St. Patrick's Day 2012 Star Party Report
WOW!! In spite of pessimistic weather forecasts, there were 18 scopes on the field at Alpha Ridge by Sundown. At 10:00, I counted at least 21 scopes. (There may have been more lurking in the dark.) There was a mob.
It was a Planets sort of night. There was little evidence of the clouds that had threatened, but the transparency was terrible. Light domes from both the East and West extended nearly to the zenith and dim fuzzies were a serious challenge. Orion was just a shadow of itself and the Flame was barely discernable. A few people managed M81 and M82 without too much difficulty, but the haze discouraged DSO hunting. A number of scopes were successfully turned toward Comet Garradd, which would have been impressive under better viewing circumstances.
The usual suspects had their cameras and laptops out to image the Planets but that was disappointing for most. Toward the end of the evening, tubulence was increasing and Mars was just a bouncing ball of Jello.
While viewing was not the best, it was an immensely enjoyable evening. While a few people left about 10:00, it was 12:30 before the last stragglers went out the gate. All in all, it was a great start to the viewing season.
Star Party Photos Compliements of Eddie Crawford
Sunny Saturdays Solar Sessions (SSSS)
HAL hereby declares the inauguration of Sunny Saturdays Solar Sessions (SSSS).
It has been decreed that HAL will observe Sunny Saturdays throughout 2012 with informal Solar Sessions observing the Sun at Company 7 in Laurel, MD. These HAL-sanctioned events will begin at noon any Saturday when the sky is clear. The informality is similar to the ad hoc star parties at Carr's Mill --- with a difference: No gates need be unlocked; no keyholder is necessary; and any HAL member (with Solar equipment or not) can call a Saturday session by posting to the HAL Yahoo Group. Martin Cohen has graciously agreed to make the Company 7 site available to us and may very well join us with his own sophisticated Solar filters.
In hopes that the flattery of adoring attention will move our beloved Sun to dissolve the clouds and haze that plague the night, HAL members who are so equipped are invited to bring their telescopes, filters and other wizardly devices to any and all SSSSs to view our nearest Star in all the glory of its magnetic storms and prominences, while basking in the company of fellow HAL members. Those who only come to look can sample the diversity of views, all of them awesome, available with equipment ranging from the very simple to the most sophisticated.
To kick off the 2012 SSSS series, HAL members are urged to attend the inaugural session this Saturday, March 10. The Sun is active these days and it should be exciting.