The view from Glacier Point

by Richard Ozer

Although the weather looked iffy Friday morning, Glacier Point cleared up by 3:00 and was perfect for Friday and Saturday night viewing. There was a very large turnout... much larger than usual.

Mars viewing was excellent by 11:30 and I was readily able to identify eight distinct surface features. I was pretty worn out from all the talking so I didn't observe much beyond the usual summer showcase objects. The veil nebula was particularly amazing in Yosemite's dark skies, as was the ring and cats-eye.

If you have never participated in a glacier point star party; I highly recommend it. It's one of the best examples of how creative management in the National Park System can work to everyone's benefit.

The glacier point aphitheatre was primarily built for amateur astronomers, once the head ranger, at the time, realized he could no longer keep up with the crowds using a single small telescope. It helped that the ranger was an amateur astronomer and optician himself (I wish I could remember his name...). The fact that the national park system actually listened and did something positive about the situation is a great credit to that institution.

I can't help but contrast the Yosemite experience with the "use a scope go to jail" mentality of the State Park system. It's interesting how two public institutions with similar mandates can end up with such different sets of attitudes.