[AZ-Observing] CalStar

  • From: "JTPest" <jtpest@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Kent Wallace" <kwwallace@xxxxxxxxxxx>,"Kelly Houle" <khoule@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <joe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,"Elaine Osborne" <eosborne@xxxxxxxx>, <az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 15:06:07 -0700

Last week while everyone was at NASP,  I was at the 2nd CalStar hosted by San 
Jose Astronomical Association at Lake San Antonio California some 30 miles 
North of Paso Robles in Monterey County.

All 3 nights (September 13th-16th) were clear. (I understand there is not a 
Monsoon season there.)  It seemed to me the complete circumference of the 
horizon never turned to inky darkness like that of the Arizona skies.  Instead 
of light domes breaking it up here and  there, there was just a general 
periphery of glow.  The "dark enforced" area was often splashed with car lights 
from a park road, a careless observer, or latecomer.

So while it wasn't the pristine dark skies we sometimes get here in Arizona, it 
was well worth the drive (624 miles one way) to reunite with some astronomers I 
met at the Grand Canyon Star Party--Joe Bergeron the Space Artist and Jane 
Houston Jones and her husband MoJo from the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers. 
 And to meet with many other highly knowledgeable astronomers to hear their 
observing stories and learn their sky specialties.

The number of scopes ranged from about 40 on Thursday night to a high of 110 
:-) on Saturday.  The central observing area--the "thick of things" was a grand 
field of  "ladder dobs"!  Quite a sight-- I'm sure amateur astronomer heaven 
may look a bit like this.

Surprisingly, we (my miniature astronomer daughter, Mary, went with) were the 
only ones from out of state despite an add for this party in Sky and Telescope. 
 I think every Astronomy Club in California (there are a lot!) was represented 
though. The few I noted were The Sidewalk Astronomers, San Jose Astronomical 
Association, The Astronomical Unit, The Astronomy Connection (some kind of 
clearinghouse for California Astronomy Clubs http://observers.org/ ), Kern 
Astronomy Society, China Lake Astronomers and Vandenburg Amateur Astronomy 

I set up my 10" Dob at camp near Joe Bergeron's 6" Starfire refractor--a 
magnificent telescope lovingly named Morning Glory III, and "Borgil" a small 
"Mary Sized" dob refractor that Joe lent Mary ( great sharp stars! We also 
viewed the entire Veil in one field with it.).  While my goal was to collect 
many more observations for my "SAC 110 Best NGC's Project" and take my usual 
ream of  Pest notes, my head was lost into sad world events and I became 
increasingly content with just sitting back resting, thinking, and observing 
the sky naked eye-- completing the 110 Best star occulatations through oak 
leaves project in one night.  I did manage to eek out 7 NGCs in 3 nights and 
Mary got two more objects towards her 22 Deep Sky Treasures from the 
"Nightwatch" Book. 

Many of the astronomers there know many of the astronomers here!  That was such 
a great reassuring feeling to me--how there are people united by a love of the 
sky!  And even then some of them knew some of us from some other places like 
the Texas Star Party!   Small world, smaller universe! 

I would especially like to mention Kent Wallace, I think he must be the 
foremost authority on amateur Planetary Nebula observations.  He is currently 
working on his 6th revision of 1143 Planetaries cataloged neatly onto a 33 page 
spreadsheet.  He also authored and printed "300+ Planetary Nebulae for 8" 
Telescopes" a now out of print observing catalog complete with drawings that 
would be such a great tool for embarking on the Herschel 400's.  (If you have a 
copy, may I borrow it?)  And he recently spent 4 whole months in Australia 
observing the great "Down Under Sky".  If you would like a copy of his 1143 PNe 
(550KB file), please contact me direct:  jtpest@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx  or Kent at  
kwwallace@xxxxxxxxxxx, I'm sure he would love hear from many of you.

Mary would like to especially mention Angela Tobin another miniature astronomer 
and certainly  the foremost 8 year old expert on M13.

And Lake San Antonio California!!  A beautiful place with wild life, great 
birds (Magpies!), swimming, nearby ocean, mule deer,  and feral pigs that can 
open ice chests with their snouts!  I'd highly recommend this Star Party for 
the astronomer camaraderie and exchange of knowledge, a place to collect out of 
state observations for your SAC 110 NGCs:-),  a memorable astronomy themed 
family vacation, a reunion with old cronies, but don't expect to do any long 
exposure deep sky photography or expect to keep your dark adaptation for any 
extended period.

CalStar was great for sure, but now I'm heading off to Sentine--only 100 miles 
away to the great Arizona Sky.

Jennifer Keller, Pest

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