Category Archives: Star Party Report

Post reporting about a recent public star party

A busy night, but the Moon shut us down too early!

We had about 25 visitors on Saturday from all over the area – Rosemount, Maple Grove, Grove Lake and more.

The day started out with promising skies, and that held when it got dark enough to start looking at some things around 7:30. We started off with Albireo in Cygnus and the Andromeda Galaxy. We looked at Mizar and Alcor in Ursa Major (the Big Dipper), the Ring Nebula in Lyra and some other nebulae, the Hercules Cluster, but the highlight was Saturn, which always gets some “Wow”s.

We also talked about the different constellations and how to identify some of the major ones, how to find the North Star, and so much more.

Unfortunately, the 96% waning gibbous Moon completely drowned everything out by about 8:45.

All in all, though – and by all accounts it was a good night and a great finish to a fun season of skygazing at GLSP.

Next year is our 10th anniversary – yes, it’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years! We’re really looking forward to another season of bringing the night sky to Pope County and beyond!

Star Party Report for September 9th

Sorry, guys. I’m a bit late with this update – life gets in the way…

Saturday started out beautiful – mostly clear skies, good temperature, no more than a breeze. But as we were driving out to the park we were watching the clouds come rolling in from the West.

When we got to the park most of the Western and Southern skies were overcast and the rest of the sky wasn’t much better, with only a few “sucker-holes” we maybe could look at something through.

Despite that (and in hopes of better skies), we stuck around and the campers started showing up. The Western horizon still had a glow from the setting Sun when Diane spotted Saturn through some thin clouds. Saturn is one of my favorite viewing targets and always draws “wow”s and “cool”s from the uninitiated. It didn’t disappoint! By then we had about 10-15 visitors and we did, indeed get our share of “wow”s and “cool”s from Saturn.

Fortunately sky overhead and to the North were starting to clear, so we were able to point out some constellations, talk about how we find things (“Star Hopping”) and while we were doing that things cleared up enough to look more neat things, like the Andromeda Galaxy, the Hercules Nebula, the Ring Nebula, Mizar and Alcor, and Albireo.

Our persistence paid off that evening. Unless it’s raining we stick around. Chances are we’ll be able to do some viewing.

Until next time,
Clear skies!

Rained out

You didn’t have to watch the forecast or the radar to see that it wasn’t likely we’d be having any sort of viewing opportunities last night. It was overcast most of the day. But we (John, Diane and I) went out there anyway to meet anyone who showed up.

One group was set up at the horse camp, hoping they would be able to do some stargazing, so we chatted with them for a bit while it started raining. We stuck around for a while, but finally admitted defeat and left after about 1/2 hour.

A few reminders about the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st:

  • NEVER look at the sun directly!
  • Please read this article at the American Astronomical Society website about how to safely view the eclipse
  • For those of you who weren’t able to get the day off to travel to an area to see the total eclipse, and will be viewing here in Minnesota, the eclipse will peak at about 83% coverage (in Western Minnesota) of the sun at about 1:06pm

First Star Party of 2017

I’m a little late posting this – not quite back into the habit yet!

After a beautiful, warm Spring day on Saturday, it cooled down quite quickly, but the cloudless day gave us great skies that night.

We had about 15 visitors and there was plenty for them to look at. Jupiter was very bright, and its four Galilean moons gave quite a show. We found a few galaxies: M81 & M82 in Ursa Major; and M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy and its companion galaxy in Canes Venatici. There were a few multiple star systems to look at as well: Mizar and Alcor in Ursa Major and Polaris, the North Star, in Ursa Minor. We also looked at a few star clusters: M13, the Hercules Cluster in Hercules; and NGC457, the ET Cluster in Cassiopeia.

Like I said, it got pretty chilly and dew collecting on the equipment started to put a “damper” on things into the evening, so we wrapped it up around 10:30.

Thanks to all who came out. (A shout-out to Dan from Minneapolis and his homemade truss-tube: it’s always great to have you come out!) If you didn’t make it, our next public stargazing event at GLSP is on May 20th. We hope you can join us!

