Star Gazing at Penn's Store

8pm (after dark) Saturday September 12, 2009
(If all systems are Go)

Now you can come enjoy the Great Outhouse Blowout, stay later and view the heavens in a light-free setting.  Telescopes will be provided or bring your own.

Bring chair or blanket and flashlight (it will be DARK!!)

For information about the Great Outhouses Blowout, click here.

Keep watching this page for the latest information.

Below is a Testimonial of the 2007 Star Party:


 Penn's Store; Gravel Switch, KY     Saturday; Nov 3, 2007 www.pennsstore.com

 Arrived around 1730; nearly an hour before "official" sunset however, that BIG hill off to the west hastened our sunset; not a bad thing except for putting the pressure on us Tectron collimating folks!  Still, we set up, adjusted and managed to let most of the folks get a glimpse of Jupiter before it dropped out of view.  It wasn't a "good" view due to the low position/thermals but you could still see the major bands and the Galilean moons and it was special to those who had never seen it "live" before.

Denebola, Bren and I were joined by Mike Wolford (Spencer, IN; Indiana Astronomical Society, www.iasindy.org ) with his"new" 22" Telekit Dob and Dean Schwartzenberg from the Blue Grass Amateur Astronomers Club (Lexington, KY) with one of his many instruments, a 12" Meade Lightbridge Dob.  [Dean has a really neat website (www.doghouseastronomy.com) with many superb images.]  And, I had a terrific assistant in Chase Blackwell (fellow member of the Red River Gorge Trail Crew -- check us out at www.gorgecrew.com) running my 8" Dob.  We did a quick overview and pointed out the summer triangle of Vega, Deneb and Altair.  By this time, Dean snagged M13 and the show began.  Although we had started with around 30 attendees, the number had increased to around 60 by the end of twilight and you couldn't count the gasps & "wows" - a definite shortage of oxygen at the eyepieces!

We paused again to follow the "steam" of the Milky Way to the "teapot" of Sagittarius (which thrilled the youngsters) then traced the steam across the dome of the night to Cassiopeia, the double cluster and Perseus, and the show began!  Naturally the Holmes comet was one of the first objects viewed and let me tell you; binocs are good, 8" & 12" Dobs are sweet, but you ain't seen it'til you "grok" it through 22 inches of aperture!!!!  And that was just the start!  Ahhh, the sounds of kids squealing with delight!

The following is a list of objects viewed through SOMEBODY'S scope (we each tried to look at different things so as to show as many objects as possible to as many folks as possible.)  The Ring nebula (M57), the Wild Duck (open) cluster (M11), the Double Cluster (NGC884 & NGC869), M15 (nice globular cluster in Pegasus), the great Andromeda galaxy (M31), the E.T. cluster (NGC457), Beta Cygni (Albireo-the "Michigan Double"), Alpha Lyrae (Vega), the Blue Snowball (NGC7662), the Veil nebula (NGC6992-both East and West segments), the Double-Double star (Epsilon Lyrae) and MARS for those who stayed to the end!  (BTW, thank you Jim Blackwell for providing headlights to pack up!)

The latter stages of viewing was difficult (to say the least) as what had started as heavy dew soon morphed into FROST!  Does wonders with telrads and I experienced a major "FIRST" when my scope plummeted down and would not maintain altitude, as if someone had placed sandbags on my secondary cage!  NEVER have I EVER had a kitten inside my scope!  Seemed that light shield was all dry and snuggly on the inside!  (My tenant evicted, viewing resumed.)

In summary, the event was a solid success, especially considering the temps in the low 30's.  We issued nearly 50 packets of data including Nov charts (www.skymaps.com), a program (with links) and a page of helpful hints for those wishing to pursue amateur astronomy.  Many good questions were asked, especially from parents wishing to assist their (excited) children.  The interest of the attendees was exceeded only by the expertise of my associates AND the best news of all; inquiries have already been made about next year!  Also, Chase B. is to be especially congratulated as he "found" many of the program objects despite never having used a Telrad/Dob combo or even seen a Tirion chart, before Saturday night!  Good Job, Chase -- can't wait 'til you get your driver's license!!!!

And finally, a HUGE Thank You to Jeanne Penn Lane, current proprietor of Penn's Store.  Please, PLEASE go to the website above and check it out.  This is the oldest country store in America, run by the same family since 1950.  Jeanne had a band, a bonfire and was the bestest hostess any star party could ever have!  And, pencil in Sept 6, 2008 for the 7th annual Great Outhouse Blowout!  You really don't want to miss this unique event -- and watch the site for next year's Starry, Starry Night party.

Lacy & Brenda Thomas and "Denebola" (14.5" Starmaster truss Dob), representing the Sidewalk Astronomers of America; www.sidewalkastronomers.us/

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This page last updated 08/28/2013