Finally! A clear and cool evening prevailed on 7 Oct 23 just in time for NOVAC’s Star Gaze event at C.M. Crockett Park, Midland, VA. Read Carlie Kenny’s excellent accounting of the night’s events.
Saturday October 7th, we held our fall annual event, “Star Gaze” at CM Crockett Park, the largest lakeside park in Fauquier County and one of two events we hold there each year. Around 50 Telescopes of all capacities were present for the viewing public to enjoy thanks to the amazing turnout of our members. Over 150 members of the public were in attendance, and their feedback truly exemplifies our motto “to observe, and help others observe”. After the astronomy bingo for children a little one remarked “I’m one step closer to becoming and astronaut!” while holding his new book won at the event. Another attendee, Tristan Brown of DC, reached out after to let us know “it was such a moving and incredible experience. Dozens of people graciously shared their telescope viewing time with us and explained what we were seeing. Really amazing experience!”
We started the evening with a few scopes set out for solar viewing as well as a meteorite display at the NOVAC tent, courtesy of club member Cal Powell. Also found under the tent were refreshments, including bagels and hot chocolate and informational handouts. The event was topped off with a nice autumn breeze to keep everyone alert. Once dusk rolled over the field and the light cloud cover broke Cal began the nighttime viewing with a tour of the night sky to familiarize everyone with what objects they might see through the scopes. Those in attendance were then invited to further explore our universe through the many lenses being carefully calibrated around the field. The glow of red flashlights guided everyone from place to place, preserving their vision for optimal stargazing. Those in attendance might have caught a glimpse of Jupiter and the Galilean moons, Saturn, the helix nebula, the andromeda galaxy, M13, and so much more! Viewing each of these objects through different scopes helps to uncover new details with each observation. Perhaps there was a bit more detail in Saturn’s ring, a few more stars around a globular cluster, or a small light you didn’t know was a galaxy before. Truly each visual has its own special way of conveying the awe and overwhelming size of our universe.
With that we’d like to give a huge shoutout to all those who made Star Gaze what it was, including everyone who came out for public viewing, the folks with CM Crockett Park, the members who volunteered their scopes, and the members who volunteered their time at the tent and parking areas. A special thank you to Corey Dallmeyer who brought his space-themed redecorated bus out to the event and shared his amazing telescope. The electronic-assisted eyepiece gave us near-textbook views of the Trifid dust lanes, Pelican nebula, Eagle nebula, Lagoon nebula, and more! Big thanks also to Achim Oppelt, Sue Worden, David Werth, Corey Dallmeyer, Megan Cox, Alan Miller, Ben Browning, Trey Gruel, Thomas Frazier, Cal Powell, Brent Anderson, Alan Goldberg, Eugene Rose, Laird Taylor, and Craig Johnson. Your help was very much appreciated! We hope to see you at Astronomy Day or Star Gaze 2024, or at our next public viewing night (see calendar).