In case you missed it live, here was our Virtual Star Party for Sunday, July 28, 2013. We had two active telescopes going, but they were highly automated scopes slewing from target to target with precise efficiency. We probably hit a new record this week, with the number of objects we targeted. We had nebulae, galaxies, star clusters and special appearances from Neptune… and Pluto; our first of the season!
This week we had two active telescopes, from Cory Schmitz and Gary Gonnella. We did a quick tour through the nebula region of the Milky Way, making stops at the Ring Nebula, Dumbbell Nebula, Veil Nebula, Lagoon Nebula, Triffid Nebula, a couple of star clusters and even a galaxy.
If you want to join the Virtual Star Party live, we broadcast every Sunday night when it gets dark on the West Coast of North America. For July 21st, it’ll probably be 9:00 pm PDT/12:00 am EDT. But we’re much earlier in the Winter.
P.S. We’re always looking for new astronomers to join us. If you’ve got a telescope that can broadcast images to your computer, and you’d like to participate, please drop me an email at [email protected], and I’ll help you get set up.
Every Sunday night we connect up a bunch of telescopes into a live Google+ Hangout and showcase the night sky. In addition to a team of astronomers and their scopes, we usually have a few PhD astronomers on hand to explain the objects that we’re looking at. Each episode typically lasts about an hour and we’re able to see a few dozen objects. If you want to get the gist of what a Virtual Star Party looks like, check out this 60-second version put together by my co-host, Scott Lewis.
I’m not sure if Scott will have the energy to do these every week, but I love how this worked out.
Whenever we do a Virtual Star Party, it’s hit or miss thanks to weather and technology. But last night, all the pieces came together perfectly. We had Stuart Forman on the West Coast delivering amazing video of the Moon, despite a thickening marine layer. Mike Phillips tested out his brand new color webcam and provided the best view of Saturn we’ve ever had (even after dropping a camera on the pavement in the darkness). Peter Lake remotely controlled his awesome robotic New Mexico telescope safely from his secret lair in Australia. Gary Gonella showcased his amazing telescope, revealing subtle details in the Monkey Head and Crab Nebulae. Chris Ridgway and Mark Behrendt were rained out, but joined anyway and shared some recent photos they’d taken.
We’re always looking for more astronomers to join in and help cover the night sky. If you think you can participate, please drop me an email and let me know.