As I was packing my gear for this year's BFSP, I found it hard to believe it was happening, once again, on the heels of another hurricane. By Tuesday it was becoming clear that Katrina was going slide by Cherry Springs well to the west and the rain would probably end Wednesday evening. At the same time, the extent of destruction on the gulf coast was becoming obvious.
I backed into Jerry's driveway about noon and we set to work loading his gear into my pickup. Jerry had been predicting there was no way all his stuff and mine could fit into my pickup. I proved him mostly wrong - we got almost all of it in but there was no spare room for anything else. It was a very warm and humid day so we were sweating when we climbed into the cab and pulled away.
We ran the air conditioner all the way to Cherry Springs. The drive is becoming familiar now - through Philadelphia and up the Northeast extension. Coffee at the Allentown rest stop, the long climb into the Pocono mountains, West on I80 to Jersey Shore and then the climbing, winding, deeply-forested route 44 to the campground.
We arrived at the campground about 7:00pm - lots of clouds and wet ground but no rain. There were at least 50 or so campers already there. We staked out a section of the campground for the other WAS members due to arrive over the next two days and set up our tents, canopy and the club banner. Jerry and I talked in the dark until about 10:00pm and went to bed. It rained a little overnight and we got plenty of sleep. Thursday we woke up to fast moving clouds and some sunshine. May's Munchables arrived Thursday afternoon along with Jim M., Dave, Arnie, Steve, Authur, Tony, Harold, Jim S. and Mitch. Jim S. arrived on Saturday.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were mostly clear with a few black clouds drifting by, very transparent air, mediocre seeing and moderate early dew followed by later heavy dew. During the days, there were usually enough clouds to let us sleep late and then plenty of sunshine in the afternoons. The seeing never improved enough to yield great views of Mars but the transparency was usually good ehough to see very faint objects. I had no trouble finding Venus and Jupiter in the daytime on Friday but it wasn't transparent enough to see Jupiter's moons.
The BFSP is held in one of the last dark places on the east coast and we have reason to hope it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. I am reminded of that each time I look at the Milky Way, not only seeing it bright and clear but filled with detail normally absent from other sites. We in the Philadelphia area are very fortunate to have this place and this event only a few driving hours away.
Sunday was decision day. Jerry crawled out of his tent about noon - we talked and decided to go home that day instead of Monday. We had just experienced three great nights in a row and even though there was a chance of another good night on Sunday, we felt that avoiding Labor Day traffic would be better.
|Guys doing stupid things - jumping Jerry. This is Wednesday afternoon on 44. We stopped to shoot the clouds rising up from the mountains. If you delete Jerry, it was a gorgeous sight.
|Guys doing stupid things - part two - jumping Lane
|The campground Thursday morning. Most empty with puddles, some sunshine and fast moving clouds.
|A common site Thursday afternoon - Steve and Arnie trying to figure how to raise Steve's tent.
|Jerry setting up his scope/camera.
|Dave setting up his camera.
|This is our campsite late Thursday afternoon after everyone arrived. That's Harold in the middle.
|From the left - Harold, Tony, Steve, Lane, Dave, Jim, Jerry (standing), Jim, Dave and Arnie.
|This is the pavilion where the Saturday talks are held.
|Terence Dickenson giving his talk.He had some really impressive wide-angle shots with a Cannon 20Da.
|This is May's Munchables. They help make this star party the success it is. They were open 24-hours/day from Thursday evening to Sunday morning. There is nothing like a hot bowl of chili at 3:00am to keep you going through the rest of the night.
|Sunset Saturday evening. That's Venus to the left of the tree.
|Milky Way due south on Saturday night.