Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Great Night To Watch A Shower

Saturday came early for me as it usually does. My internal clock will not let me sleep past 4:30 in the morning. I was busy about the task of finishing Honey do items for my wife and it hit me this was the 14th and I had an astronomy thing to do tonight. The Leonids are here and it was clear well clearish if you want to count thin cirrostratus clouds as clear. As the day wore on I had an eye on the sky. It was not looking too good for telescope work but one might be able to see some meteors looking through that thin soup aloft.

The Radio had been telling everyone to come out to Stonelick State Park for meteor watching and star gazing. Heck you could even get a free hot beverage and cookies. What a deal! How could one pass that up? I told the wife that the skies warranted going out and taking a look. I was issued a pass for the night and off I went! I landed there with plenty of time to set up my scope and get ready for the night. Then it started. The people came and came. I know there were at least 150 to 200 people there last night. Obviously free coffee will do that for an event! The crowd had nearly twenty scopes to choose from. Big light buckets to tiny refractors were to be found at this offering.

I was struck by this kid of no more than ten or twelve. He had this tiny refractor. I believe it was an Edmund. The tripod was so spindly and shaky it seemed more of a exercise in futility than in observation but there he was looking at star after star as he did not really know what to look for. The child would sight on one and call his Mom over who would patiently take a look and say oh that's a nice one and move back for the son to locate another. That made me smile for a lot of reasons. His Mom encouraging him, his determination, and the fact that he had not set that shaky thing on fire yet! I had a gentleman come up to me and ask if I could help him with his scope and I said sure thing. It was a cheap Galileo Reflector with a nice focuser on it with a filter wheel attached. It also had a hand paddle to move the scope around. It was his dad's and he had it for about two weeks. He got it because his Dad had passed away. I showed him some tricks to get the most from that shaky mount and tripod. He was very interested in looking through my scope so we started to cruise all the eye candy available on a crisp but very hazy November night.Some folks arrived at my scope to take a look and he told them That's my scope over there pointing to his Newtonian But I am having a hard time leaving this one. That has got to make you chuckle inside.

I had such a great time showing what limited items I could show as the high cirrus did not yield except for small pockets. (sucker holes) I had opportunity to show a boy really interested in astronomy, Jupiter Uranus and Neptune. He had never seen the outer two planets before. I hope the advice I gave on new scope purchase went well for those two couples I talked to.I have done so many of these star parties I have a standing list in my head of "stuff" that makes one's jaw drop. When they came over to me I would ask them what they had seen so far then I would say Ok How about we take a look at this... I always explain what it is they are looking at so they can get a feel for the object in the eyepiece. I had many return visits by folks that night. As meteors went we did not rack up too many. 6 was the number when I left at midnight. The die hards were still there but I could see thicker cover coming so I left. It was a great night. What did you do last night?
Until next week ...

Clear skies and great seeing too!

Steve T

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