HAL NEWS Plus Star Party and Outreach Reports
Public Star Party Report – Dec 2, 2017
Last night’s event was a first-time experiment to see if it is worthwhile extending the star party season into December. Early clouds departed after sunset leaving us clear skies but with moderately bad transparency. In spite of that, it was very successful and, even though the cold started to impact the flat panel monitor in the observatory forcing us to close up at 9:30, that still allowed for a 5-hour star party!
When I arrived just after 4:30 there was already a good crowd. A fair number of them seemed to be just completing the Solar System Walk!
At the peak we had 50 attendees. After peak, families continued to trickle in. I would estimate that we had at least 70 total attendees over the course of the evening. While the Super Moon was the star of the evening, Jim Johnson and David Stein managed to also show nice views of the Pleiades and M15. David Stein managed to work some serious magic and tweaked the Mallincam settings to obtain some of the nicest moon shots ever from the Watson. Captures were taken and Jim will no doubt show them at the upcoming HAL Christmas party.
We had about 7 member’s telescopes and/or mounted binocs set up outside giving views of the Moon and other objects. Thanks to the HAL members that supported that effort on a chilly December evening.
That’s it for 2017. The observatory is all closed up and winterized until March. Thanks for a successful star party season in spite of some very unfavorable Saturday weather this year. (7 of 9 Members Only Star Parties were completely clouded out!) Let’s hope for clearer skies in 2018. See you at the first members star party on March 17th.
Star Party Host and Observatory Director
Public Star Party Nov. 18, 2017
We had a great turn out even with the clouds covering the skies and the wind moving in. Bob Savoy started the evening with an interesting discussion about the Solar System and the features of Pluto. Ken, Jim, and I gave Bob a break and answered some questions about the observatory and everything astronomy related. Even with about 40 people, families, members, and perspective members we closed down early enough to get home before the rain started.
Thanks to everyone who came out tonight and for another great HAL Star Party!
Members Star Party Nov. 11, 2017
I left AR about an hour ago after CTO certifying Ken Everhart- sorry, I was not able to stay.
About 6 or 7 people representing three brand new family memberships showed up at around 5:15. Ken & I spoke with them for about 30 minutes covering the purposes of different kinds star parties and HALO/Watson. The parking lot was empty when we left and locked the gate.
The skies were a complete cloud out.
Public Star Party (Pre-Stem Event, International Observe the Moon Night) Oct. 28, 2017
Well, the weather played tricks on us. The clouds gave us lots of holes up until about 9:00. Wayne Baggett and Chas Rimpo got very good views of the Moon and, when clouds intervened, Wayne gave a great 15 minute presentation on what we can and cannot see on the Moon.
At one point, I gave a brief video show of the New Horizons Pluto fly-by. Joel Goodman rolled out the Meade and was showing folks views of the Moon and of Saturn as well. I did my usual Solar System model Show & Tell.
No other members showed up with their telescopes, although there were some members there with their families. We estimated the crowd at about 50 to 60. We closed up around 10:00 when the clouds completely covered the sky.
Members Only Star Party Report Oct. 21, 2017
The forecast changed to cloudy skies. Wayne and Chas tested the imaging camera and software / sweeping out the observatory / .
We were able to see one star so we had "A star" party. Needless to say we were Clouded Out!!! Closed the gates at 730 pm... ish
Garry Ingle, Jr.
Public Star Party Sept. 30, 2017
The clouds finally cleared and we had a good turnout last night under pretty clear skies. Main target seemed to be the moon since it is so easy to see. Saturn was a good target and always pleases everyone. Was nice to see the dome crew at work after a little tech problem at the start, I even saw that they had M13 on the screen. Around 10 scopes were set up and the parking lot looked full. I counted around 60 vehicles. Fall is off to a good start and here’s for keeping our nights clear.
Robinson Nature Center Sixth Anniversary Open House Sept 17, 2017
The Robinson Nature Center's 6th Anniversary Open House was a huge success as was HAL's participation on the Green Roof. Many thanks to Phil Whitebloom, Dale Ghent, Pat Pitts, and Steve Jaworiwsky for showing almost a hundred visitors views of the Sun as it played peek-a-boo all afternoon. I would guess there was 60% cloud cover, but it never rained! Hot, but no precipitation. Lots of HAL business cards distributed. Lots of interest in HAL Star Parties. Thanks again for your help Phil, Dale, Pat, and Steve.
Members Star Party Sept. 16, 2017
The skies did actually clear up last night after sunset as predicted, and we had a great star party. There were about a dozen scopes set up. The seeing was actually pretty good for once, even though Saturn was rather low in the sky it settled down and became rock steady, with the Cassini division obvious in my 4" and some nice banding on the planet. As the sky cleared, I was able to view M57 and M27, M13, and M31/M32. There was a lot of dewing but it didn't seem to be shutting people down, although it did finally get me around 11:00 and I packed it in for the night. Garry was kind enough volunteer to stay and lock up so everyone else could keep going.
Public Star Party August 26, 2017
We had about 12 or so scopes set up. Close to 100 people showed up at different times through the night.
Saturn and the moon was the highlight of the evening along with HALO showing the moon and Saturn live on the big screen.
A few DSO's were able to be seen despite very poor seeing conditions; over all a successful night.
Members Star Party August 19, 2017
Well it was not as good as the forecast had predicted. Mike & I showed up, two of his friends came along, and shortly after we got set up it started to get cloudy and with a lot of heat lightning. Basically we were clouded out with the threat of thunderstorms.
Star-B-Q and Public Star Party July 29, 2017
The skies did clear somewhat last night - enough to give guests some views of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. The Dome crew gave guests demonstrations on processing video images into photos. Joel had the 16” Meade going along with a long line waiting to see some views.
