Backyard Star Night, June 5th, 2014

Clear skies made for an enjoyable star night held by RASC London Centre members Bob Duff and Dave Clark in a London SoHo neighborhood backyard, Thursday, June 5th, 2014. Bob arranged the event, held in a neighbor’s backyard, following a potluck dinner inviting local neighborhood residents.

Dave arrived close to 8:00 p.m. and began setting up his Celestron Super C8 (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain. Bob set up his 20.3cm Dobsonian. There were 10 visitors left after the potluck dinner as some people had to leave and Dave and Bob began with showing them the First Quarter Moon in the still bright sky around 9:00 p.m.

Besides the Moon, visitors observed Mars and Saturn in both telescopes. Other objects viewed by visitors in Dave’s telescope included globular clusters M56 and M13 as well as the Ring Nebula (M57). Dave used 32mm Plossl and 10mm Radian eyepieces which would have given magnifications of around 63.5X and 203X, respectively, in his 2,032mm focal length Celestron Super C8 Schmidt-Cassegrain. For Saturn, Mars and the Moon he also used a 1.6X Barlow lens with the 10mm Radian (325X).

Bob showed visitors the Moon in his 20.3cm Dobsonian, using Meade MA25mm (49X), 7mm Nagler (174.3X) and LE 9mm Long Eye Relief (135.6X) eyepieces, as well as a 10.5mm Plossl eyepiece together with a 2X Meade 140 Barlow lens (232.4X). Seeing was generally very good at all these magnifications. Dave also let Bob try his 10mm Radian which produced and excellent image (122X) in the 20.3cm Dobsonian. Very good views of Mars (174.3X, 232.4X) and Saturn (232.4X, 174.3X) were also obtained in the 20.3cm Dobsonian.

Dave called everybody’s attention to what appeared to be an Iridium flare, but which was in fact a very bright ISS pass (9:51—9:57 p.m.) 90 degrees overhead at 9:54 p.m., which Bob had looked up on the “Heavens Above, ISS—Visible Passes” Web site but forgotten to announce. Dave also circulated several small meteorites—including a lunar meteorite, an iron meteorite from the Barringer Meteorite Crater in Arizona and a carbonaceous meteorite fragment (in a glass sample tube) from the Tagish Lake meteorite fall—which he had brought from Western University’s Physics and Astronomy Department.

Observing ended with the very appreciative hosts and their guests thanking Bob and Dave for a very enjoyable and informative evening of astronomy under exceptionally clear skies in a backyard reasonably well sheltered from urban street lighting.