(Photo credit: Scare-uh Nicodemus)
Need something to do in the
After some burgers at Fuddruckers on a very busy, very light-polluted
We arrived at the observatory at about 8, more than an hour before sunset. We expected to find one or two other stargazers there, though we knew the party was open to non-members. I have a deep appreciation for my husband’s favorite hobby, but I was pretty sure that an Astronomy Club of Tulsa event wouldn’t exactly be the party of the century. As it turned out, I, a dim-wit, know nothing about star people. By the time the sun went down, there were probably 75-100 people on the hill on which Mounds Observatory sits.
Not only was the party well-attended, but everyone there was very friendly and welcoming. The president of the ACT encouraged us to circulate, try others’ telescopes, and ask lots of questions. We did. No one laughed at my questions or scoffed at me when I didn’t know the difference between this eyepiece and that. Everyone I met was eager to inform me about the meteor shower, the summer constellations, and their telescopes. We met a lot of interesting and devoted people, and they all really knew their stuff.
Since this was our first star party, we didn’t know we’d require certain things to look as though we belonged there: you know, bug repellant, a sitting blanket, pillows, lawn chairs, snacks, and, ahem, a telescope. Aaron is an avid proponent of stargazing using binoculars. But, as strange as it seemed to us laypeople, he and his binoculars fit right in with the folks who brought scopes as tall as eight feet and worth as much as $11,000.
Once the sun set and our eyes adjusted to the dark, the sky really put on a show for us. Meteors were shooting across the sky at a rate of about one per every three minutes, and we were so far from city lights that the Milky Way was clearly discernable. The constellations disappeared for all the stars that aren’t visible from our home between Midtown and
Here’s how we found out we really were in the middle of nowhere: when a lady tried to use the restroom in the observatory, part of the door facing fell and hit her square on the noggin. She was knocked out for awhile, so some people called 911. After about 30 minutes (good thing this woman wasn’t the victim of a star party stabbing, eh?), an ambulance showed up. Since it was past midnight and the headlights were going to ruin our hard-won dark vision, we took the opportunity to head back down the gravel road toward
This is the Ring Nebula, which I got to see through an 8-foot Dobsonian reflector telescope. It looked mostly blue and green when I saw it at the last ACT star party Aug. 10.
Though this star party occurred a few weeks ago, I figure if I put the word out now, you all will quit whining that unless you have shiny new stuff to do at the river you’ll just die of boredom and come to the next star party and rediscover the simple joy of the unadulterated night sky – and making out.