Saturday, October 21

STAR PARTY!

I had the first half of the day off because I would be working late to help with the Night Sky Party ("Star Party" for employees) event put on by the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA). I showed up to work around 2:30 p.m. and started to do one of the online learning programs Ann had told me about. I started to do "History of the National Park Service." It's all interesting so far! Got to read about my fave park of all time which happens to be our first national park. Also, did you know that the Antiquities Act was in large part to help protect Colorado resources? Mesa Verde NP was the first park created to protect historical resources? Colorado pride all day everyday

I went back to have my dinner break, then met Andy at the shuttle to drive down to the campground. Jim, a member of the TAAA, was going to do a brief presentation, "What's to see up there?" in the campground amphitheater before folks headed out to Faraway Ranch for the party. We listened to his very intriguing presentation about general astronomy, and then Andy and I prepared the shuttle to take campers down to Faraway.

We got to Faraway around 6:00 p.m. and it was already pretty dark. Many measures were taken to reduce light pollution - everyone was required to use their red setting on their headlamps, and we provided red tape for people if they didn't have that feature. There were four telescopes set up with a TAAA member talking about each thing you are seeing. I got to see Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn. Neptune and Uranus looked more like large bright dots, but when I peeked at Saturn, the rings were there and EVERYTHING. Saturn is always so interesting to look at. Always. It's my favorite planet. i moseyed around and got to see Andromeda, the Lagoon Nebula, Ring Nebula, Owl constellation, and various other star clusters and M-somethings. Looking straight up, I got stellar (no pun intended) views of the Milky Way, reaching across the sky. I saw Vega, Cassiopeia, Pleiades, Pegasus, and more. Amazing.

The only downside to this was that it was COLD. I was wearing long sleeves under a warm fleece, but eventually I was shivering. I got back and it was only 51 degrees!! Why was I so cold?  

It was really nice getting to meet and talk with the TAAA folks, who all seemed to be so interested and enthusiastic about astronomy. Their enthusiasm certainly transferred over to me! I have decided to better understand the night sky so I can explain it better. Fortunately, Suzanne mentioned that we will probably have another Star Party with them this April!

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