A Dark, Busy Night!

We had nearly 50 visitors last night and it was a perfect night to have so many people show up.

When John and Mark arrived, Kris was already set up with his 12.3″ Truss-tube Dobsonian and there were already about 30 visitors milling about the viewing area. It was still about 1/2 hour before we were able to start viewing anything, so after Mark and John got their viewing equipment set up, Mark handed out sky maps and held a short orientation on how to use those.

Shortly after we finished sky map orientation, Jupiter showed up so we got everyone lined up at our three scopes to take a look at the planet and three of its Galilean moons. As we were looking at those, the fourth Galilean moon just started peeking out right below the southern rim of the planet.

As everyone was taking turns looking at Jupiter, Saturn popped out, along with it’s largest moon, Titan. The rings of Saturn always get “Wow”s from everyone and are a favorite for any seasoned amateur astronomer.

Though everyone there had a good time looking at the two planets, the mosquitoes unfortunately – and understandably – did a very efficient job of deterring some visitors. They (the mosquitoes) were quite persistent – even after having applied a whole can of bug spray!

But for those of us that stuck it out, it got dark enough – around 10pm – to start taking a look at the “bread and butter” of amateur astronomy: galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and more!

We had a very inquisitive group and had a great time talking about everything from identifying some of the more common constellations to what a nebula is to how far away stars are, to whether you can see the flags left on the Moon. No question is a bad or dumb question – we’ve heard them all and will do our best to answer anything thrown at us!

As I said, we had nearly 50 visitors, coming from all around the state: Morris, the Cities, some locals – even from Sioux Falls.

Thank you all for coming – we love astronomy, but also we love to share your passion with anyone that is interested. You are why we do this!

Until next time,
Clear skies!
Mark