Well, I think Steve summed this one up best when he greeted me with “Welcome to Woodstock!” A modern Woodstock, indeed. I didn’t mention this in the Night Sky Network log, but there’s definitely a reason the crowd was so easy to impress. I think that except for the couple who hung around all night, most everyone there was “chemically influenced” in some way or another. But I do have to say, this was probably the most well behaved, polite crowd I’ve ever dealt with. The few people who leaned on the telescope as they were looking apologized profusely afterwards, and the only slightly unpleasant person to deal with was a girl who whined and stormed off when I told her that I was still pointing the telescope, so she wouldn’t be able to see anything. Several of her friends immediately started apologizing on her behalf… And her friends also came up an hour later to apologize again. The atmosphere of the festival was happy and full of lights (bad for astronomy, but pretty to look at), and though I may have been slightly scared when I first arrived, I left feeling like the night had been a great success and looking forward to next year when we’re scheduled to do it again! It did wind up being a lot of fun.
It was a bit difficult to get to- It’s a good thing we left so long before sunset. First we had to go to a local bar to pick up our staff wristbands, then find the correct gate for the RenFest property- and that property is huge, let me tell you! We did eventually find the correct gate, then navigate our way to the building where they would tell us where we were supposed to set up. It’s fascinating to see the RenFest from behind the scenes, and when it’s not under production.
As mentioned below, I forgot to pack my Telrad and my finderscope. Oops. I eventually figured out that my green laser fit just about perfectly in the bracket for the right-angle finder, so I started using that. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was better than trying to sight down the tube. That is, I used that until my laser sudden faded to the effectiveness of a regular cat toy. Ah well, I’ll try changing the batteries.
Event Date: Thursday, 5/4/2017
Name of Event/Service: Middlelands Festival
Type of Service: Public Outreach
# of Hours: 4
Description of Service Performed: “We arrived around 20 minutes before sunset, and I set up my Z12. There were 3 other scopes at initial setup, with a 4th arriving sometime after 10 by my estimate. From the very beginning, campers occasionally drifted through, and we showed them the moon and explained that if they came back after dark, there would be more to see. I kept my telescope on the moon for most of the night, because I forgot to pack the box with my finderscopes in it. At one point I searched for M51 for an interested camper, but was unable to see it with the very high amount of light pollution from all of the spotlights and concert lights around us. I also demonstrated the finding of M37 from chart to telescope to a group of interested campers, but it was quite lacking through the light pollution, and I found it best to stay on the Moon for maximum “wow” factor. I also showed campers Jupiter a few times throughout the night. Some thin patchy clouds rolled over intermittently, and during those times I stayed on the moon. It got most busy 30 minutes after sunset or so, and stayed fairly light on crowds after that all the way up until we packed up sometime after midnight.”
Comments: “The crowd was easy to impress, and the night was full of “ooh”s and “ahh”s and “AWESOMEEE!!!”s and “duuuude that is soo dope”s! There was a couple who hung around with us almost the entire night, and while I was taking a quick walk away from the telescope during a long lull, my mom invited them to use the telescope, and the man found the moon by himself, without finders or a laser (what I had been using for most things). He was ex-military, and when mom saw him struggling to line it up, she pointed out that he could use the finder bracket like a gun sight, and he found it within seconds from there.
The conditions weren’t the best, but it was a cool atmosphere with all the colored lights. The bass from a nearby stage actually vibrated the telescope, but fortunately that was only for a few minutes early in the evening, and it seemed to calm down after that.”