Re: First Boardwalk Astronomy Session


Sorry I missed BWA.  I hope you are alright, from your accident.




From: backbayastro@... [mailto:backbayastro@...]
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 9:24 AM
Subject: [backbayastro] First Boardwalk Astronomy Session



We had a great turnout in scopes, people and tourists and locals as well.  I arrived at the Boardwalk about ten till five, Dale was already setup hawking his wares (solar scope) to the folks who passed by.  I quickly setup my solar scope and noted how crappy I thought the seeing was.  There seemed to be a significant number of sunspots and some very nice prominences around the sun.  George Reynolds showed up next with the inseparable short tube 80.  Initially George affixed the Solar Funnel we made for the 2011 Venus transit and it portrayed a remarkable image of the sunspots.  I believe George and I reliably noted seven or eight sunspots.  I think Mark Gerlach and one of the grand-nephews arrived and setup net,Mark had his Orion 12” GoTo and the grand-nephew wielded a six inch Orion DOB.  By this time we were attracting quite a number of folks to our activities.  I finally put my solar scope away when the sun ditched us behind the Western cloud bank.  I had been setting my 14” DOB up little by little up to this point and was almost ready start the hunt for Jupiter.  I notice Leigh Anne had showed up as well as new member Mel Spruil.  There were several other new folks who showed up as well and please forgive me as I have the memory of a gnat and could not remember their names.  The moon just began its trek out from behind the Eastern horizon “muck” and was soon a target.  I performed a false alignment on the 14 (no stars sighted) and then commanded it to the moon.  Once I centered and synchronized on the moon I began my hunt for Jupiter.  Surprisingly it only took about fifteen or so minutes before I found the stripped pale disk.  I tried to use my 12mm eyepiece, but no go.  The sky conditions were mush, I had to fallback on my trusty 17mm Nagler, the very first premium eyepiece I bought for my 10 Meade SCT almost a decade ago.  Initially Io was the only moon visible.  Within a half hour Ganymede and Europa blinked into view followed by Callisto.  As it grew darker the contrast about the gas giant improved but not so much for the seeing.  Around 10:00 PM I switched over to Mars which was about halfway between that glaring near full moon and Jupiter.  I tried to slide in the 7mm Nagler, but the skies would not support it, I went to the 12mm and it was decent so I went on to the 9mm which yielded a very decent view of Mars.  I stayed on mars throughout the rest of the evening with a final excursion to Polaris to show an Iranian doctor that Polaris was indeed a double star no matter what he learned in his home country.  I could not believe that I did not once even visit the jewel of the sky, Saturn.  It was very close to the moon and I never even went over there, maybe next time!  I started packing up about 10:45 and rolled off of the Boardwalk about 11:05.  I sincerely wish the remainder of the evening was as nice as the first.  


As I was on I-264 near the Independence exit in the far left lane as the two right most lanes were closed for construction, I watched a pair of headlights in my passenger side mirror close so fast I thought I was standing still.  As luck would have it (did I mention that luck is a four letter word?), the pilot of this speeding vehicle slammed on his brakes and in an effort to avoid hitting the car occupying his lane, he swerved toward me and smashed laterally into me so hard that If I had not had both hands gripping my steering wheel I may have ended up on my side skidding down the Jersey barricade.  I came to sliding stop in the left shoulder and quickly called 911 for assistance.  The other driver pulled off into the right hand construction lanes and stopped.  We were separated by the two remaining open lanes of the freeway.  There we sat for almost an hour until one of Virginia’s state patrol could arrived to stop traffic so I could safely move to the right side.  The idiot received a reckless driving ticket, my BRAND NEW TOYOTA truck - less than a month old, now sports a nice battle scar from head to toe and I spent the next five hours at Chesapeake Emergency being checked out.  A case of sidereal whiplash and lower back trauma as well as  a doozy of a headache was diagnosed.  My bride and I finally got home about 5:00 AM.  With the exception of crappy skies and my run in with a fool on the Interstate, I would say the first Boardwalk astronomy event was a success, it most certainly will be a memorable one for me.


Thank you to all who supported!


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