[AZ-Observing] EVAC star party at Boyce-Thompson State Park

  • From: Gene A Lucas <geneluca@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, EVAC@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 22:23:14 -0700

We had a good crowd at Boyce-Thompson State Park for the January EVAC 
and FOBT Star Party Saturday night.
Boyce-Thompson Arboretum (now a state park) is located east of Florence 
Junction, near Superior. This is about 60 miles drive east of Phoenix on 
US 60, all on four-lane road until just before the Park entrance.

For those who may not be aware (AZ-Observing listers take note), East 
Valley Astronomy Club (EVAC) has an arrangement with the Boyce-Thompson 
State Park -- the club has a key to the gate, and are allowed to use the 
parking lot for nighttime star parties, typically once or more times per 
month, usually Saturday nights for the so-called "local" star party. 
Additionally, several times during the year, the B-T staff and the 
Friends of Boyce Thompson (FOBT) volunteers organization has a cookout 
at the park, and EVAC brings scopes for a combined Star Party.

Details and maps are on the EVAC web pages...
Boyce-Thompson State Park web page
GPS coordinates are: 33° 16′ 45″ N, -111° 09′ 30″ W or 
33.279167,-111.158333 Elevation 2,400 ft (732 m)

Saturday night at B-T was very clear and transparent, but COLD. A bit of 
chilly wind came up from time to time. Three dozen or more EVACers and 
scopes were in attendance, and about two dozen FOBT folks shared the 
views. A bit smaller crowd perhaps, but a good turnout for a chilly 
January evening. As usual, the scopes were set up tailgate style in the 
southern "overflow" parking area. I arrived a bit late, so I did not 
have any of the grilled bratwurst and fixin's. I also kept busy 
unpacking, assembling, setting up, and learning how to point the 12 inch 
Dobsonian recently donated to EVAC.

We got many good views of the winter skies. I had a nice view of the 
Pleiades, with prominent nebulosity showing around several of the stars, 
in the 12 inch f:6 with my 56mm Super Plossl eyepiece. Randy Peterson 
kept busy working on the Herschel list with his 10-inch LX200. My 
Binocular History Society friend, Jack Kelly, brought along some neat 
WWII binoculars, and of course I showed off my SARD 6x42 wide-angles. I 
also had my Celestron 25x100 binoculars set up, for views of the Sword 
of Orion. There were many other interesting scopes and folks, viewing 
and gabbing. The FOBT folks all seemed to enjoy themselves, learning a 
bit of astronomy in the bargain.

Late in the evening, we took a peek at Saturn, which was pretty low in 
the East, but the seeing had deteriorated (a light, COLD breeze came 
up). I thought I could detect one faint satellite in line with the ring 
plane, and definitely a bright one (probably Titan) some distance on the 
other side. The rings have certainly closed up tight since last viewing, 
this past summer and early fall !

Randy Peterson and I were the last to leave, shortly before Moonrise.

Gene Lucas
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