If the Mountain Won’t Come to Mohammed…

I had been unable to give myself time for hikes, and stargazing sessions, and had gotten to a point where I did not want to be around myself (let alone let anyone else around me), so on the weekend of 06.08.2024 I decided to go to North South Lake, whether it had rain, or clear skies.

Just like it happened on my way to Ashokan Reservoir on May 10th, it got cloudy as I got in, but again the western patch of sky remained clean.

Then, as the Sun set it got clear, and I got to see the Moon, and the Gemini Twins, and the beautiful tail of Scorpius, which I had missed very much.

I got to watch passes by satellites, some of which I could not identify, as I chased them through binoculars and kept looking up the location on Stellarium as well as Heavens-Above. One pass was by a Chinese space station, and another was by a US Army research satellite.

Then, the sky cleared up for what felt like quite a while, and I got to see the Big Dipper, bedazzled in the sky, the other stars around it giving it the glitter of a belly dancer, and being more than the smattering of stars that I can see from my driveway in Queens.

I got to see Cassiopeia, low, near the horizon, but I did not get to see the Andromeda Galaxy.

Of course, I had been so desperate to go, and I had volunteered to be event coordinator at the last minute (after everyone else had bailed out, and rightly so, on account of the weather), so I was armed only with a DSLR (one with a cropped frame), and a pair of binoculars.

I got a friendly visit from Reichel and Jen; Reichel is a former member who had driven up from Brooklyn and happened to be in the area and thought she would say hi to the gang. Given my having been involved with outreach I was more interested in talking to Reichel about how she could continue to facilitate any interest that her kids (who were not present) showed in astronomy than in actually showing Reichel any of the wonders that we could see in the night sky.

Alas, I had no other visitors; and it was a free night at the park, too (the park had waived its $10 entry fee).

Before 23:00, just as another AAA member, George, had said (and also Astrospheric, I think), the clouds moved in. The sky was gorgeous for the short time that it was available. It was almost as clear as my first time here. Of course, the sky is a mistress that teases. She showed me such wonderful sights, only to then veil herself in a shroud ethereal; and with bold and blatant threat, issued forth as lightning flashes.

As I contemplated going home, I was sure that someone would show up, long after I was gone, and that they would get a brief glimpse of the stars, and feel a bit abandoned at not finding me there, and I was sure that they would ride their bicycle under the stars; and I was sure that when I found out that someone went, was alone, and then left, then I would feel the way that George felt (years ago) when I showed up at midnight and found no one else there, and then biked alone under the light of the Milky Way.

Fortunately, for me, that last enfeebling bit did not occur (or someone was too kind after finding that I had left). I got home after having stopped for a rest at Ulster Travel Plaza, about a half hour’s drive south from NSL, on I-87.