First Party, We observed around new moon time in January, 2004--- great transparency with breath-taking views of Orion that were so addictive that people just couldn't refrain from swinging their instruments back to Orion again and again. Those views were occuring in the South/SW skies. Transparency was very good nearly to the horizon in our best (darkest) direction, which is the swatch running from ESE to SSW. In that zone, stars and DSOs were well seen in the winter Milky Way, eg. NGC 2467 in Puppis at an altitude of only ten degrees.
Second Party: about a month later. Transparency was not so good, but Paul and others agree that seeing was quite exceptional. Several observers, myself included, agreed that Views of Saturn through an 8 inch Schmidt-Cass were some of the best we'd ever seen! Image below shows Mt. Hood to the northeast. The road used to access the site (Dryland Road) runs along the west side of the site.
Third Star Party was held on Saturday, April 10. It was our biggest star party yet, and began on a day that hit 81 degrees, breaking the record by four degrees! Daytime humidities were in the 20-30% range, with mild daytime winds, and calm after dark. But both seeing and transparency were not good at all. The chief culprit seemed to be a large band of high cirrus which moved across Western Oregon during the afternoon and evening hours, not only masking/filtering, but introducing lots of moisture and turbulence at high levels. The high cirrus bands to the north were also noted to be very effective at catching and reflecting the Portland Metro area's light bubble, causing it to loom much higher into the sky than Bruce has ever before seen. The frogs on the pond croaked merrily all night, and People had fun, but I think all agreed the observing opportunities were minimal and most packed it in and left about midnight. The image below shows the combination of diluted sunshine and hazy sky that we had at sunset. 4,200 ft. Goat Mountain is in the background. An old logging clearcut on the back (east) side of "Goat" formerly was a popular RCA viewing location, similar in altitude to Larch Mountain, but more remote, and a longer drive for most folks... It's a site that I keep wanting to return to sometime. Another note: if any of you listen to NOAA weather radio, the transmitter resides on the summit of Goat Mountain.
Note: since folks occasionally
contact me to ask
if they can go out to Highgate Farm to observe, I
need to tell them that I've moved to Olympia, WA, and my in-laws
are the Farm owners. They aren't comfortable with me just sending
people over when I can't be there. As you can imagine, this means
that the only times when I can take astro friends out observing
is on those 3-5 times per year occasions when I'm visiting, eg.
at Christmas, and scattered other times.
The long-range (5-10 years) plan for observing at the Farm is that at some point we all hope to have more direct control over the Farm, at which point we'd like to put down some concrete and some on-site storage for scopes and really get going! This could be a very nice "rural fringe" observing site if developed.