Starfest 2011 – Two Clear Nights!
The Toronto Centre sent a strong contingent to the 30th anniversary edition of Starfest held near Mount Forest, ON from August 26-28th. This year's event featured an excellent turnout, the usual tornadic activity as well as some excellent guest speakers including Rocky Kolb from the University of Chicago (who knew that black holes and United Airlines had so much in common?) and our own Randy Attwood, Kerry Ann Lecky Hepburn and Terence Dickinson.
This year's wild weather occurred on Wednesday evening before many people arrived. While not as bad as the near-miss from 2010 people still had to batten down the hatches as a cold front moved through. Thursday night was cloudy and a good time for social astronomy and then came the weekend – not one but TWO excellent nights with generally clear skies and reasonable transparency. For me this was the first time that this has ever happened to me at a star party. I had a chance to do both photography of Comet Garradd as well as track down more than 10 FNGCs.
Observing highlights included a lovely bolide that broke up into fragments on Saturday as well as an excellent ISS pass to the north. A new Toronto Centre flag was brought to Starfest and flown proudly in the midst of the many tents set up for this year's event. Starfest 31 is scheduled for August 12-15th next year when it will again line up with the Perseid meteor shower maximum.