Saturday, February 4, 2006

Saturn Night Live at the Scobee Planetarium

Saturday evening we arrived around Sunset at the Scobee Planetarium parking lot. Already 100 plus people milling around waiting to catch sight of a star.
Telescopes poised at the ready and some already stationary on the Moon at first quarter. We could finally see Orion and lines were starting to form at the variety of scopes placed stratigacally throughout the parking lot. Some of the pole lights in the parking lot went black.

A NASA film on the Cassini Mission started and a large group of kids and parents positioned themselves in front of the screen. As it got darker I was trying to orient myself and find Saturn. While I was reviewing the sky with Elaine and chart in hand this large fellow, a star gazer in line, went out of his way to get one of the Club members at a scope to come over with pointer in hand and positioned me to the correct direction to look and pointed out Saturn. She asked me "Do you want to see the Ringed Planet in a scope?" Of course I accepted her offer and stood in line at her scope. An 8" Dob. She patiently showed each person how to adjust the eyepiece and view the planet. I saw at least 2 moons and the rings were sharp and clear. The scope lines were getting longer and more people were moving into the scope area of the parking lot. It was 7:30 pm. We left soon after. We saw the Moon several times in different scopes and the features along the Terminator are still Awsome! A 3" Refractor and a 12" Schmidt/Cassegrain, a 10" Dob. Scores of other sizes and shapes to view from. There were lots of questions being answered by all the Club members at each scope. Usually two people posted at each scope. One kept the object in view while the other kept the line straight and answered questions. Where is Mars? Is that cluster the 7 Sisters? What is that star?Earlier we found and said hello to Don Baker of the SA club. In reviewing the site I questioned the restoration in the Observatory and when the new scope might be operational? He introduced me to Brian Snow. Brian is the Planetarium Coordiantor. The scope he was setting up that night in the parking lot was the original one used in the Observatory. A 12 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain. Pictured above is Brian aligning a target the with the large scope during the Satrun Night Live event.Here is the scoop on the new Scope and a remodled Observatory: Construction will seriously begin in April.To hopefully be complete by August of 2006. The new scope will be a 12" Refractor.Elaine and I enjoyed our outing that evening. The San Antonio Astronomy group puts on a Super Star Party out there. It is an informitive and active star/planet/ skywatching event. We are looking forward to the next Scobee event. Even if it is just to a Friday evening show in the Planetarium. Brian mentioned to let him know when our N.B. group decides to come out to one of the Friday shows.