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Spring Star Party 2012 Notes

Our Spring Club Star Party was split into two separate events this year.  The first attempt, on March 17, was clouded out.  But despite the uncooperative skies, a few BAS members met at Mike Woods' place to inventory and assess equipment the club has accumulated over the years.  The list includes two vintage refractors, an Astroscan, several 4 1/4" Newtonian reflectors, a homemade 8" Newtonian OTA, and the 12.5" Dobsonian club scope.  We assembled all the scopes, created an inventory list with brief descriptions, and then photographed them.  You can see the photos in the Photos section of our BvilleAstro Yahoo Group at <> .  Arden Strycker has been evaluating the equipment on our list and formulating ideas about how best to market what we don't want to keep.  He'll provide a more complete report at a later date.

The second segment of our Spring Star Party occurred a week later at the Wah-Shah-She Girl Scout Camp.  There were five scopes and about a dozen stargazers observing under very clear skies and comfortable temperatures.  Without the appearance of a few premature insects, there would probably have been nothing to complain about.

Shortly after sunset, a thin crescent moon appeared low in the west, followed higher up by Jupiter and Venus.  These bright targets provided interesting viewing throughout much of the evening.  Among deep sky objects, the Orion Nebula was well placed for careful observation and comparison among the scopes.  The newly discovered supernova in M95 drew several observing attempts, but conditions made it a challenge.  Eventually, Arden confirmed his sighting of the supernova, although the host galaxy was fainter and more difficult.

Later in the evening, Mars rose high enough for some detailed observations.  Using several different filters on Arden's 8" Dob, the polar cap was easily observed and several other fainter features on Mars' surface were glimpsed during brief moments of excellent seeing.

As in the past, the Girl Scout Camp proved to be one of our better dark sites.  Its spacious observing field, adjacent to the comfortable facilities of the lodge, offers nearly wide open access to dark skies, less than 15 minutes from downtown Bartlesville.