Final 2014 Star Party, Nov. 15, 2014
Last night we had six members brave the chilly weather at Alpha Ridge for our last star party of 2014. Although we started off with thin high clouds they eventually chased us out after 9 pm. Through that time frame we managed to chase down deep sky objects in pockets of clear skies. Hope we have better luck next year as this year has been tough on nights we were at Alpha Ridge.
Last 2014 Public Star Party, Nov. 1, 2014
Well, the clouds suddenly and unexpectedly started dissipating at about 4:30 in the afternoon, and continued to get thinner until about 10:15 or so. There were actually some times when parts of the sky were essentially clear, although mostly there was high, thin cirrus over most of the sky. It was pretty cool, and the wind was rather brisk, making it feel a bit cold.
Anyway, we had six club members (Thanks to all who showed up!) with four scopes set up to handle the dozen or so visitors. I believe all of the visitors had connections to Howard Community College classes, including two instructors. We showed the guests the Moon, Albireo, M57, the Pleiades, M31, Mars, and some other random objects. Everyone seemed happy with the views,even through the clouds. When the guests departed, the members continued working with their scopes until the clouds rolled back in for real.
The observatory has four complete walls! The supports for the steel roof/dome support beams look ready to receive the beams, and there is electrical conduit run into the building. I did get a chance to confirm the steel pier's orientation with respect to Polaris, and it looks pretty close with just a quick eyeball check -- great job with that!
So, one more scheduled star party for the year -- November 15, Members Only. Hope to see you all there!
Partial Solar Eclipse Report Oct 23, 2014
There was a small crowd out at the Nature Conservancy with about 5 or 6 solar scopes set up. But the clouds pretty much defeated us. The Sun didn't break free until about 2-3 minutes before sunset. I had maybe 10 people lined up to look through my scope, so I had to limit each person to just a few seconds each. But we did see the eclipse!
HAL Members Star Party Oct 19, 2014
Well, much to my surprise (and yours, too, I suspect), the heavy cloud
cover parted just after sunset and we had a VERY nice evening at Alpha
Ridge tonight, setting up at the top of the hill. It was a little
breezy and a little cool, but the wind kept the dew away all night (nary
a dewdrop on the car, scope, or optics). The Milky Way was visible
until the clouds started coming back in at around 10:30.
The five of us
present enjoyed the evening with four scopes, plus visits from the Park
Ranger and a HoCo police officer. It was largely a learning night for
most people -- new scopes and new to astronomy, and new members. But,
everyone observed a few Messier objects and double stars through their
own or others' scopes. Jim even located Uranus and Neptune in his 130mm
Tak refractor (very nice scope and mount!). I think everyone was happy
that they came out; too bad the rest of you missed it. It was really
nice meeting the new members; I hope you enjoyed it enough to keep