Monday, August 13, 2012
Looking for Perseids on a cloudy night at Indian Lake
Saturday night was supposed to be the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, but unfortunately it was cloudy in Madison, so we decided to take a faith-based approach, driving to Indian Lake County Park in hopes that the skies would clear. It's in a really dark valley, protected from the usual ambient light sources. Got there about 10:30 and stayed until a little after midnight.
It worked, sort of. It was a beautifully dark setting -- with only a bit of light leaking out of the much-appreciated restrooms near the parking lot. Other people had the same idea, and there were small groups of people talking softly in the dark, clustered in lawn chairs around the silhouettes of a half dozen cars. It was fun being in a good-humored group to share what was basically a disappointing show. The clouds did actually part here and there, revealing an occasional scattering of stars. I even saw the very faint streak of a meteor now and then. But whenever something more spectacular flashed overhead, and it wasn't very often, I was either looking elsewhere or fiddling with my camera. And when the stars were visible, they weren't very bright, screened by a curtain of haze even where there were no clouds. Ditto for the meteors, such as they were. I took a lot of 30-second exposures, but not one of them captured a meteor. Eventually the clouds covered the whole sky and we left. Perhaps if we'd had the patience to stay until the predicted peak at 4:00am, the clouds might have parted once more, and I might have had better luck. Or not.
But, still, it was a nice trip, and a lovely, quiet night out there in the dark Wisconsin countryside.
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