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HAL Star Party Reports and Other News

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2024 Star Party Reports


Public Star Party (Alpha Ridge) 3/16/2024

(The One with 2 Separate Pages of Photos)

See Mike's report with 2 pages of photos submitted by 4 members/officers.


Members-Only Star Party (Alpha Ridge) 3/09/2024

(The One with a Thunderstorm)

The rain turned into a thunderstorm when I arrived at Alpha Ridge about 5:50 pm.

Two other members joined me today when I did a dry run of the Illig. All the gears were running smoothly and are ready for next week's public star party.

I locked the observatory at 6:30.

Richard Ren


Impromptu Star Party (Alpha Ridge) 2/19/2024

(The One with a Bright Moon, Freezing Temperatures, but No Frost)

The forecasts were pretty much right on the nose, and six HAL members trekked to Alpha Ridge Park for an impromptu star party last night. The temperature started close to freezing and dropped to about 27F by the time I closed up. The wind was calm all night, but the humidity was OK and the frost stayed off windows for almost the entire night -- optics also fared well. The only real issue was the very bright Moon very high in the sky -- deep-sky objects like nebulae and galaxies were very difficult targets.

Mayurika and her daughter did some viewing with binoculars and saw a few objects in a fairly short observing session. Alex Grant used his 10-inch Newtonian for a sky tour, with one highlight being splitting the triple star Castor in the constellation Gemini. Jose spent some time working with his new Celestron Nexstar Evolution SCT and observed M42 and several other objects; he was very satisfied with the scope and his time under the sky.

Kurt spent a couple of hours imaging the Orion Nebula with a dual-band narrowband filter with his Askar V 60mm refractor, stopping early because of an early start the next morning. I spent the night imaging the open clusters M37 (in Auriga), M67 (Cancer), and NGC 188 (Cepheus) and some star fields so that I can hopefully do photometry of the clusters. I have attached the image of M67 that I collected and made into a pretty picture.

After a long night of observing, I locked the gate at 2:40am. Thanks to the HAL members who came out to enjoy the near-perfect conditions!

Wayne B.


Impromptu Star Party (Alpha Ridge) 2/03/2024

(The One with 10 HAL Members Enjoying Cold but Clear Skies)

We had a sizable turnout for last night's impromptu star party at Alpha Ridge Park with 10 HAL members taking advantage of the cold, clear skies. Temperatures were cold, but not terribly so, and the wind was calm all night. A handful of clouds blew through at around 9pm but they didn't interfere with observing. The combination of cold temperatures and calm winds led to some frost on the cars but it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.

Dana came to check out the library -- she took a couple of books home with her -- and just to enjoy the evening. Peter brought his 12-inch Meade SCT on his new Losmandy mount so that he could work out the process for using the mount with some visual observing; Victor assisted him with some of the more obscure aspects of controlling the mount.

The remainder of the observers were imaging, and we had a veritable sea of SeeStar S50 imaging scopes. William (Peter's son) was using a SeeStar to image some of the scopes best objects of the night, while David was imaging M33 (Triangulum Galaxy) with his. David started out with success but then experienced some issues with tracking objects. Steve and Bob were also using SeeStars and spent some time familiarizing themselves with their systems.

Benjamin spent the night imaging the Christmas Tree cluster with his Apertura 75Q refractor with a couple of dual-band narrowband filters to get a complete Hubble palette set. Victor measured his filter offsets on his 130mm AstrPhysics refractor using a RST135E harmonic drive mount. He also used the Illig scope in HALO to image the Horsehead Nebula in Orion and start learning NINA's advanced sequencing capability. Finally, I used my 8-inch RC to obtain narrowband images of the Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443) for the January/February Discord group Object of the (Two) Month(s) activity.

After a long night of delightful observing, I locked the gate at 2:45am. Thanks to the many HAL members who came out to enjoy the near-perfect conditions!

Wayne B.


Impromptu Star Party (Alpha Ridge) 1/02/2024

(The One with 7 Cold Deep Sky Imagers to Kick Off 2024)

The temperature hovered at freezing all night, but seven HAL members came out to Alpha Ridge Park for our first impromptu star party of the year on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. Skies were clear, winds were calm, and the transparency and seeing were about average. It was mostly an imaging night, with Alex the only visual observer doing a sky tour with his 10-inch Newtonian. Peter and his son imaged several objects with their ZWO Seestar S50 imaging scope, and David did likewise with his Seestar scope. Benjamin imaged the Elephant Trunk Nebula with his Apertura 75Q refractor and an Askar D2 filter (OIII and SII dual-band for one-shot-color cameras). Kurt imaged M33 (Triangulum Galaxy) with his Askar V APO refractor at 80mm aperture; a quickly-processed version of his result is attached to this email. I imaged the Orion Nebula (M42) in both narrowband and RGB images to work on a high-dynamic range image of the bright object. Clouds began approaching from the southwest just after 11pm, and everyone was done imaging by midnight. After packing all my gear I closed the park at 1:15am.

Thanks to all the members who came out and shared their night with everyone. Hopefully we can do it again soon!

Wayne B.


2023 Event Reports

Event Reports from Previous Years


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Last modified: March 21, 2024 @ 16:59 EST