Astronomy Day - Broemmelsiek Park, Saturday 5-7-11

posted May 8, 2011, 8:25 AM by Jim Twellman
This was originally a date on our ASEM / St Charles County Parks calendar, but was eliminated in March.  Despite that, and the fact that it was the day before Mother's Day and was mostly cloudy,  a few of us set up at Broemmelsiek at 8pm to handle what folks may come.
Only the supporters were treated to an appearance of the ISS about 15 minutes after sunset.  It was barely visible in the still blue sky, probably one of the earliest times after sunset that I had ever seen it.
Approximately 12 students and a teacher arrived, along with a few others to see what the skies would reveal this evening.  Spring constellations were pointed out, and telescopic views of Saturn, the Moon, the globulars M3 and M13, double stars Alpha Hercules and Iota Cancri, the planetary nebula NGC 3242 (the Ghost of Jupiter), and galaxies M81 and M82 were enjoyed.  Bino views of open clusters M44 (the Beehive) and Melotte 111 (Berenice's Hair) were also shared. The students were especially inquisitive, and were fun to entertain.
By 11pm the public was finished, and we packed it in.  By this time the clouds were really thinning, but the 19% full moon was still almost 90 minutes from setting .   Spring skies are certainly more chancey than autumn skies, but it was nice to be out in the open air and managing two nights in a row under the stars for a change.