After planning on going to ITS and having a turn for the worst in
the weather, I ended up at Shingletown in northers California. At 450
miles it was a long drive. We were hoping to escape the clouds that
engulfed Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Though Shingletown Star Party was Thursday through Sunday, we got there Friday night.
Friday night was a total bust. Essentially 100% cloud cover and only
the brightest stars were seen fuzzy through the thickening and thinning
clouds. But they never went away.
Saturday was mostly clear during the day, so solar observation was
wonderful. A dozen or so PSTs and other scopes with various solar
filters. The sun's activity was spectacular. Very large and animated
solar flares and many sunspots of varying sizes.
Mr. Maccholz spoke for an hour or so while people ate wonderful
barbecue and home made deserts. The food was excellent. Mingling and
chillin out with a bunch of geeky amateur astronomers was a blast.
As twilight came in we looked at Venus, Jupiter, the Moon (about 5%..
beautiful). The low clouds and trees blocked the views of Saturn and
Mercury. As it get darker, another dozen or so DSO's became visible,
but once it got really dark it only stayed that way for a short time.
Less than an hour I suspect before the clouds got thick again and
covered the entire sky. We waited until 2 am because the predictions
said that it would be clear from about midnight until 4 am. Wrong.
About 10:45 the clouds came in and never went away. A few sprinkles had
folks tearing down their equipment far earlier than planned.
By late Sunday morning was as clear and crisp as Saturday. Most people,
including me and my party were packing up and heading home.
Apparently, Thursday night was clear and excellent (the ol' you shoulda
been here last night conversation again!). Sunday night was forecasted
clear as well (the ol' you shoulda stayed an extra night!). Sheesh.
When will I learn that for any star party you need to be there
Wednesday through Monday if you want to have more than an hour of good
The nutty thing is that the previous week at ITS was pitch black,
gorgeous, and lasted the entire 3 days. You gotta love the Northwest!