CCAS Star Party

Attended the monthly CCAS Star Party last night, my third so far. Brought two rigs with me to set up for visual observing: a Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ 4" achromatic refractor, and a Meade LX200GPS 7" Maksutov-Cassegrain. The evening started out with high clouds, but as luck would have it, they gradually dissipated over the evening to yield good seeing conditions. Despite the dew point being well below ambient, my gear began to frost over by the end of the evening.

We set up lake-side in the marina parking lot of Santa Margarita Lake Park. I like to set up next to the water's edge to take advantage of the improved seeing conditions it provides when observing to the East over the lake. Between the two rigs, we were able to see a plethora of celestial objects, including the planets Saturn, Jupiter, and Uranus, as well as several deep sky objects including the Crab Nebula, Bode's Galaxy, the Double Cluster, the Pleiades, and the Great Orion Nebula.

This evening was a special one. I was host to an outreach event with one of the local Girl Scout troops. The girls learned how to operate the small refractor and navigate the night sky using the accompanying StarSense app, while a few of the other CCAS club members helped provide guided tours of the constellations and some of the brighter naked-eye observable objects.

The constellation of Orion rising over Santa Margarita Lake. Telescopes in foreground set up with red lights marking the locations of tripod feet for safety and visibility.

Captured with an iPhone 11 on Saturday, Dec 9, 2023 at 19:56 UTC-8. Image consists of a single 1.1" exposure at ISO8000 f/1.8 +1ev 26mm fl.