Dr. Alex Shlanta Astronomical Observatory
Star Party for Grace Lutheran Church
by Alex Shlanta
A star party was held on Wednesday 12 July 2006 at the Cerro Coso Astronomical Observatory for members of Grace Lutheran Church. 64 people attended the star party with ages ranging from 8 to 80. The star party was held after sundown from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm. The sky was clear and we were able to do deep space viewing quite well until the Gibbous Phase Waning Moon rose at 10:15 pm. During the star party the temperature was about 85 deg F and wind speed 12 mph. Although the wind affected astronomical seeing a bit it helped cool things down so conditions were rather nice. The group was very enthusiastic and many good questions were asked. Cookies, iced tea, and lemonade were served to the participants during the viewing.
The star party for the group began with an introduction to the night sky constellations using a green laser pointer. Then the group was free to wander between the 6 telescope stations set up for viewing celestial phenomena. China Lake Astronomical Society (CLAS) members Jay Chun, Roger Brower, Peter Eiserloh, Kiran Mehra, and Chuck Morgan who very ably manned telescope stations assisted me at the star party. Some of the highlight viewing was Albireo, Jupiter with 4 moons visible, Planetary Nebula M27 (Dumbbell) and M57 (Ring), Whirlpool galaxy M51, Globular Clusters (M4, M5, M22, and M13), Lagoon Nebula M8, and the Butterfly Cluster M6. Toward the end of the session the rising moon was viewed as well.