August 19th, 2022 Public Viewing Report

Last night, at DHO, our Public Session attracted about 25-30 guests. Most had never been to DHO before. Several families spread blankets on the central lawn, many brought binoculars, some even had telescopes. All were curious and engaged with our 6 members who’s telescopes were overflowing with colorful photons,as the warm dry summer night delighted everyone…including a private party of hornets who have built a 8″ paper nest, hung it from the soffit on the NW corner of the main building, and have set up housekeeping in their new residence. How RUDE!

The mid-60s air was still, and dry as a bone until 1:30 AM…a rarity in August’s normally rapidly cooling nights. The Milky Way was bright, high in the sky, and stretched from horizon to horizon, splitting the sky in half like a delicate ribbon made of tiny baby’s breath flowers tied delicately around an onyx crystal ball.

The gas giants clearly dominated the SE sky early in the evening. Tony K and Mike Z showcased those planets and starhopped to several bright objects for a few hours with our 16″ Cave Telescope. Many members set up their personal scopes in the “garden” on the northern border, and trained their scopes on DSO’s until the Moon rose at midnight. Visitors “pollinated” each three-legged “flower” and issued plenty of OOO’s and AHHHHHs, as they slowly made their way around the meadow. Targets located above 45 degrees were especially vivid and colorful. Most visitors began rubbing their eyes at 11 o’clock and mosied back to their cars shortly afterwards for the short ride home.

After the Moon rose and nearly everyone had packed up, I donned my dark green “Indiana Jeff” hat, a mosquito hair net, thick gloves, and a heavy shirt jac. I tucked in my pants to my socks, grabbed a party-sized can of flying insect spray, and unceremoniously unfriended our uninvited guests from the underside of the roof. They never knew what hit ’em. They were apparently all snuggled up, sleeping. Easy Peasy.

So the melitten threat is under control, until the annual yellow jackets burrow into the ground somewhere on the lawn. It seems every year around this time, I run over them with the mower and I have to put pedal to metal to escape them. But the September snows should kill them…just kidding. See you next month.