Halloween 2018

As usual, if it’s not completely overcast, for Halloween I bring out the telescopes and let the trick or treaters take a peek at whatever might be up. The joker in the deck this year was the new location after we moved in May.

In the old house, where we were just a half block from an elementary school and two blocks from a high school, on a moderately well trafficked street, on flat ground, we would get hundreds of ghouls and goblins visiting. The new house is close to a mile from anything other than houses (coincidentally, those same schools since we didn’t move that far), on a street with very little traffic other than our neighbors, and at the top of a large, very steep hill. I didn’t think we would get hundreds of kids, but figured we might still get a fair number.

The clouds were thin for the most part, but it was not a “clear and a million” day. In addition, while earlier in the year we could look at Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars all in the same evening (and sometimes the moon as well) it’s now down to just Saturn and Mars.

The sunset was spectacular thanks to a small brush fire a few miles away, but that’s often not good for use of telescopes. Saturn will be right over the top of that telephone pole, at the edge (I hoped) of those clouds.

I don’t decorate as much for Halloween as I do for Christmas, but it was a good chance to put up a couple strings of lights and hang a skeleton or two. I even had a couple of pumpkins, thanks to a contest at our office building. I noticed as I was leaving that the two done by my co-workers were still on display in the lobby, while they were supposed to all be taken home by the end of the day. I either took care of that housekeeping item or I jacked my first pumpkins in about 45 years – po-TAY-toe, po-TAH-toe…

The sunset was spectacular and beautiful, but again, not so great for star gazing.

In the end, I could see Saturn reasonably well, and Mars, and a few other bright objects such as Alberio.

On the other hand, we got only six or seven trick-or-treaters, all in one group, and the only reason they came by was because I was in the yard, saw them get dropped off at a neighbor’s house, and hollered at them when they started to go down the hill away from us. (I might have threatened to eat all of the candy myself if they didn’t come over and take some off my hands.) They all took a look at Saturn through the telescope and made appropriate “ooh” sounds – but that was it for the evening.

Duly noted. I will adjust my candy buying expectations accordingly next year.

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