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Delmarva Stargazers No-Frills Star Party article

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  • kentblackwell
    Tuckahoe No-Frills Star Party Kent Blackwell This year s Delmarva Stargazers No-Frills Star Party held at Tuckahoe State Park in Queen Anne, MD occurred only
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2003
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      Tuckahoe No-Frills Star Party
      Kent Blackwell

      This year's Delmarva Stargazers' No-Frills Star Party held at
      Tuckahoe State Park in Queen Anne, MD occurred only a week in the
      aftermath of Hurricane Isabel. While the Eastern Shore wasn't
      terribly hard hit, surrounding areas were. It was wonderful for me to
      just escape from all the work I've been doing cleaning my yard from
      fallen trees and branches. Tidewater Virginia was very hard hit by
      the hurricane.

      Although I had planned to attend the star party Thursday through
      Saturday clear skies on Wednesday caused me to alter my plans.
      Arriving around 3:00 pm, I began setting up the 25" telescope,
      tweaking collimation and cleaning the optics. Delmarva Stargazers
      member Don Surles stopped by to say hello, and invited me to eat some
      homemade lima bean soup. Well, have you ever seen me turn down food?

      By sunset the sky was very clear. As the stars began to shine I could
      tell it was going to be a good night, but the seeing was bumpy. Star
      images were bloated, but, hey, it was better than expected. Some
      really neat objects I viewed included the Cocoon Nebula & Campbell's
      Hydrogen Star, both in Cygnus. It must have been a night
      for "nicknamed" deep-sky objects, because I also peered at the ET
      Cluster, also called the Owl Cluster (NGC 247) in Cassiopeia and the
      Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) in Draco. Usually I like to really throw
      the power to high surface brightness planetary nebulae, but the rough
      seeing would only allow about 200x for the Cat's Eye. I continued
      observing until 4:00 am.

      Thursday was quite nice, but clouds rolled in by afternoon. Ted
      Forte, also from Virginia Beach, joined me for what we hoped would be
      a clear evening. Fortunately, it wasn't completely clouded out. I
      still managed to locate a few good deep sky objects, including 12th
      magnitude Comet Schwassermann-Wachmann in Aquarius, the faint
      planetary nebula PB-1 in Aquila, and even the globular cluster
      Palomar 11, also in Aquila. Add the excitement of seeing those
      illusive objects to the excitement of eating a half-dozen hot dogs
      served up all night and you have quite a terrific evening. Since the
      clouds were thickening, I was forced to quit at 1:00 am.

      The big surprise on Friday was seeing Roy & Dee Diffrient show up
      with a brand new Dodge truck, complete with camper and Pace trailer.
      You may remember Roy by his exquisite award-winning homemade 18" red
      Dobsonian telescope.

      Friday's forecast was not good for the evening, but as it turned out
      the skies remained perfectly clear all night, without a trace of a
      single cloud. As the sun set one could hear the whir of GOTO
      telescope motors, as well as excited amateurs chatting about what
      favorite object they planned to observe. Probably a standout for me
      was the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) in Cassiopeia. Thanks, Bill
      Dickinson, for suggesting we look at it. Another delight was the
      bright galaxy NGC 1023 in Perseus. Some compare it to a miniature M
      31. At 8th magnitude it should have been a Messier object. Poor
      Messier, he must have had too much red wine that night.

      Since the sky was so gorgeous Friday night I did something I never
      do; I left my 25" telescope outside when I retired for the evening,
      rather than haul it into my trailer. At 8:00 am Saturday morning
      there was a sudden rap at my door. It was Ted Forte telling me it was
      raining. I hurriedly stumbled out of bed and proceeded to pack the
      scope away. Most people were just as trusting as I, for as I looked
      around they were doing the same. After that experience most decided
      to forego the remainder of the star party and head home. I stuck it
      out, as did about 25 others. Sure enough, as the afternoon wore on
      the sky cleared. Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day. I had
      high hopes for the evening, and in fact Ron Robisch called from
      Monrovia, MD. I told him it was clear at Tuckahoe, so he loaded up
      his scope and started the 100-mile trek to Tuckahoe State Park. But
      wait, just as the sun began to set thick clouds moved it. Since I had
      no way to contact Ron I only could hope the skies would clear before
      his arrival. That, dear friends, did not happen. In fact, at the
      first sign of lightning I packed up the 25" once again.

      After bidding my farewells Sunday morning I drove back to Virginia
      Beach thinking about all the good friends and great views at the
      Delmarva No Frills Star Party. Thanks again to all the organizers who
      seem to improve the event every year.
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