April 4-6, 2003
Be assured this will be an AWESOME class. Our campsites are at the Headquarters campground - elevation 2400 feet. Skies will be dark and above the marine layer as we explore the spring sky's galaxies and clusters, as well as the moon, and the evening planets Jupiter and Saturn. A few spaces are still available.
Centerpiece for the class is the grazing lunar occultation of a 7.3 magnitude star Friday evening by the slender 6% cresent moon at 7:00pm: we'll journey to Willow Springs Road between Morgan Hill and Cheseboro Resevoir to set up our telescopes and take valuable scientific data as the star disappears and reappears behind mountains on the highlands at the southern edge of the moon. I'll have a videocamera and monitor set up for observing and recording, and students with access to an additional telescope or two we'll bring along - and their own tape recorders - will be able to watch the graze first hand and log observations from separate stations to better map the moon's edge.
A new comet is also making an appearance. Comet Juls-Holvorcem will be nearing perihelion just inside Venus' orbit this weekend, and may give a nice tail in binoculars and telescopes. It will be low in the northeast before dawn, in a dark moonless sky and in the darkest direction. Comets this close to the sun usually provide nice tails. The comet is on target for reaching a peak magnitude for us of 5th magnitude. It will be about 11 degrees up when dawn begins to interfere. Astrophotographers take note - it will be in Andromeda very near the Great Square of Pegasus. Check out some images of this comet here.
Spring wildflowers will be in full bloom, and during the day we'll explore the southern side of the park, which is shaped by the Calveras earthquake fault. A day lecture on faulting and it's relation to crustal thickness and mantel convection in the inner planets will put it all in context. Along the way we'll explore a little known treasure, Gilroy Hot Springs, an old classic spa which was abandoned in the last century and is now owned by the State Park. Explore the area on maps at Topozone.com
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