2003 Astro Events

Apr 4, Fri eve 7:03pm PST - Our Henry Coe State Park Astro 28F class meets for the graze of a 7.3 magnitude star 4 degrees from the southern cusp of the 9% cresent moon, near Cheseboro Resevoir just west of Morgan Hill. Results: A terrific graze observed by students from 3 stations, and a fun and educational trip. Check here for the full download .

Apr 7 Mon eve 9:24pm PDT - A decent graze visible right from Aptos. An 8.5 magnitude star grazes 4N of the 32% waxing moon 43 degrees up in the western sky. This is IMMEDIATELY after my Astro 10 evening class lets out. Results: A successful graze! I had my evening Astro 10 students rendezvous with me near New Brighton Middle School where I set up the video/TV monitor system and over a dozen students watched science in action as the star disappeared and reappeared 6 times in under half a minute. Followed up with video views of Saturn and Jupiter. Extra-credit was had by all.

Apr 25-27 Fri-Sun - Astro 27/Geol 27 trip to Pinnacles National Monument. Our semi-annual migration to fun, education, lava rocks, galaxies, and mutual bonding. Results: A great trip - weather was a bit ominous but it turned out fine. A good group chemistry and deep cosmic lectures and discussions both nights around the campfire.

May 2-4 Fri-Sun - Our Astro 28G: Miracle Hot Springs/Kern River trip, featuring a nice graze of a 7.5 magnitude star 5N of a slender 6% waxing moon. We'll have to drive a few miles from camp to Piute Mountain Road to get a decent horizon as the moon is only 8 degrees up. The sun is -13 after twilight ends. Results: Rain the whole weekend, and a tree fell on my car! But still had some fun and interesting campfire lectures. See the full download here.

May 7 - Transit of Mercury. Not visible from here, but RCASS member Jay flew to the east coast to photograph the event and got some nice shots. Check it out.

May 10 Sat eve 9:19pm - a video-able graze of a 9.0 star 12N of the 68% moon high in the sky, visible from Cabrillo Observatory. Results: Success! 10 timings from me at the observatory, and 6 more from Allen at his home in Aptos. I got inspired after this, and raced to pack up and drive to DeLaveaga Park for an even fainter 9.3 graze an hour and a half later - and bagged 4 more timings.

May 15 Thur eve 8:30pm - A total eclipse of the moon, with the moon rising at sunset. Let's plan on doing some nice astrophotography from our eclipse site up Mt Bache road near Loma Prieta peak. Results: A great BBQ and eclipse party near the top of Loma Prieta Peak. McKulle and I grilled marinated asparagus, tri tip, and other delicacies while we watched a beautiful eclipse. About 15 club members and friends joined us.

May 31 - Our final work party at the hilltop observatory site, as we packed up the telescopes. We broke in our new gas-fired grill and BBQ at our new site in the canyon below and all looked forward to enjoying our new home.

June 7 Sat eve/Sunday morning - Two asteroid occultations: First an 8.9 mag star by Klytaemnestra, low in the western sky at 12:20am PDT. Then an 8.3 mag star is occulted by Alma at 4:22am. Nominal paths for these miss Santa Cruz but cross each other in the Bishop area. Since it's a weekend, if the predictions look solid it may make for a nice tax-deductable weekend summer camping trip, maybe with a stopover at the hot springs in the Bridgeport area as research for future Astro 28 classes. Anyone interested? Results: I made the get-away trip to explore the Eastern Sierra ending up at Grandview Campground in the White Mountains for observing. Check my post-trip highlights page here.

July 17 Thur eve 11pm - The best asteroid occultation of the year. Varsavia occults a 6.4 magnitude star along a path through California along the Sierra's and Los Angeles area, promising good coverage. I will be video recording, probably from Toulemne Meadows in Yosemite as I tag along on Dave Schwartz's Geol 10 summer class field trip. Results: I dropped off the eyepieces, scopes, binoc's at Toulemne for Dave McKulle to use and organize the students with, while I drove to Crane Flat 50 miles back west. Clouds came for Dave 1 minute before the event. I was unable to get the TV monitor to work, nor to power the camcorder - and clouds dimmed the star too much to reliably see in the finder scope of the 8". The path apparently shifted west anyway, to save us further humiliation at having missed this outstanding event.

