Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting a small star party at my office. The idea actually came up about a month ago, when I responded to an email chain abut how people apply technology to their hobbies outside of work. Naturally, the mix of technology and optics comes into play with respect to astrophotography, so I wrote about my endeavors in that arena. This, in turn, gained a fair bit of interest in an astronomy night, so I organized one.
Naturally, the minute you try and organize such an event, the weather simply refuses to cooperate. All throughout the new moon/early moon phase period of the month, we were socked in with clouds. Last Wednesday, the skies were clear. The moon was at about 80% full, but I decided to run the star party anyway so that folks could at least get a taste of what was up there.
So, under a bright moon and streetlamps in the company parking lot, a decent group (maybe 20-25 folks or so) assembled around my 12" Lightbridge, and we picked out a few targets. Venus, Jupiter and Moon were obvious targets, which generated lots of "oohs" and "ahhs". The cloud bands on Jupiter were a definite hit, as was a really close-up view of the Moon. We were also able to track down the Orion Nebula as well as the Castor double-star system. I think everyone had a good time, especially the kids that were brought along by their parents. I'll schedule another event soon, but the next one will be under darker, moonless skies so that we can hunt down some more distant objects.
In other news, I have purchased a field flattener for my refractors. This should result in cleaner, flatter (duh!) images moving forward. Again, naturally, because I have bought new astronomy equipment, the skies have not been friendly. Hopefully I can get out there somewhere next week and give it a shot.