Rocky Mountain Star Stare, 7-10 Jul 2005

Another excellent party sponsored by the Colorado Springs Astro Society.  Said they had over 300 registered by the time we arrived on Thursday.  Appeared to be around 300 in attendance, though they never gave an official figure.  Infinitees, Astrosystems and JMI (with a 40Ē NTT, and the 6 and 10 inch binos) were present for vendors.  Only a couple of presentations this year, neither if which I attended.  They had the normal kidís programs. 

Seems to have been a turnover in the management of the star party.  Only recognized a couple of folks from the old crew.  Organization was very good; schedules were preprinted and stuck with.  Lots of porta-pots, and they were stocked and cleaned daily. 

Also seemed to be a turnover in the folks attending this year.  Donít know if it was due to the change from June to July, but a lot of the regulars were not there.

The Denver light dome has grown tremendously since we first attended in 2000.  There has been massive growth to the west of Denver and the resulting light dome now covers a major portion of the northeastern sky.  It used to be a small annoyance, but now anything lower and right of Polaris is virtually invisible.

Weather was typical Colorado.  Warm and clear in the morning, hot, breezy and thunderheads in the afternoons. 

Didn't take many pictures of equipment present as the late clouds kept most everything under wraps until after sundown.

Numerous motorcycles and ATVís in the group.  They all showed excellent responsibility by walking or idling their rides out of the area before reving up and kicking up dust.  Kudos to all of them.

Thursday

Warm, gusty late afternoon.  Clouded up with surrounding thunderstorms, only a dozen drops in the observing area.  Partially cleared at sundown, but socked in hard by midnight.  Gorilla astronomy through rapidly appearing and disappearing sucker holes.  Went to bed at midnight.  Supposedly cleared about 3 am.  Visual pursuits only - M51, M52, M8, M13, and just some shooting through holes at whatever was visible.

Friday

Hot.  Breezy, no major gusts, one dust devil that took a slow crossing of the observing field in mid afternoon causing some amusement.   Cloudy at sunset.  Started clearing around 11 pm, started banging around the sky at 11:30 pm.  Cleared nicely by midnight, but scut kept forming, dissipating and drifting by all night.  Visual through Sagittarius, both in white light and with the O3 filter.  Imaged NGC 7009, got some white light images before a cloud covered it, and good tri-color runs on M12 and M14.  Went to bed at 0330, wanted to stay up longer but the body wouldnít let me.

Saturday

Not quite as hot, still breezy.  Lots of clouds and a couple brief sprinkles.  Fairly clear at sunset, mostly clear as the night progressed.  Ran a couple of good videos of Jupiter with the NexImage.  Tried the ST-80 with the SBIG 8E.  Fun.  Real hard to focus with the crude focuser of the ST-80.  Impressed me enough to try some more.  (Televue has a 60mm APO for imaging in the works.  Not available for retail yet.  May have to get one.)  Anyway, used the ST-80 to tri-color image M8 and M16.  M8 came out fairly well, M16 needed more exposures and/or time.  Much cooler tonight and sleep deprived, so gave up and went to bed about midnight.

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