The past few weeks have been exciting! We spent more time in West Virginia’s National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ), Calhoun County, as well as the tri-state region that borders Maryland and Virginia.
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Our next stop was Grantsville, West Virginia, near the center of the state. We visited Calhoun County Park – a huge park with special areas dedicated to stargazing with amazing views. Calhoun County Park had great skies, Bortle Class 4 (a scale that measuring light pollution from 1 to 9, 1 being an excellent dark sky site and 9 being an inner-city sky), and it’s one of the only parks we’ve found that is completely open 24 hours a day. In fact, it was so nice that we abandoned our original RV campground and stayed there for a few nights!
Even though cell signal wasn’t so great, which resulted in a pause in our social media activity, we had a great time! Coincidentally, we scheduled our demo at the same time that an astronomy club was having a small private star party amongst a few of the leading members. We had a blast meeting and hanging out with Mike, Rick, Oz and Paul from the Greater Hazleton Area Astronomical Society! They enjoyed our demo and our company enough that they invited us back the next night for a second demo!
During our two nights of back-to-back demos at Calhoun County Park, we saw Comet NEOWISE with our eyes, binoculars, camera, and our eVscope.
We also happened to meet freelance photographer, Scott Abbot. Scott came all the way out from Charleston, West Virginia to Calhoun County Park just to take pictures of the comet. One look at his website or Instagram proves that he is a skilled photographer. He didn’t know that any of us were going to be there, but we all had a lot of fun and he loved the observations that we took with the eVscope! Check out his amazing picture of NEOWISE with the ISS passing by overhead!
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“Strangers in the Night” – The #internationalspacestation passes above the #comet #neowise. I got to hang out with some folks from @setiinstitute and some accomplished astronomers who showed me some amazing – mind-blowing really – images and sights. #canon #tamron #tamron70200g2 #almostheaven #westvirginia #calhouncountywv #calhouncountypark @iss @nasa #space #astrophotography #nasa
We also got to meet the president of the Calhoun County Park board, Donnie Pitts. He and his family are great people, very personable and hospitable to their guests. Donnie and his wife came out both nights to make sure that we had everything that we needed, and we got to show them images from the eVscope that they had never seen before. Even though Calhoun County Park specializes in astronomy, Donnie had never seen live images of the galaxies and nebulae that the eVscope can observe, and he was blown away! We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to show them! This is probably the best park for astronomy events that we’ve been to in a long time, and a lot of people seem to agree, since we met all these great people unexpectedly.
The next day we traveled back to Just Plane Adventures in Medley, West Virginia for a demo requested by the owners, Mitch and Teresa Pennington. More people came out this time, and it was great seeing their amazing Bortle 3 skies again and enjoying the beauty of the Milky Way above. Calhoun County Park may be better for events, but we haven’t yet seen better skies than those of Just Plane Adventures!
During the time we were there, Mitch and Teresa graciously gave us a tour of their entire property – it was much larger than we realized. Mitch was a military pilot, and now he’s a flight instructor. He has several planes; one of them was owned by John Wayne! They have an impressive runway, and Teresa showed us her wonderful garden! They even gave us cucumbers and squash! We ran out of time to have Mitch give us a plane ride, but we will make sure we plan for it the next time we come by!
From there, we traveled northeast up to the tri-state region where West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia all meet. Our destination was Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and it was a beautiful place to visit! Located where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet, scenic views were all around! The sheer cliffs and high roads make for truly stunning views, especially while driving over the tall bridges that separate the three states. Harpers Ferry was a strategic location during the Civil War, and it actually changed hands eight times between the Union and the Confederates during the four years of the war. Every block has an amazing story to tell, and it’s a prime location for anyone interested in history.
On our last day at Harpers Ferry, we had a demo with a large turnout! At least 20 people showed up after seeing our social media posts about the event. It was great to meet everyone and show them what the eVscope can do! We got to show the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), the Ring Nebula (M57), the Blinking Planetary Nebula (NGC 6826), the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101), the Omega Nebula (M17), the Eagle Nebula (M16), and many more! We had a lot of requests, we helped a local eVscope backer solve a connection issue to his own eVscope, and one couple was so interested that they stayed until after 1AM, observing and learning about all that the eVscope has to offer!
Check out some pictures of our set up as well as some galaxies and nebulae we observed!
The Eagle Nebula (M16) and the Trifid Nebula (M20), as well as a passing satellite
The Omega Nebula (M17) and the Lagoon Nebula (M8)
The Wild Duck Cluster (M11) and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31)
Toward the end of the demo, a strange ground level cloud came through and caught us totally off guard. It made for some really cool pictures! We were shocked how quickly it came and went.
Well that wraps up our journeys in West Virginia, but we’ll be back in the area in October! See you then, WV!
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Follow our journey and find the latest information about upcoming demos on Unistellar on the Road. If you’re on social media, follow Unistellar and look for #ontheroad!
Please note that we are on a short break for required vehicle maintenance. Information regarding upcoming demos will become available on our webpage once maintenance has been completed.