Aug 23-24 Weekend - Trip to Chews Ridge near MIRA Observatory to do astrophotography of Mars. Results: A good turnout of hardcore club members: Karl, Shahram, Charlie, Chris, Kirk, Jay, Tom, and Charlie. Jay and I did Milky Way photography on film for later stacking and photoshop'ing, then did video footage on Mars till 2:30am. The seeing was good and we expect to turn out some amazing photographs after a fair amount of work. Check the Mars page and here for photos.

Aug 26 Tue eve - Trip to Lick Observatory (by my invitation only - strictly limited to Lick personnel and a few friends, sorry!) for Mars observing. This is the night of closest approach - closest in 50,000 odd years they say (yow!). We'll rendezvous at the parking lot of the main building (36" dome) by 7:30pm and set up our own scopes for the Liberatrix occultation. Result: Instead we observed the Liberatrix event from C.T. English School - a clean miss, alas. Then Karl, Jay and I drove to Mt. Hamilton and attempted to get some camcorder footage at the eyepiece of the 36" refractor. It wasn't as impressive as we'd hoped - the orange filter and mediocre seeing made Mars less impressive than it was in the 8" Astrophysics refractor of an amateur astronomer in the parking lot afterwards. Still, it was impressive to be in the huge 36" dome with this monster telescope aiming right through the slit at the brightest object in the sky, with a hundred other people in the darkness.

Sept 17 Wed morn 12:47am - Spectacular graze of 4.3 magnitude star 15N of 63%- moon 25 deg altitude. Our expedition will set observers along Loma Prieta Rd. Results: A spectacular success! Chris had 4 events at the top of the profile, Jay had 14 events at 1.7 mi south, I had 12 events 0.8 mi south, and Karl had 6 events at 1.7 mi south. All except Karl's were recorded digitally. Jay Friedman has made a Quicktime movie, compressing his 14 events into 30 seconds. Check it out.

Sept 26-28 Fri-Sun - Astro 28H: "Field Astronomy at Mt. Lassen National Park/UC Hat Creek Radio Observatory". This time we explored the only active volcano in California, including lava tubes, geysers, hot springs, boiling mud pots, fumaroles... you get the picture. And the sky of course. A great bunch of students, and we saw a ton of galaxies, clusters, planetaries and geological wonders.

Oct 2 Thur eve 11:18pm - Spectacular graze of 3.3 magnitude Theta Ophiuchi 7N 55%+ moon at 6 deg altitude. Results: A beautiful graze. Weather was pretty dicey, and a planned rendezvous with Chris Kitting fell through as Chris bailed. I was in the mood for a mini-'road trip' and headed out under cloudy skies, transitioning to fog as I hit Salinas. Then strong wind and blowing fog at the graze site outside of Gonzales. But it was clear around the setting moon and I got a nice digital videotape of the 4 events at my site 1 mile north of the limit.

Oct 17-19 Fri-Sun - Astro 27/Geology 27 at Pinnacles National Monument.

Oct 25/26 Sat/Sun - Our Astro 9 weekend photo trip #1 - to Mercey Hot Springs. Results: We had beautiful dark skies from the ridge above the hot springs, with panoramic views of the valleys and ranges. The students and I had a great experience. Check it out.

Nov 18 Tue Eve - The Leonids predicted to peak at the time the radiant rises. Results: Chris, Karl, Tammy S., and Joy from Astro 10 convened at C.T. English School in search of earthgrazing Leonids liberated from the comet in 1533. We did see about a dozen over an hour and half, but no earthgrazers alas. We did see one spectacular fireball - but it was not a Leonid. Otherwise, Joy got us conversing about all kinds of interesting topics while treating us to home-made oatmeal cookies. Tammy had some pumpkin bread, and we had an enjoyable if not astronomically spectacular late night encounter.

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