Southern California Desert Video Astronomers

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Starry Nights Festival 2012, 2011, 2010 & 2009 Highlights

 
The
16th Annual 
STARRY NIGHTS FESTIVIAL
2012

The Starry Nights Festival in Yucca Valley has once again come and gone. The speakers, the museum show of galactic themed fun for kids, and final short bash with food and entertainment has all come to pass.  With this, the 16th annual town festival closed with a resounding sigh and feeling of pleasant accomplishment. The astronomy that highlights the event was one of the best parts of the full day of astro fun and excitement. This owing to the fact that the town turned down the lights, and a Moonless night helped bring an uncommon darkness that normally adds the star blocking glare to the night sky.

 
                                                                            Photo by Valeree Woodard

Scopes at the ready for the nights entertainment




                                                                                        
Photo by Valeree Woodard


Future Astronomer viewing the Solar Flares

About two hundred visitors filtered through the day and evening of astronomy based offerings that included seven speakers who shared knowledge and entertainment to the fluctuating audience that eventually grew to a roomful of eager star gazers. David Levy, Dennis Mammana, John Varsik, and Stephenie Shahor, and Matthew Ota spoke on subjects about meteors to deep sky connections of emotion and realization of how our night sky brings meaning into our lives. Ota recounted the life of an early astro-photographer, while Ken Drummond and Ray Yeager participated in bringing famous astronomers like Galileo Galilee to life in full dress personages who engaged the crowd with tales of their lives and times as pioneers of cosmic discovery.


                                                       Photo by Valeree Woodard

Leonard Holmberg sets up for the live broadcast


                                                                                                        Photo by Valeree Woodard 

 

David Levy & Tom, chatting about astronomy


After a short talk about light pollution and modern life under artificial light by Tom O’Key of scdva.org, the sounds of mellow space driven melodies filled the air when The Third Ear Experience took charge of the stage as the sprawl of food was opened to the delight of the attendees. This brought the indoor activities to a close and with darkness falling the main event began to deliver the anticipated reason for the celebration.







                                                        Photo by Valeree Woodard


Joining SCDVA were our guest host emcees, Dean Arvidson and Paul McCudden from Los Angeles City College. Besides bringing astronomy equipment to share views of the stellar wonders, they did their usual entertaining night sky laser tour and with quips and ire, laughter abounded with humorous inflections of tales of stars and astronomy. Meanwhile, SCDVA put projections of live outer space objects onto the screens in the fashion they are famous for and visiting astronomers, Tom Haworth and Alexis Sonnenfeld shared their knowledge of the night sky while lines of people filed by their visual telescopes, taking in the photons of purest style star gazing.

 



                                                                                                       Photo by Valeree Woodard

Another future astronomer getting telescope viewing lessons from Alexis




                                                                                   Photo by Valeree Woodard


The Andromeda Galaxy fills the Screen




                                                                                         Photo by Valeree Woodard

A great capture of the Ring Nebula with it's central star by
Telescope Operator number 2, Leonard Holmberg.




                                                                                           Photo by Valeree Woodard


Our usual team was on hand to manage our effort with Deb O’Key announcing the Andromeda door prizes and welcome center activities, Valeree Woodard organizing volunteers with setup and arrangements as well as photography, Frank Schneider lending his invaluable assistance in all matters and, of course, our own Leonard Holmberg bringing incredible images to the screens and filming clips of the action as the event offered moments worth remembering. In all, the scdva.org team brought great cheer and support.
The event was one of the best in recent years. A beautiful desert evening and darkness that was better than any before. The Town of Yucca Valley and the Hi Desert Nature Museum did a great job providing the backdrop and organizational skill that succeeded with flying colors!

A special thank you goes to the Andromeda Astronomical Society for unyielding dedication making this event the best it can be! Mary Furth brought her amazing energy that supports SCDVA and the entire effort as did Dick and Shirley, Dawn and Dave, Tom and Teresa, Michael and Toy, Joyce Metcalf and other Andromeda members who contributed time and support in countless ways. Thanks to all.

