Hovatter Norte

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Area 51 (Hovatter Rd. Norte)

February 8th & 9th 2008

Starved for Photons several of us made the drive out Friday afternoon.  Clear sky clocks claimed below perfect transparency but otherwise good viewing.  Saturday night was predicted to be much better.  On both counts, they were right.

Left to right, Ken Sikes, Paul Knauth, Paul ?? SAC member, and Beevo

Paul Knauth's new 25" Obsession.  The climb up the ladder was definitely worth the effort!!

Canon 10d, Meade ED80 APO, 10 minute exposure, guided with the Orion StarShoot guider. 

Data logger of the weekend.  Lows both nights were 36-37F  Note the temp change when the white Scope Coat was removed and then replaced....

November 17th & 18th 2006

Yet another good weekend of fine weather and telescopes!  The CSC's claimed a great weekend and they didn't lie.  Friday night was pretty good, though turbulent in the eastern part of the sky for most of the night.  Saturday am we awoke to high thin clouds (mostly contrails) and were not sure what to think.  They cleared by early afternoon and burned off by sunset.  It was an OK sky for a little while and then turned excellent around 9pm and stayed great the rest of the night, I folded around 3:30 am.

Shot through the Short tube 80 with the Canon 10D, a pair of rubber bands across the dew cap provided "ambience"

I caught a Horse!  I was actually going for the Flame Nebula.

I tried a quick shot of M33, The Pinwheel Galaxy

We were visited by a nice large Tarantula.

These guys made several low flyovers during the day.

Monsoons Be Gone!!

September 22nd & 23rd 2006

I think it's official!!  The monsoons have ended and we can get back to the business of trying to observe.  Ken Sikes, Bill Anderson and I headed out to Hovatter Road Friday afternoon.   I watched iffy looking skies all morning but was determined to at least go camping, telescopes were an option.  I arrived late in the afternoon (heavy traffic, I now will leave Phoenix before 3pm from now on) to find a lot of airborne dust and shine in the air.  The wind settled down around dusk and eventually the sky cleaned up pretty good, maybe a 6.5 or 7 on a scale of 10.  Saturday brought promise of a good night and we were not disappointed.  The seeing was incredible, 9 out of 10 for sure.  Ken and I were having a blast with the twin EQ6's and around midnight I ran across an object in a catalog marked "super nova remnant".  Well it turned out to be the Veil Nebula and to my surprise I could see it very well with the 41 PanOptic and a Lumicon UHC filter.  Almost looked like a B&W image in a book.  I managed to also view the North American Nebula and could detect the basic outlines of the Pelican Nebula.  I lasted to 3:30 am, a night well spent.

Looking N-NE Friday night.  The sky had a bit of a silvery sheen to it from the airborne dust, which cleared shortly after sundown.

Set up and ready to go!

Dusk on Saturday night, little bit of thin clouds on the S and W horizons.  They stayed there all night.



Looking W-SW, Saturday morning.  

Northern view Sunday Morning.

Data Logger plot of the two days.

Discovered a flat on the tent camper as I was packing up.  Must have nailed a pointed rock on the way in as there was a puncture wound on the sidewall.  Sigh......

A Break From The Monsoons II

August 26th & 27th 2006

Believe it or not, two weekends in a row!!  Ken and I headed out to Picket Post trail head East of Apache Junction Saturday night and set up in the parking lot.  The gnats were terrible until a little bit after sundown.  The skeeters lasted until 11pm or so at which time we had some peace and quiet.  The skies were pretty good all things considered and we observed until 12:45 when a wave of moisture descended on us and things got shimmery and dew was immanent.

I then started looking at the Clear Sky Clocks during the day Sunday and decided to try to go out for Sunday night seeing as being newly unemployed I did not have to go to work Monday morning.  I left for Picacho State Park's campground and set up for the night.  There were exactly 2 other people in the campgrounds, two guys traveling the country who were from the UK.  Mark Warren drove up from Tucson around 11pm and we observed until the sky went to hell around 3:45 am.  Seeing as the sun was going to be coming up in an hour and a half I elected to pack up the tent camper and drive back to the valley due to the fact I was still wired from drinking Dr. Peppers.  Arrived home well after sunrise and managed to sleep until 11am.  A very good night of observing!!

A Break From The Monsoons!

New Moon Weekend

April 28/29th 2006

Several of the Group Of Few (As I call ourselves) met out at Area51, now known to the world as Hovatter Road North.  I arrived around 5pm with the big scope loaded up and a new eyepiece to try out.  It had rained lightly in Mesa that morning when I was at work.  Having been rained upon I decided to head out anyway, the Clear Sky Clock claimed it would clear off and would have passable seeing around 6pm with it getting much better at midnight.  Well it cleared at 2pm and the whole night was pretty shaky.  While it was crystal clear the stars shimmered and danced both visually and in the scope.  I set the scope up and aligned it, ate dinner and then turned in to catnap until midnight.  Upon rising I found it to be a bit better but still pretty lively in the eyepiece.   I observed many objects and finally folded at 2:30am.

Saturday during the day was hot at a peak of 98F recorded by my data logger.  Dusk brought crystalline skies and cooler temperatures.  The scope was ready to go and when it had acclimated I started observing.  I have never seen the mountains to the W-SW show up as sharp as they did this evening.  The far range is (I think) about 40 miles away.

