On June 17, 2011, nineteen Alva Girl Scouts brought their bags, flashlights and curiosities to the SLL Observatory!
A group of Alva Girl Scouts enjoyed some good old-fashioned observatory hospitality at SLL recently. The day began with a quick tour of the facility and then quickly shifted to setting up camp in the bunk houses. The lofts were a big hit!
After some tips on getting a fire going, hot dogs were roasted over a full bag of charcoal in the fire pit. No lighter fluid was used and Steve’s attempt to start the fire with a 12″ telescope mirror was not successful. Leave it to him to try, though!
“Fires need three things to get started: fuel, air and a heat source. A common error is piling larger pieces of wood and placing the kindling on top. The trick is to build a border of heavy wood, kindling in the center and medium-sized wood on top. Make sure air can get in from the bottom and out the top!” –CST Manager Amber Maier
The Girl Scouts weren’t the only ones enjoying the fire, though. We had a representative of the Oklahoma state reptile join us from out of the wood pile! A summertime trip to the SLL Observatory is just not complete without seeing a lizard . . .
A short nature hike along the observatory’s perimeter led to several small discoveries: there are lots of yucca, prickly pear cactus and bugs in northwest Oklahoma! Some scouts de-spined a prickly pear and roasted it over hot coals. No takers on taste samples, though! Later in the evening, some Girl Scouts used their flashlights to go on a spider walk. No scorpions were found with the led UV flashlight this trip. But before the sun set, we managed to find a stick bug and document the journey of a harvester ant!
As for astronomy, well–the Girl Scouts did some of that, too! Three 10″ Dobsonians were brought out to the observer’s pad for the girls to use throughout the evening. Girls viewed Saturn, the moon and other objects as it continued to get dark. We also had the 12″ Meade inside the dome up and running. Through this telescope, we viewed the Andromeda galaxy, the Hercules globular cluster, the Ring nebula and Saturn.
When not looking through the telescopes, we were still looking skyward. The Girl Scouts became proficient at spotting satellites and distinguishing them from planes. They even spotted a few meteors. Several constellations were identified, and everyone was urged to set their calendars for 13,000 years into the future–as that is when Vega will be in the position of the North Star due to Earth’s precession! The observing was capped off by seeing some exceptionally bright satellites, or iridium flares.
Was charcoal in the fire pit mentioned? Don’t worry, the coals were still hot enough to make s’mores before turning in for the evening!
SLL volunteers are excited to have hosted the Alva Girl Scouts and want to extend a thank you for leaving the facility in “tiptop” shape and signing the log book!