February Second Friday Musings

Just a few days until the second Friday in February and, hopefully, our third successful winter star party at Washington Park. Check this space on Friday afternoon for a weather prediction. Again, however, the basic rule: if it’s clear around 6pm, I’ll be out there with my telescope.

This has been a tough couple of months for observing. December’s star party was clouded out, as was most of the rest of the month. January had a very few clear nights, one of which did finally fall on a second Friday. But it’s been overall a real northeast winter. Lots of clouds. Lots of snow. Even in Geneva, which seems to often have a magic bubble around it and puts the white stuff anywhere but here. Great for snowplows. Bad for kids hoping to stay home and cross-country skiers like us, who don’t always want to drive 45 minutes just to slide around on some snow. But honestly, we’d wilt without winter sports and warm socks and sweaters. I refuse to complain about the weather. As my father-in-law says in Slovakia: The weather is. And it is here, too. No use complaining.

So Friday’s skies will be clear. Or they won’t.

I’ve been trying to do other astronomy-related work during the grey period. Mostly this has been thinking about my telescope and how I can make it into the lightest, sturdiest and most compact package possible. See, I have some plans to take my show on the road. This spring, when the crickets start waking up, the days get longer and people start to get their warm-weather legs, I’m going to start moving the Second Friday Star Parties to other Pocket Parks around Geneva. I figure if people can walk to the star party (and it’s not snowing horizontally in their faces) then they’re more likely to come. And the night sky is a kind of common–it belongs to us all. I want to show all our local shareholders what it looks like up close, and that means everyone.

Telescopes are usually transported by car. As we know, this is a technology that is becoming less and less tenable by the day. Recently we published a series of interviews with the crew of the Geneva Bicycle Center (we being myself and Kevin Dunn, who co-edit Geneva13). It was really inspiring to listen to them talk about the revolutionary potential of the bicycle and that got my gears turning.

So I decided that when the rubber hits the road this spring and the star party starts rotating to Geneva’s parks, the wheels would thin, with spokes, and the engine will be the V-8 known as my legs. So I’ve begun planning to build a bicycle trailer that will hold my telescope and other gear.

Stay tuned for more on the rolling star party. In the meanwhile, keep an eye on the sky and buy a few handwarmers at Super Casuals for this Friday’s star party.

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