Lassen's Dark Sky Festival

The Astronomical Society of Nevada was honored to join Lassen’s Dark Sky Festival.  . Jim Fahey, Dennis Jamison, Mike & Linda Hopper, and Frank & Suzanne Davis had the true camping experience at the Bumpass Hell parking lot. The phase “Cold as Hell” applies to the nights at 8200 feet. Steve Zettler and Keith Van Gilder were in the North Summit campgrounds. Jeff Wolff, with Peggy and son, Robert Dunbar & family, Gigi and Paul Giles, Robbin Scholl, Kim West and Family were in the camping life of luxury at Manzanita Lake. 

Friday night was a rush between setting up camp sites and then traveling to Bumpass Hell setting up telescopes.  We have over 250 people take a peek at the basics, a crescent moon, Venus, Saturn, M13, M31 and a few others. The night’s viewing faded around 11:30 PM. 

Saturday morning Jim and Frank set up the solar telescopes.  Right away there was a line until sunset! An easy estimate was 1,000 people took a look. The parking lot is the trailhead to Bumpass Hell boiling pots.  This is one of the most popular trail hikes in the park.  We gave them the solar flare and magnetic loops to astound them. I always like to hijack the public into looking through our scopes inexpertly. It give them something to talk about with their friends.

 

Saturday at sunset the ASN crew, two guys from NASA, a private citizen with a 14.5 inch DOB, and a few JPL personnel showed up to place 20 telescopes at the south end of the parking lot.  Keith, Kim, and Robbin were the “Greeters in Charge” Did they ever work hard!  ChemLites were laid in the parking lot to guide cars. Keith and Kim guided people around the telescopes to look and all the night sky had to offer.  Lines eight to ten deep were at each telescope. Robbin would escort cars with their lights off to a parking spot.  Many cars parked along the highway.  What a clear night.  Deep Field objects were easy to see. Perseid meteor shower entertained everyone while they waited by the telescopes.  Another 1000 plus people took a peek at the universe.  Mike Hooper’s had one viewer that typifies why we do outreach. He was certain that the “lights in the sky” (stars) were falling upon the earth.  Planets, stars, galaxies all had the same meaning. While this is an extreme example, most people viewing through our scopes had one misconception or another about the universe.  I am happy this club sees the value of outreach.  Dennis wanted to find Pluto!  With the help of “Mongo” and 45 minutes of star hoping he found the wayward planet!  About 30 people saw this rear object.  I have been told that more people have climbed Mt. Everest than have seen Pluto through an eyepiece!

Sunday morning Frank set up his solar telescope.  About 80 people took a look at our nears star.  Most of us were dead tired with a non-stop 24 hours of viewing.  School started Monday and several people took of Sunday night to ready their children for Monday school. 

            Kevin, the Chief Park Ranger, gave a body count of 4,200 people came to the park!  THEY WANT US BACK NEXT YEAR!

Category: Programs Committee