This Week:
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Guzzis galore in Grant County The National Moto Guzzi Owners club came to the Grant County fairgrounds for their national rally this year. For those who don't already know, Moto Guzzi is a famous Italian touring motorcycle and we had many example of both modern and classic Moto Guzzis rolling around Grant County this weekend. At the same time, there was an equestrian event of some sort at the grandstands. I think it was barrel-racing practice or try-outs but I'm not sure. In any case fun with horses. And in the middle of John Day the farmers market is up and running for the summer. But the biggest news of all is that we did hold our Natural Astronomy campout last weekend. There were a number of changes from the original plan. First nobody signed up so the whole campout was just me. Then it rained on the original date so I rescheduled for the following weekend. And I changed the venue from Land's Inn ranch to Big Creek campground on the south slope of Strawberry Mountain in the Malheur National Forest. It is a nice campground and I was surprised to find that on a Saturday evening in the middle of the camping season, I had the whole place to myself. Even so, while gathering firewood in the surrounding forest, I found unmistakable evidence of civilization. I learned some good lessons. One is that my timing was bad. The 18th and the 25th of June are both very close to the summer solstice which meant that it took the sun a long, long time to finally go down. The campground is an excellent place for star gazing though because, while most campgrounds are located in the forest, Big Creek is next to a very large open pasture where the sky is visible almost from horizon to horizon. While I was sitting out there waiting for the sky to get dark enough, an elk cow strolled past about 30 yards away. I tried to catch her with my flash but it wasn't strong enough but if you look very closely you can see the dark shape in the grass directly in front of me. The stars when they did come out were awesome in the literal sense of the word and as it got darker more and more stars came out until every bit of sky was filled with points of light. It didn't get fully dark until almost 11pm though and the dawn started breaking a little before 4am. Additionally something I didn't anticipate was some ground fog around 2am and shortly after that the quarter moon rose so there were only 3 hours of really good viewing and a possible maximum of about 5 hours under the best of conditions. I'm going to do this again later in the year during some meteor showers and we'll see how that goes.
Natural astronomy and other matters
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