12th Annual Nebraska Star Party

Michael Cain & Roberto Garza

Roberto Garza (right) and Michael Cain (Left) took the 800-mile trek to the 12th Nebraska Star Party (NSP) this year from July 31st to August 5th. The NSP is held in the sand hills region of Nebraska and 26 miles from the closest town, Valentine, Nebraska. The skies are some of the darkest around which attract amateur astronomers from all over. We had two very clear and dark nights. The other nights were partly cloudy and you had to do your observing with lightning off in the distance. Storms can come up quickly with strong gusts of wind that you need to be prepared for. There were several prepared meal events at the resort where you could sample hamburgers or bratwurst made with bison. There is an organized canoe trip on the Niobrara River and plenty of things to do around Merritt reservoir for non-astronomers or for times when the weather does not permit observing. If you want to learn more about NSP you can go to the following link. www.nebraskastarparty.org/

Roberto observed 22 new objects, which included 19 galaxies, 2 planetary nebula and 1 nebula to bring his total of observed objects to over 500. Roberto's home made 12.5" Dobsonian that he used for his observations can be seen in the previous picture. Mike did a lot of imaging near the resort where there was abundant electricity. Although electricity was not available at the observing field many imagers use the small quiet Honda generators. The image above is of the galaxy Caldwell 30 (NGC7331) in Pegasus. The three small galaxies below Caldwell 30 are NGC7336, NGC 7335, and NGC 7337 from left to right. Part of another small galaxy, NGC 7340, can be seen at the bottom of the image. Mike also imaged many of the globular clusters in the southern Milky Way region. A 6" f10 M603 Intes mak on a Meade LXD55 mount was used for all the imaging at the NSP. A Starlight Express MX716 CCD camera with a Celestron 0.63 telecompressor with a Meade Flip mirror captured this image. Seven 30-second exposures calibrated with dark and flat frames were combined to get this image. Mike plans to put more of his images from the NSP on the Yahoo site.

Published in the October 2005 issue of the NightTimes