Lots of People, Clouds and...Arc Lamps: Saratoga SP

by Jerry Elmer

When I arrived at the field at Saratoga High School for the star party, I found the high school band was practicing on the other side of the field from us. They had four large arc lights to light up the field so that they could practice at night, set up about 45 degrees az. left of where Mars was to be. Apparently the person who arranged the star party knew about the Wednesday night band practices, but just didn't care enough to schedule around it.

They finally shut off the lights at 9:15, and, by then, the sky was already 75% under clouds. The rest of the sky was gone within 10 minutes. We had somewhere around 100 to 125 guests. I got some fairly decent views of Collinder 399 for about 30 people, and another 10 or so got to see IC4665. Dan Wright, who was kind enough to come over and help out, got views of Mars for 20 to 25 minutes, and had a line of about 50 people at his scope (I counted). The school owns 3 SCT's that were set up pointing towards Mars, but I don't know how they fared.

The Saratoga HS site is a fairly good place for a star party, with good views everywhere except west below about 30 deg because of trees. Without the lights and clouds, we might have had a very successful outing.