On our first day at Sky School, we traveled up Mount Lemmon for a night of astronomy and exploration. We set up an infrared camera trap to look for wildlife on our campus. We captured video of a white throated wood rat, yellow eyed junco, cliff chipmunk, and a mountain cottontail. Some animals were more vigilant than others. The cottontail and the junco were more vigilant than the wood rat or chipmunk. We wondered if there was an unseen predator lurking in the darkness beyond the camera.
After some delicious tacos, we embraced the cold to explore the stars. We observed Sirius, Castor, Betelgeuse, the moon, the Sombrero Galaxy, the Eskimo Nebula, Jupiter and three of its moons, and the grand finale of a star cluster, resulting in many oohs and ahhs. After seeing those objects through the 24 inch Phillips telescope, we learned to use star charts to find many of the same stars on our own, as well Venus and the North Star. After peering out at the stars, we gazed out at the man-made stars of Tucson, and discussed light pollution and how dark Tucson actually is.