The first night of MKSP 2022

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August 23, 2022
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The first night of MKSP 2022 wasn’t far from what was forecast, though we’d hoped for more clear sky than we got. It was overcast at dusk with intimidatingly dark cloud to the north. Our group of four saw a few stars through tiny holes and even had a naked-eye glimpse of Saturn – without enough time to point a telescope at it. When a very light shower began, I suspect everyone on the mountain went to bed. The shower passed, but the overcast persisted past midnight, 1 o’clock, and 2 o’clock, then – as Kobau skies do – mysteriously cleared around 3:00. I staggered out of “bed” to find a nearly cloudless sky, lit in the east by a brilliant waning crescent moon that still allowed the Milky Way from Cygnus to Aquila to show through in the west. I’d only taken 10×50 binoculars for my one-night visit, but they gave me lovely views of the Dumbbell Nebula in a star-studded field, Perseus’s double cluster and the Alpha Association, Pleiades and Hyades (gorgeous in spite of the nearby moon)… plus a memorable view of the Andromeda galaxy, directly overhead, nearly spanning the field of view! With the help of Stellarium, I tracked down Uranus and Neptune, and went from faintest to brightest planet when Venus appeared atop a cloud bank near the eastern horizon. As morning twilight set in, clouds multiplied and it actually rained for real after I retreated to shelter and more sleep.
Sunday and Monday will likely continue to bring a mix of cloud, clear sky and showers (the proportions I won’t even guess at), but consistent clear sky is predicted for the second half of the week.
A repeated word of caution about the Mt. Kobau Rd. Even some MKSP veterans called it rougher than they recalled. So, again, go slowly and steer carefully to the smoothest sections. We had a collection of trucks, sedans and SUV’s on the summit Saturday night with no reports of flat tires. With appropriate caution, we can preserve that record right through to next weekend!
Submitted by |Jim Failes