All Arizona Star Party October 2007

Arizona is blessed with lots of clear nights, but dark skies often requires a bit of a drive for those of us living in the urban areas of Phoenix.  I get out to dark skies about 3 to 4 times a year and so I really have to make them count.  This year the All Arizona Star Party was one of those adventures for me.  

It is a fantastic opportunity to not only get under some really great skies, but also to socialize with others who share the same passion for this hobby.

I spent both Friday Oct. 12th and Saturday the 13th nights there.  The forecast was for winds and poor seeing on Friday even though it would be clear.  Luckily the wind wasn't too bad and as the night went one it seemed to get better.  I tried to go to sleep about 11:30PM, but was quite restless.  I ended up getting up about an hour before dawn to look at Venus, Saturn and Mars.  Mars was almost directly overhead but was still boiling, indicating it wasn't the best of nights for planetary observation.

Saturday night was better although by after midnight it got pretty cold.  For us Arizonans 50F is cold and anything below that is very cold.  It got down to about 45F which is down right freezing!  I was taking a long series of images of M42 after midnight as it got higher and higher.  I was planning on taking images of the Horsehead as well, but my camera batteries died.  They didn't like the cold either, but the camera sure did as far as reduced noise! 

This page is a collogue of pictures taken by myself or a few others at the star party.  

Here is most everyone waiting for the raffle to start.  There were some very nice prizes to be had.  One young man won the grand prize of some really nice binoculars.

Here is Peter's 25" Obsession next to someone's 8" reflector on another Atlas mount.  Peter's scope was the largest scope on the field Friday night.  It is another scope I got to try out my Ethos eyepiece on.  The views through these premium Dobs are just spectacular!  Almost enough to convert me from refractors... but not quite.  I'm more than happy to look through them, but I don't have to own one to enjoy it.

Here is my setup Saturday before all the crowds arrived.  Waiting for sunset requires Zen like patience when spending two nights there.

So here is a sense of the vastness of the space available at the AASP.  Just in case you want to come next year but aren't sure there would be room for you.  It is quite dusty, but the horizons are very low and it provides 6th magnitude seeing at the Zenith.  M31 is easy naked eye and I'm pretty sure I could see M33 as well.

A tale of two TEC 140's.  The one above gets the award for the best mounted scope at the party.  This is the famous AP1200 mount capable of carrying telescopes 10 times the weight of the TEC 140 without even breaking a sweat.  I must admit feeling quite envious of this setup.

Here is the other TEC 140 on a G11 mount.  This is a really fine setup George Kolb uses for his astrophotography.  I really appreciated an opportunity to look at M42 through this scope using his binoviewer.  Wow!  What an incredible view!.  A binoviewer is now on my wish list.

These were the two next biggest refractors at the party after my AP160.  Nice to see a showing of these extremely fine refractors amongst all the huge dobs and SCT's.

Photo by Kevin LeGore

The biggest scope at the party was this 30" Dobsonian owned by Don Jones.  I'm told it used to be a 30" Obsession, but Don took it to Tom Osypowski to get it totally rebuilt.  It worked like a charm!  Holy light gathering power!  It all fit in that VW camper too!  I was lucky enough to get to view M27 the "Dumbbell Nebula" through this scope using my Televue Ethos eyepeice.  Wow!  What an incredible sight that was!  One of the highlights of the party for me.

Photo by Kevin LeGore

Here I am talking with someone while catching a glimpse of Jupiter in my quite humbly mounted AP160 before it got really dark.

Here are some of my neighbors waiting for darkness after sunset.  A great mix of scopes and people!

I also used my Ethos on Jim's 18" Dob looking at M31, the Andromeda galaxy as well as M57, the ring nebula.  There is no substitute for aperture on these faint fuzzes and 18" is about a big as I could imagine being easily handled by one person.

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