A Great Ending to a Great Season of Viewing!

For our last public viewing event at GLSP for the season, it was a great one: Clear skies (mostly) and lots of visitors – LOTS of visitors – about 40 in all.

There were a lot of kids visiting, including a young Scout group from Glenwood. It’s always exciting to be able to introduce our hobby to young ones.

We had a lot to look at, too. Mars and Saturn were out early, near Sagittarius in the South, just after dusk. Saturn always produces some “Wow”s and “Holy cow”s from first-time viewers. And we hobbyists never grow tired of looking at it, either.

We did an introductory tour of some of the more common and prominent constellations in the sky: Cassiopeia, The Big Dipper, Cygnus, Lyra and Sagittarius. Some of the objects we looked at included the Hercules Cluster in Hercules, the double star Albireo in Cygnus, Mizar and Alcor in Ursa Major, the Ring Nebula in Lyra – and plenty of others.

We were also treated to a very long fly-over of the International Space Station.

It was a great evening and it’s been a great year, having the opportunity to bring our hobby to you! Thanks for the fun and we look forward to next year.

Keep an eye out here for when we start back up in the Spring.

Clear Skies!

A Cloudy but Educational Night

Despite the forecast for partly cloudy skies, we got overcast from sunset on!

We still had plenty of visitors, though and are always happy to share anything about astronomy that we can – even if we can’t show you anything at the time.

We had about 25 people filter in and out for a couple of hours and answered a lot of questions. We talked about telescope design and how they work, and how we change magnification with a telescope. We answered questions about what we look at – both in the Solar System and outside of it.

We love answering questions – especially when they help clarify common misconceptions. That’s why we come out to the park: to educate our visitors! If you’d like to learn some more about the hobby of amateur astronomy, check out or Astronomy Primer Guide.

We’ll have at least one more public stargazing event in October before winter sets in. We hope to see you there!

A Great Night for Viewing!

After weeks of bad luck trying to get out to park to hold a star party, it turned out to be a great night for viewing last night.

We were visited by about 25 campers, who were from places such as Rochester, Canby, Minnetonka – even from as far as Western North Dakota. – and plenty of mosquitoes!

We started out the night looking at a sliver of a moon, with Venus in phase, too. And that was before the Sun even set.

When it finally got dark enough to start viewing “the fun stuff”, we looked at several multiple-star systems, like Albireo in Cygnus, and Mizar and Alcor in the Big Dipper. We also looked at the Hurcules Cluster and nebulae such as the Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius and the Ring Nebula in Lyra. Galaxies were on the list too, including the Andromeda Galaxy and the galaxy pair M81 and M82.

A highlight of the evening was a beautiful long-lasting meteorite, burning bright yellow and green.

Thanks to all of you who visited us last night – you’re why we do this!

Clear skies!

Star Party Cancelled For Saturday, June 13th

Unfortunately our busy lives sometimes get in the way of some things we’d like to do more often!

Both John and Mark and their respective families were out of town last Saturday, causing us to cancel the star party at GLSP. Regretfully, that will happen again this coming weekend, Saturday, June 20th.

But fear not, we will be back out there as soon as the weather (and our busy lives) permit!

Keep an eye out here for the next event.

Clear Skies!

Star Party Report for Saturday, 5/30

The moon was quite bright, but that didn’t stop us from catching some amazing views of the sky!

We had the pleasure of hosting about 30 visitors; some campers, some local residents.

Jupiter was showing off all four of its Galilean Moons right in a line. And, always drawing plenty of oooos and aaaahs to even the most experienced astronomer, Saturn was up too (it’s not often we get to see both of the giant planets in the same night).

We also saw the fascinating naked-eye double, Mizar and Alcor in the handle of the Big Dipper.

Of course, with the moon so bright, we couldn’t pass up in taking a close-up view of its craters, ridges and mountains.

We would love to hear about your experience with us, so register with us (if you haven’t already) and leave a comment or send us a note on the Contact page.