Mt. Bachelor Star Party 2004
Last year we reported to you that the 2003 Mt. Bachelor Star Party had it all: no dust devils and no dirt, level sites for setting up, paved roads all the way to the venue, daytime activities galore including hiking and mountain biking, lots of room for vehicle and RV parking near one’s scope, heated restrooms with flush toilets, 110 outlets for battery charging, the opportunity to watch movies at night, nearby shopping, and a ski-lift ride to a gourmet restaurant with knock-out sunsets for before-viewing dining. And, yes, we did mention the most important feature of all: INK BLACK SKIES!
Mt. Bachelor Lodge. Photo by Russell Heglund.
This year was the same and we even managed to discover yet another amenity: showers in Bend for a pittance, a mere $1.25. The one thing the Mt. Bachelor Star Party does not have is a guarantee of clear skies. But this is a lot to expect of any star party. Turns out seeing at the Table Mountain Star Party was marginal this year, and even at the Oregon Star Party, we were shut out for two nights straight.
We arrived early, as is our wont in our retirement years, on Tuesday, July 13. Registration did not officially open until noon on Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday nights provided excellent viewing, on Thursday conditions were good, but both Friday and Saturday were dismal. We’re convinced that for any star party any distance away from home, it pays to go early to widen the odds of clear skies sometime during your stay.
Last year at Mt. Bachelor we had just inaugurated our new 10” LX200 GPS telescope and CCD camera, a Starlight Xpress MX 916. We were new to imaging but managed to get some decent shots of a variety of Messier and NGC objects.
Comet c2001 Q4 NEAT Mt. Bachelor 7/14/04 Photo by Harry Colvin.
By this year our skills had improved. We spent most of our time imaging small, faint galaxies including PGC 34583 (Mag. 11.8), PGC 70925 (Mag. 15.5), NGC 5557 (Mag. 11.1), NGC 5676 (Mag. 10.9), and NG optics, and then on Friday he fine-tuned and critiqued binoculars for attendees. On Friday, Bill McLaughlin,an imaging expert, lectured on basic electronic imaging. Richard Norton gave a talk on comets on Saturday night, followed by two NASA films.C 5689 (Mag. 11.9). We also managed to get a pretty neat shot of the comet du jour, Comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) As was the case last year, the MBSP offered daytime and nighttime speakers. On Thursday Steve White of Televue gave an informative and practical talk on One of the most remarkable things about Mt. Bachelor Star Party 2004 was the representation of BPAA membership. We had nine members there, Paul Below, Catherine Koehler, David Warman, George and Beth McCullough, Russ and Jody Heglund, Harry Colvin, and me. As a percentage, I’m sure we had the best club attendance for miles around. Allow me to repeat myself from last year. Here’s the bottom line on the Mt. Bachelor Star Party. Even if the weather’s not perfect, the Mt. Bachelor Star Party is worth going to. If it’s clear, it’s about all you could ask for: dark skies and creature comforts too. If it’s not, there’s a ton of other things to do in a beautiful and interesting locale. We recommend it highly, and will be back in 2005, early.
Beth McCullough, Harry and Diane Colvin. Photo by George McCullough.
BPAA tents. Photo by Paul Below.
Cathy Koehler reading in the upper parking lot, Brokentop in the background. Photo by Paul Below.
Sunspots, Mt Bachelor Star Party. ASA 400 film, prime focus, through a 8 inch SCT. Photo by Paul Below.