West Summerland Key, FL

Winter Star Party with Doug Biernacki from February 5 – 11, 2024.

This was my second Winter Star Party. The decision to go to last year’s WSP was made just seven weeks before arrival. Having made the decision to attend the 2024 WSP at the end of the 2023 WSP resulted in a year-long, focused effort to prepare for this year’s event.

The travel itenerary was similar to least year’s. Staying in a different hotel was the only major change. The Superbowl was on Sunday evening during the drive back to Maryland. We picked Snazzy’s as the viewing venue after viewing websites. That turned out to be a good choice. We arrived just 20 minutes prior to kick off, and got a good table with a great TV view.

Weather was a challenge again this year. The image above was taken on arrival day after the second major downpour of the day. That night was completely shut out by clouds and all of the other night’s conditions were suboptimal due to passing clouds or high winds.

In spite of the weather, I was able to capture about twelve hours of integration time. This data has not been processed yet so I don’t know anything about its quality at this point. I suspect to find a lot of frames ruined by the weather. One thing is for sure, my imaging skills were much better this year than last.

This year I had NINA sequences that covered all night for all six nights. Even though the weather disrupted this plan, it was a good point of departure for reacting to the weather impacts.

The lessons learned from last year made a big difference this year, as did knowing more about what to expect. Due to the place where the SCAS staff parked me, I was unable to point the camper northward to avoid afternoon sun under the awning. The major lesson learned from this year was that If we want to image on the last night, which potentially means being awake much of the night, and having to take down the telescopes in the morning while trying to depart the campground by 1000, then it might make sense to plan on a three-day drive home with a very short drive on the first day.

Winter Star Party - 2024-02-05

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