March 2013 Dark Sky Star Party Report


Well the comet was the star last night, so to speak. On the way to Long Sault Conservation Area I stopped on Island Rd. just east of Port Perry and had excellent views of Comet PanSTARRS. First ever binocular/naked eye (sort of) comet for me. From there I joined the others for the Dark Sky Star Party.

Two new members were there; Thierry Jaume had setup his 10" Meade LX200 GPS next to his vehicle and immediately shared views of Jupiter. First time for NOVA graduate Vincent Xavier also. He was keenly learning and sampling the scopes and helped me setup my Dobsonian mounted reflector. Clayton (Satyajit) Davies and David Zackon had already been there quite a while with David's TV76 and I'm not sure what Clayton had, I'm guessing an 8" on an equatorial mount. It had been a long time, and I struggled a bit with my gear but sketched M67, as I'd hoped. Skies were clear and quite dark (SQM=20.8). I was kind of  occupied but heard people call out Beehive (M44), Double Cluster (NGC884, 869) and of course the Great Nebula in Orion (M42) with the Trapezium. 

Those who had arrived earlier left around 10:15. I and two non-members who had arrived around 9, stayed until 11:15 when high cloud started to thicken. Still it didn't stop me from taking a whirlwind tour of the Leo Triplet (M65, 66, NGC3628 ), two members of the "other" Leo Triplet (M95, 96),
Eskimo Nebula (NGC2392), and open clusters M35 with NGC2158 in Gemini, and M37, followed by M108 and Clown or Owl Nebula (M92) just under the Big Dipper.

A fun night under the stars and a first time ever, for me, bright comet.

Stu McNair
Chair, Observational Activities Committee