Some of us Astro-Physics folks celebrated our 4th holidays with a backyard
barbecue and fireworks at a nearby lake. Fireworks at dusk was the main
attraction for thousands of local residents, but there was also something else
at the show. Our own astro-team of Howard and George set up Howard's 140EDF
scope on his Mach1 and proceeded to daytime align the mount and set the scope
on Saturn. As soon as we had the planet in the eyepiece, word went out and
people started lining up behind the scope. The mighty ringed planet was a
hit with everyone, young and old alike.
The seeing was super steady, so everyone got to see the rings, Cassini, the
shadow of the rings on the planet, the shadow of the ball on the rings,
some banding detail and several of the Moons nearby. This went on for about 45
min to 1 hour, and then the fireworks started up. The interesting thing was
that almost nobody stepped out of line to look at the fireworks (which were
being blocked by Howard's truck), and the kids went right on looking at
Saturn and ignored the booms and bursts going on over the lake. And so it went
for quite a while. Some did not leave after the fireworks show was over,
rather they lined up again for another peek. Later on we slewed over to some
interesting doubles, and again people were fascinated at what they were seeing
- the contrasting colors and the close pairing of distant suns.
George and Howard did a great job in answering the questions about the
planet and stars that people were looking at, but then they have done this sort
of community outreach many times before.
Later on that night (Saturday July 2) near midnight, George and I counted
lots of meteors, about one a minute it seemed, while splayed out on a
trampoline looking straight up. These meteors all came from the direction of Ursa
Major heading south-east. They were of very short duration and somewhat
faint. Only one or two had longer trails and were bright. So the question is,
what were these? Was there a major meteor shower going on that night?
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