Star Party Report
Event – Essex National Heritage Area – Trails and Sails
Location – Battis Farm, Amesbury, MA
When – Friday September 19, 2014
We had a great star party at Battis Farm in Amesbury this Friday night for our first of two Trails and Sails star parties. We had quite a large group of visitors. As people were coming and going a head count was tough to get, but I tried to greet each group of people as they walked down the path and I tallied about 60 and I probably missed some when running my scope.
Saturn and Mars were both low in the west at dusk. Saturn’s rings were clearly visible, if fuzzy. Mars was a flaming colorball, but in the fleeting moments of stillness you could see it was a reddish disk that wasn’t quite round looking (it’s 87% illuminated now). After those objects scopes were placed on a range of items for the attendees, just about every faint fuzzy that shows well. Some of the highlights were M13 the great cluster in Hercules, M57 Ring nebula, M20 Trifid nebula, M27 The Dumbell, The Veil nebula, The Double Cluster in Perseus, NGC457 and numerous double stars and other DSO’s. Though the light dome to the south was bad, the Milky Way and a faint impression of the dust lanes could be seen overhead in Cygnus. Kevin Ackert should get a prize for finding the Dumbbell Nebula in less than 5 seconds.
Conditions were clear up until about 9:30, when some high clouds starting moving in from the north. We were able to entertain our guests until 10PM when the combination of dew, frost and the approaching high, thin clouds brought an end to the evenings activities. The plus side was there were no bugs.
A huge thanks to Kevin Ackert, Kevin Hocker, John Hobbs, and Dick Luecke for helping out.
The second night of the Trails and Sails Star Party is this Friday, September 26th. Hours are 8 – 10, but we setup early to observe Saturn starting around 7:30. Based on the sign ups a smaller crowd is expected than the first night – probably about 40 people. If you’re interested in bringing a scope to help out please let me know.