Not too bad a night since we got 4" of rain the day before.
Members Star Party July 22, 2017
Well, it was a total cloudout. Better luck next time!
Members Star Party June 24, 2017
Last night's member's only gathering had good attendance of about 12
cars, a sign of recent photon deprivation. Transparency was not bad,
but the sky was never very dark, with patchy clouds that increased,
forcing shutdown around midnight. Seeing was average or worse, with
Jupiter appearing washed out (bands but not festoons) and the
usually easy Cassini division of Saturn iffy. Well, dewing was
minimal and bugs not intrusive. These less than ideal conditions
still permitted decent views of brighter DSOs such as M57, M81/82,
M51. For several, a shakedown outing for new gear, including a new
Meade 14" SCT! With indifferent skies, I brought only my two-bag
grab and go set up, a 105mm apo on alt/az head (DM-4) and carbon fiber tripod.
Public Star Party June 3, 2017
Thank you to everyone who came out and made last night's star party such a big success! I counted at least 25 telescopes set up (not counting the Watson or the HAL Meade 16"). It was great to see so many old friends again and to meet some new members. At least 50 cars arrived during the evening, and while I quickly lost count of the number of visitors it had to be well over 100.
The sky was decently clear at sunset and it got even clearer as the night went on. Seeing was not great, but the temperature was pleasant and the humidity was low, and I at least wasn't bothered by bugs which is not typical for Alpha Ridge in June. We saw great views of the Moon and Jupiter. We saw Io's and Ganymede's shadows cross the face of the Jupiter and we saw Io re-emerge from crossing the face of the planet. We also saw the Sun rising over the floor of Copernicus crater on the Moon, which was very dramatic. Overall, it was a wonderful evening.
Our next event is a Members Star Party on June 24. Bob Provine will be hosting.
Photos Compliments of David Stein & Chas Rimpo
May 20, 2017 - Members Star Party (Note: Still 100% clouded out this year)
Saturday's Members Only event was cloudy, with four members present, me as
host, one other, and two working on the Watson. Well, at least it was not
raining and it provided a welcome chance to talk about astronomy and
May 6, 2017 - Public Star Party
(Last night's star party was a ....) Huge success! After a cloudy, rainy start, skies cleared around 9:00. Even thought there was early rain and temperatures were in the low 50's we had about 50 people attending. We were all pleased with the quality of the questions asked by the visitors.
The evening started with the dedication of the Solar System Walk at 7:30. John Bird (Dirctor of HoCo Rec & Parks), Joel Goodman, and Colin Waddington Brinster (who spearheaded the project) spoke briefly about the Solar System Walk project.
Before the clouds cleared, Wayne Baggett gave a slide and video presentation about the JWST. I (Bob Savoy) set up the Solar System scale models and talked about them.
After the sky cleared, a little after 9:00, CTO Wayne and CTA Ken Everhart opened the dome and focused the Watson on the Moon. Meanwhile, Paul Montanaro powered up the Meade and entertained the crowd with views of the Moon and Jupiter. Toward the end of the evening, Joel used the Meade for some visitors.
We closed up at a little after 11:00, pleased with the success of the dedication and the Star Party.
April 22, 2017 - Members Star Party
Well it was cloudy tonight and the rain ended so viewing didn't happen. Besides everyone had enough of this weather to stay home. Hope May has better weather.
April 8, 2017 - Public Star Party
The clouds cleared out for our star party and came back right at the end. We had 9 different member telescopes setup outside as well as the HALO equipment, all sharing views of the Moon, the Orion Nebula, and Jupiter among other targets. We had about 40 people show up to share views and a few even brought their own binoculars. Thank you everyone who came out last night.
I had a great time running the 16” Meade at Saturday’s star party. However the moon was almost full and it washed out many of the deep sky objects. I would rather have a thin crescent moon than one that is almost full at star parties. I think this makes for better moon viewing as well. ...
March 25, 2017 - First HAL Members Star Party of the Year and 1st Cloud Out
At last night's clouded out Member's Only Star Party we had a total of 4 attendees (3 plus me). No rain, but cloudy and not even sucker holes. Well, the spring peepers were in full voice, a positive sign.
Ed. Note: Actually two of the other three "attendees" were the evening's CTO and CTA so there was really only one member attendee.
March 4, 2017 - First (and Coldest) HAL Public Star Party of the Year
The night started cold and windy but the skies were clear so nothing was going to stop a great night for a star party. We had 14 different member's telescopes setup outside of the observatory working with the Watson Telescope to provide views.
We started off with Venus and the Moon which was having an occultation-fest that night. Early in the evening we watched the moon poke out stars from the Hyades star cluster, as if it was practicing for its main event against Aldebaran. As the night progressed, we viewed more planets, the Orion Nebula, and Messier 81 & 82, to name a few. The cold temperatures tried to make it an early night but we held strong to watch the beginning of the Aldebaran's occultation before packing up and heading home.
We had 70 visitors by the end of the night some arriving right up to 11 PM. Thank you to everyone for coming out and helping to make it a great evening. Clear skies!
March 3, 2017 - Robinson Nature Center Outreach
Wayne Baggett and I had our telescopes up at the Robinson Nature Center this evening from 6:00 to 8:00 and showed views of the crescent Venus and nearly 1/4 Moon to visitors. The sky was mostly clear when people were coming in for the 6:30 planetarium show and then after the show, at 7:30. I had to go inside to do the 8:00 show, so Wayne and Katie Peet (RNC staff member) handled the viewing. 43 people attended the 6:30 show and 27 attended the 8:00 show, and most of them looked through the telescopes. Many adults, and all the kids, had never seen a crescent Venus, so it was an excellent opportunity to do a little teaching. The wind died down and it was cold, but it was fun.