Green Lake Star Party

Default event

Open to Public

Type: Star Party

Held on: Oct 20, 2012 (Sat) at 07:00 PM to Oct 20, 2012 (Sat) at 09:00 PM

Sunset Times:

  • Official at 06:10 PM
  • Civil at 06:41 PM
  • Nautical at 07:17 PM
  • Astronomical at 07:53 PM

Location: 47.680880, -122.341411

Event Coordinator: Mary Anderson

Green Lake Star Party

Map

Latitude 47.68088, Longitude -122.341411

Notes

The October 20 star party was one that almost didn't happen because of very unstable sky conditions with a general cloud cover of 50 - 70 percent in the early evening. When I arrived at 6:00 p.m., I found only two other persons with telescopes who were trying to decide whether to set up or to leave. After discussion which yielded a reminder that this ominously cold night, imperfect as it was, might offer our last possibility of star party observing until the advent of spring, we decided to set up our telescopes and offer observing to the public as long as any percentage of sky was available for viewing.

In addition to the pervasive cloud cover, a temperature of 42 degrees with a brisk wind seemed to portend that this star party would not be well attended; but even before we had finished setting up our three telescopes, two refractors and a Dob, eager passersby were waiting to view the moon, the only reliably visible object for most of the evening. With our three telescopes, we were able to offer about forty people quite good views of the moon which produced the usual reactions of awe and amazement. For those forty people, that star party will probably be quite memorable.

For me the star party will also be unforgettable despite the rather less than ideal sky conditions because I had a valuable learning experience which I will share in hopes of helping others to avoid this unpleasant experience. At one point when I saw a family, arriving and standing on the fringes of the group, seemingly shy about joining the crowd, I hurried away from my telescope in their direction with the intent of welcoming them and helping them to feel comfortable about participating. In my haste to help these people, I forgot that I had left my telescope and mount cases, invisible in the darkness, on the ground near my telescope; and unfortunately I promptly tripped and fell over the cases, to the great consternation of all star party participants whose attention was immediately and entirely diverted from astronomical objects and riveted on me, one very terrestrial object lying on the ground. I regained my footing and was able to go on, rather unsettled but apparently unscathed, enjoying my usual star party activities for the rest of the evening.

I was very fortunate to be totally uninjured by that fall and resolved to be more careful in the future to find safer storage for my cases and other objects that can present a hazard in the dark of a star party. I share this here in hopes that others will be able to avoid a possible star party injury by using more caution than I did in moving around hurriedly in the dark. Also, in case anyone is wondering why SAS requires members to sign a release form, I must say it's ironic that I had been asking before I signed the release form why a release form was necessary and how anyone could possibly be seriously injured through star party participation. Those questions were answered definitively by my star party experience which could have produced serious injury. I encourage others to learn from my experience and use caution in dark star party conditions.

Despite the unscheduled activity generated by my fall and the pervasive unstable sky conditions, this star party was a success in offering education and enjoyment to all who attended. Around 10:00 p.m. when the clouds really took full command of the sky, obscuring all objects, we decided to pack up and end this successful star party with satisfaction that it had turned out so well after its inauspicious beginning.
Mary

Summary

Number of Supporters: 3

Number of Attendees: 40

Number of Telescopes: 3

Duration (hours): 4.0

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