Dr. Alex Shlanta Astronomical Observatory
Star Party for Cub Scout Pack 848
Thursday, July 12, 2007
by Alex Shlanta
A star party was held for Cub Scout Pack 848 and their families on 12
July 2007 at the CCCC Astronomical Observatory. There were 10 guests in
attendance at the star party. The weather cooperated for the Star Party.
There were no clouds. It was in the 80's deg F but there was a bit of breeze
that actually made things tolerable for this time of year. The breeze and
atmospheric turbulence interfered with the optical seeing a bit but we still
good view of some celestial phenomena. There was still some residual smoke from the wild fires north of us.
The star party started at 8:30 pm with Scott Fuller taking the Cubs and their families through a walk of the relative distances of the planets set up with stakes north of the observatory. For this scale model of the solar system Scott stopped at each stake to impart some information on that particular planet. When people experience this they are surprised to see how relatively close together the terrestrial planets Mars, Earth, Venus, and Mercury are to each other compared to the much farther distances between the Jovian planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Then at even farther distances are stakes for the Dwarf planets Pluto and Eris.
There were 3 telescopes stations set up for the star party within the Observatory compound for the further viewing of select celestial objects. Manning telescopes were China Lake Astronomical Society (CLAS) members Ken Pringle using the College's 12-inch Orion Dobsonian Reflector Intelliscope, Bill Weiss using his 14-inch C1400 Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain, and me using a 6-inch Celestron C7 Refractor. With these telescopes the Cubs were exposed to views with the three basic types of telescopes.
We started off our telescopic seeing by looking at the available planets.
Venus with its waxing crescent phase was a surprise to the guests. Saturn
was low on the western horizon with the ring system barely discernable.
Jupiter could be seen clearly with its 4 Galilean moons and zones and bands.
We looked at the dual color blue and gold binary stars in Albireo, also
referred to as the Cub Scout star because of its colors. Globular clusters
outside the plane of our Milky Way galaxy were in full force and we had good
views of M4, M13, and M22. There was a good view of the M8 Lagoon emission
nebula especially when an OIII nebular filter was used to highlight the
nebular structure. The M51 Whirlpool galaxy was
seen where it is in the process of cannibalizing it companion smaller galaxy NGC 5195. Good views were obtained of M27 the dumbbell planetary nebula as well.