Our summer CNYO observing session at Beaver Lake Nature Center was a reminder to always have something else to say when the skies prohibit observing. In the case of Thursday, August 8th, we had kept track of the weather conditions all morning and afternoon in hopes of seeing a clearing or two over Baldwinsville, NY. While the skies favored a canceling of the session in favor of an August 15th re-scheduling, Beaver Lake already had a healthy list of attendees and inability to contact them all by the time of any official decision, so Larry Slosberg, Bob Piekiel, and I headed out with both observing gear and lecturing gear in tow.
Having taken the advice of Stu Forster a few years before, a prepared observing host is only ready for anything when they can move the group indoors for one of several new or canned astronomy lectures. The muggy evening of August 8th was just such an instance, as the skies remained 98% or so overcast for a good 3 hours, opening up tiny holes only briefly. Larry and Bob kept watch for potential clearing outside while I extended the discussions of a three-part lecture in hopes of one of them running inside with good news. Over the course of an 80 minute lecture (that likely seemed longer to the 16 attendees), no luck.
Speaking of lectures (and on the bright side for the night), I am pleased to report that Beaver Lake now has an LCD projector to go along with their large screen (so future lecturers can rely on Powerpoints and/or leave their own gear at home).
And as part of trying to keep the observing sessions entirely outdoors, CNYO has several brochures available to help direct discussions (with cheap red flashlights in tow) that were also available indoors for future reference. They continue to be well-received and without major error yet – and were even used during the lecture to address an easy way to start learning the constellations (starting with the circumpolar constellations) and to introduce the Perseid Meteor Shower to attendees. We encourage you to download them and hopefully find them useful. All of them are summarized on our CNYO CHEAT SHEET.
Meantime, we are currently planning our winter session at Beaver Lake. stay tuned!