Thursday, October 3, 2002

CalStar 2003 - the who, what, where and wow!

The best time I had other than observing at CalStar was seeing so many familiar, and so many new faces. The Astronomical Unit, a club from Santa Barbara was there again, occupying the shade under the big tree to the south of the observing field. Kern County was there too, from Bakersfield. We had a strong contingent from south of L.A., it was great to see Jeff Gortatowski, Nilesh Shah, Bill Dean and the Alsing clan. TAC-SAC had a strong showing including Jane Smith, Jim Ster, Randy Muller and the newest TAC-SACo... Marsha Robinson. Many, many regular TACos from the bay area were there as well. Mike Koop, president of the SJAA kept things moving along nicely, with the swap and raffle, group photo (post them soon!) and even a bit of mischief (I was involved too).

Temps kept climbing over the three days and nights, and this was by far the best fall trip to Lake San Antonio. The sky was getting mixed reviews.... some thought it had been darker the first CalStar, but how can you complain when several people this trip picked out M15 (mag 6.4) naked eye?

Our catered dinner was also a *great* success. The folks with Valley Catering (King City) are to be commended for bringing enough to feed even those who had not signed up, but decided on-site that it was just too good to pass up. And that it was. People were going back for seconds.

I also have to admit to doing some planetary observing... through my own 18" Dob. I had a 3.8 mm eyepiece in with a 3X Powermate... which works out to 1624X. It was the first time in my life one of the gas giants really looked gigantic! Yes, it was quite mushy at that power, but there were moments when everything just snapped in, and what a view! When I initially put in the 3.8 mm, I though the view was somewhat soft. But backing off from 1624X, the view at 541X was just stunningly sharp!

For those wondering what I spent the bulk of my time on, I was finding galaxy trios in Miles Paul's Webb Society Atlas of Galaxy Trios.

Friday afternoon we were also treated to a spectacular dog fight between a pair of F18 Super Hornets overhead. What a show!

Glad everyone enjoyed themselves, and I'm looking forward to a possible Spring Astro-Fling at LSA next year!