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2006 Sentinel/Schwar Stargaze


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Here's my report about the major star party the wife and I attended this weekend. Named people are well known in the local observing community. I hope you enjoy it.

Rosie and I attended the 2006 edition of the Sentinel/Schwarr Stargaze held just the other side of the middle of nowhere, Arizona this weekend past. The weather was absolutely glorious, with daytime temps in the mid 80’s and lows mid 40’s. I was very excited in that I brought along the “new” scope my brother in law gave to me. It’s a very old 10” F/6.6 Newt on a GEM mount marked, “Coast Instruments”. Steve Coe tells me Coast was bought by Meade in the early 70’s, so the scope must be at least that old. It has some neat built in bells and whistles, such as a wooden box for eyepieces and an apparent DC/AC converter. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried the converter yet, and the modern ones I did try didn’t work. I spent the weekend just star-hopping without setting circles, and still managed a mini-Messier Marathon, plus whatever looked cool on the charts.

The observing targets were many, so I’ll just give a list and describe some of the highlights. Messier objects included, in no particular order, 1, 27, 31, 32, 110, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 29, 39, 81, 82, 44, 45, 67, 57, 13, 92, 74, 77, 71, 15, 103, 93, 46, 47, 97, 108, 79, 42 and 43. Saturn was observed when it rose and at intervals thereafter until it actually looked good, as did Comet Swan. Some of the NGC objects I observed were, 6888, 6960, 6992, 6995, 6811, 253, 584, 586, 1035, 1042, 1052, 596, 600, 309, 255, 884, 869, 281, 3227, 2392, and 2903. There were also a number of variable stars, dark nebulae and just general poking around the Milky Way. Jennifer Polakis asked if I’d seen the G and H stars in the Trapezium, so we poked around there, too. E and F were easy, G was intermittent and H was not seen.

The highlights were M82 with Sam Herschak’s 4.7mm EP. That gives about 357X. Comparing it to the view in Sam’s 20”, the only real difference was the brightness. All the dust lanes and mottling seen in the 20” were present in the 10”. This kind of comment was typical throughout the night from source after source. Mike Spooner, Bernie Sanden, Tom Polakis and others pretty much said the same. I did enjoy Tom’s particular tome when he said, “Long focal length Newtonians are best for everything. Except tube length.” Anyway, I tried M82 later with my 4mm Plossl, giving 415X and saw about the same as the 4.7mm, although focus was trickier.

Ngc 6888, The Crescent Nebula was a pretty amazing view. Bernie and I had tried it in his scope from Grand Canyon, but failed to see it. Could recognize the star field, but not the nebula. May have been lack of experience on my part, but now with a more trained eye, I was able to see the whispy clouds.

M33 was also a highlight. Was able to see some details in the spiral arms, where in the C8 I could just make out it was a face-on galaxy. M79 was resolved enough to tell where the core began and the outer edges converged.

That’s the way it went pretty much both nights. I’m told it got cold, but I couldn’t tell. It seemed to be getting late once, but I ignored it and went on. Of course, I stopped for a moment when I got hungry-around 1am or so. Great night. Great SCOPE!

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It would take me a few years to find those targets, let alone view in one night, super report AM... 8)


Practice, practice, practice my friend. :D I found 95% of them from memory. As I was telling a newbie I helped Saturday night, it's just like learning a new neighborhood after a move. First, you find the grocer, then the druggist, and so on. It comes slowly over time. Soon, someone visits and you show them all the historic sights!

The thing about we spoiled astronomers in AZ is, we quit when we get tired or hungry. We schedule events months in advance. Few go out when there's high clouds at noon. You chaps are the real determined ones. You guys are imaging during a 30 minute clear window when we wouldn't bother even setting up.

We've got a long weekend coming up-Thanksgiving here in the States. I'll get some time in the dome and make time to write some more for you. I've been negligent and I apologize. If I can't directly share my skies, at least I can share my accounts with you. 8)

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If I can't directly share my skies ....

One day. One day!!

I guess we grab the windows, because that's generally what we'll get for days on end. Oh to be able plan your events months in advance!!

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