Green Lake Park Star Party

Default event

Open to Public

Type: Star Party

Keywords: Star Party

Held on: Jun 15, 2013 (Sat) at 10:00 PM to Jun 16, 2013 (Sun) at 12:00 AM

Sunset Times:

  • Official at 09:09 PM
  • Civil at 09:49 PM
  • Nautical at 10:46 PM
  • Astronomical at 12:17 AM

Location: 47.680880, -122.341411

Event Coordinator: Mary Anderson

Join us to look up and enjoy the evening sky. Open to the public.


Latitude 47.68088, Longitude -122.341411


What a great star party we had tonight at Green Lake! All elements just came together to create a wonderful experience: an increasingly cloudless sky, balmy temperatures, no wind, a huge crowd of enthusiastic and receptive people, six telescopes, and a very striking and exciting astronomical event! I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and found it to be one of the best star parties I have experienced at Green Lake. Some of the participants had already attended Mike's meeting for new SAS members and were still basking in the enthusiasm elicited by that meeting. I couldn't count the total number in attendance, but I would estimate that 70 - 100 people were in attendance. It was the biggest crowd we have had at any Green Lake event I've attended. It was so great to actually be able to have a star party after all those cancellations due to bad weather. Our last star party was in last October!

I think the skies tonight were among the best I have seen at Green Lake, and the cloud cover actually dissipated as the evening progressed. A number of people were very interested in learning the night sky, so I think must have explained and pointed out various prominent star locations to about twenty individuals. During my first "lesson" even the summer triangle was barely discernible, but after about half of my explanations, my "students" were better able to understand because all three stars were very bright for Seattle skies and Polaris could finally be seen. I also answered many questions about buying and learning to use a telescope.

And participants were exposed to a variety of telescopes, which gave them valuable information for deciding on a telescope type to purchase. It's interesting that most of the people who brought telescopes are not SAS members: Kristen, Mark, Mike, and Art. Preston was also there with his Meade 125 ETX, but I'm not sure if he is a SAS member. If he's not, then I was the only SAS member attending with a telescope. There were three refractors with various apertures, one 8" Dobsonian, and another Newtonian. I am so grateful to Kristen, Mark, Mike, Art, and Preston for being there with their telescopes because there's no way I could have effectively managed that huge crowd alone. Thanks!

The moon and Saturn really enthralled the crowd, and there were lines of people at each telescope, waiting for a view which invariably produced a "Wow!" or the usual "oooh!" or "aaaah." The most memorable reaction came from a six year old girl, whose "Wow!" was said with great excitement as her father lifted her to look through the eyepiece. Then she moved from the telescope, turned to the East, looked at the brilliantly light polluted skies of Seattle, and said, "Oh, look! The sun is rising over there!" That brought quite a laugh from the group around my telescope, but my reaction was bittersweet as I explained to her that she was seeing not sunlight but artificial city light. But this one negative note did not dim her great enthusiasm for asking a multitude of other questions, especially about one breathtaking event that was the highlight of the evening.

Shortly after explaining light pollution to the little girl, I was at my eyepiece, finding Saturn, when suddenly there was a very loud and excited outcry from the crowd with many people pointing at the sky! When I immediately looked from my telescope to the sky, I was astounded to see the source of the crowd's excitement. A big, very bright object was traveling very rapidly from west to east at a speed too great to be a manmade object like a plane, satellite, or space station. It wasn't big enough to be considered a fireball or bolide, and it didn't leave the trail typical of a meteorite. One man said he had seen a trail when the object was overhead, but since I wasn't aware of the object until it was about thirty or forty degrees from the horizon, I had not seen this. The object looked like no meteor I have ever seen, mainly because of the absence of a trail. In answer to the multitude of questions from the crowd, I said that it was possibly a meteor, a satellite falling to earth, or a large piece of space junk. I was prevented from further speculation by another immediate question from the six year old girl: "What is a satellite?" That one took some time to answer, so I missed ongoing adult discussion around me. Later I checked the Internet for reports of an "unidentified flying object," but I have seen nothing. If anyone reading this has found any information on this object, I hope you will share it here with us.

That "unidentified flying object" really added to the magic of this memorable night and star party. But the most important aspect of the evening was that it reminded me of the great enjoyment to be found in sharing astronomy with others. I'm looking forward to July and August star parties and hoping this great Seattle weather holds out!


Number of Supporters: 6

Number of Attendees: 100

Number of Telescopes: 6

Duration (hours): 3.0



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