Arrived early in order to stake out a spot on the pad. Today is the annual ‘Star-B-Que’ which is FPOA’s main fundraising event. Food and drinks and stars and meteors! See pictures of the event here.
16:00 – 19:00
Lots of food, but there was a huge line at the hot-dogs / hamburgers. I wound up filling my plate with other stuff 2 times before I went back and had a hot dog. The ‘Astronomical Gastronomical’ contest was cute. There were three categories this year: “Most Colorful”, “Most Creative”, and “Most Appealing to an Alien”. My middle daughter was chosen as one of the judges. There was a dish called “Radio Plum(e) Pudding” that won in “Most Colorful”, and there was a “Starburst Peach Pie” that won in “Most Appealing to an Alien”. My favorite was the cake made into a mock-up of Victoria Crater on Mars, complete with a tiny Mars Rover perched on the rim. That one won in “Most Creative”. There were activities for the kids (Dave Samuels, our Board VP was running around handling all of that) including a pinata, a ‘meteorite hunt’ (with paper ‘meteorites’ hidden around the grounds of the observatory) and a couple of other activities. I wound up at the same table with two teachers from Hartnell College.
I had been keeping an eye on the Southern sky, waiting for Jupiter to pop out. I seem to have a knack of finding these objects earlier than some of the others. When I saw it, I announced it to the rest of the guys who were already at their scopes. Of course the guy with the 10″ Dob got on it first, followed by me with my dinky Celestron 114 GT. The guy with the C18 had some trouble getting zeroed in.When there’s a lot of people at the star party, I tend to drop my tripod down all the way I can so that the scope is fairly low. That way the little kids don’t have to climb as high. With the lowered scope and the stepping stool, even 2 and 3 year olds can look through the eyepiece unassisted (usually). So I kept my scope on Jupiter all night, only swapping out eyepieces and playing with my new filter set I got for my birthday. Was able to see Jupiter and the four Galilean satellites (See my scan of the obslog). When I started, Io was in front of Jupiter and invisible, but by 20:45 it had transited out and was showing up well.On the next pad down from me, Dave Samuels had his SCT set up and running with CCD, displaying images on his laptop. Sharing my pad was another member who had brought a beautiful pair of tripod-mounted Takahashi astronomy binocs, as well as a small Orion APO scope. On the next pad up was the guy with the C18, also doing CCD imaging. There was a 10″ Dob on the top pad, and Ron Dammann was running the Challenger.
We had two programs running back to back. The first one was Dr. Raja Guhathakurta’s talk, “Journey Back to the Big Bang”, followed by an update from Joe Hennawi on “Weighing Dark Matter in the Universe”, and then the Persieds. I couldn’t see the screen from my pad, but I was able to listen to the speakers between guests. I had a pretty constant stream of guests. I found out later that there were 250 guests at the program.
My information CD apparently was a big hit. Several board members commented on it, and there were 3 or 4 raffled off as prizes. I also talked with Doug Brown about setting a sale price on the CD. The next time there’s a public program they’ll be offered in exchange for either a $10 or better donation, or as a gift if someone joins the FPOA.
Over the course of the evening I saw several of the Perseids. One in particular seemed to really ‘light up’ the peak, a fairly good sized, bright, long-lasting fireball.
Decided to call it a night at 23:45, the girls were turning on each other (as they tend to do when they are tired) and most of the guests were laying back and watching the Persieds instead of coming to my scope. Most of the other volunteers were leaving or packing up at about the same time. All in all, a really good night!