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M.A.R.S. 2012 Mid-Atlantic Refractor Soiree

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#1 The Ardent

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 03:21 PM

The 2012 MARS will be held Nov 8-11 as part of the Heart of Virginia star party. This is a special event for Cloudy Nights Refractor Forum members and fans. Please indicate "refractors" when registering, we will have our own heated building and observing site.
Cost of the event is minimal, includes camping, hot showers, all night coffee and snacks, electricity for scopes, wi-fi and more. Cabins and bunkhouse lodging available. Moon will be waning crescent, and Jupiter up all night.

Please thank Ranger Tim of for allowing us to have our own event.

Follow this thread for updates and changes.

#2 The Ardent

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:44 AM

There will be a Spring MARS and Fall MARS this year!

The spring event will be Mar 21-24 at the Staunton River Star Party. I apologize for the short notice, but thats how things work sometimes. This is a brand new star party in Virginia. Please register for the star party and add "refractors" in the comments. Lets look at Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn in refractors! All in one night.

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#3 Scott Beith

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:16 PM

I will see you in Nov!
I am in school in March...

#4 BKBrown

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:00 PM

I just registered, and look forward to seeing folks at the Spring M.A.R.S. session. I plan to bring my TEC 140 and 100ED/ES80ED rigs...should be fun under those nice dark skies. See you in March!

Clear Skies,
Brian

#5 Catapoman

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:20 PM

I'll be registering this weekend. Looking forward to having some fun.

#6 The Ardent

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 05:17 PM

Lets hope for good weather.

Here is the refractor line-up that Im aware of:

Tec 140
Tec 140
Tak FS152
Tak FSQ 106
AP 152 f/9
Kowa Highlander Prominar

See you Mar 21! :jump:

#7 Catapoman

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 10:52 AM

I returned from the Staunton River Star Party last night a day early due to a less than favorable weather forecast and avoiding the opportunity of getting stuck in mud on the observing field.

As the title of this thread mentions the Spring M.A.R.S. was also held at the Star Party. Three CN members – Brian (BKBrown), Ray (18UCinVA) and myself - showed up with 4 refractors (1 Astrophysics 152 f/9, 2 TEC-140s and 1 Celestron Onyx 80mm). Ray also bought his excellent Towa Highlander binoculars. We setup in area on the observing field we designated “The M.A.R.S. Refractor Row”. There were many other refractors (including the rare Apomax 130 f/12) in attendance at the Star Party, but they were in other areas of the observing field. Although we only had one night of observing as a group we had a ball observing and comparing the views of everything from planets to double stars to carbon stars to galaxies and other DSOs.

IMHO, the best part of the Spring M.A.R.S. was meeting with other CN members.

Below is an image of the observing field.

Clears skies,
Pernel

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#8 NHRob

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 10:54 AM

That looks gorgeous.
Any comments on apo views?

#9 Catapoman

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 10:54 AM

The M.A.R.S. Refractor Row

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#10 Catapoman

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 10:57 AM

From left to right - Yours truly, Brian and Ray.

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#11 Catapoman

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 11:26 AM

Rob,

Yes, the observing site was great. Both the staff of the hosting Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) and the Park were excellent. The only light dome I noticed was from South Boston and even that wasn't bad.

As for comments on apo views I'll make my comments in more general terms and say each of the three samples (the AP 152 and 2 TEC-140s) on the row did exactly what they were designed to do - 1) provide sharp, contrasty views of planets, 2) split doubles with pinpoint sharpness and 3) show great background contrast behind star fields and DSOs. In conversation among the three of us there was not one of us not satisfied with what we were observing that night in any scope. The scopes allowed us to just relax and enjoy the views. The seeing conditions there were average to very good and transparency was about average with periods of thin clouds and then clearing.

From a personal experience, what surprised me was how well my TEC-140 did on a galaxies like Leo's triplet and some fainter ones like NGC 3593 and NGC 3596. I also split some really nice doubles like 32 Orionis and 52 Orionis as well as some others that were plotted in the Pocket Sky Atlas, but there designation were not indicated.

BTW, I viewed Jupiter through the Apomax 130 and it provided superb views with lots of banding.

#12 BKBrown

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 07:26 PM

We had a great time at the Staunton River Star Party; and I'm glad I got to meet Pernel, Ray, and Ranger Tim...it was great fun! The facility is very nice and the hospitality of the park staff was first rate, kudos to the park and event staffs for an outstanding effort. It's a pity the rain moved in but Thursday night was super. We had conditions all over the scale during the night, but some of us managed to stay up until almost dawn (the clouds finally took us out). I plan to attend the next session, hopefully we'll have some more refractors on the field from the CN contingent.

With two TEC 140s and an AP 152 on site we had plenty of Apo firepower. The early evening was dedicated to Jupiter and Venus and we had very good seeing for a couple of hours around sunset. One of my goals was to test out the new batch of ES 82s I picked up during the recent sale and they turned in first rate performances across the board. During the early evening planet watching I used the 8.8 (111x), 6.7 (146x), and 4.7 (209x) oculars and they delivered crisp, contrasty views that seemed as good as any of my EPs (which include TV Naglers and Pans, Brandons, and UO Abbe Orthos) so I give them a big thumbs up :waytogo: As it got darker we turned to a whole smorgasbord of double stars, carbon stars, and DSOs. One of the most memorable episodes was checking out the Double Cluster in the ES100 14mm and the ES82 30mm...wow! Both clusters fit into the FOV of the 14 and that was pretty cool, but the view with the 30mm was superb, perfectly framed and glorious. I'll remember that one for a long, long time. I am primarily a lunar and planetary imager, but I do love the "eyepiece time". I can't thank the guys at our end of the field enough for their patience in sharing their hard earned knowledge and a great many very cool sights with me. I promise I'll try to get more viewing time in in the future!
So, all-in-all it was a fun if truncated event, and I definitely plan to go out the next time (hopefully in better weather conditions). And while we got to share many beautiful and memorable views (by consensus entirely CA free I might add :grin:), it was meeting new friends that really made the event. I look forward to seeing all of them again, and hopefully meeting many more in the future.

