Events 2

None of our group made the full list, but the effort wasn’t in vain. Richard Harris, who incidentally was the member that proposed and setup this event, made it further than any other. He cataloged an entry for nearly half the objects before we left the field a around 1:30 am Sunday morning. Richard’s achievement also comprised of making a neat handbook that each member received prior to the event. It contained a detailed instruction on what the event was, how to do it and a catalog page for data entry. Very nice Richard!

The excellent dark site at the JARU home site was courtesy of Betty Robertson from Denton. John Rhoades who is a member of the University Kiwanis Club had met a tenant of hers that suggested we connect for this. As it turns out, the place was very good for what we needed. Thanks John!

Larry Smith and Bert Stewart from 3RF joined us to do the event. Larry dragged out the portable bathrooms for our convenience. It certainly was welcomed as he also brought coffee for us too! Among the other 3RF items in debut were a new Takahashi TOA-150 refractor, an Astro Physics AP900 mount and a Particle Wave pier for the mount. I had the pleasure of first light through the TOA-150 on an NJP mount, and Russell Horn had the fun of first run on the PW pier and AP mount with his own Takahashi FS-156. It was whispered that he’s working covertly for that inbound medical tourism group in Houston.

The other members brought their own equipment with great results too. Many reflectors and a compound scope or two rounded off the field. Some had binoculars to use in the aid for the search. A highlight for me was seeing M105, NGC3371, and NGC3389 all in the same view. Admittedly, I didn’t see NGC 3389 in the TOA-150, but I did see it in the 3RF 15″ f4.5 Obssesion dobson. Russell Horn said he could see it in the TOA-150 though, so that says it all – I’m getting old!

Around 10:45 pm the skies started hazing and clouding up a bit, thwarting our effort to grab the bright sky objects, but within an hour all was even better than before. Jupiter made a showing for a spectacular view, only topped by the showy Saturn with it’s ancient rings. Many satellites and meteors were seen by all. Of course the many open clusters, planetary nebulae, gas nebulae, globular clusters, double stars and galaxies comprising the Messier Catalog graced the optical tubes too. What a great night and one that I hope we do again next year!

-David Ryle

Mars Star Party

About 25 people from the Wichita Falls and surrounding area showed up for the 2005 opposition of Mars. SOL presented the Red Planet to the viewers which ranged in ages from 4 to 65. The loan of the awesome 3RF 8″ f/9 APO refractor was a welcomed instrument to add to the arsenal of telescopes from the membership of SOL. Having the view available early was key to the success of the night’s activity. The cloudy skies came over around 9:30 and it actually sprinkled a little bit at nearly 11pm when we were leaving. Desptie this weather, we were able to see the closest opposition of Mars since 2003 and for 13 or so years in the future. The dark features of Terra Cimmeria through Terra Arabia and the darkened loop of Syrtis Major Planum at the limb was juxtaposed against the brighter region of Hellas Planitia.

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