Trip to OCA Anza April 29-30, 2006

I went to the Orange County Astronomer’s Anza observing site and have spent two and a half days here living in the clubhouse. We had many members set up on the “football field” area of the site just to the south of the clubhouse (see photo).

The weather on Saturday night was clear but the humidity hit 95% and dew was condensing all over optics. So I used a hair dryer to keep things dry.

I brought a big bowl full of fruit to the clubhouse and it was popular with the visitors. Some woman said she had not had a banana in years. Makes me wonder what people eat these days.

As the sun was setting two advanced observers came to me to get the coordinates for Comet
73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. So I fired up my astronomy software TheSky and showed them the predicted position of the comet, just outside the Hercules Trapeziod. But the comet is breaking up and there are other parts of it trailing behind. We used the web site “heavens above” to get more information, using my notebook computer and the club’s wireless internet access.
One astronomer joked about printing out the results, so I said that next time I would bring a printer with me. This would be the first time a printer would be on site for printing out star charts.

I was able to visually observe the comet in my 10 inch telescope, and I even saw it in my binoculars. I even traveled up to the club’s 22 inch telescope and got a great view of it there, I could even see a large fragment breaking off and also detection of movement of the comet against the background stars.

I elected to stay over for Sunday night as the weather got better. Out web site manager, Hassi Norlen, joined me on the football field and he used his Schmidt Newtonian telescope to observe Messier objects. We were the only two people there that evening and the weather was perfect.
Very steady air and no clouds or high humidity. I did some photography of Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon and the comet, and went to bed at 11:00 p.m.

Now it is Monday morning. I woke up at 7 a.m. and discovered that I am the last person on site. It is a bit strange to me as usually I am here during star party weekends and there are many people around.

The sun is shining here and it is great to see cloudless skies, but I need to return to Los Angeles and it’s cloudy marine layers so I can get back to work on Tuesday.

But I sure had a great time at Anza this weekend, catching up with astronomer friends and meeting new ones.

Next Sunday I to go to an OCA Board meeting in Irvine, an sit through three hours of club business…not as much fun, but we have to do it to keep the club running.

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~ by matthewota on May 1, 2006.

One Response to “Trip to OCA Anza April 29-30, 2006”

  1. I have seen three comets in my lifetime – West in 1976 in San Diego, and the two recent ones.

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