Cub Scouts - Bowling Green - June 23, 2012

posted Jun 23, 2012, 11:59 PM by Jim Twellman
Despite yet another 'iffy' weather night, this event turned out really nice.  The skies were clearing at sundown, but as darkness approached another large patch of clouds appeared and dimmed our hopes for a while.  However, once they passed things really looked pretty good!  My brother Larry assisted me at this event, and it was much appreciated. I packed two scopes (8" Celestron SCT and the 16" dob) and was also busy pointing out constellations.

Our mission this evening centered on about 30 boy scouts and families camping here, with a couple of other nearby campers also.  I was set up and ready before 9pm, and the first wave of scouts arrived around 9:15.   First targets shown were the crescent moon at 60x and Mars at 160x.  When the skies cleared a bit more we enjoyed viewing Saturn at 160x.   Saturn looked pretty good, not great (and therefore not worthy of more magnification), and Mars was pretty unstable but showed a discernible disk at 160x.   Still, Saturn was a hit, as always.  It is a "ring thing".

The skies continued to clear, and more objects were shared, including the beautiful colored double star Albireo, the Ring Nebula (M57), the Great Hercules Globular Cluster (M13), the Wild Duck Cluster (M11), and for a select few at the end the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and the Lagoon Nebula (M8),the latter viewed with an O-III filter. A few were sharp enough observers to notice the dark lane in M8 on their own. Always a twist to visually "see something that isn't there".  In between, the crowd enjoyed a nice Iridium Flare as well as a very bright pass of the International Space Station.  Part of the Iridium Flare fun was watching it cross paths with another satellite (CZ-4 RB,  a Chinese Rocket body). The ISS was also very bright, and winked-out after 2 minutes as it moved into earth's shadow.  People began noticing satellites everywhere.  It all starts by simply looking up!  At the very end, the skies were very transparent and I was tempted to stay for a while on my own, but didn't.  I finished up just after 11pm and was packed shortly after 11:30.

This was an enthusiastic, if small, group and I know that the need for astronomy outreach exceeds the reach of St Charles and Lincoln counties.  The group was invited to our Friday Night Open Houses, and hopefully some will come to visit us a time or two in the future.  I enjoyed this night a lot.  A poll of favorites tonight was fairly tied between the M13 Globular Cluster and the ISS. 

Jim Twellman