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Star Party Last Saturday on Mount Helix

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#1 Robrj

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:09 PM

I took my Orion ED80T-CF/AVX/Ultrastar-C and my EAA gear to a local star party last Saturday (top of Mount Helix, in La Mesa, CA).  I was the only EAA setup there so I set up with my back to the north (most people were on the south side).  I put my box over the monitor, which worked well at keeping light away from the visual scopes.  I did a simple polar align with the polar scope and didn't bother with the Sharpcap polar align in the interest of time.  

 

The night itself wasn't a great one for visual.  There was smoke in the air from some fires down in Mexico which created a haze.   As a result, most of the visual scopes were focused on the planets and bright objects like globs.

 

I was showing the messier objects (M13, M16, M17, M20, M27, M51 & M57).  Most people kept coming back to see what was on the screen and all of them couldn't believe it was near live (15-30 second exposure).  They asked, "How could they know it was live?"  So I'd reset the camera and let them watch it come in at the end of the next exposure.  I think most of the oohs and ahhs were with M20 and M51.  The bright red of M20 was easily visible. The blue was a little dim, but still visible.

 

We had a pretty good flow of people.  One guy asked if I could get the veil nebula.  I told him I wasn't sure because of the muck in the air (and the light pollution) but I turned the scope and gave it a try.  Sure enough, we could see it (but barely).  Many of the veteran members were surprised we could even see it at all.

 

When I had M13 up, one girl said her friend wanted to know if that was where Star Wars was filmed.  I could hear her friend defensively say "I was joking!"  Of course I answered, "No.  M13 is in our galaxy whereas Star Wars was in a galaxy far, far away."  They all got a kick out of that answer.

 

Some of my time was explaining the setup to the more technically minded (portable power, cameras, Computestick).  It was a good time in general. 

 

I didn't save any of the images as the quality was pretty low given the light pollution/smoke and marginal polar alignment.


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#2 Astrojedi

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:07 PM

Great report. Yes, the skies around here have been pretty poor with all  the fires burning not just in Mexico but in California.


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#3 Relativist

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:29 PM

I didn't save any of the images as the quality was pretty low given the light pollution/smoke and marginal polar alignment.


Not saving screenshots is something I do all the time, great observing report!

I've also broadcasted live from star parties, it really gets people thinking.
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