(Photo Credit: John P Thomas)
Clouds can ruin a star party- or not! These inventive astronomy clubs had plenty of back-up activities for when the observing is less than ideal. From school events to lunar eclipses, Night Sky Network clubs know how to have a star party even when the weather is lousy.
The Astronomical Society of Kansas City scheduled a visit to the Holy Trinity School in Paola, Kansas last month. They had many activities planned, including telescope viewing. Neta Apple tells how three members made it a fun experience for the students: "Unfortunately, the weather went against us for that day. Richard, the team member in charge of the telescope still was able to excite the students by allowing them to look at birds, trees and even a spider on a power pole across the road while answering their questions about the instrument. Meanwhile, David had set up the StarLab in the school cafeteria to give night sky programs. I always love to go to this school as the students there are some of the most interested and deep thinking students I encounter. They ask many really good questions!"
Jim Head of the Mount Diablo Astronomical Society in California tells us about an evening with another group of students at Parkmead Elementary School: "At this starparty the clouds beat us to showing much, but they stayed and the Our Galaxy Our Universe activity was presented. They loved it, and felt like it wasn't a bad night after all."
During the Total Lunar Eclipse in September, the Statesboro Astronomy Club worked with students at Georgia Southern University. Becky Lowder tells us that together they "organized a group of physics majors and other university students living in Watson Hall dorm on campus for a total lunar eclipse party. I brought my telescope, binoculars, handouts, and we watched it for a few minutes until the fog rolled in right at totality. While waiting for the fog to lift, we had fun using using the Moon maps and other handouts discussing the lunar eclipse. Unfortunately the fog never lifted, but we had fun eating "Moon Pies" and fruit juice. I also gave a lesson about telescopes until the dawn."
Whether it is stars or clouds, Night Sky Network clubs have fun sharing astronomy with the public and in schools across the country.