Gazing into Space

How we pass the time on cold autumn nights

We seem to have a fondness for staring into the night sky. It started with the Leonids meteor shower of 2002, which was predicted to be the most spectacular for many years to come. There was just one catch - it would peak at about 5:30AM on a frightfully cold November morning. So would anyone in their right mind get up at 4AM to catch a ride out to the middle of nowhere (aka Hubbardston, MA) to stand outside on a snow-covered hilltop and stare into space? Amazingly, 34 of us did just that, and it still holds the record for the Outing Club's biggest trip to date. Despite a nearly full moon and some thin clouds, we saw dozens of meteors.

lunar eclipseFifteen of us returned to Hubbardston a year later in November 2003 to view the lunar eclipse. This time the sky conditions were crystal clear, and with the moon in total eclipse we had a spectaular panoramic view of gazillions of stars in the night sky. That's something we never get to see in Worcester's city lights at Clark.

Group photo in Hubbardston Since you can never get enough of a good thing, we were back in Hubbardston in October 2004 for the next lunar eclipse. Skies were mostly clear and we again had a great view.

Celebration at the President's
house We got back to Clark at about 11:30PM and were greeted by hundreds of students running around outside yelling and screaming. "How nice to see everyone so excited about the lunar eclipse," we thought, but it turned out that they were actually cheering because the Boston Red Sox had just won the World Series. So some of us followed the crowd to President Bassett's house to join in the festivities.

More celebration at the
President's house For those who managed to get close enough, the President had cider and doughnuts waiting.
Six weeks later we were in the middle of finals, but just couldn't resist the temptation to view the Geminids meteor shower. This time we decided to try Worcester's Green Hill Park since it was a lot closer than Hubbardston and we needed to study.

View of downtown WorcesterWe didn't see any meteors because of the light pollution, but we did have a great view of downtown Worcester (hence the light pollution).

Frozen stargazers Kringle, Clark's astronomy TA (the guy on the right), brought along a huge 5000 pound telescope - so we checked out Saturn's rings instead.

Can you tell we were really, really cold?

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