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Old 30-07-2019, 08:37 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Blue Mountains Astronomical Club

Hi everyone,

This thread is to announce viewing sessions and activities being conducted by the Blue Mountains Astronomical Club, Inc..

Our dark sky site is at Katoomba Airfield in Medlow Bath. Sessions there are conducted once or twice a month depending on the timing of the new Moon. We also conduct outreach events with schools and other community groups. While we are based in the Blue Mountains, our membership is spread across Sydney which means we also conduct events at other locations.

The "Airfield" provides the very best astro location two hours west from the Sydney CBD. It is at 1000m above sea level, set atop of a sandstone plateau that readily drains away rain, surrounded by a 300m deep complex valley system, with vegetation that is primarily forest and not lush turf or agricultural land, all of which provides conditions that are not only dark, but also very transparent and routinely dew-free. The Airfield also offers us that "big sky" experience with a very low treeline.

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Sessions at the Airfield are open to visitors with a small donation to the club:

* Visitor with a telescope or photographic equipment* $10
* Visitor without a telescope or photographic equipment* $5
* Family admission (two adults & two kids) without a
telescope or photographic equipment* $15

* Please note that photographic equipment is considered everything other than a mobile phone.

Club activities at the Airfield usually begin an hour or two before sunset. Arrival after dark is fine as we all have busy lives and sometimes it is just not possible to arrive before sunset.

SAFETY is paramount for us. Vehicular traffic is carefully controlled at the Airfield, and vehicular access to the set up field is only permitted for people bringing heavy equipment. Otherwise parking of cars is restricted to in front of the hangars.

PLEASE NOTE: The access gate to Katoomba Airfield is kept locked at night. Please call the phone number that is posted at the gate to gain access to the Airfield during our activity nights.

Session green light or cancellation

Sessions at the Airfield or other events is dependent on weather conditions being favourable. If a session has the green light no further notices are given here in this thread or our Facebook site.

However, if an event needs to be cancelled due to weather, or other conditions such as bushfires, we endeavour to update this thread and Facebook page as soon as possible.

Our Facebook page: BMAstro on Facebook

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Further information:

website: bmastro.org.au
email: secretary - Ian Tasker: Ian.Tasker@westernsydney.edu.au
email: info@bmastro.org.au


Please note: Katoomba Airfield is private property, and is not open to the general public at night under any circumstances. We have special permission to conduct our community events from the Airfield management.

Last edited by mental4astro; 30-07-2019 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 30-07-2019, 08:39 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Next session at Katoomba Airfield is set for Saturday the 3rd of August.

As activities are dependent on weather and other conditions, please check this thread or our facebook page for any changes to activities.

Alex.
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:47 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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If you are planning on visiting the Airfield and using a GPS to guide you to the location, some satnav systems list the site as Katoomba Airport. If you load Katoomba Airfield your unit may not recognize it.

Alex.
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:22 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Great night! Thanks to more than 20 people who turned up, this was a very busy evening And as always at this time of the year, the fireplace becomes the Centre of the Universe!

Clear sky all night long and totally dew-free. Not a dew strap to be seen anywhere on the field.

Alex.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:25 PM
Aussierob2001 (Rob)
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Gday all...
Just found this forum..
Would be great if it stopped snowing -))))
Rob.. Katoomba
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:27 AM
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Hi Rob,

G'day mate! Great to hear from you again, and that you found us once more.

~x.X.x~

The next session at Katoomba Airfield is set for Saturday the 31st of August.

While this is essentially a Members and Guests night, we will also welcome other IIS members. This isn't an open night as our last session was, so we won't be gearing up to do a Sky Tour or cater for newcomers to astro. But if you have at least some astro experience then you are most welcome. There is a fee payable by all non-members which you can find in the first post of this thread.

That first post also describes what Katoomba Airfield has to offer as a dark site and contact details.

The Airfield is usually open from 4pm for our sessions. Also note that the gate is locked during the night after nightfall during our sessions. Access is gained by calling the number that will be on a sign at the gate.

Cheers,

Alex.
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Last edited by mental4astro; 12-08-2019 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 31-08-2019, 09:23 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Sadly we've cancelled tonight's session at the Airfield for the 31st of August.

While there is an expected change in wind direction, this won't happen until after 9pm, and while it is expected to begin to clear, there is little hope that it will bring a usable sky.

Next session is planned for the 28th of September. We will confirm this shortly.

