The terrorist attacks of September 11 were horrific to watch and left us wondering if we could enjoy attending this star party. Jerry, Jim and I considered canceling but in the end we decided to attend - our own act of defiance, I suppose. The general feeling at the star party was subdued with much discussion about what happened and what would happen next.
Thursday morning came with the threat of rain so Jerry and I decided to delay attending until Friday, when the rain would pass. I got up about 7:00am and took my time packing, finally leaving the house about 1:00pm and driving down under clouds and occasional light rain. I arrived at a mostly-empty campground about 3:00pm with no rain and relatively dry ground. In talking to the folks who had camped there Thursday night, it had been mostly clear and very usable so, once again, amateur meteorology fails us! As I set up my tent, there were breaks in the clouds and it begin to slowly clear. I set up on the west end of the field since I wanted good views of the planets. Jerry arrived about 4:00 and set up camp next to me.
Friday evening was clear and dark blue. It was strange to see so few airplanes in the sky and the ones we did see were mostly tankers with fighters in tow - the protective canopy over D.C. Before dark, we walked around talking with everyone and looking at scopes. Jerry and I ate hot dogs and some excellent vegetable soup and observed until about 2:00am when the long day got to me and I hit the bag. But before that, about 9:00, someone walked up to me in the dark and said "hi" like several other folks had already done in the night. I assumed he wanted to look though my scope and I said "hi" without looking up but when I did, there was Jim, just arrived unannounced - a great surprise. Also, a number of other campers arrived during the early evening and night.
Saturday dawned clear and cool and it stayed that way all day and most of Saturday night. The night temps were in the 40's and the days in the 60's - good camping weather. Saturday consisted of an afternoon nap and a dinner of fried fish, hush puppies and crab soup. Saturday night was great - less dew and very good transparency but cirrus moved in around 3:00am. Got up Sunday morning to a bright sun and drove home - glad I attended. The viewing was excellent, the food was great and the company was what I needed.
|Jerry, assembling his tent on Friday afternoon.||Jim, checking his scope on Saturday afternoon|
|The swap table was small this year because of the Black Forest Star Party.||Saturday afternoon, bright sun and crystal blue skies - no clouds.|
|One of many larger dobs in attendance.||One of many refractors.|
|Solar observing on Saturday.||By Saturday afternoon, the campground had largely filled up but the overall attendance seemed to be down from the Spring.|
|Saturday skies - beautiful.||Watching for Iridum flares late Saturday evening.|
|A beautiful old church on the drive home.|