NightFall 2007 Star party

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Missing the Riverside Astronomical Society's Nightfall last year we decided to have a go of it this year and made plans well in advance to assure being able to attend.

Thursday night we stayed at the Oak Knoll campground on the south foot of Palomar Mountain, where we stayed when we out there for the Palomar open house.  Oak Knoll has changed hands and while the owners were very friendly we found the bathroom facilities to be very poorly maintained and we have questioned returning in the future as this seemed to be a long term issue.  The weather was very nice and we were treated to a flock (12-15) of wild turkeys that wandered through the campground Thursday night as well as Friday morning.  Friday morning was mist and fog shrouded until we left the mountain valleys heading East.  We drove north a few miles and then headed East on S22 over Yaqui pass and then down the winding 8% grades into the valley where Borrego Springs is located.  This trip was our first with the "new" telescope hauler, a 1994 GMC Safari Van I bought from a friend.

We spent Thursday afternoon up at the observatory taking pictures and looking around.  There was virtually no one there this time, I think we were 2 of some 8 visitors.  The last time we were there it was the first ever public open house.


Just messin' around with perspective, need to set up about a half mile away, I think....


The interferometer

Classic Palomar!  They were rotating the dome as I was shooting this image.

No light shot through the gallery window (1+ second exposure)

The dummy (mirror, that is!)

We arrived Friday at the Palm Canyon Resort and claimed our site, right next to the observing field.  We are recommending you NOT eat at the resort and find your food in "town".  The breakfast buffet was not even up to MacDonald's standards and cost $12.95 per person, plus a mandatory $4.50 tip whether they deserved one or not.  There is a Mexican restaurant in the back of a little strip mall just down the hill from the resort that had wonderful food!

Alto Cumulus Lenticular clouds forming over the mountains.  Friday was windy and the sky was strewn with high fast moving clouds.  The evening was passable and we spent most of it dodging "dark nebulae".  The winds died around 9pm and the night was pretty good, though the views were turbulent all night long.  I folded around midnight.

Saturday was the conference, I had joined RAS and signed up for the Jim Burnell seminar on image processing.  Jim and Richard Berry co-authored The Handbook of Astronomical Image Processing published by Willman-Bell.  The time spent in the seminar has me ready to have another go at processing my Mars images from 2004.

Saturday night started with a "Bring Yer Meat & a dish to pass" potluck.  We scrounged the local store and came up with a damned fine salsa, that disappeared fast.  The skies turned very nice by dark and a very good, though slightly off seeing wise, evening was had by all.  I managed to last until 1:30 or 2:00 am.  I shot images, but nothing I want to show publically.....

Command central.  The new scope hauler worked fine through the whole weekend and has tons of room for equipment.

Copyright 1997-2012by Bill VanOrden