The 8th annual gathering of amateur astronomers from across the province of New Brunswick and beyond was (IMHO) another success. Being one of the founders of NBANB and one of the key players in the beginnings of the annual event for NBANB, I have had the opportunity to witness the tremendous growth and popularity of this event over the years. In the past I had always been involved in the various duties and labors needed to stage this type of event, and while I still enjoyed each one, I felt that it was time to relinquish my duties and hand the reins over to someone else to continue on the tradition. It was quite evident at the 2002 edition of ASTRO ATLANTIK that everything is in good hands. There are a number of key people who deserve applause for their efforts in assuring the continued success of this event; Roy Lapointe (Pres.) and his wife Charlotte Lapointe (Treasurer), and Roger Thompson (Vice Pres.) to name just a few. I know that there are others who are also involved, they know who they are.
I was initially unsure if I would attend this year’s event until about mid July, but after convincing my better half (Francine) to accompany me, I decided to go. June McDonald who is a fellow astronomer and co-worker of Francine, went on the trip as well. There was a pre-conditional agreement between Francine and myself before the event; We promised that we would take the time to hike up Mount Carleton (highest point in New Brunswick) while we were there. In all the previous years of this event I had wanted to do the hike, but never got around to it. We arrived at the campsite around 21:30 hrs. on Friday August 09/02, and as earlier promised by Roger Thompson we found our two tents all set up on our site and ready for moving into. It would have been difficult to set up our our tents ourselves in near darkness after a rather lengthy five hour drive. Roger and company fully deserved the 12 pack of Bud Light I gave them as compensation.
After getting settled in we proceeded to familiarize ourselves with some of the new faces, and reacquaint with some of the old. The skies were basically clear for most of Friday evening into Saturday morning. I had my trusty Sky-Watcher 8 inch F/6 Dob and got some pretty good observing in, though as usual much of my time was also spent wondering around and peering through some of the other scopes. I have always been a telescope fanatic, and enjoy comparing views of celestial objects in various telescopes. NBANB’s “big” scope (OURANIA) a 16” F/4.5 Newtonian was set up, but sadly I completely forgot to look through it.
Saturday morning was the day for the hike. Francine and I left the campsite around 10:00hrs on Saturday morning and drove the 8 kilometers or so to the base of the hiking trail. We left the van and proceeded to do the hike. There are two main hiking trails up Mount Carleton, one is about 4.4 k.m., and another more difficult one is about 5.2 k.m. We opted for the easier one. June McDonald was safe and sound back at the campsite. Two of the founding members of the Saint John Astronomy Club, Dave Driscoll and Francis Casey were about ½ hour ahead of us on the trail along with David’s wife Pat and daughter Morgan, son Brendan, and Dave’s sister in-law. We decided not to rush the hike and managed the climb to the summit in about two hours where we had a well deserved lunch break with Dave, and Francis and company. Francine had some nasty blisters on the heels of both of her feet and was very heroic in completing the task. I managed to get some good photos while at the summit. The view from the summit is simply spectacular and decidedly justifies the hike. It is said that the average person in good shape can complete the hike up the easier trail in about 1-1/2 hours, and someone in very good condition could hustle it and make the journey in an hour or less. We took about 2-1/2 hours to make the trip back down and got back to the tent site around 16:00hrs. We were just in time for the main festivities such as the perennial “Star-B-Que”, group photo, door prizes and other events. As usual the food was wonderful. There was the always popular Chili as concocted by fellow SJAC member Candace McAfee, hot dogs, various salads etc.
Also, as usual Eloi Lanteigne from the Chaleur Astronomy was on hand with his Meade 12 inch LX200 equipped with a Hydrogen Alpha filter and Binoviewer! Wow! To watch those solar flares in action, is like poetry in motion. After the door prizes it was time for the big draw, the annual telescope raffle. Each year members of the various clubs of NBANB sell raffle tickets with the main prize being typically an 8 inch Newtonian scope with dob mount. The lucky ticket holder this year was not present at the Star Party, though as in the past, the scope is delivered to that ticket holder after the event. The lucky winner was from the Rothesay N.B. area, and since I reside close to the area, and I had a bit of room (not much however!) to spare in the van, I was elected as the one to bring the scope back to Saint John with me. I did not present the prize to the winner, I left that duty to fellow SJAC member Curt Nason as he was the one who sold the winning ticket.
Sadly I missed Roy Lapointe’s “What’s up” talk early in the evening. I heard that he did a fine job. However, I did get to hear Roger Thompson’s inspiring talk on CCD imaging on a budget.
The early part of the evening started off cloudy, though not long after Roger’s talk it began to clear again. Most people headed off to their scopes to start the observing sessions. Again I spent much of the evening peering through other scopes, and helping with collimation and some other minor problems of some of the other scopes. The skies were quite good with an estimated M.V.M. (maximum visual magnitude) of about +6.0. I decided to “hit the hay” about 03:00hrs on Sunday morning, as by that time the clouds had moved in again, and it was pretty well socked in. Francine and June had retired earlier in the evening around 01:00a.m. Francine, June and I were up by about 08:00 hrs on Sunday and by about 10:30hrs. after saying our farewells, we were on the road back home. The local forecast was for clear skies again on Sunday evening. We would like to have stayed for another night to get some more observing in, but alas, life’s other duties prevail.
The Armstrong Brook campsite in Mount Carleton really is an ideal location for a star party gathering for those seeking pristine clear dark skies with virtually no light pollution present, along with some other activities to take part in during the daytime hours such as hiking, canoeing, fishing, swimming etc.
Looking forward to next year.HEADS UP!