Spruce Knob, WV

NOVAC New Moon Weekend with Doug Biernacki September 28-30, 2019

On New Moon Weekends, NOVAC members, which Doug and I are, are permitted access to the observing field that is used for AHSP. These weekends, as the title suggests, are around the time of the New Moon, which are great DSO observing opportunities.

We had been itching to go and watching the weather all summer, and found busy schedules or weather that was not worth driving four hours for. Adding to the pressure is that its starts getting pretty chilly there in the mountians in Octobor.

As the late September New Moon Weekend rolled around, we saw a forcast that looked ok, but not great. At home we had experienced enough of thse forecasts that actually turned out to be great observing weather, so we packed up and took off.

We brought our own food and sheltered in the large tent, so we were completely self-sufficient save for using the Learning Center’s restroom/shower facility, and we were on the deck at the yurts for a few minutes to connect to let families know that we had arrived safely and to check the weather.

It turned out that we were the only two observers on the AHSP observing field that usually host 450 observers each year.

The weather was better than forecast on the first evening, and we got in some great observing time. Even though it was about as bad as we expected on Sunday, we did get some observing in. I let Doug use my Meade/G11 while I was working with the 60Da and camera lens to try to capture some of the distant thunderstorm activity to the south, and some wide field shots of the Milky Way. Non of my images turned out at all.

We had very little interaction with the Learning Center staff at Spruce Knob. We encountered a fella upon arrival who told us that we could set up any where we’d like, so we occupied the the tent-only  camping knoll. Other than that we had little interaction with the staff.

This was a very enjoyable trip, that I hope to do again next year. I hope to that my DSO astrophotography skills have greatly improved by then.

Spruce Knob 20190928/29 (1)
Spruce Knob, New Moon Weekend
© James R. Johnson, 2021.

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