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March 2017 Star Party

This month’s star party will meet at DRA, this Saturday, March 25, 2017, at 7:30pm. The rain date will be Saturday, April 1. The long-term weather forecast rots, but we’ll let the clouds force us to postpone on Saturday, if they must. In the past few weeks, those of us who observe at home, or who attend flash mobs, have enjoyed astonishingly fine conditions on nights of the usual conflicting forecasts. Iffy nights can turn out to be superb, so chin up! We look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.

Saturday, March 25, 2017, 7:30pm
Damariscotta River Association
110 Belvedere Road, Damariscotta, ME 04543

Chop Point School Star Party

On April 28, 2017, the children of Chop Point School will be having a sleepover on their fantastically beautiful campus, on a peninsula at the confluence of the Kennebec River, Chopps Creek, and Merrymeeting Bay. Let’s gather in force to give them a star party they will remember forever! (Astronomers will not want to leave, but, after the star party, will be obliged to head home to their own beds.)

March Flash Mob at Brower Observatory

That Friday night when Colin opened the dome in celebration of exceptional seeing was among the most memorable in my years of observing. Among other treats, we toured the dense fields of galaxies in and around Leo. Objects that would have been too faint to see well popped in the eyepiece. Most notable was a galaxy with a star-like core. I asked Colin how he knew that that “star-like core” was not just a coincidentally placed, foreground star. Throwing more power at it, surely enough, all the stars remained points of light, but the core enlarged into a disk! It is amazing how deeply that telescope can see on one of Maine’s rare nights of fine seeing. Our skies are dark, yet not as steady as, for example, those over the deserts of Arizona or New Mexico. The pleasure in these flash mobs comes partly from seeing the objects per se, and partly from knowing that one is observing something that conditions in our skies only rarely allow. CMASians who have not yet attended a flash mob ought to be enticed to join us. Other than to gather on short notice, we have no other way to observe on the unpredictable best nights, but can promise the sights are well worth the sometimes awkward, often weeknight hours of these star parties.

CMAS Schedule through June, 2018

Mark your calendars! CMAS’s observing schedule is based on the celestial clockwork of the Saturdays surrounding each month’s New Moon, so the schedule can be planned far into the future. We do not yet have locations for most of these, but those details should be available soon. CMASian road warriors who travel to wherever we are meeting can plan their astronomic lives with this schedule alone.

Mar 25 Sat 2017 — DRA, 7:30pm
Rain Date: Apr 1 Sat

Apr 22 Sat 2017 —
Rain Date: Apr 29 Sat

Apr 28 Fri 2017 — Chop Point School Star Party
425 Chop Point Road, Woolwich, ME 04597
Ken Morse and Jon Silverman, Hosts

May 20 Sat 2017 —
Rain Date: May 27 Sat

Jun 17 Sat 2017 —
Rain Date: Jun 24 Sat

Jul 22 Sat 2017 —
Rain Date: Aug 5 Sat

Aug 19 Sat 2017 —
Aug 25/26, Fri/Sat (depart Sun) — Maine State Star Party
Cobscook Bay State Park

Sep 16 Sat 2017 —
Rain Date: Sep 23 Sat

Sep 21-24, Thu-Sun, 2017 — Acadia Night Sky Festival
Acadia National Park

Oct 14 Sat 2017 —
Rain Date: Oct 21 Sat

Nov 18 Sat 2017 —
Rain Date: Nov 25 Sat

Dec 16 Sat 2017 —
Rain Date: Dec 23 Sat

Jan 13 Sat 2018 —
Rain Date: Jan 20 Sat

Feb 10 Sat 2018 —
Rain Date: Feb 17 Sat

Mar 17 Sat 2018 —
Rain Date: Mar 24 Sat

Apr 14 Sat 2018 —
Rain Date: Apr 21 Sat

May 12 Sat 2018 —
Rain Date: May 19 Sat

June 9 Sat 2018 —
Rain Date: June 16 Sat

Brower Star Party on Saturday, March 4, 2017

UPDATE — The title of this post has been corrected to show the correct date for this star party, March 4. Sorry for any confusion the incorrect date displayed earlier may have caused. Special thanks to K.M. for catching this error!

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Great news! Remember when we had to postpone last week’s star party due to clouds? The skies are forecast to be clear this Saturday night, March 4, 2017, so we’re looking forward to seeing everyone at 6:00pm for the star party to be held at Brower Observatory. Jump on this one while you can, because the weather will be turning lousy again. With the arrival of spring, soon we’ll all be sweating in our shirtsleeves and swatting bugs during the day, and the radiating heat rising from the Earth after sunset will render the skies unsteady at night.

Nothing like clear, cold winter weather to assure good astronomy, and this Saturday will be as good as it gets! Temperatures will be in the low teens during the day and the single digits at night, with a ten below wind chill, so dress warmly. Colin will fire up the wood stove with a double dose of logs, so we’ll be able to thaw out between observations. Think Swedes rolling in the snow after a sauna!

Seriously: There really is going to be a star party, and it really will be cold, and such nights truly are often the clearest and steadiest for astronomy. There is some chance that high winds may inhibit the view, but we’ll keep everyone apprised of that, and adjust if necessary. Sometimes, that simply means we spend more time in the dome, where we are protected from the wind, and select diffuse objects that are less affected by bad seeing. Concise details are:

Star Party at Brower Observatory
Saturday, March 4, 2017, at 6:00pm
341 Route 126 (Jefferson Road), Whitefield, ME 04353

PLANNING AHEAD

After this weekend’s, the next star party will be held at DRA on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at 7:30pm. The rain date is April 1st, 2017.

After that, the next will be held on Saturday, April 22, 2017, with a rain date of Saturday, April 29. This may be at Brower, perhaps at 8:30pm. Those details are still being arranged.