Friday, May 01, 2009

Powell River's Star Party

Wednesday was the Star Party hosted by Powell River Books at the Town Centre Hotel in Powell River, BC. Wayne (with a little help from me) set up two telescopes in their courtyard. Light pollution was pretty bad, but the goal was to introduce people to astronomy and the availability of affordable telescopes. The Star Party was our contribution for the International Year of Astronomy and to encourage everyone to look to the skies.

After a week of sunshine and clear nights, we had a sudden cloud cover. When you live in Coastal BC, you have to be flexible with the weather. At least they didn't call for rain! Then just before party time, the skies cleared completely. We set up both telescopes to focus on the moon. Then Wayne switched his more powerful Meade LX90 to Saturn, Messier 13, a Globular Cluster, and a double-star pair (Mizar and Alcor). With computer driven controllers, we were able to find and track the evenings best celestial objects.

The participants had a good time and lots of opportunities to look through both telescopes. Wayne and I want to thank Shelly, the manager of the Town Centre Hotel, for her ongoing support of events like these and Powell River Books.

Wayne is an enthusiastic amateur astronomer. He has three telescopes, a Meade ETX125 (125 millimeter) Maksutov-Cassegrain, a Meade LX90 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, and a Edmond Astroscan (for fun). For newbie amateurs astronomers, here are a few of his recommendations:

I am amazed at how dark and clear the sky can be here in Powell River. It's a perfect location for night sky exploration, even from the corner of our floating cabin up Powell Lake. -- Margy

11 comments:

  1. Art and I should invest in a telescope to use at the cabin. It's nice and dark there and we can see millions and millions of stars. It's our favorite thing to do at night while sitting around the fire.

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  2. Your star party has motivated us. We have had a telescope for many years but haven't set it up here. It is a Meade Saturn 114EQ that Tramp 1 surprised me with. At the time, I thought I was opening a new vacuum cleaner and was a bit disappointed! But not for long.

    We have much better night sky here than when we were on the west side of the Cascades. The Pine Mountain Observatory is located here in the high desert of Oregon. We need to make a visit there. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Loved this visit to your star party! It must have been so exciting to see through that lens!Thanks for the invite!

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  4. Hi Margy, Home yesterday, I did wave to you and take a picture of Powell River and Lake as we did our fly by! The flight from Toronto was completely full and I saw nothing but my entertainment unit in front of me but the flight to Sandspit was clear and stunning. I was surprised at how much snow is still on the mountains. You night looked very successful. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.
    Smiles

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  5. Great post! And fun too. Sounds like you all need to join the Dark Sky association. There are so few dark skies left....

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  6. what an interesting post and i so enjoyed hearing about your star party...fascinating. thanks for sharing it with all of us.

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  7. Now, that's really looking at the sky!

    What a cool idea to have a star party!

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  8. Loved the idea of a star party!! We have had meteor shower parties here, and all stayed up to watch the moon as well. I have some photos of the moon as well on my blog. Thank you for visiting my blog, come back soon!
    I'm off to read some more of yours!!

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  9. Thanks to everyone for stopping by for my Star Party. It was lots of fun sharing with everyone on Sky Watch Friday. - Margy

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  10. Oh what fun! My daughter received a telescope one year for Christmas, but wasn't really drawn to using it. We now live in the country and our skies are gorgeous (no lights). She's been commenting on the sky recently so maybe she won't mind star gazing this summer!

    Looks like you all had a wonderful time!!

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