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Catalina State Park, 03-16-2013

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#1 Skylook123



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Posted 11 March 2013 - 07:52 PM

Once again the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association will be helping Catalina State Park on Oracle with a night under the stars on Saturday night, March 16, our first of three CSP events for the year. We'll have somewhere around a dozen astronomers signed up to support nearly 300 visitors as we try to perform our environmental awareness function. I'll be doing a short talk at sundown and a short walk around the sky at dusk, then it will be off to the eye candy.

The goal will be to not only expose the visitors to wonders of the night sky, but to also stress the importance of maintaining and reclaiming the night sky. If any of you are in the area, drop on in. These gatherings tend to generate a lot of conversation and exposure to the cosmology of our universe, but the protection of the night sky as well.

The State of Arizona Parks is aggresively supporting night sky events to raise the public awareness of the importance of protecting the night sky. Not to eliminate light, but to use it wisely.

Alamo Lake and Kartchner Caverns also have regular events; in fact, Kartchner's next event is also this Saturday.

Arizona State Parks Astronomy Programs

#2 David Pavlich

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:11 PM

You'll have some great objects considering the time of year. Hope to see some pictures, Jim!! You guys always do it right.


#3 Skylook123



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Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:04 AM

Holy cow Dave, I wish I had some pics. What a mob scene, in a good way. I always had at least 15 people in line. From around 6 PM until 9:30 PM, ended up with nearly 450 at my scope alone. Plus I did a 25 minute sky tour at 7:30. I started out on the Moon which was nicely visible well before sunset, the switched over to M42 for the last 90 minutes. For the sky tour I did my usual comparison of the circumpolar view among Greek, Navajo, and Egyptian cultures and included Osiris (Orion) for the Egyptian portion. Was able to introduce Zodiakos Kyklos (Cycle of Living things) which became translated into the Zodiac. Sun to Moon to Jupiter to Taurus to Gemini to Cancer to Leo make a nice introduction to the ecliptic/zodiac. That then allowed the introdution of the Navajo First Thin One or Son-in-Law (Orion) and the not visible First Great One or Mother-in-Law (Scorpius) and comparing them with the Greek Scorpion and Orion being on opposite sides of the sky. When a Navajo girl marries, her mother and husband can no longer see or speak to each other for the rest of their lives, so they are on opposite sides of the sky just as Zeus separated the scorpion and Orion for Greek mythology. Got back to the scope, switched over to M42 and it really astounded folks (18" aperture at 3000+ feet elevation will do that) and the exquisitely beautiful blue-green nebula and Trapezium didn't draw tears like Saturn will in a month or two, but close. I was only at 120X in a 19mm Panoptic, to get the context of the nebula in, but the Trap was a crisp five stars even then. And we had fun with the gender differences in the night color pallete, and how men's and women's night vision bias the perceived color differently in blue-green versus greenish blue sensations. Too much local light polution from a nearby shopping mall although mostly shielded by the hills to pick up the usual pinkish rim of the inner nebula. But, with only the moon and M42, didn't need to fire up the Sky Commander. Got some more of the North African and other Native American lore in while the line was moving. Ended up on Jupiter with a 9mm Nagler, on Jupiter. Yikes, 12 gorgeous bands. But 400+ in 3 hours was a challenge to give a quality experience to, needing to recenter the dob every four visitors or so with the Panoptic's wider field.

Never did get the camera out of the computer bag. I had customers from around 5:45 on, and it got really heavy after 6 PM. I couldn't get down to the comet; the primary would have fallen out of the sling. Some folks saw it with binocs, a couple of younger adults got it naked ey but it's geting mighty dim for that. Tour de Force of Fun.

Ends an interesting 28 hours of two of us teaching two hours in one town on how telescopes work, then spending all morning teaching a club Fundamentals class in constellations, star life cycles, celestial navigation, and other introductory material, then running over and setting up at the park. Tremendous crowd for this one though.

We'll have another one at the same location on May 4, the 30th anniversary of Catalina State Park, where we might be doing solar plus a booth setup with hands on demos as well. That is still in the planning stages, though. My guess is that we had about 500 tonight, but only 8 of the anticipated 12 scopes due to illneses and schedule conflicts. We could have used them!

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