o tonight was looking bad for the CFAS (Central Florida Astronomical Society) Spring Star Party. At 4pm, clouds were rolling in. I was pretty much not going and then I checked the Orlando Clear Sky Chart, an awesome site that gives you star gazers an idea of what your viewing night is going to be like (taking into account clouds, the moon, the winds, everything). And according to it, at 8pm we’d be clear. So I loaded up the Jetta with wife and scope and off we went.
It really didn’t look good. The clouds grew darker and I capped off my scope (and tossed my coat over it) when it started to rain. But that was really all it was. After that, the skies cleared and darkness fell. Something like 15 or so scopes popped their caps and swiveled skyward. The crowds came. And we were in business.
I’d been looking at the moon while the sun was still up (speaking of which, the club prez let me drop an eyeball into his solar scope and I got to look at the sun – way cool, with that big ol’ sunspot on it). However, as darkness fell I swung to my old pal Jupiter and spent the rest of the night tracking it.
Even though I was one of the smallest scopes present (some of those things – trench mortars!), we had excellent viewing and gave a lot of people a good look at our majestic gas giant. I would like to have swung over and shown off the Orion Nebula but we had pretty constant business and the crowds like Jupiter – bands, moons and everything, so I stuck with that. Had three young guys want to see the moon near the end of the night so I capped on a filter and let them prowl it. One of them was talking about getting a scope. Yes, let’s hope he does.
Anyway, a good night out with JB showing herself to be accomplished with the scope – she could track Jupiter well enough to please the crowds while I was helping a fellow-club-member get her car door unlocked. Great night to be in a good club that knows how to advance their message.