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,
Join us at Glacial Lakes State Park around dusk on Saturday, September 9th for a great evening of viewing planets, binary stars, star clusters and more!
We meet at the Horse Camp in the park. See here for directions.
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
A quick look at the Clear Sky Chart makes it obvious we’d just be cloud-gazing this evening! Sorry, guys.
We hope to see you next time!
Well, one look outside and it’s easy to see that we won’t be able to see much in the way of stars or planets – and those clouds apparently don’t plan on leaving any time soon. So we’re going to have to cancel our public stargazing event tonight at Glacial Lakes State Park.
We hope to see you next month, though – and keep an eye out here – on occasion we hold impromptu/last-minute stargazing events at GLSP on weekends.
‘Till next time,
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!
Spring is right around the corner (actually, it starts at 5:28am tomorrow, Monday March 20th). That means warmer weather (finally!), longer days and stargazing at GLSP!
Our schedule this year won’t be as “regular” as it has been in past years – every 2nd Saturday, for example. So here are the dates for public stargazing at Glacial Lakes State Park:
We’ll be setting up about 1/2 hour before sunset on each day. Check back here for exact times as the dates come up.
Mark your calendars, make reservations for a campsite (or cabin) at GLSP and we’ll see you there!
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.
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!
So far the forecast is looking good for stargazing this Saturday. Let’s hope that holds out.
Mars is in retrograde in Scorpius right now and is still high in the sky in the evening, along with Saturn nearby. They’ve made a great pair to keep an eye on throughout the summer.
The New Moon is Thursday, so it will be just a slight, 5% sliver on Saturday. Unfortunately, the ISS won’t be making a pass over us on the 3rd, but fear not, there will be plenty to look at and learn about.
Sunset is at 7:55 (gettin’ earlier and earlier!), so we will be showing up at the Horse Camp at around 7:30 to start setting up. Come early and feel free to learn about the equipment when you see it better!