Observational Astronomy

Wild Goose Chase Observing Club

Zodiacal LightsIf you belong to the Astronomical League you may be familiar with the variety of observing programs available. They range in complexity from major eyestrain faint fuzzy hide and seek, to simply looking up and saying “oh, there it is!” But there is one club missing from the mix. Lynn and I have been working on creating this one for the last ten years. The working title is “The Wild Goose Chase” observing club.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a beginners club. This is for the seasoned observer, those of us who, putting the need for sleep aside, faithfully trudge out of our warm homes into the night with great expectations of seeing something unique and spectacular. We drag out our maps and lists of objects carefully planning where to start, and where to go next. Then, after scanning the sky for the elusive object, we realize that we had the date wrong on the star chart app, or the one clump of clouds that has appeared out of nowhere has decided to stay put right in front of the target.

One of the first wild goose chases we had was a few years ago when we decided to look for the Zodiacal Lights, or as we prefer to call them the ‘alleged’ zodiacal lights.

This was the time of year when they were supposed to be visible in the early evening. We thought this would be easy, so we jumped in the car and headed west. All we needed was a view of the western horizon, clear skies and our eyes. We drove out to the country and found a spot at the side of a quiet country road, away from any street lights or blazing yard lights.  We watched, our eyes glued to the horizon, waiting until…….there it was – sky glow from a neighboring community. Sigh – Oh well, another wild goose chase observing session! Better log the date, time and seeing conditions!

Have any of you had a wild goose chase you’d like to share?

Amy

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