Clear Skies,
Brian

#13 knightware

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 07:46 PM

I wondered why there were so many refractors directly across from me! I was using the 14.5" truss Dob directly across the driveway from you.

I took Sky Quality Meter readings from 9pm Thursday until 1:30am Friday. Readings ranged from 21.05 to 21.23. I heard that it reached 21.50 after I quit. The seeing was quite nice in the early hours. I'm glad you guys were able to take advantage, and I hope to see you again next fall!

- Phyllis

#14 The Ardent

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 11:04 PM

Hello

Plans have changed again. The fall MARS will be held in northern Virginia at the NOVAC Star Gaze on Oct 6, 2012. The Crockett Park is a great location for observing. Plans are to have a "Refractor Row" with scopes large and small, new and old. This is a public viewing event thats ends at 11pm, but NOVAC members can stay all night.

#15 SteveC

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:37 AM

I'll try to make the Oct 6 date. Since you already have a bunch of TEC140's, I bring my TEC110 and a bunch of nice planetary eyepieces along.

#16 RAKing

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 09:39 AM

Since I always support the NOVAC Star Gaze, I will see you in October - I hope.

I will have back surgery next week, but hope I am recovered well enough to bring some lighter gear (GM-8, etc.).

Crockett Park is nice and dark for the Washington area and I had a good time many years ago with a TV-102. So don't be shy - bring what you have. :)
Cheers,

Ron

#17 The Ardent

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 05:22 PM

Guys,

Thanks for your enthusiasm. Please contact the NOVAC officers if you are interested in attending. From what Im told now is the time they start planning the Star Gaze.

#18 BKBrown

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 07:30 PM

I'll be there. Being closer to home I plan to bring two rigs out this time...should be fun. See you in October!

Clear Skies,
Brian

#19 The Ardent

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:20 PM

Less than 4 weeks to go! Please contact the NOVAC and let them know you are coming for the Refractors.

If its raining....well :bawling: :bawling: :bawling:

Look for the spring 2013 MARS at the Staunton River Star Party

#20 Paul Derby

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:04 AM

Just a note that we welcome all of you that plan to attend the NOVAC Star Gaze on Saturday Oct. 6. We have a great program lined up starting at 3PM. Presentations take place in a tent and the program happens, rain or shine. We look forward to decent weather and observing will take place up to 11 pm. If the weather doesn't cooperate Saturday but clears by Sunday we will do the observing on Sunday night from sunset to 11 pm.

Details on the event including the agenda and directions are available on the web at: http://www.novac.com/gaze/

A flyer is available at: http://www.novac.com...tarGaze2012.pdf

The NOVAC coordinator for Star Gaze this year is Travis Eyster. He may be reached directly at: outreach@novac.com

If you are attending, bring along $6 in exact cash for the park admittance.

You can join NOVAC online at: http://www.novac.com...application.php
which gets you to more detailed "members only" areas of our web site.

For those of you coming to Star Gaze, we welcome you! Have a safe trip....

Paul Derby, President
Northern Virginia Astronomy Club

#21 The Ardent

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:37 AM

Mods: Please unpin this thread.

All week long the forecast for Saturday was cloudy with rain. I arrived at the Star Gaze a little early to do some solar before the clouds arrived. I had about an hour at lunchtime. The clouds came, it did rain for a minute, and an hour later it started clearing. By 3pm the skies were mostly clear. I was able to observe the sun until it set beyond the distant pines. I didnt plan on staying long given the forecast. I thought I would be home by dinner time but the clear skies kept me out past midnight.
I set up my 152mm f/9 Starfire and 900 mount. I considered selling this setup given the poor weather this year. There were two large sunpots facing and one on the limb. I saw a pair of tiny spots near the center. The surface was littered with granulation and faculae. I used a Baader Herschel wedge, Televue Binovue with two 18mm Ultimas giving around 76x, and Televue 1x corrector.
The Novac was kind enough to provide food so I had dinner while waiting for darkness.
After dark I replaced the solar setup with two AP 2.7" extensions and a Tec Turret. The turret is a wonderful device that allows easy switching between eyepieces. I didnt have a finderscope with me so i just used a 32 plossl as a finding eyepiece. I showed the public some nice doubles like Delta Cep and Gamma And. For other astronomers it was Zeta Aqr at 180x, 23 Aql and Epsilon Lyr. The seeing wasnt great but the transparency was good enough to see IC 1396 naked eye.
With the moon and Jupiter low in the east I switched to straight thru binoviewing mode. The views werent the best, but it was nice to see them in the refractor. Despite the poor seeing numberous bands were visible on Jupiter. I love those steady moments when the single band is revealed to be two or three separate ones.

The Novac were generous hosts and put on a great event.

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