"Am I doing a star party or am I just a tourist?" For two consecutive weekends I found myself asking the same question.
Before we went to Yosemite for our annual star party in July, we heard there was a fire, but didn't know any details. When we arrived at the park, we were told that Glacier Point was closed. But they let us in anyway and told us to stay at our special camp site, just in case the fire was under control and the star party was back on. When we set up the tent at Bridalveil Creek Campground, there was a smell of smoke in the air. You could see fire trucks coming in and out. 300 fire fighters stayed at the same camp site, just at a different area. And the sky was murky. Of course, with Glacier Point closed, there was no star party in the night.
Friday night, the fire was finally under control and Glacier Point was re-opened. But the sky was still filled with smoke to do any serious star gazing. We had to leave Saturday morning for personal things. So for this trip, we were just tourists. My telescope was not even taken out of the car.
The following week marked the 35th anniversary of men walking on the moon. The SF Bay Area celebration took place on board of the USS Hornet, an aircraft carrier which was built in 1944 and was used in the recovery of the Apollo 11 and 12 crews when they returned to earth. The ship was de-commissioned in the 1990's and is now docked in Oakland Harbor as a museum (regular admission is $12).
Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon and the commander of Apollo 12, was visiting as a guest speaker. Bean, now 72 years old, has retired and is an accomplished painter. About 400 people attended the dinner with him and heard his speech on board the USS Hornet. (see photo page 5)
We were called upon to do a star party on the flight deck. It was the 8th day of the lunar cycle. We were supposed to show the first quarter moon. The early evening sky was OK. Then the notorious SF fog rolled in and covered the sky. So we ended up doing nothing for the visitors. But we were allowed to sit in for Alan Bean's speech.
Add forest fire and San Francisco fog to our public enemy list!
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