I found myself at 3,500ft in elevation with crystal clear skies on Friday April 20th, 2012. Being “Park Week”, I had no choice but to visit a long time friend of mine; Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. With the forecast looking poor during the peak activity, I arrived a couple of days early to maximize my chances at a clear night. The first night was clear, but the dew point was causing issues with creating tons of condensation, which formed on everything. Things got a little hairy at point when a black bear approached us at 11pm in the pitch dark. I didn’t realize he was there until I heard a stick break and then noticed the bear 50 feet away. He growled and made noises, but kept on moving towards the east with no issues at all.
Sunset was even a pleasant palette of pastel colors in the western skies facing West Virginia
Shenandoah Celebrated it’s 75 year anniversary last year as I celebrated my 12th year there at the highest Point in the Park, Hawksbill Mountain
Rain water created tiny pools of water along the highest cliffs in the park
The second night there wasn’t a problem with condensation forming on my gear because we had gusty winds near 40mph or higher along the ridge preventing that from happening. The sturdy tripod made all the difference this night taking the stronger winds. Keeping the tripod low to the ground increases the stability. A steady rain, followed by 6″ of snow blocked any chance of observations for the “peak night”. But the night before offered some gorgeous views of the heavens.
The TOP photo is featured on MSN Photo Blog.. Check it out here. http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/27/11434037-looking-back-at-the-lyrids
2012 is a great year for meteor showers unlike 2011. The next “major shower” is May 4/5, but the full moon block out all but the brightest meteors.