Laupāhoehoe Charter School Star Party

It was a great school star party.

Setting Up the 'Scopes
Preparing for the crowd at Laupāhoehoe Charter School
I worry a bit about helping out with a school star party sometimes. When I drum up a few volunteers and telescopes for an event I wonder if we will have clear skies and a good audience. These great guys are coming because I asked them. Will it be worth the effort of the volunteers to pack a ‘scope and drive across the island?

Nothing is more frustrating than a crowd of kids wanting to see through the telescope and all you can show them is the bottom of a cloud. I was worrying again as I left Waimea under a solid overcast. Maybe it will be better on the other side of the island? My fear is justified by past experience, the windward side is often cloudy or even rainy in the evening. Arriving at Honokaʻa it was still overcast, maybe down the coast? Over Laupāhoehoe it was clear! How can this be? We got really lucky.

The next worry was the crowd. While setting up there were a dozen telescopes but only a handful of folks waiting for us. But as it got dark the people kept arriving, a steady stream of students and families. A large area of blankets appeared, covering the playing field. William and the other organizers had done a great job of putting out the message to the community, we had a great crowd.

With a quarter Moon we had a good target even before it got dark. Better yet, there were no lights on the field and only a small town below us. After the light faded it was pretty dark on the field, dark enough to show nebulae and star clusters in all their glory.

I spent much of the evening on the Orion Nebula. It looked great in the ‘scope and I could tell the tale of star formation occurring in the clouds of gas visible in the eyepiece. I took a few iPhone photos of the Moon, demonstrating how it was done. The quarter phase was revealing great topography along the terminator.

In the end my worries were for naught. Everything went very well. A lot of happy kids and parents, presented with a good view of our endlessly fascinating universe.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

3 thoughts on “Laupāhoehoe Charter School Star Party”

  1. Thank you, Andrew, and everyone else from the WHAC who came out and supported the kids and this event. As you say, it turned out to be a great success! Your worries were mine as well. I spent the past couple weeks not only wondering if we would have any kids show up, but whether I would have enough volunteers, telescopes, and things to talk about. I also worried that you and everyone else who planned to help out might arrive to find no crowd at all. I was asking a lot of many of you who lived a substantial distance away from Laupahoehoe. In the end, I figured the group of us who did turn up would manage to have fun whether or not anyone else cared to come out and take advantage of us being there. I worried less about weather. We had a rain date, but as the date drew near, the forecast was looking excellent. There was a possibility that the University Astrophysics Club could have brought out an inflatable planetarium if clouds were likely. In the end, the event was perfect. Thank you.

  2. William, Andrew: Did you plan this –
    William brings enthusiastic, curious, crowd? (I am sure, from the near past experience, Laupahoehoe School is a great school)
    Andrew and friends brings good weather from west? (El Nino winter!)
    UH Astrophysics Club not only brought nice telescopes but the two demonstrated synchronized star gazing style (in Judi’s photos)?

    Oh that was a great sharing of passion!

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