Here is the update from Tuesday night/Wednesday morning:
We made it out to the campground around 6:45pm for a dinner of hamburgers, beans, potato salad, and watermelon. We kind knew that it would be questionable for observing that night since a cold front was in the area. The black rain clouds were kind of what sealed it for us. As were were standing in line for the food, the gust front from the rain to our south instantly dropped the temperature from the 100′s down to the 70′s. It was pretty cool. The wind switched directions increased to 30-40 mph out ahead of the rain. The wind knocked over a few scopes that were sitting out ( it was pretty stupid for people to leave their scopes out, even if they are covered, considering there were HUGE BACK RAIN CLOUDS close by). We bolted back to the car just as a few drops started to fall and headed back to Valentine. We ended up drinking some beers in the hotel room and went to bed around midnight.
Today, there are a bunch of activities at the high school. A pizza buffet, swap meet, and a speaker from NASA talking about the Curiosity lander that is just over 2 weeks out from landing. Should be interesting. Tonight’s forecast looks to be the best night of the week. The rain I think helped clear out the air from the dust and haze that has been hampering us that past few nights. This will also be my last night observing, so hopefully its the best one of them all!
The cold front came through last night just as we were finishing up dinner on the prairie. Heavy storms were just to the east and south and the cloud cover stretched from SD To SW KS. Everyone scattered as the rain started. A few of us helped the vender pack up his tent and supplies and tied up the tent to prevent damage. There were several scopes that got blown over during the initial wind blast so hopefully this morning we will find out that they were ok. All of our team have them packed away so no damage.
One correction from yesterday’s notes. I messed up Lee Thomas’ name and am sorry about that. Sleep deprivation is my only excuses. Sorry Lee.
Jim Kvasnicka had to go back to Lincoln yesterday so I had moved up to Valentine. Good thing. It was really cloudy still at 11:30 and the radar did not look like it would clear until very late so we did not run back down to the observing site.
This morning it is crystal clear, calm, and about 70 degrees. The clear sky clock says that we should have great conditions for viewing tonight. We are traveling back to Lincoln tomorrow so am hopeful to get one of those famous clear NSP nights tonight.
Today it will be much cooler with the high temps only suppose to be around 102. Humidity is high this morning but predicted to be in the 20′s tonight – perfect from viewing. Today’s program is at the Valentine HS, which are known as the fighting Badgers. Their mascot is Bucky Badger. My family will get a kick out of that.
The guest speaker today is Steven Lee, mission guidance and control manager of the new Mars Lander Curiosity that will be arriving on Mars on Aug 5th. Should be a great program. The news this week reported that the Mars Reconnaissance Surveyor will not be able to track the last few minutes of Curiosity’s plunge into the Mars atmosphere. Great engineering feat if all goes well.