Astro 28C: Field Astronomy at Big Sur
October 12-14, 2001
This class is a ½ unit course suitable for transfer to CSU as a science elective. I'll give the roster to our division secretary who will enter the names/ID's into the computer. You'll wait 24 hours for this to happen, then be eligible to register for the class the usual way - through Hawk Talk or on-line. You can drop the class and get a refund on your campground fee until Sept. 20. After that there are no refunds. We need have time to fill in slots for drops.
The $15 camp fee covers the campground overnight charge for two nights and with any money left over I'll buy fixings for French toast breakfasts Saturday and Sunday morning!
We're going to the Big Sur coast! This will
be a fun and educational course which will get you hip-deep in astronomy.
This course is built around a unique astronomical event; The northern limb
of the waning cresent moon will graze the hot main sequence star SAO 99202
at 5:30am Saturday morning Oct 13. The graze limit crosses Hwy 1 at Andrew
Molera State Park, (but we’ll be camping at Kirk Creek further south). This
star is a relatively young star, about twice the mass of the sun, and glows
at a temperature of over 10,000 degrees Kelvin. It's relatively bright, at
magnitude 7.7. Its blue-white color will contrast with the moon in our larger
telescopes. We will watch as the star is seen to slowly move along the dark
edge of the moon, disappearing and reappearing as it passes behind the mountains
and valleys seen in silhouette. Such an event is called a "grazing occultation".
Our goal will be to record the exact moments that the star disappears
Of course, we'll also have our our scopes to show you the deep sky wonders - last views of the nebulae and star clusters of the summer Milky Way, and the Andromeda Galaxy... Our site will be far from city lights and very dark all night long.
The Cabrillo Astronomy Club will be along to help show you the sky, help get you rookies into graze ship-shape, and generally enliven the festivities.
Thursday Oct 11; 5-~8 pm: On-campus general orientation, planning food, carpooling. Lecture on grazing occultations, origin of the moon and planets in planetarium (Room 706). Planetarium and slide session.
Friday Oct 12
The class officially begins Friday evening. However, it is a roughly 2 hour drive to our campsite. I and most of the astronomy club will be caravaning down to the site, leaving from the observatory around 2pm Friday. If you have to leave later, we'll make sure you have maps to guide you to our site. After a group meal, we'll break out the scopes for some
Saturday Oct 13
The graze occurs at 5:30am and lasts just
a few minutes. We'll need to be up an hour ahead of time to drive to the
* Unregistered people: Many people ask whether they can bring along a friend, "significant other", or kids/dogs. The school forbids us from handling people who are not officially registered for the class, or members of the Cabrillo Astronomy Club (who will be along for your astro viewing pleasure), for insurance reasons as well as
cost. That means that those staying at our campground will need to register for the class.
* Car Pooling: It's a bit of a drive and carpooling will help save trees and keep you from getting lonely too! We'll organize carpools at the Wednesday pre-trip meeting.
The Graze of SAO 99020: What to Expect
We'll set up about 3 or 4 "graze stations", spaced a few hundred yards apart. Each station will have a telescope, a designated observer, one or more assistants, a battery operated tape recorder, and a radio. The observer watches the star and each time it blinks out he/she shouts "D!", and when it reappears he shouts "R!", as absolutely instantaneously as possible. Meanwhile, his voice is being recorded on a tape recorder along with either time signals from WWV, or a suitable AM radio station to be decided on Sunday. It is by carefully listening to this tape that the times of the events will be deduced. The whole graze will last only about 3-4 minutes. The area of the moon being 'grazed' is never sunlit when seen
in silhouette from earth, so it'll be valuable new topographic data that we acquire.
* This trip requires car-camping. So, be prepared to bring or share....
-- sleeping bag, pillow
-- tent, rainfly
-- camp food (keep it in the car unless you're eating it!)
-- cooking gear
-- warm clothes (it's still winter, remember and it'll get cold
-- optional camera and tripod, would be fun
-- sunscreen, Ray-bans
-- binoculars would be nice
-- star chart if you have one
-- field notebook
-- lawn chair for relaxing/ listening to the lectures/tanning
* The campsite is accessible by car so you do not need backpacks.
We should plan to bring our own water. There will be rustic
restrooms, probably no showers. I'll root around for my old "sun
shower" from the Hale-Bopp desert trip.
* In addition, these items below are necessary for getting good
-- tape recorder with FRESH batteries. This is necessary in order
to make a careful voice record of the D's and R's so the times
can be deduced.
-- audio tape for the tape recorder
-- If there aren't enough tape recorders/radios, bring along a stop
watch if you have one
* Rain: The trip will go, rain or shine. If its raining (God forbid!) bring rain gear.
We'll have our group meals on Friday evening
and Saturday evening. Let's plan on starting meal prep at 5:30pm. We'll gather
around the fire ring, slice tomatoes, etc.etc. and have a feast! At dark,
we'll uncap the Cabrillo telescopes to view planets, double stars, galaxies,
star clusters, nebulae, etc. For eager-beavers, there will be an opportunity
to take some night photos (not through the telescopes, unfortunately) afterwards.
Rick will discuss various topics while you observe them in the telescopes.
Saturday and Sunday during the day you'll be free to have fun. There's hiking,
river swimming, mtn biking (bring yur own) Saturday after dinner, we'll have
a 'round the campfire lecture on cosmology,
grade will be based on attendence at all sessions, demonstrated curiosity,
and especially on a take-home, open book
There will be more handouts and details on where we will be staying, etc. at the Wednesday in-class session. Please note that the Wednesday on-campus session is required attendence! I'm looking forward to a fun weekend with all of you!
Rick Nolthenius - instructor
rinolthe at cabrillo.edu