Rock Mountain Star Stare, June 31 - July 3, 2011

Another good star party put on from the folks at the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society.  Approximately 300 friendly people attended.  Schedules were printed on the name tags, and except for a couple of time changes, everything seemed to go off without a hitch.  Porta-pots showed up late Wednesday, they should have been in place earlier, but better late than never.  They were serviced again on Friday.  I didn't notice any vendors this year.  Boy Scouts were in place again, I believe they put on another pancake breakfast. 

 Wednesday

We rolled in shortly before noon, several folks were already set up.  Registration materials were not available until late afternoon.  No measurable precipitation since May 19th, so it was very dry, very dusty.  After our last experience here I added a couple of drop clothes to set the scopes on to minimize the mess, they really helped.  Weather forecast is for it to be a breezy and warm week, and so it is today.  Early afternoon saw a lot of smoke from the New Mexico fire blow into the area, by late afternoon you could not see the ridge that is just east of the site.  Evening was partly cloudy and a lot of smoke.  By nightfall there were some smoky holes so we played guerrilla astronomy with the NGT-18, but it was really turbulent.  Started to clear so I attempted to polar align the AP 900GT.  The clouds saw what I was doing, and decided to not cooperate, so it socked back in.  Stayed up after midnight hoping for some clearing, but brief holes were the best we got.

 Thursday

Weather Channel said "Windy", and it was.  Suppertime brought a brief sprinkle from a passing thunderstorm and a couple of hard gusts/micro bursts that wiped out some equipment and porta-pots, fortunately nothing of ours got damaged.  (Hint - if you have a lightweight scope on top of a lightweight mount it is probably not a good idea to leave it out in the wind).  Smoke rolled in, again, in the late afternoon, though not as bad as it was last night.  It was hazy and partly cloudy so I didn't even mount the 10" for any imaging, instead we played with the NGT-18 until well after midnight.  Seeing was so-so, with lots of turbulence and haze.

 Friday

Beautiful day.  Warm, with a light breeze, Played with the PST a bit, seeing several small prominences, one sun spot and some decent filaments.  Evening was clear, and it remained mostly clear through the night.  Thunderstorms over the horizon to the south and east kept the lower skies lit up until well after midnight, otherwise it was pretty good viewing.  Turbulence was about a low as you can hope for the Front Range and it was crystal clear.  Love my new AP 900GT mount, it ran flawlessly and guided sub-pixel all night.  Whooo Hoooo. 

 Saturday

Several people left early.  The weather forecast was for thunderstorms through midnight, then clearing.  Day was warm and breezy, with a couple of light sprinkles.  Clouds rolled in early and it remained mostly cloudy for the afternoon.  Evening found the clouds leaving and the early night was fairly good viewing.  Started to get really hazy about 2300, so I packed it up and went to bed.

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