It's a big event for this valley as the Golden Gate Star Party shows up for the first time in Big Valley for their annual star party. These amateur astronomers chose Big Valley because of our very dark skys which allow for good viewing. We will have an estimated 250 people or more visit us over the 4th of July weekend.
Bad luck this year. The party is planned well in advance and it taken on the Albough's Frosty Acres Ranch off Bassett Rd. and normally we have very clear and dark skys. This year, as we all know, California has literally thousands of fires going on with many big ones near by creating very smoky conditions, not perfect, but very disappointing. Hopefully the winds will clear the skys in the remaining 3 nights of viewing.
Coming up to the group at Frosty Acres one is impressed with all the tents and apparatus spread out in the distance. As you get closer the vast number and variety of telescopes, some very big, impress you. These are not walmart telescopes, many are in the 20 to 28 inch diameter size. For perspective, a large university operated scope is 80 to 300 inches in diameter (the mirror). The pictures here show them as quite capable large instruments.
Alvin Huey and his daughter Evelyn own one of the larger telescopes at the star party, a 30 inch reflector. Evelyn is seen here using a telescope more her size.
Most astronomers in this group do visual astronomy, that is observing and photographing the sky stars, planets and nebula. One of the astronomers at this event is working with infrared photometry meaning the measurement of the intensity (brightness) of stars in the in the infrared, particularly for variable stars. Dan Gray from Portland Oregon manufactures electronic control devices for telescopes and brought a large 28 inch scope and one slightly smaller. He also has a device on loan from the American Association of Variable Star Observers which is used to measure the intensity of a star in the infrared.
Dan built the telescope himself as did many of the other "amateur astronomers".