Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Visited Yellowstone, but had only stormy skies; Ham radio useful there and maybe on eclipse day; Astrocon 2017 opening day in Casper; Hoping weather forecast in Casper changes

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, Resident Astronomer Peggy and I have spent four wonderful days exploring Yellowstone National Park and then drove down to Casper, WY, for the four day Astrocon 2017, Totality - Feel the Shadow, conference, after which we hope to see the total solar eclipse from there.  But before gong into that discussion we should check the calendar of upcoming classes and events and some other eclipse viewing suggestions.
First, there is another upcoming free internet class on Particle Physics from www.coursera.org, which starts August 21.  So all of you physicist wannabes be sure to check out that course and sign up.  I see the syllabus online and it looks like a pretty good course that is accessible to other wannabes.

Secondly, I found several more good suggestions and recommendations for viewing the viewing the eclipse prepared by the www.astroleague.org.
Their brochure list some very good points to consider while you are waiting for totality.  As you know, we have been concentrating on how to set up the camera and what chairs are available while you wait, etc., but the brochure reminded us to be sure to just experience what was going on around you as the eclipse moves towards totality.  They suggest that in the few minutes before, be sure to notice things around you, and how the temperature changes, and maybe how the animals around you react, the appearance of shadows and even what you yourself are experiencing.  There were many more suggestions which you might find useful too on their website.  Many expert eclipse chasers recommend that those of us first time eclipse viewers  should just go with the flow of the eclipse and don't worry about taking any pictures, because that will be distracting.  I still hope that my plan of just taking one for two photos during totality will be a good compromise.  We will see.  What is your approach going to be?

Ok, previously we had mentioned that many experts were predicting that on the eclipse day that various services that we are used to like cell phones, and internet maps might not be available due to high traffic demand by all the eclipse viewers that flood into these communities where the services might get overloaded.  Well, we came prepared with our portable ham radio so that at least we have one other means of communication.  See below.

Hand held ham transceiver useful in Yellowstone and on eclipse day

It turns out that this ham radio was very useful even during our stay in Yellowstone,  because the cell service and internet availability inside the part is very spotty and cannot be relied on.  So we used the radio quite well to maintain communication with OCA and Hams, Marty and Bonnie, who we caravanned with on our journey through the park.

Yellowstone Park is such a wonderful place to visit and we have four great days there exploring the geysers, rivers, deep canyons and waterfalls, many bison, who often blocked and delayed auto traffic for some time, and just one bear relaxing by the river.  I had hoped to do some very dark sky observing there but the nights were often cloudy and stormy during our stay there.  I thought a photo of the Milky Way visible above the tree tops would make a nice photo, but that was not to happen during this visit.  I offer just one photo of some geysers by the roadside as a consolation photo.

Yellowstone-- Home of geysers, water falls, trees, c

We drove down from Yellowstone after having a wonderful time there and arrived in Casper, WY.  We checked into the conference hotel and took a quick tour of the setup and picked up our conference badges.  See the photo below.  I will try and post some of the lecture details in the coming next days.  I don't have a PC with me so it's more difficult to prepare post just using my Ipad.

first day of Astrocon 2017 in Casper

Having just arrived in Casper on Tuesday for Astrocon, I checked the weather forecast for the coming week of Wednesday, August 13 through Thursday, August 24.  Take a look at the screenshot for the forecast below.  It is kind of discouraging to see that the only cloudy day is for Monday, August 21.  Is it really happening that the one day we wanted clear weather for is the one day that has clouds in the forecast?

hope this forecast for eclipse Monday in Casper changes

Anyway, the locals are not too worried about the forecast and mostly think the visibility on Monday will be fine.  We will just have to wait and see.  It's time to be in the first day of lectures and visit the many astronomical equipment vendors that are here.  The schedule of speakers looks very interesting and should be fun.

Until next time,

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