Colchester Land Trust Stargazing Night

August 13, 2022

By Donna Pursley

We have been to the Cold Spring Farm site a few times in the past. On this Saturday evening we had comfortable weather, and a large group of about 90 people attended, including many children. The fields are huge and sometimes they are mowed. We were lucky and the fields were mowed this year. We actually set up in a different field than we usually do because of where Saturn was going to rise. That worked out well because Saturn was one of the first objects we were able to see. (Also one of the last.)

We had 6 scopes with 4 couples. This is the first time the number of women from ASNH equaled the men. A crowd started forming long before it was dark, many in lawn chairs. As the objects came out, we showed them Saturn with its rings and moons, the double star Albireo, M13, and many other objects as we avoided the incoming clouds. The rising Moon was a deep orange and mottled with clouds and atmospheric waves which was a different view then I have ever seen before. It looked like it had the mumps.

Around 9:30 the clouds took over and the crowd was thinning so we packed up. Then when we looked up – the clouds had cleared; Jupiter was rising and the Moon was perfectly clear.

This site is far off the beaten path and it took about an hour for us to get there. We have to drive on small winding back country roads where you never know what is going to jump out from the woods. The very close stone walls and guardrails make the driving on these roads very slow and cautious. But the nice wide views of the dark skies and the appreciative visitors make the trip worthwhile.

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