y star-pal train-pal Terry had a great idea – let’s have a star party in the grassy parking lot of the Orlando N-trak Model Railroad club this very night. Saturn would be up, no moon, a perfect viewing evening.
So things started off dodgy. Heavy clouds all day, belts of rain. After dinner we looked up at iffy skies, pretty cloudy with breaks. As it was, we pulled our cars over at the far end of the lot, setting up as the sun went down, prepping. My old Orion went together pretty well – I’m getting good at this.
So we were looking for Saturn and then we spotted a star-like glimmer well above the horizon, weller-above then I would have thought. Swung the scope on it and saw it turn into a ball as I focused. And there it was with its tiny ring. At first it swam through clouds, making viewing iffy. But we kept at it and exhausted its ability to fight. Everyone got a turn through the scope, and I stepped things up through the barlow lens which worked well, even under the hazy conditions.
I did spend a lot of time looking at the wrong leg of the Summer Triangle for the coathanger. I think I was groping around for fifteen minutes before the bands of clouds moved off and suddenly I realized what was wrong. After that, I jumped over the Cassiopeia and the double cluster. To me, it’s always breathtaking, but to everyone else, meh. No accounting for taste.
Anyway, we had the best viewing we could hope for, even with the clouds coming and going and the constant parade of hayseeds in trucks sweeping their lights across us. I never lost my night vision because I don’t think I ever had it.
Still, thanks to Terry for getting me to dust off my scope and pass a new round of eyeballs through it. Now I want to set up in the backyard and look at stuff. M57 still tasks me…
Post Script – At Cody’s request, I will admit that while locking up the clubhouse I had to do a few last minute things and couldn’t find my keys. Opened the door and told him I was sunk – couldn’t find them. He pointed out that they were still stuck in the door. So there you go.