Weekend Under the Stars, 31 July - 2 August 2008

Another great outing. 

Forest Service hit them with a fee and insurance this year.  Seems to be a common theme with the FS making it more difficult for star parties (see the issues Rocky Mountain Star Stare has had, forcing them to purchase their own land for future star parties.)  Anyway, the week before WUTS 08, the FS required a little over $600 for permits, having never charged WUTS before.  WUTS didn't raise the registration fee this year due to the short notice, but plan on registration fees going up next year.

There were 204 registered participants, and probably another 20 or so that didn't.  Over 1100" of aperture was on the fields.  Lots of people only came up for one night, so there was a fair turnover every day.

Several folks always go up a day or two before the official start.  I couldn't make it early this year.  Skies were reported to be great on Wednesday night.

Thursday

Breezy and warm.  Clouds rolled in just before sunset and it stayed heavily cloudy until 2300.  By midnight it was mostly clear and photon collecting started in earnest.  I got a Televue 60is Wednesday and haven't even looked through it so the priority was to see if I could mount it on the LX-200 and take some images.  Once the skies cleared it took about an hour to dial in guider calibrations in Maxim and the imaging started.  Got rather chilly, low 40s.

Friday

Breezy and warm.  Clear at sunset, clear all night.  More imaging with the TV-60is.  Numerous meteors, including a exploder that looked like a flashbulb going off.   Two great ISS passes and a good Iridium Flare.  Warmer than Thursday night.

Saturday

Hot.  Gusty winds.  More like typical Wyoming. 

A couple of good presentations were given.  The first was Danny Dale, an astronomer with  U of Wyo, who is working on space dust.  The second was Scott Morton, a mechanical engineering instructor with U of Wyo, who oversees a group of students that enter the NASA Great Moonbuggy Race and brought along last year's machine.  All the kids had a turn riding it around the front field and a few adults were seen on it too.

Group photo was taken and then the door prizes were drawn.  As we saw at RMSS 08, vendors were not as generous as previous years and mostly provided gift certificates instead of hardware.

Evening thunderstorm - cleared by 2200.  Since everything was wet, and we didn't think it would be clear all night, we only pursued visual targets with the NGT-18.  At midnight some clouds started rolling in so we packed it in for the night.  It eventually clouded out for the remainder of the night.

Astro Pics

M13    M20    M31    NGC869

Party Pics

A lot of the same scopes and gear was here that comes every year.  I didn't retake pics of items I've posted on other WUTS pages.  I also tend to not take pics of commercial items, unless it is something I lust for.

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