Indian Camp Creek Park - Cub Scouts - 5/5/12

posted May 5, 2012, 9:54 PM by Jim Twellman

This event had been postponed from the previous evening due to heavy clouds and threat of rain. Tonight's weather was only slightly better.  Thin cirrus clouds dominated the evening, and the full moon was very bright.  

I had arrived around 7:35 and found Mike Clemente had already set up his newly acquired 102mm refractor.  It is a beauty.  He wanted to run it thru its' paces and knock out the kinks. 

Despite the heavy cirrus cloud cover, we were able to show Venus, the moon, Saturn, and Mars.  The seeing was decent, much better than the transparency.  Still, images were fuzzy at higher powers.  I limited views at 226x, which was great on Saturn and Venus.  Mars did not offer much detail, and what few features I could make out were fleeting with the passing cirrus clouds.

Sunset was at 8:00pm sharp.  The full moon did not clear the trees until around 8:15.  We started showing early-birds around 8:30 and the crowd started coming in steadily afterwards. Saturn was the biggest hit, as usual, but quite a few were very interested in the "Super Moon" (perigee combined with full moon).   Because of the full moon and the plentiful cirrus clouds and the resulting light bounce, the skies were limited to 2nd magnitude.

In addition to the moon and three planets, I showed a few people the globular cluster M3 and the double star Cor Caroli.  Cor Caroli was barely visible to the naked eye, and M3 was not even partially resolved in my 8" SCT.   The kids and parents asked good questions.  Some of the parents were pretty knowledgeable and were very interested, and we had some great discussions.  

The count of adults plus scouts (all campers) tonight was 30.  The camp had 'shrunk' on their second night, something we've seen before.  There were some remarks about how good the skies were at this event last year (Joe Pastor and Chuck Simms supported that one), but then I was told that their views of Saturn this year was better!  I was puzzled about that (with the crummy skies that we had tonight) until I remembered that Saturn's rings were nearly edge-on back then.

The kids got tired and things wound down around 10pm.  We answered a few more questions and then started packing out around 10:15 and left right at 10:30. 

The camp site at this park is probably the best spot for telescopes in the entire park.  There is slight limited visibility due to trees (mostly North, but some limits west), but not too bad.  The "telescope field" is at the far end of the camp (East), with a somewhat grassy area near the parking lot and the bathrooms.   It is a pretty fair location for "Camp" outreach.

Jim Twellman

Mike setting up his 102mm Refractor.

"Super Moon"
"Bad moon rising"!!