Progress South #2 at Camp Sherwood, October 5, 2010

posted Oct 6, 2010, 7:57 PM by Jim Twellman
The same "Team" of scope operators (Tom Richards, John Sgouros, Marv Stewart, and myself) made it back for an encore presentation, the second night in a row at Cuivre River State Park.  This was our last scheduled school camp for the year, and a pleasant chill was in the air.  The weather forecasts were all looking great, and I knew that these campers were lucky to have such a great night at this park with its' great views of the Milky Way.
Three classes of around 30 students each, plus counselors and teachers came out for views of M31, M13, Albireo, Jupiter, and Comet 103P/Hartley.  Total count was estimated at 70.    The event got started just a little early, with the first group coming out around 7:15.  That group missed out on some DSO action, but was treated to an Iridium Flare satellite event.  We gave each class a short talk instructing them of proper safety and procedure around telescopes and ladders.  I pointed out the Milky Way and asked the Fifth graders how many had never seen it before.  More than half of their little hands went up for each class.
One kid at my scope quipped "Omigosh!  You gotta see this!" while looking at M13. The Milky Way was very bright, and the last class had a view of Jupiter that included a Red Spot transit (sans the South Equatorial Belt).   I could tell that this camp was on its' second day (comparing to its' sister camp at Derricote the night before).  The kids were more ripe than the kids from the night before (in more ways than one), but not terribly so.
We finished the last group around 9:30.  John and Marv packed quickly on this "school night", but Tom and I hung around to take some advantage of these great skies.  Unfortunately, the dew fell hard again and things got drenched. Eyepieces went into pockets for warmth and protection.  This was followed by headlights from the park security officer, who was anxious to lock the gates.  We endured both and kept on for a while.  We packed up and got out around 10:15, but not before getting in a few "selfish" views... 
Tom shared a very nice and sharp view of the Little Dumbell (M76) with me. I stole glances at the Veil and the Helix first, while really fighting the dew. I wiped my trusty 30mm eyepiece for one last try.  If not for the dampness, the seeing and transparency tonight was excellent (for Missouri!).  That proved itself when I nailed the Bubble nebula (with my OIII filter on but without consulting a star chart).  It was a little bloated and lacked sharpness due to eyepiece fogging, but was very noticeable.  Only my second time seeing it, out of dozens of tries.
We love Cuivre River State Park on moonless nights this time of year!
Jim Twellman