Sunday, May 15, 2016

Astronomy Day 2016

Yesterday (Saturday) was a lot of fun; in the early afternoon I set up my newest 'scope acquisition--a twenty-year-old ETX-90RA--on a picnic table in Mariners Museum Park and spent a couple of hours enticing passersby to pause for a look at the Sun and a massive sunspot just making it's way 'round our star's limb into view, and come evening I drove over to the Virginia Living Museum (VLM) to participate in their monthly star party.  I joined Derek Hanak of the Museum on the courtyard lawn to man the telescopes as the evening thunderstorm cleared and stars came into view. 

Derek actually managed two instruments--a massive SCT reflector and more compact 80mm refractor, while I set up my Mak-Cas reflector a few yards away.  I concentrated on the 9-day-old Moon whilst he focused on Jupiter (later, after Saturn had risen, he used the 80mm to show the Lord of the Rings off to good effect).  While there was a fair breeze the viewing didn't suffer significantly, and all comers expressed appreciation for the views of planets and our natural satellite.

I know that several folks were manning scopes at the observatory, but I never ran up there to see what was going on; actually, I was having so much fun I never even thought to!

We ran the scopes, with brief pauses for bathroom breaks and an explodey battery pack (still haven't figured that one out!), from just after 1900 until nearly midnight, when a fairly thick layer of low cloud was moving in.  I don't know how many folks took advantage of the opportunity to star-gaze  last night, but I'd guess that at least thirty people viewed the waxing gibbous Moon thru my little 'scope--which makes for a pretty satisfying Outreach event, by my lights!

"Astronomy is good for people's souls"--Deborah Byrd

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