Last night, Jeff and I decided to ignore the thick layer of clouds over our heads and completely trust in the Clear Sky Chart which said that the skies would clear around 10:00PM. As we made our way to Hurricane Ridge, we were a little bit daunted by the fact that the cloud cover was just as thick in Port Angeles as it was in Silverdale, but we had high hopes and were not going to let this deter us!
When we got to the top, we found our friend, John, all set up with 4 large scopes and he had blocked many parking spots for us, hoping for many other scopes that night. As it turned out, John and Jeff and I were the only adventurous ones! The clouds were swirling around and, at about 8:00, they were now coming right over the ridge behind us, enveloping us in fog! John would not let our spirits drop; however, assuring us and all the public that it would clear up around 9:00. We had many people there asking questions, including “is it going to clear up tonight?” and we told them “yes, absolutely” with great assuredness.
As 9:00 rolled around, and the fog was still there, we were still hopeful as we saw Vega straight up! One very excited lady asked if we could even just look at a star! I trained Nix (my scope) on Vega. We had fun looking at it for awhile, and I even found Albireo, the double star in Cygnus for us to look at. Then, I stepped away from my scope and, I kid you not, at around 10:00 (just when the Clear Sky chart said it would) the skies opened up and became completely clear. It was amazing! From then on, we were showing people such amazing sights as the Andromeda Galaxy, the Ring Nebula, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and much more! We saw many meteors and were able to watch the ISS overhead. John was able to even show everyone Comet Lovejoy. The only downside was the dew, which caused us to wrap it up at around 1:00 in the morning. At this point, as Jeff and I were getting ready to leave, our last hurrah that we received was amazing Aurora! It started out small and then we were treated to a very large spike that looked as though it was spiraling as it reached over our heads and to the south! It was an amazing sight to behold!
All in all, it was a wonderful night! I’d like to thank Mr. Danko for his work on the Clear Sky Charts. His timing was right on! Hope to see you all up at Hurricane Ridge on September 12th!