You may recall that our current tradition on Halloween, other than handing out candy and trying not to eat more than we hand out, is to bring our telescopes out into the front yard. It’s great to let the little kids look at the moon, Saturn, or Jupiter through a telescope, usually for the first time. And the adults are often more excited than the kids. As for the teenagers — contrary to stereotypes and expectations, some of the folks most excited and wanting to talk about what they saw were high school kids. This is a good thing.
The good news was that yesterday evening, the 30th, thanks to an incoming weather front, we had a spectacular sunset here in Los Angeles.
The bad news is that an approaching front yesterday meant that today, the skies looked like this at sunset:
The two telescopes, the big binoculars, the little binoculars, and the cameras were all ready to go, but after weeks and weeks of “clear and a million” about nineteen days out of every twenty, tonight’s the night that we couldn’t even see the moon except for an occasional fuzzy glowing spot peeking through a thin spot in the overcast.
It was gratifying to note the number of people, a dozen at least, who said, “Where are the telescopes?” or “Isn’t this where you always have the telescopes?” (Yeah, one person said, “Isn’t this the place that has tons of Christmas lights?” Yep, we’re that place too.) For those who are local, the best we could do was to let them know that Halloween isn’t the only night we have the telescopes out and they’re more than welcome to stop by if they see us out there with them.
Finally, the silver lining to all of this is falling right now in the form of liquid, our first measurable rain in at least nine or ten months here. They say we’re only going to get 0.10″ to 0.33″ but the way it’s pouring now, we’ll get more if it keeps up for any length of time. It’s just a tiny dent in the humongous rainfall deficit California has over the past three years, but you’ve got to start somewhere. As they say, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.