Starry Nights 2011

The 15th Annual Starry Nights Festival at the Community Center in Yucca Valley California.

A bit tired and a bit worn because we had a great crowd to please.
Thanks to the Team X from scdva for the hard work, Dean, Paul, and students from LACC and the Andromeda Societies support.

About 200 attendees flowed through the day long event and at the end, skies were best they've been in a long time. Yucca Valley is to be commended for turning down so many unnecessary lights and at around 9:00pm. I heard the comment, "Look there, that's the Milky Way!"
Thanks to all the guest speakers who kept a full house engaged with the talks and to the Museum staff for the venue and preparation. The "Jewels of the Desert" were the talk of the show and a great time was enjoyed by everyone.
Also, a special thanks goes to Alex McConahay for being the guy he is! To Matthew Ota for bringing a great visual experience to the scene and John Varsik from the Big Bear Solar Observatory who teamed up on the solar scope viewing. Thanks to all who came. See you all next year as the Sixteenth Annual "Starry Nights Festival" will happen again.

Here are just some of the highlights.


Mary Firth Minds the information table while making winter hats and scarves for purchase.
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Dick holds up, what he hopes to be a big winning raffle ticket with Shirley and Dawn at the Andromeda Societies table.
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One of Wally's wonderful pictures is a real prize

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By day, people were able to get a rare glimpse of spectacular solar flares, through a solar scope.
(John Varsik on the left & Dean from LACC on the right)
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The crowd settle in for a leisurely evening of star gazing


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A special thanks to Dean Arvidson Paul McCudden, SCDVA's guest night sky tour guides for the evening.
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On the screen is a live image of the Swan Nebula.
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The Andromeda Galaxy
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Globular Cluster

14th Annual
Starry Nights Festival 2010......

This years Starry Night Festival was another fun packed star lovers event! About 300 hundred star gazing people attended the 14th annual celestial celebration held last Saturday evening at the community center in Yucca Valley, CA.

Presented by the Hi Desert Nature Museum and the Town of Yucca Valley,
the day was filled with astronomy lectures and presentations from the pro's such as David Chappell, Dennis Mammana & Ken Drummond, just to name a few.

Displays from other supporters of the days events included the Andromeda Society, The Sky's the Limit Observatory and Nature Center, the Town of Yucca Valley, Southern California Edison, and the Hi Desert Nature museum.

Wally Pacholka's son, Matt, had a wonderful display of astro photos for sale and all of the groups had tables displaying the information explaining their goals and achievements relating to astronomy and the night skies. Our group provided the astronomy outdoors with solar scopes for the day and large telescopes for the evening.


Rick brought his Solar scopes to share the sun like many have never seen it before.
Powerful enough to see Solar Flares and Sun spots.

As Twilight set in and darkness began, Lynne Richardson, director of the Hi Desert Nature Museum, escorted the crowd outside to where we (SCDVA) were set up for an evening of star gazing from behind the Yucca Valley Civic Center.

Several enthusiast joined in with us and once again this year we had a total of four telescopes with cameras running and providing images to the single screen projection setup we were using.

Ric Knudsen, who usually gives our tour of the night sky, graciously turned the mike over to our guest tour guide Dean Arvidson of Los Angeles City College who quizitivly engaged with the audience during his night sky tour.



Student from the Los Angeles City College under the guidance of Paul McCudden & Jignesh, look forward to and evening under the desert sky.
 


The astronomers set up their scopes as twilight approaches





Leonard Holmberg aka. Scope operator number 2 is just about all set to go.


Rick Hiestand, aka. Scope operator number 1 is ready to go!


Patty Hunter drops by to say Hi to Tom



Frank, Gary & Valeree of Team SCDVA take a breather





Leonard Holmberg captures an early evening rising Jupiter.


Rick Hiestand "The Comet Hunter" captures this live image of the Hartley comet.



The Fall evening was very mild for this time of year.





