi camera.

Highlights Friday:   1630hrs - We arrived and set up the trailer.

1900hrs - Theodore R Gull from NASA gave a talk very interesting talk(in a very hot Rec Hall) on the history of Hubble Space Telescope.  He showed some of its amazing images and had a model of the Carinae Nebula that was made from a 3D printer.  He spoke of the difficulties of getting the telescope to focus properly and how difficult it was to service.  He worried that the new James Webb Telescope had a much more complicated set-up with many more moving parts.  The more parts and the more complicated the system, the harder it will be to trouble-shoot.  Of course, the trouble shooting he is talking about for HST was accomplished by Astronaut spacewalks!  

Spacewalks were done to save the HST(which orbits the Earth at approximately 300km), but, as the JWT will be too far away to service by this method. JWT will be located at Lagrange Point 2, 1.5 Million Km from earth!  JWT will actually be in its own orbit around the Sun!  Thanks Curt!

2300hrs - Acrtus, and the Summer triangle could be seen, faintly though the clouds.

0130-0245hrs - Clouds cleared late Friday night from , but the seeing was still poor.  My big scope was used on manual as batteries were forgotten at home.  Images broke down at high magnification into a reddish haze.

Observed the Milky Way, which was kind of faint but visible.  The big dark lane that approaches Cygnus could be seen. 

M13 was a smudgy cloudy fuzzball. 

M57 showed up at low power in the 19mm eyepiece as a fuzzy but bright smoke ring.  Mike P., observed it also.

Alberio showed up nicely at low and high magnification.  One of public also viewed it was impressed by how close the two stars are and their color difference.

0215hrs - Did a search for M31, but clouds moved in and ended the observing.

One satellite and no shooting stars were seen.  Many planes flew overhead, mostly going east to west or vise versa.

 Highlights Saturday:   0900hrs - Paul O. demonstrated 'new to me' functions on the Canon Rebel Xsi, and helped set the camera up so it would focus through the small scope!  The secret was to attach spacers to place the camera in focus. Thanks Paul!

1000hrs - Paul O gave a very informative talk on Astro-photography(Rec Hall) and showed some of his own personal images.  Discussed different types of cameras used and his method of processing images.  He has produced many very high quality images of celestial objects and of atmospheric optics!  

1500hrs - Clouds and rain had taken over.  The forecast being reported was 100% chance of heavy rain for Saturday night. Everyone in the Stargazing section of the park, except for Carla and I, have packed up and left.  The heavy rains did come Saturday night!

Highlights Sunday:  1100hrs - We broke camp.  

Despite the weather it was still a great time.


A 3D printer model of the space close to the star Eta Carinae brought by Mr Gull.  This is what the smaller star does to the Gases surrounding the bigger star on closest approach!

Mr. Gull holding a model of the Carinae Nebula.

Paul Owen giving a talk on Astro-photography.

Paul O showing an image of his imaging set-up.

Paul, Junior, Elijah, Gary and Myself posing for the Camera.


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