April 2010 Wayside Night Sky Program
Our second successful Wayside Night Sky Program occurred on the evening of April 20. A cloud bank, low in the west, prevented observations of Mercury before it set early in the evening, and hid Venus from view much of the time. As the evening progressed, a thin layer of intermittent high clouds stretched across the sky, occasionally hiding our target objects for a few minutes at a time. Nevertheless, with seven telescopes and one set of binoculars viewing the Moon, Mars, Saturn or Venus, there was always something for our visitors to see.
We had excellent attendance, with a total of 80 to 100 people (students + parents). The crowd was very orderly and patient, despite occasional lines at the telescopes, especially when clouds caused temporary problems. And the kids were well informed, well behaved and very enthusiastic. Mars and the Moon were both very popular, but Saturn, with it's thin, partly closed rings, generated lots of interest and lots of comments about the fact that it looked almost "too cool to be real". A few even questioned if they might be looking at a picture inside the telescope, rather than the real planet.
We hope to continue our Night Sky for Schools program next fall when school restarts.
Thanks to all our club volunteers who's efforts made this a successful star party for the kids.