The Ring Nebula is always a crowd pleaser


A big thanks with our appreciation must go to the important volunteers and members of our team for the selfless work they bring to the effort of our outreach efforts.

Once again, this event was made special. First by the great audience and friendly social side of what turned out to be a nice get-together. The other was the fact that the town turned down much of the unnecessary night lighting that is the dread of all who love the dark, clear night desert sky. It was a marked improvement over last year and notably darker. Much Better!

As we were leaving, the Starry Night sky above us was reasonably visible from the down town location making for a perfect ending of a wonderful evening.
 
 
 

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 Starry Nights 2009

Well, over five hundred people attended the 13th annual Starry Nights Festival in Yucca Valley, CA.

We were the late part of the full, day long, event that started with a space day celebration for kids at the Hi Desert Nature Museum.

Decorated with scenes from outer space, the volunteers and staff of the museum outdid themselves with a great job of bringing the thrills of what deep space is all about. From aliens to lunar rovers, the museum was transformed into a galactic fantasy land from outer space!

 
The official opener for the event began with the annual meeting of the Western Astronomical League. Then, speakers, Ray Yeager, Dennis Mammana, Wally Pacholka, David Levy, Orv Hunter, Jerry Mattos and Bill Souder gave the audience their interesting presentations on subjects they know and love to share with others.

Participating groups who supported the event included the Andromeda Society, The Sky's the Limit Observatory and Nature Center, the Town of Yucca Valley, Southern California Edison, and the Hi Desert Nature museum. Wally Pacholka had a display of his astro photos for sale and all of the groups had tables displaying the information explaining their goals and achievements relating to astronomy and the night skies. Our group did the astronomy.


Wally Pacholka displaying his award.

After a well stocked raffle, the lovely belly dancing troupe, "The Jewels of the Desert", shook up the evening to applause and delight of the overflow audience. They were the highlight of the social reception that was trimmed with a wonderful spread of food and drink.

Lynne Richardson, director of the Hi Desert Nature Museum, the presenters of the event, and Stephanie Ritter, the manager of the museum, then directed the crowd outside to where we (SCDVA) were set up for an evening of star gazing from behind the Yucca Valley Civic Center.

Several astronomers joined in with us and there were a total of five Mallincam's running and providing images to the single screen projection setup, we were using.

Ric Knudsen gave the crowd a tour of the night sky and narrated the show as objects hit the silver screen.

Visual viewing was provided through the famous Stephen O'Meara Tele Vue Genesis and the prototype 13mm Nagler eyepiece that were bringing crisp views of Jupiter and other objects.




Dan from San Diego brought his dazzling William Optics 110 for all to look through and John Fraser used his C11 for imaging but also brought his giant Vixen binoculars and stunned the viewers.

Rick Heistand imaged the difficult to see, Comet Christian, with his big 12 inch SCT as well as other deep sky objects.

Paul had his new 22 inch monster killer Dobsonian sucking in the faintest objects, while I had my usual dueling Nexstar 11's hunting for crowd pleasing views.




We were very fortunate for being assisted by Sue, Deb and Valeree who make all of the background stuff work when we couldn't pay attention to anything other than the alignment of our wayward telescopes.

Sincere thanks goes to these important members of our team for the selfless work they bring to the effort of our outreach attempts.

Two things made the event special. First was the great audience and easy going social side of what turned out to be a nice get-together, and the second was the fact that the town turned down much of the unnecessary night lighting that is the dread of all who love the night sky. Bravo! Still, we were quite hampered by the light dome above us.

By the time everyone left and we were packing up, the Milky Way was reasonably visible from the down town location and that was surprisingly nice!

Thanks to everyone for making it fun!
 


Photo by D.O.

Lynne Richardson of the Hi-Desert Nature Museum at the helm, greeting visitors to a space adventure.

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Photo by D.O.


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Photo by D.O.

Jerry Mattos representing The Sky's The Limit
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Orv "The Orion Hunter" Preparing for his presentation on Jupiter.
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The Andromeda Society's First Lady of Astronomy,
Mary Firth with Tom
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