The new eyepiece (which I then told the others about) was tried out on several favorite objects.  The 41 mm PanOptic was something I really wanted to try out before I bought, due to it's rather limited use and high expense.  I had asked around at last month's All Arizona Messier Marathon to see if someone had one I could try but the best I could find were several 31 Naglers.  I bit the bullet and purchased the 41mm.  I am very glad I did.  The Moon fits nicely in the FOV on my 10" F10 SCT and the images are tack sharp from edge to edge!  M46, The Swan and M81/82 all fit in the FOV and look gorgeous! 

 I observed until 1:30 am and then fitted the 10D and a projection camera adapter to the scope using a 9mm UO Ortho.  I shot about 350 frames and will try my hand at stacking the results.  I folded around 2:45am and got up again at 6:30 to pack up and head back home.  The skies Saturday night were (in my estimation) 9/10 for seeing and transparency the whole time I was up.  Scattered horizon clouds were apparent when I got up in the morning.  All in all an excellent weekend!

New Moon Weekend

February 24/25th 2006

Several of us headed out to the Hovatter North/Area51 site for a two nighter on Friday afternoon.  Clear sky clock was claiming an awesome night and it held true to the prediction.  The weather was perfect with a low in the mid 40's and no wind to speak of.  The sky was steady for most of the night with good to excellent seeing all night long.  Paul Knauth loaned me his H-beta filter and I was able to see the Horse head Nebula in my 10" SCT.  Among other things that looked wonderful that night was the Rosette Nebula and M42.  If you have not examined in detail M42 using an O-III filter or even the UHC, I highly recommend that you try it.  We all started folding after midnight with Paul and I being the last standing around 2:30am.  Paul decided to stop observing when he started to see "snakes in star clusters", I gave up when keeping my balance started to get difficult (no beer involved!).  Saturday morning dawned with thin cirrus clouds that gradually thickened as the day progressed.  Paul and I packed up around 2pm and headed home as it surely looked like a cloudy night was ahead. 

I spent the evening using the Atlas mount and driving it with my Dell Pocket PC and The Sky PE.  As soon as Synta gets some more commands allowed in the hand box this will be the best setup for controlling the scope.  I liken it to a "poor man's" Star Book.

  New Moon Weekend

January 27/28th 2006

A bunch of us met out at the western AZ observing site north of the Hovatter Road exit on I-10 about 90 miles west of Phoenix.

In attendance were 5 photon starved amateurs and one apprentice scope nut.

Beevo's setup.  Meade 10 f10 OTA on an Orion EQ-G GoTo mount.

Ken Sikes's setup on the left and Paul Knauth's on the right.  That big 12.5" scope weighs around 1100lbs.

AJ Crayon's 14" DOB and Bill Anderson hiding out of the FOV.

Friday's skies were if anything iffy until very late in the afternoon.  The clouds dissipated around dusk and the observing began.  The skies were pretty good and lasted well into the night.  Beevo was (I think) the last man standing at 1am, the temps bottomed out at 36F.

Saturday dawned with lots of clouds that seemed to move but not get any thinner during the day.  

A phone call back to civilization resulted in the prediction by AJ of Clear Skies according to the Clear Sky Clock at 8:32pm.  We were sharpening knives and collecting firewood right up until 8:30 when the clouds started to dissipate. Paul had packed it in and left around 8pm.  The skies were fair to poor for several hours and then went bad for sure around 10pm at which time Beevo turned in, definitely the last man standing.  

We were treated to an awesome sunset...

New Moon  Weekend

12 December 2004

Several of us headed out to the Wickenburg AZ area for the weekend which the weather prognosticators claimed was going to be perfect.  We really need to get those guys to think about dew when they make these "perfect weather" predictions.

Friday night was nice and clear after about 8pm, there were high thin clouds over the area most of the afternoon but they burned away after dark and observing commenced.  Around midnight Beevo and John learned about dew and SCT's.  I have a flexible dew shield which I have given up carrying with me over  the last few years as I never found a use for it.  

I do now!!

The little ETX125 came with a dew shield and I was able to observe about an hour longer with that scope, but we all gave up around 12:30am and turned in.  The Geminid's were pretty active with a number of fireballs.

We killed time during the day waiting for dark.  About noon a cowboy rode up out of the wash next to where we were set up.  

His take on Paul's telescope and trailer was "a rocket powered horse trailer"

The three of us will debate the guys name, but we all agree that the dog's name is Buster.  Buster knows only two voice commands, "Sic 'em" and "Get back here you son of a bitch"  He's pretty good at staying in the shade,  either under the horse or in Beevo's shadow.

The four of us exchanged insights on each other's lives and the general state of Federal and Arizona land managment.

Had it been a little later you could say he rode off into the sunset.  The cows are spread over a 38,000 acre area.

Saturday night was even better than Friday, though the dew set in around midnight.  Views of Saturn around midnight were awesome and we all took turns looking through Paul's 12.5" f/7 reflector.  We managed to dig out his Clave Ortho 5mm and were astounded with the detail that could be seen.

All in all a good weekend!

Copyright 1997-2012by Bill VanOrden