Blue Mountains Astronomical Club, Inc.
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Old 31-08-2019, 05:42 PM
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Hoping to pop along to the next one
Alex..to cold, wet and windy this time of year, for me anyhow.
Bigjoe.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:03 AM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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I think you made a bad call there Alex, the clouds cleared away nicely in the late afternoon. A handful of fellow club members and I were observing and imaging from the Southern Highlands , near Bowral and the sky was lovely and clear after dark. The main problem was that it was extremely dewy, the gear was dripping wet within a few hours and some fog was making itself unwelcome.
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:39 AM
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Alex had to make a decision early to let members (a majority who live a couple hours drive away) know, as conditions at Medlow bath were unpredictable, it was cloudy right until sunset. I live only a few kms from the airfield and although it was clear, the seeing conditions were average and the dew was heavy. He made the right call.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:19 AM
Wavytone (Nick)
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Hi Jeff, agree it's a tough call especially as what we experience near the coast isn't always the same as it is up there. While the synoptic chart was a mess a good clue is the wind direction at the Mt Boyce weather station, which should be between SW-W-NW for it to be clear http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDN60...01.94743.shtml Wind between SE-S-SW means cloud and possibly rain
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:30 AM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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Hi Again
I wasn't being a critic, I've met Alex a few times and know he is a thorough gentleman and very knowledgeable. The way the weather was yesterday afternoon down here made the call to go observing a bit risky and I was doubting my judgement for a while but it turned out well in the end.
I also understand that conditions at Katoomba will be different than elsewhere even if, as the crow flies, they are only 50 to 100 kms apart and making the call from a clouded coastal area as to what is going to develop several hours later up in the mountains can leave you red faced. Happens to me many times during a year, I am the Observing Officer for our local club and I'm the one who has to make the call to go or not to go, in consultation with others as well and have had to apologies to the members the next day when a few hours after calling of the session in the late afternoon, the skies have miraculously cleared. Oh the shame endured.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:20 AM
Wavytone (Nick)
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when I was paragliding there were guys who drove to Blackheath, only to find the conditions weren’t right, then they’d head for Stanwell Park hoping for a fly there if the sea breeze filled in... only to be doubly disappointed and go home after 6h of driving.
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Old 02-09-2019, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturnine View Post
I am the Observing Officer for our local club and I'm the one who has to make the call to go or not to go, in consultation with others as well and have had to apologies to the members the next day when a few hours after calling of the session in the late afternoon, the skies have miraculously cleared. Oh the shame endured.
Yes, I know that feeling well, Jeff...

Like you, the call is made by consulting others. These decisions are not made lightly.

One thing about this Saturday night that weighed in on the process was what conditions would be if it did clear. We've had nights when the day was overcast with a spectacular thunderstorm right on sunset, but this weather pattern was one we had experienced before and all the ques were that the night would clear very quickly after the storm and despite the storm, the night was truly spectacular with outstanding seeing, stunning transparency and bone dry due to the laminar breeze that blew all night long.

But this Saturday night, all the ques were for a dismal scenario. And it was poor and not one for astro activities.

Like you and your Club, these decisions are all made based on the experience of the locale with its unique weather patterns. What may seem perfect along the coast may be terrible up at the Airfield. Conversely when things have been poor along the coast, the Airfield has been amazing.

We have had nights where conditions at the Airfield had been stunningly clear and bone dry with no dew. Then on driving through Katoomba on the way home, the place was fogged out and drenched like it had rained! On another occasion, we had cloud cover that just refused to clear despite every indicator saying it would clear up. After three frustrating hours we packed up and made our way home only to find conditions at Medlow Bath village were perfectly clear! We turned around and raced back to the Airfield - no change in cloud cover! And that was all in a difference of 50m elevation and 4 km... It can be crazy enough to drive someone to take up AP!

An idea could be for the various astro clubs in and around Sydney to look at pooling their resources to one point where they can say if their session is good to go or out for the night, all because conditions across all locations can vary so greatly. This way Sydneyites can have a chance a finding a site that is open despite their usual haunt being closed and they then have a chance at getting a photon fix... ??? ???

We use this IIS page for this as one of our FAST means of getting info out to members quickly for any changes to our sessions. Our other FAST means is through our Facebook page, but as not everyone uses Facebook this IIS page provides an alternative, and email can be clumsy and not easy to access sometimes.

Alex.
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:41 AM
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The next session at Katoomba Airfield is set for Saturday the 28th of September.

This session will be for Club members and visitors.

We will be conducting a Sky Tour from 6pm to 8pm for those of you who are curious about astronomy or would like to know a little more about our group. The session for visitors closes at the conclusion of the Sky Tour unless you have brought a telescope or photographic equipment and you would be welcome to stay.

Please note that there is an admission fee for visitors:
Visitors without a telescope or photographic equipment*: $5
Visitors WITH a telescope or photographic equipment*: $10
Family group (two adults and two kids): $15

*Photographic equipment is considered anything else other than a mobile phone.

As this event is dependent on favourable weather conditions, keep an eye on this thread or our Facebook Page for any last minute changes such as cancellation.

Please note that Katoomba Airfield is a carefully controlled environment, it is VERY DARK there at night and it gets VERY COLD. The entrance gate is closed after a certain hour, but access to our activities can be had by calling the phone number listed on the sign at the entrance gate.

Hopefully see your there.

Blue Mountains Astronomical Club, Inc.

www.bmastro.org.au
info@bmastro.org.au
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