FOG Members and Guests:
Despite the forecast for poor air quality last night, the skies cleared reasonably well by late evening and we had a few people show up looking for the sidewalk astronomy event. Unfortunately, they had no way to know that we had cancelled it earlier that day.
So if the skies are reasonably free of smoke tonight, Greg and I will be outside Starbuck's (808 Ocean Beach Hwy, Longview) around 8:30pm-9:00pm to try sidewalk astronomy again. Please join us if you can bring a scope, or just want to attend.
Now that the club has its new website, I'll mention it in my next CRR sky report column, and ask readers to check the website for last minute "go or no go" decisions when we announce future public viewing events.
FOG Vice President / Program Chair
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It was a beautiful drive to the star party at Mount St. Helens last weekend. The event was coordinated by members of the Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club (Longview, WA), Rose City Astronomers (Portland, OR) and the Mount St. Helens Institute.
Friendly people when we arrived, and - what scenery!
Now, it's one thing to see diagrams or photos of the stars and galaxies and planets, and to read explanations of just what the "ecliptic" is. But looking at photos in print or online is just not the same.
Just after sunset, we saw Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars arcing in the sky from horizon to horizon. To see the planets in such a magnificent clear sky, with the volcano below, that was stunning!
And that was the beginning of the show.
Later, we turned to telescopes brought to the mountain by club members. They helped me see the Ring Nebula (2,300 light years away!) and the Andromeda Galaxy (2.5 million light years - the light left there long before there were humans here!). But thinking about light years is very abstract.
What really got me was seeing the planets lined up just after sunset, and later seeing the rings of Saturn and the cloud bands of Jupiter, even the Red Spot, with my own eyes (and a bit of magnification!).
After spending most of my life in the Big City, here I was away from city lights, with people who had the telescopes and the knowledge to help me see for myself large parts of our solar system. And, up there on Coldwater Ridge, the skies were big and clear enough I didn't look at one little bit or another but I could see the span of the solar system.
With my own eyes.
We had a terrific Star Party at the Coldwater Ridge Science & Learning Center, hosted by Friends of Galileo (Longview), Rose City Astronomers (Portland), and the Mount St. Helens Institute..
Guest speakers, a portable planetarium, crafts for kids, a solar system walk, solar viewing, and a great dinner. All that was before sunset!
Then we saw Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars laid out on the ecliptic in a clear sky, with Mount St. Helens below. We saw meteors and galaxies, and the International Space Station flew by us to see what was going on. Great fun!
Friends of Galileo
We are astronomy enthusiasts who love to learn and to share our wonder at the amazing sights right overhead.