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May Beginner Group Observing Session -- Sat. May 13th -- 7:00pm -- Metcalf Field at Belwin Conservancy

Posted: Sat Apr 29, 2023 1:43 pm
by Sureshks
Hi everyone,

The first 2023 outdoor MAS Beginner group (B-SIG) observing session has been rescheduled for Saturday May 13th at Metcalf Field at Belwin Conservancy, near Afton (weather permitting). It will start at 7:00pm (sunset is at 8:33pm that night). If it is cloudy on Saturday night, the backup night will be the previous night (Friday May 12th), also at Metcalf Field.

There are no COVID restrictions for this outdoor activity. If you are planning to attend please respond here (with your e-mail address) or drop me an e-mail at so I can keep you informed of changes due to weather.

There is no charge to attend a Beginner group event, and you do not need to be an MAS member to attend -- everyone is welcome!! The purpose is to help beginners learn the night sky, and how to set up and use a telescope. Volunteers from the MAS will be on hand to answer your questions and show objects thru their telescopes.

You do not need to bring any equipment to attend. But if you have a telescope, bring it!! If you need help with learning how to set up and use it, we are happy to help. There is AC power available on the east side of Metcalf Field, so if you need power to run your telescope or other equipment, just bring an extension cord so you can connect!!

This will be a mostly Moonless night. The Moon will be just past 3Q (38% lit) and won't rise until around 3:30am. Venus will appear high in the northwest, just after the Sun goes down. It will have a 61% gibbous appearance. Mars will also be shining reddish high overhead. It'll be just 5.1" in size, about 28% as large as it was in early December, but we'll still take a look to see if we can make out any surface features.

Once it gets dark, we will turn our telescopes outside of the solar system. Spring is prime galaxy season. We will point our scopes towards the constellations Ursa Major, Virgo, Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices. We will seek out some of the brighter galaxies, such as the Whirlpool, Bode's & Cigar, Markarian's Chain, the Sunflower, the Black Eye and the Leo Triplet. This is also prime season for viewing globular star clusters, such as M3, M5, M13. Later on in the evening, the Summer Milky Way will clear the treetops in the east, and we can look for beautiful open clusters and nebulae embedded within it. With the Moon out of the way, we should get a nice view of these Springtime treasures.

If you'd like to join us, please bring a lawn chair or blanket. Also, bring a few extra clothing layers in case temps dip at night.

Directions to Metcalf Field: (see this Google Maps link):

Metcalf Field GPS Coordinates: 44.93734 N / 92.82157 W

For more information on Metcalf Field, see here:

Head east past Woodbury on I-94 to the Manning exit (exit 253). Turn south and then take the first left onto Hudson Road S. Continue east about 1.5 miles and turn right onto Indian Trail. Check your odometer here, and then travel 1.1 miles. You'll see an unmarked chain-link gate on the right side. This is the entrance to Metcalf field. Enter the dirt path and park on the left side. There are 2 small reflectors on poles marking the entrance. If you have a telescope with you, you can also park on the right (north side) of the field.

If you haven't been to Metcalf Field, it can be a little difficult to locate the entrance. So please arrive in daylight.

I plan on making the Go/No Go call weather call Thursday May 11th. But if the weather forecasts are iffy, I may wait to give the final Go/No Go as late as Saturday afternoon. Please check this thread for updates, or e-mail me at to stay informed.

Also, if you'd like to volunteer to help out at this or any future Beginner group events, please let me know.

Let's hope the field dries out in time. We hope to see you there!!


Re: May Beginner Group Observing Session -- Sat. May 13th -- CANCELLED

Posted: Thu May 11, 2023 8:16 pm
by Sureshks
Hello everyone,

After reviewing the weather forecasts for both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend, we have decided to cancel the BSIG observing session at Metcalf Field. The forecasts are unanimous in calling for cloudy skies with a chance of storms on both nights.

We seem to be in a strange weather pattern where virtually every weekend night has been cloudy the past several months. Hopefully, this pattern will end soon and we can get back outside with our telescopes.

The next MAS beginner group observing event is scheduled for Saturday June 24th at 8:00pm, back at Metcalf Field.

We hope to see you there!!